Statewatch article: RefNo# 35999
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.1.16)
Statewatch News Online, January 2016
- EU: Joint Statement following the High-Level Political Dialogue between the EU and Turkey (pdf)

"Turkey and the EU believe that there is a need to exert huge effort to address the refugee crisis and irregular migration. They discussed the implementation of the Joint Action Plan which was activated at the 29 November EU-Turkey Summit. Measures by Turkey to further improve the socio-economic situation of Syrians under temporary protection, such as the adoption of legislation on granting them legal access to the labor market, were welcomed. Turkey exerts outstanding efforts so far to accommodate the more than two and a half million Syrians currently in Turkey. The need to achieve further results in stemming the influx of irregular migrants and in fighting criminal smuggling networks was underlined. Turkey and the EU agreed to step up their cooperation to reinforce the interception capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard and acknowledged the importance of maintaining a system of coordinated reporting on migration and refugee flows."

- EU: Humanity adrift - On the frontlines of Europe’s refugee crisis in Lesvos, Hazel Healy finds tragedy, hope – and answers (New Internationalist, link): "In a taverna overlooking Molyvos harbour, exhausted Greek coastguards have come off shift and are drinking in a huddle. They have just pulled 242 refugees out of the water, in the worst shipwreck off the shores of Lesvos since the refugee crisis began last year.

By 1.30am there is only one man left in the bar, Yanis Stipsanos, the vice-mayor of Molyvos. ‘Too many people have died at my place,’ he says, his face like thunder. ‘I didn’t kill them. Turkey killed them.’ He thinks for a moment. ‘Europe killed them.’ Pauses. ‘Fuck you, Europe, and take them. This is not Lesvos’s problem, it’s humanity’s problem.’"


- EU: Moving On: One Year Alarmphone (pdf, 7MB)

"Everything is possible, everything can be transformed by strong social movements! Through our Alarm Phone project and during this incredible year of successful struggles for the freedom of movement, we learned this lesson once again.

(...)

The different contributions in this brochure reflect on many remarkable experiences made by Alarm Phone members in the project’s first year of existence. Most of its articles were composed by working groups or individual members of our transnational network and are thus reflective of the decentralised character of the Alarm Phone and its collaborative approach. We have grown into a network of more than 100 activists who belong to various groups, have multiple backgrounds, and live in cities all over Europe, northern Africa and elsewhere."


- Protesters march against Greece-Turkey border fence (Ekathimerini, link): "Hundreds of people protested in northeast Greece Sunday against the security fence along the Turkish border, demanding the opening of safe routes for migrants, two days after 45 died making the risky Aegean Sea crossing.

Demonstrators, some wearing life jackets as a symbol of the flow of thousands of people making the perilous sea journey from Turkey to Greece, marched from the village of Kastanies, which lies close to the frontier.

Police stopped the marchers a few hundred meters (yards) away from the border fence, located in a restricted-access military zone."


See also: Despite patrols, sealing Greek sea border is near impossible (AP, link): "In the inky nighttime blackness, a small red dot appears on the radar screen, moving fast.

"That's a smuggler," the captain of the coast guard's lifeboat says, swinging the vessel around and opening up the throttle, the boat cutting through the water on a frigid January night.

But the lifeboat, designed for search-and-rescue operations rather than high-speed chases, is no match for the smuggler's speedboat. The smuggler ignores the searchlight, the shouts and the warning shots fired by the Greek coast guard, deftly navigating his small white vessel onto a tiny patch of beach among rocks."


- European Commission: Progress following Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting: Thirteenth Contact Points Video Conference (press release, pdf): "Today, a thirteenth video conference was held between the contact points nominated after the Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting held on 25 October. The objective was to follow up on the agreement reached at the meeting and set out in the Leaders' Statement. Senior officials from the countries and agencies present at the meeting had a detailed discussion on recent trends concerning external borders and reception capacity"

See: Leaders' Statement (October 2015) And on the current situation: Balkan countries fear becoming buffer zone for refugees (EurActiv, link): "Fearing that Western countries will close their borders, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia are only letting refugees whose registration papers say that they will apply for asylum in Austria and Germany pass through.

Some 2,000 asylum seekers began crossing into Macedonia yesterday (21 January) in freezing temperatures as the country conditionally reopened its border with Greece after closing it temporarily."


- EU: Can Member States seize asylum-seekers’ assets? (EU Law Analysis, link): "In recent days, several EU and non-EU countries have been in the news for taking asylum-seekers' assets upon arrival. Is this compatible with EU law? We examine first of all national practice, then the legislative history of the relevant EU rules, then reach our conclusions."

- NGO monitoring of immigration detention: Tips, examples and positive practices (International Detention Coalition, pdf): "This briefing note captures the outcome of a workshop on monitoring immigration detention for European NGOs which took place in Brussels on 26 and 27 of March 2015, organised by the Flemish Refugee Action and the International Detention Coalition (IDC) with support of EPIM. The aim of the workshop was to strengthen civil society monitoring of immigration detention by sharing experiences, challenges and positive practices.

