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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
27.1.17
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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: Rapid introduction of new Frontex powers: EU and Member States prefer to shut the door and return refugees than relocate them

In 13 months (the year 2016 plus January 2017) EU Member States have "returned" 11,121 refugees but only relocated within the EU 8,123 refugees entering through Greece and Italy (the two main countries of entry) since September 2015.

The reports: Follow-up report on the implementation of the Action Plan on addressing the "serious" deficiencies in the field of management of the external borders by Greece (23 September 2016, pdf) and: 2nd Follow-up report (16 November 2016, pdf)

EU-GREECE: "Solidarity" on refugees: official reports lay bare Greek government frustration with other EU Member States

Statewatch is today publishing two official reports that set out how the Greek government has sought to comply with other EU Member States' demands to control its borders and to prevent refugees leaving the country. Both reports show significant frustration with the failure of other Member States to meet their obligations to relocate refugees and to provide the necessary human and material resources to assist the Greek authorities.

The reports: Follow-up report on the implementation of the Action Plan on addressing the "serious" deficiencies in the field of management of the external borders by Greece (23 September 2016, pdf) and: 2nd Follow-up report (16 November 2016, pdf)

TURKEY-GREECE-EU: Turkey may cancel readmission deal with Greece after court's failure to extradite FETÖ soldiers (Daily Sabah, link):

"Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on Friday that Turkey will take necessary measures against Greece following the court's failure to extradite Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) soldiers involved in the July 15 failed coup attempt, to Turkey.

Çavusoglu said that Turkey may consider cancelling the readmission deal with Greece, which allows the latter to return illegal migrants -who traveled through Turkey- to Turkey, in order to be processed before they are sent back to their country of origin, TRT Haber reported.

He highlighted that the Greek court's ruling is a political rather than a legal decision, noting that it will have unavoidable implications for bilateral relations.

"They're not just petty criminals" Çavusoglu said, adding that the soldiers attempted to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdogan."

EU-Turkey refugee deal overburdens Greek islands (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The refugee camp on the island of Samos was built for 850 people, but it hosts more than 1,800 at the moment. More than 600 people are living in 56 sometimes unheated containers, while others are sleeping in tents - or wherever they find a free spot to lie down. Ralf Kist, the Frontex team leader of the German mission, told DW "the conditions at the camp are improving," but current and former residents of the camp complain about a life of misery among mud, dirt and rubbish."

EU-AFRICA: Will the EU's anti-migrant smuggling efforts in Niger backfire?

"In the case of northern Niger, however, haphazardly designed anti-smuggling efforts come with an even greater danger: destabilizing one of the few pockets of stability in a volatile region. Aside from the promise of money from Europe, the reality is that the Nigerien government has few incentives to crack down on migrant smuggling, in part because doing so is fraught with political and security risks.

In northern Niger, migrant smuggling is part of a broader political economy that is thoroughly enmeshed within formal and informal political and security structures. In fact, Niger’s anti-corruption agency found that state security forces in the region would not be able to function if they did not take bribes paid by smugglers, and would otherwise be unable to purchase basic necessities such as fuel, spare parts for vehicles and food.

Government officials in Agadez have also conceded that everyone from drivers, fixers, landlords, shop owners, currency dealers and even local law enforcement are profiting from the economic boom. “Many are eating off these migrants,” Ahmed Koussa, an assistant to the mayor of Agadez, told the New York Times. Abdourahamane Moussa, deputy-secretary general for the regional government in Agadez, struck a similar tone speaking to the Wall Street Journal. “Migrants are buying things, consuming our goods, animating our economy,” he said. “People here are benefitting. … How can we stop it?”

See: The E.U.’s Hollow Success Over Migrant Smuggling in Niger (Refugees Deeply, link)

Migreurop press release: The European Union cannot abolish winter: it must instead put an end to the criminal hotspot policy!

"At what point does failing to assist a person in danger become a crime? How many deaths are necessary to constitute a crime against humanity? These questions have been raised for years in relation to the thousands of people who have died in the Mediterranean due to the lack of legal routes into the European Union (EU). Today, the increasingly serious situation of thousands of refugees, trapped by freezing temperatures in Greek camps and on the ‘Balkan routes’, directly challenges the choices made by the EU concerning its ‘management of migration flows’."

EU: Hotspots and EU Agencies: Towards an integrated European administration? (EU Migration Law, link) by Lilian Tsourdi (emphasis added):

"Developments point to the emergence of an increasingly integrated administration in the field of asylum. This is neither inherently positive, nor inherently negative. However, it brings with it novel challenges of both a constitutional and practical nature. While the first concern the division of powers between the EU and national levels, the latter concern effectively upholding applicants’ fundamental and procedural rights. Broadening agencies’ powers in the Home Affairs area, and the nascent forms of joint implementation, will have to be coupled with a rethink in EU administrative law and the establishment of effective guarantees.

Cognizant of that fact, the European Parliament has proposed in its draft position on the European Union Agency on Asylum the establishment of a Fundamental Rights Officer; a Fundamental Rights Strategy; an individual complaints mechanism; and a robust role for the agency’s Consultative Forum in that setting. These proposals recognise the increasingly operational role this agency has to play, and reflect similar developments regarding the EU Border and Coast Guard. They form necessary, but still insufficient, measures that this evolving implementation set-up calls for. The dedicated workshop in the Odysseus Network Annual Policy Conference on the 10th February 2016 will present a forum to critically assess and further debate on these developments."

EU: European Commission: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos following the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council in Valletta (press release, pdf)

Comments on the Common European Asylum System, EU-Turkey deal, Libya, "solidarity", border security, interconnecting EU databases and information systems:

"I would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank the Maltese Presidency, and my friend and colleague Carmelo Abela, for their excellent work in organising this first informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers here in Valletta.

I am glad to see that the Maltese Presidency and the European Commission agree on the most important priorities for our work on migration, border and security for the next 6 months.

We have engaged in constructive discussions with the Ministers of interior. I'm glad that today we have reached a common understanding on many points and that our joint work is progressing."

FRANCE: PARIS, 28-29 January 2017: Migrant Constituent Assembly (Le Peuple Qui Manque, link):

"We will meet on the 28th and the 29th to collectively write a Migrant Constitution.

The Migrant Constituent Assembly is a negative community that cannot, by its definition, constitute itself as a Nation.

It is the assembly of a people which is missing. Emanating from this paradox statement, a « migrant constituent », what could be a constitution of a political subject that migrates.

An assembly which would be ordered by the community of the disappeared, of migrant and lost lives, on the Mediterranean sea - today the most lethal route of the 21st century-; yesterday being human trafficking in the Black Atlantic and the Middle Passage. An Assembly where the sea would be its missing soil and its language would be the translation itself as whispered to us by Camille de Toledo and Barbara Cassin."

EU: Re-Build Refuge Europe, a new project to counteract the discourses of crisis (European Alternatives, link):

"European Alternatives leads Re-Build Refuge Europe, a project that brings together partners from the UK, Sweden, Spain, Finland and Germany, and Greece. It aims to counteract the dominant discourses of ‘crisis’ and ‘threat’ by using art, culture and innovative practices allowing European citizens and refugees to learn from each other as equals. Activities of the project include storytelling, training and workshops for participants and the digital arts. The final results of the project will be exhibited and performed during the Athens Biennale 2017 and TRANSEUROPA Festival 2017 in Madrid."

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