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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"

June 2019

Sophia in limbo: political games limit sea rescues (euobserver, link):

"There are only few weeks left until the mandate of the EU's naval mission in the Mediterranean, EUNAVFOR Med [Operation Sophia], will expire on 31 March.

Nevertheless, Germany already decided in January to stop contributing vessels to the mission: its frigate Augsburg left in February."

Four human traffickers jailed for life over migrant truck deaths (DW, link):

"Four years ago, the bodies of 71 migrants were found inside an abandoned truck in Austria. The main suspects had already been sentenced, but now an appeal court in Hungary has delivered the final ruling on the case.

A court in Hungary on Thursday sentenced an Afghan ring leader and three Bulgarian accomplices to life in prison over the deaths of 71 migrants four years ago.

The men were found guilty of human trafficking and manslaughter. Judge Erik Mezolaki ruled Thursday that three of the traffickers would have no possibility of parole, whilethe fourth would serve a minimum 30 years."

CoE: Doris Fiala urges parliaments to lead the debate on humane refugee policy (link):

"The Chair of PACE’s Migration Committee has urged national parliaments to lead the political debate on devising humane refugee policies, reminding states that “it is a legal and moral obligation to treat with humanity everyone seeking refuge in Europe”.

Speaking on World Refugee Day, Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE) said this was all the more important at a time when racism, xenophobia and nationalism were challenging the Council of Europe’s common values and legal standards on refugees."

Germany: Death threats sent to pro-refugee politicians (DW, link)

"As the investigation into the murder of Walter Lübcke intensifies, Cologne's mayor and several other German politicians have had their lives threatened. Police say the threats likely also stem from right-wing extremists."

EU must rethink migration policy that empowers "unaccountable militias and regimes", say rights groups

A coalition of civil society organisations working for democracy and human rights in Africa have accused the EU and its member states of empowering "unaccountable militias and regimes" and "undermining rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and the role of civil society" through activities undertaken as part of the EU-driven 'Khartoum Process' and the EU Trust Fund for Africa.

Norway: 'Callous decision' to deport family to Afghanistan must be reversed (Amnesty, link):

"The Norwegian government must immediately halt the dangerous deportation of Taibeh Abbasi and her family back to Afghanistan, Amnesty International said today.

Taibeh (20) and her brothers Eshan (16) and Yasin (22) were flown from Norway to Istanbul on Saturday together with their mother. Due to a health condition, their mother is expected to be returned to Norway, but the children are at imminent risk of being flown to Kabul.

Ten Norwegian immigration police in Istanbul are reportedly escorting the siblings to Kabul. The Norwegian government has justified the family’s deportation by claiming that Afghanistan is safe for returns. This claim is contradicted by the record-high levels of violence documented across Afghanistan."

New ECtHR Judgment: Greece violates Articles 3 & 5 ECHR (Deighton Pierce Glynn, link):

"The ECtHR has ruled on the plight of migrant children trapped in degrading conditions of detention in Greece caused in part by the closure of the Balkans corridor into the rest of Europe. Our client, Statewatch, submitted a third party intervention on this important case.

DPG Partner Zubier Yazdani instructed Garden Court barristers Shu Shin Luh and Ronan Toal to draft a third party intervention for our client Statewatch.

In a judgment issued on 13/06/2019 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Greece had violated its obligations under Articles 3 & 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits cruel inhumane and degrading treatment (Art 3) and arbitrary detention (Art 5). The case was brought by several applicants against Greece, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia."

See: ECHR press release (pdf) and: Written Submission on behalf of Statewatch as Third Party Intervener (pdf)

Council of Europe member states must assume more responsibility for rescuing migrants at sea and protecting their rights (CoE ,link):

"“European states’ approach to migration in the Mediterranean Sea has become much too focused on preventing refugees and migrants from reaching European shores, and too little on the humanitarian and human rights aspects. This approach is having tragic consequences”, said Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a Recommendation today which identifies the deficiencies of this approach, and aims at helping member states to reframe their response according to human rights standards."

