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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
27.6-2.7.18
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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
Italy’s war on migrants makes me fear for my country’s future (The Guardian, link) by Roberto Saviano:

"I have never felt a greater need to speak out. I have never felt a greater need to try to explain why this new Italian government cannot be allowed to survive. Even before it has got down to real work, it has already done so much irreparable damage. The drama of the migrant rescue ship, Aquarius, which last week was denied permission to dock at Italian ports, drew everybody in – it seems there are those who, indifferent to the fate of 630 human beings at sea, think it was right to teach Europe a lesson on the migrant issue. Yet, of course, others think it preposterous to use 630 lives as bargaining chips. The trouble is that we have all lost sight of the bigger picture."

The French-Italian border reveals the essence of the European clash on migration (The Washington Post, link):

"MENTON, France — The trains coming from Italy arrive at a station one mile past the French border, and that is where the journey for migrants tends to stop. French police board the trains, walk past beachgoers, look under seats and force their way into bathrooms. They take undocumented migrants off the trains, drive them up a hilly road and deposit them back at the Italian border.

Those denied entry typically walk the five miles back to Ventimiglia, the Italian town they started from, where they can catch another train to France and try again.

“I’m already thinking about the next place I’ll hide,” said Mohammed Yaugoub Ali, 19, from Sudan."

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

Documentation and reactions to the European Council meeting on 29-30 June, which the German NGO Pro Asyl referred to as the "summit of shame" after EU leaders agreed to further strengthening the Libyan Coast Guard and to "swiftly explore the concept of regional disembarkation platforms". An editorial published by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, on the other hand, argues that although "nothing much has been decided," if one reads "between the lines of the European Council Conclusions there are some interesting developments – and not all negative."

UK: Updated profiles on the four companies running the UK's migrant detention centres

Corporate Watch has published updated profiles of the four companies that, through government outsourcing contracts, run the UK's migrant detention centres.

For an open migration policy to end the deaths and crises in the Mediterranean (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The current crisis surrounding migration is not one of numbers – migrants’ crossings of the sea are at their lowest since 2013 – but of policies. The drive towards closure and the politicisation of migration are so strong after years of tension that the frail bodies of a few thousand migrants arriving on European shores are triggering a major political crisis throughout the EU.

(...) As EU member states will most probably continue to prove unable to offer a common response to migrants once they have arrived on European shores, they will reinforce the policy they have implemented since 2015: preventing migrants from crossing the sea by outsourcing border control to non-European countries.

(...) This consensus towards closure is delusional. Policies of closure that are completely at odds with the dynamics of migration systematically fail in their aim of ending the arrivals of illegalised migrants, as the record of the last 30 years demonstrates."

EU: European Commission publishes two reports on "information channels used by migrants" in Italy and en-route to Europe

"The study findings will support the development of communication campaigns and activities aimed at informing migratory choices in countries of origin and transit. The overall objective of the EU and Member State funded migration information and awareness raising campaigns is to sensitise the target audience and provide prospective migrants, their communities and diaspora members with objective information on the risks of irregular migration as well as EU asylum, migration and return policies."

UNHCR: Projected global resettlement needs 2019 (link to pdf):

"...this 2019 Projected Global Resettlement Needs sets out in its detailed regional and country chapters information on the close to 1.4 million refugees identified as needing access to this key durable solution in the coming year. The total is 17 per cent higher than that of 2018 levels and reflects needs from more than sixty countries of asylum, from both protracted and more recent refugee situations. It captures the need to continue efforts to assist refugees in the Middle East, with an ongoing focus in Syrians, while also bringing the spotlight to the ever-increasing needs in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) countries hosting large numbers of refugees as well as countries along the Central Mediterranean Route (...)

Despite States’ commitments in the New York Declaration, the global resettlement landscape has recently been characterized by fluctuations in State quotas. The growth in resettlement quotas over the last five years (2012-2016) saw a steep reversal with declining resettlement opportunities in 2017; the 20-year high record of 163,200 submissions in 2016 was more than halved in 2017, in which only 75,200 refugees were submitted for resettlement. In a global context characterized by unprecedented displacement and approximately 1.19 million refugees estimated to be in need of resettlement in 2017, the impact of this decline in resettlement places was significant."

Over 200 Migrants Drown in Three Days in Mediterranean -- Death Toll for 2018 Passes 1,000 (IOM, link):

"On Sunday (1/07), a small rubber boat packed with migrants capsized off AlKhums, east of Tripoli, with an estimated 41 people surviving after rescue. Some 100 people were reported missing by the Libyan Coast Guard. On Friday (28/06), three babies were among the 103, who died in a shipwreck similar to Sunday’s incident, also caused by smugglers taking migrants to sea in completely unsafe vessels.

