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

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

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

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December 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-10.12.17)
Greece: Migrant arrivals offset decongestion efforts (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The effort to improve the living conditions of refugees and migrants stranded at overcrowded reception centers on the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos by transferring some of them to the mainland will fail to yield the desired result as long as flows from Turkey continue.

In its latest report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that 17,764 people were transferred from the islands to the mainland in the period from July 2016 to November 2017.

UNHCR sources clarified, however, that the number of those removed from the islands is significantly higher than the official figure."

Spanish migrant detention centers 'worse than prisons' (DW, link)

"Migrants who arrive in Spain from Africa often face detention in a Center for the Internment of Foreigners (CIE), where their fundamental human rights are not always respected. Santiago Saez reports from Madrid.

Are Yopu Syrious (9.12.17, link)

FEATURE

"We keep stressing, almost daily, the inhumane conditions in which asylum seekers are detained in Libya and it seems never to be enough.

On Thursday, MEDU - Medici per i Diritti Umani (an NGO that has been working with migrants for years, offering medical care and assistance, based in Rome), presented the results of last year’s research in the light of the work of their mobile clinic at Piazzale Maslax, in co-operation with Baobab Experience.

As reported, more than 80% of the patients survived torture and serious abuse in Libya, just to reach Italy and find no welcoming reception system.

From December 2016 until November 2017, the staff members of MEDU treated 868 people, completing 1,524 checks (including first checks and follow ups visits), during 124 night shifts in 3 different precarious “spots” in Rome: Piazzale Maslax, the Termini area and an occupied building in the Tor Cervara district.

As Melting Pot further reports, the majority of the patients were forced migrants (seekers of asylum relocation, refugees, forced migrants transiting to other EU countries). 93% of them were males, between 18 and 30 years old (68%) and, in the majority of the cases, they had reached Italy a few months or weeks before (44% less than a month before). (...)

GREECE

"According to the llaLatest statistics published by AYS, 3,800 people arrived in the Greek islands the past month, while 2,128 were transferred to the mainland in the same period."

SERBIA

"Rigardu e.V. will publish on Sunday the full report regarding systematic police violence against refugees and illegal push-backs occurring at the borders of the EU with Serbia. The entire report will be available on their website and on the AYS FB page.

In co-operation with other NGOs, Rigardu e.V. has collected visual proofs and reports of more than 110 cases in which Croatian and Hungarian police illegally deported migrants to Serbia, just in 2017. More than 850 people, including minors, have experienced violence and abuse and were deprived of their dignity. The incidents were mainly reported in the areas of Šid (Serbia-Croatia) and Subotica (Serbia-Hungary). The asylum seekers involved were mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Maghreb."

Greece: Mouzalas says cannot rule out risk of deaths from cold at migrant camps (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As winter looms, and hundreds of migrants continue to live in tents outside overcrowded reception centers on the Aegean islands, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has conceded that he could not rule out the risk of people dying from hypothermia.(...)

Asked why Greece is not transferring larger numbers of migrants from cramped centers on the islands to the mainland, Mouzalas said authorities were doing all that they could within the framework of a deal between Ankara and the European Union aimed at cracking down on human smuggling across the Aegean."

CROATIA-SERBIA: 'They treated her like a dog': tragedy of the six-year-old killed at Croatian border (The Guardian, link):

"When the train hit six-year-old Madina Hussiny, her family stumbled to the watching Croatian border police begging for help, her body limp in their arms.

The same officers had ordered the exhausted Afghan family down railway tracks towards Serbia in the dark without warning them there might still be trains running, said Madina’s mother, Muslima Hussiny. But desperate and terrified, they had nowhere else to turn.

Madina was a casualty of a slow-burning crisis along Europe’s borders that aid groups and activists say is causing untold suffering."

UK: New Data Laws Declare Open Season On Migrant Rights - It Could Be You Next (Huffington Post, link):

"Data protection laws going through Parliament this week propose to exempt individuals' data privacy rights for the 'maintenance of effective immigration control' or 'the investigation or detection of activities that would interfere with effective immigration control'. What is meant by 'effective immigration control' and 'interference' are undefined and therefore open ended. (...)

The immigration exemptions going through Parliament will make data sharing regarding migrants more likely and frequent, whatever their immigration status. Liberty has raised that the data of those supporting undocumented migrants through charities, night shelters and food banks, could also fall under these exemptions given that Theresa May's 'hostile environment' is conceived, in her own words, of avoiding "a situation where people think that they can come here and overstay because they're able to access everything they need."

EU: Frontex training materials for Libyan Coast Guard come up short on human rights

"Respect and protection of human rights are a negligible part of the EU’s training to the Libyan Coast Guard, as revealed by the training materials the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) disclosed in response to an access to documents request. From a total of 20 documents – including a video – released, only 0,5% of the content is dedicated to ensuring the protection of human rights."

EU: Commission takes Orban's Hungary to court (EUobserver, link):

"The European Commission on Thursday (7 December) stepped up pressure on the Hungarian government of Viktor Orban over migrant quotas, NGOs and a school associated with US billionaire George Soros.

The EU executive said it was also taking Hungary, plus the Czech Republic and Poland, to court over their defiance to comply with an EU decision in 2015 to relocate refugees based on a quota.

In addition, the commission is also taking Hungary to court over amendments to its higher education law that targets the Budapest-based Central European University.

...The commission is also suing Hungary over another law, which obliged NGOs in Hungary that receive funding from outside the country of more than €24,000 annually to give details about their funding, and show in all their publications that they are "foreign-funded"."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: Conclusions and background documentation

Outcomes and documents discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: eu-LISA, ECRIS-TCN, Freezing and confiscation, PNR Directive, CSDP operations and JHA Agencies, Asylum Package, CEAS: Common Procedures, Reception and Qualifications, Data Retention and EU accession to ECHR.

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: "discrimination, intolerance and hatred across the EU" show failings in law and policy

A major new report from the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) shows that "immigrants, descendants of immigrants, and minority ethnic groups continue to face widespread discrimination across the EU and in all areas of life – most often when seeking employment." The findings of the report are based on a survey of 25,500 people of an immigrant or ethnic minority background in all 28 EU Member State.

NETHERLANDS: Seven things you need to understand about how refugees here feel (De Correspondent, link):

"Some 300 newcomers to the Netherlands have answered this month’s thirty questions asked by members of De Correspondent. It was the largest group interview ever conducted with refugees in this country. Today: the answers to a single question."

EIB: Agreement on extra €3.7 billion to address migration issues (European Investment Bank press release, 1 December 2017, pdf):

"The European Investment Bank will be able to increase its lending to projects outside the EU that address migration issues and can benefit from an EU guarantee.

An additional €3.7 billion will be earmarked for projects addressing the long-term economic needs of refugees, migrants and host and transit communities, and providing a strategic response to the root causes of migration.

On 1 December 2017, EU ambassadors endorsed, on behalf of the Council, an agreement with the European Parliament on a mid-term review of the EIB's external lending. The extra lending stems from that review.

In total, the financing limit under the EU guarantee will be increased by €5.3 billion."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-6.12.17)
EU: Dutch police encouraging "business analysis" of refugee and migrant smuggling


The Council of the European Union: Action Plan on the way forward with regard to financial investigation - implementation of Action 3 (Financial investigations applied in the fight against migrant smuggling) (LIMITE doc no: 14607-17, pdf)

The Netherlands police are encouraging other EU police forces to examine refugee and migrant smuggling from a "business analysis" perspective. Defining the issue as:.

"Criminal organisations facilitating irregular migration play a key role in the current flow of migrants into Europe and so pose a major threat to European security."

Italy: Living wills bill tabled immediately, ius soli put off - Immigrant kids citizenship bill 'will never be discussed'-League (ANSA, link):

"The Senate whips on Tuesday "immediately" tabled a bill on living wills, a controversial measure that has been held up by conservative opposition, but put off until the end of the parliamentary agenda a similarly opposed 'ius soli' law on citizenship for immigrant children, effectively killing the bill's chance of being approved before the end of the legislative term. "They'll never discuss it, and I'm happy," said the rightwing populist League whip, Gian Marco Centinaio"."

EPIM: Policy Update December 2017 (pdf)

Greek refugee camps 'beyond desperate' as islanders protesters in Athens (Guardian, link)

"Demonstrators from islands including Chios, Lesbos and Samos lead protests in Athens and demand government acts.

A surge in arrivals from neighbouring Turkey has seen numbers soar with officials speaking of a four-fold increase in men, women and children seeking asylum on Chios, Kos, Leros, Lesbos and Samos.

Conditions are deteriorating in the vastly overcrowded camps in a situation that Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Wednesday warned was “beyond desperate”.

“In Lesbos, entire families who recently arrived from countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are packed into small summer tents, under the rain and in low temperatures struggling to keep dry and warm,” said Aria Danika, MSF’s project coordinator on the island."

Fatal Journeys Volume 3 Part 2: Improving Data on Missing Migrants (IOM link):

"This report, the third volume in the Fatal Journeys series, focuses on improving data on migrant fatalities. It is published in two parts. Part 1 critically examines the existing and potential sources of data on missing migrants. Part 2 focuses on six key regions across the world, discussing the regional data challenges and context of migrant deaths and disappearances.

The second part of Fatal Journeys Volume 3 makes five key recommendations that emerge from the comparison of regions and innovative methodologies discussed in both parts of the report."

See: Report (link)

Germany accused over 'illegal' deportation of Afghan asylum seeker (Guardian, link):

"Lawyers say decision to return 26-year-old contradicts government’s own rules on removals.

The German government has been accused of breaking its own rules on removing Afghan asylum seekers with a decision to deport a 26-year-old who fears he will be killed if returned.

The man, who the Guardian is not naming, is due to be flown out of Germany on Wednesday to a country he has not set foot in since he was five years old.

The case has focused attention on Germany’s acceleration of deportations, which have doubled over the past year. In all, 78 people are due to be deported on Wednesday."

See also: EU-Afghanistan returns plan: Another "dodgy" deal (Statewatch News) and Council Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) casts doubt on EU policy of "safe" return of refugees to Afghanistan (Statewatch News)

Are You Syrious (4.12.17, link):

SEA

"An Italian outlet reported today that a 30 year old Syrian man named Sami Naser attempted the crossing from Tripoli to Lampedusa on his own. He was rescued by a Spanish vessel, who were shocked to see someone attempting the dangerous journey alone. Sami told the volunteers who rescued him that he had no choice but to flee Libya. He had been working as a nurse outside of Tripoli in a state of semi-slavery for months, with all his wages being stolen. Sami wanted to leave the country before he fell into the hands of kindappers who would likely torture and ransom him."

Moria, Lesvos: Journalist harassed

"Today the journalist and photographer Patrick Strickland released some images from the Moria camp on Lesvos showing the despicable conditions there. Strickland also reported being harassed by police outside of the Moria camp today, another blatant attempt to intimidate and push away journalists."

ITALY

"Activists and volunteers on the ground in the Pordenone area continue to report unacceptable conditions for refugees there. While the right and left wing parties continue their asinine debates over who is a “real” refugee, the real questions are being ignored. As a Pordenone solidarity organization put it: “The real issues here are: why are they on the streets, forced to sleep in the fields? Why do they not even have a place for their primary needs, to bathe, drink and eat?”"

SPAIN

"The Spanish journalist and human rights defender Helena Maleno Garzon has been requested to appear before a Moroccan court (her country of residence). While the charges against her are forthcoming, the international human rights organization FIDH has surmised from the court documents that she is being charged with involvement in human trafficking. This charge appears to stem from the fact that, because of her long standing work as an advocate, she is a frequent point of contact for refugees crossing the Mediterranean. In particular, she has been called by many refugees requiring emergency rescue at sea."

" EU: Commission: Reporting on the follow-up to the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of trafficking in human beings and identifying further concrete actions (COM 728-17, pdf):

"Perpetrators and abusers exploit people’s vulnerabilities, exacerbated by factors such as poverty, discrimination, gender inequality, male violence against women, lack of access to education, conflict, war, climate change, environmental degradation, and natural disasters for the purposes of sexual or labour exploitation, begging, criminal activities and more."

The Commission refers to both "trafficking" and "migrant smuggling" each of which has a different legal basis while also highlighting the exploitation of women and children.

German pilots refuse to carry out deportations (DW, link)

"Pilots across Germany are stopping planned deportations of rejected asylum seekers. At the same time, refugees are appealing their deportation orders in record numbers - and winning.

Many pilots in Germany are refusing to participate in deportations, local media reported on Monday.

Following an information request from the Left party, the government said that 222 planned flights were stopped by pilots who wanted no part in the controversial return of refugees to Afghanistan, which has been deemed a "safe country of origin" in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.

Some 85 of the refusals between January and September 2017 came from Germany's main airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. About 40 took place at Dusseldorf airport, where the controversial deportations are routinely accompanied by protesters on the tarmac. The majority of the canceled flights, around 140, took place at Frankfurt Airport, Germany's largest and most important hub."

Greece: Push to move migrants from islands to mainland (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Municipal officials from the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos, which are bearing the brunt of an increased influx of migrants from neighboring Turkey, are due in Athens on Tuesday to press the government for action to ease the pressure on their local communities.(...)

In a related development on Monday, a court on Lesvos indicted 16 North African migrants who participated in the occupation of a central square in Mytilene, the main port of Lesvos."

Hungary: We face a ‘delicate mix’ of witch hunt and short trial (euractiv, link):

"Hungary is convinced that the EU institutions are on the wrong side of history in the context of the migration crisis, Zoltán Kovács, the spokesperson of the Hungarian government, told journalists in Brussels on Monday (4 December)."

Statewatch Analysis: Human rights violations at Spain’s southern border: steps towards restoring legality (pdf)

In mid-August 2014, a group of around 80 people attempted to enter Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, by climbing the three razor-wire topped fences that divide the territory from Morocco. The majority remained balanced atop a fence for around nine hours while some held onto their perches for up to 16 hours, “despite the suffocating heat and the lack of food and water,” as one news report noted at the time. But regardless of how long they held on, as soon as they came down from the fence they were all returned to Morocco by officers from Spain’s Guardia Civil.

Although the Article 3 claim was dismissed by the Court [ECHR], the other complaints were accepted, and on 3 October the Court found that the Spanish government had indeed violated the prohibition on the collective expulsion of aliens (Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights) and the right to an effective domestic remedy (Article 13 of the Convention).

#DefendingMaleno

"Last Wednesday, Helena Maleno Garzón received a visit from Police Officers, who informed her that she has to make presence in front of the moroccan justice this Tuesday, December 5th. Without having access to the complete legal information, we were able to conclude that the Human Rights Defender is being accused of international crime for human trafficking and irregular migration by the Spanish State. The Spanish State has been investigating about her job. For that, they may have asked her country of residence, Morocco, to collaborate in this investigation. The founds of the acussation of the Human Rights Defender are phone calls requesting assistance, which is executed by Salvamento Marítimo, who assist vessels of inmigrants that are drifting and/or lost. It is a judicial process aimed to criminalise the work that Helena Maleno has been doing for years as a Human Rights Defender. It also should be noted that Helena Maleno is a spanish journalist, activist and researcher, specified in Migration and Human Trafficking. Helena has been active since 2001 in the South Borders, ensuring the right to sanity, education, identity and a secure life for inmigrants."

See: Link

EU-Africa agree on repatriating migrants, but not on the bill (euractiv, link):

"African and European countries have adopted a special joint declaration on Libya and said they want to repatriate migrants stranded in Libya to their countries of origin. But the question of who should pay for it has been carefully avoided.(...)

This is perhaps the only concrete action taken at the EU-Africa Summit, which ended on Thursday (30 November) in Abidjan. Some 3,800 African migrants stranded in Libya in inhumane conditions will be repatriated urgently to their country of origin.(...)

At the end of the two-day summit, leaders issued a joint declaration on the situation of migrants in Libya, pledging in particular “to take all necessary actions to offer [the refugees] the necessary assistance and facilitate their voluntary return to their country of origin.”

Leaders clashed on mentioning “voluntary and forced returns of migrants”, but the final wording of the text only mentions the option of voluntary return."

See: Joint press release of the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union (pdf)

Blocked humanity (euractiv, link):

"The Dublin regulation, allocating asylum claims to the first port of call on a migrant’s journey, is unfit for purpose. The European Parliament has come to a shared position that guarantees fair treatment of refugees and shared responsibility in the EU. Now it’s up to member states to do their share, writes Cornelia Ernst."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-11-17-04-12-17)
Lesvos, Greece:The Memories of the Dead will not be erased with Black Paint (w2eu, link):

"In the night of the 24th of November 2017, by the harbour of Thermi on Lesvos Island, unidentified persons vandalised the memorial that we had erected there in 2013. It carries the names of those who had drowned on their journeys to Europe. Two wooden paddles hold the plaque with the names of the dead and the memorial looks out to the sea, dedicated to those of all ages and backgrounds, whose lives ended at sea."

GREECE: The number of refugees on the Greek islands as at 30.11.17 was 15,486: Lesvos: 8,398, Chios: 2,649, Samos 2,247. Leros: 1004, Kos: 1,044, Other islands: 144 (Hellenic MInistry).

Are You Syrious (2.12.17, link)

Feature: When injustice becomes law… Resistance becomes a duty

"The European commission is currently in the process of pushing through a proposal which will replace the Asylum Procedures Directive of 2013. The new proposal will expand the concept of a ‘safe third-party country’ and the consequence of this is that applications could now be rejected lawfully based solely on the grounds of ‘inadmissibility.’ This has the potential to extend way farther than the current EU-Turkey deal and the effects are going to be catastrophic for asylum seekers.

