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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
6-12.8.19

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Greece’s New Government Is Cracking Down on Anarchists, Drug Dealers and Refugees (Novara Media, link):

"Following a landslide election win last month, Greece’s new centre-right government is cracking down on a “lawless” Athens neighbourhood known for leftwing activism and migrant solidarity networks. With backing from prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, police have used the prevalence of illegal drugs and an alleged terrorism threat to justify a series of raids and evictions across the Exarchia area of the Greek capital. But instead of routing out terrorists and dealers, residents say the authorities are targeting refugee housing, leaving hundreds of vulnerable people with nowhere to go."

Italian law increases penalties related to protests and criminalises NGOs’ rescue of migrants at sea (ECNL, link):

"The new law introduces harsher provisions regulating assemblies taking place in public places or private spaces open to the public (...)

The new law grants new powers to the Ministries of the Interiors, Defence and Transport, who will now jointly be able to restrict or prohibit the entry, transit or docking of ships in the territorial sea, except for military or government non-commercial vessels, for security reasons, when there are reasons to believe that the crime of aiding and abetting illegal immigration has been committed (Article 1)."

See: New Law (Italian, link)

MSF has returned to the Central Mediterranean because people are dying at sea.(MSF, link):

"Our new search and rescue ship, Ocean Viking, has launched while European governments are failing to fulfil their basic legal obligations or protect vulnerable people fleeing from north Africa to southern Europe – the world’s deadliest migration route."

Cyprus asks Brussels to relocate 5,000 asylum seekers (Politico, link):

"Cyprus has asked the European Commission to help relocate 5,000 asylum seekers to other EU countries as the island nation struggles to accommodate an influx of migrants.

In a letter sent on Monday to Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and other EU members, Cyprus' Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides described the gravity of the migration situation on the island and said that a lack of cooperation from nearby Turkey has made finding a solution more difficult."

UN warns Italy over tough law on migrant rescue boats (euractiv, link):

"The UN voiced concern on Tuesday (6 August) over a law approved by Italy’s parliament that imposes stiffer penalties on NGO migrant rescue boats in the Mediterranean, demanding humanitarian work “not be criminalised or stigmatised.”"

Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship 'not allowed' to refuel in Malta (aljazeera.com, link):

"Ocean Viking, operated by SOS Mediterranee and MSF, started its rescue mission in the Mediterranean earlier this week.

Maltese authorities have refused the Ocean Viking rescue ship to refuel in their harbours while on its search and rescue mission off the coast of Libya, according to SOS Mediterranee, the rescue organisation operating the ship.

According to SOS Mediterranee, which operates the ship with Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, the Ocean Viking was originally allowed to refuel on open waters."

Caritas Europa: Position paper: The “criminalisation” of solidarity towards migrants (pdf):

"In a context of stricter migration policies, activities carried out by NGOs and volunteers to ensure migrants get access to basic services and rights when the state is not delivering, are increasingly being portrayed by politicians as colluding with human smuggling and trafficking. A trend has emerged to pose obstacle, demonise, stigmatise, and criminalise humanitarian assistance to migrants throughout Europe, creating a chilling effect that results in discouraging solidarity. We refer broadly to this phenomenon as the “criminalisation” of solidarity, as it extends beyond mere judicial actions."

Refugee rescuers to be fined up to €1m under new Italian law promoted by far-right Salvini (Independent, link)

"Charity says security decree ‘will inflict useless suffering ... putting at risk the lives of vulnerable people.

Refugee rescue boats carrying stranded migrants face fines of up to €1m after the Italian parliament passed a controversial law promoted by Matteo Salvini, the far-right interior minister.

Under the law, boat captains bringing rescued refugees to Italy will face arrest if unauthorised; their vessels could be confiscated; and the owners of the operations face steep fines between €150,000 (£138,000) and €1m (£919,000)."

See: UNHCR concerned at new measures impacting rescue at sea in the Central Mediterranean (link)

EU border force Frontex accused of allowing abuse of migrants (euractiv, link):

"The EU’s border force Frontex has allegedly been turning a blind eye to ill treatment of refugees by guards at EU external borders, according to media reports on Monday (5 August)

A joint investigation by German public broadcaster ARD, non-profit investigative journalism website Correctiv and British newspaper The Guardian also accused Warsaw-based Frontex of violating the human rights of refugees during deportations.

Citing internal documents, the report said Frontex had allowed guards to use dogs to hunt down migrants, as well as to deploy pepper spray and batons, particularly along EU borders in Bulgaria, Hungary and Greece.

The investigation accused local guards of using force or threats to return migrants back across the EU’s external borders, thus obstructing the basic right to seek asylum."

And see: Once migrants on Mediterranean were saved by naval patrols. Now they have to watch as drones fly over Experts condemn move to aerial surveillance as an abrogation of ‘responsibility to save lives’ (Guardian, link) and "The expansion of the deportation machine" (link)

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