So far this year, the Libyan Coast Guard has returned some 10,000 people to shore from small vessels (...)

From Friday to Sunday, close to 1,000 migrants were returned to Libyan shore by the Libyan Coast Guard, who intercepted small crafts as they made their way towards the open sea. Upon disembarkation to shore, migrants have received emergency direct assistance, including food and water, health assistance and IOM protection staff has provided vulnerability interviews. Those rescued and returned by the Libyan Coast Guard are transferred by the Libyan authorities to the detention centres where IOM continues humanitarian assistance."

Lesvos, Greece: Message from Pikpa camp: Reaction to announcement to close Pikpa camp

See: https://twitter.com/lesvosolidarity?lang=en (Twitter)

"The North Aegean regional governor announced the closure of Pikpa camp on the basis of a report by the health inspection which found shortcomings in the common kitchen handled by the residents, a broken net in the food distribution area and a leakage to a water tank for washing machines. For these reasons, it considers Pikpa dangerous to public health and the environment.

It is important to remind that the forest and public health services visited at a time when Pikpa camp responded to the urgent need to host 350 Kurdish refugees who had left Moria camp after fights broke out. It was the police who insisted to host around 70 people who had fled to a park in Mytilini in Pikpa camp on Friday night 25 May. They guaranteed that the next day the families would be transferred to Kara Tepe. Instead the next day, up to 1000 Kurdish people left Moria camp and Pikpa camp did not hear back on the promise to transfer the people to Kara Tepe. As soon as the temporary emergency with the Kurdish refugees in Pikpa camp started, this extraordinary situation has been used against Pikpa camp. Apart from sending several inspection services to the camp in this period, a court case was launched by several hotel owners from the neighbourhood and a few individuals, which will be heard on 6 July."

EU-MED: In the new climate of fear, our rescue boat turned away from people drowning - Last week, our rescue crew was afraid and 120 people probably died as a result (New Statesman, link):

" We called the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), the governmental body which oversees and authorises rescue operations. Normally we need their permission before we can do anything. But this time they gave us no guidance, other than to tell us to call the Libyan coastguard. In the past, the Libyan coastguard has threatened NGO boats like ours. Perhaps because of this, the captain decided not to contact them. At the same time, our NGO’s board in Germany told us to go north, away from Libyan territorial waters (which end 24 miles from shore), since the MRCC had given us no express orders to get involved. We headed north and then west, towards Tunisia. The VHF radio was silent for the rest of the night.

How is it that a rescue boat was fleeing from, instead of going towards, a boat in need?"

Lesvos, Greece: Moria community leader ends hunger strike after talks (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The leader of the Moria community on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos ended on Wednesday a hunger strike which he had started on Sunday in protest at overcrowding at the Moria reception center.

Nikos Trakellis called off his protest following talks with Deputy Migration Minister Yiannis Balafas, though it did not appear that the latter offered additional pledges other than those made by the ministry’s general secretary on Tuesday.

In comments to Kathimerini, Trakellis indicated that his hunger strike had been a symbolic action, aimed at drawing attention to conditions on the island where more than 8,000 migrants live in cramped conditions at the Moria center."

European parliament 'won't pay for offshore migrant camps' - Labour MEP Claude Moraes says body would not back ‘extreme’ move as migration crisis looms (Guardian, link):

"A senior European politician has warned that MEPs would seek to block any use of EU funds for offshore migrant camps in north Africa.

The opposition to offshore centres for processing asylum claims raises tensions before an EU summit that will be dominated by a political crisis over migration that threatens Angela Merkel’s future as German chancellor.

As Mediterranean countries spar over who is responsible for people rescued at sea, the EU is reviving the idea of processing asylum claims in countries outside Europe.

Claude Moraes, a British Labour MEP who chairs the European parliament’s influential justice and home affairs committee, said the parliament “wouldn’t cooperate on the budget” for such centres, because “we think these ideas are extreme and we are not going to touch them”.
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The parliament must give its consent to the EU’s next seven-year budget, which foresees spending €35bn (£31bn) on border management from 2021-27, compared with €13bn in the current budget."

And see: EU: Decisive Moment for Migration Policy - Summit Should Reject Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers (HRW, link)

Tsipras to bail out Merkel on refugees (euractiv, link):

"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is ready to sign a deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to make it easier for Germany to send asylum seekers back to other European countries, the Financial Times reported."

