Category Archives: Immigration

EU-Belarus: new wave of sanctions

Brussels 14.11.2021 As the European Union faces a new migration crisis, organised by Belarus which encourages the entry of migrants into EU countries, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell (pictured) said the bloc is ready for a new wave of sanctions.

The EU diplomat deplores the situation and announces a new wave of sanctions to come against a number of Belarusian personalities. However Borrell also talks about Poland and its affront to the rule of law.

“We push the migrants: they leave 12 countries and Belarus pushes them against the border. We can end up in a humanitarian drama: it is an attack on the dignity of migrants that we bring to a dead end. (…) Yes, we are going to vote for a fifth round of sanctions, relating to those who organise these trips. (…) Lukashenko has imprisoned 35,000 people. If he could cut off the gas, he would, but the the Russians are not going to let him do it because the gas is sold by them.”

Poland wants to build an anti-migrant wall with the help of European funds, while Brussels wants to cut off funding for its breaches of the rule of law. For Josep Borrell, “there are more walls in Europe today than at the time of the Berlin Wall. However, it is not with walls that we are going to stop the migration problems”.

Regarding the “strategic compass” to guide Europeans in their diplomacy, the EU diplomat believes that “Europe is in a very dangerous environment and must have complementary instruments to NATO in order to be able to intervene in an environment that concerns it.”

Lithuania forces migrants back to Belarus

Brussels 30.10.2021 Lithuanian border guards effectively performed return of more than 180 migrants from Asian and African countries in the past days, forcing them back into Belarus, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry’s Border Guard Service said in a statement on Friday, October 29.

“As many as 186 illegal migrants tried to enter several of Lithuania’s border districts, the highest number since August 4. The offenders were forced back into Belarus,” the statement reads.

According to the border service, Lithuanian border guards did not use special military equipment and weapons.

Over 4,000 illegal migrants have been detained on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border since the beginning of the year, 50 times more than in 2020.

Vilnius believes that the migration crisis was triggered by Minsk and has denounced it as a hybrid attack on Lithuania in retaliation for its policy of supporting the Belarusian opposition.

Meanwhile amid an illegitimate state of emergency and a wider political stand-off with the Belarusian Alexander Lukashenko regime, Poland is attempting to legalise migrants’ pushbacks (refoulement) in clear breach of European and international law but with the alarming support and emulation of various Member States, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a statement today.

On October 14, the Polish parliament passed a law enabling border guards to immediately send back migrants who crossed the border irregularly, allowing for their asylum applications to be refused without examination and banning them from the country “for between six months and three years”.

Greece: migrant vessel returns to Turkey

Brussels 29.10.2021 Greece engaged in a rescue operation on Friday, October 29, for a Turkish-flagged cargo ship carrying about 400 migrants after it sent out a distress signal off shore the island of Crete, the coast guard said.

The Greek coast guard quoted passengers as saying the vessel had sailed from Turkey, calling it “one of the largest search and rescue operations carried out in the eastern Mediterranean.”

“The ship is now sailing in international waters. Greece’s Shipping Ministry has asked Turkey to accept the vessel’s return to Turkey,” a migration ministry official said, declining to be named.

The official said Greece’s migration and asylum minister had contacted Turkish authorities and the EU Commission to resolve the matter.

Earlier, Greek authorities had said the ship was being taken to land without giving further details. The nationalities of the passengers were not immediately available to public.

Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union for migrants, and asylum-seekers arriving from Turkey. However the number of arrivals has fallen sharply since 2016 after the EU and Ankara agreed a deal to stop migrants from crossing to Greece.

Nearly 1 million people, mainly Syrian refugees, arrived in the EU in 2015 after crossing to Greek islands close to Turkey. Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August, many EU states fear a replay of that crisis.

On Tuesday, four migrants, three of them children, drowned after a boat in which they and 23 others were trying to cross from Turkey to Greece sank off the island of Chios.

Poland votes border wall construction

Brussels 29.10.2021 Poland Parliament has voted to build a border wall with Belarus to block an influx of migrants who are illegally entering Poland. Thousands of people – mostly from the Middle East and Asia – have tried to cross Poland’s border in recent months.

The European Union accuses Belarus’s government of driving the rise, in retaliation for sanctions against its regime.

The 5.5m (18ft) wall will cost €353m (£297m; $407), and some critics say it is a waste of money.

