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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
15.7.18
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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
Are You Syrious (13.7.18, link):

Feature

"The Spanish Supreme Court condemned the Spanish Government for “partially failing to meet its obligation” to relocate a total of 19,449 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy between 2015 and 2017.

Spain met only 13 per cent of the goal.

But the other EU countries have not done much better. Only 12,692 people from Italy and 21,999 from Greece, were relocated, even though the goal set by the Relocation Decisions was 160,000 people initially. It was later revised to fall under 100,000."

Sea

"This year so far, 48,629 people arrived in Europe by sea. Forced to take this perilous journey due to closed borders, 1,422 people have lost their lives.

Only in the last four weeks, more than 600 people died while attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean."

Greece

"Samos Volunteers recorded 822 arrivals in June, which is more than double the number of people that arrived in May. On Friday, one boat landed on Tsipouri Beach, Eftalou, Lesvos, with 43 people, including 31 children.

At the moment there are 2,570 people living in the camp Vathy where the capacity is approximately 700 people.(...)

According to the latest official figures, 59,700 people are now in Greece, including 15,200 on the islands and 44,500 in the mainland."

Statewatch comment: As at 12 July the officials figures show that 18,054 refugees are on the Greek islands.

EU: Council plans to export refugees with negative asylum decisions to "Return Centres" outside EU

The Austrian Council Presidency has circulated the following to Member States' delegations: Presidency discussion paper on Return Centers (LIMITE doc no: 10829-18, pdf, 4 July 2018) calling for "the establishment of Return Centers in third countries."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments:

"The idea of external "Return Centres" in Africa or elsewhere is objectionable in itself. Out of sight out of mind" would be the result.

And the notion that the EU would enforce European standards and be compliant with applicable international and European human rights law and the principle of Non-Refoulement" is highly questionable."

Where Are We Going? Italy (And Europe) at the Crossroads between Xenophobia and Hospitality (Border Criminologies. link):

"Salvini suggests that we (Italians and Europeans) are at a crossroads. Either we undertake an authoritarian, state-centred approach that is straightforwardly aimed at the exclusion of unwanted foreigners, shorn of humanitarian proclamations; or, we pursue full hospitality, integrating new arrivals in the social and economic EU fabric."

'Humanitarian crisis' cries out for EU values in Libya (euobserver, link):

"Last month, I visited a detention centre in Tripoli where the International Rescue Committee (IRC) provides health services to migrants who have been detained by the Libyan authorities.

The reports I'd read about these centres were grim, but seeing it first hand was even more alarming. The conditions were filthy, cramped and dangerous - among the worst I have seen in 12 years of humanitarian work. And this was one of the better-managed centres."

Greek islands: As at 11 July 2018: 18,018 on the islands including 9,584 refugees on Lesvos, 3,938 on Samos and 2,121 on Chios. (Greek Ministry)

Lesvos, Greece: Farmer shoots and injures 16-year-old Syrian asylum seeker in Moria (Keep TalkIng Greece, link):

"A 16-year-old Syrian asylum seeker is hospitalized in the hospital of Mytiline with injuries in the head and the feet. The teenager was shot by a local farmer of the Moria village around 6 o’ clock Tuesday afternoon.

The incident took place in a land plot north of the Moria reception and identification center (hotspot.)

The farmer’s motive for the shooting is not known so far, however the incident took place in front of the victim’s parents and an under-aged brother. The Syrian family reportedly arrived on the island of Lesvos two days ago, in the morning of July 8th.

The farmer run away but was apprehended by police later in the evening."

Austrian far-right minister doubles down on asylum reform plans (euractiv, link):

"Austria’s hardline interior minister Herbert Kickl said yesterday (10 July) he would push to change the EU’s migration policy to make it impossible to make asylum requests on European soil.

“That would be a proposal,” the minister of the far-right FPÖ party told journalists in Vienna.(...)

In the Austrian proposal, asylum requests would be made in refugee camps outside Europe to “a sort of mobile commission,” Kickl said.

Only exiles from countries that directly border the European Union would be able to make their asylum requests on EU territory."

MED RESCUES: I’m a doctor in Lampedusa. We can’t let these migrant deaths go on by Pietro Bartolo (Guardian, link):

"In the Mediterranean we’re witnessing a slaughter of innocents. I have seen the suffering, and I am ashamed of the Italian government’s response (...)

