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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
10-17.12.18
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EU: Future EU security budgets: working documents shed light on Member State concerns and priorities

From 2021 onwards, the EU will have a number of multi-billion euro budgets for internal security, border security and asylum and migration policy at its disposal. These budgets will likely be larger than any previous funds in these areas, but there has been little transparency over the discussions on the proposals in the Council. The documents provided here, obtained by Statewatch through an access to documents request to the Council, shed some light on different Member States' priorities.

EU-LIBYA: EUBAM Libya becomes a fully-fledged civilian CSDP mission (EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya, link):

"Today, the Council adopted a decision mandating the EU integrated border management assistance mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya) to actively support the Libyan authorities in contributing to efforts to disrupt organised criminal networks involved in smuggling migrants, human trafficking and terrorism. The mission was previously mandated to plan for a future EU civilian mission while engaging with the Libyan authorities.

The mission's revised mandate will run until 30 June 2020. The Council also allocated a budget of € 61.6 million for the period from 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2020."

And see: Concrete Actions on Border Security in Libya (EUBAM Libya, link)

Futile debates around the Global Compact for Migration are a missed opportunity for all, EU migrants included (Migration News Sheet, link):

"The political turmoil around the Global Compact should serve as a warning that nationalist politics are not fading... the way in which far-right politicians were able to take advantage of the Global Compact as a tool for political posturing can also be instructive. The public heard little about the compact (and even less about the separate Global Compact on Refugees) during the negotiation and drafting stage. Thus, far-right politicians were able to say anything they wanted when the final draft was revealed. This left supporters of the compact on the defensive and forced debate to revolve around whether the compact was legally binding or infringed on national sovereignty."

MOROCCO: Statement issued by the People's Summit for a Global Pact of Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees

"The People's Summit for a Global Pact of Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees... announce our proposal to agree upon an International Pact of Solidarity and Unity of Action for the Full Rights of All Migrants and Refugees, women and men, based on the following considerations..."

UK: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: Asylum accommodation: replacing COMPASS (pdf):

"We have returned to the subject of asylum accommodation due to concerns raised in recent months about the Government’s handling of the process to replace COMPASS. This report focuses upon three main issues: the contracts and the strategic relationship between the Government and local authorities; the standards of accommodation provided for asylum seekers; and the question of fairness in the dispersal process.

Nearly two years after our previous report, very little has improved and mistrust by local authorities of central government has deepened."

EU: The Role of Technology in the Criminalization of Migration (Border Criminologies, link):

"Despite the novelty of passengers directly interacting with virtual border agents, iBorderCtrl is in fact representative of a broader trend of technologizing border controls through the deployment of automated security technologies. The deployment of these systems to collect and analyze vast quantities of personal data is not simply envisaged as a tool for border management, but also as a key component of contemporary transnational surveillance and security practices carried out within and beyond those borders.

So, aside from their potential strengths or limitations, what do these border control technologies tell us about crime, control, and justice in the twenty-first century? And, importantly, what might we gain from taking a deeper look at the technologies themselves, in addition to the legal and political environment in which they are deployed? Drawing on recent fieldwork conducted at EU institutions in Brussels, this post explores these questions."

EU: Asylum: Reducing Rights by Stealth (ECRE, link):

"... it is important to resist some of the new plans over the next few months, while continuing to work on positive alternatives... What is coalescing is a model whereby whenever a person crosses an external border they would be detained in a “controlled centre”, subject to a rapid process without adequate safeguards (i.e. without their rights being respected), and then returned. It continues the trend already in place in some Member States of operating parallel and substandard procedures at borders. The proposals include expanding, increasing support for, or even making mandatory such an approach."

UK: Attack on refugee family highlights rising hate crime in Bolton (The Guardian, link):

"High on a hill above Bolton on a sunny Sunday in June, a mother and three children were rushing for a bus on their way to church when they encountered an angry local man, Dale Hart.

They had not been in Bolton long, having arrived on the UN’s Gateway Protection programme, which offers a legal route for up to 750 long-term refugees to settle in the UK each year via camps in Africa and the Middle East.

The children – a boy aged 15 and two girls, 13 and 15 – had not yet learned much English, which proved a problem when the boy had to call an ambulance and explain where his mother had collapsed after Hart hit her.

Most local authorities don’t accept any Gateway refugees. But since the scheme started in 2004, Bolton has welcomed 2,307, including 255 in the last year alone."

Europol to "disrupt smuggling networks‘ online communications" (link):

"To combat terrorism, the EU police agency reports Internet content to providers for removal. These finds are not necessarily punishable. Now the Internet Referral Unit at Europol is to take stronger action against „smuggling networks“".

