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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
6.7.19-25.7.19

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EU coalition of the willing agrees new migrant ‘solidarity mechanism’ (euractiv, link):

"Fourteen member countries of the European Union have agreed to a new “solidarity mechanism” proposed by Germany and France to allocate migrants across the bloc, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday (22 July).

in addition to France and Germany, Finland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Lithuania, Croatia and Ireland had also signalled a clear intention to move forward with a new system. (...)

Italy’s Interior minister Matteo Salvini, whose country is at the forefront of the migrant influx in Europe, did not take part in the meeting."

See: Full-text: Réunion informelle sur les migrations en Méditerranée (Paris, 22 juillet 2019): Chair’s summary (pdf)

TURKEY: EU Commission reacts to Cavusoglu comments on migration deal (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The European Commission on Wednesday reacted to comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who earlier this week suggested that Ankara will cancel a migrant readmission agreement with the European Union should the bloc fail to deliver on its promise of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens."

And see: Readmission agreement with EU suspended, Turkish FM says (turkishminute.com, link):

"Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavusoglu has announced that Turkey’s readmission agreement with the European Union has been suspended, the Evrensel newspaper reported on Monday."

EU: Disembarkation scheme - Member States asked to agree to allow landings by "private rescue vessels in the closest safe harbour"

A draft Note on: Commitments by Member States for predictable temporary disembarkation scheme (pdf) agrees to set up:

"a more predictable and efficient temporary mechanism in order to ensure swift and dignified disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea by private vessels in closest safe harbour."

This is a France-Germany proposal which is not supported by Italy

Libya: Europe-bound migrants sent to bombed detention centre (aljazeera.com, link):

"Coastguard spokesperson says 38 migrants were sent to the Tajoura detention centre that was bombed last month.

Libya's coastguard has intercepted a Europe-bound boat off its Mediterranean coast and taken all migrants on board to a detention centre that was bombed earlier this month."

Italy's government wins confidence vote on decree targeting migrant rescue ships (Reuters, link):

"The Italian government won a parliamentary confidence vote on Wednesday on a security and immigration decree, in a victory for Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the far-right League party.

The government, which has been riven by internal strife in recent weeks, won the vote by 325 to 248."

Italy receives more asylum seekers from Germany than from Libya - Why Rome is the winner of the EU’s Dublin regulation (Politico, link):

"in reality, in part because of the government’s hard-line approach, the number of people arriving by sea has plummeted, from over 180,000 at its peak in 2016 to a little over 3,000 so far this year.

Instead, the greatest influx of people seeking asylum is now coming from the north — from other European countries, who are sending migrants back to Italy in accordance with the EU’s so-called Dublin regulation."

Spain’s model for saving lives at sea should be emulated in the EU (The Conversation, link):

"Clearly, we are witnessing the transfer of search-and-rescue responsibilities to the military.

But if the EU and its member states really want to address their responsibilities, the military is not the answer. Neither are NGOs. Instead, they must carefully consider Spain’s previous approach — a professional, safe and cost-efficient way of saving lives at sea."

Cruise ship rescues 111 migrants off Greece (DW, link):

"The Marella Discovery picked up 111 migrants, including 33 children, near Greece's Peloponnese peninsula. Despite a large fall in migrants crossing the Mediterranean, six people die each day making the journey."

Are You Syrious (19.7.19, link):

NIGER TO LIBYA

"Sudanese minors who had been at the UNHCR refugee camp in Agadez/Niger have left the refugee camp yesterday, 18th of July, and are presently marching towards Libya. The are now on their way through the desert, Alarme PHONE Sahara reports. Their criticism is that their asylum procedures are not advancing and the UNHCR representative so far has not kept her promises to provide solutions. Meanwhile, some of them have been brought to hospital.(...)

Sudanese minors are part of the numerous refugees and migrants who are presently blocked in Niger as a result of European policies to close down borders to force people to stay on African soil at any cost."

