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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
25.3.18
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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
EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints (euobserver, link):

"Children aged 14 or over may be forced with coercion into giving up their fingerprints, under EU reforms currently being discussed. But resistance against using such force appears to be mounting within the EU parliament.(...)

Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, a centre-right Swedish MEP, told EUobserver she is trying to amend the legislative to remove coercion from the text because "violence should not be used against minors from any law enforcement authority in Europe."

See: Council position (LIMITE doc no: 6106-18 pdf) which includes: "Where a Member State's national law allows for the taking of fingerprints by force or coercion as a last resort" and the Regulation includes giving Member States the power:

"Member States shall […] introduce administrative sanctions including the possibility to use means of coercion, in accordance with their national law, for non-compliance with providing biometric data" and:

"Third-country nationals or stateless persons who are deemed to be vulnerable persons and minors should not be coerced into giving their fingerprints or facial image, except in duly justified circumstances that are permitted under national law."..[emphasis added throughout]

And see earlier document (LIMITE doc no: 5801-18,pdf) and Eurodac: Austria dismisses fundamental concerns over coercive fingerprinting of six-year-olds (Statewatch News)

Are You Syrious (23.3.18, link):

France

"In Calais, police again destroyed refugees’ tents near the rue des Verrotieres, blocking access roads to prevent refugees from entering the woods. Several refugees were prevented from getting their personal belongings.

This comes as Refugee Info Bus reports on refugees across Calais boycotting government-funded food distributions until the police stops taking away their clothes and shelters: “The government gives us food with one hand, and takes our tents with the other.”, 17 year-old boy from Eritrea."

Subsidiary protection granted to Afghan over intensity of violence in Kabul

"The Cour nationale du droit d’asile (CNDA), which reviews asylum appeals, has said subsidiary protection can be granted to a resident of Kaboul, given the “high intensity violence resulting from an internal armed conflict” in the city. This comes after an appeal from an Afghan originally from Kaboul, who said he feared religious persecution due to the clandestine alcohol trade of his father. The court ruled that neither this activity, nor consequent threats could be established, but argued he would be at risk in case of a deportation to Kaboul, given the level of violence in the city. To establish this level of violence, the court took into account three Taliban attacks in the city in January 2018, as well as two reports: EASO’s “Country Of Origin Information Report : Afghanistan Security Situation” and UNAMA’s “Afghanistan""

Greece: Right-wing group claims responsibility for arson attack

"Ekathimerini reports an extreme right-wing group has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s arson attack on an Afghan community center in central Athens. UNHCR condemned the attack, saying the center had been “full of people, including children, not long before” the arson."

AIDA 2017 Update Italy: obstacles in accessing asylum procedures and lack of reception capacity (link):

"The updated AIDA Country Report on Italy documents developments in the asylum procedure, reception conditions, detention of asylum seekers and content of international protection throughout 2017.

The year 2017 has been chatacterised by media, political and judicial crackdown on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) saving lives at sea, and by the implementation of cooperation agreements with African countries such as Libya, while barriers to access to the territory have also been witnessed at the northern borders of the country, against the backdrop of increasing arrivals from Austria."

Comic Relief to ditch white saviour stereotype appeals - Charity to change approach after receiving criticism for ‘poverty tourism’ campaigns (Guardian. link):

"The head of Comic Relief has halted its use of celebrities for appeals described by an aid watchdog as “poverty tourism” that reinforce white saviour stereotypes.

The departure from having white celebrities front fundraising films from Africa for Sports Relief and Red Nose Day, follows another scathing attack on Comic Relief last week."

NGO rescue boat is held by Italian authorities after refusing to cooperate with Libyan coastguard (ECRE, link):

"After a tense altercation between the Libyan coastguard and the vessel of a Spanish NGO during a rescue operation involving 218 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on Friday, the ship concerned has been impounded in a Sicilian port, with the crew under investigation by the Italian authorities for “conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration”.

The captain of the ship, which belongs to Barcelona-based NGO Proactiva Open Arms, described how the rescue operation began in international waters 73 miles from the Libyan coast, after a general call from the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre."

Europe’s new anti-migrant strategy? Blame the rescuers - Across Europe's seas, anti-immigrant strategies have found a new target: the rescuers (Prospect, link):

"The first three months of 2017 will be remembered as the high point of an extraordinary period during which NGOs like Youth Rescue took the lead in saving the lives of migrants in the central Mediterranean. Of the nearly 180,000 people rescued between north Africa and Europe during 2016, more than a quarter were saved by NGOs: 10,000 more than either the Italian navy or coastguard. At the peak, nine humanitarian groups were operating more than a dozen search and rescue vessels of varying sizes, plus two spotter planes."

Migrant rights increasingly flouted in Europe, report says (euractiv, link);

"The European Agency for Fundamental Rights points out in a report five persistent challenges for migration to the EU, from access to territory to asylum procedures and unaccompanied children."

Italian investigation into people trafficking by Proactive Open Arms: statements from the Open Arms' captain; Amnesty; Migreurop; and Human Rights Watch

Following an incident in international waters 73 miles off the Libyan coast in which the Spanish NGO Proactive Open Arms rescued 218 people and refused to hand them over to the Libyan Coast Guard - which allegedly made death threats to the crew of the boat, the Open Arms - the rescue ship has been impounded in the port of Pozzallo, Sicily, as part of an investigation into potential "criminal cospiracy to promote illegal immigration".

Proactive Open Arms have issued a statement by Marc Reig, the captain of the boat, offering his version of events at sea. Statements denouncing the actions of the Italian authorities have also come from Amnesty International; Migreurop, EuroMed Rights and FIDH; and Human Rights Watch.

Italy: Migrant Rescue Ship Impounded - Don’t Criminalize Saving Lives (HRW, link):

"(Milan) – Italy has impounded a rescue ship and threatened criminal charges against two members of its crew and the coordinator of the organization after they refused to turn migrants over to Libyan forces, fearing that they would be abused.

On March 18, 2018, an Italian prosecutor in Catania, Sicily, impounded the Spanish rescue group Proactiva’s ship Open Arms and is considering levelling charges of criminal association for the purposes of facilitating irregular migration after Proactiva refused to transfer people rescued in international waters to a Libyan patrol boat. Everyone intercepted by Libyan forces or handed over to them is taken to Libya and placed in detention"

Lesvos, Greece: Moria refugee camp is no place for people (euobserver, link):

"Lesbos is a beautiful Greek island, but the camp is hell. I invite all European politicians to visit us, to witness our hardship and our hunger; to see what it feels like when your fate is in the hands of others.

But you will also see that this situation can change: more humane migration policies can help us, they can give people here the protection and support they need and deserve.

My story is similar to those of millions of other refugees from Syria and other countries. Conflict and persecution has torn our families apart, we had to leave our belongings behind, and our beautiful cities are no longer recognisable. We fled to survive and when we reached safety we were stopped and told to wait in inhumane conditions.

That waiting has become living."

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