See: Lives saved. Rights protected.Bridging the protection gap for refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean (pdf)

Germany mulls requests to host Sea-Watch migrants (DW, link):

"Dozens of cities, including Berlin and Rottenburg, have offered to take in migrants rescued in the Mediterranean. But German authorities have said resettling 53 migrants rescued by Sea-Watch would require EU support."

EU summit must give effective answer on migration (euobserver, link):

"Three years on from the peak of arrivals, the inability of European leaders to put in place an effective system is both failing the most vulnerable and threatening the EU's credibility with its citizens - leaving populist and far right parties to reap the rewards in the European elections."

STRUCTURAL FAILURE: Why Greece’s reception system failed to provide sustainable solutions (Refugee Support Aegean, link):

"On June 6th 2019, there were 16,108 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants stranded on the Greek islands of Samos, Chios, Lesvos, Leros and Kos. Out of those, 12,628 lived in the hot-spots while the capacity of these centres was for 6,438. The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants staying in the Evros RIC was 366 while its capacity is for 318 people. Meanwhile, an estimated 16,457 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were living in 25 refugee camps in Greece’s mainland.(...)

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) and PRO ASYL have studied and analyzed three key elements of the reception system in order to produce a narrative on why state interventions, co-planned and subsidized by the EU, have not managed to produce long term sustainable solutions."

EUROPE’S MIGRATION CHALLENGE - From integration to inclusion (link):

"As Europe prepares for the arrival of new Members of the European Parliament, a new European Commission and a new President of the European Council, it’s time to take a fresh look at Europe’s conventional thinking on migration. "


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.5-13.6.19) including:
- France carries out first deportation to Eritrea
- Germany: Bundestag approves new deportation law
- Italy to fine people saving lives at sea
- Frontex opens risk analysis cell in Senegal

France carries out first deportation to Eritrea (La Cimade, link):

"On June 6, 2019, the prefecture of Pyrénées-Orientales expelled an Eritrean person to Asmara from the administrative detention center (CRA) of Toulouse. This is France's first expulsion to Eritrea, a country with one of the most violent dictatorships in the world."

EU budget 2020: Commission focuses its proposal on jobs, growth and security (EC press release, pdf):

"Many of Europe's challenges know no borders. The EU has repeatedly used all flexibility in the budget to respond to disasters, address migration challenges and strengthen the EU's external borders. By mobilising its various instruments, the 2020 EU budget will continue to invest in solidarity and security in Europe and beyond:

€420.6 million (+34.6% compared to 2019) for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) following the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council in March 2019 to set up a standing corps of 10 000 border guards by 2027;

(...)"

Balkan Region – Report May 2019 (Border Violence Monitoring, link):

"No Name Kitchen, Border Violence Monitoring and [Re:]ports Sarajevo have published a common report summarizing current developments in pushbacks and police violence in the Western Balkans, mainly in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and along the Serbian borders with Croatia.

As such, this report contains analysis and a review of the situation in these areas as well. In total, this report covers 23 case reports on border violence and collective expulsions.

The report details, among other things:

France: Police harassing, intimidating and even using violence against people helping refugees (Amnesty, link):

"French authorities have harassed, intimidated and even violently assaulted people offering humanitarian aid and other support to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in northern France in a deliberate attempt to curtail acts of solidarity, a new report by Amnesty International has found.

Targeting solidarity: Criminalization and harassment of people defending migrant and refugee rights in northern France reveals how people helping refugees and migrants in Calais and Grand-Synthe are targeted by the police and the court system.

“Providing food to the hungry and warmth to the homeless have become increasingly risky activities in northern France, as the authorities regularly target people offering help to migrants and refugees,” said Lisa Maracani, Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defenders Researcher."

German Parliament Passes “Orderly-Return-Law” (ECRE, link):

"...the “Orderly Return Law” (Geordnete-Rückkehr-Gesetz)... has drawn extensive criticism from several civil society organisations, including PRO ASYL. The bill facilitates the use of detention by expanding the grounds for using detention e.g. when asylum seekers do not cooperate for the purpose of their deportation or in cases in which there is no evidence of a risk of absconding. Similarly, the authorities responsible for carrying out deportations are granted the right to access apartments without a judicial order in certain circumstances. In violation of the EU Return Directive, the bill also provides that, until 2022, people awaiting deportation may be placed in regular prisons as long as people affected will be held in premises separate from convicted criminals."