Frontex operation along Albania-Greece border deemed a success (infomigrants.net, link):

"Germany’s government says the EU’s Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, has helped Albania prevent cross-border crime, among other things. The operation with 66 border guards from 12 member states was launched two months ago. It's the first time that Frontex exercises its powers in a non-EU member state.(...)

Andrej Hunko, who represents Die Linke party in Germany’s parliament, criticized the Frontex operations as being an expression of an “expansion of the fortress Europe.”"

Complaint by Croatian police officers who are being urged to act unlawfully (borderviolence.eu, link):

"After the Croatian president Grabar-Kitarovic confirmed a couple of days ago that Croatian authorities are involved in illegal pushback of migrants to Bosnia & Herzegovina (“a little bit of force is needed”), another complicit voice speaks up: Croatian Ombudswoman presents an anonymous complaint by police officers that were ordered to “return everyone without papers, no traces, take money, break mobile phones or take for ourselves, and forcefully return refugees to Bosnia.” Read the whole letter and a rough English translation (thanks to Centre for peace studies Zagreb."

MSF to resume Mediterranean migrant rescue operations - NGO had suspended operations in December (Politico, link):

"The SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charities have relaunched migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, seven months after they suspended efforts using their ship Aquarius citing "sustained attacks on search and rescue by European states."

"We view the return to search and rescue as a duty, fueled by the humanitarian need to prevent people from drowning while they seek safety from Libya," the organizations said Sunday in a press release. "The new ship Ocean Viking will sail to the Central Mediterranean Sea at the end of the month."

The theatre of Lampedusa - 19 Luglio 2019: From the spectacularisation of NGO disembarkations to the silence on the day-to-day management of arrivals by sea (ASGI, link):

"Last weeks events have brought the island of Lampedusa back into the centre of the media debate on sea arrivals. The events around the SeaWatch 3, the courageous choice of its Captain and the recent and equally courageous docking of the sailing ship Alex by Mediterranea Saving Humans, have been an opportunity to reflect on the use of political power by the current government, on the relationship between the different sources of law and, above all, on the possibility of opposing and resisting political decisions and normative acts perceived as illegitimate and seriously unjust.

In the aftermath of these events, it is necessary to propose some additional elements to the public debate: what happens following the disembarkation of people rescued after these events which are so much under public attention? Are the mediatised disembarkations the only ones that characterise the island at the moment? How is the daily flow of migrants managed at this stage? Which kind of institutional reception is provided to foreign citizens in Lampedusa?"

Human Rights Watch letter to Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (HRW, link):

"I am writing on behalf of Human Rights Watch to ask you to order both an investigation into unlawful pushbacks of migrants by Croatian border officials and a halt to such actions.

In an interview with Swiss television SRF on July 9, you acknowledged unlawful pushbacks of migrants by Croatian border officials to Bosnia Herzegovina and admitted that in some instances force is used. This contradicts previous denials by Croatian officials, but is consistent with the findings of Human Rights Watch, the UN Refugee Agency, and other organizations."

Greece: labor minister criticized for 'racist' refugees move (Ansa,link)

"Newly-appointed official revokes National Health Insurance law.

Greece's newly-appointed Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis has been labelled "heartless and inhumane" after he revoked a recent law passed by the previous Syriza-lead leftist government which granted National Health Care services to all foreigners from non-EU countries, refugees included, without exceptions.

Just three days into his new role Vroutsis revoked the circular, which had been voted on and published on June 20.

It provided additional guidelines that AMKA numbers (Greece's national insurance program) could be given to foreign nationals of third world countries, and meant that refugees would be treated the same as those residing in the country, as the Constitution states.".

EU interior ministers fail to find compromise on Mediterranean refugee rescue (DW, link):

"Interior ministers from across the European Union have failed to agree on temporary measures to manage increased migration across the Mediterranean. Officials have told DW that the future of the bloc is at stake."

Sea-Watch captain Rackete urges EU action on migrant rescues (France 24, link):

"A German humanitarian ship captain who eluded an Italian effort to block her from docking at an Italian port with migrants onboard has called for the European Commission to do its best to avoid new political standoffs.

