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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"

December 2019


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-9.12.19) including:

- Report on illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border
- Ministers call for renewed migrant smuggling crackdown on "Eastern Mediterranean" route
- Croatia Is Abusing Migrants While the EU Turns a Blind Eye


LIBYA: Accountability for Serious Crimes under International Law in Libya: An Assessment of the Criminal Justice System (International Commission of Jurists, pdf):

"The upsurge in hostilities in Libya since April 2019 has highlighted the devastating impact that impunity for crimes under international law committed by State actors and armed groups has engendered.

Civilians taking no part in hostilities are being displaced en masse, unlawfully killed and subject to other violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and gross human rights violations, including indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, enslavement, and rape and other acts of sexual violence.

...despite the scale and magnitude of the violations and abuses committed by State and non-State actors, only a handful of investigations and prosecutions of such violations have been undertaken, resulting in a situation of near total impunity.

...The present report provides concrete law, policy and practical recommendations with a view to initiating such a process [to establish the rule of law] and enhancing the ability of the Libyan criminal justice system to deliver genuine accountability."

Croatia Is Abusing Migrants While the EU Turns a Blind Eye (Foreign Policy, link):

"BIHAC, Bosnia and Herzegovina—Cocooned in a mud-spattered blanket, thousands of euros in debt, and with a body battered and bruised, Faisal Abas has reached the end of the line, geographically and spiritually. A year after leaving Pakistan to seek greener pastures in Europe, his dreams have died in a rain-sodden landfill site in northern Bosnia. His latest violent expulsion from Croatia was the final straw.

(...)

Near the Vucjak landfill, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders runs a small clinic opposite a church where sick and wounded migrants line up every day. Such is the sheer number and pattern of the reports that the project coordinator, Miroslav Ilic, believes the violence to be systemic and contends that the EU is complicit in a policy designed to render migrants physically incapable of crossing the border."

See also: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession

Germany sets out plan for automatic relocation of asylum seekers (Politico, link):

"Germany has proposed an automatic relocation scheme for asylum seekers in which their applications would be examined at the EU's external borders.

A four-page document, seen by POLITICO, was distributed to member countries by Berlin last week in an effort to make progress on asylum reform ahead of the German presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of next year. European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, a former German defense minister, is expected to put forward her migration proposals in February.

The German proposal is presented as a so-called non-paper, which means that it's meant merely for discussion — as is made clear in the title, which contains the words “food for thought.”"

See the document: FOOD FOR THOUGHT (13 November 2019) Outline for reorienting the Common European Asylum System (pdf)

Afghan refugee dies in container fire in Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A 27-year-old refugee from Afghanistan died in a fire that started in the makeshift Kara Tepe migrant camp on Lesvos, state-run news agency ANA-MPA reported.

The incident happened at dawn on Thursday when a fire broke out inside the container where the woman lived with her 28-year-old husband and their three children aged 5, 2 and an infant.

The 28-year-old man managed to save the three children before he passed out from the smoke. He was transferred to Mytilene’s hospital where he is being treated for breathing problems."

Grenade thrown at migrant children's centre in Madrid (Guardian, link):

"Property in Hortaleza had previously been singled out for criticism by far-right Vox part.

Bomb squad officers in Madrid have carried out a controlled explosion after a practice hand grenade was thrown over the wall of a centre for unaccompanied foreign minors in the north-east of the Spanish capital.

A spokeswoman at the Madrid headquarters of the national police force said the grenade carried a small amount of explosive. There were no reported injuries."

Greece: Camp Conditions Endanger Women, Girls - Asylum Seekers Lack Safe Access to Food, Water, Health Care (HRW, link):

"Women and girls face relentless insecurity in Greece’s overcrowded Moria “hotspot” for asylum seekers and migrants on Lesbos island, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a video that shows the dire conditions. The Greek government should take immediate action to ensure safe, humane conditions for women and girls in line with their international human rights obligations and standards for humanitarian emergencies.

As of December 2, 2019, the Moria Reception and Identification Center was holding nearly 16,800 people in a facility with capacity for fewer than 3,000. Overcrowding has led authorities, as well as some asylum seekers and migrants themselves, to erect shelters outside Moria’s fenced boundaries, first in the adjacent area called the Olive Grove and now in a second olive grove, which has no water and sanitation facilities. In all areas."

58 dead as migrant boat capsizes off Mauritanian coast - Mauritanian officials rescued the Gambian migrants from the shore (ibtimes.sg, link):

"A vessel carrying 150 migrants from the Gambia capsized off Mauritania Coast on Wednesday killing at least 58 in the incident said the UN Migration Agency. This route has been used for the movement of migrants from the West African countries to Europe for a very long time. The sinking is being seen as one of the deadliest incidents to happen to migrants who were relocating."

EU: Ministers call for renewed migrant smuggling crackdown on "Eastern Mediterranean" route

The EU should put a "stronger focus" on "the fight against human smuggling" along the Eastern Mediterranean route, according to the interior ministers of almost two dozen central and eastern European states, who have called for joint investigations and enhanced cooperation with Turkey and Western Balkan countries.

EU-NIGERIA: Europe wants to send migrants home—but what happens when they get there? (Prospect, link):

"A huge experiment is underway in reversing migration and thousands of Nigerians represent the vanguard. But what are "Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration" programmes—and what are the human consequences?

...Calling for the removal of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants used to be the preserve of nativist politicians such as Italy’s Matteo Salvini. But there is less than there used to be between the far-right and an EU leadership that makes no secret of its intention to ramp up returns."

Report on illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border

On 15th of November Mobile Info Team published its first report about illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border. In several newsletters we have already informed you about our efforts to document and collect human rights violations at the Greek border, especially about so called pushbacks to Turkey. These pushbacks are very problematic on a lot of different levels: asylum seekers are denied their human right to apply for asylum, as well as the possibility to receive protection in Europe.

Holidaymakers in Gran Canaria help 24 migrants after boat lands on beach (El Pais, link):

"The bathers were enjoying the warm weather when they saw the small vessel approach the rocky coast with three babies and three children on board."

GAMM UPDATE (Limite doc no: 13452-19, pdf) 6 November 2019: 63 pages:

"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 also: Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) update report (Statewatch News)

Commissioner seeks information from the Greek government on its plans to set-up closed reception centres on the Aegean islands (CoE, link):

"Today the Commissioner published an exchange of letters with the Minister of Citizen Protection of Greece, Michalis Chrysochoidis, and the Alternate Minister for Migration Policy of Greece, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, concerning the plans to transfer migrants from the Aegean islands to the mainland and set up closed reception centres on those islands, as announced by the Government a few days ago."

See: Letter from CoE to Greek government (link) and its Reply (link)

EU commissioners to visit Greece and Turkey for migration policy overhaul (ekathimerini.com, link):

"he European Union’s new commissioners responsible for issues related to migration and the refugee crisis will be visiting Greece and Turkey this week.

Commissioners for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas and for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson will be in Athens on Thursday, before traveling to Ankara the following day, Schinas said following a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on Monday."