Frontex opens Risk Analysis Cell in Senegal (Frontex, link):

"On 12 June, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, opened a Risk Analysis Cell in Dakar in cooperation with Senegalese authorities within the framework of the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC).

Taking part in the opening in Senegal were representatives of Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, as well as other international partners.

The role of the cells, which are run by local analysts trained by Frontex, is to collect and analyse strategic data on cross-border crime in various African countries and support relevant authorities involved in border management.

This includes information on illegal border crossings, document fraud, trafficking in human beings and other types of cross-border crime. It is shared with authorities at national and regional level to produce analysis and policy recommendations, as well as with Frontex."

ECHR: Unaccompanied migrant minors stayed in Greece in conditions unsuited to their age and circumstances (pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Sh.D. and Others v. Greece, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia (application no. 14165/16) concerning the living conditions in Greece of five unaccompanied migrant minors from Afghanistan, the European Court of Human Rights, unanimously:

- declared the complaints against Austria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded;

- declared the complaints against Greece under Articles 3 and 5 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights admissible;"

See: Written Submission on behalf of Statewatch as Third Party Intervene (pdf)

Biometrics: The new frontier of EU migration policy in Niger (thenewhumanitarian.org, link):

"The EU’s strategy for controlling irregular West African migration is not just about asking partner countries to help stop the flow of people crossing the Mediterranean – it also includes sharing data on who is trying to make the trip and identifying to which countries they can be returned. (...)

proposed tougher mandate will rely in part on biometric information stored on linked databases in Africa and Europe. It is a step rights campaigners say not only jeopardises the civil liberties of asylum seekers and others in need of protection, but one that may also fall foul of EU data privacy legislation.(...)

Niger hosts the first of eight planned “Risk Analysis Cells” in Africa set up by Frontex and based inside its border police directorate."

And see Statewatch Analyses: EU-Africa: Fortress Europe’s neo-colonial project (pdf) and From the “carrot and stick” to the “stick” From GAMM (2005) to “Partnership Frameworks” (2016) in Africa (pdf)

Are You Syrious (12.6.19, link)

Feature: A New Law has been passed in Italy ‘Decreto Sicurezza Bis,’ that among other things, means exorbitant fees for all who dare to save lives at sea.(...)

"Specifically the new Decree includes: Fees between €10,000 and €50,000 for transporting people on the move to the Italian shores. The fee must be paid by the captain of the vessel, the owner of the vessel."

2019 EP Elections – News from the UNITED network (link):

"The 2019 European Parliamentary Elections results brought an unprecedented political composition of the European Parliament. While the turnout (almost 51%) has been the highest since 1994, an important growth of the Greens, and great gains for nationalists and far-right parties shows a trend of increasing political polarisation."

Refugee population on the Greek Islands as at 9 June: 16,200 (UNHCR)

Frontex: Migration situation has improved significantly (infomigrants.net, link):

"The illegal immigration situation in the EU has "significantly improved," with 30,000 irregular crossings of EU borders since the start of 2019, Fabrice Leggeri, the director of the European Union border agency Frontex, said in a recent interview.

"The highest number of [arrivals were] in Greece, where migrants are either crossing the land border from Turkey, or by sea. The Aegean Sea is once again the number one route," Leggeri said in an interview with German daily Welt."

UNHCR urges Italy to reconsider proposed decree affecting rescue at sea in the Central Mediterranean (UNHCR UK, link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is concerned at a recent decree from the Government of Italy that contains several provisions affecting refugees and migrants, including fines for NGO vessels engaged in saving lives at sea.

Sea rescue is a long-standing humanitarian imperative. It is also an obligation under international law. No vessel or shipmaster should be at risk of a fine for coming to the aid of boats in distress and where loss of life may be imminent.

