Statewatch article: RefNo# 36675
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.6.16)
Statewatch News Online, June 2016
Greece "enlightened" on asylum appeals committees by other EU governments; EP Foreign Affairs Committee opinion on EU safe third countries list; Austria to help Hungary "secure" border; and more.

- EU-TURKEY: New information platform on EU-Turkey migration policy launched: “A critical monitoring of the EU-Turkey deal is absolutely necessary” (pdf): "While the EU is intensifying its cooperation with Turkey regarding border surveillance and deterrence, there is a lack of independent analysis and information on politics and practices onsite. The critical civil society of Turkey is facing practices of intimidation, making independent research and media reporting more and more difficult. At the same time, the importance of Turkey for the European border regime is growing rapidly.

“In the situation we are facing right now, we feel that it is crucial to establish a critical and free source of information, which aims at strengthening the power of civil society”, explains Lülüfer Körükmez. Activists and the interested public, as well as researchers and journalists should use the information provided by HarekAct to follow, initiate and comment on recent debates, discourses and activities around migration policies."


See: HarekAct (link): "This blog-project is the collective work of a group of researchers and (no border) activists from Turkey, Austria and Germany active in networks such as kritnet (Network for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies), GAR (Migration Researchers’ Platform, Turkey), Mülteci-Der, borderline-europe, and bordermonitoring.eu."

- Greece sidelines officials who blocked expulsion of refugees to Turkey (The Guardian, link): "The Greek government has sidelined members of an independent authority that had blocked the deportation of Syrian refugees, following sustained pressure from other European countries.

Greek MPs voted on Thursday to change the composition of the country’s asylum appeals board, in an attempt to sideline officials who had objected on legal grounds to the expulsion of Syrians listed for deportation to Turkey.

The appeals board had jeopardised the EU-Turkey migration deal, the agreement enacted in March that is meant to see all asylum seekers landing on the Greek islands detained in Greece – and then deported."


- EU: COMMON LIST OF SAFE THIRD COUNTRIES: European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Council adopts opinion

"The Rapporteur welcomes this proposal which should help the swift processing of asylum applications from persons originating from these countries and reduce divergences between existing national lists. The proposal includes provisions on the regular review of the situation in the countries on the common list and on the removal of a country from the list in case of sudden change of situation.

It is important to stress that the inclusion of a country on the list cannot establish an absolute guarantee of safety for nationals of that country and therefore will not dispense with the need to conduct an appropriate individual examination of their applications for international protection.

The Rapporteur notes that in the case of Turkey, the rate of asylum applications considered by EU Member States as well-founded is relatively high, testifying to the fact that discrimination and human rights violations of persons belonging to vulnerable groups still occur there. While the Rapporteur agrees with the Commission's conclusion that Turkey is a safe country of origin within the meaning of Directive 2013/32/EU, he considers it of particular importance to make sure that the duty of individual examination of asylum applications is fully respected."


See: OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin for the purposes of Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and amending Directive 2013/32/EU (pdf)

- European Commission: Joint Statement ahead of World Refugee Day 2016 (press release,19 June 2016, pdf): "On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the following statement is issued by Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, and Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management"

- Austria says agrees to help Hungary secure Schengen border (Reuters, link): "Austria agreed on Friday to provide equipment and personnel to help Hungary secure its Schengen border and prevent illegal immigration, an Austrian Defence Ministry spokesman said.

(...)

But at a meeting in Sankt Martin an der Raab in the Austrian state of Burgenland, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Hungary, ministers agreed to increase cooperation on Hungary's southern and eastern borders.

They also discussed conditions under which Austria could send back refugees who initially applied for asylum in Hungary but moved on to the Alpine republic afterwards, a spokesman for Austria's Interior Ministry said.

Two working groups were formed to provide concrete proposals within four weeks."


- GREECE: 127 refugees have arrived in Lesvos, according to the UNHCR (20.6.16).

- Millions in asylum claim backlog (IRIN, link): "The latest refugee and asylum figures, released by UNHCR today, show the global population of refugees rising to 16.1 million at the end of 2015.

(This figure excludes Palestine refugees.)

Africa, Asia and Europe all saw increases in refugee registrations, but Europe's "crisis" should be seen in perspective:

Europe has not yet processed all the applications by asylum-seekers that have arrived in the last year or two, and has about one million cases yet to consider, about one-third of the global total caseload.

Even so, of the global backlog of 3.2 million asylum applications, Europe is by no means exceptional, as today's figures for UNHCR show"


- AUSTRALIA: The worst I've seen – trauma expert lifts lid on 'atrocity' of Australia's detention regime (The Guardian, link):"Exclusive: In his 43-year career, Paul Stevenson has worked in the aftermath of the Bali bombings and the Boxing Day tsunami but says nothing he witnessed was as bad as the treatment of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus"

- GREECE: A colourful place in a bleak reality (ECRE & AIRE Centre, link): "We are standing outside a big white tent in Hara Hotel, a makeshift camp on the side of the road, a bit further down from the intersection leading to Idomeni, in Northern Greece. The name comes from a hotel and petrol station which, quite unbelievably, are still running. We are approached by smiley Ali, the only teacher in the camp, who wants to open the tent and show us the school of Hara.

A little boy starts running towards us. He is visibly excited, with his notebook in hand and a small backpack, and starts chanting the latin alphabet: “A B C D E. A B C D E. A B C D E.” Another boy is following in silence.

“This is Omar,” says Ali pointing at the little boy who is all excited about the thought of going to school one more time today. Ali greets the other boy who is quietly looking at us and tells us with a soft smile and proud eyes: “This boy has my name – Ali – and is one of my best students. He can write some words in English already”. He modestly shows us his school and the donations he has received. Books, pencils, pens, white boards, notebooks – everything he needs to teach. The only thing missing are more teachers willing to join him. “The children need to learn history, maths, so many more things and I can only teach English. They are missing out on school”. Makeshift Hara is hard, and the thought of making a life in this camp scares many, who see their situation as temporary, and so starting to teach in a school is not appealing to everyone, he explains."


- UN refugee chief: Worrying ‘climate of xenophobia’ in Europe (EurActiv, link): "The UN’s refugee chief says a worrying “climate of xenophobia” has taken hold in Europe as the continent struggles with the biggest influx of migrants since World War II.

Speaking to AFP in Tehran at the start of a regional tour, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said European leaders needed to do more to coordinate migration policies and to combat negative stereotypes about refugees.

“Refugees… don’t bring danger to us, they flee from dangerous places,” said Grandi, who took office in January.

National leaders need to better explain that immigration “in fact contributes to the development of societies”. he said.

“Those who do the opposite, who stir up public opinion against refugees and migrants, have a responsibility in creating a climate of xenophobia that is very worrying in today’s Europe,” he said."

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