GREECE: Samos Refugees: A reluctant update on enduring cruelties (Samos Chronicles, link):

"On Samos, as with the other frontier islands, it has now become widely seen as a ‘bad thing’ for refugees to be detained for so long on the islands. But on Samos at least the reality is more paradoxical. Today increasing numbers of refugees on Samos would prefer to stay here rather than be moved to the mainland. Many know that camps such as Nea Kavala in northern Greece – an isolated former airfield- are far worse than Samos."

Aegean Boat Report: 25 November - 1 December (pdf):

"A total of 74 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 2873 people. However, 47 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1032 people arrived on the Greek Islands."

La France renonce à la livraison de bateaux à la Libye : une victoire qui doit marquer un tournant dans la coopération sur la politique migratoire! (Migreurop, link):

"In the context of the appeal brought by our associations before the Paris Administrative Court of Appeal, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has just announced that she is renouncing the delivery of six boats to the Libyan coastguard, a delivery that we were challenging. We welcome the abandonment of this initiative, which would have made France the official accomplice to the crimes committed against migrants and refugees in Libya."

Africa relations are ‘not equal’, leaders warn EU (euractiv, link):

"As the field of competitors for investing in Africa becomes more crowded, the EU will have to quickly improve its offer. The challenge for Ursula von der Leyen’s new European Commission will be to turn the so-called ‘partnership of equals’ promised by her predecessor into something concrete."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.11-2.12.19) including:

- Med: Mounting Death Toll while NGOs Struggle to Keep up with Rescues
- “How the hostile environment creates sites without rights": Evidence presented to the London Hearing of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
- Questions surround Greece's stricter course on refugees


Med: Mounting Death Toll while NGOs Struggle to Keep up with Rescues (ECRE, link):

"Over the course of the last week at least 41 people have died in two separate shipwrecks, one off Lampedusa and one between Morocco and Spain. After disembarking a total of 353 people in Italian ports in the beginning of the week, NGO ships rescued another 213 people since Thursday.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) confirmed that at least 21 people lost their lives in a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, on November 23. The boat, carrying 170 Europe-bound people, capsized 1.6km from the island as it was being escorted by the Italian coast guard. Efforts to Recover and identify the dead bodies are still on-going. 149 people were rescued.

Another 20 people are feared dead after a boat carrying 78 people got into difficulties while travelling from Morocco to Spain. After being alerted by an NGO, Spain’s maritime rescue service rescued 58 people, recovered four dead bodies and continued to search for those missing."

“How the hostile environment creates sites without rights": Evidence presented to the London Hearing of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the violations with impunity on the rights of migrants and refugees (pdf)

"On 3-4 November 2018, a number of organisations, under the umbrella of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT, Basso Tribunal), came together to put the ‘hostile environment on trial’ at the London Hearing of the PPT on violations with impunity of the rights of migrant and refugee peoples...

The testimonies (oral and written) included evidence from Spain, Italy and Germany as well as the UK. We wanted to present all the evidence, and the rapporteurs’ contextualising reports, as fully as possible here, in an attempt to spread as widely as we can the knowledge contained in them, and to encourage groups around the country to organise local tribunals. During the PPT hearings we saw how the shameful hostile environment policy has legitimised racism and fostered a toxic social environment. We commend the courage of the witnesses and the commitment of the migrants’ organisations who participated. They are building a world that is better for everyone."

EU: Guarding the Fortress. Frontex role in the militarisation and securitisation of migratory flows in the European Union (Centre Delas, link):

"The new report “Guarding the Fortress: the role of Frontex in the militarization and securitization of migratory flows in the European Union” intends to study and analyze the context in which the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, is developed and implemented in the European Union, as well as its operation, mechanisms and main operations carried out. The research addresses the context that is built with respect to security policies in the EU, and specifically with regard to border and migration policy. As well as, the development of Frontex in this context.

The report analyzes the role that Frontex has in helping to build walls around the European Union, building what is called the “Europe Fortress”, through maritime, area and land operations that criminalize people who have to flee their homes for force, whether from war or economic inequality. It is in this context that migratory flows are approached as a threat, so that they are approached with the same instruments as border crimes."

European leaders: Stop punishing asylum seekers on the Greek islands (MSF, link):

"Dear European leaders

I have just come back from the Greek islands, and I was shocked by what I saw and by the accounts I heard from my colleagues on the ground.(...)

Dr Christos Christou, MSF International President “The situation is comparable with what we see in war zones in other parts of the world. It is outrageous to see these conditions in Europe and to know that they are the result of deliberate political choices.” (...)

Stop this deliberate collective punishment of people in search of safety in Europe. Urgently evacuate the most vulnerable people from these centres to safe accommodation in other European states. End the policy of containment."

Refugees being 'starved out' of UN facility in Tripoli (Guardian, link)

"Aid worker claims refugees are being denied food to motivate them to leave.

The UN has been accused of trying to starve out refugees and asylum seekers who are sheltering for safety inside a centre run by the UN refugee agency in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.(...)

Internal documents seen by the Guardian show that the UNHCR is also planning to withdraw food from 600 other refugees and migrants in the centre – who include survivors of bombings, torture, forced labour and other human rights abuses. The majority have already tried to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean, but were returned to Libya by the EU-backed Libyan coastguard."

UN refugees chief urges Greece to improve 'miserable' camp conditions (ekathimerini.com, link):

"plans to shut overcrowded refugee camps and replace them with detention centres to be used both as an ante-room for deporting failed asylum seekers and as a reception and processing centre for new arrivals. (...)

The government wants to move up to 20,000 people to the mainland by the end of the year and expects the new facilities to be ready by July 2020. State authorities believe that more than 80,000 migrants and refugees are currently in Greece."

Four dead, 10 missing from migrant boat found adrift near Melilla (El Pais, link):

"Rescue services took 55 survivors to the Spanish exclave city, where the holding center is over capacity."

GREECE: History repeating itself: Winter warnings for Europe’s largest refugee camp (The New Humanitarian, link):

"With winter approaching, aid workers and refugee advocates on Lesvos are worried: there doesn’t appear to be a plan in place to prepare Moria – Europe’s largest refugee camp – for the rain, cold weather, and potential snow that winter will bring.

The road leading to Moria runs along the shoreline on the Greek island of Lesvos, passing fish restaurants and a rocky beach. On sunny days, the water sparkles and dances in the 20-kilometer stretch of the Aegean Sea separating the island from the Turkish coast. But in the winter, the weather is often grey, a strong wind blows off the water, and the temperature in bitingly cold."

Frontex expands operations in EU neighbouring countries (link):

"After Albania and Montenegro, the EU Commission has concluded a Frontex status agreement with Serbia, to be followed by Northern Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. A first deployment of the EU border troops has meanwhile been increased."

Aid groups condemn Greece over 'prison' camps for migrants (Guardian, link):

"Greece is poised to create “prison” island camps, say aid groups amid growing criticism of government plans to overhaul refugee reception centres on Aegean outposts facing Turkey.

As the UN refugee agency’s top official, Filippo Grandi, prepared this week to fly to Lesbos, where almost 16,000 people are crammed into a single facility, Athens was criticised for adopting legislation in contravention of basic human rights.(...)