“At a time when European states have largely withdrawn from rescue efforts in the Central Mediterranean, NGO vessels are more crucial than ever,” said Roland Schilling, UNHCR Regional Representative to Southern Europe ad interim. “Without them, it is inevitable that more lives will be lost.”"

Germany withdraws from EUNAVFOR’s Operation 'Sophia' in Mediterranean (Jane's 360, link):

"Germany will end its participation in the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean’s (EUNAVFOR Med’s) Operation ‘Sophia’ counter human smuggling and trafficking mission, the German Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website on 6 June. German personnel will stop working in the mission’s headquarters in Rome, Italy, on 30 June."

Italy to fine NGOs who rescue migrants at sea (DW, link):

"The Italian government has decided to impose stiff fines on rescuers who bring migrants into port without authorization. It also gave the interior ministry, led by Matteo Salvini, power to demand the payment."

And see: EU mute on new Italian decree to fine NGO boats (euobserver, link): "The European Commission has said it will not comment on a new Italian decree to fine NGO boats that rescue migrants at sea until it is officially passed by the government in Rome. Pressed on whether it opposes sanctions in general on such vessels, the Commission on Wednesday (12 June) also declined to respond."

Migrant crisis: Children among seven killed as boat sinks in Greece (BBC NEWS, link):

"At least seven people have been killed and 57 others rescued after a boat carrying migrants overturned near the Greek island of Lesbos, officials say.

The bodies of two children, four women and a man were recovered on Tuesday morning off the port of Mytilene."

LEAK: EU’s five-year plan doubles down on protecting borders (euractiv, link):


"EU leaders want to focus on migration and protection of external borders, or the “integrity of our physical space”, over the next five years, according to a draft of the so-called strategic agenda obtained by EURACTIV. Economy and climate action rank second and third.

In the draft strategy for 2019-2024, meant to guide the work of the EU institutions, national leaders prioritise migration policy over other areas, while strengthening the economy, fighting climate change and taking Europe global also feature."

See: Draft EU strategy 2019-2024 (pdf)

Are You Syrious (20.6.19, link):

"Croatia has erected a spiked metal fence on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina near the crossings Gejkovac and Pašin Potok yesteday.

That is surely the effect of the EU’s support to enforcing Croatian “discouragement” tactics that are basically illegal collective expulsions and violence imposed on the people who are found at the border area, but also within the country."

Asylum seekers in EU on the rise again: report (Politico, link):

"Analysis shows more applications from Latin American, western Balkan countries with visa-free travel.

The number of people seeking asylum in the EU has increased so far this year, bucking a downward trend since the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, according to an analysis by German media (...)

The increase is attributed to a dramatic rise in people applying from Venezuela, Colombia and the western Balkans, who don’t need a visa to travel to the EU."

CoE: Anti-racism commission publishes its annual report - Hate speech and xenophobic populism remained major concerns in Europe in 2018 (link):

"Xenophobic populism and racist hate speech continued to make their mark on the contemporary political climate in Europe in 2018, says the annual report [pdf] of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) published today.

The growing public anxiety about economic, geopolitical and technological changes was exploited by those scapegoating migrants and minorities, in particular populist politicians aiming at dividing societies along national, ethnic or religious lines. Not only were such views expressed by fringe politicians, but they increasingly gained footing within mainstream political parties and national governments, which remained a major concern for ECRI."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.6-10.6.19) including 20 items.

Statewatch Analysis: The Commission and Italy tie themselves up in knots over Libya (pdf): by Yasha Maccanico.

At the end of March, the European Commission and the Italian interior minister appeared to undermine one another both respectively and collectively through a sequence of messages that emerged as part of their efforts to assert the existence of a Libyan search and rescue (SAR) zone.

The entire incident demonstrates how Italy and the European Commission are trying to assert the fiction of a Libyan SAR zone – financing it, providing resources and managing it – in order to neutralise concerns over both the north African country’s status as an unsafe place and their own humanitarian obligations.

EU restricts visas for non-cooperation on migration (DW, link)

"Citizens from third countries that do not take back rejected asylum-seekers may find it more difficult to obtain visas for the EU. Conversely, full cooperation could reap extra rewards."

