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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
9..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
European Parliament:
Eurodac Regulation: Parliament committee report takes hard line on mandatory biometric registration of asylum-seekers

A draft report to be submitted to the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) proposes that Member States should be obliged to introduce "effective, proportionate and dissuasive" administrative sanctions for asylum-seekers and irregular migrants who demonstrate "non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image."

The Commission's text proposed an article that said:

"Member States may introduce administrative sanctions, in accordance with their national law, for non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article. These sanctions shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. In this context, detention should only be used as a means of last resort in order to determine or verify a third-country national's identity."

The draft report proposes changing the word "may" to "shall", thus requiring Member States to introduce sanctions for people who refuse to submit to fingerprinting or the "capture" of their facial image for inclusion in the Eurodac database.

Two Turkish families, incl baby, arrested after fled to Greece (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Six Turkish nationals were arrested Wednesday after they illegally crossed the border, Greek police said. The two men, three women and a one-year-old boy were taken into custody by by border guard in the northeastern town of Orestiada....

The two families had not applied for asylum yet, but they intended to do so."

Are You Syrious (8.2.17, link)

Greek Forum of Refugees denounces brazen deportation of Afghans

"As Afghanistan has been reclassified as a safe country by the EU, many Afghan refugees now find themselves living with the fear of deportation looming. The agreement made between the EU and the government of Afghanistan essentially amounts to bribery, with EU promising money to the government in exchange for the relocation of refugees. In response to this travesty, the Greek Forum of Refugees has released a powerful condemnation. The statement brings attention to the reasons why Afghans find themselves compelled to flee all the way to Europe, namely that Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan find themselves discriminated against and denied entry into wider society. It also calls attention to the recent wave of suicide attempts undertaken by Afghan refugees across several countries."

Greek Asylum Service publishes press release on relocation

"The release contains a number of interesting facts and statistics, and tries to argue that EU member states are responsible for the slow pace of progress. The average time between registering a candidate for relocation at one of the asylum offices and submitting a request by Greece to another Member State to accept that candidate is 49 days. However, the average time required once a pledge by another Member State has been received and a request is made by the Relocation Unit is only six days. This is a result of the fact that the number of pledges made by other Member States remains insufficient. While until 1 February the Asylum Service had registered a total of 24,233 relocation candidates, the pledges received amounted to only 15,164."

See Greek Ministry Press release: Press release: The pace of the relocation process (pdf)

Hungarian government announces new measures against refugees

"János Lázár, the right hand of Orbán, has announced in a town hall meeting that the government is planning several legislative changes.

1. All asylum seekers will be automatically detained

2. This will happen at the border zone, and people will have to wait there for the decision

3. The 700–800 people currently in the asylum process will be transferred to the border area to be detained

These measures were first announced a number of weeks ago, but more detailed blueprints have been released and the implementation has begun. To justify the Hungarian government’s actions, which are a clear violation of refugees’ rights as put forth by international and EU law, Lázár said that, “although the applicants would not be be allowed to move freely in the country, the camps should not be described as detention” because people could supposedly go back to their country at any time. The official government press release makes further outrageous claims, namely that “immigrants staying in Hungary pose a security risk,” and that “tens of millions are waiting to start moving towards Europe.”

The measures are clearly meant to completely isolate refugees from society at large, to humiliate them so that they will have no desire to risk the journey to Europe."

49 people returned from FYROM to Greece (News That Moves, link):

"In a surprise move, on the 9th of February, FYROM authorities forcibly returned 42 Syrian and seven Iraqi nationals to Greece.

They had previously been hosted at the transit camp of Tabanovce, and they did not apply for asylum in FYROM.

Sources at the FYROM Centre for Crisis Management confirmed the returns to News That Moves and noted that the returns were carried out under a readmission agreement with the European Union."

EU: Commission threatens to sue countries that don’t take refugees (euractiv, link):

"The EU warned today (8 February) that it will consider punishing member states next month if they fail to share the burden of asylum seekers stranded in Greece and Italy.

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans criticised the bloc for having so far admitted only 12,000 of the 160,000 Syrian and other refugees required to be relocated from Greece and Italy to other EU countries by September this year.

He said Brussels still hoped “peer pressure” would convince recalcitrant countries, but that it would consider penalties if there had been no progress by the time its next report on the issue comes out in March. “That is the right moment to consider other options if they are necessary,” Timmermans told a press conference. “The Commission might start infraction procedures and we will certainly consider that.”"

And see: The Brief: Commission bares teeth over refugee crisis (euractiv, link):

"Today Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans threatened court action against countries that refuse to relocate refugees. The first infringement procedures, which could result in fines, may be launched as early as next month....

A good start might have been mentioning the soon-to-be-missed target in its press release, rather than all this talk of “encouraging progress”....

It could be a case of the Commission finally being willing to bite back only to find that its teeth are uselessly blunt."

Greece: No one accepts responsibility’: thirteen refugees dead in Greece (IRR News, link) by Liz Fekete:

"As refugees and migrants die in Greece’s ‘hotspots’, military camps and in transit, the EU, the UNHCR and Greek institutions must be held to account."

Libyan authorities oppose EU migrant plans (euobserver, link):

"Local authorities in Libya's capital city Tripoli and elsewhere are mounting resistance to EU plans to stem migration flows towards Italy.

The move is likely to further complicate efforts after the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced a €200 million plan to finance migration projects geared towards Libya throughout much of north Africa.

A large bulk of the money is likely to be shuffled into border control and surveillance in the hope of containing people likely to attempt the perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing in the upcoming months.

But Mostafa Al-Barooni, the mayor of one of the largest cities in the country, told this website on Wednesday (8 February) that Mogherini's proposals were unacceptable."

Balkan states to introduce more anti-migrant controls (euobserver, link):

"Over a dozen European interior ministers vowed to impose more measures to curtail migrants from using the Western Balkan routes in their efforts to seek better lives outside Greece.

Austrian-led efforts to shut down borders throughout the Western Balkans last year managed to cut the numbers of people reaching EU states further north.

But ministers on Wednesday (8 February) in Vienna said they would come up with additional plans in April as many still continue to travel through the former Yugoslav countries with help from smugglers.

"We're sending a signal to the traffickers with this conference that there will be no illegal migration to Europe," Austrian interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka told reporters."

See also: SE, central Europe states eye closer border cooperation to deter migrants (channelnewsasia.com, link)

EU strategy stems migrant flow from Niger, but at what cost? (IRIN News, link)

"The EU-funded crackdown on migration through Niger has been effective at dramatically reducing the number of people heading northwards to the North African coast, and then Europe. But what has it left behind?"

Greece: NGOs: Campaign for the access to asylum (pdf):

"No more dead refugees – Immediate transportation of the asylum seekers from the Aegean islands to the mainland for a fair examination of the merits of their asylum applications in a context of freedom and decent living conditions."

Arrivals to Lesvos (UNHCR)

Arrivals from 25-31 January 2017 totaled 76 persons of concern (100% of arrivals in the North)

A total of 456 persons of concern have arrived on Lesvos since January 2017.

Departures from Lesvos

303 persons of concern departed from Lesvos to the mainland (25 ¡V 31 January)

Residual Population (as provided by the Hellenic Police):

3,548 persons of concern in Moria
818 persons of concern in Kara Tepe
171 persons of concern on the Navy vessel
337 persons of concern in hotels"

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