Greece is poised to create “prison” island camps, say aid groups amid growing criticism of government plans to overhaul refugee reception centres on Aegean outposts facing Turkey.

As the UN refugee agency’s top official, Filippo Grandi, prepared this week to fly to Lesbos, where almost 16,000 people are crammed into a single facility, Athens was criticised for adopting legislation in contravention of basic human rights."

Questions surround Greece's stricter course on refugees (DW, link):

"Athens has announced tougher action against migrants and refugees. New deportation camps are to be set up, while asylum applications are to be processed more quickly. But some doubt the efficacy of the planned measures."

Greece makes course change in its approach to the refugee crisis (new Europe, link):

"When Alkiviadis Stefanis was appointed as Deputy Defence Minister of Defence in the cabinet of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis some months ago it went relatively unnoticed. Stefanis, a 60-year-old ex-Chief of the Greek Army was not elected, but was placed in the Ministry of Defence as a “technocrat” due to the fact that he had good knowledge of military conduct. (...)

After weeks of deliberation and a slow adjustment to its migration management policy, the Greek government appointed military-man Stefanis as the coordinator for the management of the ongoing crisis."

Italy; At least 20 migrants feared dead after boat capsizes near Lampedusa (Guardian, link):

"Five reported dead and 149 rescued from vessel attempting to carry group from Libya to Europe.

At least 20 people were feared dead after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants to Europe capsized in stormy seas near the Italian island of Lampedusa, according to authorities.

Following the accident on Saturday, 149 migrants have been rescued, including 13 women and three children, but dozens were still missing, the Italian coastguard said in a statement."



November 2019


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-25.11.19) including:

- EU aid and development funding has provided €215 million for border security in Morocco since 2001
- New Detention Centres Planned on Greek Islands Despite Ruling Against Island Conditions
- EU countries warned of 'lost generation' of young refugees
- Deportations: Council Presidency proposes systematic monitoring of readmission cooperation and sanctions for non-compliance


EU: 'Roadmap' for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead

A 'roadmap' sets out the actions needed for "rapid and full operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) 2.0 Regulation," described as a "top priority for the EU."

GREECE: Deportation of Legal Centre Lesvos client halted by intervention of the European Court of Human Rights (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

"On 21 November 2019, in the case of Z.B. vs. Greece, ECHR?LE2.2bR, the European Court of Human Rights granted an interim application preventing the Greek authorities from deporting an Afghan man, ‘Z.B’, to Turkey from Lesvos. Z.B, who is represented by Legal Centre Lesvos, was due to be deported the next morning had it not been for the intervention of the Court. Amongst the various arguments raised in the application to the ECHR, was the concern that Z.B would be subjected to various serious violations of his human rights, including the very real possibility that he be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment in Turkey.

The Court agreed to further examine Z.B.’s case, requesting further information regarding Z.B’s claim that the Greek State’s failed to consider the risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 prior to his scheduled deportation."

Italian coast guard: migrant bodies washed ashore or in sea (AP, link):

"The bodies of five migrant women, two of them washed ashore, were recovered Sunday, the Italian coast guard said, as search efforts continued in rough seas near the tiny island of Lampedusa for around another dozen people feared missing in the capsizing of a fishing boat.

Three of the bodies were retrieved from the sea, where waves as high as three meters (10 feet) complicated the coast guard search by boat and helicopter.

The Italian news agency ANSA, reporting from the Italian Mediterranean island, had said that a total of seven bodies had been brought ashore by mid-day. Later, ANSA said the number of recovered corpses had been confirmed at five."

EU aid and development funding has provided €215 million for border security in Morocco since 2001

Since 2001, almost €215 million has been provided to Morocco by the EU to finance border security projects. Human rights abuses against migrants and refugees committed by Moroccan authorities call into question whether financial support from the EU to Moroccan border security should continue.

See Statewatch Analysis: Aid, border security and EU-Morocco cooperation on migration control (pdf)

New Detention Centres Planned on Greek Islands Despite Ruling Against Island Conditions (Are You Syrious, link):

"While the European Court of Human Rights has informed the Greek Government that they are in breach of the Human Rights Act and that the hotspot of Samos poses an “imminent risk of irreparable harm” to pregnant people, they have decided to further contain people seeking asylum within closed detention facilities.

The Greek government announced to replace the camps on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros in July 2020. The new so-called “pre-departure centres”, in fact once again closed detention centres, will be designed for at least 5000 people on Lesvos, Chios and Samos, 2000 on Kos and 1000 on Leros, local media reports. Presented pictures showed container villages instead of tents.

These will likely be isolated spots, far from media and NGO attention. Aegean Boat Report states that one may be placed on the uninhabited island of Levitha south west of Leros another will be in an isolated region of Chios."

Croatia: Border Violence Monitoring Network (pdf):

"On Saturday 16th November 2019, a group of people-in-transit were fired upon by Croatian police with live rounds. The shooting occurred on Tuhobiæ mountain, Gorski Kotar ( HR ), an area close to the Slovenian border. One man was shot in the stomach and chest area and remains in a critical condition in a hospital in Rijeka ( HR ). The Croatian Ministry of Interior have stated this potentially fatal shooting to be an accidental outcome of regular border protection work. However, The Border Violence Monitoring Network are sharing their dataset of firearms incidents, proving the regular and systematic use of guns by the Croatian police during pushback operations. The statistics, drawn from the common database."

CoE: Commissioner publishes observations on alleged human rights violations of migrants returned from Italy to Libya (link):

"Today, the Commissioner published her written observations submitted to the European Court of Human Rights in connection with the case of S.S. and others v. Italy. This case concerns the interception and rescue operation of a boat in distress in the Mediterranean Sea, carrying around 150 persons who had left Libya, and the alleged human rights violations resulting from this operation.

The Commissioner underscores that changes adopted in member states’ migration practices in the Central Mediterranean, in particular certain types of assistance provided to the Libyan Coast Guard, have resulted in increased returns of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to Libya, despite the fact that member states knew, or should have known, about the risk of serious human rights violations they would face in the country."

See: Third party intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: S.S and others v Italy (pdf)

#PrivacyWins: EU Border Guards Cancel Plans to Spy on Social Media (for now) (PI, link):

"As any data protection lawyer and privacy activist will attest, there’s nothing like a well-designed and enforced data protection law to keep the totalitarian tendencies of modern Big Brother in check.

While the EU’s data protection rules aren’t perfect, they at least provide some limits over how far EU bodies, governments and corporations can go when they decide to spy on people.

This is something the bloc’s border control agency, Frontex, learned recently after coming up with a plan to monitor the internet use of migrants and civil society. After publishing a tender inviting surveillance companies to bid for the project, they mysteriously cancelled it less than a month later while facing questions as to whether such spying was even allowed under data protection regulations."

Hundreds of refugees, migrants rescued from the sea in past 24 hours (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece’s Coast Guard said Friday it rescued 400 refugees and migrants in the last 24 hours in 10 different incidents in the sea area near the city Alexandroupolis and the islands of Lesvos and Chios."

