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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
10-12.9.17
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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
LIBYA: SUMMARY: Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolution 2312 (2016) (S/2017/761) [EN/AR] (Reliefweb, link):

"As at 19 July 2017, IOM estimates that 11,122 persons have been intercepted and rescued by the Libyan Coastguard, coastal security and fishermen in 2017, while 348 human remains were retrieved along Libyan shores. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern about abuses and violations against such persons by the Libyan Coastguard during search and rescue operations, which, in some instances, further endanger the lives of people in distress at sea. Intercepted or rescued migrants are rarely provided with life jackets.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has documented the use of firearms, physical violence and threatening language by Coastguard officials during search and rescue operations, within and beyond the territorial sea of Libya, that induce panic among people in unseaworthy vessels seeking assistance. Other recorded behaviour includes jumping on board migrant vessels without warning, and colliding with vessels in distress. Such acts risk capsizing already unseaworthy boats and cause panic among people in distress, some of whom jump into the water without life jackets. According to UNSMIL and OHCHR, immediately following rescues or interceptions at sea, Coastguard officials routinely fail to identify and meet the specialized needs of migrants and asylum seekers in vulnerable situations, including pregnant women, unaccompanied minors, and those with disabilities or pre-existing medical conditions." [emphasis added]

See: Full text of UN report (pdf)

Also: EU brushes off UN criticism of Libya policy (euobserver, link):

"The European Commission says it is working to help and protect migrants in Libya amid sharp criticism from the United Nations.

An EU commission spokesperson on Monday (11 September) told reporters in Brussels that its work with the UN and its affiliated agencies on the ground in Libya is part of a greater effort to protect migrants and provide them with access to basic medial care....

The commission's defence of the EU's policy in Libya on Monday follows a scathing rebuke from the UN's high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. In a statement released on Friday (8 September), Al Hussein said the EU's approach of apprehending migrants inside territorial waters to have them returned to Libya is a clear breach of the international law prohibition of 'non-refoulement'. "Like the militias onshore, coastguards also sometimes beat, rob and even shoot the migrants they intercept," he said....

"Similar comments were issued by the president of Doctors without Borders who last week accused the EU of condoning torture, given the widespread rape, beatings, and abuse that people endure at the hands of detention centre guards."

EU: Refugees: Council next steps

- finance and train Libyan Coast Guard to end arrivals to Italy
- expedite "return" operations from the EU
- create "reception" centres across Africa
- continue actions under the "dodgy" EU-Turkey Statement
- yet another call for "relocations" within the EU
- redefine "safe third countries"

See: Note on: Migration: state of play and next steps - Exchange of views (LIMITE doc no: 11836-17, pdf).

European Commission reports on Partnership Framework, Relocations, EU-Turkey deal and European Border and Coast Guard

Includes in EU-Turkey deal report: "Additional Hellenic Police officers are needed to better control entry/exit points and for patrolling inside the hotspots. The Greek Reception and Identification Service, in cooperation with EASO, is looking into establishing electronic entry/exit control systems at all hotspots, starting with a pilot project in Moria [Lesvos]."

And: "The Hellenic Police to issue return decisions at the same time as the notification of negative first instance asylum decisions."

New report highlights need to improve data on dead and missing migrants to better inform policy and public awareness (University of Bristol, link):

"University of Bristol Senior Research Fellow, Ann Singleton, who co-edited Fatal Journeys Volume 3: Improving Data on Missing Migrants, said:

“Since 2014, more than 23,000 migrant deaths and disappearances have been recorded globally by the IOM, although the real number is likely to be significantly higher because many deaths are unrecorded.

“Few bodies of missing migrants are formally identified leaving families in limbo, without perhaps ever knowing whether a loved one is alive or dead.

“The focus of this year’s report is how data on missing migrants can be improved, to inform policies that can prevent further deaths, to meet the needs of families and those left behind to learn more about the fate of their relatives, and to improve the chances of identifying bodies.”

See: Fatal Journeys, Volume 3 Part 1: Improving Data on Missing Migrants (pdf)

UNICEF: HARROWING JOURNEYS - Children and youth on the move across the Mediterranean Sea, at risk of trafficking and exploitation (pdf):

"Young migrants and refugees set out to escape harm or secure better futures – and face staggering risks in the process. For 17-yearold Mohammad, who travelled through Libya to seek asylum in Italy, violence and persecution back home meant the choice was clear: “We risked our lives to come here,” he says, “we crossed a sea. We knew it is not safe, so we sacrificed. We do it, or we die.”