Carola Rackete, captain of the Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch 3, was questioned by Italian prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Agrigento on Thursday for allegedly aiding illegal immigration."

Spain will give Morocco €30 million to curb irregular immigration (El Paus, link):

"The funding is on top of the €140 million the EU has pledged to provide the North African country."

UN expert describes Hungarian migrant camps as places of detention and deterrence (link):

"A United Nations human rights expert has expressed concerns about the detention conditions of migrants in Hungarian transit zones, urging authorities to move families and children to other centres with better health and sanitary facilities.

UN expert Felipe González Morales spent eight days in Hungary to monitor the human rights situation of migrants. According to him, migrants in Hungary are being instrumentalised for political purposes.

“Migrants are portrayed as dangerous enemies in both official and public discourses in this country,” Morales said, calling on Hungarian authorities to end their “crisis” approach."

Green New Deal – panacea or problem? (IRR News, link):

"As the notion of a Green New Deal rapidly spreads as an answer to capitalism in US and UK media and political circles, our lead article in July 2019 asks if Green capitalism can propose a real solution to the ecological crisis and the human crises of poverty, austerity, immigration and racism.

Green capitalism and the large scale investment in environmental technologies ‘neither breaks with neoliberalism, nor can potentially reverse environmental disaster’, argues Jerry Harris, an authority on global capitalism, in his lead article on ‘The future of globalisation’."

How the streets of Barcelona have become a refuge for unaccompanied migrants (El Pais, link):

"Rising numbers of minors and young adults who are homeless and in some cases are committing crimes have left the local authorities overwhelmed."

Are You Syrious (16.7.19, link):

GREECE: The new government’s priorities

"The new Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met on Monday with the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and later chaired a meeting with government ministers concerned with migration issues. He presented a plan with six priorities for the situation of migration in Greece (...)"

Saved from distress, accused of smuggling

"Not only European sea rescue organizations are criminalized. Hundreds of migrants seeking protection in Europe are immediately arrested after their arrival by boat on the Greek Islands. They are accused of human smuggling. In order to curb any future attempts, regardless of whether that was the case in the given situation, the people accused are reportedly usually given an average sentence ofabout 44 years in prison that is to be served for about 19 years. The average fines imposed are over 370.000 Euros."

Greece

"people were placed in “administrative detention”, after the brief occupation of the Pantheon in Paris on Friday by people who came to claim regularization of their status in the country. These 21 people were put under 24-hour administrative detention, presumably for the purpose of verification of their right to stay.

In addition, a protester was arrested and placed in custody for “willful acts of violence against a person in charge of public authority”.(...)

Greek Hotspots: Deaths Not to Be Forgotten (Pro Asyl, link):

"In an extensive policy paper, the team of Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) in Greece has observed that in numerous cases of refugee deaths at the hotspots on Greek islands, the Greek authorities have undertaken little or no investigation, turning the hotspots into an institutional gray zone."

Documenting Migration: From A Lampedusa Outpost To A National Level

"MotM seeks partners in growing its migration story archive from the humanitarian perspective.

Join Migrants of the Mediterranean (MotM)) in partnership to document the migration flow in the Central Mediterranean through the framework of humanitarian storytelling. With it, MotM captures the intimacy and urgency of each migrant’s experience on the ground, and now aims to do it on a larger scale, to help inform policy and popular understanding."

Greek Council for Refugees: To the Supreme Court Prosecutor: Complaint on Push-Back Incidents in the Region of Evros during the months of April - June 2019 (pdf):

"Complaints during the past two years

For the past two years, complaints on push-backs from the region of Evros have continuously been brought to our attention. We are aware that, at least, three such complaints have come to the prosecuting authorities’ knowledge
(...)

Incidents against Turkish citizens during the past 2 months:

Lately, however, and at least from 27-4-2019 and onwards, GCR has received continuous complaints on push-backs perpetrated against primarily Turkish nationals, cited."