Italian Air Force MQ-9A Predator B Drone Allegedly Shot Down In Libya. Images Surface on Social Media (The Aviationist, link):

"One of the Italian UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) has crashed in Libya. It’s not clear whether it was shot down (as claimed by some Libyan reports) or crashed for other reasons.

Images showing the wreckage of an Italian Air Force Predator drone have started circulating on the social media networks in the afternoon on Nov. 20.

While showing an Italian Air Force drone, the photographs don’t show an MQ-1 as some sources have reported: they actually show what remains of an MQ-9A Predator B, operated by the 32° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), based at Amendola Air Base, in southeastern Italy."

The hostile environment confuses unlawful with undocumented, with disastrous consequences (Migration Mobilities Bristol, link):

"If a policy that deprives residents of jobs, homes and money is going to be introduced, one would hope it would be targeted using the best available data with strong failsafe mechanisms in place to reverse any errors. It would, you would have thought, be a disaster if innocent individuals ended up being forced into penury and out of the country as a result of incorrect information."

Greece migrant crisis: 'Horrible' camps to shut amid influx (BBC News, link):

"Overcrowded, open camps that have become home to 33,000 asylum seekers on five Aegean islands are to be shut down and replaced with closed centres.

Four or five new sites will be set up to house 1,000 to 5,000 people. (...)

The proposed sites are being described as "closed pre-departure centres""

See also: Migration plan foresees new restrictive facilities on islands, closure of Moria camp (ekathimerini.com, link)

Comment: It appears that the current free movement of refugees on the islands after registration will end and they will be locked in the new detention centres until their return to Turkey has breen agreed.

Greece: Turkey needs to end ‘blackmail’ for migrant aid (euractv, link):

"Greece’s migration minister said that Turkey needs to stop “blackmail” if it wants more EU aid, saying its loaded language had prompted a spike in movement toward Greek shores.

Speaking to AFP on a visit to Washington, Giorgos Koumoutsakos voiced alarm over threats by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials to “open the gates” to Europe if it does not provide more support.

When Turkey “keeps repeating that we’re going to open the floodgates, what they (migrants) do is they move closer to the floodgates waiting for them to open,” said Koumoutsakos, citing a 240% increase in migrant arrivals on Greek shores since May."

EU countries warned of 'lost generation' of young refugees (BBC News, link):

"Europe is in danger of creating a "lost generation" of young refugees who have fled war and persecution in their countries, the EU's rights agency says.

The Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) said it had identified serious challenges in integrating people aged between 16 and 24 across the EU.

It has urged member states to speed up asylum procedures, simplify family reunification and provide more housing."

See: Integration of young refugees in the EU: good practices and challenges (FRA, pdf)

Sea rescue NGOs : a pull factor of irregular migration? (European University Institute, link):

"The argument that maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) operations act as a ‘pull factor’ of irregular seaborne migration has become commonplace during the Mediterranean ‘refugee crisis’. This claim has frequently been used to criticize humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) conducting SAR off the coast of Libya, which are considered to provide “an incentive for human smugglers to arrange departures” (Italian Senate 2017: 9). In this policy brief, we scrutinise this argument by examining monthly migratory flows from Libya to Italy between 2014 and October 2019. We find no relationship between the presence of NGOs at sea and the number of migrants leaving Libyan shores. Although more data and further research are needed, the results of our analysis call into question the claim that non-governmental SAR operations are a pull factor of irregular migration across the Mediterranean sea."

Why return from Europe is causing problems for The Gambia (The Conversation, link):

"The government is frequently suspected to play an active role in returns and is accused of witholding information about their dealings with the EU and member states like Germany. Incidentally, President Barrow is currently seeking to extend his rule beyond the three-year transition period originally agreed upon, ending in January 2020. Opposition to these plans is widespread.

In these politically tense times, pressing a pause button on returns fulfilled a symbolic function by defending Gambians against foreign national interests. The recent lifting of the moratorium is politically very risky. It paves the way for more of the deeply unpopular chartered return operations."

Deportations: Council Presidency proposes systematic monitoring of readmission cooperation and sanctions for non-compliance

The Finnish Council Presidency wants EU member states to consider new methods for encouraging 'third countries' to accept their own nationals deported from the EU, according to a note (pdf) sent to the High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration and the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA).

Greece: New closed centers, 1,700 hirings to improve response to migration challenge (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As part of its plans to implement a stricter legal framework regarding asylum and border controls, the government aims to create between six and 10 closed pre-departure centers and is planning to recruit 400 border guards in the Evros region, 500 new asylum officers on the islands and mainland, as well 800 officers to guard sea borders and the centers.

These pre-departure centers will hold migrants who are slated for deportation until their departure and will hold a minimum of 5,000 and a maximum in some cases of 10,000."

GREECE: Aegean Boat Report 10-17 November 2019 (pdf):

"A total of 164 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 6097 people. However, 91 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 2444 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2849 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 95244 people. 50194 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1523 boats, so far in 2019."

All but last resort: The last reform of detention of asylum seekers in Greece (http://eumigrationlawblog.eu, link):

"The Commission has directly encouraged Member States to widely resort to detention to effect returns by laying down lengthy detention periods in domestic law and by bringing “detention capacity in line with actual needs”. There is thus little reason to believe that (the continuation of) Greek efforts to increase returns through more coercion will be met with anxious scrutiny, at least not without sufficient pressure on the Commission from accountability mechanisms in Greece and elsewhere."

Balkan Region - Report October 2019 (pdf, link) :

"The Border Violence Monitoring Network just published it's October report, covering pushbacks and police violence from Croatia (and Slovenia), into Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. Highlighted by the trend analysis of this."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.10-18.11.19) including:

- New report: What the EU's Regulations on Interoperability Mean for People with Irregular Status
- Refugee chaperones are accessories to traffickers, German court rules
- New Greek deportation law approved; Italy renews cooperation with Libya
- Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession
- Exposed: Malta’s secret migrant deal with Libya


EU: New report: Data Protection, Immigration Enforcement and Fundamental Rights: What the EU's Regulations on Interoperability Mean for People with Irregular Status

A new report published by Statewatch and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) explains the EU's new rules on interoperable information systems and databases and examines the potential implications for people in an irregular migration situation.

The West’s Obsession With Border Security Is Breeding Instability (Foreign Policy, link):

"An obsession with protecting the border—and with escalating the fight against migration—is actually an ideological choice that sets up a dangerous game. If policymakers and voters really want to be “realistic,” then it is essential to appreciate the full future costs of the path on which they are currently set and to acknowledge the dangerously perverse incentives for escalating violence, extortion, and authoritarian rule that it entrenches. Meanwhile, the fantasy of protecting Western democracies through the outsourcing of migration controls feeds the damaging delusion that these countries can seal themselves off from problems such as conflict and global warming to which they are themselves strongly contributing.

The next step is to propose another frame. Instead of feeding instability abroad and normalizing shrill nationalist politics at home through obsessing over more short-term border security, there’s a better choice to be made—a choice that involves protecting people, not borders. Enlightened citizens and political leaders must start making the case for it."

Berlin wall´s 30th anniversary: the businesses booming from Europe’s new walls (TNI, link):

"On the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, a new report reveals the European businesses profiting from the construction of new walls across Europe. It identifies three key players – the arms firms Thales, Airbus and Leonardo – as well as a whole host of construction, shipping, technology and security firms from across Europe winning border militarisation contracts.