I stopped feeling proud to be Italian from the moment our government, denying all that had previously been done, decided to establish an agreement with Libyan groups in Tripoli – which meant, directly or indirectly, with people smugglers. I still remember how in 2016 my country had vigorously joined the outrage triggered by Europe’s decision to bankroll Turkey’s President Erdogan with €6bn so he’d ignore or stop the migration flows from Syria. Italy’s position was then sacrosanct. It has since been somehow inexplicably disavowed in deeds."

Safeguard lives of migrants at sea, human rights lawyer says in protest against PM - Decision to stop spotter planes from assisting in rescue operations 'unjustified, abusive, illegal' (Times of Malta, link):

"Human rights lawyer Tonio Azzopardi has filing a judicial protest against the Prime Minister calling upon him to respect human life and fulfill his duty of ensuring that fundamental human rights are safeguarded.

In his judicial act filed before the First Hall, Civil Court, Dr Azzopardi took upon himself the plight of the hundreds of migrants who perished in the Mediterranean while attempting to make the crossing from Libya after fleeing persecution in their home countries."

EU: Revising EU visa policy (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"Back in 2014, the Commission proposed a revamp of EU visa policy (concerning short-term visit visas), in the form of a proposal to revise the EU’s visa code. This proposal ultimately failed, because the EU Parliament and Council could not agree on whether it should include “safe passage” visas for those needing protection or not. Now the Commission is trying again, focussing this time on security concerns, rather than economic growth."

Greece: Islanders told they will not receive migrant returns (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas has sent a letter to the mayors of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros in an attempt to reassure them that asylum seekers will not be returned from Germany to hotspots on the islands.(...)

From June 22 up until on Monday, some 1,519 migrants and refugees arrived, bringing their total number on the islands to 17,924. Of these, 7,573 are at the Moria hotspot on Lesvos, 2,212 are at the Vial center on Chios and 3,914 are on Samos."

Comment: there are 9,573 refugee on Lesvos. See also: Berlin eyes deal for migrant returns with Greece by end July

Britain to double Western Balkans funding, security staff (euractiv, link):

"Britain is to almost double the funding it provides to countries in the Western Balkans to 80 million pounds (€90 million) and ramp up its number of security staff in the region to try and tackle organised crime gangs.

With Britain set to leave the European Union next year, the UK government said the moves, which also include improving the Western Balkans countries’ cyber capability and extending the presence of the pan-Balkans Strategic Reserve Force, showed it remain committed to the region’s stability.

“History shows that a stable and secure Western Balkans region means a more stable and secure Europe,” UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement ahead of summit of Western Balkans and some European leaders in London on Tuesday (10 July)."

And see: About the Western Balkans Summit: On 10 July 2018 the UK will host the Western Balkans Summit in London, the fifth summit convened under the Berlin Process (gov.uk, link)

Are You Syriious (9.7.18, link)

FEATURE: 5 People Arrested in Calais from the Solidarity Group: Committee of the Sans Papiers Paris. Face court tomorrow with fears of deportation.

"As the 54 walkers of solidarity from the CSP group (Committee of Sans Papers Paris) protested against border controls in Calais, 22 people without papers were stopped by the police and detained. They were taken to the Shells Administrative Detention Centre. 17 were released but 5 remain arrested and may be deported from French Territory.

The persons are currently being held in three different locations."

Norwegian Refugee Council: Principles under pressure (pdf):

"As states continue to adopt measures aimed at combating terrorist activity, humanitarian organisations remain concerned about the impact these measures have on their ability to deliver aid to populations in areas under the control of designated terrorist groups (DTGs). Counterterrorism measures apply to humanitarian organisations through legislation at various levels, and through relevant clauses in donor agreements."

EPIM (European Programme for integration and migration): Policy Update July 2018 (pdf) Very useful reportage.

GERMANY-GREECE: Berlin eyes deal for migrant returns with Greece by end July

"Even as Germany's interior minister Horst Seehofer threatens the launch of mass returns of migrants if bilateral agreements are not achieved, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen has suggested that such an accord with Greece may be signed by the end of the month."

