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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
12.8.17
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Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
August Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Lesvos Legal Centre, link): Including:

"Moria 35 Update

35 individuals were arrested on Tuesday 18th July 2017 in Moria Refugee Camp, Lesvos, in raids following clashes with riot police using teargas and violence. The individuals arrested have been charged with serious crimes including arson, damage to property, and rioting, which carry lengthy prison sentences and could signify exclusion from international protection.

There is mounting evidence that individuals were arbitrarily arrested on the basis of their race, nationality and presence in the camp at the time of police raids. There is also considerable evidence that police used excessive force during and after the arrest of these individuals. Amnesty International Greece has urged authorities to investigate police violence possibly amounting to torture. See our previous report for further details."

Medical rescue ship suspends work after alleged threats by Libyan coastguard (Guardian, link): "Doctors Without Borders told by Italian authorities that increasing aggression by Libyan ships poses a security risk."

Greece: Hellenic Police: Returns statement

• Based on the bilateral Readmission Protocol between Greece and Turkey in 2016: 1183 - in 2017: 14, a total of 1,197 foreign nationals, third country nationals

• Based on the EU Readmission Agreement - Turkey, in 2016: 54 -2017: 11, a total of 65 Turkish nationals

• On the basis of the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration, in 2016: 801 -2017: 504, a total of 1,305 foreign nationals of different nationalities (of whom 202 from Syria)

In addition, 1494 foreign nationals from third countries who had entered our country by sea from Turkey were returned to their countries of origin voluntarily via the International Organization of Military and Migration, since the implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration." [emphasis added]

Are You Syrious (11.8.17, link)

FEATURE: C-Star boat saved by NGO rescue ship

"The Sea-Eye rescue crew, a group that is among those accused of “colluding” with smugglers by the C-Star crews, was on their way to help. Michael Buschheuer, the chairman of Sea-Eye, issued a statement saying that to help a ship in distress is “the duty of anyone at sea, without regard for their origin, race, religion or beliefs”. Apparently, the C-Star ship refused help, but we do not have confirmation of this....

The ship was stopped several times over the last several weeks by anti-fascist groups in different countries, but they continued their journey. They were also stopped in the Suez Canal for security checks before journeying to northern Cyrus, where crew members were arrested over people smuggling allegations after a group of people from Sri Lanka were found on board. Later on, they claimed that the Sri Lankan crew members on board were “apprentice sailors” who were supposed to disembark in Egypt.

While at sea, the C-star crew - which is already becoming ridiculous - were shouting at humanitarian ships through megaphones, ordering them to leave the search and rescue zone."

MED - "Code of onduct"

Another organization signed the Code of Conduct that the Italian government came up with. This time it is SOS MEDITERRANEAN, whose members met in Rome with Mario Morcone, Head of Civil Liberties and Immigration at the Ministry of Interior.

Apparently, the Code they signed has been amended and now it acknowledges that the Code is not legally binding and existing national and international laws and regulations prevail; it does not mention the carrying of any form of weapon, and therefore SOS MEDITERRANEE does not commit itself to receiving any armed persons aboard its ship."

ITALY

"Once again, news about the prosecution of those who are saving lives. The Italian authorities are investigating an Eritrean human rights activist, Don Mossie Zerai, who was a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. He is being investigated by the Trapani public prosecutor for “facilitating clandestine immigration”.

Zerai founded the Habashia, a blog he describes as a “life jacket for migrants,” where he provides last-minute and lifesaving information to people trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Zerai has released a statement saying: “I can confirm with all conscience that I have nothing to hide and that I have always acted with full legality. Apart from the Trapani initiative…, I have not been called to any other venue to justify or in any way respond to my work in favor of refugees and migrants.”"

GERMANY

"Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her intention to cooperate more closely with Libya to decrease the number of people crossing the sea and entering the EU.

“The process is in its infancy, but it is supposed to develop like [the refugee deal with] Turkey once did,” she said to journalists after meeting with senior officials from the IOM and the UNHCR.

This will be achieved, Markel claims, by strengthening Libya’s government and improving conditions in detention centers across the country."

Demonstration: Info Links on Refugees Protest Against Dublin Deportation 19.08. - Support needed! Who is coming to Munich? (The Voice, link)

Priest who saves migrants’ lives when he calls Malta RCC is hauled to Trapani court (Malta Today, link)

"Eritrean humanitarian Fr Moussa Zerai is being charged with aiding illegal immigration by a Sicilian prosecutor targeting a migrant rescue NGO."

Afghan asylum seekers in Sweden attacked by right-wing extremists (Daily Sabah, link):

"A number of refugees demonstrating against Sweden's deportation policy were reportedly racially attacked by right wing extremist network Nordisk ungdom (Nordic Youth). Stockholm Police reported that young asylum seekers attending at a sit-down protest had flammable items thrown at them, and three of them were slightly injured. Police stated that they tightened up security after the violent attack."

Refugee rescue ship sails to aid of anti-migrant activists stranded in Med (Guardian, link):

"German NGO says its rescue vessel is sailing to help a group of far-right activists after their ship got into trouble off the coast of Libya...