ASGI: The "Emergency Transit Mechanism" program and the resettlement from the Niger. Legal analysis, current and future concerns (pdf):

"This document was drafted as a result of a survey carried out at Niamey, in Niger, from 15th to 20th
November 2018, attended by ten legal experts (lawyers and university professors). The survey focused primarily on the mechanism of resettlement for the people who submit the application for asylum in Niger."

Croatia: President Admits Unlawful Migrant Pushbacks - Halt Abusive Operations; Justice Needed (HRW, link):

" Croatia should immediately stop summarily returning migrants and asylum seekers to Bosnia and Herzegovina, in some cases with force, Human Rights Watch said today in an open letter to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. The president’s recent admission during an interview on Swiss television that Croatian officials are engaged in these pushbacks triggers a responsibility by Croatian authorities to investigate and to hold those responsible for any unlawful action to account."

and see: In Croatia, EU border guards use 'a little bit of force' (DW, link): "Croatia has consistently denied illegally deporting refugees to neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina. But in a recent TV interview, the Croatian president admitted border guards were forcing migrants back over the border."

EUROMED RIGHTS: Executive summary (pdf) and EU-Egypt migration cooperation: At the expense of human rights (pdf):

"This study aims to provide a mapping of the cooperation between Egypt and the EU/Member States in migration and border management and its impact on the rights of migrants and refugees in Egypt in order to provide concrete recommendations for action to the EU and its Member States."

ECHR: The Court decides not to indicate an interim measure requiring that the applicants be authorised to disembark in Italy from the ship Sea-Watch 3 (pdf):

"The European Court of Human Rights has today decided not to indicate to the Italian Government the interim measure requested by the applicants in the case of Rackete and Others v. Italy (application no. 32969/19), which would have required that they be allowed to disembark in Italy from the ship Sea-Watch 3.

The Court also indicated to the Italian Government that it is relying on the Italian authorities to continue to provide all necessary assistance to those persons on board Sea-Watch 3 who are in a vulnerable situation on account of their age or state of health."

PUSH BACK MAP: “Bridges not Fences!”: (link):

"“This map documents and denounces systematic push-backs. They are a daily reality at the many borders of Europe and worldwide. Returning people across borders against their will is a violent state practice that has to end."

Restart Mediterranean migrant rescue missions, UN bodies tell Europe (DW, link):

"UN agencies have appealed to European countries to restart government rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. More needs to be done to improve inhumane conditions for displaced people in Libya as well."

FRONTEX: Migratory situation in June – Arrivals in Europe rise slightly (link):

"The Eastern Mediterranean remained the busiest migratory route into Europe with nearly 4 000 detections in June 2019*.

Italy's Matteo Salvini shuts what was Europe's biggest migrant center (DW, link):

"The Italian interior minister toured the Sicilian center with politicians and reporters, calling it a haven for drugs, prostitution and violence. Salvini has said he wants to deploy military ships to keep migrants away."

Europe puts its good Samaritans on trial (Politico, link):

"Authorities across the Continent are cracking down on volunteers working with migrants and refugees.(...)

Italian, Maltese and Greek authorities have used anti-smuggling laws to prosecute volunteers."

Rescue boat captain: Don't let my case distract from refugee crisis (DW, link):

"Sea-Watch 3 captain Carola Rackete has pleaded with authorities not to be distracted from the humanitarian crisis off the coast of Libya. She said the EU needs to stop cooperating with the Libyan coast guard."

Libyan lawyers: EU is complicit in torture (euobserver, link):

"The European Union has for years adopted a policy of containment, training the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people at sea.

Those intercepted are then brought back to Libya and placed in detention centres that are run by DCIM under the GNA's Ministry of Interior.

There has been no shortage of reports that recount the violence and torture refugees and migrants face in these centres.

Yet, unfazed, EU policy continued to support the Libyan coastguard, turning a blind eye to what happens after those intercepted are returned to Libya."

European Commission: Remarks by Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on the solution found with regards to the disembarkation of NGO vessels and progress under the European Agenda on Migration (Press release, pdf):

"I would also like to commend the Member States that agreed to receive the migrants disembarked in Malta. Germany, France, Portugal, Malta, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Italy, Romania, and Ireland have shown European solidarity (..)