For children and youth on the move via the Mediterranean Sea routes to Europe, the journey is marked by high levels of abuse, trafficking and exploitation. Some are more vulnerable than others: those travelling alone, those with low levels of education and those undertaking longer journeys. Most vulnerable of all are those who,
like Mohammad, come from sub-Saharan Africa.

These findings come from a new UNICEF and International Organization for Migration (IOM) analysis of the journeys of some 11,000 migrant and refugee children (adolescents aged 14–17) and youth (18–24),..."

Sea-Watch is called to rescue 27 refugees in the Aegean Sea (link)

"Laila is standing on the deck of the Sea-Watch 1, shivering. When speedboat driver Ben takes her hand, she doesn't let go. In her life, Laila has seen a lot more awful things than a German rescue ship. But last night she was scared to death again, when she was crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece. Together with her boyfriend, she left behind the war in Kobane, Syria. Everything she still carries with her from her past life fits into a small pink bag.

At 2.30 am, Sea-Watch captain Phil received an unusual call by the Greek coastguards in Kós: "Hello my friend, can you help us? Can you tug a refugee boat back to the harbor?" Since the start of the monitoring mission in the Aegean Sea, it seemed as though the Coast Guards did not appreciate the presence of NGOs in their waters. But for the Greek commander in Kós, it was a relief to be able to call the Sea-Watch crew for assistance. "This rescue was an important sign for us: Good cooperation with the authorities could always look like this", Captain Phil says.

All 27 rescued were taken to a camp in the interior of the island. Laila would not have had to risk her life again if there were legal ways to reach the EU for refugees. What she needs is security, no repression."

Eric Kempson reports from Lesvos (12.9.17)

"Yesterday we had two boats arrive, one on Kos with 29 people on board no breakdown.

The other arrived on lesvos, 81 people on board 44 children 17 women 20 men

Today two boats reportedly arrived in south Lesvos no numbers or breakdown at the moment."

Are You Syrious (11.9.17, link)

Chios

"In an unsettling follow up to the police actions on Saturday on Lesvos, there was a stunning and violent police action today in Souda camp on Chios. Twenty-three were transferred to the police station and four of these were arrested, three of them for possessing knives, one for possessing “untaxed cigarettes,” according to Theurgia Goetia. According to Enough is Enough, 350 police officers stormed the camp."

SEA

"Arrivals to Italy have dropped significantly in the wake of the policy change on July 16th, however a correspondent covering North Africa has grisly, uncomfortable details on the developing situation in Libya that shows there is another side to this story....

The new situation in Sabratah means actually more extorsion against migrants. Exploitation worsens."

BELGIUM

"There were over thirty arrests of people in Belgium this morning in a coordinated police operation. As is common, the police came in the early morning, first around five to a common sleeping location. The arrests also continued at 7, even after volunteers attempted to wake people up to warn them about the possibility. Many items were left behind, some of them recovered. One man was hit by a car in his successful evasion of police. The most shameful chapter of the story comes as volunteers report that police, unsatisfied with the number of arrested, targeted a food distribution line outside of an NGO office."

FIDH: France: The harassment of Cédric Herrou, defender of migrants’ rights, must end (Press release, link):

"The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) and the Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH) condemns the police and judicial harassment in France against Mr. Cédric Herrou, as denounced by the Observatory in an Urgent Appeal published on August 28, 2017. This harassment reflects a policy from the French Government to hinder the work of defenders of migrants’ rights and their organisations.

Mr. Cédric Herrou is victim of harassment for defending migrants in the Roya valley, in Alpes Maritimes, where a huge police operation involving several hundred officers is taking place, with the aim of deterring the passage and presence of migrants in the region."

And see: GISTI:Actualité des poursuites et des mobilisations relatives aux délits de solidarité (link) and Avis: mettre fin au délit de solidarité (legifrance.gouv.fr, link)

Migrant sea route to Italy is world's most lethal (The Guardian, link):

"More than 22,500 migrants have reportedly died or disappeared globally since 2014 – more than half of them perishing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean, according to a study by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

A clampdown on Europe’s eastern borders has forced migrants to choose more dangerous routes as the death toll in the Mediterranean continues to rise despite a drop in the overall number of arrivals, data compiled by the UN’s migration agency shows.

“While overall numbers of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean by the eastern route were reduced significantly in 2016 by the EU-Turkey deal, death rates have increased to 2.1 per 100 in 2017, relative to 1.2 in 2016,” reads the IOM report which is released on Monday. “Part of this rise is due to the greater proportion of migrants now taking the most dangerous route – that across the central Mediterranean – such that 1 in 49 migrants now died on this route in 2016.”"