The report, ‘The Business of Building Walls’, examines the industry involved in building the many different kinds of walls constructed - especially since 2015 - to keep refugees and migrants out of Europe. It looks at those involved in the construction of the walls and fences and the technology that accompanies them, as well as the ‘maritime wall’ built across the Mediterranean and the ‘virtual’ walls of surveillance and biometrics that extend across Europe. It argues that these are all walls as their primary objective is to keep people out, with often deadly consequences."

EU: The Atlas of Migration in Europe: A Critical Geography of Migration Policies

The Migreurop network, of which Statewatch is a member, has published a new edition of The Atlas of Migration in Europe, a book which "follows the journeys of those fleeing war, poverty or political crises, risking their lives as they attempt to find sanctuary in Europe."

Asylum-seekers in Greece, Italy hotspots face ‘years of limbo’

"Asylum-seekers crowded into “hotspots” in Greece and Italy face limbo that can drag on for years because of legal bottlenecks and poorly performing EU schemes, a report said Wednesday.

The document, by the EU’s European Court of Auditors, also found that two agencies meant to assist the two countries with their overflowing camps and caseloads were failing in their missions, partly because of insufficient support from member states."

Greece illegally deported 60,000 migrants to Turkey: report (DW, link)

"Greece illegally deported 60,000 migrants to Turkey, documents released by Turkey reportedly show. The process involves returning asylum seekers without assessing their status."

ECHR: Finnish decision to deport an Iraqi man who was killed when he arrived back in his country of origin violated the Convention (Press releaase, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of N.A. v. Finland (application no. 25244/18) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights owing to decisions to deport the applicant’s father to his country of origin, Iraq, where he was subsequently killed."

See: Judgment (pdf)

EPRS: Situation of migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina (pdf):

"Recently, local authorities in the Una-Sana Canton (Bihaæ), which have been shouldering most of the burden of migration management, have resorted to action such as restricting movement and forcibly transferring migrants to the Vuèjak site, which is unsuitable for human occupation on account of severe health and safety risks for its residents. The government of Croatia has meanwhile been accused by some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international organisations of pushing migrants back into BiH, in violation of international norms on non-refoulement."

"Welcome to Europe. Now Go Home." (The Atlantic, link):

"The overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece is where Europe’s ideals—solidarity, human rights, a haven for victims of war and violence—dissolve in a tangle of bureaucracy, indifference, and lack of political will."

Refugee chaperones are accessories to traffickers, German court rules (DW, link):

"A refugee who was told by a smuggler to look after several women and children during the perilous journey to Europe also committed a crime, the court ruled. "The defendant is both victim and perpetrator," the judge said."

AYS Daily Digest 12/11/19: Slovenian activists demand action after the recent deaths reported in the area (Medium, link):

FEATURED

"Slovenian police has been systematically violating basic international law with the practice of illegal denial of right to asylum procedure and cooperation in conducting chain pushbacks of migrants from Slovenia to Croatia and from there on to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

After having pulished the results of an investigation of practices of the Slovenian police at the border, during which we found out that the Republic of Slovenia is systematically preventing migrants access to the asylum procedure, the Slovenian activist group InfoKolpa published a statement after the recent deaths in the border area, reminding that the Slovenian police is complicit with the systematic malversation of official procedures at the border."

Europe’s Unauthorized Immigrant Population Peaks in 2016, Then Levels Off (Pew Research, link):

"New estimates find half live in Germany and the United Kingdom .

Europe has experienced a high level of immigration in recent years, driving debate about how countries should deal with immigrants when it comes to social services, security issues, deportation policies and integration efforts. Among these recently arrived immigrants are many who live in Europe without authorization. Coupled with unauthorized immigrants who were already in Europe, their numbers reach into the millions, though together they make up a small share of Europe’s total population."

ICJ and others intervene in Mediterranean Sea search and rescue case before European Court (link):

"Today, the ICJ, the AIRE Centre, ECRE and DCR have submitted a third party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in the case of a 2017 rescue operation of migrants, including refugees, in the Mediterranean Sea that involved the SeaWatch rescue vessel.

The case, S.S. and Others v. Italy, concerns the facts occurred during a rescue operation coordinated by the Maritime Research and Rescue Centre of Italy in Rome in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea."

Update on the current situation at the borders to Greece and Turkey (Bordermonitoring Bulgaria, link):

"In the first 10 months of 2019, the Bulgarian Border Police officers prevented 2,122 attempts at ‚illegal‘ entry at the Bulgarian-Turkish border and 3,795 attempts at the border with Greece. This was statet by the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior (MoI). In September 2019 the number of people who were trying to attempt the Greek-Bulgarian border was rising. Due to the Bulgarian MoI Mladen Marinov further police units were installed at the border. The Bulgarian premier Boiko Borissow stated that at the moment around a daily amount of 150 migrants are being caught in the border region."

European Court of Auditors: Special report No 20/2019: EU information systems supporting border control - a strong tool, but more focus needed on timely and complete data (ECA, link)

"The abolishment of border checks at the internal Schengen borders reinforced the importance of effective control and surveillance of the Schengen area external borders. To help border guards control these, the EU has set up a number of information systems. Our audit examined whether the main EU information systems for internal security support border controls efficiently. We found that border guards are increasingly using and relying on the systems when performing border checks. However, some data is currently not included in the systems, while other data is either not complete or not entered in a timely manner."

See: Press release (pdf) and: Report (pdf)

Dear President Macron, being a migrant is not a crime (euobserver, link):

"President Emmanuel Macron,

I am writing to convey my intense shock and horror at the wilful, remorseless neglect of universal human rights, the frank disregard for humanity and the wanton abuse of European law at your country's border with Italy.

During my heart-wrenching trip to Menton and Ventimiglia with Refugee Rights Europe, I saw refugees and displaced people of all ages and from all corners of our planet - compelled to flee poverty, persecution, war, ecological breakdown and compelled to traverse great distances in unimaginably traumatic journeys - dehumanised and demeaned, disregarded and discarded, and dealt with delay and disdain."

Greek islands: Aegean Boat report: 4 -10 November 2019 (pdf)

"A total of 105 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 3740 people. However, 74 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1078 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2754 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police with 91591 people (and). 47548 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1450 boats, so far in 2019."

News highlights: Italy and Libya prolong coast guard arrangement; Eritrea accuses CIA of plot against government; Greece formalises new law on deportation (EEPA, link):

"In this week’s news highlights: Eritrea claims CIA has plot to overthrow the government; Eritreans protest against the regime in London; UN official allegedly spreads propaganda; South Sudan calls state of emergency; New measures for protection Kenyan domestic workers questioned; Greece formalises new law on deportation of rejected asylum seekers;

Report urges the UK to change its migration policies; EU funds €663 million to support refugees in Turkey; Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland accused of breaking EU law in 2015; Refugees and migrants participate in local entrepreneurship;

Deal between Libyan Coastguard and Italy continues; People from Libyan detention centre are released but left outside of rescue centre overnight; And Spain’s Prime Minister praises the efforts made by Morocco to lower number of illegal migrants."