We need to act now before this legislation is passed."

Sea

"Seven boats were rescued on the Spanish coast today by SALVAMENTO MARITIMO. The total number of those rescued today came to 164 persons.

Maydayterraneo - Proyecto AitaMari is asking for people to join their team and become rescuers. In 8 rescue operations, they have rescued 580 lives thanks to team work. They want to highlight that donations also help to save lives: 50 euros can provide 200 people rescued at sea with warm blankets. To learn more visit this link."

Greece

"Currently the islands of the Aegean are ‘housing’ approximately 15,500 refugees. Hotspots such as Moria, Vathi and Vial are three times over capacity yet still the travel ban is not being lifted which would allow refugees to be transferred to accommodations on the mainland, many of which remain unfilled.

A rally has been organised for Tuesday by the municipalities of the three islands in an attempt to bring the current situation on the islands to the attention of the media. Protesters will congregate outside the Immigration Policy Ministry and demand the immediate transfer of refugees from the Eastern Aegean islands to the mainland."

Are You Syrious (1.12.17, link)

Feature: Winter

"Some parts of Europe are already covered with snow. In others, it is rainy and very cold. In these conditions, thousands of people are on the move, trying to reach a place where they will feel safe.

Unfortunately, too many of them are forced to stay out in the open, using makeshift shelters, while almost the only help they get comes from volunteers and locals. For all of these groups, help is needed to continue helping people who are abandoned by the institutions and big NGOs, and left in the streets of European cities.

The situation is not good in Greece, but also in Serbia, Italy, Spain, France, Croatia (...)"

EU

"The slave auctions in Libya that have provoked international outrage are partly a result of policies put in place by the EU, the director of France’s Doctors Without Borders wrote Thursday in an op-ed for Le Monde, and Politico translated it into English.

Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza is organizing an action day across Europe: Stop Europe Funding Slavery in Libya - Stop Wars Against Migrants on December 18.

If you want to participate, get in touch with them: solidarity2refugees@gmail.com"

Encampment and migrants wandering the streets of Paris (Paris, the new border-city?) (migreurop, link):

"Public administrations or specialised agencies are not the only ones producing data : not for profit organisations and collectives supporting migrants also collect information that helps capture – in a very precise manner – what exiles endure.

Since 2014, thousands of exiles have been living on the streets of Paris. Most if not all of them gather, forming makeshift camps and squats to resist hunger, thirst or fear. The city police and the riot police force dismantle these camps using their boots, guard dogs and tear gas. Tents, sleeping bags, carboard boxes and sometimes even ID documents are thrown into garbage trucks owned by the city of Paris, while fences, blocks of stone and urban furniture are set up to prevent any further informal settlement.

This map illustrates two distinct processes : the first one displays the era of a non-welcoming policy through the example of street camps established between 2010 and 2016. The second process, which started on 22 July 2016, identifies the elements of ever-stronger repression where “evacuation and shelter” operations were replaced with mass arrests and deportations flights. The so-called “transit” city centre opened by the city of Paris in September 2016 at “Porte de la Chapelle” in the 18th arrondissement should probably have acted as a wake-up call. If Paris is not a border-city, why was a transit camp open there?"

And see: Calais : 20 ans d’(in)hospitalité (migreurop, link): "Calais: 20 years of (in)hospitality

For 20 years, exiles transiting through the city of Calais and its vicinity have been confronted with police operations forcing them into areas with often inhuman and degrading living conditions. When these sites become too visible, they are systematically dismantled. This was the case with the Sangatte camp in December 2002, for a large part of the jungle in 2009, when squats and scattered settlements in Calais were closed in the winter of 2015, or when the slums surrounding the Jules Ferry centre were eradicated in October 2016. The British and French governments have persistently deceived public opinion into believing that such police operations may solve the migration situation. Yet in fact, precarious living areas will keep reappearing if appropriate solutions are not provided. "

UK: Marcin was crying, begging for help’: crisis of EU migrants detained in the UK (The Observer, link):

"The death of a Pole was one of three suicides in detention centres in a month, and relatives claim the Home Office is covering up cell deaths."

Islanders to descend on Athens over refugee crisis (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Protesters will converge outside the Immigration Policy Ministry on Tuesday to demand immediate relief for the eastern Aegean islands of Samos, Lesvos and Chios, where facilities for migrants and refugees are overflowing with thousands of stranded asylum seekers.

The rally is being organized by the municipalities of the three islands and aims to publicize the plight of asylum seekers who have been trapped there for more than a year, testing local communities."

ECRE head: Asylum management needs compliance, not new laws (euractiv, link):

"Some European countries are trying to enact restrictive policies and create a hostile atmosphere to discourage migrants and asylum seekers, blatantly ignoring EU and international law, Catherine Woollard told EURACTIV Slovakia."

Why German airport checks target Greeks (New Europe, link):

"Schengen took a wrong turn during a recent flight from Greece to Germany. Berlin decided to block free travel within the Schengen zone in response to Europe’s refugee crisis and Islamic terror."

UNHCR: Arrivals in the Med 2017: 166,250: Italy 121,916, Greece: 27,245, Spain: 21,304, Cyprus 1,062.

And see: UNHCR Europe monthly report (pdf):

"Between 1 January 2017 and 31 October 2017, 157,400 refugees and migrants arrived by sea and land to Europe (Greece, Italy, Spain and Cyprus only, including arrivals to the Canary Islands and by land to Spain). As a result of the reduced numbers of refugees and migrants crossing from Libya, the 5,800 sea arrivals in October was 79% lower than arrivals in October 2016. This October, sea arrivals from Tunisia comprised approximately 46% of sea arrivals in Italy and for the third successive month more refugees and migrants arrived in Greece by sea than those who crossed from Libya.(...)

In Greece, the conditions on the islands have deteriorated further as a result of the increased arrivals since August 2017 and the limited reception capacity. The situation is most dire on Lesvos and Samos. On Lesvos, nearly 5,200 people are staying in a site with capacity for 1,400 at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) and the olive grove next to Moria (at 31 October) while on Samos there are 1,584 people at the Vathy RIC site with capacity for 700.(...)

Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights published a letter sent to the Italian Minister of Interior requesting information on Italy’s maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters, urging the Italian government to clarify the kind of support they expect to provide to the Libyan authorities and what safeguards Italy has put in place to ensure that people intercepted or rescued by Italian Italian vessels in Libyan territorial waters do not subsequently face a situation contrary to Article 3 ECHR (prohibition of torture). The Commissioner also requested information on the measures ensuring that search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, including those by NGOs, can continue to be carried out effectively and safely."

EU-AFRICA: Joint Statement on the Migrant Situation in Libya (pdf):

"African and European leaders, gathered in Abidjan for the 5th AU/EU Summit, discussed the terrible media reports on inhuman treatment of African migrants and refugees by criminal groups. They condemned in the strongest terms any such criminal acts and expressed their firm resolve to work together for an immediate end of these criminal practices and to ensure the wellbeing of the migrants and refugees.(...)

They stressed the imperative need to improve the conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya and to undertake all necessary action to provide them with the appropriate assistance and to facilitate their voluntary repatriation to their countries of origin as well as durable solutions for refugees."

And see: Civil Society barred from speaking at the Africa-Europe Summit (Concord, link):

"The AU EU Summit should have been a great opportunity for young people from Africa and the EU to exchange and listen to each other’s views. Scheduled to speak, and with speeches prepared, as part of the peace, security, and governance section of the Summit today, instead their contribution was ruled out on the grounds of “rules of procedure” after the objections of a number of delegations. Civil Society Organisations in a statement reacted angrily to the situation."

EU-Africa join forces against slave trade (euractiv, link):

"During an emergency meeting on the situation in Libya, nine African countries and European member states decided to launch a joint intelligence operation to dismantle the human trafficking networks.

The tragic situation of migrants being trafficked in Libya has taken space on the agenda of the 5th summit between the European Union and the African Union in Abidjan.

On the sidelines of the summit, the African Union, the EU and the Secretary General of the United Nations, as well as nine countries present at the summit (Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Chad, Niger, Libya, Congo, Morocco), held an emergency meeting to decide on actions to stop human trafficking in Libya. (...)

To fight these networks more effectively, the countries agreed to pool their intelligence services to create an operational “task force”. This would be tasked with “challenging and dismantling the networks of traffickers, as well as their financers”, said Macron."

See:  Documents: Operation Sophia anti-migrant smuggling mission to host "crime information cell" pilot project

November 2017

European University Institute (EUI): Human Rights Violations by Design: EU-Turkey Statement Prioritises Returns from Greece Over Access to Asylum (pdf);

"The EU-Turkey-Statement proposes to reduce arrival rates and deaths in the sea by subjecting individuals who arrive on Greek islands after 20 March 2016 to fast-track asylum procedures and, in the case of negative decisions, to returns to Turkey.(...)

the Greek government should stop the systematic detention of individuals from certain nationality groups upon arrival and ensure that migration related detention is in all cases based on an individual assessment of proportionality and necessity."

And: Post-deportation risks under the EU-Turkey Statement: What happens after readmission to Turkey? (EUI, pdf)

EU: FIDH: The externalization of migration policies: a scourge for human rights (pdf):

"FIDH is concerned about the outsourcing of migration policies and increase in their repressive character, particularly through the externalization of borders from countries of destination to the countries of transit and departure."

Saving Lives at Sea - A two-week rescue mission with SOS MEDITERRANEE (HRW, link):

"The Aquarius, chartered by the nongovernmental organization SOS MEDITERRANEE to rescue migrants while heading for Europe, had motored to the oilfield to collect 36 people -mainly Syrians and Egyptians - picked up earlier by an oil company supply ship. From the bridge of the Aquarius, a spotlight revealed the tiny wooden boat, tethered to the stern of the supply ship, bobbing like a toy in the black water.

This spectacular backdrop exposes a cruel reality. The Mediterranean is the deadliest migration route in the world, with over 15,000 deaths recorded since 2014. So far this year almost 3,000 have gone missing or died, including 26 Nigerian girls in one tragic incident."

Estonia aims to resuscitate EU refugee quotas (euractiv, link):

"Estonia on Wednesday (29 November) presented a compromise proposal on the relocation of refugees, which it said would be “fair” to all EU member states, deeply divided over how to deal with asylum seekers arriving in Europe.".


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-29.11.17)
1. Greece

GREECE: Greek Asylum Service: data on asylum applications and decisions, Dublin transfers and relocations: June 2013-October 2017

Statistical data from the Greek Asylum Service covering the period 7 June 2013 to 31 October 2017, with information on asylum applications and decisions divided by age, gender, countries of origin, region (in Greece) of application; data from the Greek Dublin Unit covering the same period showing transfers of asylum-seekers to and from Greece under the Dublin system; and data from the Greek Asylum Service on relocations from Greece to other EU Member States under the EU's relocation scheme up to 19 November 2017.

GREECE: The Refugee Scandal on the Island of Lesbos (Spiegel Online, link):

"Those wishing to visit ground zero of European ignominy must simply drive up an olive tree-covered hill on the island of Lesbos until the high cement walls of Camp Moria come into view. "Welcome to prison," someone has spray-painted on the walls. The dreadful stench of urine and garbage greets visitors and the ground is covered with hundreds of plastic bags. It is raining, and filthy water has collected ankle-deep on the road. The migrants who come out of the camp are covered with thin plastic capes and many of them are wearing only flipflops on their feet as they walk through the soup. Children are crying as men jostle their way through the crowd.

Welcome to one of the most shameful sites in all of Europe. Camp Moria was originally built to handle 2,330 refugees. But currently it is home to 6,489."

Greece: As Winter Nears, Asylum Seekers Stuck in Tents on Islands (Human Rights Watch, link):

"The Greek government, with the support of EU member states, should act now to end Greece’s “containment policy,” 20 human rights and aid groups said today. The policy forces asylum seekers arriving on the Greek islands to remain in overcrowded, unsafe facilities, an urgent concern with winter approaching.

Conditions on the Greek islands have continued to deteriorate in the month since 19 nongovernmental groups wrote an open letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, calling on him to move asylum seekers to the mainland, where better conditions and services are available."

See also: Open The Islands - no more dead from the cold! Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action as winter is coming for refugees in Greece (Statewatch News Online, 16 October 2017)

2. EU/Libya/Africa

Europe’s Plan to Close Its Sea Borders Relies on Libya’s Coast Guard Doing Its Dirty Work, Abusing Migrants (The Intercept, link):

"In the last six months, with new support from European governments, the Libyan coast guard has substantially ramped up operations to intercept migrant boats in the international waters off their coast, where most shipwrecks take place. Confrontations with the European NGOs that work there have increased as well, with multiple organizations reporting warning shots and direct threats of violence from Libyan boats. The violence has led some organizations to stop their Mediterranean rescue operations.

The Libyan coast guard is a decentralized force often accused of working with local militias and smugglers and violating the rights of migrants. At the same time, it is a key player in Europe’s response to the refugee crisis."

EU and Italy put aside €285m to boost Libyan coast guard (EUobserver, link):

"Combined Italian and EU efforts to shore up the Libyan coast guard will cost €285 million over the next few years.

Speaking to MEPs in the civil liberty committee on Tuesday (28 November), Mario Morcone from the Italian interior ministry, said the figure covers expenses up until 2023.

"The project is going to cost €285 million, the whole thing," he said.

The plan is to create operational centres in Libya to "help search and rescue operations at sea" and to better coordinate fleets between the Libyan and Italian coastguard.

He also said a pilot project would be launched to set up border guard posts on land."

EU: Documents: Operation Sophia anti-migrant smuggling mission to host "crime information cell" pilot project

The EU's anti-migrant smuggling mission, Operation Sophia, is to host a "crime information cell" as part of a pilot project that will attempt to ensure any information gathered by the mission that is "relevant for crime prevention, investigation and prosecution, or more broadly border security is made available to the relevant Member State authorities and JHA agencies".

EU: Operation Sophia's world: Changes and challenges (pdf):

A briefing by the EU Institute of Security Studies: "Two and a half years after its creation, Operation Sophia is very different from what it was meant to be initially. The situation in Libya has not permitted the full implementation of the operation's planned mandate, which has changed as a consequence. But EU Member States have also displayed a degree of lassitude vis-a-vis the added-value of the operation and the unintended consequences it generated, in particular in relation to its growing humanitarian dimension. At a time when refugees in Libya are the victims of major human rights violations, what Operation Sophia is really about is still uncertain, and it is furthermore dependant on parameters that are beyond the EU's own reach."

SPAIN: Protest at the Libyan embassy in Madrid against the trade in African migrants

Hundreds of people protested in front of the Libyan embassy in Madrid this weekend to call for the freedom of the refugees and migrants that that have been turned into merchandise in the north African country. The demonstration was called by various organisations of African people, and people of African descent, under the slogan "we will stop the sale of our black brothers and sisters".

Migration think-tank: Europe is ‘obsessed’ with short-term solution (euractiv, link):

"Migration will dominate the fifth summit between Africa and the European Union, which will be held in Abidjan on 29 and 30 November. But Europeans keep dictating the agenda, due to lack of political unity in the African Union.(...)

Today Europe sees migration as a threat and Africa as an opportunity."

Libya human bondage risks overshadowing Africa-EU summit (EurActiv, link):

"African leaders are expected to warn Europeans that their way of outsourcing the migration crisis to Libya, in apparent disregard for human rights, risks opening old wounds in the heavy history of the two continents.

The leaders of the 28 EU countries and their counterparts from the 27 members of the African Union will meet in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, on 29-30 November. (...)

[Federica] Mogherini [EU head of foreign affairs and security policy] was questioned about the EU’s strategy of outsourcing the migration crisis to foreign countries such as Libya and Turkey, which received billions to prevent Syrian refugees from crossing to Greece.

She said the situation was different on two counts: first, the migrants stranded in Libya were not legitimate asylum seekers like those fleeing the war in Syria. And second, different international bodies were in charge."

UN working to address slavery, abuses against African migrants and refugees, Security Council told (UN News Centre, link):

"28 November 2017 – The United Nations is stepping up its work to stop the grave abuses perpetrated against refugees and migrants along the Central Mediterranean routes, including alleged slave trade in Libya, two UN agency chiefs told the Security Council Tuesday.

The meeting was held at UN Headquarters in New York in response to growing international concerns about risks facing migrants and refugees, which were illustrated by recent news reports and videos showing African migrants in Libya allegedly being sold as slaves.

“This is an enormous human tragedy and we can stop it,” said William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), via video link from Geneva, underscoring the need to break the smugglers’ business model."

3. EU-Turkey

EU commissioner calls on Turkey to ‘move closer to Brussels and its values’ (Hurriyet, link):

"‘Migration deal successful despite tensions’

Despite political strains between Turkey and a number of EU member states, the migration deal between Ankara and Brussels continues to work, with Turkey and the EU together succeeding in substantially reducing irregular and dangerous arrivals, Avramopoulos stated.

From 10,000 crossings in a single day in October 2015, daily crossings from Turkey have dramatically fallen to an average of 84 per day today, while the number of deaths in the Aegean has fallen from 1,150 in the year before the migration deal to 113 in the year that followed, he noted.

Over 11.400 persons have been resettled to the EU from Turkey so far, as part of the agreement, Avramopoulos said.

“On Sept. 27 I called on EU Member States to resettle a further 50,000 persons from Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and countries along the Central Mediterranean route over the next two years. I have already received more than 38,000 pledges from 18 countries and I know that more will follow soon,” he stated.