The legislation will be pass to Poland’s President, Andrzej Duda, who is expected to sign it into law without delay.

The wall – equipped with motion sensors and a monitoring system – will cover about half the length of Poland’s 400km (250 mile) border with Belarus. The government plans to build it rapidly by summer 2022.

Danish not integrated migrants law proposal

Brussels 10.09.2021 The hardline former immigration minister Inger Støjberg has united with the Danish People’s Party (DF) on a plan to deport as many as 50,000 migrants by 2030, who are not respecting the laws and rules of the receiving society.

Støjberg, being an independent Member of the Parliament after leaving the Liberal Party, has joined the DF party on a plan that could see as many as 70% of the people who have come to Denmark in the last few decades claiming refugee status or under family reunification rules would be expelled.

The proposal would lead to the deportation of migrants who have been unemployed for seven of the last ten years, have been on welfare benefits for more than 12 consecutive months, have not attained a certain proficiency in the Danish language, or have been convicted of a crime that resulted in a prison sentence of more than three-months, amongst other criteria.

According to a report from the Danish television broadcaster TV2, both Støjberg and the Danish People’s Party believe that under the conditions of the proposal, at least 50,000 migrants could face deportation.

EU supports Afghan refugees

Brussels 02.10.2021 In a meeting of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) Core Group, chaired by the European Union (EU) today, its members affirmed their commitment to scale-up international humanitarian assistance for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Afghanistan in 2021, and for refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries.

“Due to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the Core Group reoriented its immediate focus to coordinate its collective support for the escalating humanitarian needs of 3.5 million Afghans internally displaced due to conflict, as well as the long-standing response and preparedness efforts in neighbouring countries in the region.

The Core Group is deeply concerned by the dire situation that Afghans currently face and is committed to deliver a lifeline of support to alleviate suffering and save lives. The acute humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was gravely exacerbated in 2021 by continued internal conflict and ensuing instability. Among the 3.5 million people internally displaced, over 600.000 were displaced in 2021. Eighty percent are women and children. Furthermore, some 18 million people – nearly half of the country – depend upon the most basic support to live, with high levels of food insecurity. Many displaced families face the prospect of returning to destroyed homes and villages with a harsh winter just ahead, and amid difficult economic challenges.

The Core Group’s members have individually provided support to the Afghan people through bilateral and other programmes, including focussed support for returnees, refugees, and IDPs. Since August 2021, members of the Core Group have significantly contributed to meet the humanitarian needs in Afghanistan, as well as for the neighbouring countries that are hosting and providing protection to Afghan refugees.

The Core Group expresses its continued solidarity with major refugee host countries in the region and reiterates its commitment to sustained support for host communities that have generously supported Afghan refugees for decades, particularly in Iran and Pakistan. The Core Group recognises and supports the wishes of hosting countries to find lasting and safe solutions for Afghan refugees. It also calls on them, at this difficult time, to also maintain their longstanding commitment to providing protection to Afghan refugees, including new arrivals. It reiterates its support for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s, advisory(link is external) to refrain from returns of Afghans at this time. The Core Group remains committed to staying the course and providing political, financial, and technical support towards achieving concrete and tangible solutions for refugees in the future.”

The SSAR Core Group was established to channel political, financial and technical support towards supporting solutions for the protracted Afghan refugee situation. Both Iran and Pakistan have hosted millions of Afghan refugees for over four decades.

The SSAR Core Group’s membership includes the Kingdom of Denmark, the European Union, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, State of Qatar, the Swiss Confederation, Republic of Turkey, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, as well as development partners the Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, World Bank.

The SSAR Core Group is linked to a larger initiative called the Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR). The Support Platform, created in 2019, is intended to help Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan in coordinating their efforts on promoting solutions for Afghan refugees, and to implement the Solutions Strategy adopted by the three countries, with the endorsement of the international community and UNHCR’s support, in 2012.

A Support Platform is a mechanism envisioned by the Global Compact on Refugees(link is external), which was affirmed by the UN General Assembly in 2018. This landmark Global Compact is itself a framework for building global solidarity on refugee solutions and promoting equitable responsibility-sharing for refugees globally.