Refugees in Greece concerned about state of EU (DW, link):

"Thousands of refugees and migrants make a new start in the EU every year. After the recent European elections, Marianna Karakoulaki spoke to some of those who have made Greece their home about the problems they see."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 6-7 June: Returns, Migration challenges, data retention, e-evidence, visas & 5G

Background Note (pdf), Main "B" points agenda (for discussion, pdf), "A" Points - legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf), "A" Points - Non-legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf)

See: Press release for 6-7 June: final (pdf)

‘Violence by design’ – the PPT delivers its verdict on the hostile environment (IRR News, link):

"Public tribunal finds hostile environment policies foster racism, institutional cruelty and violence by design.

As the scandal over the treatment of the Windrush generation and the failure to offer adequate compensation continues, the Home Office’s immigration and asylum policies are under scrutiny like never before. The Department of Health and Social Care are under fire too for failing to make public reports on the detrimental effects of immigration checks on migrants. Now the jury of the Permanent People’s Tribunal on Violations of the Rights of Migrants and Refugees adds to the pressure, with a damning verdict on the impact of the government’s hostile environment policies."

See: PPT-Report.(pdf)

Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, escalates attack on judges - Three magistrates singled out over their challenges to government’s hardline immigration policies (Guardian, link):

"A simmering row over the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Italy has erupted after the far-right interior minister publicly singled out three magistrates who have challenged his hardline anti-immigration policies.

In an escalation of his battle with the judges and the courts, Matteo Salvini said he would ask the state attorney to examine whether the magistrates should have abstained from passing verdicts in cases involving immigrants because their opinions conflict with government policy on security and immigration."

EU: Ministerial statement on "migration challenges" keeps focus on control measures

Interior ministers and other representatives of EU and Western Balkan states recently produced a statement emphasising the need to maintain strict control measures along the 'Balkan Route' and at the EU's south-eastern borders, with no reference to the dire situation faced by many migrants and refugees in the region.

GREECE: Exclusive: Violence breaks out between residents of refugee camp and police on Greek island of Samos (Euronews, link):

"Police clashed with residents from a refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos on Saturday morning, an NGO has told Euronews.

The refugees and asylum seekers were staging a protest march about living conditions in the camp but had their route blocked by police at around 7.30 am local time, a member of the NGO said.

...Overcrowding is a serious issue in the Samos camp, which is designed to host a maximum of around 650 people, while there are roughly 4,000 people living there and in the "jungle" surrounding it.

...This is not the first time the inhabitants of the camp have demonstrated, with three peaceful protests taking place in January along with another that turned violent, although "nothing as bad as this," according to the NGO.

Saturday marked the first time police used tear gas on the asylum seekers and refugees, it said."

IRELAND: Justice ‘not the appropriate department’ to support asylum seekers (Irish Times, link):

"The Department of Justice is not appropriately equipped to provide accommodation, health and social services to people in direct provision who are “effectively, living in punitive detention”, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said.

The council’s submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality, co-written with Dr Maeve O’Rourke from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, highlights the need for unannounced inspections of direct provision centres to ensure the rights of residents are respected.

The report follows a presentation made by the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) last week to the Oireachtas justice committee in which the group called for the system of direct provision to be abolished and replaced with a scheme which would provide asylum seekers with housing support via local authorities."

See: Irish Council for Civil Liberties/Irish Centre for Human Rights: Joint submission to Committee on Justice and Equality on Direct Provision (link to pdf)

EU: Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) update report - May 2019

The Commission Services together with the EEAS (European External Action Service) have produced the latest: GAMM update (9679/19, LIMITE, 24 May 2019, 44 pages, pdf).

CZECH REPUBLIC: Border protection centre opens in Prague (Radio Praha, link):

"Minister of Interior Jan Hamácek, along with police and customs officials on Tuesday opened a National Border Protection Centre in Prague. The main task of the newly established centre is to ensure cooperation between security forces in the protection of the Czech Republic’s outer borders.

The joint centre of the immigration police and the Czech Republic’s Customs Administration, which is located in Prague, will cooperate with partners in the Schengen Area and other countries.