New report examines the brutal human costs of 'necroborders'

"Over 1,000 people died or went missing whilst attempting to reach Spanish soil between January 2018 and April 2019, the result of 70 shipwrecks and 12 missing boats on routes crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, traversing the Alboran Sea and travelling to the Canary Islands.

The figures - and the human stories behind them - are recounted in the report Vida en la Necrofrontera (Life on the Necroborder), which was published by the collective Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders) in June this year (Caminando Fronteras, link)"

AYS Digest 9–10/11/19: Bosnian police now beats and robs people, too (link):

"FEATURED

- 10 000 border guards
- Meter-high fences
- Border fortifications, 1000 kilometres long
- The deadly moat of the Mediterranean Sea
- Thousands dead

30 years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall raised hopes for an open Europe; today we are surrounded by more walls than ever before."

Exposed: Malta’s secret migrant deal with Libya - Office of the Prime Minister official Neville Gafà acted as intermediary in deal (Times of Malta, link):

"Malta has secretly negotiated an agreement with Libya that sees the Armed Forces of Malta coordinating with the Libyan coastguard to intercept migrants headed towards the island and returned to the war-torn North African country.

The agreement for “mutual cooperation” was struck between members of the AFM and the Libyan coastguard, with government official Neville Gafà acting as an intermediary.

Mr Gafà, who works out of the OPM in an undisclosed position, has faced repeated allegations of bribery linked to the issuing of medical visas to Libyan nationals, claims he denies."

Belgian asylum centre set on fire (euobserver, link):

"During the night of 10 November a planned asylum centre in the city of Bilzen, in the Belgian province of Limburg, was set on fire. According to fire services and the police it was an arson attack. The federal government was planning to use the building as a new asylum centre in December. There were no victims."

Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more (Vestnik Kavkaza, link):

"Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again used the millions of refugees hosted in the country as a bargaining chip against the European Union. As EU Observer reports, speaking alongside Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban on Thursday (7 November), he told reporters the refugees will be allowed into Europe unless the EU provides more support. "Whether we receive support or not, we will continue to aid the guests we are hosting. But, if this doesn't work out, then we will have to open the doors," he said."

Shots fired at sea rescuers: EU supports competing militias in Libya (link):

"A German public prosecutor’s office is investigating the shooting of the ship "Alan Kurdi". Its crew could be caught between the fronts of two coastguards equipped and trained by different EU missions.

With the General Administration for Coastal Security (GACS) and the Libyan Coast Guard and Port Security (LCGPS), two authorities with overlapping functions exist in Libya. The Ministry of Interior Coast Guard is a law enforcement agency operating within the 12-mile zone and along the coast, while the Ministry of Defence Coast Guard is responsible for territorial waters."

Migrations in Latin America and the Mediterranean compared: Violence, State cruelty and (Un-)Institutional Resistance (pdf):including: Presentation of the English version of the Atlas of Migrations 2019.

Convened by Véronique Beneï (IIAC Paris), Thomas Lacroix (MFO) and Eduardo Posado-Carlo (Latin American Centre Oxford):

Tuesday 12 November, 2.45pm, Latin American Centre, Oxford and Wednesday 13 November, 9.15am, Maison Française d’Oxford.

Italy to renew 2017 bilateral deal with Libya to stem migration (New Europe, link):

"Italy is calling for government-run migrant centres in Libya be taken over by UN agencies, public news agency ANSA reported on Wednesday. Rome wants to review a 2017 deal with Libya for combatting immigration.

However, Rome wants the closure of centres criticised for human rights violations and their replacement with new facilities run by UN agencies. According to ANSA, the UN-backed government in Tripoli had voiced willingness to modify the terms of the 2017 deal accordingly."

Human Rights Watch letter to Frontex (HRW, link):

"I am writing in relation to a July 9 statement made by Croatian President Gabar-Kitarovic during an interview with Swiss channel SRF, where she admitted knowledge of pushbacks of migrants by Croatian border officials from Croatia to Bosnia Herzegovina and that sometimes force is used. The president’s acknowledgement is consistent with findings by Human Rights Watch, UNHCR, and other organizations.

It calls into question the effectiveness of European Border and Coast Guard Agency operations on the Croatia-Bosnia borders, and in particular European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s mandate to ensure the protection of human rights through detection activities."

EU: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession

The European Commission’s decision to give the green light to Croatia’s membership of the Schengen area has been condemned by human rights groups who say that it ignores “illegal and violent push-backs of migrants” at Croatia’s borders that violate EU and international law.

According to the European Court of Human Rights, all is well in the Greek hotspots: Joint Press Release (migreurop.org, link)

"The European Court of Human Rights has rejected for the most part the request made on 16 June 2016 by 51 persons (including many minors) from Afghanistan, Syria and Palestine, who were forcibly maintained in a situation of extreme distress in the hotspot of Chios, Greece [1].

The 51 applicants, supported by our organisations, were identified during an observation mission led by the Gisti in the Greek hotspots in May 2016 [2]. These persons were deprived of their freedom and detained on the island of Chios, which had become an open prison since the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement of 20 March 2016, just like the neighbouring islands of Lesbos, Leros, Samos and Kos. The requestees invoked the violation of several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights [3]".

See ECHR: Judgment (French, pdf)

Migrants in Malta transferred after EU deal (euobserver, link):

"Migrants were transferred on Thursday from Malta to Germany, Lithuania, and Romania after they were rescued by the NGO vessel Ocean Vikings last August, the Times of Malta writes. This follows an EU-brokered agreement reached between these member states before the migrants could disembark on Malta. However, the numbers of migrants transferred and those who remain in Malta are still unknown, according to the Maltese daily."

THE ATLAS OF MIGRATION IN EUROPE: A critical geography of migration policies (Migreurop and Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, Brussels, pdf):

Presentation evening: 11 November 2010: 19.00 - 21.00: Rm G3, main College Building, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1H OXG.

EU governments ignore Greek request to help 4,000 child refugees (euractiv, link):

"Greece’s migration minister Michalis Chrisochoidis sent a letter to his EU counterparts asking them to help share the burden of 4,000 unaccompanied minor refugees on Greek islands, but just one responded.

Speaking today (6 November) at the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), the Greek minister said they are 4,000 unaccompanied minors on Greek islands who live in conditions that “do not honour the EU”.

Chrisochoidis recently sent a letter to the EU-27 asking them to volunteer to share the burden, but received little response.

“One member state responded. It’s not a matter of rules or solidarity, it’s a matter of civilisation,” he said."

Data-driven policing: The hardwiring of discriminatory policing practies across Europe (European Network Against Racism, pdf):

"We, as activists, as anti-racist organisations, and as racialised communities in Europe, know too well what it means to be over-policed and under-protected. Still, in 2019, we feel the need to evidence racial profiling, to contest narratives placing us as a threat to ‘security’ and essentially to unsettle presumptions as to our criminality.

We are still mastering the techniques with which we contest over-policing, brutality and racial profiling. We must now contend with another challenge. When law enforcement resorts to new technology to aid their practice, we find ourselves at further risk. Not only must we consider our physical safety in our relations with the authorities, we also need to be informed about the security of our data."

