Statewatch article: RefNo# 36141
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27-28.2.16)
Statewatch News Online, February 2016
- NATO Deploys in the Aegean (thepressproject.gr, link)

"The deployment of NATO forces in the Aegean begun today. The Canadian frigate HMCS-Fredericton is sailing close to the island of Lesvos, the German frigate Fgs-Bonn, which is also the tactical chief of the mission, is scheduled to sail to the Aegean....

Presently 11 vessels from the NATO naval force have been assigned for the patrolling of the Aegean as well as several which are acting for Greece.

The operational commander of the assignement is Admiral Mark E.Ferguson (JFC) of the US Navy."


- UNHCR: Daily Report: 26.2.16:

"In the past 48 hours, 1,100 refugees entered the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Entry to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from Greece remains intermittent. An average of 3,000 people arrived daily to the Greek Islands this week.

Condition of People: In order to prevent overcrowding in Eidomeni, authorities set up several stop overs on the way from Pireus Port to Athens, and from Athens to the Eidomeni border crossing with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. People are sheltered temporarily in motels and sports centres. In addition, the transit centres in Athens (Schisto, Elaionas and Elliniko) as well as Diavata in Thessaloniki have become overcrowded. People remained overnight in open spaces such as Victoria Square in Athens. Overall, it is estimated that between 12,000 and 15,000 refugees and migrants are present across the country."


- The Latest: UN chief criticizes Europe's border restrictions (Yahoo/AP, link):

"The United Nations secretary-general is expressing "great concern" at the growing number of border restrictions along the migrant trail through Europe.

Ban Ki-moon's spokesman says the U.N. chief is calling on all countries to keep their borders open and says he is "fully aware of the pressures felt by many European countries."

Friday's statement notes in particular the new restrictions in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia.

Ban says the restrictions are "not in line" with the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees because there is no determination of individuals' refugee status and protection needs"
.

- Europe/migration: Five-country police agreement exacerbates crisis and puts vulnerable migrants at risk -- Zeid (UN, link):

"GENEVA (25 February 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday expressed serious concern at security measures adopted at a recent meeting of the heads of police of five European countries*, which are already having a negative impact on the human rights of refugees and migrants in southern and central Europe, and are compounding the already exceptionally difficult situation in Greece.

“In the wake of the adoption of these measures last week, the treatment of refugees and migrants moving through some of these countries already appears to have changed, with seriously negative implications for their human rights,” Zeid said. “Latest reports suggest chain deportations are now taking place all the way down the Balkan land route, which includes Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, towards Greece. In addition, hundreds of Afghans were reportedly stranded in abject conditions for over five days on the border between The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, and many other Afghans have been blocked from entering The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from Greece, apparently solely on the basis of their nationality.”"


- UN chief criticizes Europe's border restrictions (Yahoo/AP, link):

"The United Nations secretary-general is expressing "great concern" at the growing number of border restrictions along the migrant trail through Europe.

Ban Ki-moon's spokesman says the U.N. chief is calling on all countries to keep their borders open and says he is "fully aware of the pressures felt by many European countries."

Friday's statement notes in particular the new restrictions in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia.

Ban says the restrictions are "not in line" with the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees because there is no determination of individuals' refugee status and protection needs"
.

- Europe/migration: Five-country police agreement exacerbates crisis and puts vulnerable migrants at risk -- Zeid (UN, link):

"GENEVA (25 February 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday expressed serious concern at security measures adopted at a recent meeting of the heads of police of five European countries*, which are already having a negative impact on the human rights of refugees and migrants in southern and central Europe, and are compounding the already exceptionally difficult situation in Greece.

“In the wake of the adoption of these measures last week, the treatment of refugees and migrants moving through some of these countries already appears to have changed, with seriously negative implications for their human rights,” Zeid said. “Latest reports suggest chain deportations are now taking place all the way down the Balkan land route, which includes Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, towards Greece. In addition, hundreds of Afghans were reportedly stranded in abject conditions for over five days on the border between The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, and many other Afghans have been blocked from entering The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from Greece, apparently solely on the basis of their nationality.”


- The EU hotspot approach at Lampedusa (Glenda Garelli and Martina Tazzioli 26 February 2016, Open Democracy, link): "The hotspot works as a preemptive frontier, with the double goal of blocking migrants at Europe’s southern borders, and simultaneously impeding the highest number possible of refugees from claiming asylum."

- Hotspot system as a new device of clandestinisation: view from Sicily (Alessandra Sciurba 25 February 2016, Open Democracy, link): "The ‘hotspot’ system for migrants remains an experiment, but it entails the implementation at the national level of human-rights-violating policies elaborated at the EU level."

- 70,000 refugees may be 'trapped' next month, Greece warns (worldbulletin.net/europe, link):

"We estimate that in our country the number of those trapped will be from 50,000-70,000 people next month,' migration minister says... "Today, there are 22,000 refugees and migrants", he added in an interview with Mega Channel tv.

Some 6,500 people were stuck at the Idomeni camp on Greece's northern border with Macedonia on Sunday as Macedonian border officials let only 300 refugees and migrants pass the day before...

He added that this campaign as well as NATO's presence in the Aegean Sea, which is helping to police Greek waters, was expected to reduce arrivals by 70 percent."


- News (27-28.2.16)

Austria: Border situation worsens in Greece (The Local.at, link): "More than 5,000 people were trapped at the Idomeni camp on Greece's northern border with Macedonia on Saturday after four Balkan countries announced a daily cap on migrant arrivals. By Saturday, some 5,500 people were stranded at Idomeni, local police said, with another 800 gathered at another provisional camp some 20 kilometres (12 miles) away. Since Thursday night, only 150 people have crossed into Macedonia, officials said, putting the total number of refugees and migrants currently on Greek soil at around 25,000."


Turkey raises anti-smuggling steps but faces uphill struggle (ekathimerini.com, link): "Turkey has its own migration issues. The number of refugees Turkey is now hosting has swelled to 3 million - 2.6 million of them from Syria - so that last year Turkey overtook Pakistan as the country with the largest refugee population in the world..... "There has been a visible decrease in the numbers of migrants crossing illegally," Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told journalists. But he quickly added: "To reduce the numbers to zero, however, is impossible. No country has the power to do so."... Turkey is also constructing a wall along parts of its 910-kilometer (560-mile) border with Syria, mainly to prevent infiltrations by Islamic State militants."


Albania will not become the new route for migrants, Rama says (ekathimerini.com, link): "Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has said that Albania will not become the new route for migrants headed for western Europe "because we have neither the conditions nor the strength nor the enthusiasm to save the world while others close their borders."


Refugee Crisis Disunity: A De Facto Solution Takes Shape in the Balkans (Spiegel Online, link): "Angela Merkel is still hoping for a European solution to the refugee crisis. But with patience running out, Austria has joined countries on the Balkan Route to impose Plan B. But with the closure of borders, the situation in Greece is becoming dangerous."

Facebook wants to crack down against hate speech on migrants (BBC, link): "Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg says the social network needs to get better at cracking down on hate speech against migrants."

Germany: Shots fired at refugee building in eastern Germany (DW, link): "First the building was flooded, then stones were thrown at windows. Now bullet holes adorn a building earmarked to house refugees in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, after shots were fired at it."

Double crisis deepens despair in Greece’s ‘warehouse of souls’ (Guardian, link): "Closing of borders by neighbouring states has left more than 25,000 refugees stranded in a country struggling to keep its own economy afloat."

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