Mr Hamácek said better protection of the Czech Republic’s outer borders was a basic precondition for preserving the freedom of movement."

EU's Frontex border agency set for 34% budget increase (EUobserver, link):

"The European Commission on Wednesday, in its draft EU budget proposal for 2020, said Frontex, the EU's border and coast agency, should get €420.6m. That sum is a 34.6 percent increase compared to 2019. The money is slated to help set up a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027."

Interview: We Need to Snap Out of the Crisis Mode and Take a Step Back (ECRE, link):

"Interview with Ruben Andersson, an anthropologist and Associate Professor in the Department of International Development, University of Oxford, working on migration, borders and security. He is the author of No Go World: How fear is redrawing our maps and infecting our politics (University of California Press 2019) and Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe (University of California Press 2014)."

UPDATE: Case against EU taken to ICC on migration policy in the Mediterranean: Full-text of submission to the court (244 pages, pdf)

See also: ICC submission calls for prosecution of EU over migrant deaths (The Guardian, link)

EU: New immigration liaison officers network puts more emphais on EU-level coordination

The Council of the EU and European Parliament recently agreed on a new Regulation establishing a network of European immigration liaison officers, aiming for greater EU-level coordination of the officials deployed to non-EU countries for the purpose of monitoring migration flows, assisting in obtaining documents for people subject to deportation from the EU and passing on relevant information to EU law enforcement authorities

Commission unmoved by accusations of ‘crimes against humanity’ (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission defended its track record of saving lives in the Mediterranean on Monday (3 June), as it faced accusations of ““crimes against humanity” substantiated in a 245-page report by international lawyers, brought before the International Criminal Court."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.5-3.6.19) including:
- Submission to ICC seeks prosecution of EU over migrant deaths
- Hundreds occupy Paris airport to protest against deportations
- New report on the Dublin Regulation, the "infernal machine of the European asylum system"
- Externalisation: Frontex launches first formal operation outside of the EU

ICC submission calls for prosecution of EU over migrant deaths (The Guardian, link):

"The EU and member states should be prosecuted for the deaths of thousands of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean fleeing Libya, according to a detailed legal submission to the international criminal court (ICC).

The 245-page document calls for punitive action over the EU’s deterrence-based migration policy after 2014, which allegedly “intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress at sea, with the sole objective of dissuading others in similar situation from seeking safe haven in Europe”.

The indictment is aimed at the EU and the member states that played a prominent role in the refugee crisis: Italy, Germany and France."

Background: Time to Investigate European Agents for Crimes against Migrants in Libya (EJIL: Talk!, link)

Turkey police bust human trafficking ring, arrest smugglers (Al Jazeera, link):

"Turkish police have arrested 20 members of an international migrant-smuggling organisation, including one of Europe's most wanted traffickers, Turkish police have said.

Akbar Omar Tawfeeq, the suspected leader of the crime syndicate, and others were captured on May 25 during a joint operation conducted by police and intelligence agencies, officials said in a news briefing in Istanbul on Wednesday.

At least 569 migrants were caught and judicial authorities confiscated six vehicles, six boats and numerous life vests belonging to Tawfeeq's organisation, police officials said.

The crackdown came after an investigation led by Istanbul's chief public prosecutor, who suggested that the organisation smuggled migrants from Afghanistan and northern Iraq, to Greece, Italy and other European countries in return for large sums of money.

The prosecutor's report also found that the group smuggled migrants stuck in Greece to other European Union countries, as a second route across Europe.

Authorities conducted a process of technical surveillance and tracked the suspects' movements in countries such as Ukraine, England and Italy, in coordination with local authorities."

Ministerial Forum for Member States of the Schengen Area with External Land Borders Joint Statement (Council document 9761/19, 28 May 2019, pdf):

"We, the Ministers in charge of border management of Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, cooperating within the framework of the Ministerial Forum for Member States of the Schengen Area with External Land Borders (the Forum), established in Lappeenranta, Finland, in 2013; gathered in Kirkenes, Norway, on 20-22 May 2019, upon the invitation of the Norwegian Presidency of the Forum."

