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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
11-13..2.17
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Hungary 'stoops to new low' over treatment of asylum seekers (Guardian, link):

"Plans to detain migrants in shipping container camps are in breach of EU law, says Amnesty International...

Hungary has been accused of “stooping to a new low” after it announced plans to detain all asylum seekers in shipping containers near the border with Serbia.

The government of prime minister Viktor Orbán says the measure is necessary to secure the EU’s borders and deter migrants coming into the country from the Middle East via Serbia. It has already set up two razor fences on the border with Serbia and is deploying more than 600 soldiers to guard the fence.

But Amnesty International said the measure was in clear contravention of EU law and the Refugee Convention."

Hungary ‘welcomes’ German, Dutch, French, Italian refugees (New Europe, link):

"Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has jokingly welcomed West Europeans who feel persecuted by liberal agendas to seek asylum in his country.

During his annual state of the union address on February 10, the right-wing conservative politician said: “Naturally, we will take in the real refugees. The panicked German, Dutch, French and Italian politicians and journalists, Christians forced to leave their countries will find here the Europe they lost at home."

Germany and Italy speed up deportations (New Europe, link):

"Germany: From the 280,000 asylum seekers that arrived in Germany in 2016, 80,000 were deported, of whom 54,000 voluntarily, AFP reports. The success of voluntary returns is owed in part to a government program that gives a €1,200 sum to each asylum seekers that returns home voluntarily....

Italy: Meanwhile, Italy’s Social Democratic government is said to follow with migrant deportations Interior Minister Marco Minniti said on Wednesday.

In 2016, Italy received a record 181,000 boat migrants from Libya, of which only 4,000 were deported. That is despite the fact that Italy rejected approximately 60% of the 124,00 first-instance asylum requests.

Addressing the Italian parliament, Minniti said that he would speed up the process of deportations for those not entitled to international protection. That will be achieved by increasing temporary detention centers from four to six."

Greece: Patra mayor vows to keep fighting neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Patra Mayor Costas Peletidis was cheered by a crowd of supporters on Monday as he left a courtroom in the western city following the postponement of his trial on charges of violation of duty.

The charges were brought against Peletidis in 2015 by Michalis Arvanitis, then a would-be MP for Golden Dawn, after the mayor refused to give the neo-Nazi party space in municipal offices during the pre-election period.

Peletidis’s trial is to resume on February 23."

Are You Syrious (12.2.17, link)

Protests against deportations to Afghanistan

"Enough is Enough says thousands of protesters took to the streets yesterday, demanding a stop to deportations to Afghanistan.

This comes after German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière called on states to accelerate deportations. A number of regional governments have resisted pressure from Berlin, pointing to security concerns. Afghan asylum seekers not only face security issues when returning home. News Deeply reports how Afghans’ mental health problems are exacerbated by “the psychological trauma caused by their treacherous journey and rejection in Europe” and adds that “some find themselves alone, without family or professional networks to rely on for support. With little left after the financial and social sacrifices they made to migrate, resuming a normal life in Afghanistan becomes nearly impossible”.

HRW: UNHCR Complicit in Pakistan’s Mass Forced Return of Afghan Refugees (Refugees Deeply, link)

"Human Rights Watch has accused the U.N. refugee agency of complicity in Pakistan’s forced return of refugees to Afghanistan in a new report documenting abuses.

At least 600,000 Afghan refugees, both registered and unregistered, have left Pakistan since last July. The HRW report called the exodus the “world’s largest unlawful mass forced return of refugees in recent years.”

Afghan refugees interviewed by the human rights group said the threat of deportation, police harassment and anti-Afghan sentiment in Pakistan forced them to leave."

Germany's Angela Merkel calls for faster deportations of rejected Tunisian asylum seekers (DW, link)

"The chancellor said in her weekly video podcast that she would push the Tunisian prime minister to help speed up deportations. She referenced the case of the Tunisian terrorist Anis Amri."

Road of broken lives (Globe & Mail, link):

"Once the gateway to the promise of new lives in places like Germany and Sweden, Southern Europe is now home to those fleeing war, oppression and economic deprivation, Mark MacKinnon reports...

To be Muslim and on the move these days can be a vexing challenge. As U.S. President Donald Trump battles his country’s courts in a bid to impose a ban on new arrivals from seven Muslim-majority countries, tens of thousands of mostly Muslim asylum seekers are trapped in Southern Europe, partway between the countries they’re fleeing and the new lives they dream of in Germany, Sweden and elsewhere."

