Statewatch article: RefNo# 35451
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
Statewatch News Online, September 2015
- EUNAVFOR: Meijers Committee: Military action against human smugglers: legal questions concerning the EUNAVFOR Med operation (pdf):

I. There are no indications that combating migrant smuggling contributes to the restoration of international peace and security or to ending the ongoing humanitarian crises;
II. Without express consent from third states or authorization from the UN Security Council, the EU lacks jurisdiction over vessels or assets in third-country territorial waters;
III. Without express consent from third-country coastal states or authorization from the UN Security Council, there is no clear legal basis for coercive measures against vessels or assets on the high seas

- Don't blame the smugglers: the real migration industry (heindehaas.blogspot.fr, link):

"The billions spent on the militarisation of border controls over the past years have been a waste of taxpayers' money. As we are able to witness during the current 'refugee crisis', increasing border controls have not stopped asylum seekers and other migrants from crossing borders. As experience and research has made abundantly clear, they have mainly (1) diverted migration to other crossing points, (2) made migrants more dependent on smuggling, and (3) increased the costs and risks of crossing borders. The fact is that 25 years of militarising border controls in Europe have only worsened the problems they proclaim to prevent....

Europe's immigration policies have created a huge market for the private companies implementing these policies as well as smugglers... a multi-billion industry, which has huge commercial interest in making the public believe that migration is an essential threat and that border controls will somehow solve this threat."


News (25.9.15)

- Loss of hope and deepening poverty driving Syrians to seek refuge in Europe (UNHCR, link): "The UN refugee agency today identified loss of hope and appalling living conditions as major factors behind the recent spike in the number of Syrian refugees from the region seeking asylum in Europe. Around four million Syrian refugees are currently living in neighbouring countries, but recent months have seen a marked increase in the number of those seeking refuge further afield, notably in Europe. Amin Awad, Director UNHCR Bureau for Middle East and North Africa, said this was primarily because of a loss of hope of being able to return home and deteriorating living conditions in the countries where Syrian refugees are currently living. "Refugees face horrible living conditions, and restrictions in the legal regimes for refugees in the countries where they live … When people don't have proper shelter and are living on 45 cents a day of course they want to move," he told a press briefing in Geneva, adding: "Syrians are checking out from the neighbouring countries.""

- Six EU states slash food aid for Syria refugees (euobserver, link): "Every member state, except the Netherlands, has slashed contributions to the World Food Progamme (WFP) in 2015.... Austria, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, and Slovakia made the most drastic cuts. All sliced their contributions by 100 percent this year, compared to last year. Sweden’s contribution dropped by 95 percent, followed by Lithuania at 69.5 percent, and Belgium at 54.7 percent. The UK also dropped by 29.5 percent. Others like Croatia, Latvia, Poland, and Romania gave nothing in the past two years. The Netherlands stands alone as the only member state, at plus 5.8 percent, which has increased contributions."

- EU navies to start capturing smugglers from 7 October (euobserver, link): "EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said on Thursday (24 September) the EU naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea is to start capturing smugglers from 7 October. "The political decision has been taken, the assets are ready", she said, according to the AFP news agency. "We'll be able to board, search, seize vessels in international waters, [and] suspected smugglers and traffickers apprehended will be transferred to the Italian judicial authorities."... EUnavfor Med is to operate primarily on the Libya route" [emphasis added]

- Finland split over biggest refugee influx since Russian Revolution (Yahoo News, link): "Finland is experiencing its biggest influx of refugees since the Russian Revolution with hundreds of migrants arriving each day via Sweden, but their presence is angering some in the recession-hit country. Finland, whose Lapland steppe forms the European Union's northernmost border, expects to receive 25,000 to 30,000 asylum applications this year, compared to 3,600 in 2014. Most of those arriving are from Iraq, Somalia or Afghanistan."

