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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
8-12.7.17
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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
SPECIAL: EU:
Italy's proposed code of conduct for Mediterranean NGOs "threatens life-saving operations"

The European Commission asked Italy to draw up a "Code of Conduct" for NGOs carrying out search and rescue in the Mediterranean: See full-text of: Code of Conduct for NGOs involved in migrant's rescue operation at sea (pdf). The organisation Human Rights at Sea has said the proposed code "threatens life-saving search and rescue operations".

All NGOs operating in the Med are required to sign and obey the Code: "Failure to sign this Code of Conduct or failure to comply with its obligations may result in the refusal by the Italian State to authorize the access to national ports, subject to compliance with the existing international conventions.

EU: UK parliamentary report: "failed" Operation Sophia has caused more deaths, EU should "combat irregular migration" in southern Libya

A UK parliamentary committee has said in a new report that it sees "little reason to renew the mandate of Operation Sophia", the EU's anti-migrant smuggling mission in the Mediterranean, when it comes up for renewal at the end of July.

According to the report by the House of Lords European Union Committee, the operation "has not in any meaningful way deterred the flow of migrants, disrupted the smugglers’ networks, or impeded the business of people smuggling on the central Mediterranean route," while an "unintended consequence" of the mission "has been that the smugglers have adapted, sending migrants to sea in unseaworthy vessels, leading to an increase in deaths."

ITALY: Interior ministry statistics on migrant arrivals, January-July 2017 (Italian, pdf): including overall numbers, comparative statistics with 2016, distribution of migrants within Italy, ports of disembarkation, nationality of persons disembarked, data on relocations, unaccompanied minors.

SPAIN: Over 60 detainees in Barcelona migrant detention centre on hunger strike

On Monday night 52 detainees in Barcelona's migrant detention centre (CIE, Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros) began a hunger strike. On Tuesday morning another 11 detainees from a variety of countries joined the 52, who are said to be from countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The detainees are in "different administrative situations", although the hunger strike was started to protest against the impending deportation that many of them are facing.

EU: Crowdfunded far-right vessel to set sail for the Mediterranean to target refugee rescue boats (i News, link):

"At some point this weekend a 42-year-old former Finnish research vessel will set sail from the east African country of Djibouti bound for the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. In its previous life, the Suunta surveyed the Arctic seas but its latest voyage will see it enter far more contentious waters.

Re-named the Sea-Star, the 25-crew vessel has been chartered by European far-right activists to “intervene” in the ongoing humanitarian mission to rescue refugees and migrants seeking to cross from Libya to Europe – a journey which has so far this year claimed more than 2,000 lives.

The 422-tonne ship, whose running costs are being financed with more than 100,000 euros (£88,000) raised through crowdfunding supported by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, is expected to station itself off the Libyan coast within a fortnight to carry out its self-declared mission to “save Europe and to save lives”.

In reality, charities and anti-extremist campaigners believe the Sea-Star has but one mission – to directly interfere with and disrupt the humanitarian vessels which every week pluck hundreds of people from waters where they would otherwise perish."

GREECE: Migrants 'stuck and forgotten' in notorious camp on Lesbos (Sky News, link)

"They are tired of waiting for Greek authorities and the EU to decide whether or not to take them in, with some there for a year."

See also: Lesvos migrants clash with police (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Frustrated by poor living conditions at the overcrowded Moria reception center on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, migrants clashed with police Monday afternoon.

The unrest was sparked during a protest outside the so-called pre-departure center that operates within the Moria camp aimed at drawing attention to the substandard conditions that people are forced to endure while awaiting deportation to Turkey. According to reports, police guarding the center came under a hail of stones when they tried to secure the area and responded with tear gas....."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Prague is to argue it cannot be blamed for not accepting refugees (Prague Monitor, link):

"The Czech Republic is likely to argue that it could not meet its pledge to accept asylum seekers from Italy and Greece due to bad conditions and inactivity of especially the Italian authorities, according to the information CTK has received.

On June 14, the European Commission opened legal cases against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland over their unwillingness to resettle migrants. The deadline for the Czech Republic to react within the proceedings is Thursday, July 13. The case may end up in the EU court.

(...)

The Czech Republic is to argue that it wanted to test the system and offered to accept 50 refugees in the spring of 2016, Greece did not use the offer and Italy only partly, according to CTK's information.

From Greece, only 12 of 30 asylum seekers were resettled. Italy at first did not let security interviews with the selected refugees to be held by the Czechs in its territory and it did not even react to the second Czech offer. As a result, no refugee was resettled."

Note: the Irish authorities have reported the same problem with Italian refusal to allow security checks by other states on their territory. See: Less than a third of promised 4,000 refugees settled here (Irish Times, link)

UK: Asylum seekers forced into homelessness by paperwork delays, study finds (The Guardian, link)

"The government has been accused of routinely denying support to asylum seekers, leaving them homeless and unable to feed their families, following analysis of more than 300 recent cases.

Research conducted by Refugee Action found that the Home Office was missing its own deadlines for finding emergency accommodation for homeless and destitute asylum seekers, and in some cases wrongly refusing those who make claims for emergency assistance.

In one case, it took more than 10 months to make a decision on whether to grant an applicant asylum support – so long that the person had already received refugee status."

