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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
3.2.17
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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
EU: European Council adopts declaration on cooperation with Libya amidst human rights warnings

The European Council meeting in Malta has issued a declaration on the "external aspects of migration", primarily focusing on the "Central Mediterranean Route" and cooperation with Libya.

There are no major changes in the content compared to the draft declaration published by Statewatch yesterday, although an affirmation of a "determination to act in full respect of human rights, international law and European values" has been moved to the first paragraph.

However, these warm words are not backed up elsewhere in the text, for example by including a committment to "a significant expansion of opportunities for safe pathways such as resettlement and humanitarian admission, among others, to avoid dangerous journeys," as called for by the UNHCR and IOM.

ITALY-LIBYA: New Memorandum of Understanding on "illegal immigration" and border security signed

Italy and the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord yesterday (2 February) signed a new Memorandum of Understading on "development, countering illegal immigration, human trafficking, smuggling and on strengthening border security".

UK-ERITREA: Politics before protection: the story of Eritrean asylum seekers in the UK (Right to Remain, link):

"The front page news in the Guardian last week, that “Home Office Eritrea guidance softened to reduce asylum seeker numbers” will not surprise those who have been following the debacle of Eritrean asylum claims in the UK for some time.

The Public Law Project managed to obtain internal Home Office documents that evidenced UK government efforts to seek more favourable descriptions of human rights conditions in Eritrea. This evidence confirms what has been clear for some time – that the UK’s priority has been reducing migration, irrespective of the deaths, torture and persecution that might entail.

Back in Refugee Week 2015, Right to Remain joined 500 Eritrean asylum seekers who marched swiftly and beautifully through the streets of Liverpool to protest the UK Home Office’s treatment of their cases.

It seems like a good time to recap on the what has happened over the last couple of years, and what the legal situation is now."

And see: Home Office Eritrea guidance softened to reduce asylum seeker numbers (The Guardian, link)

EU: Police action against migrant smuggling: report on Italian investigations and Europol press release on safe house "bust"

An article published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project highlights how the Italian police have adopted methods used against the mafia in their efforts against migrant smuggling networks operating from sub-Saharan African countries, while a recent Europol press release highlights the "busting" of a "migrant safe house" in Budapest during harmonised operations in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary and Romania.

EU: Asylum: European Parliament briefing on proposed EU list of "safe countries of origin"

"As part of the European Agenda on Migration, the Commission proposed a regulation on 9 September 2015 to establish a common EU list of safe countries of origin, initially comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. The aim is to fast-track asylum applications from citizens of these countries, which are considered 'safe' in full compliance with the criteria set out in the Asylum Procedures Directive 2013/32/EU and the principle of non-refoulement. Currently, lists are defined at national level and not coordinated, which can lead to different recognition rates of similar asylum applications, and thus create incentives for secondary movements and asylum-shopping."

See: Safe countries of origin: Proposed common EU list (pdf)

EU: Operation Sophia begins training more Libyan Coast Guard and Navy officials

"On 30 January 2017 the second package of the training conducted by EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia for the Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy starts in a maritime training centre in Crete (Greece). Twenty Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy trainees will receive training in areas including maritime legal aspects, Human Rights and raising gender awareness, as well as Search and Rescue operations. Package 2 is the next step from the application of basic seamanship delivered in Package 1. The second package will be delivered throughout 2017 in a variety of locations in the Mediterranean area. The trainees are senior officers at the rank of Captain or Commodore."

See: EEAS press release, 30 January 2017: Operation SOPHIA: package 2 of the Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy training launched today (pdf)

Background: Analysis: The EU’s military mission against Mediterranean migration: what “deterrent effect”? (December 2016, pdf) and: Working document of the European Union External Action Service, EUNAVFOR MED Op SOPHIA - Six Monthly Report 1 January - 31 October 2016’ (Council document 14978/16, RESTRICTED, 30 November 2016, pdf)

GREECE: Death in Greek Camps (Infomobile, link):

"Five refugees dead in Greek camps since last week due to inadequate reception conditions. Several others tried to commit suicide. Does life still matter in Europe?"

EU flirts with hypocrisy in criticising Trump's refugee ban (EUobserver, link) by Nikolaj Nielsen:

"The EU rightly spoke out against Donald Trump's entry ban on asylum seekers from Syria. But its own track record leaves much to be desired.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday (30 January) that the EU would continue to host refugees.

"It's our identity: we celebrate when walls are brought down and bridges are built," she said in a tweet.

Her comments appeared the same day a young man from Pakistan suffocated to death in a tent at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. He was trying to keep warm. It was the third death at the camp in a week.

...the fact that the world's richest nations are unwilling to properly care for the thousands stranded in Greece and on its islands is a disgrace. The task has largely been delegated to volunteers, NGOs and international aid organisations."

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