Since March 21, 2016, 2,032 migrants have been returned from Greece to Turkey under the migration agreement and the Greece-Turkey bilateral protocol, including 228 people from Syria, he added."

Turkish PM warns EU over refugee deal ahead of Syrian peace talks (Guardian, link)

"Binali Yildirim suggests Turkey could withdraw from EU agreement if Kurdish forces are given a role in talks.

Turkey’s prime minister has warned that the country has the power to allow millions of refugees to resume their journeys to western Europe if the US and EU-backed Kurdish forces fighting in Syria are given a role in peace talks."

4. Deaths

Migrant crisis: Boat sinks off Libya, killing at least 31 (BBC News, link):

"At least 31 migrants have died after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya on Saturday.

They had been trying to cross the Mediterranean along with another boat. Children were among the dead.

Some 60 people were rescued from the water and 140 picked up from the second boat."

Algerian man dies after Denmark deportation flight struggle (The Local, link):

"Denmark’s Independent Police Complaints Authority is to investigate an incident in which an Algerian citizen lost consciousness during a struggle with police on board an aircraft set to deport him from the country. The man died in hospital two days later.

The man was escorted to Copenhagen Airport by police on Monday as part of a scheduled forced deportation.

He lost consciousness on board the aircraft and was then taken to hospital, but died on Wednesday, the Independent Police Complaints Authority (Den Uafhængige Politiklagemyndighed, DUP) confirmed to news agency Ritzau.

A witness who was on board the aircraft told tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet that the incident seemed "violent"."

5. Legal and policy developments

EU: Reception conditions for asylum applicants: Council agrees mandate for negotiations (press release, pdf):

"On 29 November 2017, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) endorsed, on behalf of the Council, a mandate for negotiations on a directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection. On the basis of this mandate, the presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament."

Points highlighted: reception conditions, limiting "secondary movements", need for Member States to draw up contingency plans in cases of "disproportionate number of applicants".

FRANCE: A government-sponsored bill for the mass detention of asylum-seekers

Wednesday, 29 November, the Commission of Laws of the National Assembly will examine a law proposed by the group Les Constructifs "permitting the correct application of the European asylum system". Its purpose: to allow the mass detention of people seeking asylum under the 'Dublin' procedure, a practice censured by the Court of Cassation.

ECJ-HUNGARY: Tell me what you see and I’ll tell you if you’re gay: Analysing the Advocate General’s Opinion in Case C-473/16, F v Bevándorlási és Állampolgársági Hivatal (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy, link):

"Hungary has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons for quite a while. From legislation targeting ‘foreign-operating universities’ to border walls to keep refugees from entering Hungarian territory, the populist right-wing government of Viktor Orban has been sparking outrage in many sectors of Hungarian society, and the European institutions. The most recent reason for alarm again relates to migration and refugees, an area of widespread criticism of Hungarian authorities. Building on extremely hostile policies towards refugees that have been admonished by both the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Hungarian authorities now intend to resort to highly dubious means to assess the applications of individuals claiming asylum on grounds related to their sexual orientation. It was already public knowledge that this category of claimants was subjected to poor treatment by the Hungarian authorities, but recent events suggest that the authorities have reached a new low."

FRANCE-EU: The French suite. The effect of Al Chodor on the detention of asylum seekers for the purpose of a Dublin transfer (European Database of Asylum Law, link):

"In its decision from 27 September 2017 [Pourvoi n 17-15.160, arrêt n° 1130], the first civil chamber of the Cassation Court in France examines and applies the conclusions of the case of Al Chodor given by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on 15 March 2017...

Conclusion

With the backing of the highest administrative court, the French prefectures continue to place asylum applicants subject to a Dublin transfer decision in detention; in other words, they continue to deprive applicants from their fundamental right to liberty and are in violation of EU law. Furthermore, the widespread practice has been reinforced and applicants subject to a Dublin transfer can be detained at the moment of their registration at the prefecture. One may question what sort of provisions will be laid out in the draft law on asylum and immigration currently being prepared. Will they draw all of the conclusions from the Al Chodor decision in providing objective and precise criteria on the risk of absconding in order for detention to be the exception? Or will the provisions circumvent the European case law and provide for cosmetic and malleable criteria allowing prefectures to maintain a systematic detention of individuals and allow administrative judges to validate the measures? A reading of the proposed law allowing for a correct application of the European asylum regime lodged at the National Assembly on 24 October 2017 (presented by Jean-Luc Warsmann and 18 other republican deputies) does not bode well since the proposal specifically aims to render meaningless the decisions, analysed here, by the CJEU and Court of Cassation."

6. Other news

EU: Help is no crime: people share their stories of being accused, intimidated and punished for helping migrants (PICUM, link):

"Individuals and members of organisations who provide humanitarian assistance and help to undocumented migrants frequently face intimidation, accusations and punishments across Europe, due to policies which prohibit the ‘facilitation of irregular migration’.

These stories of migrant supporters aim to show what these policies mean in practice for civil society actors as well as for migrants and the impact of criminalising solidarity."

And see: Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity (IRR, link): "Drawing on the work of advocacy organisations across Europe, it provides a sample of twenty-six case studies involving prosecutions of 45 individual humanitarian actors under anti-smuggling or immigration laws since September 2015."

UK: The hostile environment: woman reporting rape to police arrested on immigration charges

"A woman who reported being kidnapped and raped over a six month period to the police was arrested as she sought care, Politics.co.uk can reveal.

The shocking case reveals how far Theresa May's 'hostile environment' towards immigrants has gone and raises serious questions about whether immigration enforcement practices are now discouraging the victims of crimes from reporting them to the police."

GERMANY: Small town mayor stabbed at kebab shop over pro-refugee stance (The Local, link):

" German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday condemned a near fatal knife attack against a town mayor, apparently motivated by the local leader's pro-refugee stance and which left him with a six-inch neck wound.

Andreas Hollstein, 54, mayor of the western town of Altena, was stabbed Monday evening at a kebab shop by a man who had loudly criticised his liberal refugee policy.

Hollstein said that without two shop employees who rushed to help him, he would "probably not be here today"."

Refugee centers in Germany suffer near daily attacks (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Fresh data from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Agency (BKA) obtained by German daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung shows that there have been 211 attacks on refugee homes throughout Germany in the first nine months of the year, plus an additional 15 incidents up to October 23.

The figure is down from nearly 900 attacks in the first nine months of 2016, but still higher than in 2014, a year before Germany took in more than 1 million refugees, more than any other country in Europe."

UK: Immigration detainees face deportation due to legal aid bureaucracy (Law Gazette, link):

"Immigration detainees are being deported because administrative hurdles are deterring legal aid solicitors from taking up viable judicial review cases, an independent report commissioned by the Bar Council suggests.

Even though immigration detention is in scope for legal aid, the Injustice in Immigration Detention report, published today, says the UK legal landscape is failing detainees.

Beginning a judicial review claim is a 'financial gamble' for a legal aid lawyer, the report states. The solicitor must apply for a legal aid certificate for civil representation, which has a 'stringent' merits test. Preparing the legal aid application, alongside the application for JR permission, can take a long time. If permission is not granted, the Legal Aid Agency does not pay for any of the pre-permission work."

Inside Hungary's far-right movement (euronews, link):

"The radical narratives mounted by Hungary’s ruling Fidesz Party and far-right movements are gaining ground ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections. Euronews reporter Valerie Gauriat traveled to Hungary for the national Republic Day to hear from supporters and critics of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s hardline stance on immigration—and what it means to be Hungarian."

ROMANIA: Migrant crisis: New back door into Europe (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Almost every day dozens of people are being caught at the border trying to come to Romania and reach Western Europe. 76 human traffickers have been detained in Romania so far in 2017."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21-23.11.17)
Statewatch Analysis: The widespread impunity over migrant deaths (pdf) by Ana González-Páramo:

Forthcoming international initiatives on refugees and safe and orderly migration offer an opportunity to ensure that there is an end to the widespread impunity over migrant deaths worldwide, and to ensure that refugees' and migrants' right to life is recognised and upheld.

EU Trust Fund for Africa: just 3% of migration budget aimed at developing safe and legal routes, says Oxfam

An analysis of the EU's Trust Fund for Africa undertaken by Oxfam has found that of the €400 million allocated to migration management, "most projects are designed to restrict and discourage irregular migration through migration containment and control," while "a meagre 3% of the budget is allocated to developing safe and regular routes."

EU-SPAIN: New report provides an "x-ray" of the public funding and private companies in Spain's "migration control industry"

A new report offers an "x-ray" of the public funding and the companies that make up Spain's "migration control industry", with technology and construction firms such as Indra, Dragados and Ferrovial amongst the chief beneficiaries of national and EU funding directed towards border control, surveillance and the detention and expulsion of irregular migrants.

EU: Eastern Partnership expert meeting on irregular migration: discussion paper and legal framework overview

"The Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries were not affected by the increased irregular migration flows and smuggling activities of criminal networks at the same dramatic level as the EU Member States (EU MS) during the Mediterranean migration crisis of 2015-2016. However, the recent alerts on the activation of a Black Sea migrant route which, according to the opinion of experts, could be even more dangerous for migrants’ lives than the Mediterranean one, will definitely require more attention and adequate response of the EaP states.

The importance of effective countering and preventive measures should be recognized by the governments of EaP states as well as the importance of cross border cooperation to ensure the fulfillment of the commitments regarding the operations to counter migrant smuggling according to the international criminal law and the commitments on protection of migrants and refugees, especially migrants in vulnerable situation."

Turkish family of five drowned in Aegean Sea as trying to flee from Erdogan regime’s persecution (Stockolm Center for Freedom, link):

"A Turkish family of five allegedly drowned in Aegean Sea as they were trying to flee from the persecution of the despotic regime of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greek island Lesvos.

Sources told to the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) that the bodies recently found by Greek authorities on Lesvos island may belong to Turkish man Hüseyin Maden, who was affiliated with the Gülen movement, and his family members.

The sources told SCF that the relatives of Maden Family in Turkey’s Samsun province have not heard from them for several days. So, it was speculated that the bodies found by Greek authorities may belong to the 5 members of Maden Family."

European Commission: TEMPLATE FOR HOTSPOT STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES (H-SOPS) (pdf):

"Border control/Search and rescue / interception of migrants

2. AT DISEMBARKATION SITE (note: might be extremely close to hotspot premises, having the effect that some actions listed under 4 are carried out here (i.e. 4.2., 4.8.)

3. TRANSFER TO HOTSPOTS*
4. ENTERING THE HOTSPOT PREMISES AND INITIAL PROCESSING
4.1 Initial reception of arriving migrants
4.2 Personal security checks and checks of personal belongings
4.3 First identification/screening
4.4 Check against national and European databases, including travel document checks
4.5 Photographs and fingerprinting
4.6 Debriefing procedures
4.7 Information provision on current legislation on migration and international protection procedures as well as on assisted voluntary return and reintegration
4.8 Medical assessment / first medical assistance, including psychosocial assistance."

UK: Young arrivers share common routes to immigration detention and face specific forms of harm

"Children who are not citizens, or ‘young arrivers’ often face difficulties growing up in the UK, but their rights are generally more extensive than those of adults. It is far less likely that they will be detained or deported than adults. Once children approach 18, they move from protected to unprotected status. Many are not able to secure settled immigration status, but even when they do, they risk automatic deportation orders if they go to prison.

Having spent a significant part of their formative years in the UK, some adults end up detained in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) while the government tries to deport them to places that feel foreign. This can be a frightening process which dramatically challenges identities and rights that they previously took for granted. But there has been little written on the topic and no research about this group in relation to immigration detention."

GREECE: Opinion: Who defends the rights of refugee children on the fringes of Europe? (Devex, link) by Maria Brul and Linnea Huld:

"Earlier this month, the bodies of two children washed ashore on the Greek island of Lesvos, and Europe’s growing disregard for refugees at its borders was never more obvious. The coroner found that the two children had been dead in the water for 24 days, but no record of a migrant shipwreck or missing children’s report was ever filed by authorities for that period. What’s more, this horrific tragedy — which would have caused public uproar two years ago, when images of Alan Kurdi’s death first dominated headlines — attracted little to no attention at all.

Sadly, this is not the first time we’ve seen the protection of refugee children treated as a political afterthought in Europe. Since January, our emergency response team in Lesvos has seen almost 1,000 children arrive by boat to the north shore of the island, sometimes so scared and hypothermic that they lay limp in volunteers’ arms. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of young people remain stranded in camps on the islands and across mainland Greece, often in unsafe and inhumane conditions.

That’s why today, Universal Children’s Day and the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we call on Europe to uphold its responsibility to protect the rights of refugee children forgotten at its margins. "

UK: Government response to asylum housing report "really isn't good enough"

The UK government's response to a highly-critical parliamentary committee report on housing for asylum-seekers "really isn't good enough," according to the chair of the committee, Yvette Cooper MP, adding that: "Only last month, charities reported that unclean, vermin infested, damp conditions remain a common experience for asylum seekers arriving in the UK. It is difficult to know what exactly it will take before these shameful conditions are acknowledged and meaningful action taken."

HUNGARY: Beware, the refugees are coming! (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"A couple of days ago a brief article appeared in Magyar Nemzet, which surely surprised those who happened upon it. The Hungarian government has surreptitiously accepted a fair number of refugees for settlement in Hungary this year. While the drumbeat against the Soros Plan and migrants is continuous and unrelenting, behind the backs of the misled people the government has accepted far more “migrants” so far this year than in 2016. While in 2016 the Hungarian government received over 25,000 applicants, this year their number shrank to fewer than 3,000. Yet, according to the Office of Immigration and Refugee Affairs (BMH), the number of people receiving asylum has more than doubled."

“EU-Africa migration funds were used on Libya’s coast guard patrol vessels" (The Medi Telegraph, link)

"Genoa - EU international cooperation funding destined for development projects in Africa was used to refurbish patrol boats for Libya’s coast guard, and handed over to Libyan militia units who practice torture and extrajudicial killings, in violation of Libyan and international standards. While a chilling CNN video that showed migrants being auctioned off as slaves has opened a moral debate (only yesterday, the UN High Commissioner described the agreement signed by Italy and the EU with Libya as “inhuman”), now the Italian government will have to respond also to allegations that it acted illegitimately by providing funding to authorities in Tripoli. The ASGI, an Italian association of immigration lawyers, has lodged a complaint with Lazio’s Regional Court, in which it contests a 2.5 million euro payment by Italy’s Interior Ministry for the refurbishment of four patrol boats operated by Libya’s coast guard for coastal border control."

See: Depositato il ricorso di ASGI contro lo sviamento di 2,5 milioni di euro dal c.d. Fondo Africa (Italian, link): "Given that these vessels might be used by the Libyan Coast Guard to pull-back migrants and refugees rescued/intercepted at sea and retain them in appalling detention centers, the main argument before TAR is that this military equipment is a diversion of the funding allocated by the Italian Parliament to contribute to the resolution of the humanitarian crisis in Libya."

Bulgarian Defence Minister admits ladders being used to climb over fence at border with Turkey

"Bulgarian Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov admitted in a television interview on October 20 that ladders were being used to climb over the country’s fence at the Turkish border, built at huge expense to prevent illicit entry to the country.

The Bulgarian government has come under sustained opposition criticism for several months about the fence. Officials recently said that the fence had been significantly damaged by heavy rainfall, while photos have been circulated not only of people climbing over the fence, but also showing a large hole underneath it."

UK: The fightback against May's hostile environment has begun (politics.co.uk, link):

" It was on the streets of British towns and cities that the 'hostile environment' first took hold. Immigration officers, sometimes working with homeless charities and local authorities, would head out at night to track down foreign rough sleepers and detain them. If they were undocumented they were often given the opportunity to leave the country voluntarily. If they refused, they could be forcibly removed. Then in 2016 the Home Office introduced new rules which meant that rough sleeping was to be considered an 'abuse' or 'misuse' of an EU citizens' right to freedom of movement. It was no longer just undocumented migrants being targeted but also those who came to the UK legally.

Now, thanks to a tireless campaign from the organisation North East London Migrant Action (NELMA), a judicial review of the policy began at the High Court yesterday. And it's not the only fight the government is facing over its 'hostile environment' agenda.

There are currently two legal challenges against policies that have been introduced in the NHS. The first, which Politics.co.uk reported on recently, is a case brought by the Migrants' Rights Network against the sharing of patients' personal data between NHS Digital and the Home Office for immigration purposes... The second case relates to new guidelines introduced in October which mean that migrants who are not entitled to free NHS treatment will be charged upfront for non-urgent care when they visit a hospital."

UK-FRANCE: Interior ministers' meeting: Joint statement by the governments of France and the UK (pdf):

"Home Secretary Amber Rudd and the Minister of the Interior of France, Gérard Collomb, met in London today (Thursday 16 November). They discussed a range of home affairs matters including joint efforts to fight terrorism, illegal migration, border security and efforts to tackle serious and organised crime.

The ministers emphasised the need to maintain and strengthen bilateral cooperation on security and law enforcement co-operation. On counter-terrorism they reinforced their commitment to the British-French action plan to ensure the internet is not used as a safe space for terrorists. The ministers recognised that the internet companies are making progress, but committed to push them to go further and faster in taking down terrorist material online – in particular to ensure it is removed within one to two hours of upload – and to continue to develop technical solutions to tackle the issue.

