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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
Are You Syrious (18.1.17, link)

EU member states want to send refugees back to Greece but not relocate them from there

"While EU member states want to start sending back refugees to Greece under the Dublin agreement by March, they are slow to accept relocation and family reunion requests."

Dublin deportations yes, promised relocations no

"In 2016 the Greek Asylum Service registered 51,091 applications for international protection. Additionally there are approximately 15,000 applications for full registration which will be completed in 2017. “Relocation remains the big challenge. As of 27 December, the Asylum Service had registered 21,431 applications from individuals who were eligible to participate in the program, while it had received 13,634 pledges from other EU Member-States,” the Asylum Service reports.

There are 9000 individuals who are ready for relocation but no host country has been found yet. While the acceptance of the request should only take up to ten working days in reality it needs up to six months. “While Greece has sent to other Member-States 13,345 requests, 10,712 of these have been accepted and only 7,000 individuals have departed from Greece. There are serious delays even after the acceptance of outgoing requests for relocation.” The Asylum Service is blaming the other EU member states for not setting up sufficient reception places and then requesting the postponement of the transfer.

On the other hand these EU member states want to go back to the Dublin agreement in March and send back refugees to Greece to run through the asylum process there. Indeed the asylum process can, and in most cases assumably will, include an application for relocation. Already in 2016 Greece’s Dublin Unit received 4,415 requests to return protection seekers but only three were sent back to Greece."

See: Ministry of Migration Policy: The work of the Asylum Service in 2016 (pdf) and: Statistical Data of the Greek Asylum Service (1.1.2016 -31.12.2016) (pdf)

Italy: New CIEs and the repatriation of foreigners: ASGI statement on the Chief of Police's circular (pdf):

"ASGI is disconcerted and expresses deep concern for the circular issued by the interior ministry on 30.12.2016 concerning activities to repatriate irregular foreigners and the programme to reopen CIEs (Centres for identification and expulsion), apart from the Government’s desire to strike new bilateral readmission agreements and to reform the norms on the right to asylum in a restrictive direction."

The text of the chief of police’s circular of 30 December 2016 (10/01/2017): "Activity to track down irregular foreign citizens in the national territory for the purpose of repatriation."

"The winter of our shame", Strasbourg, 18 January 2017 Barbara Spinelli MEP (GUE/NGL) intervened during the plenary session of the European Parliament regarding the declarations by the Council and the Commission on emergency assistance for refugees and migrants who are facing adverse climatic conditions in European refugee camps

"I ask myself how many asylum seekers will have to die due to the cold, in this winter of our shame.

I ask the Commission to listen to Amnesty and the refugees' Community Leaders in Moria. For migrants on the islands to be moved to the mainland, in places other than camps without electricity nor water. The EU-Turkey agreement does not envisage that the returns should be from the islands, as Erdogan wants. In these conditions, refugees should not be sent back to Italy and Greece on the basis of the Dublin system.

Finally, let's tell ourselves that this is not a crisis of refugees. It is the collapse of our asylum policies, those of relocation, family reunification, and respect for the right to life. Dear Commissioner Stylianides, such a cold winter was not unpredictable. Alongside the refugees of Moria, I ask for an end to the deportations of the most vulnerable people to Turkey, and for all the procedural guarantees to which the applicants have a right to be guaranteed.""

See also: European Parliament:
Refugees: MEPs demand emergency winter aid and transfers to other EU countries (Press release, pdf):

"EU and national authorities should provide emergency aid to help migrants and refugees to cope with freezing temperatures and snow in several parts of Europe, MEPs urged on Wednesday. They also called on EU governments to keep their promises to transfer thousands of asylum-seekers, particularly from Greece, to other countries.

Several speakers called the plight of refugees in the Greek islands, but also in other countries like Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, “unacceptable” and some asked how many people have to die of cold before the EU reacts. Many MEPs underlined that only 6% of the 160,000 asylum-seekers who should have been relocated from Greece and Italy have so far been moved.""

Fivefold increase in number of EU citizens held in UK detention centres since Tories took power (Independent, link):

"Some detained for losing their ID card or holding a birthday party in a park - prompting claims the Government is seeking to deter others from moving to Britain.

The sharp rise has led to concerns the Government is trying to “spread anxiety” among people from EU countries living in the UK, in an effort to deter others from moving to Britain.

In 2015, the last full year for which Home Office data is available, 3,699 EU citizens were detained under immigration powers – 11.4 per cent of all detainees – while in 2009 just 768 were detained, 2.7 per cent of the total."

See: National Statistics - Detention: December (link)

Migration: How to stop the rising tide of death in Mediterranean (MSF, link):

"By Jens Pagotto, Head of Médecins Sans Frontières mission in Libya and its search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean.

The number of people who have died trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean has reached an all-time high and is becoming comparable to what Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is used to seeing in war zones. The UN Migration Agency (IOM) recorded at least 5,079 deaths last year.

The actual number of deaths is likely to be much higher. We have no idea how many dinghies overloaded with terrified passengers set sail from Libya in the direction of Italy each day and how many of them sink without trace before they reach busy shipping lanes in the Mediterranean or call for help. Under international maritime law, all vessels in the area, whether commercial ships, military warships or rescue boats operated by charities such as MSF must provide assistance and take the rescued to a place of safety. "

The big freeze – Paris. Police destroying tents and taking blankets from people sleeping out in sub-zero temperatures (EXODUS, link):

"The police had taken all of the bedding (provided by us and other aid groups) from a slightly sheltered sleeping area and put it out in rain…

Please give what you can so that we can purchase waterproof Bivvy bags and keep up with the French authorities’ destruction –

As the temperatures plummet at – 7 at night, the situation is getting very tough in Paris where many thousands refugees and other migrants are stranded. Several hundreds are sleeping in the streets, and the plan for the extreme cold does not seem to be working. No place to go during the day either, for most! They are out in the cold all day. The situation at the official camp getting chaotic, people who have been in the queue all night hoping to get registered start pushing when refused access because the number has been reached (50 new people per day only), and are repressed by police."

Luxembourg foreign minister tells EU to take refugee obligations seriously (euractiv, link): "The European Union cannot ignore the images of freezing refugees and must implement its redistribution programme, according to Luxembourg’s foreign minister. "

European migration control in Libya (, link):

"The Libyan navy and the coastguard under its authority are being groomed as gatekeepers of Fortress Europe. Even a migration partnership is under discussion.

Since the forcible regime change in 2011, the European Union has been supporting what it calls reform of the security sector in Libya. Its policy is based on the Berlusconi motto of ‘more oil, less migrants’. The new Libyan Government of National Accord scarcely exercises any control outside Tripoli."

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