Statewatch article: RefNo# 35816
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28 news stories and documents, 3.12.15)
Statewatch News Online, December 2015
- European Parliament: Questions to the Council and Commission on "hotspots" and relocation

- To the Commission: Compatibility of the establishment and management of hotspots with EU law (pdf)

"Since September, within the activated "Hotspot" in Lampedusa, public authorities have adopted new illegal practices in violation of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. Migrants are hastily "interviewed" and provided with an inadequate form as regards asylum procedures.

Therefore, many migrants are subjected to return decisions without having a real opportunity to apply for asylum under Directives 2011/95/EU and 2013/32/EU. After return decisions have been adopted, migrants are driven out of the centres and only supplied with an expulsion order establishing to leave the country within seven days, via "Fiumicino" airport...."


- To the Council: Implementation of Council Decisions on the relocation of 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece (pdf):

"21 Member States have identified national contact points and (...) so far, only six Member States have notified (the) reception capacity they have made available to host relocated people". Likewise, a mere 86 asylum seekers had been relocated until that day from Italy under the new scheme. The 3rd of November, a press release from the Commission underlined that the first relocation flight from Greece with 30 asylum seekers was about to leave to Luxembourg.

We ask the Council which steps it intends to take so that its representatives quickly commit to relocating asylum seekers as soon as possible bearing in mind the urgency of the current humanitarian challenges."


- EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 3 and 4 December 2015: "B" Points agenda

The Council is discussing: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a crisis relocation mechanism... amending the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person - State of play (pdf):

"During these discussions, a number of delegations raised general scrutiny reservations and reiterated their positions according to which they consider that it would be preferable to evaluate the functioning of the temporary emergency relocation schemes, adopted by the Council on 14 and 22 September, before the discussion on the proposal on the crisis relocation mechanism continues.

They are of the view that shortcomings in the implementation of the relocation decisions, including the functioning of the hotspots and the prevention of secondary movements, should be addressed as a matter of urgency."
[emphasis added]

- Pakistan sends back 30 'illegally deported' migrants to Greece (DW, link):

"Islamabad has sent back 30 migrants that Athens was trying to repatriate. The Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said Greece had failed to provide adequate proof that they were Pakistani citizens.. Shortly after the arrival of a chartered flight at Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Thursday, Pakistani officials refused to allow 30 of the aircraft's 49 passengers to disembark.

Pakistan's Interior Ministry said their identities had not been confirmed and therefore they could not be repatriated under a 2010 agreement with the EU to accept the repatriation of illegal Pakistani migrants.

"Any deportee with the unverified documents will be sent back on the same flight to the country he would arrive [from]," Khan said."
.

- EU-GREECE: Threats to seal Greek border or suspend Greece from Schengen?

EU Commissioner Avramopoulos on scenarios regarding Greece exiting the Schengen area (ANA-MPA, link):

"According to Avramopoulos, "the immediate and full implementation of the agreed measures, both in Greece and in all the member states, will strengthen the security of maritime boundaries and will restore control in the northern border, where non-unidentified migrants try to continue their trip to the north.""

Greece faces Schengen threat amid refugee impasse (ekathimerini.com, link):

"As Greece comes under intense pressure to tighten its borders, authorities are still grappling with a relentless influx of migrants. Pressure on Greece appeared to grow on Tuesday as senior EU officials warned that the country faces suspension from the Schengen passport-free travel zone unless it overhauls its response to the crisis by mid-December.

“The Germans are furious and that’s why people are talking about pushing Greece out,” an anonymous EU ambassador was quoted by the FT as saying noting growing frustration about Athens’s failure to meet its obligations."


Greece warned EU will reimpose border controls:

"The EU is warning Greece it faces suspension from the Schengen passport-free travel zone unless it overhauls its response to the migration crisis by mid-December, as frustration mounts over Athens’ reluctance to accept outside support." (FT, link)

EU weighs internal border checks to shut Greek refugee route (ekathimerini.com, link):

"European Union governments will consider suspending some passport-free internal travel for as long as two years to prevent refugees who make it to Greece from moving on to western Europe, a draft document showed.

The proposal, designed to pressure Greece into allowing EU policing of its Aegean Sea border with Turkey, will be weighed by home affairs ministers of the 28 EU countries at a meeting in Brussels on Friday. Legal provisions will be discussed “that one or more member states decide to reintroduce border control at all or at specific parts of their internal borders,” according to the document, which was published by the Statewatch.org civil liberties website."


Greece threatened with Schengen suspension (euobserver, link)

- Post-deportation risks: Criminalized departure and risks for returnees in countries of origin (pdf)

A country catalogue published by the /Post-Deportation Monitoring Network /(Rights in Exile programme) about *"Post-Deportation risks: criminalized departure and risks for returnees in countries of origin*".... We are very happy to share this outcome with activists and researchers. This work is not exhaustive, even if we tried to gather all the
inforation and sources we could find during these 9 months. Nonetheless, *we really hope that some organizations and activists could use the country catalogue and its references/sources to raise awareness about specific risks that people will face if authorities want to return them to the country of origin. ***

and see: Rights in Exile Programme - International Refugee Rights Initiative (link)

- EU: Council: Heads of JHA Agencies meeting, 3 - 4 November 2015 (pdf)

Agencies agreed to focus in particular on:

– ensuring fundamental rights, data protection and privacy of the people in Europe in the area of freedom, security and justice;
– developing further support to Member States for the management of irregular migration;
– streamlining inter-agency cooperation in the Hotspots and tackling irregular migration at the Western Balkan route;
– enhancing joint operational activities aimed at addressing the threats to Europe and the Schengen free movement area.....