On migration, the ministers discussed the situation in Northern France and the challenges linked to illegal migration. The ministers acknowledged the importance of UK support in reinforcing the security arrangements in coastal cities of Northern France and the need for continued efforts to manage jointly the shared border between the UK and France. The UK and France will also explore ways of improving cooperating on efforts in countries of origin and transit in Africa and Asia."

 


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-20.11.17)
EU: London, 4 December 2017: Stop the criminalisation of human rights defenders (IRR, link):

"To mark the publication of IRR’s new research into the hostile political and legal environment facing humanitarian actors who seek to protect life at Europe’s sea and land borders, the IRR invites you to a wide-ranging discussion of how EU policies are shrinking the space for humanitarian action while feeding the far Right."

UK: West Yorkshire and Kent police forces to have new trial powers to stop and search people for ‘immigration offences’ (Right to Remain, link):

"Polices forces in West Yorkshire and Kent have begun a pilot progamme that will grant both forces the same powers as Immigration Officers to search ‘non-EEA illegal immigrants’ for UK drivers licenses.

This further outsourcing of immigration enforcement will lead to the increased harassment of migrants, and racial profiling of UK citizens.

The powers are contained in the controversial 2016 Immigration Act, Theresa May’s last before she left her post as Home Secretary and ascended to Number 10. The Act extends Immigration Officer’s powers in terms of stopping someone, and at the same time blurs the line between police and immigration by granting police some of those same powers."

Are You Syrious (19.11.17):

"Police say they are happy to let refugee on hunger strike die

Today is the fourth day of a hunger strike by Hesam Shaeri Hesari, an Iranian refugee whose asylum application was denied. Hesam was forced to flee his home country as a result of his political beliefs, and he has good reason to believe that should he return to Iran, he would be persecuted or jailed. To protest this injustice, Hesam has opted to go on a hunger strike.

Hesam has been under police custody for the last ten days and is expected to stay there until his deportation to Iran. Tonight, Hesam was transferred to a hospital....

Protest scheduled in Lesvos for November 20, right wingers to hold counter-protest

"On November 20, starting from 5pm, people on Lesvos will hold a demonstration in Mitylini against the EU’s and UN’s numerous failures to commit their obligations towards refugees. The main demand of the protesters is that the islands be opened to allow refugees, who have been stranded in the islands for months, to move to the mainland. Anti-refugee right-wingers, as well as the mayor of Mytilini will hold an event earlier in the day against the presence of refugees on Lesvos and in Greece more generally."

3 sink while heading to Ceuta

"3 refugees have died after falling out of a boat destined for Ceuta. The 21 survivors on the boat were rescued by the Spanish coastguard. Ceuta is seen as a desirable destination for many. The city, located at the northern tip of Africa, is a Spanish territory. The territory is completely walled off from neighboring Morocco, forcing people to resort to more dangerous means to cross the border."

CROATIA: AYS van has its windows smashed

"The AYS van has been vandalized after our appeal to keep the residents in Zagreb rather than moving them to a motel near the Serbian border. The police has opened aninvestigation, but we don’t expect much out of it. We use this vehicle every day to bring both kids and adults from Porin camp to different educational or other activities, to move those who’ve been granted asylum to their new homes, to distribute donations etc. We are completely paralyzed without it. If you would like to contribute to repairing the van, please contact us on FB. We’d really appreciate it."

Israel to deport 40,000 African refugees without their consent (DW, link)

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced an unspecified international deal to expel some 40,000 African asylum seekers from the country. The Israeli Cabinet also voted to shut down a migration center."

Migrants clash with farmers on Chios; riot breaks out in Lesvos camp (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Ten migrants staying at a camp in the former Vial factory on the eastern Aegean island of Chios were being questioned by police on Monday morning following tension with a pair of local famers.(...)

Meanwhile, police were also called in the early hours of Sunday to quell a riot that broke out at the Moria refugee processing center on Lesvos. Reports suggested the riot was mostly restricted to the area of the massively overcrowded camp housing some 350 unaccompanied minors, and caused damage to UNHCR facilities and the office of a non-governmental organization.

Local authorities on Lesvos were on strike on Monday in protest at the situation that has developed on the island, as well as on others in the eastern Aegean, from a spike in arrivals and continued delays in the processing of migrants and refugees who have already been trapped in camps for months."

First child refugee from Greek camps comes to UK (Guardian, link)

"Syrian boy was offered place by London council last year but officials did not take action to facilitate the 15-year-old’s transfer."

Supporting Libyan Coast Guard is a misuse of the so-called "Africa Fund". Italian Association ASGI brings Italian Foreign Ministry to Court

"The Italian Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) has recently brought legal proceedings before the Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR) with regard to Decree 4110/47 by which the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation allocates 2,5 million euros to the Ministry of Interior to repair four vessels for Libyan authorities and train them. Such a disbursement is part of the "Africa Fund" (200 million euros) set up by the Italian Parliament to promote cooperation and dialogue with African countries. Being Libya a notoriously unsafe country for migrants and refugees in transit, the compatibility of such a massive allocation of money with the stated goals of the "Africa Fund" – however vague they are – should be qu questioned. Given that these vessels might be used by the Libyan Coast Guard to pull-back migrants and refugees rescued/intercepted at sea and retain them in appalling detention centers, the main argument before TAR is that this military equipment is a diversion of the funding allocated by the Italian Parliament to contribute to the resolution of the humanitarian crisis in Libya."

See: Depositato il ricorso di ASGI contro lo sviamento di 2,5 milioni di euro dal c.d. Fondo Africa (Italian, link)

Fundamental rights and the EU hotspot approach (Danish Refugee Council, pdf):

"A legal assessment of the implementation of the EU hotspot approach and its potential role in the reformed Common European Asylum System."

Migrant crisis: Europe should stop using Libya as a dumping ground (Middle East Eye, link):

"With no central government and its own crises, Libya is ill-equipped to deal with an influx of returned migrants requiring shelter."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-17.11.17)
UPD Dutch journalist Sakir Khader arrested in Greece along with German cameraman, photographers (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"A Dutch journalist has been arrested in Greece while reporting on refugees who crossed into the country via Turkey. Along with Dutch journalist Sakir Khader, arrested have been also a German cameraman and two Iraqi photographers with German passports.

Sakir Khader, a reporter with current affairs show Brandpunt in the Netherlands, was detained on Monday morning in the border area between Greece and Turkey (...)

Along with the refugees, he was detained by Greek police, reportedly on charges that he had trespassed into a military zone."

Are You Syrious (16.11.17):

EU defending “an outrage to the conscience of humanity” - FEATURE - Germany and Italy defending criminal practice of Libya

“Handing human traffickers the keys to European democracies” is presented by the Italian Minister as the alternative to the Italian and EU’s supporting of the unlawful and horrendous activities of their Libyan ‘partners in crime’.

The practice of support (political and financial) given to the Libyan coast guard and other forces working on preventing people to flee their countries and the continent in a search for safety and decent life constantly exposes returned migrants to Libya’s lawless detention centers, with no legal recourse. (...)

However, now Italy’s foreign ministry simply said that Rome had been calling “for months” for those involved “to multiply actions and efforts in Libya to ensure acceptable and dignified conditions” in detention centres. This implies the states involved?—?are not involved? (...)

“The increasing interventions of the EU and its member states have done nothing so far to reduce the level of abuses suffered by migrants. On the contrary, conditions have only worsened.” - Human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein."

New arrivals

"Three boats to Lesvos this morning, a total of 146 people (39, then 64 and the last boat had 42 people on board), all on the north coast of the island. They will be welcomed to a camp which has absolutely no space or capacity!

Two boats arrived to Chios. The first boat with 55 people arrived to Chios in the morning, carrying 14 men, 12 women and 29 children. The second one had 22 men, 7 women and 26 children on board."

Calais refugees face the winter

The situation on the streets of Calais continues to worsen.

Over a year later, with the arrival of another winter, there are still hundreds of refugees and migrants bracing for the cold, desperate to cross the Channel and to make a fresh start in Britain.

The refugees living in Calais continue to depend upon the volunteer organizations that have been present in the area all the while: Help Refugees, Utopia 56 and Care4Calais."

Commission: Migration progress reports

The European Commission has published the latest reports on: European Agenda on Migration: Consolidating progress made (Press release, pdf): Includes:

"Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "We are exiting crisis mode gradually"

UN human rights chief: Suffering of migrants in Libya outrage to conscience of humanity (link):

"GENEVA (14 November) – The UN Human Rights chief today expressed dismay at the sharp increase in the number of migrants held in horrific conditions at detention facilities in Libya, saying the European Union’s policy of assisting the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean was inhuman.

“The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said. “What was an already dire situation has now turned catastrophic.

“The detention system for migrants in Libya is broken beyond repair,” said Zeid. “Only alternatives to detention can save migrants’ lives and physical security, preserve their dignity and protect them from further atrocities.

“The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya, and pretend that the situation can be remedied only by improving conditions in detention,” he said,"

MEP on EU-Turkey deal: Processing of asylum applications is being delayed (euractiv, link):

"More than a year since the EU-Turkey agreement, a European immigration law is still distant but badly needed. The European distribution mechanism does not work due to the lack of receptiveness of many EU member states, "

The Italian Council of State confirms Bulgaria not safe country for the transfer of asylum seekers under the Dublin Regulation

In this decision the Council of State affirmed that “*there are no reliable elements that led us to believe that the condition of asylum seekers in Bulgaria can be considered respectful of fundamental human rights and can lead to a concrete risk of suffering inhuman and degrading treatments as foreseen in Art. 3 par. 2 Reg. n. 604/2013.

See: Council of State Decision (pdf)

Greek nationalist anger turns to violence against refugees (DW, link)

"Years into a refugee crisis, many Greeks continue to resist the integration of asylum seekers stranded in the country. New, far-right extremist groups are taking advantage of the frustration. Anthee Carassava reports."

EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (LIMITE doc no: 13347-17, 126 pages, pdf): The Council working on its negotiating position. There are 225 Footnotes:

"Comments made by delegations on the Commission proposal text, orally and in writing, appear in the footnotes of the Annex."

GREECE: Hundreds of migrants living in tents on Aegean islands amid fears of worsening weather (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Around 2,000 migrants on Lesvos, including hundreds of small children, are living in tents that were set up during the summer amid concerns that the onset of winter may bring a new humanitarian crisis on the island.

In total, there are 8,293 people on the island, a favored destination of people traffickers bringing migrants over from neighboring Turkey. Conditions are similarly overcrowded on Samos where 2,397 people are cramped in and around a facility built to hold 700. Meanwhile arrivals from Turkey continue, dozens every day."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-13.11.17)
Institute for Race Relations (IRR): EU member states, in criminalising humanitarians, are feeding Europe’s far Right (Press release, link):

"The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) publishes today research showing that EU member states are using laws, aimed at traffickers and smugglers, to criminalise those acting out of humanitarian motives.

The rhetoric of EU politicians and its border force, Frontex, may be fuelling far-right extremism, IRR warns. It has written to the European Commission (EC) urging it to reassert support for humanitarian values."

See: Report (link) and Trafficking laws ‘target refugee aid workers in EU’ (Guardian, link)

Are You Syrious (12.11.17, link):

No, the Greek border will not be opened. Do not inspire false hope in refugees!

"Rumors are once again being circulated that the Greek border will be opened soon, prompting some to make the journey to be among those lucky enough to get through. The call is spread over the FB and people are invited to come to Thessaloniki on November 15th, and start walking toward the Macedonian border.

Unfortunately, as has been the case every other time that such rumors have spread, there is no truth to this wishful thinking. The border is closed and will remain closed in the foreseeable future, and a mass pilgrimage to the north will only result in injuries for the refugees. A previous attempt to march north ended in tragedy, with two refugees drowning and many more being hurt. Be an active voice against misinformation, save lives!"

Turkish Coastguard attacks refugee boat

"A video shot on November 10 shows the Turkish coastguard’s shocking disregard for human life as they harass and allegedly fire shots at a refugee boat. Once a Greek coastguard boat appeared, 17 refugees jumped off the boat and swam towards the Greeks. The remaining people who were unable to swim were returned to Turkey."

3rd meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group, 13 November 2017 in Bern (link):

"The Central Mediterranean Contact Group facilitates the exchange of information among European and African countries affected by migration via the Central Mediterranean route. The Contact Group was established in Rome in March 2017 at the initiative of Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti. (...)

The Ministers of Interior of Algeria, Austria, the Chad, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Malta, Niger, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunisia and the Minister for Malians Abroad and African Integration, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship and the Representative of the European External Action Service, as well as the Minister of Interior of Estonia holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union gathered in Bern on 12 and 13 November 2017 in the framework of the third meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group."

See: Declaration of Intent (pdf)

ECCHR: Rejections and Returns: The EU-Turkey Statement and its consequences for refugees in Greece, Turkey and Germany (pdf): Monday, 20 November, 19:00 – 21:00. ECCHR, Zossener Straße 55-58 (Aufgang D), 10961 Berlin:

"The EU-Turkey Statement from March 2016 stipulates that “[a]ll new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey”. Under the adjusted procedures, people who arrive on the Greek islands are subjected to accelerated border procedures and an initial admissibility test on their asylum claim. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO), an EU agency, is in charge of “recommending” a decision to the competent Greek Asylum Service. Based on the dubious assumption that Turkey is a safe third country, many refugees currently face the risk of being deported back there."

EU: Returns and lack of readmission agreements highlight reluctance of African states to comply with EU demands

In a letter to Claude Moraes (pdf), Chair of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE), the Director-General of of Migration and Home Affairs sets out the present situation of readmissions.

Despite the Commission's attempts to set up return and readmission agreements, especially in Africa: "Most third countries however, do not want to engage in negotiations on readmission agreements mainly due to internal political considerations, as such agreements can be a source of public hostility."

More “Safe” Third Country Concept: less safe world (ECRE, link)

"Either deliberately or by default the EU is moving towards a strategy of “externalisation” – and the proposed expansion in use of the safe third country concept is a central element.

The concept allows for the outsourcing of protection to other countries, those deemed safe. The legislative reform proposals put forward by the Commission use the concept in a problematic way; but the European Council goes further (or lower) and some Member States are pitching alarming ideas. ECRE has set out its concerns in a new Policy Note but it’s worth unpicking the details."

Spanish governing party refuses to abolish "hot returns" ruled illegal by ECHR

The plenary meeting of the Spanish Senate (the lower house of parliament) this Wednesday voted against a proposal that would ban the "hot returns" (immediate expulsions without procedure) at the Spanish borders that were recently condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the N.D. and N.T. case.

ITALY: Statement: Now it's happening in the detention centre in Caltanisseta

"40 Tunisian citizens are freed every day from the Lampedusa detention centre: Italy puts an end to illegal detention.

Now it's happening in the detention centre of Caltanissetta "

Greece: Court curtails detention policy for Syrians on the islands (AIDA, link);

"The Administrative Court of Mytilene has delivered three rulings upholding Syrian asylum seekers’ objections against detention, against the backdrop of a policy to detain Syrians on the Eastern Aegean islands with a view to their return to Turkey."

Greece: Anger rises in Lesbos over crowded refugee camps (Guardian, link):

"Lesbos mayor accuses Greek government of allowing island to become a giant prison camp.

“We are utterly opposed to policies that are turning Lesbos and other border areas into concentration camps where all human dignity is denied,” said Spyros Galinos, the island’s mayor. “The government has failed to keep to its commitment to effectively deal with this problem and move people on.” (...)

Close to 6,000 people are being held at the island’s main camp in Moria, which was initially established as a temporary measure to house no more than 2,000."

Comment: See below: Currently there are 8,106 refugees in Lesvos (9.11.17, Greek Ministry)

Greece: The number of refugees on the Greek islands top 15,000 again (15, 005, 8.11.17):

Lesvos 8,017 (Capacity 2,330), Chios 2,336 (Capacity 894), Samos 2,341 (Capacity 700), Leros 997 (Capacity 880), Kos 1,182 (Capacity 772) Other islands 132.

See also: Commission: Med "hotspots", capacity and staff (23.10.17, pdf)

Sea-Watch: RESCUING NOT TALKING: Help us get the Sea-Watch 3 into operation (link)

Refugees Seek Media Platform to Change Bulgarian Minds (Balkan Insight, link)

"Faced with an upsurge of hostility from Bulgarian citizens, refugees and activists want to set up a media platform that will show people what they are really like."

Hungarians walk to overcome fears of Muslims (New Europe, link):

"A popular way to learn about Budapest’s Muslim community – amid a strident anti-immigrant campaign by the government – is to walk.

Budapest-based tour operator Setamuhely (Budapest Walkshop) runs 30 different walks taking visitors around the city’s architectural and cultural sites and the Jewish and Muslim communities.

“I can say that this walk, ‘Muslims who live among us’, is the most popular tour,” Anna Lenard, who runs the business,” told the Reuters news agency."

Greece: AITIMA: Press release: Administrative detention in Greece remains problematic (pdf):

"We would like to focus on two points that we consider as the most important:

1/ Lack of compliance by the Greek authorities with most of the European Committee¡¦s repeated recommendations

If one reads the Committee¡¦s reports of the previous years, repeated findings will be noticed (with relevant recommendations, which are ignored), such as:

- detention of unaccompanied minors
- use of inappropriate facilities for the administrative detention of irregular migrants and asylum seekers
- significant deficiencies regarding the medical-pharmaceutical care of the administratively detainees

2/ Physical ill-treatment allegations by the administratively detained persons in the Detention Centers of the Aliens Police Directorate of Thessaloniki and in the Pre-Removal Aliens Detention Center of Tavros and their investigation by the Greek authorities."

