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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
2.10.18
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Greece: Lesbos refugee camp at centre of Greek misuse of EU funds row - European anti-fraud agency investigates irregularities after report alleges defence minister benefited from camp funds (Guardian, link):

"The conditions in which thousands of asylum seekers are being detained on Lesbos has unleashed a furious political backlash in Greece, as financing of the island’s overcrowded Moria detention camp comes under scrutiny.

Tensions mounted after the defence minister, Panos Kammenos, filed a defamation action against three journalists, including the editor-in-chief of the Fileleftheros daily, after the publication of a report alleging misuse of EU funds. (...)

The European anti-fraud agency confirmed on Tuesday it was investigating “alleged irregularities concerning the provision of EU-funded food for refugees in Greece”. Athens has received a total of €1.6bn in financial aid for refugees since 2015"

Are You Syrious (30.9.18; link)

Greece

"Horrific conditions in Moria camp are only worsened through the rain. Heavy cold rains are a feature of fall weather and Salam Aldeen has documented the horrifying misery in which thousands are trapped. Most international officials are aware of the situations, yet there are only minor efforts. In the photo below, people are packed into a children’s play centre to stay out of the rain. This was part of the government plan to “protect” people from the storm nicknamed “Zorbas” that moved across Greece this weekend."

Germany agrees on immigration law to tackle labor shortages (Reuters, link):

" Germany’s coalition parties agreed on a new immigration law on Tuesday to attract more skilled workers from countries outside the European Union, in a politically risky push to fill a record number of job vacancies and stabilize the public pension system. "

UK: Stansted 15 Court Demo (Stop deportation charter flights (link):

"Last year, 15 people grounded a deportation charter flight for ten hours to prevent it taking off. The individuals responsible for this non-violent direct action have been charged with terrrorism-related offences that could result in life imprisonment."

Germany: German far-right terror suspects detained in overnight raids (DW, link):

"Germany's state prosecutor has ordered the arrest of six men charged with forming a far-right terror group known as "Revolution Chemnitz." The men are accused of planning attacks on migrants in eastern Germany."

EU: Meijers Committee: Letter to Chair of LIBE Committee: Registration of criminal records of Union citizens in ECRIS-TCN (pdf):

"With regard to the suggested compromise proposal, the Meijers Committee is still not convinced that the ´discrimination´ of dual citizenship is ´solved.´ The negative symbolic effects of the proposed treatment in Article 2(2), which introduces for the first time in Union law the treatment of Union citizens as third-country nationals will negatively affect large numbers of EU nationals of immigrant origin."

UNHCR concerned over lack of Mediterranean rescue capacity (euractiv, link);

"The Maltese authorities on Sunday (30 September) finally took 58 migrants from the Aquarius to Valletta after they had waited for days in rough seas on the rescue ship that can no longer go to port after its flag was pulled.

The migrants, including Libyans, sub-Saharan Africans and Afghans, boarded two buses at a Malta Armed Forces base in Valletta after being transferred from the Aquarius to a Maltese patrol boat in international waters."

France: Aid Worker Convicted for Tweet - First Such Conviction in French Courts (HRW, link);

"A humanitarian worker’s defamation conviction on September 25, 2018, for an ironic tweet represents a dangerous escalation in official harassment of groups providing crucial aid to migrants, Human Rights Watch said today. It is the first conviction of its kind in France.

A court in Boulogne-sur-Mer, northern France, found Loan Torondel guilty of criminal libel for a tweet he sent out at the beginning of January and sentenced him to pay a fine, which it suspended, and court costs."

Frontex begins testing unmanned aircraft for border surveillance (Press release, link):

"This week, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has begun testing the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in Greece, Italy and Portugal to monitor the European Union’s external borders.

Frontex is exploring the surveillance capability of the medium altitude long endurance RPAS and evaluating the related cost efficiency and endurance. The agency will test the unmanned aircraft in several operational situations. These include surveillance of the sea, support of Search and Rescue operations, detection of vessels suspected of criminal activities, such as drug and weapon smuggling and information sharing with multiple users in real time."