See: Slipping through the cracks: how Britain's asylum support system fails the most vulnerable (Refugee Action, pdf)

UK: We came from Romania to build a life, and were locked up for sleeping rough (The Independent, link):

"We come from Romania. We left for the reasons most people do. It’s a corrupt country. If you have money you can do what you like, but if you have nothing, you can’t even get a doctor to treat you.

So we left. For twelve years we lived in Spain. It was difficult to find work that paid enough to live on but we survived. Marineta worked as a carer and Teofil did lots of different jobs.

In 2016 we decided to try our luck in the UK. We were curious about what life here was like. We hoped to find better-paid work, and improve our quality of life."

Myths of Migration: Much of What We Think We Know Is Wrong (Spiegel Online, link):

"Migration was the issue of the year in 2016 and it will likely remain important in 2017. The topic is, however, just as hotly debated as it is poorly understood. The so-called "refugee crisis" in Europe and the omnipresent images of overfilled boats arriving on Mediterranean shores give the impression that migration is threatening to spin out of control and that radical action is needed to curtail the uncontrollable influx of migrants. The fear of mass migration has fueled the rise of extreme nationalist parties throughout Europe and helped Donald Trump win the presidential election in the U.S.

This call for tougher migration policies is juxtaposed by another, albeit somewhat weaker, opinion voiced by the business sector, human rights and religious organizations and left-liberal parties. They argue that migration tends to be beneficial for both origin and destination societies, and that we should not see refugees as a burden but as a potential resource.

But in this polarized debate, the rather more sobering facts unfortunately get lost. Both the left-wing and right-wing narratives on migration are rooted in a series of myths that reveal a striking lack of knowledge about the nature, causes and consequences of migration processes. This text examines eight of the myths that I have often encountered in my research."

EU: Drowning mothers (OpenDemocracy, link):

"As late as June of 2015, men comprised nearly three-quarters of the world’s migration flow, according to UNICEF. This has been replaced by a major spike in the numbers of women and children across the Mediterranean and up through Europe.

More migration, unfortunately, has meant more deaths from people trying to cross borders. Although far more men than women undertake the perilous journey through the North African desert or across the Mediterranean in rubber rafts, it is the women who have a greater risk of dying along the way – most of them at sea.

Women’s increased risk of death is not only true for the Mediterranean journey. The same lethal pattern can be seen along other borders."

EU: Migration only factor bumping up EU population (euractiv, link):

"The European Union’s population increased last year, despite the same number of births and deaths being recorded. Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said the bump was driven by migration.

On World Population Day (11 July), it can be revealed that the EU’s population increased from 510.3 million on 1 January 2016 to 511.8 million on 1 January 2017. Eurostat said that in 2016 the same amount of births and deaths were recorded (5.1 million), meaning the 28-country bloc’s natural population change was in fact neutral.

That means the positive population change of 1.5 million was driven largely by an increase in net migration."

CoE: Hungary: Visit to transit zones to evaluate sexual abuse risks faced by migrant children (link);

"Council of Europe children’s rights experts concluded today a three-day visit to Hungary to evaluate risks of sexual abuse and exploitation faced by migrant children placed in transit zones. Their report is expected in October.

Hungarian authorities invited Lanzarote Committee Chair Claude Janizzi and representatives of the committee to visit Hungary, following a letter that Janizzi had sent to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in March, in which he expressed concerns that a new Hungarian law – “On the amendment of certain acts related to increasing the strictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management” – could increase the risks of sexual abuse of migrant children."

A crisis of definition, re-humanising the refugee (Media Diversified, link) by Olivia Woldemikael:

"The label of refugee is deceptive—it often hides more about a person than it reveals. In particular, when we refer to the ‘21 million refugees’ or ‘the refugee crisis’, we inadvertently strip people of their individuality and reduce their diverse lived experiences to the single narrative of displacement. Refugees, as a whole, have been so dehumanised that it is palatable to enclose them in congested camps and detention centres, to deny them access to education and opportunities to work, and to want to keep them out of our countries like a plague. Nothing has made this clearer to me than a meeting with one African refugee, in particular."

Turkey: EU funds, authoritarianism, and civil society (Osservatorio balcani e caucaso):

"For over 10 years, Turkey has received EU funds supporting reforms and democratisation. In light of the country's authoritarian drift, however, many wonder whether this strategy still makes sense

Relations between Turkey and the EU are undergoing a period of profound transformation. For Ankara – an official EU candidate since 2005 – the prospect of accession seems now unlikely. The process, which had already been stalling for several years, has been further damaged by the authoritarian positions taken by the Turkish government. They have worsened after the attempted coup of last summer, followed by a state of emergency which is still in place."

Hungary's Plan to Electrify Border Fence Draws Rebuke (liberties.eu, link):

"A Serbian NGO has strongly criticized the Hungarian government’s plan to electrify its border fence between the two countries in an effort to deter migrants. The Belgrade Center for Protection and Help for Asylum Seekers say the move was a violation of European human rights agreements..."

Watch: Technologies for borders and critical infrastructure showcased (IFSEC Global, link):

"Featuring L3, Satel, CLD Fencing, Genetec, AxxonSoft, Technocover, Morgan Marine, Gilgen Door Systems, UAS Flight Ops in the Drone Zone and BRE Global in the Attack Testing Zone, here are a selection of interviews, stand tours and product pitches from Borders & Infrastructure Expo at IFSEC 2017."

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