Are You Syrious (6.11.17, link)

Italian-funded Libyan Coast Guard Causes 5 Deaths in the Mediterranean

"The Sea-Watch rescue organization reported this morning that the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) interfered in one of their operations, forcing a number of refugees aboard Libyan ships while Sea-Watch was attempting a rescue. The LCG’s violent intervention caused a number of refugees to fall off their boat in a panic, and some drowned in the water. The actions of the LCG resulted in the deaths of five refugees, including one infant who Sea-Watch volunteers were unable to revive in their vessel. Sea-Watch reports:

"The reckless and violent behavior of Libyan Coast Guards has caused at least five deaths on the Central Mediterranean Sea this morning, as the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 was called to their first rescue mission by the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center. A helicopter of the Italian Navy had to intervene to prevent more fatalities. 58 people are now safe aboard the Sea-Watch 3, despite all efforts, our medical team was not able to revive an infant in our clinic. The Libyan Coast Guards forced a few of the passengers on their vessel and took them back in the direction of Libya. By interfering in the rescue operation, the Libyans clearly violated international law: The incident took place at 30 nm off the coast, in international waters far outside of Libyan territorial waters."

Other organizations that have looked into today’s incident, including Watch the Med, have agreed with Sea-Watch that the LCG was outside of their territorial waters, and clearly acting in a reckless and illegal manner."

ITALY

"As AYS reported in a special earlier this week, refugees living in Pordenone, Italy, have been living in an extremely precarious situation for over three years now, living in makeshift camps and sleeping rough on the street. AYS documented how the local mayor authorized harsher treatment of refugees, including the confiscation of their possessions and eviction from their campsites. AYS reported, “Refugees are continually evicted - both day and night; even a simple backpack on the lawn is a synonym of a “bivouac” situation. Following this logic, blankets and sleeping bags donated by MSF are confiscated and, despite pursuing all the bureaucratic routes, it is impossible to having them returned.”

Lesvos, Greece

"Today is the eleventh day of the hunger strike, and the eighteenth day of protest for refugees who have been occupying Sappho Square on Lesvos. The respected refugee activist Arash Hampay has announced that he will begin a hunger strike tomorrow in solidarity with the protestors there.

It has been reported tonight by activists on the ground that an ambulance called into Sappho Square to aid three hunger striking women denied them medical care. The police were unwilling to assist, and the women were only given care after refugees and volunteers demanded that a second ambulance be called."

The Greek island camp where only the sick or pregnant can leave (Guardian, link):

"Thousands of refugees are living in squalid conditions on Samos, and a diagnosis of illness could be a ticket to getting out."

Greece: Unknown group claims attack on refugee boy’s home (ekathimerini.com, link):

"An unknown group calling itself Krypteia on Monday claimed responsibility for last week’s attack on the home of an 11-year-old Afghan boy in the Athens suburb of Dafni.

An anonymous caller told the Iefimerida website that the group was behind the hit, adding, “We will fight until the last illegal immigrant has gone and we will use violence, mercilessly.”"

Greece: Open Letter to the European Commission from Chios - EU Commission must take responsibility for inhumanity of Greek hotspots (Are You Syrious, link):

"We, the undersigned voluntary organisations, have been providing humanitarian aid on the Greek island of Chios for more than two years. We are writing to express our deepest concerns with regard to the situation of refugees on the island. Whilst the inhumane conditions on Chios for refugees is not a new issue, the situation has reached tipping point in recent weeks with an increase in arrivals, the withdrawal of most NGOs, and the closure of Souda camp in the city, which has left the EU hotspot Vial as the sole facility that accommodates refugees on the island." (...)

Child immigration detention: Why EU states must cut it out (euractiv, link):

"European governments are treating children like criminals by detaining them because of their migration status. It’s time to care for them as the children they are, writes Lavinia Liardo"

European Parliament: Border control: strengthening security in the EU (link): Includes:

"Information-sharing on the return of irregular migrants: To help enforce decisions by a member state on returning an illegally staying non-EU national to his or her country of origin, MEPs also approved:

- an obligation for member states to enter into the SIS all return decisions issued;
- a new alert system will inform national bodies whether the period for ‘leaving voluntarily’, during which the person is asked to leave the EU, has expired;
- a requirement for national authorities to inform the member state that launched the alert that a non-EU national has left the EU.

Currently, there is no system in place to automatically provide information on return decisions, which are now shared on a voluntary basis."

ITALY: Account of a serious violation of the law in the hotspot in Lampedusa

- In spite of the ECtHR sentence in the Khlaifa case, arbitrary detention, mass expulsions and denial of the right to asylum continue

EU: Libyan Coast Guard accused of causing "at least five deaths" in the Mediterranean

"The violent and reckless behavior of Libyan Coast Guards has caused at least five deaths on the Central Mediterranean Sea this morning, as the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 was called to their first rescue mission by the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center. A helicopter of the Italian Navy had to intervene to prevent more fatalities. 58 people are now safe aboard the Sea-Watch 3, despite all efforts, our medical team was not able to revive an infant in our clinic. The Libyan Coast Guards forced a few of the passengers on their vessel and took them back in direction Libya. By interfering in the rescue operation, the Libyans clearly violated international law: The incident took place at 30 nm off the coast, in international waters far outside of Libyan territorial waters.

(...)

“Probably, nobody would have had to die today if only we had the possibility to operate reasonably in a calm environment. Instead of coordinating the rescue operation with the vessels present such as a ship of the French Navy, the Libyans tried to take as many people as possible back to Libya – and accepted the loss of several lives”, says head of mission Johannes Bayer. “These deaths have to be blamed on the Libyan Coast Guards who have obstructed a safe rescue with their brutal behavior. The responsability is on the side of the European Union, however, who trains and finances these militias. They act in the EU’s will. The European governments finally have to draw conclusions from this incident and stop the collaboration with the Libyan Coast Guards. The EU has to stop to rate migration control higher than human rights!”"

See: Breaking: Dramatic first rescue operation for Sea-Watch 3 (Sea-Watch, link)

GREECE: "Welcome to Greece" - An interview with Olga Lafazani, coordinator of City Plaza (Melting Pot Europa, link):

"Since April the 22nd 2016, the "Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza" is an occupied hotel, managed by a group of activists and refugees, currently home to about 400 migrants. It is located nearby Victoria Square, a meeting place for migrants in Athens, which came to the attention of the news in March 2016 when the police evicted hundreds of people camped there, leaving them without accommodation.

During our stay in City Plaza, we had the opportunity to meet the activists who gave birth to the project and who are still directly involved in the daily life of the squat. Here is an interview with Olga Lafazani, from Athens, who has been working there with the organisation she is part of, since the first day of squatting. Her experience make up the evidence that it is possible to give life to such a project, also providing the chance to understand the ideas, the values and the strengths that characterise it and allow it to survive."

Hungarian refugees of 1956 and the current refugee crisis (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"It was about two years ago that Viktor Orbán explained that keeping “migrants” within walled compounds guarded by police was the norm when the Hungarian refugees arrived in Austria. “What do you think? They were free to go anywhere? They were in camps for years until they were properly vetted.” This was essentially Orbán’s justification for creating closed camps for those refugees who arrived in Hungary, after a fence was erected to keep most of the refugees out. According to official Hungarian statistics, 193,748 people left the country between October 23 and the spring of 1957, most of them via Austria (174,057). What happened to these people? Did they stay in closed refugee camps, waiting for years? No. According to the statistics, by March 31, 1957 only 35,250 Hungarian refugees were still in Austria. The rest were moved within months to 35 different countries, which offered them food and shelter until they found jobs."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.10-3.11.17)
EU: Migrant smuggling and trafficking as crimes against humanity: growing calls for crimes to be heard before International Criminal Court

A recent editorial in Der Spiegel by two legal academics supports the call recently made by a UN Special Rapporteur for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to "consider investigation into atrocity crimes against refugees and migrants where there are reasonable grounds that such crimes have taken place and the jurisdictional requirements of the court have been met." This approach is also being pursued by the EU's military mission in the Mediterranean, Operation Sophia, which has sought contacts with the ICC and has produced a "non-paper" on the topic that was recently obtainedby Statewatch.

EU-AFRICA: European Parliament chief in Tunisia: Africa needs a 'Marshall Plan' to halt migration

European Parliament president Antonio Tajani has recently been in Tunisia, where he called for the EU to finance a 'Marshall Plan' that would back development in Africa in order to prevent "thousands, and soon millions of people" travelling from and towards North Africa and eventually to Europe.

SAHEL: EU-backed 'G5 Sahel' security mission starts operations as Europeans hope to stem migration flows

A multinational counter-terrorism force in the Sahel region of Africa is receiving significant financial backing from the EU and recently began operations in an attempt to "counter escalating Islamist insurgencies," with a view to also deal with irregular migration and human trafficking in the region.

GREECE: Refugees protest in Greece for family reunification in Germany (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Several dozen migrants protested in front of the parliament building in Athens on Wednesday, demanding to be reunited with family members in other EU countries after being stranded in Greece.

"Reunite our families," read one sign held by the group of mainly Syrians, who threatened to engage in a hunger strike.

Dalal Rashou, a 32-year-old Syrian, said she has five children, including one in Germany with her husband. "I have not seen my husband, my child, for more than one year and nine months," she said. "I miss him and every day I am here in Greece I cry. I don't want to stay here, I want to go to my husband," she said."

See: Reunite us with our families now! (Hunger Strike, link): " We are more than 4,000 refugees awaiting our transfer to Germany – most of which are families who are waiting already more than 18 months in Greece under deplorable conditions. We are women, men and mostly children separated from one or both of our parents, our husbands, our wives."

GREECE: Concern over spike of 200 percent in migrant arrivals (Ekatimerini, link):

"Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Wednesday conceded that the migration problem is becoming more difficult to manage as the number of people arriving on the shores of Greek islands from Turkey since August is up 200 percent compared to the same period last year.

Describing the spike as a “special phase” in the migration problem, Mouzalas added that while the average arrival rate in July was 87 people per day, it shot up to 156 per day in August, while in the months of September and October it rose even further, to 214 per day.

With around 4,000 people arriving on the islands in October alone, Mouzalas described the situation at the congested camps on Lesvos as “very bad” and on Chios as “bad.”

(...)

He attributed the low number of returns to Turkey – 1,360 people since the deal was activated – to the way asylum applications are examined in Greece."

According to UNHCR figures, 616 refugees arrived in Lesvos between 25 and 31 October.

The EU-Turkey deal returned just 4% of migrants who undertook the dangerous journey to Greece (Quartz, link):

"A controversial deal allowing the EU to ship migrants back to Turkey has stemmed the flow of people reaching Europe by sea. But it has done very little to actually return them to Turkey.

The EU-Turkey deal was signed in March 2016; a month later, arrivals to Greece dropped by a staggering 90%. Though the flow of migrants decreased, the deal didn’t stop irregular migration completely. From April 2016 till now, 45,972 migrants crossed over to Greece.

Since the deal was implemented, just 1,896 migrants (pdf) have been returned to Turkey, according to a recent report by EU. In other words, just 4% of migrants who crossed over to Greece since the deal was signed have been returned."

French authorities illegally extend controls at Schengen's interior borders, associations file a claim before the State Council

Press release - 31 October 2017: Joint action

"On 26 October 2017, Anafé, La Cimade and Gisti asked the judge for emergency interim procedures [juge des référés] of the State Council [Conseil d'Etat] to urgently suspend the authorities' decision to extend the controls at the internal borders until 30 April 2018.

The reintroduction of controls at the internal borders of the Schengen area, enacted by France since 13 November 2015, and then repeatedly extended due to the state of emergency, was meant to end on 31 October. However, the French authorities informed the European Union (EU) in a note send on the past 3 October that they were counting on extending these systematic border checks -once again- by invoking as its only reason the "risk of a terrorist attack, which remains high in French territory".

While the state of emergency is meant to end on Wednesday 1 November, this decision, which contradicts the rules of the Schengen area which limit the possibility of conducting systematic checks at its internal borders to two years, seriously undermines the rights of people in a regime of freedom of movement."

CPT returns to Hungary to assess the situation of foreign nationals detained under aliens legislation (Council of Europe, link):

"A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out an ad hoc visit to Hungary from 20 to 26 October 2017.

The main objective of the visit was to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of foreign nationals detained under aliens legislation. To this end, the CPT’s delegation visited the two transit zones at Röszke and Tompa situated at the border with Serbia, as well as the Csongrád County Border Police Division in Szeged (Moscow street) and the police detention facility at the border post at Röszke. On the Serbian side of the border, the delegation also held interviews with foreign nationals who had recently been escorted by border police officers to the other side of the Hungarian border fence."

From the centre of the Mediterranean: “Freedom of movement as a human right” (Political Critique, link):

"A conversation with Leoluca Orlando, mayor of Palermo.

(...)

Comprising almost 700,000 inhabitants within a metropolitan area that exceeds one million, the capital of Sicily is a place of many contradictions. A distillation of the contradictions of a large island in the centre of the Mediterranean, with all the positive and negative values that this has historically led to and which are even more evident today.

An example of this are the specifically Sicilian problems regarding the relationship between capitalist development and underdevelopment, within an Italian unitary state that has only 150 years of history. With these themes in mind we began a conversation with Leoluca Orlando (mayor of the city preparing to run for new elections this weekend) about the heavy conditioning that the mafia phenomenon has exerted and the influence that it, in some respects, continues to have on Sicilian society and urban life in Palermo."

Greece: Samos Chronicles: Responding to Hysteria (link):

"Recently on Samos we have been experiencing one of those periodic spasms of anti-refugee sentiment. These spasms feel orchestrated and even if not coordinated involve a diverse range of actors. This particular spasm has been sparked by both the high number of new arrivals especially in September and the lack of any preparation to meet the autumn weather.

All the refugee authorities use these moments to demand additional resources and powers; local business interests demand VAT reductions and other economic interventions because as ‘we all know’ the refugees have been devastating for tourism, the Mayor calls for meetings with government ministers and on it goes.
And at the same time beyond Samos, we see the head of UNCHR warning of the calamity unfolding on the frontier islands as winter approaches as well as other reports highlighting the agony of the refugees on the islands. Add to this mix, Samos SOS, an anti-refugee group which has been intermittently active for many years and which relishes moments such as these as a means of mobilizing support."


Europe’s quiet offensive against people helping refugees (euractiv, link):

"Three years ago today (31 October), EU pressure on Italy forced the end of one the EU’s most successful humanitarian mission, ‘Mare Nostrum’, a search-and-rescue operation that in just one year brought 130,000 refugees safely to Europe’s shores. Ben Hayes and Frank Barat look back on three years since the end of Operation Mare Nostrum."

Greek PM under fire over migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his migration minister came under a hail of fire Monday from a radical faction within SYRIZA over the plight of the thousands of refugees and migrants stranded in Greece.(...)

But instead, the government and Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas were slammed by members of the political secretariat that represent the Group of 53 faction – seen as a custodian of party purity – within SYRIZA, over the consistent violation of migrants and refugees’ human rights.

More specifically, they blamed the leftist-led coalition government and Mouzalas for delays in providing migrants and refugees with appropriate accommodation as winter approaches."

How Europe exported its refugee crisis to north Africa (The Guardian, link):

"Something happened to the deadly migrant trail into Europe in 2017. It dried up. Not completely, but palpably. In the high summer, peak time for traffic across the Mediterranean, numbers fell by as much as 70%.

This was no random occurrence. Even before the mass arrival of more than a million migrants and refugees into Europe in 2015, European policymakers had been desperately seeking solutions that would not just deal with those already here, but prevent more from coming.

From Berlin to Brussels it is clear: there cannot be an open-ended invitation to the miserable millions of Europe’s southern and eastern periphery.

Instead, European leaders have sought to export the problem whence it came: principally north Africa."

See: Libyan path to Europe turns into dead end for desperate migrants (The Guardian, link)

Ending restrictions on family reunification: good for refugees, good for host societies (Council of Europe, link):

"Many refugees have to leave family members behind when they flee their homes. This adds more hardship to the trauma of exile. Once they have found safety in Europe, being reunited with their family members is often the first priority of refugees. It takes little imagination to realise how horrible it is for them to be deprived of this possibility. Unfortunately, thousands of refugees and persons with other forms of international protection status in Europe face long-term separation from their spouses, children and other loved ones. This is due to increasingly tough laws and policies restricting family reunification, which are often incompatible with the letter or spirit of human rights standards and need to be addressed urgently."

October 2017


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-29.10.17)
Greece: Committees at odds with Council of State over refugees’ safety in Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Hundreds of Syrian refugees face more uncertainty – albeit of a more positive nature – following two separate recent decisions by asylum appeals committees ruling that Turkey cannot be deemed a safe third country.

The decisions contradict a September ruling by the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, which found that refugees deported to Turkey under a deal with the European Union face no threat of torture, inhumane treatment or punishment. That ruling had been seen as paving the way for the deportation of at least 700 Syrians in Greece who had appealed the rejection of their requests for asylum in the EU."

Are You Syrious (28.10.17, link)

Lesvos

"As NBK reports, the protest in Sappho Square continues, despite national Oxi Day (refugees have been protesting for over a week now to demand the closure of the detention centres on the islands and voicing their will to be moved to the mainland as soon as possible). There was a huge deployment of police. As we reported yesterday, four refugees are on a hunger strike."

Anniversary

"Today marks the anniversary of the tragedy of 28 October 2015 when a boat carrying over 300 refugees capsized while trying to reach Lesvos, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people. Here are testimonies of how volunteers paid their respects to the victims of that day and symbolically to all those who have died and are still dying while trying to reach safe shores. The anger and disappointment towards the European policies that promote walls and divisions are more bitter than ever during these moments. A natural question arises: what has changed over these two years?"

