|Statewatch article: RefNo# 37007
|Statewatch News Online, August 2016
|- Syrians Alarmed by Bulgarian Media’s Anti-Refugee Rhetoric (Ballkan Insight, link):
"The Syrian community in Bulgaria wants the state authorities to investigate the growing number of xenophobic media articles that denigrate refugees and migrants. The Bulgaria-based Free Syria Association and the Association of Syrian Refugees warned at a press conference on Thursday that the country’s media was negatively distorting the image of refugees.
“We feel obliged to thank [Bulgarian society] for the tolerance and empathy it demonstrated so far, but also to note that propagating xenophobia and intolerance towards others… is a precondition for new conflicts and divisions,” the Syrian organisations said in a joint declaration.
Their reaction was provoked by an article, broadly shared on social networks, in which someone identified as a 16-year-old Syrian girl claimed that the majority of the Syrian refugees hate Christians and “only think about how to cut their throats”.
But Akram Nayuf from the Free Syria Association said this was completely incorrect."
- UNHCR Weekly Report: Europe (24.8.16)
Update on Readmissions from Greece to Turkey
"The total number of readmissions to Turkey from Greece is 482 as of 21 August."
Update on Relocation
"From Italy, no transfers under the relocation programme took place during the week. The overall number of relocations from Italy remains at 961, corresponding to 2% of the target of 39,600 agreed upon in September 2015 to be relocated from Italy.
Thus far, a total of 3,016 asylum-seekers, 4.5% against the targeted 66,400, have been relocated from Greece to other EU countries since the beginning of the relocation programme in November 2015."
Situation in Serbia and at the Serbia-Hungary border
"The estimated total number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants in Serbia continued to grow to around 4,400 in comparison to 4,000 the previous week... The current admission rate to Hungary remains limited to 15 people per day per transit zone, with many asylum-seekers waiting a month or more as a result."
Trends of Sea Arrivals
"Between 15 and 21 August, 923 refugees and migrants crossed the sea to Greece, a continuation of the steady increase in arrivals observed during the earlier part of the month."
From 15 to 21 August, 2,055 refugees and migrants arrived to Italy by sea as a result of 11 search and rescue operations (SAR), seven of which occurred over the weekend. Arrivals during the reporting period have seen a slight increase from 1,777 the previous week."
Situation in Greece
"With the slight increase of arrivals in the previous weeks, the capacity on the already strained accommodation spaces on the islands have exceeded their limit estimated by over 3,000 individuals. The maximum capacity on the islands rem ins 7,450 while the total presence on the islands was 11,343 until 21 August."
- Hungary: Orbán hopes to trigger referendum tsunami across Europe (Budapest Beacon, link):
"victory in the anti-EU refugee quota referendum on October 2 will only happen if at least 4 million voters go to the polls and the majority of them vote “No”. It is wrong to assume that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán considers the voter turnout to be irrelevant, a source with insight into the ruling party’s communication campaign told....
Ruling party politicians, experts and jurists are making every possible case to encourage voters to reject the EU’s compulsory resettlement plan."
- Denmark: New bill wants Danish Refugee Council out of the Refugee Appeals Board (refugees.dk, link)
"The government’s wish to cut down the Refugee Appeals Board from 5 to 3 members worries experts.
In a new bill put forward, the Danish government expresses a specific wish to exclude the Danish Refugee Council from appointing board members to the Refugee Appeals Board. The board was expanded in 2012 to enhance the expertise, and the members pointed out by the council represents some of the most respected experts in the country within this field. To maintain an uneven number of members, the person appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark will also have to go."
- Are You Syrious (24.8.16, link)
Greece: New arrivals
"One boat was brought to safely to Skala, the north shore of Lesvos with 36 people on board. One boat with 10 people (5 men, 2 women, 3 children) landed between Skala Sikamineas and Eftalou. Proactiva took part in the rescue. Also, there is an ongoing search by several coast guard vessels for a boat believed to be carrying some 60 refugees and migrants off the coast of Rhodes. In the past week at least 581 arrivals were registered, coming from Turkey across the Aegean."
"Italian minister of interior Alfano said an agreement to relocate refugees from Italy to Germany was reached between the two countries. Alfano also urged the other EU countries to fully participate in the relocation of refugees, Repubblica reports in detail. Italy, the main entry point for Africans but rarely their planned destination, is struggling to house migrants turned back from neighboring countries, Switzerland and France."
"Thousands of people, including infants, are sleeping on the pavements of Paris. Many of those people have family members in the UK, but can’t join them until their asylum case is completed. This can take up to one year. While they wait, they will be living on the streets of Paris or in Calais, the two refugee hubs of France. The local police frequently arrest and/or evacuate the refugees, explaining they would be brought to a shelter. In fact, some of them are just arrested and released and a lot of refugees return to the camps after a few days or weeks. The tents, however, are often destroyed. The goal is probably to prevent these camps from becoming permanent street lodging."
Although not as frequently talked about, Calais hosts the largest number of refugees so far, Liberation confirms. There are now more people crammed into 35% of the originally planned space. Meanwhile, police prevent wood from entering the camp because they do not want permanent shelters to be built. Only tents are authorized. NGOs say there are more than 9,000 people and approximately 10 more tents put up per day. Calais Kitchens are in need of more tea, while the Care4Calais team has conducted a survey among the refugees and are now asking for the items mostly requested by the Calais residents: joggers, hoodies, shirts, boxers, spray deodorants, shampoo and shower gel, socks, shaving kits, torches and lanterns, SIM cards etc. If you can help, contact them at: www.care4calais.org.
- UNHCR chief to push for more migrant relocations (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Greece and the United Nations refugee agency on Wednesday agreed to strengthen cooperation in handling migration flows to Europe’s external frontier while urging the European Union to hasten the relocation of migrants and refugees elsewhere within the bloc.
“Challenges are very serious and we need to continue to address them together. Especially living conditions, security in refugee sites, overcrowding in islands,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said after meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens."
- Germany: Record number of refugees ask Red Cross to find family members (DW, link): "The German Red Cross expects around 3,000 calls for help by the end of 2016 from refugees who have lost track of family members on their perilous journey. A large number of requests come from minors."
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