Statewatch article: RefNo# 36434
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.5.16)
Statewatch News Online, May 2016
- Eurostat press release: Almost 90 000 unaccompanied minors among asylum seekers registered in the EU in 2015 (pdf): "In 2015, 88 300 asylum seekers applying for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU) were considered to be unaccompanied minors. While their number always stood between 11 000 and 13 000 in the EU over the period 2008-2013, it almost doubled in 2014 to reach slightly more than 23 000 persons, then nearly quadrupled in 2015.

In 2015, a substantial majority of unaccompanied minors were males (91%) and over half were aged 16 to 17 (57%, or 50 500 persons), while those aged 14 to 15 accounted for 29% (25 800 persons) and those aged less than 14 for 13% (11 800 persons). Around half (51%) of asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors in the EU in 2015 were Afghans."


And see: Italy struggles to house migrants in third year of mass arrivals (Reuters, link): "About 27,000 boat migrants have reached Italy since Jan. 1, slightly up on the same period last year and following a total 153,000 arrivals in 2015 and 170,000 in 2014.

The numbers are expected to rise this year because countries along the “Balkan route” – starting with a short boat ride from Turkey to Greece and continuing on land up to Austria – have shut their borders. That may cause more migrants to sail from Libya to Sicily, the closest part of Italy.

Many of the new arrivals move swiftly to wealthier northern Europe, although Austria has said it may shut down its main border crossing in the Alps to them. Already 113,000 are housed in Italy, some three-quarters of them in what are called “temporary” shelters.

The situation is acute for minors like Darboe, who Italian law requires be treated with extra care and be integrated quickly into the school system.

More than 2,700 unaccompanied minors arrived in Italy during the first three months of the year, the Interior Ministry says, a four-fold increase on the same period of 2015."


- Commission denies free pass to Germany and Austria on border controls (Politico, link): "The European Commission plans to let EU countries impose internal border checks for another six months — including during the summer tourist season — before insisting on a return to free travel in the Schengen zone, according to officials.

In a decision due to be published Wednesday, the Commission will recommend allowing the internal border checks in five countries until November, but Brussels will require oversight of the controls that Germany and Austria, among others, are pushing for. “The decision for Wednesday is made,” said an EU official familiar with the plans.

According to a draft of the decision, seen by POLITICO, the Commission recommends allowing “Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway to maintain proportionate temporary border controls for a maximum period of six months, starting from the day of the adoption of this Implementing Decision” at their respective shared borders."


The Commission will include proposals for regular monitoring, according to a quote from the document seen by Politico: “Border control should be targeted and limited in scope, frequency, location and time, to what is strictly necessary to respond to the serious threat and to safeguard public policy and internal security."

Such a system would not be entirely unfamiliar - Schengen states already undergo evaluations to assess their conformity with the Schengen Borders Code, as can be seen in these Council documents (pdfs): Schengen evaluation of AUSTRIA: Action plans to remedy deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation report in the field of:

  • Air borders (6761/16, 3 March 2016)
  • Visa (6816/16, 3 March 2016)
  • Police cooperation (6817/16, 3 March 2016)
  • Return (7258/16, 31 March 2016)

    And: Draft Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation of the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the Schengen Information System by Austria (5864/1/16 REV 1, 10 February 2016) and Council Implementing Decision (6222/16, 16 February 2016)

    - UNHCR Daily Report (2.5.16)

    German authorities announced on Thursday, 28 April, that all asylum applications will be processed by the end of 2016, according to the head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Around 400,000 asylum cases are pending and another 300,000 people are waiting for a date to be set to commence their asylum procedure.

    In Austria, in 2015, 85,798 people lodged asylum claims, which constitutes an increase by almost 215% in comparison to 2014. Most were from Afghan nationals (over 25,560), followed by Syrians (almost 24,550) and Iraqis (approx. 13,630). The asylum recognition rate stood at 35% with over 80% of recognition for Syrians. In addition, 2,478 people were granted subsidiary protection.

    - News (3.5.16)

    EU may fine countries for rejecting refugees (EUobserver, link): "The EU Commission plans to impose fines on countries that refuse to take refugees under revised EU asylum laws to be put forward on Wednesday (4 May).

    The commission will propose a sanction of €250,000 per refugee, according to the Financial Times.

    The commission's proposal will maintain the guiding principle of the current system that the country where migrants first step into the EU must deal with asylum applications.

    But it proposes that when a country at the EU’s external border is overwhelmed, asylum seekers should be distributed across the continent."


    Syrian refugees flown out by pope start new life in Rome (Reuters, link): "For Nour Essa, one of the Syrian refugees who flew out of Lesbos on Pope Francis' plane last week, it was a choice tinged with shock, joy and sadness - and it had to be made immediately.

    "They asked me 'Are you ready to leave for Italy tomorrow? You will be on the same plane with the pope. You must give me your answer now'," Essa recalled as she sat on a schoolyard bench with her husband Hasan Zaheda and two-year-old son Riad.

    "We were shocked," the 30-year-old said in an interview with Reuters as she and her husband prepared to start an Italian language class.

    The choice was offered at about 9 p.m. last Friday evening. Less than 18 hours later they and nine other Syrian refugees, all of them Muslim, were bound for Rome on the pope's plane. For some, including Zaheda, it was their first time on an aircraft."


    - Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents

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