France: €1bn healthcare budget for migrants

Brussels 27.09.2021 President Emmanuel Macron announced last week that the France 2022 budget will reserve €1 billion in medical aid for “free” healthcare to illegal immigrants. Since 2015, a year which saw well over a million illegal foreigners enter Europe, the amount of state aid set aside for migrant healthcare costs has doubled.

According to a finance bill put forward on Wednesday by President Emmanuel Macron’s government, €1 billion in medical aid will be allocated from the state’s 2022 budget to cover healthcare costs – of illegal immigrants, not including the costs of emergency care, French newspaper Le Figaro reports.

In 2020, alone, more than 383,000 foreigners living illegally in France benefited from State Medical Aid (AME), a health insurance program that covers 100 percent of medical expenses incurred by illegal immigrants, Minister of Health Olivier Véran said.

Since its implementation in 2000, State Medical Aid (AME) has incited fierce debate, with many fiscally conservative-minded politicians and thinkers arguing that the insurance is an abuse of the country’s social welfare system, which is structured in such a way that it greatly encourages illegal migration.

#SOTEU: EU migration Pact slow motion

Strasbourg 15.09.2021 “… Look at what happened at our borders with Belarus. The regime in Minsk has instrumentalised human beings. They have put people on planes and literally pushed them towards Europe’s borders” the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said, while addressing the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg.

“This can never be tolerated. And the quick European reaction shows that. And rest assured, we will continue to stand together with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

“And, let’s call it what it is: this is a hybrid attack to destabilise Europe”.

“These are not isolated events. We saw similar incidents at other borders. And we can expect to see it again. This is why, as part of our work on Schengen, we will set out new ways to respond to such aggression and ensure unity in protecting our external borders. But as long as we do not find common ground on how to manage migration, our opponents will continue to target that.

“Meanwhile, human traffickers continue to exploit people through deadly routes across the Mediterranean.

“These events show us that every country has a stake in building a European migration system. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum gives us everything we need to manage the different types of situations we face.
All the elements are there. This is a balanced and humane system that works for all Member States – in all circumstances. We know that we can find common ground.

“But in the year since the Commission presented the Pact, progress has been painfully slow.
I think, this is the moment now for a European migration management policy. So I urge you, in this House and in Member States, to speed up the process.

“This ultimately comes down to a question of trust. Trust between Member States. Trust for Europeans that migration can be managed. Trust that Europe will always live up to its enduring duty to the most vulnerable and most in need.

“There are many strongly held views on migration in Europe but I believe the common ground is not so far away. Because if you ask most Europeans, they would agree that we should act to curb irregular migration but also act to provide a refuge for those forced to flee.”

“They would agree that we should return those who have no right to stay. But that we should welcome those who come here legally and make such a vital contribution to our society and economy”.

“And we should all agree that the topic of migration should never be used to divide. I am convinced that there is a way that Europe can build trust amongst us when it comes to migration”.

Afghanistan: EU on migration

Brussels 31.08.2021 Council of the EU Statements and remarks 31 August 2021 18:10:
Statement on the situation in Afghanistan (Image above: illustration, Europa building, Brussels).

“The EU Ministers of Home Affairs met today for an extraordinary Council meeting to discuss developments in Afghanistan, more specifically in relation to potential implications in the areas of international protection, migration and security. The seriousness of the evolving situation requires a determined and concerted response to its many dimensions by the EU and the international community.

“The evacuation of our citizens and to the extent possible of Afghan nationals who have cooperated with the EU and its Member States and their families, has been conducted as a matter of priority and will be continued. In this regard, intensive work is underway to identify targeted solutions for the remaining specific cases of persons at risk in Afghanistan.
As an immediate priority, the EU will continue to coordinate with international partners, in particular the UN and its agencies, on the stabilisation of the region and to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the vulnerable populations, in particular women and children, in Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries. To this end, the EU and its Member States will step up financial support to relevant international organisations.
“The EU will engage and strengthen its support to third countries, in particular the neighbouring and transit countries, hosting large numbers of migrants and refugees, to reinforce their capacities to provide protection, dignified and safe reception conditions and sustainable livelihood for refugees and host communities. The EU will also cooperate with those countries to prevent illegal migration from the region, reinforce border management capacity and prevent smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings. To this effect, the mandates of EU agencies should be used to their full extent. In particular, the European Asylum Support Office should step up its external operations for asylum capacity building. Furthermore, as part of global efforts, support could be provided in the form of resettlement on a voluntary basis, prioritising vulnerable persons, such as women and children.