See also: Statewatch Analysis: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees" (March 2016, pdf)

‘Unverifiable information from unknown migrants’? – First footage of push-backs on the Croatian-Bosnian border (Border Violence Monitoring, link):

"By now our database contains more than 150 push-back reports from the Bosnian-Croatian border. In light of this figure it seems hard to deny this illegal practice of collective expulsions of people seeking protection, perpetrated by the Croatian police and often accompanied by violence. The people returning from the border with broken arms or legs, or showing bloodshot eyes and marks of beatings with batons on their backs, are no isolated cases. Their injuries and testimonies prove irrefutably institutionalised and systematically applied practices – even if the Croatian Minister of the Interior [1] continues to deny these accusations and instead prefers to accuse refugees of self-injury [2]. Meanwhile, various large international media have taken up the topic and report on developments at the Bosnian-Croatian border. The Guardian, for example, recently published a video showing a refugee bleeding from several wounds just after a pushback [3]. Yet, for some reason, up to now the available evidence has not been enough to hold the responsible persons and institutions accountable. New video material provided to BVM by an anonymous group should now close this gap in evidence."

GREECE: Shit for the Refugees and Shit for Samos. How Much Longer? (Samos Chronicles, link):

"The coverage on Samos of the visit inevitably highlighted the problems which were threatening to ‘overwhelm’ Samos and made life ‘unbearable’ for the residents of Samos town who had to live with the Hot Spot. With over 4,000 refugees on the island all of whom are either in the Camp (1,895), in tents around the Camp (2000) or in rooms and houses in the town(235), the situation was unanimously seen by the delegation as untenable.

Now that the rains have started the squalor of the camp has deepened. There is no escaping the reality of the Samos camp as a place of nightmares. According to Vivi Michou, Director-General of the European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs, the camp on Samos is now worse than Moria on Lesvos."

REFUGEE CRISIS: Investigations and prosecutions for crimes of solidarity escalate in 2018 (IRR News, link):

"At least 99 humanitarian volunteers and anti-deportation activists have been placed under criminal investigation or prosecuted so far in 2018."

UK: Review of ‘The UK border regime’ – a goldmine for activists (IRR, link):

"In the overcrowded market of books on immigration control, Corporate Watch’s 331-page book, The UK border regime: a critical guide, is one which will not only be read, but will be an indispensible resource for activists. My initial doubts that yet another book on immigration could tell me anything new were quickly dispelled: it is a goldmine of basic, vital information about how the UK’s immigration control system works and to whose benefit."

EU: Humanitarian visas to avoid deaths and improve management of refugee flows (EP press release, link):

"EU countries should be able to issue humanitarian visas at embassies and consulates abroad, so that people seeking protection can access Europe without risking their lives.

The European Parliament requested on Tuesday that the European Commission tables, by 31 March 2019, a legislative proposal establishing a European Humanitarian Visa, giving access to European territory - exclusively to the member state issuing the visa - for the sole purpose of submitting an application for international protection.

The legislative initiative report was backed by 429 MEPs, 194 voted against and 41 abstained."

See: European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2018 with recommendations to the Commission on Humanitarian Visas (2018/2271(INL)) and Annex (pdf)

EU: 160+ Academics request MEPs to vote in favour of Humanitarian Visas Motion Today - And it gets Approved! (link):

"Fernando López Aguilar, is the result of a long process of consultation with many stakeholders, including civil society actors and organisations as well as academics, adopted with the agreement of the Political Groups represented in the LIBE Committee."

Council of Europe: Special Representative on migration and refugees supports UN Global Compact at conference in Morocco (link):

"The Council of Europe, with its system for human rights protection, is ready to engage in the implementation of the Global Compact. The initiatives undertaken in the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children represent some of the most ambitious and successful actions of our organisation in the migration field. In particular they can offer a valuable contribution to our member states, but also to other regions and the international community as a whole seeking to secure the practical implementation of the laudable objectives of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.(...)

Read: Statement in full (link)

Marrakesh UN forum adopts migration pact despite withdrawals (euractiv, link):

"A United Nations conference adopted a migration pact in front of leaders and representatives from over 160 countries in Morocco on Monday (10 December), despite a string of withdrawals, including several EU countries, driven by anti-immigrant populism.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — finalised at the UN in July after 18 months of talks — was formally approved with the bang of a gavel in Marrakesh at the start of a two-day conference.

But the United States and at least 16 other countries either opted out or expressed concerns, with some claiming the pact infringes national sovereignty."

And see: Why the hysterical reaction to the UN migration and refugee compacts matters (euractiv, link): "Right-wing leaders are guilty of an hysterical reaction to the UN migration compact, writes Udo Bullman MEP."

Italian priests vow to open church doors to evictees from immigration centres (Guardian, link):

"Italian priests have declared their willingness to “open the church doors of every single parish” to people expelled from reception centres as an anti-immigration law from Italy’s rightwing government threatens to make thousands homeless.

The so-called “Salvini decree” – named after Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and leader of the far-right League – left hundreds in legal limbo when its removal of humanitarian protection for those not eligible for refugee status but otherwise unable to return home was applied by several Italian cities soon after its approval by parliament earlier this month.

The Catholic church expressed its profound disapproval immediately after the vote."

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