Statewatch article: RefNo# 36339
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.4.16)
Statewatch News Online, April 2016
- Greek police fails to control situation after unsuccessful Idomeni railway clearing operation (New Europe, link): "Refugees reoccupy Idomeni railway tracks shortly after being peacefully removed by near Greece – Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) fence border railway tracks.

Riot police dispersed refugees and migrants from the rail track early on Monday morning, to have them hours later return and recamp at the very same site. Meanwhile, the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (KEELPNO), raises the alarm on serious health risks on Idomeni and Piraeus camps. Mange and other skin diseases have been reported, together with widespread while cases of gastroenteritis and food poisoning, as food and water are exposed to April’s rising temperatures."

- UK: A safe haven? Britain's role in protecting people on the move (pdf): "Across Europe, people who have fled human rights violations, conflict, violence and hardship are living in inhumane conditions, and thousands have drowned trying to reach the continent. The current humanitarian crisis is the result of political failure. The dominant response, based on deterrence and containment, is causing enormous suffering to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. While the UK government has been a leader in providing assistance to countries hosting large numbers of refugees, it has fallen short of its moral responsibility to provide safe routes to protection for people seeking refuge in the UK, and has failed to advocate for an approach that protects the rights of all people on the move."

Press release: 13 aid and refugee agencies say UK is failing in its responsibility to protect most vulnerable people displaced by conflict (Freedom From Torture, link): "Freedom from Torture, along with Oxfam, the British Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee (IRC-UK) and ten other agencies say it’s not enough for the UK government to provide aid for refugees in countries like Lebanon and Jordan. The UK has an obligation to offer a safe haven to its fair share of refugees and do all it can to ensure protection for people on the move, whatever their legal status."

- The Orban Plan: protect borders, not people

EU: PM Orbán Presents “Schengen 2.0” Plan To Protect Europe’s Borders (Hungary Today, link): "Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has presented a ten-point proposal package on the protection of the European Union’s external borders and free movement within the community at a meeting of centrist democratic parties in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Hungarian leader’s Schengen 2.0 plan aims to protect external borders, as opposed to the European Commission’s proposal on managing the migrant crisis, which is an attempt to reform the asylum system. Mr. Orbán disclosed his plan on Friday at the Centrist Democrat International (CDUI)’s meeting in the Portuguese capital on Friday. The plan is necessary because the EU is endeavouring to reform the asylum system, while Hungary’s position is that it is the borders that have to be protected, the Hungarian Prime Minister, who is also a vice chairman of the centre-right group, argued. In the coming weeks, the Hungarian government is sending the action plan to Visegrád countries and Prime Ministers of other EU member states, while Mr. Orbán will explain his proposals in person in Germany next week and in several other European countries in the upcoming period."

And see: Orban will tour EU capitals with ‘Schengen 2.0’ plan (EurActiv, link): "Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will tour EU capitals to push for a 10-point plan for the protection of EU’s external borders and free movement within the community, dubbed ‘Schengen 2.0’."

- EU: Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP): migration control to take more prominence in overseas missions

A paper produced by the European External Action Service in February 2016 provides an overview of current CFSP missions and sets out possibilities for their future development. Key issues are ensuring that missions take into account the requirements of EU migration and counter-terrorism policy, and the paper notes overall that: "there will likely be needs to intensify CFSP actions in support of Third States, either via projects implemented by civilian CSDP missions or through dedicated CFSP projects. This will also require additional staffing, skills and expertise in project management." Several hundred million euros are currently available for ongoing and future CSDP missions.

See: European External Action Service, CFSP budget orientations for 2016 and 2017 (doc. 6383/16, 22 February 2016, pdf) and COR 1 (pdf)

On migration, the paper notes:

"Migration is at the heart of the political debate in the EU and, for a few years now, is one of the strategic priorities of the external relations of the Union. The ongoing refugee crisis has put discussions on refugees and irregular migration on top of political agenda of the EU. The EU has not only set up a military CSDP operation EUNAVFOR MED Sophia, but also taken significant steps together with its neighbours and partners by creating a set of measures and action plans to jointly meet the challenges. Civilian CSDP missions in the concerned regions may need to be further reinforced with migration dimension and experts, as it was the case in 2015 of EUCAP Sahel Niger."

On "radical and terrorist organizations":

"Destabilization by radical and terrorist organizations is already partly addressed through notably CSDP missions assisting with capacity building in Mali and Niger. Pending the evolution of the fragile regional environment, additional experts and assets could possibly be requested to reinforce CSDP missions."

The paper is structured by the following headings: CFSP and CSDP in the changing global security environment; Future CSDP; Conclusions; Annex I - Current CSDP missions and mid-term forecast; Annex II - Possible non-proliferation and disarmament projects.

- Greece: Europe must shoulder the burden for 46,000 refugees and migrants trapped in squalor (Amnesty, link): "With all eyes focused on the implementation of the recently agreed EU-Turkey deal, the plight of more than 46,000 refugees and migrants stuck in squalid conditions across mainland Greece, is in danger of being forgotten, said Amnesty International in a report released today.

The report, Trapped in Greece: an avoidable refugee crisis, examines the situation of refugees and migrants – the majority women and children –trapped on mainland Greece, following the complete closure of the Macedonian border on 7 March."

And see: Forgotten migrants at risk in Greece, says Amnesty (EUobserver, link)

- News (18.4.16)

GREECE: E.U. Politics Turn Migrants’ Dreams Into Nightmares on an Overcrowded Greek Island (Time, link): "Yasmin and her family paid smugglers to get them through Turkey, and eventually, to Chios. Like the hundreds of thousands of migrants who took the same route last year, they were hoping to use Greece as a way station into mainland Europe, and then to safety in Germany. But in the last few weeks, the situation in Europe has drastically changed. As a result of the new deal between Turkey and the E.U., which went to into effect last month, all migrants arriving in Greece after March 20 are required to either register for asylum in Greece or be sent back to Turkey. The borders with the rest of Europe have essentially been shut."

GREECE: For These Greek Grandmas, Helping Migrants Brings Back Their Own Past (NPR, link): "The migrants on rafts began landing on the rocky shores of Lesbos a year ago. In a pretty village of colorful fishing boats, one of the first people they saw was Efstratia Mavrapidou, 89, who was born here. She's fragile, her eyes clouded by cataracts. But she made her way to shore by cane.

She wanted to be there to embrace the migrants crowded onto those rafts, especially the young mothers who wept as they clasped tiny, sea-drenched babies.

Many were war refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. They reminded her of her own mother, Evanthea, who fled Turkey via the Ayvalik archipelago nearly a century earlier, crossing the same stretch of the Aegean Sea on a crowded wooden fishing boat."

ITALY-EU: Moving on Up: Italy to Route Northern African Migrants to Europe (Sputnik News, link)

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