|Statewatch article: RefNo# 36320
|Statewatch News Online, April 2016
|- European Commssion: Communicatio: Assessment of Greece's Action Plan to remedy the serious deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external border (COM 220-16, pdf): Still no mention of the need for lawyers with access to refugees and:
"As far as information about accommodation possibilities from the Hellenic Police to migrants who are not staying in a reception/registration or detention centre is concerned, Greece is requested to implement the measures without delay."
and Report: Second report on relocation and resettlement (COM 222-16, pdf):
"From 16 March until 11 April, only 208 additional people had been relocated, 46 from Greece (to Estonia, Portugal and Finland) and 162 from Italy (to Portugal, France, Finland and Romania), bringing the total number of persons relocated to 1,145 (615 from Greece and 530 from Italy)....
The total number of formal pledges by Member States of relocation amounts to 4,516 (1,573 to Italy and 2,943 to Greece) 2.82% of total. Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia have still not submitted any pledge. Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia have not yet delivered on their pledges"
- Are You Syrious (link): "Greek council for Refugees voiced a strong critique of the changes in Greek laws which made possible for the provisions of the EU/Turkey deal to be carried out. The changes go against national and international law with GCR stating that "The enforcement of the measure involving deprivation of freedom without individual assessment continues"
- Electra (link) On the position of lawyers in Greece
- European Parliament: GUE/NGL abstention largely due to lack of criticism of recent EU-Turkey deal on refugees (link):
"Despite the positive points in the Metsola, Kyenge report on 'the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration', voted in Parliament today, the lack of criticism concerning the recent EU-Turkey agreement was among the reasons why many members of the group were unable to back the report and abstained....
MEP Spinelli continues: "The main reason I recommended our group to abstain was, however, the complete absence of criticism of the recent EU-Turkey deal: a deal deemed illegal even by the UN secretary general’s special representative for international migration and development for two fundamental reasons: it promotes collective deportations and considers Turkey as a safe third country.""
- UNHCR stalling on commitments in Greece (New Europe, link): "With relocations of refugees from Greece to other EU Member States taking place at an alarmingly slow rate, and resettlements from Turkey commencing last week, governments have recognised that the refugee crisis in Greece and Europe cannot be solved without the effective participation of international organisations. The most important organisation, the UNHCR has fallen short of its commitments.
An EU source told New Europe that the European Commission could consider a partial recovery of the €80 million of EU taxpayers’ money that was provided for the cause of developing reception places in Greece, “but would rather see the UNHCR deliver on its obligations.”
In December, the European Commission agreed to provide the UNHCR with the sum of €80 million to develop 20,000 additional reception places for asylum seekers and relocation candidates in Greece through subsidies for housing in the private sector.
The UNHCR committed to use have the places ready by January this year. By March 11th, significantly past the deadline, 1,387 of the 20,000 reception places had been used through the scheme. The UNHCR capacity is currently 3,242 places; 16,758 places short."
- UNHCR: (11.4.16): Arrivals in EU total 2016: 173,728. In Greece 153,156 (up 175 since 8.4.6), in Italy 19,934 (up 608). 716 dead/missing this year.
Daily Report (11.4.16): "Regarding the clashes of last Sunday, Achilleas Tzemos, of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), told Reuters that of more 30 of the 300 people treated had wounds caused by rubber bullets. A similar number had open wounds, and 200 others had respiratory problems resulting from exposure to teargas.
“Among those with breathing difficulties there were quite a few women and children,” he said."
- EU asylum applications from lone children quadruple (euobserver, link): "At least 95,000 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in Europe last year, four times the numbers for 2014.
The huge increase was discovered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism during an investigation into the level of migration among unaccompanied children, defined as those under 18 years old, in Europe and the stark inconsistencies in the way they are treated.
From approaching 29 different governments for statistics, the investigators found that at least 95,070 applied for asylum in Europe in 2015, up from 23,572 in 2014."