“The Action Plan on Afghanistan should be prioritised and revised in light of this statement and changed circumstances to make it more operational. A Team Europe approach is needed to work with Afghanistan’s neighbours to address the impact of displacement in the region. The Council urges the Commission to assess all options for the necessary financial assistance under the Multiannual Financial Framework, in particular NDICI and asylum, migration and border management instruments.

“Based on lessons learned, the EU and its Member States stand determined to act jointly to prevent the recurrence of uncontrolled large-scale illegal migration movements faced in the past, by preparing a coordinated and orderly response. Incentives to illegal migration should be avoided. The EU should also strengthen the support to the countries in Afghanistan’s immediate neighbourhood to ensure that those in need receive adequate protection primarily in the region. The need for unified and coordinated external but also internal communication is key. Targeted information campaigns should be launched to combat the narratives used by smugglers, including in the on-line environment, which encourage people to embark on dangerous and illegal journeys towards Europe.

“The EU and its Member States will do their utmost to ensure that the situation in Afghanistan does not lead to new security threats for EU citizens. All efforts must be pursued to ensure that the Taliban regime ceases all ties and practices with international terrorism and that Afghanistan does not become once again a sanctuary for terrorists and organised crime groups. The EU will use all its available tools to closely monitor and respond to developments on the ground that might impact its security, in particular in the area of organised crime and terrorism, including its financing. Europol will provide an analysis of the criminal risks linked to the situation in Afghanistan. Exchange of information and intelligence, in line with national competences, also with third countries, and the sharing of regular threat assessments, are of utmost importance. The timely performance of security checks of persons being evacuated from Afghanistan remains crucial.
The EU and its Member States, with the support of Frontex, remain determined to effectively protect the EU external borders and prevent unauthorized entries, and assist the most affected Member States. Appropriate security checks should be carried out, including through the full use of relevant EU databases, as well as registration in Eurodac. Furthermore, as part of our comprehensive approach to external cooperation on migration, third-country national clauses in the readmission agreements between the EU and certain transit countries should be used where the legal requirements are met.
The Council recognizes the need to support and provide adequate protection to those in need, in line with EU law and our international obligations, and to bring closer Member States’ practices in the reception and processing of Afghan asylum seekers.

“The Council will closely follow the developments in the area of international protection, migration and security. It will respond to attempts to instrumentalise illegal migration for political purposes and other hybrid threats, including by developing new tools. The Council will also monitor closely the implementation of the actions mentioned above and ensure regular stocktaking in order to further improve the EU’s crisis management capacity, building upon the tools already developed. Coordination of all dimensions of this situation (humanitarian, development, international protection, migration, security, foreign policy) is crucial”.

EU leaders address migration

Brussels 25.06.2021 The European Council (pictured) discussed the migration situation on the various routes. While the measures taken by the EU and Member States have brought down the overall irregular flows in recent years, developments on some routes give rise to serious concern and require continued vigilance and urgent action.

In order to prevent loss of life and to reduce pressure on European borders, mutually beneficial partnerships and cooperation with countries of origin and transit will be intensified, as an integral part of the European Union’s external action.

The approach will be pragmatic, flexible and tailor-made, make coordinated use, as Team Europe, of all available EU and Member States’ instruments and incentives, and take place in close cooperation with the UNHCR and IOM. It should address all routes and be based on a whole-of-route approach, tackling root causes, supporting refugees and displaced persons in the region, building capacity for migration management, eradicating smuggling and trafficking, reinforcing border control, cooperating on search and rescue, addressing legal migration while respecting national competences, as well as ensuring return and readmission. To this end, the European Council:

– calls on the Commission and the High Representative Josep Borrell, in close cooperation with Member States, to immediately reinforce concrete actions with, and tangible support for, priority countries of origin and transit;

– calls on the Commission and the High Representative, in close cooperation with Member States, to put forward action plans for priority countries of origin and transit in autumn 2021, indicating clear objectives, further support measures and concrete timelines;

– invites the Commission to make the best possible use of at least 10% of the NDICI financial envelope, as well as funding under other relevant instruments, for actions related to migration, and to report to the Council on its intentions in this respect by November.

The European Council condemns and rejects any attempt by third countries to instrumentalise migrants for political purposes.

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