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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
24.3.17
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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 Commission: Report on the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2016/369 on the provision of emergency support within the Union (COM 131-17, pdf):

European Commission Factsheet published on 13 January, 2015 alerted the EU in “Questions and Answers: Smuggling of Migrants in Europe" and the EU response that: In 2014, more than 276,000 migrants irregularly entered the EU, which represents an increase of 155% compared to 2013. Syrians together with Eritreans were the largest group apprehended at EU external borders trying to enter the EU in an irregular manner.”

This report notes that: "In 2015 and 2016, close to 1.1 million persons, who may be in need of international protection, and irregular migrants (hereafter referred to as 'refugees and migrants') made their way to the European Union (EU) along the Eastern Mediterranean route."

So why did it take until 2 March 2016 for the Commission to adopt a proposal on the provision of emergency support within the Union. (the Regulation was adopted by the Council on 15 March 2016)? Why was the "experience of the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department" not immediately activated at the beginning of 2015?

It should also be noted that:

"Greece was the only Member State that met the two 'eligibility' conditions set out in the Regulation:

the exceptional scale and impact of the disaster give rise to severe wide-ranging humanitarian consequences in one or more Member States; and no other instrument available to Member States and to the Union is sufficient.

As a result, all the actions funded under this Regulation to date were exclusively aimed at tackling the humanitarian situation in Greece."

Are You Syrious (23.3.17, link)


Another Mediterranean tragedy

"Up to 250 men, women and children coming from Africa are feared dead on the Mediterranean tonight. It is reported the people have probably drowned after a rescue boat found two partially submerged rubber dinghies off Libya, a spokeswoman for the NGO which operates the vessel said today. Laura Lanuza of Spanish charity Pro-Activa Open Arms said its boat had recovered five floating corpses close to the dinghies, about 15 miles off the Libyan coast. The overall number is yet to be determined, but it is already certain it will yet again be a devastating one."

Lesvos

"One boat carrying 18 people, including 4 children, came in on North East coast of Lesvos at 1AM today in a very difficult area. Everyone is okay, a local volunteer reported.

There were 77 new registrations on Chios, 41 on Samos, making a total of 112. The number of arrivals remains high, 758 people came since last Friday alone, most frequently on Chios."

SERBIA

"The spokesperson of the Serbian Defence Ministry said that in the last few days, there has been an increase in the migrant pressure from Bulgaria and Macedonia towards Serbia, reports Novinite."

DENMARK: Government proposes law change in case of “emergency situation”

"Denmark’s government came out with a new law change proposal which would allow the country to close the borders for refugees, including unaccompanied children, due to exceptional circumstances, reports The Local. This would apply in case of a “crisis situation”, a phrase often used without further clarification, in which case the Dublin Regulation would not apply.

" Council of Europe calls on Hungary to reconsider new law that risks exposing migrant children to sexual exploitation (Press release, link):

"In a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, published today,Claude Janizzi, the Chairperson of the Council of Europe Lanzarote Committee expressed hisconcern that the adopted law – “On the amendment of certain acts related to increasing thestrictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management” – will negatively impacton the implementation of the Lanzarote Convention, to which Hungary is party, in mainly twoways:·

Unaccompanied migrant children between 14 and 18 will be considered adults during theemergency crisis and will not benefit from child protection measures, including theappointment of a guardian;·

These children will be placed in transit zones with a greater risk of becoming victims ofsexual abuse or exploitation."

See: Letter (pdf)

A huge number of migrants leave Bulgaria (Border Monitoring Bulgaria, link):

"Recently, the State Agency for Refugee (SAR) and the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior (MoI) stated in a report that already thousands of people had left Bulgaria, this year. In January 2017, more than 2210 migrants had already left the country and in February 903 people were reported to be ‚disappeared‘. In March more than 400 people left Bulgaria."

The Asylum System in Spain: Guaranteed Right to Protection? (link)

"Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled central Barcelona on February 18th to demand that European governments fulfil their obligations. They demanded compliance with the relocation quotas from Greece and Italy. But they called for more, insisting that the right to asylum must be guaranteed with safe means of entry, that asylum procedures should be fair and consistent with international law and that reception conditions should be dignified. Thus far, the Spanish government has relocated just 900 of the nearly 16,000 asylum seekers agreed in September 2015. That is a long way from where it should be. We know little about the Spanish asylum system, what awaits those who attempt to arrive by themselves and those who are already here. Is the right to international protection guaranteed?"

Erdogan says Turkey will review EU ties ‘from A to Z’ (euractiv, link);

"Turkey will review all political and administrative ties with the European Union after an April referendum, including a deal to curb illegal migration, but will maintain economic relations with the bloc, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday (23 March)."

EU roadmap for Libya to stem flow of sea migrants - Libyan prime minister asked for rescue and emergency equipment to curb illegal migration across its border into Europe (aljazeera.com, link):

"Ongoing consultations between the UN-backed government in Tripoli, representatives of the interior ministers of Italy and other eight European countries aim at bolstering an agreement signed in February, when Libya agreed to tackle the smuggling of migrants into Europe.

EU Migration Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and interior ministers from Algeria and Tunisia also attended the meeting....

In the meantime, Rome has been pursuing a solution to the political stalemate in Libya, in the hope that the UN-backed Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), signed in 2015, would finally take off and help the Tripoli government establish control over its borders and as a result over migrants routes across its territory.

But the deadlock between Tripoli and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) is far from over. Under the influence of renegade General Khalifa Haftar, the HoR is refusing to acknowledge the UN-sponsored Government of National Accord(GNA) formed by Serraj, who also heads the Presidential Council."

More than 200 migrants feared drowned in Mediterranean (BBC News, link):

"More than 200 migrants are feared dead after five bodies were discovered off the Libyan coast, a Spanish aid organisation says.

Proactiva said the bodies were found floating near two capsized boats which could each hold more than 100 people.

The group's Laura Lanuza said the five they pulled from the Mediterranean were young men who appeared to have drowned."

Belgium criticises aid groups for saving lives (News That Moves, link):

"From Reuters: Belgium’s migration minister, Theo Francken, has said aid organisations are causing more deaths by saving migrants that try to cross the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa to Italy.Theo Francken went on Twitter to criticize Doctors Without Borders (MSF) for operating ships near the Libyan coast that he says only encourage smugglers...."

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