Austrian FM defends closing borders to deter migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Austria's foreign minister says closing the so-called "Balkan route" to migrants seeking to reach central and northern Europe was the right move.

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz held talks with his counterpart of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Poposki, on Sunday. He told reporters afterward that closing borders to deter migrants has become an accepted practice despite initial criticism."

Italy: Area bans possible for misbehaving migrants - Minniti Minister says decree introduces new model of reception (ANSA, link):

"Interior Minister Marco Minniti said Friday that a security decree approved by Premier Paolo Gentiloni's cabinet brought in a "new model of reception" for asylum seekers. He said that, among the new measures is the possibility for asylum seekers who break the law to be banned from certain areas. "If there is repeated violate of some regulations on control of the territory, the authorities cane propose a ban on being in that territory in which the rules were breached," he said."

Anti-refugee rallies take place in Prague (Prague Post, link):

"Several anti-immigrant rallies took place in Prague, with a large gathering near Prague Castle at Hradcanské námestí and smaller ones at Wenceslas Square and Loretánské námestí.

The protests were part of a Europe-wide campaign organized by the German-based Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident).

The Bloc Against Islam and the Dawn movement were the main participants at the Hradcanské námestí event."

EU: Council of the European Union: Vulnerable refugees in four measures & Humanitarian visas

Vulnerable refugees - redraft of clauses: Theme: ‘Guarantees for those with special needs’ (LIMITE doc no: 5939-17, pdf) With 68 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"In the framework of the theme "Guarantees for those with special needs", delegations will find attached modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to:

- Articles 19, 20, 21, 22, 24 and 32 of the Asylum Procedures Regulation;
- Articles 11, 17a (3), 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 of the Reception Conditions Directive;
- Articles 22 (4) and (5) and 36 of the Qualifications Regulations; and
- Article 8 of the Dublin Regulation.

The changes in the text are marked as follows: added text is marked in bold and underline and deleted text from the original Commission proposal is marked in bold and single strikethrough."

• Humanitarian visas: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee - Outcomes (LIMITE doc no: 5668-17, pdf): Including Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Union Code on Visas (Visa Code) (recast):

"AT, supported by FR, SK and CZ, reported that the EP had not yet given up on the idea of the humanitarian visa and strongly invited the Presidency to make it clear during the negotiations with the EP that this was a red line for the Council. Therefore, as long as the humanitarian visa was included in the compromise amendments, they stressed that the Council would not be in a position to agree on anything.

The Chair took note of the comments and said that the Presidency would inform delegations on further contacts with the EP."

Are You Syrious (11.2.17, link):

Turkey: French style evictions

"According to many independent sources, since February 8th, refugees living in makeshift tent camps in Torbali and Bayindir districts, Izmir area, are being evacuated by military police. Most of the people who are living here are refugees from Syria.

The exact number residents is hard to establish since people are coming and going all the time. Most of them are surviving while working as seasonal workers in the nearby farms, often exploited as cheap workers who are paid less than 10 euro a day for their hard work. Some of them receive their money only at the end of the season, and in some cases, those who hire them, do not pay them at all."

Relocation nightmare continues

"Despite the very difficult situation all over Greece, the relocations and resettlements are still happening very slowly. According to the official data, Hungary, Austria, and Poland remain the only EU Member States that have not relocated anyone so far. Slovakia continues relocating on a very limited basis and the Czech Republic has not pledged since May 2016 and has not relocated anyone since August 2016.

The goal is to have 2,000 monthly relocations, but that number has never been reached. In December, 1,162 people were relocated and 1,131 people in January."

Italy: New regulation for asylum seekers

"The situation in Italy remains alarming, even though hardly anybody is talking about it. Volunteers operating in the area of Como are reporting about 80 persons who slept out in the open last night while the temperatures were 2°C."

91 mosques were attacked in Germany in 2016: ministry (Daily Sabah Europe, link):

"The German government says 91 mosques were attacked in the country in 2016.

The interior ministry said in a report late Friday that most attacks - 21 of them - took place in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which is the country's most populous state with a high number of Muslim immigrants.

The report did not detail how badly the different mosques were vandalized. However, it said police identified suspects in 12 cases and made one arrest."

Switzerland backs 'simplified naturalization' for third-generation migrants (DW, link): "A measure to ease bureaucratic hurdles has passed with more than 60 percent, according to local media. Right-wing lawmakers said they were "alone against everyone" in rejecting the proposal."

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