Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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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
ITALY-LIBYA: Rome recruits desert mayors to stop flow of refugees from Libya (The Times, link):
"Italy has flown ten mayors from towns in southern Libya to Rome to persuade them to block tens of thousands of African migrants trying to travel to Europe.
The mayors were flown in on an unmarked aircraft for a secret summit with the interior minister, Marco Minniti. He outlined a plan to fund detention centres and boost patrols of Libyas desert frontier, where traffickers bring sub-Saharan migrants into the country.
The mayors overcame their tribal differences and offered their full collaboration with the deal they even asked for its implementation to be accelerated, an Italian government source said."
EU-TUNISIA: Report: Tunisia to receive intercepted migrants, process asylum claims on EU's behalf
According to a report in Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, Italy is close to signing, with the support of the European Commission, a deal with Tunisia that would see the North African country agree to receive migrants of any nationality who departed from Libya by boat and were intercepted in extraterritorial waters by missions from Italy or other European states. Currently, in line with international law, people should be disembarked in the territory of the flag state of the ship that rescues them.
ITALY-FRANCE: "Migrant hunt" on trains between Italy and France violates the law and human rights
What is legal in the push-backs carried out directly on trains by French police? "Basically nothing," says ASGI lawyer Anna Brambilla, who has long been following the situation at the French-Italian border: "The problem is a very complex one, and there are many violations."
SPAIN-MOROCCO: Hundreds of people reach Spain over razor wire-topped fences in Ceuta
The NGO Caminando Fronteras has said that there were "numerous injuries" during attempts starting at five o'clock this morning (17 February 2017) by hundreds of people to climb over the razor-wire topped barriers in Ceuta that seperate Spanish from Moroccan territory, with one person reportedly left unconscious after falling from the fence back onto the Moroccan side and others injured by climbing the fence or by Moroccan police attempts to prevent people from climbing. The Red Cross is apparently attending to some 400 people and the emergency services have been called to the scene. It is considered that some 500 people made it onto Spanish territory.
See: Cerca de 500 personas saltan la valla de Ceuta por la frontera del Tarajal (El Diario, link)
EU-LIBYA: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state
With the EU committed to halting cross-Mediterranean irregular migration, a recent classified report produced by the EU's Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Libya makes clear the difficulties that lie ahead in attempting to establish functioning state institutions in the country, including those willing to comply with European demands for "integrated border management".
See: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)
Press release: EU border agency targeted "isolated or mistreated" individuals for questioning
Statewatch press release, 16 February 2017. Also available as a pdf
Guidelines produced for border guards participating in an EU joint operation instruct the targeting of "migrants from minority ethnic groups, and individuals who may have been isolated or mistreated during their journey, as such people are often more willing to talk about their experiences."
Written by the EU's border agency, Frontex, the guidelines on the "debriefing of migrants for intelligence purposes" were attached to the 2012 plan for Operation Hera, a Frontex-coordinated joint operation that was launched in 2006 to halt irregular migration by sea from north-west Africa to the Canary Islands.
Debriefing officers were recommended to seek out potential interviewees as soon as possible after arrival: Once arriving migrants integrate with others in the camp, there is a tendency for them to become more reluctant to cooperate.
There are no instructions what to do regarding any possible need for medical attention, fundamental rights or legal information for any subsequent claims for protection.
The guidelines are one of many annexes to the Operational Plan 2012 for Operation Hera, which Statewatch has made available here (pdf) with the majority of the censored parts removed. The guidelines have also been reproduced in a more easily-readable format.
See also: Statewatch Analysis: Opaque and unaccountable: Frontex Operation Hera (pdf)
Amnesty International: EU-Turkey "deal": A Blueprint for despair: Human Rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal (pdf):
"The dramatic scenes that saw a million refugees and migrants cross the continent prompted a backlash that continues to echo resoundingly, prompting a raft of measures increasingly focused on blocking future arrivals. Solidarity between EU member states and solidarity with a record global number of refugees has been in short supply."
EU border agency expects same number of migrants via Libya this year as last (Reuters Africa, link):
"The European Union should expect as many migrants crossing from Libya this year as last, when a record number disembarked in Italy, the head of the bloc's border agency said on Wednesday.
Some 1.6 million refugees and migrants reached the bloc by crossing the Mediterranean in 2014-2016 and the main route now leads from the shores of the lawless Libya to Italy."
Migrants head to Switzerland amid Austria border crackdown (euobserver, link):
"Switzerland is turning into a transit country for migrants heading north as EU states impose internal border checks to stem their flows, according to Frontex, the EU border and coast guard agency.
African migrants arriving in Italy from Libya are avoiding Austria and are instead entering Switzerland in the hope of reaching northern EU states, Frontex said in a report on Wednesday (15 February)."
And see: Frontex: Annual Risk Report 2017 (10 MB, pdf)
Disabled refugees challenged by Greek camps (euractiv, link):
"Disabled refugees in Greek camps are faced with a number of obstacles, ranging from identification and bullying to a lack of access to appropriate services, according to migrant advocates."
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