EU: Frontex: Annual Activity Report 2017 (pdf)

"The first part (1. Developments and 2. Strategic Action Areas) of the Annual Activity Report contains comprehensive and easily understandable information regarding Frontex's work; it outlines:

the situation at the external borders in the course of 2017; developments achieved at policy and Agency level; the new and enhanced mandate of the Agency; and the main activities per Strategic Action Areas during 2017.

It also reports on cooperation with Third Countries, the way how fundamental rights underpin Frontex's coordinated activities, and the issue of public access to documents.

II. The second part (3. Key Results and Progress towards the achievement of general and specific objectives, 4. Budgetary and Financial Management, 5. Management and Internal Control) of the document represents a main instrument of management accountability...

III.The third part contains further detailed information to provide additional information on previous elements of the report."

BALKANS: Minister says "there will be no refugee camps in Bosnia"; Frontex to receive powers to intervene in Albania

The Bosnian Security Minister has reportedly said that "there will be no refugee camps in Bosnia" following a sharp increase in people arriving in the country and hoping to travel onwards to the EU. Meanwhile, the EU is close to finalising an agreement with Albania that would allow the border agency Frontex to intervene on Albanian territory for the purposes of border control and return operations.

Salvini to demand closure of Italian ports to 'international mission' migrant ships (The Local, link):

"Italy wants to prevent ships operating for "international missions" from bringing migrants rescued off Libya to Italian ports, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Sunday.

"On Thursday, I will put on the European table at Innsbruck a demand to close Italian ports to ships of international missions," Salvini said on his Twitter account, referring to a meeting with his EU counterparts in the Austrian town next week.

"Unfortunately, Italy's governments over the past five years signed accords allowing all boats to bring their migrants in Italy," he said.

Italy's new coalition government has set a goal of zero arrivals, and Salvini, who heads the far-right League party, has already banned boats chartered by charities to enter Italian ports."

And see: Migrants: Salvini tightens up asylum claims (ANSA, link)

EU: Temporary reintroduction of internal border controls: Council mandate for negotiations with European Parliament

"At its meeting on 19 June 2018 the Permanent Representatives Committee agreed on the mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament with regard to the above draft Regulation, as it is set out in the Annex.

The changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal are highlighted in bold/italics and strikethrough."

Commission to table EU external border proposal by September (EurActiv, link):

"The Commission will translate the Council’s demands into a set of concrete actions in order to improve control of the EU external borders, Jean-Claude Juncker announced on Friday (6 July) during the visit of the College of Commissioners to Vienna.

The EU executive will present its proposal in September to increase European coastguards up to 10,000 by 2020 – ahead of the previous date of 2027. The Commission will also prose extending Frontex’s mandate in order to create a real EU border police.

“We cannot be at the mercy of a few Frontex ships and understaffed coastguards from member states at the front line,” EU sources warned.

This European border police will work in EU territorial waters in the Mediterranean. But it still needs to be clarified what will happen to those who would still manage to cross the maritime border."

European states must put human rights at the centre of their migration policies (CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, pdf):

"'European states’ current approach to the arrivals of refugees and migrants has transformed a manageable issue into an extremely divisive topic, in particular within EU member states. And it has caused immense suffering and hardship to thousands of people who sought our protection. It is time that European states put the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as the principle of responsibility sharing, at the centre of their migration and asylum policies.' said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, in a statement she released today.

'Whilst states have the right to control their borders and ensure security, this cannot come at the expense of human rights. The recent adoption of European Council conclusions, as well as decisions at national levels, raise a number of concerns that European states must address in order to meet the obligations under international human rights law which they have undertaken to respect.'"

And see: European Council on migration: documentation and reactions to the "summit of shame"

GERMANY: Full text of the interior ministry's 'Masterplan Migration': "even further restrictions"

German freedom of information website Frag den Staat (Ask the State) has published the full text of a "masterplan" on migration drawn up by the country's interior ministry, including a translation into English. In the words of the website (link): "The German Ministry of Interior is planning to put even further restrictions on Germany’s and Europe’s asylum and migration policies."

EU: Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, according to the EP

The EU should ensure that helping migrants for humanitarian reasons is not punishable as a crime, the European Parliament agreed on Thursday.

In a non-legislative resolution (pdf), MEPs highlight concerns that EU laws on help to irregular migrants are having “unintended consequences” for citizens that provide humanitarian assistance to migrants. The text was passed with by show of hands.

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