The European Border and Coast Guard will support Member States to organise the swift return of those that have no right to stay."

The press release make mention of EU complicity in the running of appalling detention centres in Libya.

Germany’s rescue drone will not fly in the Mediterranean (link):

"Unmanned systems could help to rescue shipwrecked boats in the Mediterranean. However, a new German sea rescue drone is only used in the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

Under the name „LARUS“, the German Government develops drones for the rescue of ships in distress. The abbreviation of the drone stands for „Situation support during sea rescue operations by unmanned aeronautical systems“. The system is financed from civil security research funds, for which the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is paying 2.8 million euros."

Sea-Eye rescues 44 migrants off Libya's coast (DW, link):

"A German rescue boat has picked up 44 people that were stranded off the Libyan coast. The rescue comes a day after the same boat handed over 65 migrants to Malta."

‘Saving lives is no crime’: migrants rescuer facing jail would do it again - A Spaniard who went to sea to save refugees could go to prison in Italy for 20 years. He talks about why humanity must come before politics (Guardian, link):

"Despite trying to navigate Italy’s legal territory, Roldán and his six other crew members are now facing up to 20 years’ imprisonment after being accused by authorities of aiding illegal immigration and assisting human traffickers. Italian police seized the Iuventa in August 2017 using anti-mafia laws, with a judge ordering an investigation that could result in a trial later this year."

German minister calls on EU to launch migrant rescue missions (Politico, link):

"Development minister Gerd Müller urged action both in the Mediterranean and in Libya.

Germany's development minister has urged the EU to launch missions to rescue migrants both in the Mediterranean and "on Libyan soil."

Malta to relocate 65 migrants after rescue ships defy Italy ban (euractiv, link):

"Malta’s prime minister said Sunday (7 July) his country would relocate to other EU nations 65 migrants from the Alan Kurdi rescue ship, after two other boats defied efforts to stop them landing in neighbouring Italy.

All 65 were transferred to a Maltese navy ship on Sunday evening, the German charity Sea-Eye which operates the boat said in a statement, adding that its vessel had been refused entry to Valetta port.

Premier Joseph Muscat tweeted earlier that “following discussions with the EU Commission and the German government”, the 65 people would be transferred from the Alan Kurdi to a Maltese military “asset which will then enter a Maltese port”.

“All rescued persons on board will be immediately relocated to other EU member states,” he added".

Libya: EU first sends migrants back, then deplores deaths (euobserver, link):

"The European Commission was on Wednesday (3 July) mute on how an EU-trained Libyan coast guard returns people rescued at sea to Libya - while at the same time condemning an attack that killed at least 40 at a detention centre in Tripoli."

Rescued refugees land in Sicily as another ship defies Salvini - Charity vessel carrying 41 docks in Lampedusa after two days stranded at sea (Guardian, link):

"Forty-one refugees and migrants disembarked overnight at the port of Lampedusa after a charity vessel that rescued them off Libya defied an attempt by Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, to close ports to NGO boats.

The Italian-flagged Alex, run by the NGO Mediterranea, was escorted by the Italian coastguard and on Saturday the ship was seized by police, the captain was put under investigation for allegedly aiding illegal immigration, and the rescuees eventually disembarked. Mediterranea was fined €16.000 (£14,300)."

Starved, tortured, bombed: the fate of refugees trapped in Libya (standardmedia.co.ke, link):

"Acute malnutrition, forced labour, torture: NGOs have sharpened their tone against the shocking conditions endured by refugees and migrants in Libya, where over 40 people were killed in an air strike on a detention centre."

Death at sea or under the bombs : is there no other alternative for the thousands of migrants trapped in the hell of Libya? (migreurop, link):

"An air strike on the Tajoura migrants’ detention centre, in the eastern suburbs of the Libyan capital city, was reported on 2 July evening. Two days later, the death toll keeps increasing with so far at least 66 dead and over 80 wounded. Late April 2019 already, many migrants died in the attack of Gasr Bin Gashir by armed groups about 30km away south of Tripoli."

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