Statewatch article: RefNo# 36605
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-5.6.16)
Statewatch News Online, June 2016
- UNHCR calls for investigation into river-drowning of Syrian refugee in Hungary (DW, link):

"The UN refugee agency has documented over 100 cases of 'excessive use of force' against refugees trying to enter Hungary. Budapest has taken bold measures to block migrants from entering the country."

- Austrian FM urges EU to keep refugees on islands ‘like Australia’ (Press TV, link):

"Austria’s foreign minister says the European Union should follow the controversial “Australian example” and lock up the refugees on some islands to block their access to Europe’s mainland....

“A refugee, who stays on an island like the [the Greek island of] Lesbos with no chance of receiving asylum, will be more willing to return voluntarily, as someone who has moved into an apartment in Vienna or Berlin,” he added......

Australia denies settlement to refugees attempting to reach the country by boat. The refugee boats are intercepted and sent to the remote islands of Christmas and Manus in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the South Pacific, where they are kept in reportedly inhumane conditions, and held indefinitely while their refugee applications are processed. The Canberra-run camps have been widely criticized by human rights agencies for harsh conditions and reports of systemic child abuse."


- Greece: NGO targeted in Thessaloniki (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A group of unknown assailants threw Molotov cocktails at the offices of a nongovernmental organization in the northern port city of Thessaloniki in the early hours of Saturday, authorities announced.

The NGO’s offices are located on the ground floor of a building in the area of Kamara. Initial reports suggested the building’s entrance and a car sustained damage."


- Report from Lesvos 30.5.16: Platanos Refugee Solidarity (link)

"Another boat landed yesterday morning at Skala harbour accaccompanied by a Frontex vessel. After the public outcry over the incident of May 29, where Frontex and greek coastgurad kept refugees away from front-line support and medical assistance, yesterday they changed their stance and they let volunteers to offer help to the refugees. Around 30 ppl from different countries got changed at the harbour of skala before getting taken by the coastguard buses to Moria. Our report against the abusive behaviour of frontex-greek coastguard on the 29 May went viral and was shared largely on local and national press. We assume this is the reason for them being so eager to cooperate yesterday. No human right was ever "granted" without struggle".

See report from: Platanos on the disgraceful events of 29 May (see translation, link):

"Late last night, inflatable boat with 50 refugees arrived accompanied at the port of stairs sykamiás. The Maltese frontex spotted the boat near Cape Korakas and did not offer any help, even though the machine of refugees was broken. For an hour just stood beside her, forbidding the other rescue boats to assist. After an hour, a frontex put the machine of refugees in front and led them to the port of the stairs. Two hundred meters before they reach the shore, xanaakinetopoioún refugees and keep them in the open outside the port for another hour. From the pier of the stairs, we heard the voices of refugees in the middle of the night screaming for help, unnecessarily anxious from waiting. Finally the waiting vans phrontexádes coast guard coming to take the refugees in moria and only then brought them to the coast....."

- EU: Quaker Council on European Affairs (QCEA): Briefing on Operation Sophia (pdf)

"On 18 May 2015 the Foreign Affairs Council approved Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/778, establishing a military CSDP operation that would involve attempting to disrupt the operations of people smugglers in Libya. This operation was originally named EUNAVFOR MED, but was later renamed Operation Sophia. (For convenience, this document uses the term “Operation Sophia” even when referring to the part of the operation conducted before the operation was given that name.)

We at the Quaker Council for European Affairs have been concerned about the possible consequences of Operation Sophia for refugees and migrants. Therefore, in March and April 2016 we conducted a short, focused advocacy project that included meetings with relevant staff from three of the Member State Permanent Representations, as well as with a representative of the EEAS."


- Meijers Committee: Note on the Reform of the Common European Asylum System (pdf):

"In its communication of 6 April 2016 (COM(2016) 197 final), the European Commission announced reforms of EU legislation in respect of the qualification for international protection, asylum procedures and reception conditions. In this note the Meijers Committee would like to make the following comments with regard to the proposed reforms."

