Statewatch article: RefNo# 36994
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.8.16)
Statewatch News Online, August 2016
- FRONTEX: Shoot First: Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show (The Intercept, link):

"a Greek court ruled that the coast guard officers, including the one arrested, did nothing wrong; they were shooting to stop a suspected smuggler.

Yet a collection of incident reports from Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, obtained by The Intercept, reveals a broader Greek and European tactic of using weapons to stop boats driven by suspected smugglers — and injuring or killing refugees in the process. (In the Greek islands, Frontex operates alongside the coast guard, patrolling the sea border with Turkey. In many cases, the information in these documents was reported to Frontex by the Greek coast guard as part of their joint operations.)

The documents, which were meant to be redacted to shield operational details but were inadvertently released by Frontex in full, reveal multiple cases of firearms use against boats carrying refugees (The Intercept has elected to publish the unredacted versions to demonstrate how refugees’ lives were endangered during these incidents). The reports span a 20-month period from May 2014, two months after the Chios shooting, to December 2015. Each case of firearms use - even if it resulted in someone being wounded - was described as part of the standard rules of engagement for stopping boats at sea....

After the shooting, Rawan, Amjad, and Akil were taken to the general hospital in Chios to be treated, where they stayed for two weeks. Doctors’ reports from Germany and Sweden, where the three were eventually given asylum, as well as from the hospital in Chios, confirm that the injured refugees were released from the hospital in Chios with bullets still in their bodies. All three victims speculate that the hospital responded to pressure from the coast guard, who, they say, didn’t want evidence of the shooting in Greece.""


See full file: Serious Incident Reports (190 pages, pdf) and see Frontex rules: Serious Incident Reporting (pdf)

- EU Commission reiterates €250,000 fine per refugee for member states that deny relocation (New Europe, link):

"The €250,000 per applicant solidarity contribution to the member states responsible for asylum applications was put again on the table by the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Avramopoulos suggests that the EU Commission’s proposal for a Dublin III Regulation recast that aims to complement the current system with a corrective allocation mechanism for situations where some member states turn a blind eye to refugees relocation.

“The new Regulation will be binding once adopted by the European Parliament and the Council for all Member States, except for the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark which have the right to decide themselves about their participation in accordance with the relevant Protocols,” adds the Commissioner answering at Greek MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament Dimitris Papadimoulis’ question, as only a 1% of the refugees in the EU Commission’s emergency relocation programme have actually been relocated, while the target figure remains at 160,000."


- Urgent need for refugee relocation, says Irish Refugee Council (link):

"The Irish Refugee Council is calling on the Irish government to honour its commitment of relocating asylum seekers from Greece and Italy as quickly as possible. To date no people have been relocated from Italy and only 38 people have been relocated from Greece. This is in stark contrast to the number of asylum seekers relocated from Greece to Member States such as France, the Netherlands and Portugal.

Maria Hennessy, Legal Officer at the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre, has just returned from a fact finding mission in Greece where she witnessed first-hand the situation facing refugees in Athens and on the Islands of Lesvos and Chios.

“The situation in some camps for refugees is alarming, with people, including families with young children, living in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions where access to basic needs such as healthcare and nutritious food is extremely limited,” said Ms Hennessy."


- Greece says at least 41,000 asylum seekers on its territory (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Yiannis Mouzalas told a news conference that Greek and UN services had recorded 54,000 refugees and migrants on Greek territory between June and the end of July.

Over 41,000 of them on the mainland have expressed interest in asylum, or have made formal requests. Another 2,000 have agreed to be returned home."


- "Dangerous Journeys”: International Migration Increasingly Unsafe in 2016: IOM (link):

"As the number of migrant deaths worldwide continues to rise significantly, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 23 per cent more migrant deaths during the first half of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015.

The latest IOM GMDAC Data Briefing, “Dangerous Journeys”, released on Tuesday 23 August, was prepared by the International Organization for Migration’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) in Berlin. It takes an in-depth look at the available global figures for migrant deaths and disappearances during the first half of 2016.

The data collected by Missing Migrants Project indicate that the number of people who go missing or die in the process of migration has increased significantly since 2014, especially in the Mediterranean region. The increase can partly be attributed to improving data collection. However, it also speaks to the level of risk associated with attempting to migrate by irregular means across international borders in 2016, as well as the desperation that motivates people to take these migration journeys."


- Are You Syrious (22.8.16, link)

Refugee flows to Hungary constantly on the rise despite the wire fence and border patrols

"According to a report from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, the number of irregular migrants apprehended by the Hungarian police has been constantly on the rise since the beginning of 2016, despite the construction of a fence on Hungary’s borders with Serbian and Croatian.

However, since the “8-kilometre rule” legalizing push-backs came into force on 5 July, the number of registered asylum applications has radically decreased. In July alone, 575 irregular migrants were apprehended, while 4,396 entries were blocked by border patrols. During the first six months of 2016, the majority of asylum-seekers (65%) in Hungary came from war-torn countries, including 16% from Syria, 37% from Afghanistan, 11% from Iraq and 1% from Somalia. Of all the applicants, 26% were children and 20% women."


Many children among the refugees arriving to Italy

"MSF, Proactiva and others who are tirelessly saving lives in the Mediterranean keep reporting the steady flow of refugees on one of the most dangerous refugee routes towards Europe. Almost half of the refugees crossing the sea from Libya to Italy in packed boats are minors, MSF warns."

- Greece: Plans for new migrant centers as arrivals soar (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek authorities hope that the construction of a new migrant reception center in Thiva, central Greece, which is set to be completed in the coming days, will ease congestion in camps on the country’s eastern Aegean islands, while plans are also under way to open a refugee facility on Crete.

“The situation on the islands is only marginally under control,” a source inside the Public Order Ministry told Kathimerini on condition of anonymity on Monday.

Authorities are said to be drawing up plans to create so-called “closed-structure” detention camps on the islands to separate individuals who are scheduled to be repatriated – as well as troublemakers – from those who have passed a first screening in their claim for international protection."


- News (23.8.16)

EU-LIBYA: EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia signs agreement to train Libyan Coast Guard and Navy (pdf) and see: Libyan parliament scuppers UN-backed unity government (DW, link) "Libya's internationally recognized parliament has voted no confidence in the fragile UN-backed unity government.".

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