Michael Busch Heuer, the founder of the Regensburg-based aid organisation, which operates two rescue vessels active in the Mediterranean since early 2016, said it was the duty of anyone at sea “to help those in distress, irrespective of their origin, colour, religion or beliefs.”

And see: Migrant rescue ship rushes to aid anti-migrant boat in the Med (France 24, link): "

"The Sea-Eye charity's founder Michael Buschheuer said the Italian coastguard had asked his ship to set course for the C-Star, but that the “Nazi boat” had refused assistance. "We had radio contact. They said they don't need or want our help," Buschheuer told Reuters news agency."

Beachgoers watch migrant boat land on Spanish shore (Guardian, link):

"Group of as many as 20 people flee into countryside in Zahara de los Atunes after crossing Strait of Gibraltar."

Migrants: Church leaders criticize Italy for tightening its grip on NGOs (CRUX, link):

"Church leaders have spoken up in defense of NGOs operating search and rescue missions for migrants in the Mediterranean, calling for the creation of safe channels for refugees who wish to come to Italy and criticizing some of the provisions within the 'code of conduct' that the state asked NGOs to sign in order to continue their work at sea."

Europe records biggest rise in slavery due to vulnerable migrants (ekathimerini.com, link)

"The European Union recorded the largest increase in slavery of any world region in 2017, with the arrival of more than 100,000 migrants, many of them extremely vulnerable to exploitation, analysts said on Thursday.

The risk of slave labor in farming, construction and other sectors rose across the region, with 20 of the EU's 28 member states scoring worse than in 2016 in an annual global slavery index by British analytics company Verisk Maplecroft."

EU needs a lasting solution to the refugee crisis (euobserver, link):

"Heads of state and government met on an almost monthly basis to discuss the issue. However, as soon as the stories began disappearing from the front pages so did the political will to do something.

Despite the receding media coverage, the issue has not gone way.

While the numbers arriving in Greece have declined since the middle of 2015, the numbers arriving across the Mediterranean to Italy have increased markedly in the last two to three years.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants that have been rescued by the Italian navy and are now waiting in reception centres or being housed by local authorities, many of which are stretched to their limits. Despite warnings from the Italian government, most EU member state continue to ignore the situation. "

Germany to restart sending migrants back to Greece (euobserver link):

"Germany is to send back asylum seekers to Greece, ending a five-year suspension of the EU’s asylum rules on transfers because of poor reception conditions.

Greek migration minister Yiannis Mouzalas, speaking to the German public television channel ARD, in a program due to air on Tuesday (8 August), has confirmed that Greek authorities received 392 requests.

Mouzalas said Athens approved the return of a "small number" of asylum seekers from Germany and other EU countries. The move would end a five-year suspension of the so-called Dublin regulations, the EU’s asylum rules.

The transfers to Greece will only affect asylum seekers who arrived in Germany and other EU countries from mid-March this year, in line with a recommendation issued by the European Commission last December."

French activist farmer who aided refugees given suspended jail sentence (Daily Sabah, link):

"A French activist farmer, who helped around 60 African refugees cross the French-Italian border in 2016, received a four-month suspended jail sentence Tuesday.

The Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence convicted Cedric Herrou, 37, of assisting the entrance of illegal migrants and housing them, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

The public prosecutor requested an eight-month suspended jail sentence during a hearing on June 19. Herrou was fined €3,000 ($3,200) last February by the Criminal Court of Nice.

University researcher Pierre-Alain Mannoni was acquitted of similar charges by the same court on January."

GREECE: July migrant repatriations bring yearly total over 11,000 (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek authorities oversaw the voluntary return of 1,645 people to their homelands in July, according to data published Monday. The repatriations were made via a voluntary scheme run by the International Organization for Migration, as well as through returns carried out by the Greek police.

Just over half of the migrants (872) were returned to Albania. This was followed by 297 returns to Pakistan and 98 to Algeria. A total of 11,083 migrants have been repatriated via these methods since the start of the year."

Statewatch comment: For years the highest number of returns have been from Greece to Albania. And see: Ministry refugee arrivals 18.7.17 (pdf):Just 487 returns to Turkey.

Greece:Ministry: Arrivals (8.8.17, link) A total of 247 in past 24 hours: 128 on Chious, 117 on Samos and 2 on other islands.

UNHCR: 117,907 arrivals in the EU in 2017: 96,758 in Italy, 11,919 in Greece, 8,710 in Spain. 2,398 dead/missing (7.8.17)

Are You Syrious (7.7.17, link)

A rise in arrivals to Greece

"A growing number of people have been landing to the Greek shores recently. Over the weekend, 228 people were officially registered on the Greek Aegean islands that have seen the arrival of more than 430 people in the first week of August alone. The number of newly arrived people has been growing on Samos, especially in the previous weeks, and in the past month more than 210 registrations were marked there. Only today, 60 people arrived on a boat to Samos, including 27 children on board that vessel. A number of 128 people were registered by the local organizations arriving on Chios island today: 74 people in total on the first vessel (33 men,15 women and 26 children) and 54 people on the second vessel (30 men, 13 women and 11 children). The people came from Etiopia, Libanon, Iran, Iraq and Syria."