See the report: Fatal Journeys, Volume 3 Part1: Improving Data on Missing Migrants (pdf)

HUNGARY: Life in the Hungarian transit zones: no proper food, medical care or education (Atlatszo, link):

"An Afghan-Iranian family with three children waited eight months at the Serbian-Hungarian border to be able to apply for refugee status. After the long wait, in April 2017 they were admitted to the so-called ’transit zone’ where they were practically locked up behind barbed wire for four months. They told Atlatszo.hu about the inhumane conditions in the transit zone: no food for the father, harassment and doctor’s visits in handcuffs. Hungarian authorities want to keep the conditions in transit zones a secret, but we were shown cell phone photos that were taken inside."

EU: Pathways towards Legal Migration into the EU: Reappraising concepts, trajectories and policies (CEPS, link):

"Finding that EU migration policies are still subject to inconsistency, legal uncertainty and discriminatory treatment, scholars call for the creation of new legal pathways.

Over the past 15 years, the ‘Europeanisation’ of policies dealing with the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals has led to the development of a common EU acquis. Yet questions related to policy consistency, legal certainty and fair and non-discriminatory treatment in working and living standards still characterise the EU’s legal framework for cross-border mobility. This book critically explores the extent to which EU legal migration policies and their underlying working notions match the transnational mobility of individuals today. It addresses the main challenges of economic migration policies, both within the EU and in the context of EU cooperation with third countries. Special consideration is given to the compatibility of EU policies with international labour standards along with the fundamental rights and approach to fairness laid down in the EU Treaties. The contributions to this book showcase the various uses and potential of social science and humanities research in assessing, informing and shaping EU migration policies. Leading scholars and experts have brought together the latest knowledge available to reappraise the added value of the EU in this area. Their reflections and findings point to the need to develop a revised set of EU policy priorities in implementing a new generation of legal pathways for migration."

LESVOS GREECE POLICE RAID ON MOIRA: Report from No Borders KItchen on police raid (20 hours ago, link)

"Early this morning, hundreds of police once again invaded Moria prison camp. Waking the inmates as they lay sleeping in crowded containers, they made sweeping controls and detained many refugees - including those with papers and the legal right to be here.

as a consequence, eleven more people have been arrested and now face deportation. those with papers should eventually be released, back for another restless night of sleep. they do not know when the police will next invade their "home" or harass them in the street, or when their time will finally run out and they will be deported back into the violence and persecution they fled in their home countries.

one clear purpose of these massive and indiscriminate operations is to instill fear and uncertainty into the population of Moria. the last "sweep" of the camp followed political protests, subsequent arrests and violent police abuse of refugees inside Moria and behind closed doors in the police station.

That operation sent the message that dissent would not be tolerated. this new wave of arrests was a further reminder that Fortress Europe is closed, and that those clinging to its brink with their fingertips can be swept away at any moment.

with love and rage always

your NBK crew."

GREEK ISLANDS: ARRIVALS: Today (10 September, link)

LESVOS (206)

1st boat (South) 43 people
2nd boat (North) 32 people
3rd boat (South) 63 people
4th boat (South) 64 people
5th bost was pushed back by Turkish Coast Guard.

CHIOS 54 people

UPDATE:10.9.17:

"According to reliable information from LesvosNews.gr, the police found only four (!!!) of them in the Morissian Hotspot, of course, arrested them and would take the way back to Turkey.

But it ended up being a rather big fiasco that used about 300 policemen and only made 4 arrests. Of course, as it is understood, the expectations of the Police Directorate of Lesbos wanted a large number of arrests, so this giant business was done, with even a lot of secrecy."

And: Are You Syrious reports: "“As a consequence, eleven more people have been arrested and now face deportation. Those with papers should eventually be released, back for another restless night of sleep. They do not know when the police will next invade their “home” or harass them in the street, or when their time will finally run out and they will be deported back to the violence and persecution they fled in their home countries.”

LESVOS GREECE POLICE RAID ON MOIRA: Press report (ekathimerini.com, link)

"More than 350 police officers took part in a pre-dawn operation on Saturday at the Moria camp on the Aegean island of Lesvos to transfer an unspecified number of migrants to the pre-deportation center.

These individuals, who have all received a final rejection of their asylum application, will be returned to Turkey."

Greece: Lesvos: Saturday 9 September: SECOND POLICE RAID TO ARREST REFUGEES: NOW: Giant police operation at Moria's Hotspot to arrest immigrants for deportation (Translation from Lesvos News, link):

"A giant police operation at Hoto Spot in Moria, in order to capture immigrants for whom a rejection, final and irrevocable decision not to issue a political asylum, and a return to Turkey have been in progress since 6:00 am today.