And see: France adds its voice to stop NGO ships from acting as ‘taxis’ (euractiv, link)

EU: Bulgarian Council Presidency: At today’s summit, Merkel will seeks bilateral deals on migrant ‘secondary movements’ (link):

"German chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking bilateral talks on managing so-called secondary migration, at the two-day summit starting today (28 June). Georgi Gotev has the story.

The dispute is over plans drawn up by Merkel’s interior minister Horst Seehofer, the head of Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), to send back migrants who reach the German border after having registered in other EU states. Merkel needs to take home a significant number of bilateral deals to be able to save its coalition."

Council of the EU: Sahel/Mali - Council conclusions (25 June 2018) (10026/18, pdf) including on migration:

"10. The EU reconfirms its commitment to strengthen its engagement with the G5 Sahel countries on migration in the region in line with the five pillars of the Valletta Action Plan, the Partnership Framework, the AU-EU Abidjan Declaration and the work of the Tripartite AU-EU-UN Taskforce on the migration situation in Libya. The EU underlines the need for enhanced collective efforts with the G5 Sahel countries to save lives, assist and protect migrants and refugees, fight against smuggling and trafficking in human beings, secure humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in conflict zones, while providing viable alternatives to irregular migration, in particular to communities along the main transit routes. Enhancing cooperation in the area of returns and readmission in accordance with international law and standards is also crucial. The EU reiterates its determination to support broad-based cooperation between countries in the Sahel and Libya in pursuit of these objectives and to tackle related cross-border challenges, including on the southern borders of Libya, while taking into account the security situation in this region."

Walk or die: Algeria strands 13,000 migrants in the Sahara (AP, link):

"ASSAMAKA, Niger (AP) — From this isolated frontier post deep in the sands of the Sahara, the expelled migrants can be seen coming over the horizon by the hundreds. They look like specks in the distance, trudging miserably across some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain in the blistering sun.

They are the ones who made it out alive.

Here in the desert, Algeria has abandoned more than 13,000 people in the past 14 months, including pregnant women and children, stranding them without food or water and forcing them to walk, sometimes at gunpoint, under temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).

In Niger, where the majority head, the lucky ones limp across a desolate 15-kilometer (9-mile) no man’s land to Assamaka, less a town than a collection of unsteady buildings sinking into drifts of sand. Others, disoriented and dehydrated, wander for days before a U.N. rescue squad can find them. Untold numbers perish along the way; nearly all the more than two dozen survivors interviewed by The Associated Press told of people in their groups who simply could not go on and vanished into the Sahara."

Destination Europe: Evacuation (IRIN, link):

"The EU is now teetering on the edge of a fresh political crisis, with boats carrying people rescued from the sea being denied ports of disembarkation, no consensus on how to share responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees within the continent, and increasing talk of further outsourcing the management of migration to African countries.

Against this backdrop, the evacuation and resettlement programme from Libya is perhaps the best face of European policy in the Mediterranean. But, unless EU countries offer more spots for refugees, it is a pathway to safety for no more than a small handful who get the luck of the draw. As the first evacuees adjust to their new lives in Europe, the overwhelming majority are left behind."

Bulgaria under fire for ill-treatment of asylum-seekers (Bulgarian Presidency, link):

"French lawyers will today (26 June) bring a complaint against Bulgaria and will ask the European Commission to start and infringement proceeding for inhuman treatment of asylum seekers by this country’s authorities, the Green/EFA group announced. Georgi Gotev has the story.

In the presence of the Green/EFA group co-chair Ska Keller, the lawyers presented a 20-page report, based on shocking testimony by Afghan asylum-seekers, and answered journalistic questions.

Chloé Gerbert Cahuzac who represents the 14 Afghan claimants who are currently asylum seekers in France said they were in a state of anxiety aid groups had “never seen before”.

She quoted them as repeating the same sentence: “We prefer to go back to Kabul than to Sofia. In Afghanistan people kill you right away with one bullet, in Bulgaria they let you die slowly”."

EU: European Parliament briefing: A Europe without internal borders? Free movement of persons (pdf):

"The free movement of persons is one of the four freedoms of the EU single market, the other three being the free movement of goods, services and capital. Since the founding of the EU, internal borders have been progressively dismantled and these freedoms have expanded. Today the rights of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States are for the most part based on Directive 2004/38/EC. Free movement may in practice entail different rights for different categories of people."

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