ITALY

"We, as AYS, have always spoken out against the dreadful living conditions of asylum seekers in Northern Italy. Especially over the last year, the situation has significantly worsened in a few cities in Friuli Venezia Giulia (the region on the border with Slovenia) and over the last months the calls for donations and help have intensified as have the inhumane and fascist policies of the local authorities.(...)"

Greece: Patras: Migrants swim to ferries in order to get on board and travel to Italy (video) (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"In Patras, Western Greece, migrants are seen to jump into the sea and are swimming towards departing ferries in an effort to leave Greece for Italy. They climb through the hanging ropes and try to get on board.

The desperate ‘escape’ has been observed in the old port of Patras in recent days.

According to local media tempo24.gr, majority of ‘swimmers’ are Moroccans who cannot easily approach the new port as the Afghan migrant traffickers would not allow them.

The migrants jump into the sea and try to get on board of the anchored ships by the toe bands and anchor chains. "

French police ‘use beatings, tear gas and confiscation’ against Calais refugees (The Observer, link):

"Report from the Refugee Rights Data Project finds child refugees harassed and intimidated by police as well as local citizens.

Police violence towards refugees in Calais has intensified to “excessive and life-threatening” levels, according to a new report, and the overall situation for unaccompanied minors has deteriorated markedly, a year after the refugee camp there was razed.

The report by the Refugee Rights Data Project (RRDP) says French police tactics against the estimated 700 refugees at the port are alleged to have included driving unaccompanied girls to remote spots and abandoning them. Researchers used interpreters to interview 233 refugees, including 94 children as young as 12, and found repeated “disproportionate and indiscriminate” accounts of police brutality including beatings severe enough to break limbs."

EU-Africa: The fight against smuggling comes of age: from deaths at sea to those in the desert

Three questions: Barbara Spinelli MEP highlights the human cost of the fight against smugglers.

"Barbara Spinelli interevened during the EP's plenary session on the fight against illegal immigration and human trafficking in the Mediterranean, requested by the ENF group and submitted by Matteo Salvini, MEP for the Northern League."

Greece: Lesvos: From 11 to 17 October 2017 599 refugees arrived to Lesvos. And 18-24 October a further 418 arrived (UNHCR).1.012 in two weeks.

Greece: Mahaa and Zaman (Samos Chronicles, link):

"Saad met Mahaa and Zaman in Athens at meetings of LGBT refugees. Their stories below are based on taped conversations which have in places been edited. Their stories, as their lives, continue to unfold in the daily uncertainties facing all the refugees in Greece today. If you would like to contact them please do so through the blog and we will pass any messages on to them."

RABAT PROCESS: Common Position of the African Civil Society Organizations as presented at the Senior Officials Meeting of the Rabat Process in Accra on 24 October 2017. Rabat Process: Senior Officials’ Meeting – African CSOs Common Position (English) and in French (pdf)

"This statement follows the consultation launched by the West African Observatory on Migrations, prior to the Senior Officials Meeting of the Rabat Process, with associations, networks, unions and religious organizations working on migration in Central, West and North Africa. Its content responds to the positions and recommendations expressed by these organizations."

FRANCE: Migrants: Independent inquiry finds ‘likely’ use of excessive force by French police (EurActiv, link):

"The French police “likely” used excessive force against migrants after dismantling the camp in Calais a year ago, an independent inquiry has found. But the ministry of interior insists that the “most serious allegations” were rejected. EURACTIV’s partner Ouest-France reports.

An inquiry was set up after international NGO Human Rights Watch accused the police of using excessive force against migrants in Calais. In its report, published on Monday (23 October), it said the allegations of use of excessive force by the police were “likely”.

In a press release published shortly after the report, Interior Minister Gérard Collomb highlighted that “no element in the report sustains the most serious allegations made” by international NGO HRW in July, particularly the “routine” use of pepper spray. Its use was “highly unlikely” according to the report.

The authors claimed that “the high number of oral and written witness statements, although hard to prove with material evidence, point in the direction of likely faults in the police’s use of force.”"

See: Evaluation de l’action des forces de l’ordre à Calais et dans le Dunkerquois (General Inspectorates of the Police Nationale, of l'Administration and of the Gendarmerie Nationale)

IRELAND: Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition launch new policy paper (NASC, link):

"The Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition have released a new report entitled Pathways to Protection and Inclusion, Ireland’s role in global refugee protection and migration movements.

The report sets out some of the major changes in the area of migration and asylum since 2016 from an International, European and Irish perspective. It also outlines a range of clear and pragmatic recommendations in order to ensure Ireland can respond responsibly and display solidarity with the regions and persons most affected by on-going conflicts and mass displacement.

The Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition, of which Nasc is a member, is comprised of 23 leading Irish organisations working locally, nationally and internationally on migration and asylum issues. It seeks to advance the rights and dignity of people on the move and those in need of international protection."

See the report: Pathways to Protection and Inclusion: Ireland's role in global refugee protection and migration movements (pdf)

Press release: UK based Last Rights Project will speak at 72nd Session of UN General Assembly side-event on unlawful death of refugees and migrants

At the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, on the 26th October, Dr. Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions will present her report, “Unlawful Death of Refugees and Migrants” to the General Assembly.

Orban declares migrant-free zone in Eastern Europe (euobserver, link):

"Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has declared Central Europe the continent's last "migrant-free zone". Speaking in Budapest on Monday on the 61st anniversary of Hungary's 1956 anti-Soviet uprising, Orban said that unity among countries such as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic could stop globalisation and mass migration."

Calais: one year after ‘the jungle’ (Exodus, link):

"The UK government let Calais children down by stopping the Dubs scheme before the children who should go to the UK were transferred. They took only 300. Many of the children who were in the ‘jungle’, at least 1000, are still in France, some have crossed ‘illegally’ and at least three have died trying. Many have disappeared and nobody knows where they are."

Greek islands bursting at the seams (ekathimerini.com, link):

"In the last week, 1,194 people arrived on Greece’s Aegean islands from the coast of Turkey, adding to the thousands of asylum seekers who have been trapped at camps for months and showing increasing signs of frustration, with protests and scuffles becoming all the more frequent. (...)

As winter approaches, asylum seekers on Lesvos, Samos and Chios are still living in tents designed for summer weather, while others are sleeping outside under blankets.

The fact that 40 percent of arrivals are children, 20 percent are women and a large number have health problems, makes matters even more ominous."

Captain diverts cruise ship to rescue 10 migrants clinging to wooden boat in the Mediterranean (MSN News, link):

"British cruise ship passengers on a luxury trip round the Mediterranean woke up to find themselves in the middle of a mission to save a group of stricken migrants lost at sea.

Holidaymakers on the P&O ship Britannia, were alerted by the "man overboard" siren early on Monday morning.

It is understood 10 men, of North African origin, were spotted clinging to a wooden boat 26 miles off the Spanish coast. "

Greece JOINT STATEMENT: Open The Islands – no more dead from cold!

Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action as winter is coming for refugees in Greece

This Joint Statement has now been signed by 109 groups from across the EU, including Statewatch.

The real wave of refugees is yet to come (euractiv, link):

"Climate change in Africa is going to be a much stronger driving force for mass migration than political turmoil, writes Tara Shirvani."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-22.10.17)
Greece: Refugees protest poor conditions in hot spot Moria, Lesvos, and VIAL, Chios (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Afghan refugees and migrants continued their protest also on Saturday after many of them spent the night outside the hot spot in Moria on the island of Lesvos. They demand better living conditions but also equal treatment in their asylum requests similar to those of Syrian refugees.

Afghan families holding their children by the hand marched from the hot spot Moria to the city of Mytilene to protest conditions and violence in the camp that hosts more than 5,000 people.

Police forces deployed in the north exit of Mytilene-Mantamathos highway did not allow the group to proceed to the city and especially to the market place.(...)

A member of the Moria management told athensnewsagency that the hygiene conditions in the camp are extremely poor, the water and sewage system is not sufficient for so many people. . ” Moria was reportedly designed for 800 people but it hosts more than 5,476 people."

And Lesvos Solidarity report: After spending the night outside the gates of Moria in protest, around 100 Afghans arrived in Sapfous Square, Mytilini. Many families with children. They refuse to go back to the overcrowded Moria camp where they fear for their safety as tension increases.

People taking part in the protest describe sleeping in small tents in Moria with too many people. No heating. No mattresses. People, including small children, got injured from stones launched during latest fight.

Some families arrived recently in Lesvos "We were hoping to find safety and protection in Europe, but everything is the opposite". Others have been in Lesvos 16 months and up to 2 years, without a decision. They refuse to spend a second winter in these conditions. "Why are we still here?"

Are You Syrious (22.10.17, link):

Feature: Greece - children

"The most vulnerable category among refugees and migrants are children, especially those who are forced to travel alone. This October, in Greece alone, there were about 2,950 registered unaccompanied children from various countries. Some of them were lucky to find accommodation in shelters across the country, but too many are on their own in the streets. In order to survive, these children are exposed to all sorts of violence, including sexual.

There are only 1,114 beds available in 49 shelters, meaning that 1,822 are wait-listed for shelters. The current plans are that four new shelters should open soon, but only for 60 kids.

Most of the children come from Pakistan and Afghanistan, and many are among the new arrivals to islands where they face dreadful conditions in overcrowded camps or makeshift shelters where they are forced to stay due to the lack of accommodations.(...)

Here you can find some key figures about unaccompanied children left in limbo in Greece "

Turkey

"During September, according to the Turkish authorities, the Coast Guard intercepted or rescued 3,408 people, contributing to a total of 15,471 in 2017 of persons mostly headed to Greece.

At the same time, the number of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers registered in Turkey stood at over 3.5 million. The biggest number are people from Syria?—?3.2 million under temporary protection in Turkey."

Greece: Lesvos

"The new arrivals find themselves in unbearable conditions on the islands, including Lesvos, where people are protesting for the second day. After yesterday’s riots, around 100 people - mostly from Afghanistan - left the overcrowded area of Moria camp and spend a day and night on the main square in Mytilini, including many families with children.

People refused to go back to Moria camp, saying that they fear for their safety and demand to be accommodated in better conditions. Among those who are participating in these protests are mostly new arrivals, but also some people who have been stranded on the island for almost 2 years.

Our friends from No Border Kitchen in Lesvos send us stories of those who are protesting. Among them is a family from Afghanistan with a one-year-old baby. They arrived on Lesvos 25 days ago and are forced to sleep in a tent. The baby has been running a fever for three days but is sleeping on the ground.(...)"

Bulgaria

"The Defense Minister of Bulgaria, Krassimir Karakachanov, stated that ladders had been used to climb the fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border. A couple of days before, the media published photos showing a large hole underneath the fence. It was also discovered that even though the Bulgarian parliament voted in 2016 to use the army to protect the borders, this option has been used only intermittently.

At the same time, the UNHCR issued data showing that until the end of August this year, 17,067 people were intercepted at the Turkish-Greek and the Turkish-Bulgarian land borders."

UNHCR: Arrivals in the Med 2017 (20 October 2017): Italy 110,382, Greece: 22,918, Spain 12,420 and Cyprus 847. Total: 146,535, Dead/Missing: 2,184.

Serbia: Life in limbo: The consequences of thwarted mobility for refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants in Serbia (link)

"While media attention largely has shifted to the central and western Mediterranean routes, thousands of refugees and other migrants continue to use the eastern route to Europe. This study highlights the situation of a largely forgotten population - refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants who are "stuck in transit" in Serbia along that eastern pathway. Such ‘limbo’ situations are likely to become increasingly common as the European Union further externalises its approach to border control"

Council Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) casts doubt on EU policy of "safe" return of refugees to Afghanistan

- Afghanistan: "We are concerned at the deteriorating humanitarian situation"
-"Pakistan have hosted millions of Afghan refugees over the last forty years and we commend them"
- "Iran have hosted millions of Afghan refugees over the last forty years and we commend them"

Key document: COHAFA common messages on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan (LIMITE doc no: 12697-17, pdf)

Turkey, bridge to Europe, struggles with irregular migration (Daily Sabah, link):

"A favorite destination for migrants aspiring to reach Europe, Turkey has intercepted more than 644,000 migrants in the past seven years, the latest statistics show.(...)

Over the past two years, 3,703 migrants were deported, and 2,555 migrants voluntarily returned to their countries or countries they arrived from under the Voluntary Return Project by the migration authority.

Turkey hosts 8,186 centers for migrants, pending repatriation, and aims to increase it to more than 15,000."

Returned and Lost: What Happens After Readmission to Turkey? (link):

"Turkey was regarded as a safe (third) country for asylum seekers and refugees for the purposes of the EU-Turkey Statement. This designation was an outcome of a political decision rather than a policy based on evidence from the field. Existing structural problems in Turkey where the asylum and migration systems are still in their infancy and the absence of effective safeguards against the violation of human rights, partly as a result of alarming developments in the legal framework, should remind us that political will - such as in the EU-Turkey Statement - alone does not make a country a safe place for migrants and asylum seekers."

Solidarity under attack (Open Democracy, link):

"These measures [against NGO search and rescue operations] can be interpreted as an attack against solidarity and as an acceleration of the measures that criminalize pro-migrant solidarity in Italy and the EU. In this regard, we argue that there is a very close relationship between: approval of the new immigration bill and the implementation of the so-called ‘Code of Conduct’ for NGOs doing rescue operations in the Mediterranean. At the same time, the frequent and often violent evictions of migrant squats, buildings and encampments we are witnessing taking place in major cities such as Rome, Milan, Bologna, and the rising number of trials against pro-migrant activists facing persecution for their activities, reveal a concerted attempt on the part of the authorities in Italy and Europe to undermine forms of solidarity with and for migrants in civil society."

See: Solidarity is not a crime: the Observatory of the Milan Charter is born (Statewatch News)

CoE: Report: The situation of migrants and refugees in Serbia and transit zones in Hungary (link):

"Thousands of migrants and refugees who travelled along the Western Balkans’ migration route in 2015 and 2016 are now stranded in Serbia in a precarious legal situation.

That is the verdict of the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees Ambassador Tomáš Bocek in a report published today."

Making profits in Ireland’s asylum market (IRR News, link):

"In the second of a series, campaigner John Grayson examines the asylum markets for private companies involved in providing services under the Direct Provision (DP) system for asylum seekers in Ireland."

EU: Juncker: Member states contributed too little to Africa Fund (euractiv, link):

"Speaking to the press after the first round of talks at the EU summit on Thursday (19 October), Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that EU action was “reaching its limits” due to insufficient financing.

“We are reaching our limits when it comes to this Emergency Trust Fund for Africa,” Juncker said.

“We started by saying that we would take €1.8bn in our hands in order to be helpful to Africa, then we increased this to €2.5, then to €2.9, then to €3.1bn, money the Commission was providing by restructuring the existing budget. Member states have so far committed €175m, this is clearly not enough,” he stated."

Greece: Reporting on a Catastrophe: Mental Health Crisis of Refugees on Samos and Lesvos (Samos Chronicles, link):

"Medicin Sans Frontieres (MSF) at least on Samos has sometimes been disappointing. In particular it was too often silent and should have used its influence and been more outspoken about the in-competencies of so many who are paid to care for the refugees. So it is refreshing to see their latest report on the mental health emergency engulfing the refugees on Lesvos and Samos. These are 2 of the islands where MSF are especially active and have had a lengthy presence.

Without pulling punches MSF lays clear that refugees are being damaged and suffering unacceptable levels of stress by the way they are being treated and cared for on the islands. It is a system that is driving people mad."

See: MSF report (pdf)

MEPs: EU migrant quotas do have a future (euobserver, link):

"Asylum seekers arriving in Europe would likely end up in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia under the latest proposal put forward by the European Parliament.

MEPs on the civil liberties committee on Thursday (19 October) overwhelmingly backed a proposal that is likely to pivot the parliament against a small group of migrant-hostile EU states, led by Hungary.

The proposal seeks to impose mandatory migrant quotas and strip non-complying member states of EU funding in an effort to revamp a key EU asylum law."

Arrivals surge on Greek islands despite EU-Turkey deal (euractiv, link):

"With Turkey being one of the items on the agenda of the EU summit starting on Thursday (19 October), AFP is reporting that migrants are still coming to Greek islands despite the EU-Turkey deal to stem the arrival of refugees from Turkish territory. (...)

According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), 5,000 migrants arrived at Greek islands in September, an increase of 35% from the same period a year earlier, according to AFP calculations."

Developments in the Central Mediterranean over the past two years (Alarmphone, link):

"Most sea crossings by refugees trying to reach Europe take place on the route between Libya and Italy. Refugees are forced to board overcrowded boats that are not suitable for use at sea, making this route the deadliest. Without the NGO search and rescue boats (SAR-NGOs), the number of deaths would be far higher, because the capacities of the official coast guards are insufficient.

Until recently, the Italian coast guard deliberately stayed away from the Libyan coast and EU forces of Frontex and the military operation EUNAVFOR Med focus their efforts exclusively on reducing the number of crossings by fighting smugglers.There is no unified Libyan coast guard, only multiple, autonomous formations, of which some even operate as smugglers."

Greece: Refugees relocated, others go to mainland (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A group of 234 refugees boarded a charter flight from Athens to Lyon, France on Wednesday as part of the European Union’s relocation program, while dozens more migrants, deemed to belong to vulnerable groups, were transferred by ferry from the islands of the Aegean to mainland Greece.