All the workshop participants work in immigration detention context, and this briefing note brings together tips, examples and positive practices of monitoring, based on the participants’ unique experiences and expertise, gathered during the workshop.

The briefing note summarises key information from the workshop sessions, which involved presentations, sharing examples and thematic group discussions. Please see the appendix 2 for the workshop agenda."


- News (25.1.16)

Belgian mayor proposes banning male asylum seekers from a swimming pool (The Telegraph, link): "After complaints from female bathers about being stared at and selfies taken of them, the mayor decided to act but was soon criticised as making as ill-advised move"

EU mantra of 'solidarity' lost on asylum (EUobserver, link): "The EU mantras of values and inter-state cooperation have lost all meaning in the face of a refugee crisis which has cost the lives of thousands. Few people believe Europe's migration and refugee plans can work.

Some may cling to an ever-fleeting hope, while the most desperate issue warnings that Europe's borderless Schengen zone is fast approaching its end. The threat is real."


EU: Greece risks Schengen expulsion (EUobserver, link): "Threats are mounting to expel Greece from the EU's border-free Schengen zone, as interior ministers meet on Monday (25 January) in Amsterdam to discuss extending border controls for two years.

Austria’s interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, said on her way into the informal meeting in the Dutch city: “It's clear that that if we can't secure the Greek-Turkish border, the Schengen border will move to central Europe.”"


German proposal for ‘border centres’ on the table (New Europe, link): "To speed up the repatriation of asylum seekers deemed unqualified to stay Germany, a senior figure in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party has proposed setting up “border centres” along the frontier with Austria.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Julia Kloeckner, leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrats in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, said she thought the chancellor’s push for a European solution to a large influx of asylum seekers into Europe was still the right decision, adding that her proposal was meant to “complement it”."


POLAND: Minister Mariusz Blaszczak at a Visegrád Group meeting (Ministry of the Interior and Administration, link): "“All Visegrád Group countries are against the automatic refugee relocation mechanism,” said Minister Mariusz Blaszczak after the meeting of Ministers of Internal Affairs of Visegrád Group countries and Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia."

EU: FAR RIGHT: Germany’s controversial far-right group Pegida signed a declaration with similar groups from 14 European countries claiming that Islam is conquering Europe (New Europe, link): "Far-right groups from all around Europe signed a xenophobic anti-EU statement claiming that Islam is conquering Europe.

On Saturday, Germany’s anti-immigration movement Pegida has signed a declaration with like-minded groups from 9 European countries, at a conference in Roztoky, Czech Republic. The statement claims that “Western civilization could soon come to an end through Islam conquering Europe.” Groups from Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and Estonia, signed the far-right declaration."


Greek islanders to be nominated for Nobel peace prize (The Guardian, link): "Greek islanders who have been on the frontline of the refugee crisis are to be nominated for the Nobel peace prize with the support of their national government.

Of the 900,000 refugees who entered Europe last year most were received –scared, soaked and travelling in rickety boats – by those who live on the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea."


Hungary to block passage for migrants, calls for fences (Detusche Welle, link): "Refugees will no longer be allowed to cross into Hungary, even if they are just passing through, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in an interview on Friday.

"The best migrant is the migrant who does not come. The best number is zero," Orban asserted during a state radio interview on Friday."


HUNGARY: PM Orbán In Slovenia: Fences Must Be Built On Greek Borders To Stop Migrant Influx And Save Schengen Zone (Hungary Today, link): "Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has called for anti-immigration border barriers to be erected on Greece’s frontier with Macedonia and Bulgaria to stop the influx of migrants and save the Schengen zone, which allows for uncontrolled travel across most of Europe."

SPAIN: Barcelona En Comú expresses its support for the volunteers from Spain and Denmark who have been detained in Lesbos while performing humanitarian work (Barcelona en Comú, link): "Barcelona En Comú expresses its support for the volunteers from Spain and Denmark who have been detained in Lesbos while performing humanitarian work.

José, Julio, Manuel, Mo, and Salam risk their lives every day rescuing refugees in distress at sea. They moved to Lesbos to volunteer to collaborate and contribute to the rescue of those fleeing violence and war, working in two non-profit initiatives, ProEmAid and Team Humanity Denmark.
"

The children who need to play (BBC News, link): "Thirty percent of the migrants and refugees who reached Europe last year were children. Despite their long and dangerous journey, the youngsters still need to find ways to play."

UK: Asylum seeker wristbands to be removed (The Guardian, link): "The government will face questions in the House of Commons on Monday about why asylum seekers in Cardiff have been forced to wear brightly coloured wristbands.

Jo Stevens, the shadow justice minister and Labour MP for Cardiff Central, said on Sunday she had spoken with Clearsprings Ready Homes, the private company contracted by the Home Office to accommodate newly arrived asylum seekers, and voiced “grave concerns”."

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