Statewatch article: RefNo# 36266
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.4.16)
Statewatch News Online, March 2016
- Greece may have deported asylum seekers by mistake, says UN (Guardian, link): "Thirteen of 202 people returned to Turkey under EU migration deal may not have had chance to claim for asylum... Greek police “forgot” to process the asylum claims of 13 of the 202 asylum seekers sent back to Turkey on Monday, the first day the deal was put into practice, according to Vincent Cochetel, director of UNHCR’s Europe bureau.

On Tuesday, EU officials repeatedly avoided saying whether they will investigate the allegation, which threatens the legitimacy of the deportation deal"


- Greece postpones return of next group of migrants until Friday, Turkish official says (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece has postponed the return of the next group of migrants to Turkey under a deal with the European Union until Friday, a Turkish government official said on Tuesday, with no other deportees expected before then."

- Greece’s New Asylum Legislation: What Will Change? (News That Moves, link):

"Appeals against a negative decision will be examined and processed with a final decision within 7 days by newly established Appeal Committees (see art. 60, page 44)

The appeals process is made on the basis of file examination without the presence of the applicant, and Appeals Committee decides whether the applicant will be interviewed or not. The seeker can still request to be interviewed two days before the appeal process starts (see art. 62, page 45)"


and see: Greece: asylum reform in the wake of the EU-Turkey deal (AIDA, link):

"Greek Law 4375/2016 was adopted under urgent procedure on Friday and entered into force yesterday, amid debate and speculation around the legal reforms needed for the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March. The Law introduces a considerable number of changes to the institutional framework, the first reception procedures, the asylum procedure, the labour rights of beneficiaries of international protection, as well as the management of refugee flows in Greece.....

systematic detention of migrants and asylum seekers contravenes human rights standards and the EU asylum acquis, all the more so since the ground provided in Article 8(3)(c) of that Directive, relating to detention during a border procedure for the purpose of deciding on an applicant’s right to enter the territory, has not been transposed into Article 46 of Law 4375/2016."


- Are You Syrious (4,4,16, link):

"Giorgos Kosmopoulos, head of Amnesty International in Greece stated today that "This is the first day of a very difficult time for refugee rights. Despite the serious legal gaps and lack of adequate protection in Turkey, the EU is forging ahead with a dangerous deal. Turkey is not a safe third country for refugees. The EU and Greek authorities know this and have no excuse.""

"Number of new arrivals on the islands in 24h period until 07:30am was 339, of which 173 on Lesvos, 89 on Samos, 74 on Chios and 3 on Leros..."


- The beginning of the end, or the start of something new? (Europes' Word, link) by Heaven Crawley:

"Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the EU remains utterly dependent on Turkey, where the security situation has deteriorated rapidly. The Turkish government has been notoriously bad at sticking to its end of the deal, leveraging an additional €3bn out of the EU by allowing refugees and migrants to continue crossing the Aegean after promising to halt the flows. The EU-Turkey deal says that visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens travelling to the EU will take place in June at the latest, “provided that all benchmarks have been met”. But if at any stage things don’t go Turkey’s way, it’s likely that the route across the Aegean will simply open up again.

Over the next few days, weeks and months, we will get a clearer sense of whether this is the beginning of the end for Europe’s migration crisis or the start of something new. The stakes are high not just for those in search of protection, but for the future of the European Union itself."
[emphasis added]

- EU’s refugee detention centre on Lesbos is neither moral nor humane (Friends of Europe, link): by Kirsty Hughes:

"In a small valley covered with olive trees on the Greek island of Lesbos sits the Moria detention centre, where 2,800 asylum-seekers are locked inside a grim complex that has capacity for only 2,000 people. Behind grey concrete walls is first tall and rusty barbed-wire fencing, then newer fences topped with coiled razor wire. Riot police are gathered around a bus outside. I take some photos at the side of the camp – two policemen jump out of an ordinary car and tell me to delete them.