The group relocated to Lyon comprised 132 adults and 102 minors, 190 of them Syrian nationals and the remainder from Iraq and the Palestinian territories.(...)

Mouzalas took a swipe at the countries which fail to honor their obligations to participate in the EU relocation program, claiming that some even refuse to take in unaccompanied minors."

Tusk: EU migrant quotas have 'no future' (euobserver, link):

EU Council head Donald Tusk has said obligatory migrant quotas "have no future" amid efforts to mend fences with eastern European states.

"I don't see any special future for this project, but it's important to find an understanding that does not separate Poland and other Visegrad group countries from the rest of Europe," Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, told the Polish press agency, Pap, in the margins of a meeting on social affairs in Brussels on Wednesday (...)

Tusk said Poland had to decide whether to "jointly solve the problems related to migration, which means securing borders, but also helping those countries who have too many refugees" or to opt for a "firm break from European solidarity"."

IRELAND: EXCLUSIVE: Athlone asylum-seekers very critical of care at direct provision centre (shannonside, link):

"Up to 175 asylum-seekers from the direct provision centre in Athlone have strongly complained about the care they’re receiving.

They’ve told the Department of Justice that sometimes people get sick, suffer diarrhoea or need hospital care because of the quality of food at the facility."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: Ahead of meeting with EU counterparts, rapporteur underlines suffering of migrants separated from their families (link):

"PACE’s rapporteur on family reunification for migrants and refugees, speaking ahead of a meeting with EU officials, has underlined the suffering that migrants can experience if they are separated from their families.

Ulla Sandbæk (Denmark, UEL), who begins a two-day meeting with officials of the EU Council, Commission and Parliament in Brussels tomorrow, said she would emphasise to them that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to family life for everybody, including migrants."

EU: European Council: "roadmap" implementation paper highlights migration, internal security, military efforts

"The Bratislava Roadmap emerged from the Leaders' debate in September 2016. In March 2017, the Rome Declaration broadened the scope and set additional priorities for the longer term.

One year on, the EU has made significant progress and can demonstrate tangible results. The Bratislava method is working. The attached table shows that many tasks have been completed, and many others are on track. Some tasks however have progressed slower than expected, and a few require a fresh push, including at the highest level."

Switzerland should reinforce its human rights protection framework and better respond to the needs of vulnerable migrants (Council of Europe, link):

"Reinforcing the institutional and legal framework for safeguarding and promoting human rights and enhancing the protection of migrants and asylum seekers are the key recommendations addressed to the Swiss authorities by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, in a report published today following his visit to the country in May 2017.

The Commissioner welcomes the new law on asylum, which should result in faster and higher quality procedures for determining refugee status, in particular through the provision of free legal assistance from the outset. Noting that there are plans to revise the rules on temporary admission, which apply amongst others to Syrians who have fled the conflict, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to establish an international subsidiary protection status guaranteeing the same rights as are granted to persons holding official refugee status."

Council of Europe: CPT publishes report on Turkey (link)

"The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its ad hoc visit to Turkey, which took place from 16 to 23 June 2015, together with the response of the Turkish Government. Both documents have been made public at the request of the Turkish authorities.

The visit focused on the situation of foreign nationals detained under aliens legislation, and the report contains the CPT’s findings and recommendations relating to various removal centres, as well as the holding facilities in the transit zone of Istanbul Atatürk Airport."

See: Report (pdf)


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-16.10.17)
GREECE: Open The Islands - no more dead from the cold! Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action as winter is coming for refugees in Greece

Over 40 solidarity groups and organisations are calling for urgent action from the Greek local and national authorities to prevent more refugees from dying in the cold as winter sets in once again. They expect more groups and organisations to join them over the next days and weeks.

ITALY: Solidarity is not a crime: the Observatory of the Milan Charter is born

On 30 September 2017 around thirty activists, journalists, jurists, citizens acting in solidarity, members of NGOs and associations met in Milan to set up the Observatory which the 'Milan Charter: solidarity is not a crime' proposed in its document launched on 20 May 2017 during the demonstration 'Together without any walls', to safeguard the honour, freedom and rights of civil society in all its humanitarian expressions: when it saves lives at sea; when it protects and rescues people experiencing hardships at the borders; when it monitors respect for the principles of legality and equality; when it reports the failure to respect fundamental rights in procedures for administrative detention and forced removals; when it complies with the binding duty of solidarity which is a foundation of the Italian Constitution.

SPAIN: Human rights groups denounce "racist" focus of G6 summit in Seville

The interior ministers of Spain, France, Germany, the UK, Italy and Poland, the so-called G6, and high representatives of Morocco and the European Union are meeting today (16 October) in Seville to analyse "the fight against jihadist terrorism and illegal immigration." The focus of the summit has led to protests from activists and NGOs who consider it "racist" and have said that it "turns migrants and racialised citizens into a threat."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 12-13 October: all the documentation including background documents

Updated 16.10.17: On the agenda: European Public Prosecutors' Office, freezing and confiscation orders, the European Criminal Records Information System for third-country nationals, implementing data protection legislation, criminal justice in cyberspace, Schengen Borders Code, counter-terrorism resettlement and the reform of the Common European Asylum System.

Council of the European Union: Reception Directive and European Electronic Communications Code

UK-FRANCE: Calais Research: mapping the deals and decision-makers (link):

"The calaisresearch website is a collaborative project to gather and analyse information about the Calais border. Formed by members of Calais Migrant Solidarity, Corporate Watch, and Passeurs d’Hospitalités, its first publication in 2016 was a list of 40 companies profiting from the jungle eviction and other border violence. The site’s aim is to help those fighting for freedom of movement in Calais develop effective strategies.

To do that we need to understand what we’re up against: the decision-makers and deals that create the Calais ‘Border Regime’. Most obviously, the orders come from the UK and French governments. But there also other important players, including the business interests which govern cross-border trade. The latest section of the calaisresearch site maps these key decision-makers, with another new page cataloging the security funding deals announced since 2009."

TURKEY-ROMANIA: Old route, new dangers: Migrant smugglers revive Black Sea route to Europe (IRIN, link):

"Advertised as a "tourist yacht" to Europe, spacious and loaded with food and water, it was in fact a stripped-down, rusty blue fishing boat lacking any supplies for two stormy days at sea. Almost 160 men, women, and children were crammed on board, sick and fearful as the boat rocked violently from side to side, its leaky hold taking on water.

For Iraqi asylum-seeker Ahmed* and his family, transported to the vessel in the middle of the night and initially kept in the dark about their true destination – Romania – the experience was terrifying. “When I saw [the boat], I said, ‘Oh my god!’” recalled the former army sniper from Kirkuk, explaining that he refused to board until a smuggler with a handgun threatened to kill his family.

Over the last few months, reports of migrant boats being intercepted in the Black Sea have proliferated, along with tales of the tragedies that occur when the vessels capsize in its rough waters. This route from Turkey to Romania is not entirely new – it was used in Soviet times to ply illicit goods – but it appears smugglers are now attempting to revive it."

GREECE: Three young men arrested for racist attack against Pakistanis in Aspropyrgos (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"hree young men were arrested on Thursday for the attack against two Pakistani nationals on Saturday in Aspropyrgos. Two of the arrestees are 17 years old and one 18.

According to police, the three are supporters of the extreme right but no evidence was found officially linking them to far-right Golden Dawn or any other extreme right group. In their houses police found clubs and other objects. The suspects are known to police for their participation in a series of incidents.

The three were detained in last April and June for attacking police and throwing molotov cocktail bombs during an anti-racist protest in Aspropyrgos."

EU: Better protection and durable solution for refugees (European Parliament, press release, link):

By 37 MEPs to 20 and 2 abstentions on 12 October, the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) adopted its negotiating position for the permanent EU mechanism for resettlement refugees. It called on the EU to accept 240,000 refugees:

"EU member states host 8% of the world’s refugees. In 2015, 22 EU countries resettled 13 000 people; the US resettled almost 70 000 refugees. MEPs therefore call on member states to increase both resettlement efforts and the number of resettlement places in order to shoulder a fair share of global responsibility. They want the EU to take on at least 20% of the annual projected global resettlement needs. In 2017, this would amount to around 250 000 people."

GREECE: Island mayors raise alarm bell over congestion at hotspots (ekathimerini.com, link):

"In a series of letters to the Greek government, mayors and the Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDE) have raised the alarm bell over the congestion at hotspots hosting asylum seekers in the islands of the northeastern Aegean. (...)

Migrant flows have picked up recently with more than 100 people arriving daily on the Greek islands, while on Thursday alone another 245 people arrived. Since the beginning of the month until Thursday, a total of 1,535 migrants and refugees arrived on the Greek islands."

EU: Border controls extended without justification (euobserver, link):

"EU member states must demonstrate a serious threat to public order and internal security to impose temporary border controls.

But government documents suggest member states are broadly allowed to deny people the right of free movement even when their own available statistics suggest that there is no major problem.(...)

EUobserver has obtained letters from each of the member states, where they explain their reasons for upholding the border controls. Some admit there is no problem, while others offer scant data to support their arguments."

And see: Germany extends border controls, citing terrorism and migration (DW, link): "Germany extended temporary passport controls on its border with Austria and for flights departing from Greece for an additional six months due to the prospect of irregular migration and terrorism, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Thursday."

CoE: Commissioner seeks clarifications over Italy’s maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters (link):

"addressed to Mr Marco Minniti, Minister of Interior of Italy, published today, the Commissioner requests information with regard to Italy’s maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters aimed at managing migration flows.

Expressing appreciation for Italy’s efforts in saving lives at sea and in receiving migrants arriving at its shores in the last years, the Commissioner underscores that, even when a state faces difficulties in coping with the influx of migrants, it still has the duty to protect and safeguard their human rights.

“The case law of the European Court of Human Rights is clear about this duty and I think it bears relevance for Italy’s operations in Libyan territorial waters”, writes the Commissioner."

See: Letter to Italy (pdf)

European Council draft Conclusions on migration

The European Council (19 October 2017) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 11572-17, pdf) say on migration:

"To consolidate and deepen this approach on all migration routes, the European Council further calls for:

- continued full commitment to our cooperation with Turkey on migration as well as - support to the Western Balkans;

- reducing the attractiveness of illegal migration through enhanced returns, effective readmission agreements and arrangements and by making full use of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which should be further strengthened....."

MSF report: Greece: Confronting the mental health emergency on Samos and Lesvos: Why the containment of asylum seekers on the Greek islands must end (pdf):

"Asylum seekers held on Greece’s islands are in the midst of a mental health emergency. Many have lived through extreme violence and traumatic events. But it is the conditions they face in Greece, including the continued violence and the lack of appropriate services, which are pushing them into hopelessness and are greatly compounding their mental health suffering."

Listicle: Germany’s new ground rules for migration (info migrants, link):

"The ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) and their sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) have agreed to put a limit on the number of refugees Germany would accept on humanitarian grounds each year. They also laid out further steps to regulate migration in a regulatory framework. What are the key points of the plan?"


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9-11.10.17)
GREECE: Syrian girl, 5, dies at Moria hotspot (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A 5-year-girl from Syria has died at Moria hotspot, on the island of Lesvos, one of the main entry points for migrants and asylum-seekers.

The girl, whose family landed on Lesvos last Tuesday, was suffering from serious health problems. An ambulance transferred the girl to a nearby hospital on Sunday where doctors could only confirm her death. Its parents said they were traveling to Europe to seek treatment."

EU: Reforming the 'Common European Asylum System': progress report

The Presidency of the Council of the EU has published a useful note outlining the state of play with seven legislative proposals that were published by the Commission in 2016. These proposals are aimed at reforming the 'Common European Asylum System' (CEAS) and the EU's system for resettling refugees from non-EU countries.

The proposals in question are: "the recast of the Dublin Regulation and of the Eurodac Regulation, a proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), a proposal for a Regulation establishing a common [asylum] procedure in the EU, a proposal for a Qualification Regulation, the recast of the Reception Conditions Directive and a proposal for a Regulation establishing a Union Resettlement Framework."

EU: Oxfam exposes ‘great abuse’ in EU’s approach to migration

"Oxfam’s Brussels office has published a report saying that the European Union’s migration policy needs “an urgent shift in direction” in order to respect the EU’s founding values of human rights, in a lobbying effort ahead of the 19-20 October EU summit."

Dangerous Borderlands: Human Rights for Displaced People on the French-Italian Border (Border Criminologies, link):

"While ‘hot-spots’ in Greece and Italy and the squalid make-shift camps in Northern France have received periods of international attention, the migratory transit point in the small Italian town of Ventimiglia on the French-Italian border seems to have been largely overlooked by media agencies and human rights groups, with the exception of a few noteworthy examples (see for example news coverage by Al-Jazeera, a blog post on Are You Syrious?, and a research study conducted by UNICEF and the REACH Initiative). Recent research by Refugee Rights Data Project (RRDP) highlights detrimental living conditions coupled with police violence and dangerous border crossings, creating a situation for displaced people characterised by chronic insecurity and extensive mental and physical health concerns. This post is a summary of findings of a study conducted from 21 to 24 August 2017, based on interviews with 150 refugees and displaced people in Ventimiglia through a semi-structured survey, conducted in Amharic, Arabic, English, Persian and Tirgrinya. The survey findings were corroborated through RRDP’s field observations and informal interviews with INGOs, NGOs and local charities and volunteers."

See: Refugee Rights Data Project: In dangerous transit: filling information gaps relating to refugees and displaced people in Ventimiglia, Italy (link to pdf)

FRANCE-AFRICA: In Niger, Chad: France to open asylum centres (Pulse, link):

"France will open offices in Niger and Chad in the coming weeks to identify people who could be granted asylum, President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday.

The offices would also "warn people in Niger and Chad better about the situation in order to avoid an influx of economic migrants" who would only be sent back from France, Macron said.

The French president had made a similar proposal for migrant registration centres in Libya in July.

But the idea was axed due to chronic insecurity in the North African country, a launchpad for hundreds of thousands of migrants setting sail for Europe across the Mediterranean.

In Chad and Niger, candidates for asylum would come from lists provided by the United Nations refugee agency, Macron said after talks in Paris with the UNHCR's chief Filippo Grandi.

The presidency said the first mission in Niger, operated by France's refugee protection office Ofpra, would start work at the end of October."

EU-AFRICA: Paris summit on migration (28 August 2017): English translations of statements

English translations of the statements produced following the EU-African summit on migration held in Paris on 28 August 2017. The translations were produced by the German state.

The Italy-Libya Memorandum of Understanding: The baseline of a policy approach aimed at closing all doors to Europe? (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy, link) by Anja Palm:

"On 2 February 2017 a Memorandum of Understanding (English Version**) on development cooperation, illegal immigration, human trafficking, fuel smuggling and reinforcement of border security (hereafter ‘memorandum’ or ‘MoU’), was signed between the Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni and Fayez al-Serraj, Head of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord.

(...)

Increasing crossings through the Central Mediterranean, which represent the final step for Sub-Saharan migratory flows transiting primarily through Niger and Libya, have led to the emergence of a policy approach aimed at reducing crossings from Libya to Italy at any cost, dictated by the need to give quick answers to the mounting uneasiness in the public opinion. If the memorandum represents its baseline, such policy has been expanded as to include dialogues with numerous Libyan actors ranging from institutional players to local tribes, mayors, entrepreneurs and even contending actors. This approach has further been reinforced by both multilateral and bilateral dialogues with other countries situated along the main migratory routes such as Tunisia and Niger.

European institutions and key Member States have repeatedly praised Italy for its proactive role in Africa, most recently in occasion of the Paris summit held on 28 August 2017. As explained elsewhere, this policy, if not counterbalanced with the opening of legal access channels for persons in need of international protection, challenges international and European law, a reality which the funders and outsourcers of those actions cannot easily ignore."

See: English translation of: Memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the fields of development, the fight againstillegal immigration, human trafficking and fuel smuggling and on reinforcing the security of borders between the State of Libya and the Italian Republic (pdf) translated by the Odysseus Network (link).

EU: Left in limbo: UNHCR study on the implementation of the Dublin Regulation

"The objective of this study was to examine how the Dublin III Regulation is applied and to assess the extent to which the procedures, safeguards and guarantees under the Dublin III Regulation are implemented and deliver on the aims of determining swiftly the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection in accordance with the criteria under the Regulation."

EU: Migrant smuggling tops EU crime priorities - restricted document shows extent of police operations

"Preventing the arrival of immigrants with no legal rights to the EU is more important, in terms of EU policy priorities among member states, than fighting terrorism and online child pornography.

Erkki Koort, who chairs an internal security group at the European Council, representing member states, told MEPs on Tuesday (10 October) that fighting "the facilitation of illegal migration" involves more EU states than any other crime."

EU: Eurojust meeting on illegal immigrant smuggling, Eurojust, The Hague, 15 June 2017 - outcome report (pdf):

"The participants included practitioners from the Member States, Norway and the USA, as well as representatives of the European Commission, the European External Action Service, EUNAVFOR MED, Europol, and FRONTEX.

The principal aim and focus of the meeting was to strengthen the fight against illegal immigrant smuggling (IIS), promote the judicial dimension at an early stage of the smuggling scam, and enhance judicial cooperation at EU level. The concept of the meeting was to provide a judicial perspective, reflecting the smuggling route from countries of origin and transit towards destination countries. The first plenary session was devoted to the work of key EU partners in fighting IIS beyond EU borders and the challenges faced. The second plenary session focused on specific problems at the external borders and on the collection of data/evidence. The third plenary session underlined obstacles and solutions in relation to judicial cooperation, with emphasis on the specific challenges faced at national level. The fourth plenary session highlighted the work of Eurojust in the fight against IIS."