EU to support reinforcement of Turkey's coast guard (Prensa Latina, link):

"The European Union (EU) will pay Turkey 50 million euros to reinforce its coast guard, as increasing numbers of migrants attempt to travel from this country to Europe, according to a senior EU official.

The Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Maciej Popowski, said that part of the money would help 'improve the capacities of the Turkish coast guard to perform search-and-rescue operations,' for migrants trying to reach the bloc through the Greek islands.

He noted that the rest of the funding would be used to improve conditions in migrant detention centers and to help those people allowed to stay in Turkey to better integrate into its society."

European Commission: Answer given by Mr Avramopouloson behalf of the European EU Commission: The objective of regional disembarkation arrangements is to establish predictable disembarkation and post-disembarkation procedures in line with international law (pdf)

Greece: Pork 'barbecue protest' plan near refugee camp raises hackles (DW, link):

"A Greek nationalist group's plan to throw a pork barbecue near a refugee camp has led to a debate in the country's parliament. Critics want to do something, but some say that would mean attacking the Greek way of life."

France to set migrant worker quotas in bid to appeal to rightwing voters - Policy seen as part of tougher stance by Emmanuel Macron as he prepares to take on Marie Le Pen (Guardian, link):

"France will start setting quotas for migrant workers from next year as Emmanuel Macron toughens his stance on immigration in an apparent attempt to appeal to rightwing voters.

The French labour minister, Muriel Pénicaud, said on Tuesday that France would set quotas for the first time, with the government working with employers to identify industries lacking qualified candidates and where foreigners could fill the gap."

Number of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece rises to 4,800 (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"They are the most vulnerable group among the refugees: unaccompanied minors in Greece. 4,800 children, aged 2 -17. A real challenge for those in and outside Greece dealing with their protection.

30 percent of them are orphans. Seven out of ten have families in Europe and need to be reunited.

The protection of unaccompanied minors is a major issue for the government, the creation of appropriate accommodation structures is imminent, their transfer from the overcrowded islands an urgent necessity.

The number of unaccompanied children in Greece is increasing: while they are approximately 2,500 unaccompanied children in 2017, their number has reached 4,800 in 2019, according to data released by the National Center for Social Solidarity on October 15."

'Repatriation' of Syrians in Turkey needs EU action (Euobserver, link):

""I was deported with about 35 Syrians on a large bus. They handcuffed us and…they beat some of the men on the bus with truncheons when they asked to go to the toilet or for water. We all spoke with each other [and] no one wanted to go back to Syria."

Do those sound like the words of refugees who freely signed papers asking Turkey to return them to an active conflict zone in northern Syria?"

European Parliament: Refugees in Turkey: MEPs to assess use of EU funds and cooperation with Ankara (europarl.europa.eu, link):

"MEPs will assess on Wednesday the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey and the results of the budgetary support provided by the EU to the Turkish government."

Migrants, the Libyan government issues a decree to neutralize NGOs (news1.news, link):

"The decree, issued by the Presidential Council of the Libyan national agreement, bears the date of September 14 and has as its object "the special treatment of international and non-governmental organizations in the Libyan area of ??maritime search and rescue".

He has also been sent to Italy and is a grotesque and dangerous attempt to hinder even more the work of humanitarian ships but above all to attack them with police operations with the threat of leading them and seizing them in Libyan ports."

Briefing: How will Greece’s new asylum law affect refugees? ‘There's no justification for what we're seeing.’ (The New Humanitarian, link):

"Nearly 44,000 asylum seekers have crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek islands so far this year, compared to fewer than 32,500 in all of 2018 – an annual increase of more than 30 percent, but still far below 2015 and 2016 levels.

In response, the Greek government passed a new asylum law on Thursday, 31 October aimed at speeding up procedures and facilitating the return of more people to Turkey under the terms of the EU-Turkey deal signed in March 2016 to curb migration across the Aegean."

Netherlands: Persisting delays in the procedure put strain on reception (asylumineurope.org, link):

"Asylum seekers in the Netherlands are confronted with a shortage of reception places, in addition to long delays in accessing the procedure.

As of 28 October 2019, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) counted 26,975 accommodation places. The Agency estimates that as many as 10,000 additional reception places will be needed as of January 2020 for the country to be able to house asylum seekers."

Land migration in Africa twice as deadly as Mediterranean, says UNHCR (DW, link):

"Even as a migrant rescue ship disembarks 88 asylum-seekers in an Italian port, a UN official says the Mediterranean isn't the most dangerous place for migrants. Many more die trying to reach the coast than in the sea.

While the Mediterranean Sea remains a deadly route for migrants attempting to reach the European Union, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned that the African land journey to reach the Mediterranean coast remains far more lethal.

Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR's special envoy for the central Mediterranean, said in an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that around twice as many migrants die crossing Africa as crossing the Mediterranean."

Call for Croatia to Be Kept out of Schengen Until it Improves Asylum Practices (liberties.eu, link):

"Croatia has received the green light from the European Commission to enter the border-free Schengen Area, but nine organisations and initiatives working with the victims of border violence have made their objections clear."

AYS Weekend Digest 02–03/11/2019: Italy-Libya deal renewed without changes (link)

Feature Story: Italy-Libya deal renewed without changes

"On Saturday 2nd of November the agreement between Italy and Libya which regulates the “cooperation in the fields of development, the fight against illegal immigration, human trafficking and fuel smuggling and on reinforcing the security of borders”, will be automatically renewed. Saturday was the deadline for proposing an annulment or any changes to the deal, but despite a lot of talk in the media, no official proposal was advanced. The deal is now valid for three more years."

GREECE: Arrivals

"Aegean Boat Report state that from Saturday to Sunday 8 boats arrived on the Greek Aegean islands, carrying 263 people, 7 of the boats arrive on Lesvos and the remaining one to Chios. However, in the last 3 days, a total of 97 boats carrying 3,519 people began the journey towards the Islands from Turkey, but only 28 % arrived — 27 boats carrying 1,098 people. 72 % were stopped."

Full breakdown of arrivals and more detailed statistics here (link)

GREECE: Residents of Chios block access to migrant camp in symbolic protest (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Residents of Chios early on Monday blocked the road leading to the island's Vial reception facility in a protest against the camp's growing migrant population.

The residents have said that they will scale up their protests if central government authorities do not extend an operation to decongest the camps on Lesvos and Samos to their island too.

Some 5,000 migrants are currently being hosted at the camp which is several times above its maximum capacity."

Outrage in Calais over death of Nigerian man in tent - Man tried to light a fire to keep warm and died from smoke inhalation (Guardian, link):

"Aid groups have protested over “inhuman” conditions for migrants and refugees sleeping rough in Calais after a 25-year-old Nigerian man died from smoke inhalation in his tent. He had tried to light a fire in a tin to keep warm and prepare food.

Police in Pas-de-Calais confirmed that a man had died from intoxication from smoke fumes at the end of last week and said an autopsy would take place. The man was the third migrant or refugee to die in Calais this year."

