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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
19-25.7.18
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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
Swedish student faces consequences of plane deportee protest (Deutsche Welle, link):

"As passengers know, a plane cannot take off until all on board have taken their seats and buckled their seat belts. On Monday, a young Swedish activist named Elin Ersson used that rule to keep a flight carrying a 52-year-old Afghan man being deported to Kabul from taking off in Gothenborg.

The flight was scheduled to travel to Istanbul where the man was to be transferred to another plane to Afghanistan. With everyone else on the plane seated, the young Swede took out her cellphone and began livestreaming video on Facebook. She then proceeded to film herself speaking in English as she walked through the plane, explaining that the man was being deported to Afghanistan, "where he will most likely get killed."

(...) Ersson protested Swedish deportation policy with a group of 25 other activists before boarding the plane. Her video was clicked more than 1.9 million times in the last 24 hours and she has been applauded by many for her civil courage. Critics have called her selfish for singlehandedly making a decision on the country's deportation stance.

Despite the young woman's claims that she had done nothing wrong, Swedish authorities see the matter differently. Police pointed out that passengers who refuse to obey a pilot's orders while on board a plane can face fines or up to six months in jail."

Hungary slams EU legal action over asylum seekers (EurActiv, link):

"Hungary yesterday (24 July) criticised legal action by the European Union to make the country comply with EU asylum rules as “unacceptable” and an attack against those who protect Europe.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, last week referred Budapest to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the bloc’s top tribunal, for “non-compliance” with EU legislation.

It was after Hungary passed the so-called “Stop Soros” law last month, named after liberal US billionaire George Soros, who is accused by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government of orchestrating migration to Europe.

(...) In the first public comments by the government since the EU action, minister Gergely Gulyas said it was “unacceptable” for Brussels to challenge the law."

EU: Managing migration: Commission expands on disembarkation and controlled centre concepts

- Both concepts follow the model of the "hotspots" in Italy and on the Greek islands

The European Commission has published two "Non-Papers" on disembarkation points outside the EU in north Africa and "Control Centres" inside the EU:

"Following the call by EU leaders at the June European Council, the Commission is today expanding on the concept of controlled centres as well as short-term measures that could be taken to improve the processing of migrants being disembarked in the EU, and giving a first outline of the possible way forward for the establishment of regional disembarkation arrangements with third countries. Regional disembarkation arrangements should be seen as working in concert with the development of controlled centres in the EU: together, both concepts should help ensure a truly shared regional responsibility in responding to complex migration challenges." See - Press release (pdf)

EU: Frontex: proposals to reinforce EU border agency may be published in early September

Legal proposals to further increase the size and powers of the EU border agency Frontex could be published as soon as early September, according to an internal Council working document.

The document, produced by the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, provides an update on ongoing work to implement the conclusions of the 28 June meeting of the European Council.

See: Working paper: Updated follow-up to the European Council meeting of 28 June 2018 (WK 8327/2018 INIT, LIMITE, 10 July 2018, pdf)

Italy to keep accepting stricken migrants during EU talks (euractiv, link):

"Italy agreed on Monday (23 July) to continue accepting migrants rescued at sea, at least until a broader EU strategy to address fair distribution of people can be defined.

Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said after talks in Berlin with German counterpart Heiko Maas that EU partners would seek a solution on migration policy within the next five weeks.

“During this time, we ensure that ships with rescued people can dock in Italy,” he told reporters, confirming the “will of our government” to hammer out “common positions with our EU and NATO partners”.

But he added that Rome saw it as a priority “to overhaul the operational rules so as to avoid all the rescued people landing in one country”."

SPAIN: Government must continue implementing EU refugee relocation scheme, rules Supreme Court

The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that the country must continue to implement the EU's refugee relocation scheme, having relocated less than 13% of the 19,449 refugees in Italy and Greece that it was committed to under the rules that came into force in September 2015.

Greece: Migrant camps run by military overcrowded (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Military facilities hosting undocumented migrants on the Aegean islands and the mainland are significantly overcrowded, it emerged over the weekend.

A total of 31 military facilities around the country, including venues on the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Kos, and in Diavata near Thessaloniki, are hosting 29,139 migrants, 4,644 in excess of those camps’ capacity, according to official statistics."

Statewatch comment: On 19.7.18 official figures show that on the Greek islands alone there are 14,878 refugees with space for only 6,438.

MED: Libya rejects EU plan for refugee and migrant centres (Guardian, link):

"Blow to Italy as Tripoli snubs proposal to set up processing centres in Africa.

Libya has rejected a EU plan to establish refugee and migrant processing centres in the country, adding that it would not be swayed by any financial inducements to change its decision.

The formal rejection by the Libyan prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, is a blow to Italy, which is regarded as being close to his Tripoli administration.

In June, Italy proposed reception and identification centres in Africa as a means of resolving divisions among European governments.(...)

Speaking to the German newspaper Bild, Serraj said: “We are absolutely opposed to Europe officially wanting us to accommodate illegal immigrants the EU does not want to take in.”"

Great video: No Human Is Illegal - Full Documentary [2018] Refugees Detained on Lesvos (You Tube, link)

Are You Syrious (13.7.18, link)

Feature: Pushbacks from Slovenia

"In their recently published reports, Slovenian organizations Amnesty International Slovenia and Legal Information Center for NGOs, confirm that since June 2018 refugees entering Slovenia are being systematically pushed back to Croatia and from there to Bosnia. People’s right to asylum is being systematically obstructed.(...)

Italy: President called on to uphold the constitution as government ministers violate the separation of judicial and political powers

Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, of the far-right Lega Party, is determined not to let migrants rescued in the Mediterranean land in Italy and in doing so has been using the rescued people as pawns, keeping them without a port of safety for days on end.

The appeal remains open for signatures by individuals, groups and associations in Italy and abroad on change.org: FACINOROSO E' CHI, RESPINGENDO I PROFUGHI, CALPESTA LO STATO DI DIRITTO (change.org, link)

EU-HUNGARY: At last the EU acts: Migration and Asylum: Commission takes further steps in infringement procedures against Hungary (Press release, pdf):

"The European Commission has today decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for non-compliance of its asylum and return legislation with EU law.

The Commission has also today sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary concerning new Hungarian legislation which criminalises activities that support asylum and residence applications and further restricts the right to request asylum.(...)

The new legislation – so-called "Stop Soros" by the Hungarian authorities – criminalises any assistance offered by any person on behalf of national, international and non-governmental organisations to people wishing to apply for asylum or for a residence permit in Hungary. The laws also include measures which restrict individual freedoms, by preventing anyone who is subject to a criminal procedure under these laws from approaching the transit zones at Hungary's borders, where asylum seekers are held. Sanctions range from temporary confinement to imprisonment of up to 1 year and expulsion from the country." [emphasis added]

EU to deploy border guards in Macedonia to curb migrants (euractiv, link):

"The European Union said it struck a deal on Wednesday (18 July) with Macedonia to deploy border guards to the non-EU Balkan state to help cope with any migrant surges. Serbia and Bosnia are expected to follow."

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