- Greece: Hundreds rescued, 9 die in shipwreck as tensions rise in migrant camps (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Hundreds of migrants were rescued on Friday after a smuggling boat sank in international waters south of Crete, while the Hellenic Coast Guard recovered the bodies of at least nine drowned migrants.

The 25-meter vessel capsized in the early hours of Friday morning under circumstances that remained unclear, leaving hundreds of migrants in the sea, some 70 nautical miles south of Crete. According to the International Organization for Migration, around 700 migrants had been aboard the vessel.

Five ships – cargo and commercial vessels – had been near the scene and offered assistance, rescuing scores of migrants. The Hellenic Coast Guard sent two vessels while the navy dispatched two Super Puma helicopters to scour the area. By late Friday, 340 migrants had been rescued and the bodies of nine migrants pulled out of the sea by rescue workers...."


- UNHCR Launches Pro-Refugee Petition (News That Moves, link):

"The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) this week launched an online petition asking governments to act to support refugees. The #WithRefugees petition asks governments to ensure:

- every refugee child gets an education,
- every refugee family has somewhere safe to live
- every refugee can work or learn new skills."

- Are You Syriious (link)

Greek rescuers respond to capsized migrant boat off island of Crete

"Greek rescuers have saved more than 300 people from a capsized boat in international waters south of the island of Crete. It was unclear where the migrant boat was launched or where it was heading.

Greek coastguard boats, helicopters and four nearby ships came to the aid of a “significant number” of people stranded after their boat capsized about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Crete in international waters, Greek authorities said Friday. At least four bodies were retrieved and more than 300 rescued. The death toll was expected to rise as rescue operations continued to search for at least another 300 believed to have been on board."


"First Deportation Following Asylum Rejection in Lesvos

"The first deportation of a Syrian citizen is going to be carried out on Thursday in Lesvos, after the final rejection of his asylum petition. The asylum request was rejected on the second, and final degree, while the petitioner has not been called for a vis-a-vis hearing.

The Homosexuality Claim

A Syrian claimed to be homosexual yet this argument to grant him asylum was also rejected by the committee. According to the Syrian’s representatives, the EASO employee asked him which were the colors of the Rainbow flag and whether he knew any famous Syrian homosexual. He answered that he was not active in the homosexual community of Syria and knew no such information as he was forced to hide his own sexual preferences. Accordingly, his claim, that he was homosexual was rejected."


- Italy: FROM THE HUMANITARIAN BLACKMAIL OVER FOOD TO TODAY'S VIOLENCE

Permanent NoBorders Monitoring Post in Ventimiglia - May 24, 2016 | Presidio Permanente No Borders - Ventimiglia·Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"The mayor of Ventimiglia withdraws the order on the provision of food and drinks

When Ventimiglia's mayor Enrico Ioculano issued a mayoral order forbidding the provision of food and drinks to migrants who were in transit in the town's territory last July, various voices were heard criticising what in effect amounted to a criminal offence of solidarity. While the self-managed kitchen at the border monitoring post continued working at full speed, the only people who bore the brunt of this measure were some Islamic associations from Nice which went to distribute food to the people in the station every evening.

The order had two main objectives: to discourage solidarity towards the people who were travelling and to designate the Italian Red Cross as the only body responsible for managing the emergency. In the camp, its effects were the opposite: the self-managed kitchen's capacity was increased and the migrants decided not to accept any more food from the same organisation which was cooperating with deportations from Ponte San Luigi to the reception centre in the station."


- Migszol: Migrant solidarity group of Hungary: Solidarity with the people protesting against poor conditions in the closed asylum detention center in Kiskunhalas, Hungary (link):

"People imprisoned in the closed refugee detention center of Kiskunhalas organized a protest yesterday, June 1st 2016. Today, the protest continues. They are demanding freedom to leave the prison and live in an open camp, a faster asylum procedure and better living conditions in the camp. According to Julia Ivan, a lawyer at the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, many of the protesters are people that Hungary is trying to deport to Greece with the Dublin regulation, despite the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled against such deportations.

