Statewatch article: RefNo# 37217
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.10.16)
Statewatch News Online, October 2016
- EU steps up efforts to repatriate Afghans (euobserver, link)

"The EU is seeking to send migrants back to war-torn Afghanistan as a part of a broader policy to return rejected asylum seekers and others who refuse to be deported voluntarily.

On Tuesday (4 October) senior officials from both sides are set to meet to launch the so-called EU-Afghanistan Joint Way Forward agreement that they signed over the weekend.

EU states will be able to charter an unlimited number of flights to Kabul, reports The Guardian newspaper, which has seen a copy of the yet-to-be made public agreement."

The documents referred to are here: EU-Afghanistan returns plan: Another "dodgy" deal See: Dated 22 September 2016: Draft Joint Way Forward on migration issues between Afghanistan and the EU - Adoption (LIMITE doc no: 12191-16, 2016, pdf).

And a joint "non-paper" from the European Commission and the European Action Service (EEAS) in March 2016: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan (Restricted do no: 6738-16, pdf)

- Are You Syrious (3.10.16, link)

What Afghan children are running away from?

"Security in Afghanistan is worse than ever. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, civilian casualties in the country hit a record-high 11,000 in 2015. More than 3,500 civilians died, including an unprecedented number of children?—?one in four casualties over the past year was a child.

Amidst such violence and death, the EU has somehow come to a decision that Afghanistan is a safe country to which asylum seekers will be returned. As European governments and international decision-makers gather for the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan on October 5th, we wish to make a special news report on Afghan refugees and answer why they are really here.

Afghans make up the second largest group of migrants arriving in Europe, with 196,170 applying for asylum last year..

Politicians claim that Afghans coming to Europe are job-seekers looking for a better life. The reality is much more complex. Afghanistan is still one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world. As long as Afghanistan lacks the systems in place to guarantee protection, people should not be sent back there. The EU’s obligation to protect and promote human rights does not stop at its borders.."

Refugee flows in Greece, October 03, 2016

New arrivals: 71: Lesvos 17, Samos 25 and Chios 29.

Serbian president warns the EU, announces possible border closure

"Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic announced today that Serbia will close its borders if EU countries continue to reject the refugees. “We need to close the border to migrants, because they didn’t want to stay here in the first place. Europe needs to solve this problem. If other countries close their borders, we need to do the same in order to avoid having so many people stranded in our country. Since the EU is not angered by Hungarian actions, I’m sure they will have no problem with Serbia in case of the border closure”, he told journalists. He added that he does not understand how Serbia is the first country along the Balkan Route to register refugees, as if “they fell from the sky.”

According to him, Serbia cannot take more than 5,000 to 6,000 refugees, and that the government is currently in negotiations with Brussels to resolve the matter."

- Czech president Zeman: economic migrants to be deported to “uninhabited Greek islands” (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Czech president Milos Zeman has proposed that economic migrants should be deported from Europe to “uninhabited Greek islands” or to “empty places” in North Africa."

- Refugees stuck in Serbia begin marching towards Hungarian border (Guardian, link):

"Belgrade says it will not erect wire border fence but will deploy army to seal off borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Hundreds of refugees stranded in Serbia have begun walking from Belgrade towards the border with Hungary to protest against its closure for most people trying to reach the European Union.

More than 6,000 people remain stuck in Serbia following Hungary’s introduction this summer of strict limits on the number of refugees allowed to cross into the EU-member country and reinforced a razorwire border fence with heavy patrols."

- Italian coastguard in mass migrant rescue (BBC News, libk):

"The Italian coastguard has co-ordinated the rescue of more than 5,600 migrants, in one of the biggest operations in a single day.

The migrants had set off from the Libyan coast in nearly 40 boats.

One migrant is reported to have died and several others were airlifted for medical treatment. According to the International Organization for Migration, some 132,000 migrants have arrived in Italy this year."

- Relocation farce brings shame on Europe (euobserver, link):

"On the one-year anniversary of the EU plan to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy, the first countries of arrival, the scheme must be judged a farce.

First, the EU cut the number by a third. Then, in the year since the plan was approved, it moved just 5,821 people to other member states.

While the relocation requirement is legally binding on EU member states, some countries are flouting EU decision-making rules and shirking their responsibilities.

Some have contributed fairly but others, it would seem, are either actively bucking the programme or passively offering little or nothing in the hope the issue will to go away or that the asylum seekers will end up elsewhere.

Despite an European Commission press statement touting “significant progress” in relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, prime minister Robert Fico of Slovakia said just a few days ago that the idea of migration quotas was “politically finished”."

- Rich countries shirking responsibility in refugee crisis: Amnesty (DW, link)

"Human rights body Amnesty International says poorer nations are doing far more than their fair share in hosting refugees. It slammed what it called the "self-interest" of wealthier countries."

- Greece: Filis: Refugee rights not up for debate (, link):

"Education Minister Nikos Filis on Monday brushed aside reactions from local communities in several parts of Greece to refugee children attending public schools, while putting off any debate on planned changes to religious classes in schools until after the end of the academic year.

“The state will not put rights issues up for discussion,” Filis told state broadcaster ERT on Monday."

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