- Refugees raise far-right threat: Norway intel (The Local.no, link): "The biggest risk posed to Norway's national security by the influx of migrants is a possible violent reaction from the far-right, and not the infiltration of Islamists, Norway's intelligence service said Thursday."

- EU refugees deal barely scratches surface of a crisis still in its infancy - The European commission thinks its quotas scheme has set a precedent, but will it be repeated when the numbers are higher next time? (Guardian, link): "The aim is to make the frontier much less porous. But the borders concerned are essentially territorial waters. How do you turn back people at sea, many of whom have a legitimate claim on asylum status?"

- Die EU-Partner wollen Griechenland und Italien beim Aufbau der "Hotspots" unterstützen. (tagesspiegel.de, link) [Relocate and deport: The EU partners want to support Greece and Italy build the "hotspots"."

- Group of 115 refugees to be moved from Alonissos to Volos (ekathimerini.com, link): "A total of 115 Syrian refugees who were abandoned on Thursday on an uninhabited islet north of Alonissos, one of the islands in the Sporades group, were recovering in a gymnasium on the island on Friday."

- Tensions between Croatia and Serbia rise over refugees (aljazeera.com, link): "Serbia bans Croatian imports after Zagreb's decision to close shared border in attempt to halt entry of refugees" and: Serbia and Croatia Maintain Border Blockade (BalkanInsight, link): "After the dispute over the flow of the refugees escalated into a border dispute between the two countries, Croatia on Friday continued to block freight and some passenger traffic from Serbia while Belgrade still did not allow freight transport from Croatia to enter. Both countries said they were ready to compromise but there were no signs that the blockades on the border crossings would end soon."

- Austria returns 5000 migrants to EU countries (The Local.at, link): "Speaking to journalists at a meeting in Germany with the Bavarian Christian Social Union party, Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said: “If I remember rightly, we have sent more than 5,000 or 5,500 back from Austria, especially to Bulgaria and Romania amongst others.”"

- Hungary working against human rights – Hammar (Budapest Beacon, link) "“Hungary is working against the human rights that are the foundation of the European Union.” “Without immigrants we wouldn’t have the social system we have today. We need differences, complexities, and one another to build society for the future.” - Karl Gustav Hilding Hammar, former Archbishop of Sweden"

- Sweden to 'urgently review' asylum policies (The Local.se, link): "Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has called for an "urgent review" to help tackle a sharp rise in the number of asylum seekers arriving in the Nordic country."

- PM: Prague to support formation of EU guard to protect Schengen (Prague Monitor, link): "Hradec Kralove, East Bohemia, Sept 24 (CTK) - The Czech Republic is prepared to participate in the formation of a possible joint European guard to protect the outer Schengen border, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) told reporters Thursday."

- Bulgaria Calls on Croatia to Reopen Checkpoint at Border with Serbia (novinite.com, link): "Bulgaria pleaded with Croatia on Friday to immediately open the Bajakovo crossing at the border with Serbia to Bulgarian-registered motor vehicles or redirect them to other operating checkpoints. During a meeting with Croatia’s Ambassador Ljerka Alajbeg, the Bulgarian side expressed its serious concern over the closure of border crossings between Croatia and Serbia, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said in a statement."

- Prague abandons plans to sue EU over refugee quotas (euractiv, link): "Having considered taking the EU to court over the decision to distribute 120,000 refugees across the bloc, the Czech Republic finally decided to de-escalate tensions with Brussels"

- Migrants feared missing off Greece's Kos island (ekathimerini.com, link): "The Greek coastguard on Friday said it was looking for seven migrants feared missing near the Aegean island of Kos, after rescuing 115 Syrians in a separate incident. The search began after a migrant plucked from the Aegean Sea by a fishing boat told rescuers there had been another seven people on a boat that overturned."

Ireland: Migrant crisis: Solid backing for Coalition offer - Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll indicates minority believe number of 4,000 is too high (Irish Times, link)

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