And see: Revealed: Fourfold rise as 95,000 unaccompanied children claim asylum in Europe in 2015 (BIJ, link)
- Broad Bulgarian support for vigilantes ‘arresting’ refugees (euractiv, link):
"An amateur video published on social media yesterday (11 April), showing the arrest of asylum seekers by vigilantes, sparked debates at political level and among the wider public about the role of so-called “patriots” in discouraging refugees from crossing through Bulgaria.The amateur shows vigilantes arresting three refugees, tying their hands behind their backs as they lie on the ground in a wood."
And: Bulgarian vigilantes filmed tying up migrants (BBC News, link) and Bulgaria Awards Vigilante Migrant-Hunters (Balkan Insight, link): "Police have given an award to one of the voluntary ‘border patrols’ which have been gaining popularity in Bulgaria, with groups of ordinary people detaining migrants and handing them to the authorities."
- Greece: Greece blasts FYROM over migrant border violence (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Monday of “shaming” Europe by firing tear gas and rubber bullets at migrants desperately trying to break through a border fence.
Tensions were still running high after Sunday's violence, which saw 250 migrants and refugees hurt at the flashpoint Idomeni crossing as they tried to force their way into FYROM. “Faced with people who were clearly not armed and constituted no serious threat, they attacked with chemicals, with tear gas and rubber bullets,” Tsipras told reporters, blaming FYROM police.
“This is a great shame for European culture and for countries who want to be part of it,” he said, calling on the EU and the UN refugee agency UNHCR to take a stand as Europe struggles cope with its worst migration crisis since World War II."
- News (12.4.16)
UNHCR Daily Report (12.4.16): "Speaking to public broadcaster ERT, Brigadier General Zacharoula Tsirigoti, head of Greece’s immigration police, stated that about 3,500 people are currently located at the detention facility in Moria on the island of Lesvos. Almost all those present have expressed interest in submitting an application to request asylum; applications are now being processed. Of those, about 700 persons with specific needs have been transferred to the municipality’s open accommodation centre in Kara Tepe. Tsirigoti also said the asylum service on Lesvos has been strengthened with an additional 46 staff and aims to examine 50 applications per day. She added that Syrian nationals who will be returned by plane to Turkey under the EU-Turkey agreement will be processed in Osmaniye Province (near Adana)." and
"In Austria, UNHCR issued a press release to express concern regarding the intended amendment of the Asylum Act. The draft law foresees limited access for asylum-seekers to the asylum procedure. The majority of those seeking international protection could, on the basis of this legislation, be rejected at the border in a fasttrack procedure and be returned to Austria’s neighbouring countries unless having close family ties in Austria. UNHCR called for joint European solutions rather than unilateral measures. Furthermore, access to the territory and fair asylum procedures for all asylum-seekers, the respect for legal minimum standards, and special treatment for children and particularly vulnerable people were urged. UNHCR appeals to the Austrian Federal government to reconsider the proposed amendment and adopt measures in line with international and European refugee law." and see:
NGOs slam Austria's asylum law changes (The Local.at, link): "Austria’s biggest charities have joined forces to slam the government’s increasingly hardline approach to dealing with migrants and refugees, in what is arguably the biggest criticism of the strategy from the country’s NGO sector yet Caritas, Diakonie and the Austrian Red Cross - who all provide services to refugees as part of their work - spoke out at a press conference on Monday against a change to the country’s asylum law. As of mid-May, the government will only accept cases of refugees facing threats to their safety in a neighbouring transit country or whose relatives are already in Austria.."
Greece: Migrant inflows ease on islands of eastern Aegean (ekathimerini.com, link): "in the 24-hour period to 9 a.m. on Tuesday, a total of 80 people landed on Greece’s shores, a marked drop from the hundreds trying to enter the European Union daily before a deal with Turkey to curb inflows was put into effect at the start of the month. Of these 80, 75 landed on Lesvos, four on Chios and one on Samos. There were no Syrians among them, officials told the ANA-MPA."
Fifteen questioned as part of tighter policing of Idomeni refugee camp (ekathimerini.com, link): "Police on Tuesday remanded 13 foreign nationals and two Greeks at the makeshift refugee camp at Idomeni on Greece’s northern border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).... Most of the suspects are foreign nationals – from Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Portugal and the Czech Republic. They were questioned in connection with reports that Sunday’s storming of the border, as well as several similar incidents in the past, may have been incited by anti-establishment groups."
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