The EU clearly wants to show it is within the law in how it manages asylum claims, and that each individual will have a right of appeal. Whether this will happen in any genuine way is an open question for now, when the known intention is to declare almost all applications inadmissible. It will at best be lip service in terms of legality. I put this to regional UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch. He said the whole strategy “will be a burden on the EU’s conscience”. The question remaining is, perhaps, whether the EU has a conscience any more."
[emphasis added]

- So the Greece deportations are going ‘smoothly’? Take a closer look by Apostolis Fotiadis (Guardian, link):

"The first refugees have been returned under the EU-Turkey deal, and there are already concerns about coercion and force being used.

As it turns out, more than 90% of people arriving in Greek islands since 20 March – when the EU-Turkey deal was enacted – have opted for asylum, thus complicating their return under the arrangement. It is no surprise then that no further dates have been announced for future deportations.....

In one case yesterday at a pre-removal centre in Chios, police faced angry protesters among those rounded up to be deported. Videos have emerged in which detainees appear to scream “no deport” and “shame on Europe”. It is unclear to what degree the deportees have been coerced to comply with operational procedures.

Such evidence is important in order to pose questions about the future of the deal. How much coercion and force will become necessary when people really start resisting deportations? How will the EU follow up the nasty details of the process when Frontex does not have a complaints mechanism to carry out inquiries into violations? What will be the limits for NGOs and international organisations before they become complicit?"
[emphasis added]

- LIBYA: Five Migrants Dead, 15 Injured After Detention Centre Escape (Migrant Report, link): "At least five African migrants are dead and 15 injured, some of them seriously after guards at a detention in the coastal town of Zawiya opened fire during a mass escape early on Saturday morning."

- Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals at 172,089; Deaths 714 (IOM, link): 2016: Arrivals in Greece 152,133 and in Italy: 19,287. UNHCR: 151,104 arrivals in Greece, 19,340 in Italy. 711 deaths/missing.

- Frontex: Risk Analysis for 2016 (15 MB, pdf) Border control, refugees and the new Border Agency

- News (5.4.16)

Asylum rush hampers second wave of migrant expulsions from Greece (DJ, link): "A last-minute rush of asylum applications hampered operations Tuesday to return migrants from Greece to Turkey under an EU deal, as the UN watchdog voiced concern for 13 individuals sent back the day before.... Out of around 6,000 migrants who arrived on the islands after a deadline of March 20, more than 2,300 had applied for asylum, he said."

Greece pauses deportations as asylum claims mount (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Authorities in Greece have temporarily suspended deportations to Turkey and acknowledged that most migrants and refugees detained on Greek islands have applied for asylum.....

Maria Stavropoulou, director of Greece’s Asylum Service, told state TV that some 3,000 people held in deportation camps on the islands are seeking asylum, with the application process to formally start by the end of the week.

She says asylum applications typically take about three months to process, but would be “considerably faster” for those held in detention"
.

Austria: Protestors demand end to ‘fortress Europe’ as Austria ups border security (euractiv, link): "The closure of the so-called Balkan route means refugees are now looking for alternative ways to reach Germany. Central European countries now want to work together better in order to coordinate their respective policies."

How Europe built fences to keep people out (Reuters, link) : "In early March, Europe's migration chief Dimitris Avramopoulos squelched through a muddy refugee camp on Greece's border with Macedonia and peered through the barbed-wire topped fence that stands between tens of thousands of migrants in Greece and richer countries that lie to the north. "By building fences, by deploying barbed wire," he said, "it is not a solution.".... Greece's border fence was one of the first, and Avramopoulos still defends it. He says Greece built it to divert people towards official crossings where they could apply for asylum."

Greece: Pakistani Migrants In Lesbos Camp Protest (Sky News, link): "Dozens of Pakistani migrants at a detention camp on the Greek island of Lesbos have staged a protest amid fears they will be sent to Turkey in the coming days."

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