- An overview of anti-Muslim violence and abuse in the UK since the Paris attacks. (IRR link):

"The terrorist attacks in Paris last month, killing over 100 people and injuring hundreds more, have been followed by anti-Muslim violence across Europe. In the UK, sixty-four religious or racially motivated hate crimes were reported to the police in Scotland in the week that followed, almost as many as were reported in the whole previous year. In London, the seventy-six ‘Islamophobic incidents’ that were reported to the police in that same week were triple the number reported in the previous one. The UK-wide anti-Muslim hate crime reporting body Tell Mama says that there had been a 300 per cent increase in the number of incidents it had recorded, with 115 reports – the victims being mostly women and girls..."

- News (3.12.15)

Merkel urges Afghans to stay at home (euractiv, link): "For the first time, the German Chancellor has urged Afghan migrants not to seek refuge in the Bundesrepublik... The reason is that by the end of October, 68,000 Afghan asylum seekers had registered in Germany, with 31,000 arriving in that month alone. In terms of arrival numbers, Afghans rank second behind Syrians.."

Macedonia: Tear gas and rubber bullets as border tensions mount (AI, link): "Amid increasing tension and violent clashes in the policing of refugees and migrants protesting at the Greek-Macedonian border, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia) border police must show restraint and comply fully with international policing standards, said Amnesty International today. In repeated incidents since the erection of a border fence last Saturday, the Macedonian police have used rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades against refugees and migrants who are protesting over being blocked from entering the country on the basis of their nationalities.... “This is yet another example of Europe’s wholesale failure to deal with the current refugee crisis. From Greece, Turkey and across the Balkan states, the plight of refugees and migrants will only worsen unless states grasp the nettle and provide a coordinated response.”"

EU Council President: Detain refugees arriving in Europe for 18 months, says Tusk - European council president says tougher screening measures needed to counter security risks and describes Angela Merkel’s open-door policy as ‘dangerous’ (Guardian, link): "Refugees arriving in Europe should be detained for up to 18 months in holding centres across the EU while they are screened for security and terrorism risks, the president of the European council has said... Tusk suggested that it was a myth that the majority of refugees reaching Europe were Syrians in flight from war and said that more than two-thirds were irregular migrants who should be turned back." and Tusk: 'Wave of migrants too big not to be stopped' (euobserver, link)

UNHCR concerned by violence at Greek border, calls for improved security (UNHCR, link): "UNHCR is deeply concerned about the tension and violence at the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and calls on the authorities of both countries to manage the border in a manner consistent with human rights and refugee-protection principles. As a result of restrictions by the authorities along the Western Balkans route to the admission of refugees and migrants from countries other than Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, tensions have been rising at Idomeni, on the Greek side of the border, in recent days. These tensions have lead on several occasions to violence and a temporary closure of the border."

Migrant electrocuted at Greek-FYROM border (ekathimerini.com, link): "A man believed to be from Morocco has died on the Greek-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) border, electrocuted after touching high-power overhead railway cables when he climbed on top of a train carriage. Other migrants lowered the man's severely burned body to the ground and covered it with a sheet, and a volunteer doctor in the area confirmed the man had died. The doctor hurried away before giving his name."

Tusk's 'concerted action doesn't make sense' (DW, kink): "In interviews with several European newspapers, European Council President Donald Tusk called for a u-turn in European refugee policy. How helpful are his remarks in finding a much-needed compromise?"

Turkey must release detained asylum seekers and stop sending them back to Syria (GUE press release, link) and: GUE/NGL MEPs shocked at undignified conditions of refugees in Calais (GUE, link)

Number of migrants reaching Europe dips but 1 mln in sight for year - UN (Reuters, link)

Is migration the elephant in the room? (IRIN, kink): "The migration crisis that has preoccupied Europe for the last six months has highlighted how unprepared one of the richest continents in the world is to deal with what lies ahead as climate change steals away livelihoods, multiplies weather-related disasters and aggravates many of the socio-economic problems that drive conflict."

The Czech cabinet should speed up the drafting of laws enhancing the protection of the border and inhabitants against illegal migrants and it should promote the formation of an international coalition to fight terrorism and to maximally support forces fighting IS, the Senate said on Wednesday. (Prague Monitor, link)

Sweden mulls bid to close bridge to Denmark (The Local.se, link): "The Swedish government wants to be able to close the road bridge connecting Sweden to Denmark if the country's record refugee influx continues, according to a legislative proposal."

Italy: Over 1,500 boat migrants rescued off Libya (The Local.it, link): "Over 1,500 migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast in seven separate operations, the Italian navy said on Thursday, after a break in bad weather sparked fresh attempts at the perilous Mediterranean crossing."

EU-Hungary: Secret pact on taking in Syrian refugees (PM, link): "Regarding mandatory resettlement quotas, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán expects to see a “secret background agreement” to be revealed in the next few days, based on which the European Union would take in some 400–500 thousand Syrian refugees."

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