The police drew up a plan and caught the migrants in Moria, because in previous such operations the migrants were uprooted and caused extensive damage.

After the entire encirclement encircled the entire area, HotSpot entered a large police force and police teams with their decisions, tapping the door on the container to proceed with the arrests.

More than 350 police officers are involved in the police operation, while a proactive force in the Hot Spot of Moria is a major force of the Fire Brigade and an ambulance of the EKAB for every eventuality."

It is reported that 14 people have been arrested so far. This follows: From Lesvos Legal Centre on 31 August 2017:

"Yesterday Afghan refugees in Lesvos began a sit-in protest in Sapfous Square in Mitilini. Their statement follows: "Today Afghan refugees are protesting our imprisonment on Lesvos. Many of us have been here for over a year trapped on this island, and we are still waiting for decisions. We join the struggle of protests held on 17 and 18 of July, and demand that the right to freedom of movement be granted for asylum seekers who have been here since 2016. We also join the call of Afghan refugees who protested last week in Athens, and call on Greece to halt all deportations of Aghans. From the recent massacres of unarmed civilians in Mirzaolang in northern Afghanistan, in which children, women, and elderly were ruthlessly killed, to the daily suicide bombings across the country, to the reckless US drone strikes in Nangarhar, Afghan Asylum Seekers in Greece say -- Afghanistan is not a safe country, and all deportation should stop." :

And: FREE THE MORIA 35 (30 July 2017) Lesvos Legal Aid Centre, link) Plus this update:

"31 of the 35 have now had preliminary hearings and 30 of these have been ordered detained while awaiting trial. 10 are detained in Chios, 7 in Avlona, and 13 in Korydallos. The nationalities of the defendants are: Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Iran, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

One (who had been hospitalized for a week following his arrest/beating) has been released awaiting trial with restricted measures following his preliminary hearing. Four others are temporarily released, awaiting preliminary hearings, which have been delayed due to lack of intepreters (Bambara and Wolof).

The judge has indicated that the trial will go forward as soon as possible (possibly in November or December), but the procedure is currently delayed until preliminary proceedings have finished for the four defendants who have been temporarily released.

The following organizations and lawyers will represent the defendants: Legal Centre Lesbos, Lesvos Solidarity, HIAS, Metadrasi, Solidarity Now, and five Athens based criminal defense lawyers: Vasilis Papasterios, Viki Angelidou, and Christodoulos Tsakirellis."

UN slams EU over brutality migrants face in Libya (DW, link): "The UN has accused the EU of "turning a blind eye" to brutality faced by migrants in Libya. It follows a report from Doctors Without Borders that made similar claims."

UNHCR urges action to ease conditions at Greek island camps (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The UN Refugee Agency on Friday expressed concern at deteriorating conditions on Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, as the number of new arrivals, which accelerated in August, is putting pressure on overcrowded reception facilities.

Speaking at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said the situation is most worrying on Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Leros, which have received the largest number of arrivals, including many children. More than half come from conflict-hit Syria and Iraq, she noted, adding that arrivals in August came to 3,695 against 2,249 in July."

MOAS Suspends Mediterranean Rescue Operations (link) :

"The Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) search and rescue NGO has suspended all rescue operations in the Mediterranean citing, among other reasons, concern about the lawfulness of returns to Libya and alluding to the conditions of those returnees held in detention facilities in Libya....

“MOAS does not want to become part of a mechanism where there is no guarantee of safe harbor or welcome for those being assisted and rescued at sea. In this context, and on the basis of our humanitarian principles, the decision has been taken to suspend our search and rescue activities in the Central Mediterranean. "

Statewatch Analysis: A Pyrrhic victory? The ECJ upholds the EU law on relocation of asylum-seekers (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law:

"How should the EU deal with the perceived ‘migrant/refugee crisis’? It has done a number of things, but back in September 2015, when the numbers of arrivals were peaking, it did something truly remarkable – requiring Member States to relocate 160,000 asylum-seekers from the ‘frontline’ states of Italy and Greece, which were bearing most of the burden of new arrivals....

The Court rejected the arguments that the decision was not suitable to obtain its objectives. True, as Commission reports have pointed out, not many asylum-seekers have actually been relocated, but that could not be foreseen at the time – and that was implicitly partly the fault of the plaintiff Member States for not implementing the decision in practice. (The Advocate-General’s opinion dismisses this “I killed my parents, give me sympathy as a poor orphan” line of argument more bluntly)."[emphasis added]

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