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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
10-16.12.19

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Statewatch Observatory: The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

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GREECE: No-Rights Zone: How people in need of protection are being denied crucial access to legal information and assistance in the Greek islands’ EU ‘hotspot’ camps (Oxfam, link):

"People who have fled war, violence and persecution need support to find safety and rebuild their lives. However, in the EU 'hotspots' in Greece, people are faced with an asylum process which is extremely complicated to navigate. Only 2 in 100 have access to a state-appointed lawyer.

In addition, most people cannot access the basic information needed to help them understand the asylum process, resulting in an unfair, ineffective, and often erroneous asylum system that frequently violates the rights of people in need of international protection.In this context, legal support and information are key.

However, the new law introduced by the Greek Government, and the announcements that they will replace the ‘hotspot’ camps with ‘closed centres’, could further undermine the rights of asylum seekers and create additional barriers to getting the crucial information and legal assistance they need."

EU: New analysis: Monitoring "secondary movements" and "hotspots": Frontex is now an internal surveillance agency

The EU's border agency, Frontex, now has powers to gather data on "secondary movements" and the "hotspots" within the EU. The intention is to ensure "situational awareness" and produce risk analyses on the migratory situation within the EU, in order to inform possible operational action by national authorities. This brings with it increased risks for the fundamental rights of both non-EU nationals and ethnic minority EU citizens.

Greece: Six People Found Dead in Evros Region while Authorities Prop Up Border Security (ECRE, link):

"The corpses of six people who had entered Greece irregularly were discovered between December 5 and 8 in the Evros region. Greek authorities are reportedly considering to extend an existing iron fence along the entire Evros River on the Northeastern border.

According to the Greek coroner four men and two women under the age of thirty whose bodies were discovered in the Evros region died from exposure to the cold. They presumably entered Greece irregularly and none of them carried any ID.

An estimated 14,000 people have taken the route through the Evros region to enter Europe from Turkey so far this year. Greek authorities announced in November the hiring of 1200 new border guards, 400 of which were to be located in that area. According to local media the Greek government further plans to extend an existing iron fence along the entire Evros River stretching 230 kilometers."

Europe spends billions stopping migration. Good luck figuring out where the money actually goes (The Correspondent, link):

"In a shiny new factory in the Benin forest, a woman named Blessing slices pineapples into rings. Hundreds of miles away, at a remote border post in the Sahara, Abubakar scans travellers’ fingerprints. And in village squares across Nigeria, Usman performs his theatre show about the dangers of travelling to Europe.

What do all these people have in common?

All their lives are touched by the billions of euros European governments spend in an effort to curb migration from Africa."

See also: How the EU created a crisis in Africa – and started a migration cartel (link): "Europe’s largest migration fund bypasses its own rules. After declaring a ‘crisis’ in 26 African countries, the EU can now spend €4.6bn without a transparent bidding process."

Data watchdog raps EU asylum body for snooping (EUobserver, link):

"The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) monitored refugee networks to detect new routes and find smugglers – until the project ran into trouble with the EU's own data protection authority.

EASO combed through social media to monitor refugee routes to Europe over the past three years. The agency sent weekly reports on its findings to member states, the EU Commission and institutions such as UNHCR and Interpol.

The asylum agency, based in Malta, says its reports have helped to detect migrants on their way to Europe, but the monitoring activity has raised concern from data protection authorities."

See: European Data Protection Supervisor: Formal consultation on EASO's social media monitoring reports (case 2018-1083) (pdf)

Spain: Migrant hailed after rescuing man in wheelchair from fire (Guardian, link):

"Spain could give residency to undocumented hero Gorgui Lamine Sow from Senegal.

Spanish authorities are considering giving residency to an undocumented migrant from Senegal after he rescued a man who uses a wheelchair from a burning, second-storey apartment.

Street vendor Gorgui Lamine Sow was walking in the coastal city of Denia on Friday when he heard screams nearby.

He rushed over to a crowd watching black smoke pouring out of a second-floor window. “They told me there was a man trapped inside the apartment,” the 20-year-old said. “I didn’t think about it. I just dropped my things and started climbing.”

He scaled the balcony, entering the burning apartment as smoke filled the street. Once inside he hoisted the resident over his shoulders and carried him down a ladder set up by a neighbour."

Publication launch: "From Tampere 20 to Tampere 2.0 - Towards a new European consensus on migration" (Odysseus Network, link):

"The publication is centred on the 20th anniversary of the Tampere conclusions of October 1999. It looks back at the Tampere legacy and puts forward proposals that can inform future EU migration and asylum pact. Its content was informed by the Tampere 2.0 conference hold on 24-25 October in Helsinki as a side event of Finland’s Presidency of the EU."

PDF version available here (link):

"Time might have buried some of the ideas and concepts developed in Tampere in 1999. However, this year’s 20th anniversary provides an adequate opportunity to revisit them. Finland holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, just like in 1999, and is as committed to finding compromises as it was back then."

Bosnia: Police clear controversial Vucjak refugee camp (DW, link):

"Several buses came to the squalid camp to move the hundreds of refugees following an international outcry. Bosnia along with Serbia has been experiencing an unexpected increase in migrant arrivals in recent months.

Bosnian authorities said on Tuesday that they had moved 600 refugees from the squalor of the camp at Vucjak to a nearby army barracks. Journalists were not permitted to document the transfer, though they saw seven buses leaving the area near the Croatian border.

The camp, composed of a collection of tents pitched in the frozen mud and snow, became the subject of recent controversy when pictures emerged showing children still wearing sandals and t-shirts in the snow."

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