CROATIA: Criminalising solidarity: Are You Syrious? statement on politically motivated, unjust guilty verdict for our volunteer

This past March, AYS volunteer Dragan Umicevic approached a police control near the Croatian border to alert police to a family of asylum seekers huddled in a field near Strošinci, already on Croatian soil. A few days later, he was shocked to find himself facing charges of aiding and abetting the asylum seekers’ “illegal crossing” of the Croatian border - despite the fact that he had never laid eyes on the family before and hadn’t even communicated with them directly beforehand.

Morocco navy fires on migrant boat, one dead: local officials (France 24, link):

"Morocco's navy on Tuesday fired on a boat carrying migrants which refused to respond to its orders, leaving a Moroccan woman dead and three other people wounded, local officials said.

The patrol was "forced" to open fire on a speedboat driven by a Spaniard who "refused to obey" orders in waters off the Moroccan locality of M'diq-Fnideq, the authorities said in a statement.

Four migrants were wounded, including a Moroccan woman who died of her injuries in hospital, a local official told AFP."

EU: What to do with rejected asylum seekers? (EurActiv, link) by Anna Lundberg:

"This is not news. For many years, people who do not return to their country of origin have been described as a major policy problem. Forgotten in this debate is that some of the people who have had their asylum applications rejected cannot actually return home.

The underlying reasons vary. If the person is stateless, the designated recipient country may not see any obligation to grant entry permits. There may be political reasons for a state to deny a citizen’s return; an individual’s citizenship may have been withdrawn or it may be impossible to get to the designated country or very difficult to obtain entry permits.

These “Non-Returnable Returnees” end up being legally stranded, in an uncertain position with a high risk of exploitation. In many countries, such people has no right to work and no right to emergency support."

On the proposed legislation in question, see the proposal to amend the Return Directive, available here: Security and migration proposals dominate Juncker's 'State of the Union' announcements - full documentation (Statewatch News Online, 14 September 2018)

BELGIUM: ‘Crimes of solidarity’ in Europe multiply as 11 stand trial in Belgium for helping migrants (Global Voices, link):

"Eleven people who had been arrested and charged with human trafficking in October 2017 appeared in court in Brussels on September 6, the first hearing of a trial that activists say is yet another case of “criminalization of solidarity” in Europe.

The defendants have allegedly assisted 95 undocumented migrants, including 12 minors, to travel from Belgium to the United Kingdom last year, either by hosting them in their homes, by lending them phones and thereby indirectly helping them cross the channel.

On the day of the trial, three hundred people protested in front of the courthouse. Demonstrators say this is a political trial, aimed at dissuading people from helping migrants by establishing an intimidating judicial precedent."

Portugal agrees to take 10 rescue ship migrants amid European divide (The Guardian, link):

"Portugal has offered to take in 10 migrants from the Aquarius rescue ship as Europe once again finds itself divided over what to do with the large number of people crossing the Mediterranean and arriving on its shores... As part of the deal, France will take 18 migrants and Spain and Germany 15 each.

SOS Méditerranée, the NGO that operates the ship, said on Monday it was making for the French port of Marseille carrying 58 people who had been rescued off the coast of Libya but the French government had signalled it was reluctant to welcome the boat, saying it should dock at the nearest safe port to its location near conflict-torn Libya.

Malta, the EU country closest to the ship, on Tuesday said migrants would be transferred to a patrol boat in international waters and taken to the island, which will then send them to the four other member states."

Aquarius migrant rescue ship heads for Marseille despite revoked registration (France 24, link):

"The Aquarius migrant rescue ship is headed for the port of Marseille with 58 people on board and will seek authorisation to dock from the French government, the vessel's operators said Monday, after the ship's registration was revoked."

And see: Charities plea for help after Aquarius migrant rescue ship's flag revoked - Operators claim Panama deflagged vessel after pressure from Italian government (Guardian, link) Also: Italy: A new underhand tactic for ending work of NGO rescue ship will cost lives (AI, link)

Italian government adopts measures to narrow asylum rights - New rules would make it easier to expel migrants and limit who is granted protection (Politico, link):

" Italy’s populist government approved a package of new migration measures Monday, aimed at making it more difficult for migrants to obtain asylum and humanitarian protection.

Under the legislation — which still needs parliamentary as well as presidential approval — migrants could have their asylum requests suspended and face immediate repatriation if they are considered “socially dangerous” or convicted of certain crimes, including drug dealing and sexual assault."



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