ITALY: Appeals lodged before the entry into force of new Asylum Law have automatic suspensive effect

On 27 July 2017, the Italian Court of Cassation ruled that the expulsion of an asylum seeker, pending the second instance appeal proceedings against the rejection of the asylum claim, is unlawful.

EU: Offshore processing of asylum claims and legal responsibility in "scenarios of extraterritorial complicity"

Two recent posts on the blog of the European Journal of International Law discuss the ongoing moves towards the "offshore processing" of asylum claims by the EU, its Member States, non-EU countries such as Chad and Niger and international organisations such as the IOM and UNHCR; and the question of legal responsibility in such "scenarios of extraterritorial complicity".

Europe's new migrant policy comes at a moral price (euobserver, link):

"The European Union has sought to absolve itself of addressing what many of its leaders have described as the "migrant crisis" with a quick-and-easy-fix that will have—and already has had—severe consequences.

Its new containment policy deflects its own legal obligation to migrants onto the gatekeepers of popular migration routes like Libya, which is already struggling from a myriad of its own issues. "

Setting A Cap On Refugees - Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democracts and their Bavarian sister party respond to election losses (link):

"The ruling Christian Democratic party (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday reached an agreement with its sister Christian Social Union (CSU) in the state of Bavaria to push for a limit on the number of refugees Germany will accept. After several hours of talks on Sunday between the CSU leadership and the CDU, a compromise was reached setting a limit of 200,000 refugees a year."

EU: Taking Stock of Assisted Voluntary Return from Europe: Decision Making, Reintegration and Sustainable Return – Time for a paradigm shift (link to pdf) by Katie Kuschminder:

"Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) is a central component of European Union (EU) member states migration management policies and has grown in popularity over the past two decades. At present, all EU member states have active AVR programmes, however, despite the growing prevalence of these programmes there has been a dearth of research and evaluation on AVR. In addition, a common goal of these AVR programmes is to achieve a sustainable return, but this term lacks a commonly used definition, making sustainable return an ambiguous policy objective. This paper takes stock of the most recent research on AVR focusing on decision making in the uptake of AVR, reintegration, and sustainable return. It is argued that it is time for a fundamental shift in our underlying assumptions regarding sustainable return in the field of AVR policy and practice. The working paper addresses key research gaps in the field and poses recommendations on how to move the agenda forward on AVR."

INTERPOL General Assembly adopts data processing policy on refugees (Interpol press release, pdf):

"BEIJING, China – To avoid refugee status being abused by criminals and terrorists, INTERPOL’s General Assembly has officially adopted a policy on the processing of data on refugees.

The resolution, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by delegates, outlines a range of measures which should be taken by member countries during the asylum application process. These include:

- systematically checking INTERPOL’s databases
- use of INTERPOL’s Information System to exchange information
- establishing the relevant protocols to enable regular communication between the authorities in charge of reviewing asylum applications and the relevant INTERPOL National Central Bureau/s
- expanding to all relevant authorities, including border control and authorities in charge of reviewing asylum applications, access to the INTERPOL Information System

In accordance with their national laws and confidentiality requirements, the policy also encourages member countries to inform INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters, or the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files, if an individual has been granted refugee status and on the outcome of an asylum application review."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-8.10.17)
Vanessa Redgrave: ‘This film will open minds to Europe’s criminal ways’ (The Observer, link)

"Spurred by the death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, Vanessa Redgrave joins her son, Carlo Nero, to bring the plight of refugees to the big screen."

Thousands of stranded migrants found in Libya (DW, link):

"A Libyan militia has discovered several large groups of migrants after pushing a rival faction out of the port city of Sabratha. The fighting was reportedly triggered by Italy pledging support to one of the groups.

The militia, known as Anti-ISIS Operation Room, wrestled control of the Sabratha from the al-Ammu armed group after about two weeks of heavy fighting. On Sunday, the victorious faction reported finding over 4,000 migrants in various locations across the city, where they have been reportedly trapped by clashes."

Are You Syrious (7.10.17, link)

Greek islands

"8.1 million euros will be invested in five new hotspots to be built on Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Leros and Kos according to local media. The Ministry of Migration Policy apparently wants to create 8,500 “hospitality places” in the Eastern Aegean islands. Local people are concerned that this will lead to people being trapped long-term on the islands and would prefer a quick transfer process to the mainland. The funds have been pledged up to 31 December 2022. Yet the additional spaces they will offer would be filled instantly if they were to house all of the people currently in the over-capacity camps."

Mainland Greece: Fascist attack on agricultural laborers

"KEERFA has published a condemnation of today’s murderous assault by five members of neo-Nazi group Goritsa Aspropyrgos on farm laborers Safak Mahmud and Vakas Hussein while the two men were at work. The attackers screamed racist abuse during the assault and have been seen by local groups attacking people at anti-fascist events. Yet, the attackers have still not been prosecuted.

We call on the unions, the left, the municipal movements, the solidarity movements to condemn the pogroms of the fascists and demand that the police refuse to tolerate their action and their presence."

ECRE:: Greek Council of State dismisses all complaints on fast track border procedure and declares Turkey ‘safe third country’ based on doubtful documentation (link):

"On 22 September 2017, the Greek Council of State, the highest administrative court of the country, delivered two long-awaited judgments (2347/2017 and 2348/2017) regarding two Syrian nationals whose claims were rejected as inadmissible. The rulings will have important consequences on all main elements of the Greek asylum procedure and further deemed Turkey as a safe third country in their case, based on selective and limited documentation.(...)

The dissenting judgment from one judges sharply criticises the credibility of the sources and evidence supporting the notion of Turkey as a safe third country: “It is a fact known to all that in the past years and particularly in 2016 in Turkey, both before and after the failed coup of 15 July 2016, prevails a regime, in which fundamental rights and liberties are openly violated, judicial independence has been dismantled, where freedom of speech and press are not applied and guarantees of rule of law are not applied to those opposing the regime; The assurances of the diplomatic authorities of this country, forming part of the hierarchy of said regime, have no credibility. This is valid when both the Directive and Greek law do not refer to any protection status, but require the highest possible protection status (“in accordance with the Geneva Convention”) to be guaranteed, as seen below; What matters is not the protective legislation of a country, but whether and how that is implemented in practice…” (para 60)."

Are You Syrious (6.10.17, link):

MORIA Overcrowding: Feature

"Overcrowding on the hotspots of the Aegean islands has been an ongoing issue for quite some time, one that Greek authorities seem either unable or unwilling to fix. The problem is worst in Moria on Lesvos. The camp, which was created to host 2,000 people, is currently housing 5,000, two and a half times above its capacity. According to Human Rights Watch, this has led to widespread abuses and difficulties, such as a shortage of water for children and abuse against women. The HRW representatives who spoke to the Greek parliament also stated that there are no shower facilities for people with limited mobility.

This severe level of overcrowding is preceded by the largest movement of refugees from Turkey to Greece in a very long time, numbering nearly 5000 people in the month of September. Even with a limited flow of people into the country, the Greek bureaucracy was failing to process applications and organize timely relocation for refugees whose status as asylum seekers had been confirmed. There is no lack of housing on the mainland, this is, simply speaking, a result of foot-dragging by the Greek authorities. With winter on the horizon, it is difficult to imagine the troubles that will take hold on the islands. UNHCR has brought attention to the fact that the facilities on the islands are woefully underprepared for winter, with 1,500 in Moria alone living in makeshift tents without so much as proper flooring or insulation."

Austria: Mass deportation to take place on October 10

There is to be a charter flight deporting refugees from Austria and Sweden to Afghanistan. The flight is scheduled to depart on October 10, and this will certainly be a mass deportation. Deportations from Austria are currently very frequent, the most recent case having taken place on September 30. However, the recent cases have been deportations of individuals accompanied by two or three police officers. The number of Afghan refugees taken to deportation centers continues to increase. The police is making a concerted effort to capture people whose asylum claims have not been approved, and there are reports of racial profiling of pedestrians in public places. It is important that people organize to protest these actions, and to all those who are at risk of deportation, we send our solidarity and wish them luck."

Italy: Report highlights the vast number of areas outside of the formal reception system

"An Italian language report commissioned by MSF has created a map of the “non reception” areas in Italy, underlining those regions and provinces where migrants are forced to sleep on the streets and are outside the formal reception system. As you can see, in Friuli Venezia Giulia (where Gorizia and Pordenone are located) migrants sleeping on the streets or outside the reception system is a common phenomenon in every province."

UNHCR: Overcrowded Greek refugee camps ill-prepared for winter (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece must speed up winter preparations at refugee camps on islands in the Aegean Sea where there has been a sharp rise in arrivals, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday.

Nearly 5,000 refugees, mostly Syrian or Iraqi families, crossed from Turkey in September – a quarter of all arrivals this year, UNHCR data shows.(...)

In the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos, one of the main entry points, more than 1,500 people are in makeshift shelters or tents without insulation, flooring or heating, UNHCR said.

They include pregnant women, people with disabilities, and very young children."

Amnesty condemns forced returns of Afghan asylum seekers (euractiv, link):

"A surge of failed Afghan asylum seekers forcibly returned from Europe are at risk of torture, kidnapping and death in war-torn Afghanistan, Amnesty International said today (5 October).

Almost 9,500 Afghans went back to their homeland in 2016 after their applications for asylum in Europe were rejected, compared with nearly 3,300 a year earlier, the human rights group said.(...)

“European governments are forcing increasing numbers of asylum seekers back to the dangers from which they fled, in brazen violation of international law,” Amnesty said in a report, “Forced Back to Danger”"

See: Forced back to danger: Asylum-seekers returned from Europe to Afghanistan (AI, pdf)

Are You Syrious (4.10.17, link):

FEATURE: Situation deteriorating in the north of Italy

"The situation is dire in the north of Italy. Arrivals to the Gorizia area continue, at least 5 to 15 a day at the local gallery, volunteers say. The local officials place a certain amount of people in various structures. There are always between roughly 20 to 50 refugees sleeping in the photographed area. There is another group sleeping in another similar place."

CROATIA: EC met with AYS and CMS over latest Report

"AYS and CMS have met the representatives of DG Migration and Home Affairs today in Zagreb. The meeting was initiated by the Commission after reading our report on the unlawful practices by the Croatian Ministry of Interior and Security Intelligence Agency (SOA), who issued minimum 44 negative decisions to asylum seekers mainly from Syria and Iraq, including very young children.

These decisions are based on the unexplained opinion by SOA that claims the existence of security obstacles in these cases and invokes the article 41 of the National Security Vetting Act that, according to their interpretation, envisages that SOA does not need to provide the reasons for this claims. Since the files are classified as RESTRICTED (...) "

SWEDEN

"The 106-year old Bibihal Uzbeki, also called “the world’s oldest refugee” was today granted a temporary residence permit after her appeal in the migration court in Gothenburg. As AYS have mentioned before, she came to Sweden in 2015 together with her son and other close relatives where she applied for asylum. Earlier this year she got her first negative answer from the Migration Agency, who claimed that she could return safely to Afghanistan together with her relatives. Age isn’t a good enough reason for the Swedish authorities to grant someone protection and some peace at the final stage of life. Obviously negatively impacted by the answer, Uzbeki suffered from a stroke and stopped communicating completely, which hadn’t been the case before.

The permit she now was granted is valid for 13 months, which is the new standard in Sweden since last year, when the authorities decided to change their rules to the EU-standards."

EU: European University Institute (EUI): Taking Stock of Assisted Voluntary Return from Europe: Decision Making, Reintegration and Sustainable Return – Time for a paradigm shift (link):

"It is argued that it is time for a fundamental shift in our underlying assumptions regarding sustainable return in the field of AVR policy and practice. The working paper addresses key research gaps in the field and poses recommendations on how to move the agenda forward on AVR."

MSF: Serbia: Games of Vilolence: Unaccpompanied children and young people repeatedly abused by EU Member State Border authorities (pdf):

"Whilst providing primary and mental health care to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, Médecins Sans Frontières medical teams based in Belgrade continue to treat the injuries, both psychological and physical, of those crossing towards the Schengen Zone. Whether they are living in unsafe and precarious conditions at Serbia’s borders with Hungary and Croatia, or recently arrived from Bulgaria, the injured and distressed are mostly young men and boys aged between 15 and 25 years of age."

The plight of migrant children in Italy (New Europe, link):

"Human rights groups in Italy have warned that thousands of unaccompanied migrant children are at risk of falling back into the hands of smugglers or being exploited to work long hours for little pay, despite legislation aimed at protecting them.

“They [the children] are the most vulnerable elements of this big phenomenon called migration,” said Kostas Moschochoritis, head of humanitarian group Intersos, which operates the shelter for unaccompanied minors in Rome."


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-4.10.17)
Mediterranean: Italy marks anniversary of Lampedusa tragedy following weekend rescues of over 1000 people

A march was held on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Tuesday in memory of the 368 people who died following the 3 October 2013 shipwreck off the coast of the island. The events come after a weekend in which over 1000 people were rescued at sea and three people are reported to have died off the coast of Libya. A further 226 people were "intercepted" and taken to a detention centre in Libya.

No Border Kitchen Lesvos: 28 REASONS FOR ARBITRARY DETENTION

"The Greek government have recently introduced a way to abitrarily detain even more people in Moria. They will expand their practice of detaining people with citizenships of countries with low asylum acceptance rates, undermining the already barely existent right to a fair asylum procedure even more than before."

SPAIN-MELLILA: The immediate return to Morocco of sub-Saharan migrants who were attempting to enter Spanish territory in Melilla amounted to a collective expulsion of foreign nationals, in breach of the Convention (Press release, pdf):

"the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

- a violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 (prohibition of collective expulsions of aliens) to the European Convention on Human Rights, and

- a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) taken together with Article 4 of Protocol
No. 4.

The case concerned the immediate return to Morocco of sub-Saharan migrants who had attempted on 13 August 2014 to enter Spanish territory illegally by scaling the barriers which surround the Melilla enclave on the North-African coast."

Judgment: Affaire N.D. et N.T. c. Espagne (French, pdf)

Italy's deal to stem flow of people from Libya in danger of collapse (Guardian, link)

"Number of people crossing Mediterranean rises again amid power struggle between rival factions in Libyan human-trafficking port. A key pillar of the Italian government’s effort to stem the politically toxic issue of people crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to southern Italy is in danger of collapse as a result of a bloody power struggle in the key Libyan port of Sabratha, the epicentre of human trafficking to Italy."

And see: EU mission struggling in Libya, internal report says (euobserver, link) Also Restricted document highlights plans for ongoing EU interventions in Libya (Statewatch News)

EU: Expansion of the Frontex agency

"In 2015, Frontex employed 320 people, but now it employs 460. Nearly 170 people are involved in operations, 150 work as analysts, and 80 work on operational logistics. By 2020, the number of staff is expected to increase to 1,000.

The Frontex offices now occupy the 6th to 13th floor of the building and the lower levels are occupied by a bank. "Maybe we will have to take their space?" said a Frontex officer.

The budget of the agency will grow from €143 million in 2015 to €322 million in 2020. Frontex is currently running 12 operations in cooperation with EU states. The largest of them are sea operations – "Triton," off the coast of Italy and Malta (with more than 400 officers and 14 ships), and "Poseidon," in Greece and the Aegean Sea (with nearly 900 border guards and 14 ships). Maritime operations are the most expensive part of the agency's budget.

The agency also helps Bulgarian, Hungarian and Croatian guards in patrolling the borders with Serbia, and the Bulgarian authorities in monitoring the Turkish border – Frontex has 270 border guards deployed at these crossing points"

See: Frontex puts down roots in Poland (EUobserver, link)

Refugees' health problems in Greece mostly unmet, medical charity says (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Refugees and migrants in Greece receive little or no medical care for most health problems they face and fewer than half of those pregnant had access to maternal care, aid group Doctors of the World said on Tuesday.

About 60,000 migrants and refugees are stranded in Greece, most in overcrowded camps with unsanitary conditions. More than half of this year’s 20,000 arrivals were women and children, United Nations data shows."

And see: Refugees' health problems in Greece mostly unmet: medical charity (Reuters, link)

Are You Syrious (2.10.17, link)

How the EU-Turkey deal destroys dreams

"At the island of Samos AYS spoke with one of the two people whose case was rejected at the Supreme Court and they are at risk of being forcibly returned to Turkey. Like all of us, he has dreams and hopes, but unlike many, he still believes that the EU is the Promised Land where human rights are priority (...)

This is the story of one of the two Syrians who are at risk of being forcibly returned to Turkey after Greece’s highest administrative court rejected their final appeals against earlier rulings declaring their asylum claims inadmissible.

The decision issued by the court in Greece is putting not only life or these two people who are directly concerned by the court decision in danger but represents a very problematic precedent for future for all asylum-seekers. The latest decision permits to Greek authorities to send back to Turkey thousands of people who arrived in this country after the EU-Turkey deal. Some of them are in detention, some are waiting for the decision since they arrived, mostly stranded on one of the overcrowded islands."

Libya

"the head of the Lybian National Army - who is visiting Rome - told to Italian media that they can stop migrants and refugees traveling to Europe if they have needed military equipment.

“For the control of borders in South, I can provide manpower, but Europeans must send aid: drones, helicopters, night vision goggles, vehicles”, he said in an interview with Italian national daily Corriere della Sera."


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

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