Kiskunhalas is one of the asylum detention centers, where asylum seekers are kept imprisoned up to six months, without ever having committed a crime..."


- Amnesty International: No safe refuge: Asylum-seekers and refugees denied effective protection in Turkey (link):

"The European Union (EU) must immediately halt plans to return asylum-seekers to Turkey on the false pretence that it is a “safe country” for refugees, said Amnesty International in a briefing published today.

The briefing, No safe refuge: Asylum-seekers and refugees denied effective protection in Turkey, details the shortcomings in Turkey’s asylum system and the hardships refugees face there that would render their return under the EU-Turkey Agreement of March 18 illegal – and unconscionable."


- German minister criticises ‘sluggish’ deportation rate (New Europe, link):

"Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says he wants to speed up migrant deportations by assigning more police offers to the task.

In an interview with German mass circulation newspaper Bild, the minister said he will present a report bemoaning “long procedures” and “insufficient personnel” for this task. He said German states have “little political will to apply the residence law” resulting in the “sluggish” deportation rate.

As reported by Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), an interior ministry report based on March 31 data shows there were over 219,000 migrants set to be expelled from Germany. Almost 168,000 of them had been issued the so-called Duldung (tolerance) permits, allowing them to stay in the country until obstacles for their deportation are cleared. The remaining 51,000, however, were to be expelled as soon as possible."


- GREECE: Pro Asyl: Press Release: Appeals Committee on Lesbos stops deportations to Turkey (link)

"PRO ASYL calls for an end to the inhuman large-scale experiment in the Aegean – stop deportations to Turkey!

Yesterday night three positive decisions by the Administrative Appeals Committee of Lesbos were published. Lawyers of the PRO ASYL project “Refugee Support Program in the Aegean (RSPA)” represented nine Syrian protection seekers before the second instance on 20 and 21 April. The concerned asylum seekers were greatly relieved to receive the news that their deportation to Turkey has now been stopped. By now ten decisions by Appeals Committees have been published in which it is asserted that Turkey is no “safe third country” for Syrian refugees."
and see:

Greek court halts Syrian deportations to 'unsafe' Turkey (euobserver, link)

- Are You Syrious (link)

Today’s numbers and news of new arrivals

"Today’s numbers as released by the Greek government are as follows: 8,417 refugees are currently in the islands, nearly 1,000 more than the official maximum capacity of the existing camps. The Attica region is hosting 14,510 refugees, while Northern Greece is hosting 26,840. Central Greece is hosting 2,262 refugees and Southern Greece has 289, bringing the total number throughout the country to 52,318."

A boat containing 22 people landed in North Lesvos. Between 130 and 140 refugees landed on Chios in the morning.

Dozens of asylum seekers have been injured in a riot at Moria Camp. There are also problems at Samos.

"Ekathimerini reports that clashes in the morning have left dozens injured after a group of Pakistani refugees accused Afghans of trying to seize control of the camp, with the Afghan refugees alleging that Pakistanis were stealing food as well as sexually harassing women and children. Fires were set in the camp.

Meanwhile there are also riots in Samos. Our sources report that these clashes were between the Algerian and Pakistani residents of the camp. 6 people were injured and 2 containers were burned down."


News (2-5.6.16)

Migrant crisis: Rescue under way from capsized boat off Crete (BBC News, link): "About 250 people have been rescued from a migrant boat that has capsized in the Mediterranean sea, Greek officials say.A coast guard spokesman said four ships were involved in the operation, with helicopters on their way.Hundreds of migrants were "in distress" in the water. The boat was found in international waters, 75 nautical miles south of the Greek island of Crete."

Bodies wash up in Libya, rescue off Crete (DW, link): "The bodies of more than 100 boat migrants have come ashore near Libya's western city of Zwara. Far out in the Mediterranean, off Crete, 304 people have been rescued from another stricken vessel."

Austria on brink of reaching self-imposed refugee limit (euractiv, link)

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