May 2019

UK: Home Office rules on determining if asylum seekers are minors ruled unlawful (Irish Legal News, link):

"Home Office rules on determining if asylum seekers are younger than 18 are unlawful, senior judges have ruled.

The Court of Appeal has supported a claim made by an Eritrean man, who sought asylum in 2014, The Times reports.

Guidelines from the Home Office state that asylum seekers should be believed when they claim to be under 18 unless “their physical appearance very strongly suggests that they are significantly over 18 years of age and no other credible evidence exists to the contrary”."

Judgment: BF (Eritrea) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWCA Civ 872 (23 May 2019) (pdf)

France: Hundreds of People Occupy Airport to Protest Airline’s Role in Deportations (ECRE, link):

"Several Hundred People have occupied terminal 2F of the airport Charles-de-Gaulle in Roissy, France, to protest against Air France’s collaboration in deportations from France and the asylum policy of the French state.

The protest was organised by the collective Gilets Noirs (Black Vests), a group of migrants without papers (“sans-papiers”) in the Ile-de-France region, and the pro-migrant activist group la Chapelle debout. Around 500 people occupied the terminal for two hours."

See: Les Gilets Noirs: We are in the airport in France (Statewatch News, 22 May 2019)

EU: Dublin regulation: Into the infernal machine of the European asylum system (La Cimade, link):

"For many people in exile who seek asylum when they come to Europe, the word “Dublin” brings to mind thoughts of a constant threat which might knoc k them down at any moment. Far from evoking thoughts of the Irish capital, “Dublin” puts them back into endless procedures, continual suspicion and fear of being sent back to a country where they don’t want to live. La Cimade publishes an Observation Report about the impact of the Dublin Regulation."

Are You Syrious (25-26.5.19,link):

Feature: Police Brutality on Greek island of Samos

"Refugees protesting the deplorable conditions in the Samos camp were met with tear gas and police batons this Saturday morning. According to statements by NGO workers and refugees, a protest began around 7:30 on Saturday morning when a line of police officers blocked the path of refugees.(...)"

Afghans deported from Germany face violence, other perils (DW, link)

"In May alone, there have been numerous murders, incidents of violence and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. According to a UN report, 561 civilians were killed from January to March 2019. And Germany's Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning for Afghanistan, reporting that "staying in most parts of the country remains dangerous."

Despite these facts, Germany recently deported 26 more people to Afghanistan. Since December 2016, almost 600 people have been sent to the country in a total of 24 repatriation flights. Authorities have even used physical force to deport people.

Once people who have been deported from Germany land in Afghanistan, they are left to fend for themselves and face uncertain futures."

CoE: Human trafficking: Experts underline the need to help victims (link):

"In its latest annual report, published today, GRETA sets out a series of legal requirements included in the Council of Europe’s anti-trafficking convention*, including proving victims with appropriate accommodation, medical treatment, psychological assistance and material support as well as information on their rights, legal assistance and help with reintegration into society."

Are You Syrious (23.5.19, link):

Feature: After 3 years, reception in Greece is still an emergency

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) researchers conducted interviews with individual refugees and families living in five refugee camps in Northern and Central Greece (Central Macedonia, Epirus and Thessaly)

People risk death and are returned to Libya while Europe watches

"During the last two days more than 300 people left Libya on at least 5 dinghies. IOM report that 285 were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and returned in the country, where they will be immediately detained.

Sea Watch, Moonbird and AlarmPhone witnessed teh developments (...)

Sea Watch report that an Italian military vessel refused to take action to rescue people risking to drown and hanging on to a deflating rubber dinghy."

GREECE ARRIVALS

"Arrivals on the Greek islands have not made the headlines for a long while, but the lack of attention by mainstream media does not mean that people have stopped trying to cross the Aegean Sea or that numbers are decreasing. Aegaean Boat Report have summarized the attempts to cross and the arrivals on the Greek eastern islands of the last weeks."

Samos: forgotten frontline: Video (link)

200,000 displaced Syrians flee towards Turkey (euractiv, link):

"Pressure is mounting on Turkish authorities to open their borders to more than 200,000 refugees from Syria. What prevents the refugees from entering is a 764-km wall Turkey has built along the border, in fear of Kurdish “terrorists”."