TURKEY

"Media report that the Turkish Land Forces intercepted 975 people who tried to cross into Turkey on Monday. “The Turkish Armed Forces said in a statement that 926 people from Syria, 28 from Bulgaria, 18 from Greece and three people from Iraq, as well as 50 people trying to enter Syria from Turkish land, were captured.”

GREECE

"Samos Volunteers are looking for help - they need more volunteers, especially those willing to join them in September and october. If you are thinking about volunteering in Greece, consider aiding Samos volunteers by joing the team for at least a month or longer, if you can. Contact the group for more info."

Migrant crisis: Spain arrivals triple compared with 2016 (BBC News, link):

"Three times as many migrants have arrived in Spain so far this year compared to the same period in 2016, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

It means the number of sea arrivals in Spain - at 8,385 - could overtake Greece, which has had 11,713 people.

The shift may be because migrants are finding the Spanish route safer.

Earlier this week, footage showed migrants arriving by dinghy on a beach in Cádiz to the surprise of beachgoers.

The IOM say 11,849 people have arrived in Spain so far this year, compared with 13,246 in all of last year."

And see: Entry of Migrants to Spain Frustrated (Prensa Latina, link):

"According to journalistic sources, the rapid police performance of both countries prevented nearly thousand sub-Saharan migrants from penetrating the neighboring fence six meters high, which separates the metropolis of the Moroccan territory.

The agents of Rabat managed to contain most of the African citizens, while approximately 300 that managed to come up to the wire fence, were repelled by members of the Civil Guard of the European country."

Note: the Spanish government has closed one of the border crossings in Ceuta (that which is used for crossings by traders and businesses) so that more officers can be deployed in surveillance of the border.

Spain turns its back on migrant children's rights (euobserver, link):

"At this very moment, some children in Spain are being held in adult immigration detention centres, pending return to their home countries.

Other migrant children are living on the streets in Madrid and other Spanish cities, suffering from serious illnesses, or are prevented from applying for asylum. This is happening because they are not Spanish nationals and the authorities have not recognised them as children, but consider them to be adults.

During the International Commission of Jurists' (ICJ's) capacity and coalition building activities with lawyers and civil society organisations to better defend migrant children's rights in various European countries, our Spanish partner, Fundacion Raices, raised attention to the dire situation of migrant children in Spain."

Greece: Mobile phone ban on refugees amendment lifted (ekathimerini.com, link):

"An amendment submitted to Parliament that would have seen refugees and migrants who don’t have valid passports banned from owning cell phones in Greece was withdrawn on Saturday after an outcry and the intervention of Migration Policy Ministry officials.

The amendment stipulated that refugees and migrants would have to possess a valid passport in order to be granted the right to have a cell phone. This would have made it next to impossible for them to get a phone because hardly any of them have a valid passport."

And see: Greek coast guard rescue 128 migrants (link)

No more separations of families! (Pro Asyl, link):

"Refugees in Greece are waiting for indefinite periods for their family reunification to Germany. PRO ASYL and Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) are calling for an end to be put to the suffering of more than two thousand refugees who are stuck in Greece while waiting to be reunited with their family members in Germany."

Are You Syrious (5.8.17, link)

MED Sea: We stand with Jugend Rettet e.V and MSF!!!

"United Rescue Aid team remind us one more that that sea rescue is not a crime, but the mandatory duty for all those at the sea."

Greece

"Today, 106 people arrived in Greece, according to volunteer teams on islands: 33 arrived in North Maytlini; 26 to South Maytlini; and 47 to Samos. At this point, probably nobody knows how they will be treated and what rights they will be granted.....

What will happen with those who are still arriving is not clear to anybody. Or with people who are living in squats and do not receive any kind of help from the UN or EU, but only from small self-organized groups."

Hungary

"Refugee.Info team posted data about the chances for people seeking asylum in Hungary stressing that it is amongst the lowest in Europe....

According to the official data, since the start of this year, only 321 people have been granted protection in Hungary, while 2,417 people have been rejected. Only 10 people are allowed to enter every day. They are forced to live in prison like facilities, where they are treated in most degrading way. And that is the norm in the EU."

France

"According to the media, one person - migrant whose nationality is not yet established - died when hit by a car on the A16 motorway near Calais. This is the second death of a migrant in Calais and its surroundings in 2017.

In 2015 and 2016, 33 people died in this area, according to an Official statement.

Currently, there are around 600 people in Calais. So far, they are living with minimum, provided manly by volunteers. By the court decision, the local authorities are obliged to install showers and toilets, the first elements of the aid scheme before the end of next week."

See also: Conditions for migrants in Calais: Reception conditions in Calais: the Conseil d'État has rejected the appeals of the Minister of the Interior and the municipality of Calais Statewatch translation from: Conditions d’accueil des migrants à Calais (Link)

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