Migrants continue to suffer as reception centres remain overcrowded and violence against migrants surges (FRA, link):

"Significant increase in arrivals in Greece, overcrowding of reception centres and violence against migrants at the borders are some of the fundamental rights concerns FRA identifies in its latest migration quarterly report. It also highlights the situation in the Mediterranean, where boats with migrants were still being forced to remain at sea, waiting for weeks or days until they were allowed to disembark."

GREECE: AEGEAN BOAT REPORT: October 2019 (link to pdf):

"In 2019, people arriving is up 66%, compared to 2018. In October 270 boats made it to the Greek islands, carrying a total of 9251 people. Arrivals has decreased 13.8% compared to September, boats arriving is down 12.6%. Demographics on the islands: Men 44%, Women 21% and Children 35%."

German migrant rescue boat carrying 88 people allowed to dock in Italy (DW, link):

"After nearly a week stranded at sea, Italy granted permission for migrants on board a Sea-Eye rescue ship to disembark. The standoff ended after Germany and other EU countries agreed to take in the migrants."

Advocate General Sharpston: the Court should rule that, by refusing to comply with the provisional and time-limited mechanism for the mandatory relocation of applicants for internationalprotection, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have failed to fulfil their obligations under EU law (pdf)

"These Member States cannot invoke their responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security in order to disapply a valid EU measure with which they disagree."

See also: Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland ‘breached EU law’ by refusing refugees (euractiv, link)

GREECE: Leros turns away boat with migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Residents and local officials on the Aegean island of Leros on Friday blocked a passenger ferry carrying 40 migrants from Symi from disembarking.

Leros Mayor Michalis Kolias has protested against plans to move more migrants to the island where facilities, originally designed for 800 people, allegedly now hold around 3,000. The vessel was redirected to Kos."

AYS Daily Digest 31/10/19: Ventimiglia, illegal pushbacks as a daily reality at the French-Italian border (Medium, link):

"Illegal pushbacks at the French-Italian border are happening on a daily basis since few years, with an alarming increase in the past months, reaching a total number of 1.855 (sometimes the same person is counted multiple times) just in the month of October. More and more unaccompanied minors are being pushed-back by French authorities, in addition to adults, who are forced to spend the night imprisoned in containers and held in inhumane conditions. People are being denied any legal support and advice."

Greece must urgently transfer asylum seekers from the Aegean islands and improve living conditions in reception facilities (CoE, link):

"“The situation of migrants, including asylum seekers, in the Greek Aegean islands has dramatically worsened over the past 12 months. Urgent measures are needed to address the desperate conditions in which thousands of human beings are living,” said today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, at the end of a five-day visit to Greece during which she visited reception facilities in Lesvos, Samos, and Corinth.

The Commissioner is appalled by the unhygienic conditions in which migrants are kept in the islands."

Libyan decree to affect NGOs, Protests in Ethiopia, EU Parliament rejects motion on search and rescue (link):

"In this week’s News Highlights: Protests lead to killings of civilians in Ethiopia; Returnees to Ethiopia face difficult conditions; Follow the journey of Eritrean refugees; Human rights in Eritrea the topic of seminar in European Parliament; Right-wing groups in the European Parliament vote against improving rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea; Rescue ship waits 11 days at sea; Eritreans in the Netherlands protest against the presence of the Eritrean regime."

Greece: Aegean Boat Report (pdf)

"A total of 110 boats started their trip towards the Greek Islands, carrying a total of 3940 people. However, 67 boats were stopped by TCG/police, and 1625 people arrived on the Greek Islands.

So far this year 2559 boats have been stopped by The Turkish Coast Guard and Police, 84235 people. 44054 people have arrived on the Greek islands on 1335 boats, so far in 2019."

Migration and the Shrinking Humanitarian Space in EuropeFrom maritime search and rescue operations to contested humanitarian action in EU countries (CHA, link):

"As of October 10th, 1071 deaths of migrants were recorded in the Mediterranean in 2019.[1] In their attempt to save lives, civilian maritime search and rescue organisations like Sea Watch or Proactive Open Arms have gained high levels of media attention over the last years. Cases such as the arrest of the captain of the Sea Watch 3, Carola Rackete, in June 2019 or the three weeks odyssey of Open Arms in August 2019 dominate the media and public discourse in Europe."

Commission expects Greek reply to allegations of migrants’ mistreatment (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission expects the Greek authorities to follow up on the allegations of the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs over migrants’ mistreatment and the illegal practice of “pushback”, a Commission spokesperson has said.

The tension between Athens and Ankara has heated up recently following a statement by the Turkish foreign affairs ministry calling on Greece to end the illegal practice of “pushback” of irregular migrants at the Turkish border.

Ankara said in the first 10 months of 2019, 25,404 irregular migrants were pushed back into Turkey by Greece compared to 11,867 in 2018."

What drives African migrants to risk their lives? (DW, link):

"A UN study says that a majority of irregular migrants who made the fraught journey from Africa to Europe would do so again, despite knowing the dangers of the trip. Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), explains why."

Turkey: Sent to a war zone: Turkey's illegal deportations of Syrian refugees (AI, link):

"This report reveals that, contrary to the Turkish authorities’ claims that they do not deport anyone to Syria, in mid-2019 it is likely that hundreds of Syrian refugees across Turkey were swept up, detained, and transported against their will to one of the world’s most dangerous countries. Deporting anyone to Syria violates the international law principle of non-refoulement, as it puts them at risk of serious human rights violations. For those who manage to re-enter Turkey, they find that their Turkish identification documents have been cancelled. Syrians without valid identification documents are unable to access essential services and are at heightened risk of deportation."

Libya authorities 'fire warning shots' at migrant rescue ship (DW, link):

"Libyan authorities fired warning shots in the air and pointed mounted guns at rescuers and migrants, according to the humanitarian group Sea-Eye. A group spokesman said the act was unprecedented."

Greece: Asylum Overhaul Threatens Rights - Remove All Abusive Articles Before Passing Law (HRW, link):

"Greece’s parliament should scrap provisions in a new bill that threaten to limit asylum seekers’ access to protection, Human Rights Watch said today. The draft law, to be debated in parliament this week, would reduce safeguards for asylum seekers from countries like Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq in an effort to block the arrival of migrants and refugees in Greece, per a 2016 European Union (EU) migration deal with Turkey."

Back to the Libyan Warzone - How Malta Instructed Libyan Authorities to Intercept 50 Migrants within the Maltese SAR Zone (Alarmphone, link):

"On Friday the 18th of October 2019, in the afternoon, the Alarm Phone was contacted by an overcrowded boat in distress, carrying approximately 50 migrants. They had fled from Libya and were in the Maltese Search and Rescue (SAR) zone when they first alerted the Alarm Phone. The Alarm Phone informed RCC Malta via email and received acknowledgement of its receipt."

Did you say 'deal' on migration? ... or was it 'meal'? (Malta Today, link):

Yet we still blame asylum seekers – and only asylum seekers – for a crisis brought on directly by the incompetence, nonchalance, and sheer ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude of the politicians we rely on to solve all our migration and national security problems (but who are really the cause of all these problems to begin with)."


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

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