Net immigration to Britain falls to 5-year low in 2018 (Reuters, link):

"Long-term immigration to Britain fell to a five-year low last year, driven by a fall in the number of migrants from the European Union, official figures showed on Friday."

EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal (euobserver, link):

"Police in Senegal deal with a street disturbance - they will soon be joined by European officers, paid for by EU development aid, to tackle people-smuggling

In a matter of weeks, some €9m of EU development aid will be used to shore up the police in Senegal, West Africa, to help crack down on migrant smuggling.

While such EU-funded development projects on security are nothing new, the latest effort in Senegal is a novelty."

Dutch minister resigns over manipulated report of crimes committed by asylum-seekers (euractiv, link):

"The Netherlands’ minister for migration, Mark Harbers, resigned Tuesday (21 May) after a parliamentary outcry over elided data on crimes committed by asylum-seekers, in a bad blow to the government just ahead of European elections."

Council of Europe: Hungary should address interconnected human rights issues in refugee protection, civil society space, independence of the judiciary and gender equality (link):

"The Commissioner finds that the government’s stance against immigration and asylum seekers has resulted in a legislative framework which undermines the reception of asylum seekers and the integration of recognised refugees. The Commissioner calls on the government to repeal the decreed “crisis situation due to mass immigration” which is not justified by the number of asylum seekers currently entering Hungary and the EU and urges the authorities to refrain from using anti-migrant rhetoric and campaigns which fan xenophobic attitudes."

See: Commissioner's Report on Hungary following her visit to the country in February 2019 (pdf) and: Hungarian government comments (pdf)

ITALY: UN special rapporteurs call for withdrawal of Salvini decree criminalising search and rescue activities

Six UN special rapporteurs and independent experts have written to the Italian government demanding the withdrawal of an interior ministry directive that prioritises 'security concerns' over the saving of lives at sea, as examined in a Statewatch analysis published last month.

EU: Externalisation: Frontex launches first formal operation outside of the EU and deploys to Albania

The EU has taken a significant, if geographically small, step in the externalisation of its borders. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, has launched its first Joint Operation on the territory of a non-EU-Member State, as it begins cooperation with Albania on the border with Greece.

FRANCE: Les Gilets Noirs: We are in the airport in France

“I’m here to tell you that for them we are commodities! If they give us documents they lose their business. So they must see that someone stood up. We are not balls to be kicked about, we are not children. Our struggle is not only about papers. What you have yet to see you’ll see when you fight. There is sorrow and happiness inside. Things need to become red and people need to rise to bring it out. The shame is theirs, not ours. They must stop seeing black people as blackness, but see that they have become red.”

Italy seizes Sea-Watch 3 rescue vessel (DW, link):

"Italy's far-right interior minister has condemned the seizure of the ship, saying migrants on board should not have set foot in Italy. However, the condition of the refugees had swayed the authorities' opinion.

Italian prosecutors on Sunday impounded rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3 for breaching immigration rules despite government attempts to block the ship from reaching an Italian port.

The ship rescued 65 migrants off the coast of Libya last week. It had originally signaled its intention to disembark them at an Italian port, but was blocked by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini."

ECHR: Italian Government must provide temporary accommodation for Roma children and their parents evicted from a settlement (pdf):

"On 5 April 2019 the Mayor of Giugliano issued Decree no. 29, ordering that all the settlement’s inhabitants be evicted for reasons of public health and safety. That order was carried out on 10 May. The applicants currently live with their families in an improvised campsite in an industrial area outside Giugliano.(...)

had been rehoused, the Court decided to apply an interim measure indicating to the Italian Government that it should provide temporary accommodation for the minors involved and their parents, without separating them."

EU elections 2019: Where do parties stand on migration? (euractiv, link):

"Although irregular arrivals in Europe are at their lowest level in five years, migration remains one of the top priorities for European citizens in the upcoming EU election. EURACTIV has looked into the European parties’ proposals on the matter."


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

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