Category Archives: Immigration

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.

Spain: Morocco migrant tactic

Brussels 18.05.2021 Some 6,000 undocumented migrants arrived illegally in the Spanish exclave city of Ceuta in North Africa on Monday 17 and Tuesday May 18, according to the central government’s delegate in the city. Government sources told Spanish news agency Efe that around 1,500 of the migrants may be minors, although their age still needs to be confirmed. Most of the arrivals were recorded between 4.30pm and 7pm yesterday.

The migrants reached Ceuta by swimming from the neighboring city of Fnideq, which is on the border of the breakwater that demarks the exclave city from Morocco. Other migrants used rudimentary swimming boards to make it to from the Moroccan city, also known as Castillejos, and which is home to around 7,000 people. The migrants entered via Tarajal beach and the area of Benzú. One person died in the crossing, according to the Cadena SER radio station and confirmed by this newspaper. Moroccan authorities made no effort to stop the wave of arrivals and the Moroccan government remained silent on the issue on Monday, May 17.

In response to the situation, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said via Twitter that Spain “will defend the integrity” of Ceuta “against any challenge. My priority right now is restoring normality in Ceuta. Its citizens must know that they have the absolute support of the Spanish government and our utmost resolve to protect their security,” he wrote.

The Doctor of Philosophy and teachter of International Relations of the Universidad Comillas ICADE, Elsa Aimé González, points out that after an arrival of these unusual characteristics is the “use of migrants as a bargaining chip within a political pulse between two governments. “” It is not something that cannot be foreseen, “ she said.

“What we have been seeing not only now but since recent months with the increase in the arrival of migrants to the Canary Islands is that Morocco is using the migration issue as an instrument of political pressure to obtain compensation from Spain and the EU and achieve alignment with their own political project “, highlights the professor.

The fact that there are 6,000 people who have arrived in this way to Spanish territory really has to call our attention because of the way and the ways they have to migrate,” he adds. “You have to abandon a logic that is based on emergency and in punctual responses and seek policies that seek to respond to the structural dimension of the migratory reality “.

European Council President Charles Michel expressed “full solidarity” with Spain after holding urgent talks with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who canceled a trip to Paris to deal with what he termed a “serious crisis” for both his country and the EU.

European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told the European Parliament that the influx on Monday was unprecedented. About 1,500 of the recent arrivals are reported to be minors.

France: leadership vs. citizens

Brussels 14.05.2021 One year before the next presidential election, a new poll indicates that the 2017 duel Macron-Le Pen could be re-played again in 2022.
Will in 2022 once again Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen compete at the polls in the second round of the presidential election? In 2017, Emmanuel Macron won against his rival with 66.1% of the votes cast, against 33.9% for Marine Le Pen.

According to a survey carried out by Ipsos-Sopra Steria in partnership with Cevipof and the Jean-Jaurès Foundation the 2017 finalists would be the same in 2022, and this in different scenarios envisaged according to the various applications already announced or potential.

However this time the situation in not so favourable for the incumbent President of the V Republic. The second open letter of French military critical of the President Emmanuel Macron policies received a strong support of the compatriots, viewed two million times, and it was signed by 250 000 citizens. This declaration from active officers of the French army reinforces the one previously published letter by the military veterans on the site of Valeurs Actuelles journal (@Values). This text, the second one, which has been already circulating a lot and which caused the media echo, the editorial decided to publish in a form of a Petition for the signature of French citizens. Like the previous one, the purpose of this forum is not to undermine the institutions but to alert citizens and authorities of the gravity of the situation in France.

“…Cowardice, deceit, perversion: this is not our view of the hierarchy.
On the contrary, the army is, par excellence, the place where we speak truthfully to each other because we commit our lives. It is this confidence in the military institution that we call for” the second letter reads.

“…Yes, if a civil war breaks out, the military will maintain order on its own soil, because it will be asked to. This is even the definition of civil war. No one can want such a terrible situation, our elders no more than us, but yes, again, civil war is brewing in France and you know it perfectly well..”

“…Take action, ladies and gentlemen. This time it is not about custom emotion, ready-made formulas or media coverage. It’s not about extending your terms or winning new ones. It is about the survival of our country, of your country”.

French commentators suggest that both letters reflect the state of the political debate, which has been substantially weakened by the belligerent political parties, deviating from the traditional right and left in search for re-branding with the centre right Republicans plagued by scandals, and the Socialists vanishing after failed Francois Holland presidency. Weakened by economic and social consequences of the sanitary measures President Macron’s party ‘La République En Marche’ (LaREM) leaves sufficient room for the citizens initiatives. If there were active and constructive democratic debates between the main parties represented in the National Assembly, there would be no room for this kind of position on the part of the former military, warning the President about the possibility of the civil war as a result of mass migration.

“A leadership that does not stand behind its most loyal citizens, will eventually be devoured by them. The French Revolution, a strange masterpiece of history, set the stage for all other great democracies of the world and gave the gift of the French culture to the world,” – said Canadian writer Mark Hecht (@HechtWriter).
“To see France’s leadership today, not honour its own traditions and defend them without reservation, is a shattering reminder of that other, less noble, French character–for the elite to grow heads too large for the body.”

EU-UNHCR: refugees of Ethiopia-Colombia-Lebanon

Brussels 11.05.2021 High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi met on 11 May 2021.
They discussed in detail the situation in Ethiopia, Colombia, Lebanon and the Western Balkans. They agreed on the importance of bridging the divide between humanitarian and development responses to forced displacement to ensure long-term and sustainable solutions.

High Representative/Vice-President Borrell emphasised the EU’s commitment to addressing forced displacement and protecting those in need, as strongly reflected in the proposed EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum. He underlined the need to build on the momentum that followed the December 2019 Global Refugee Forum to promote global solidarity and responsibility sharing in protecting refugees.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Grandi welcomed the direction of the proposed EU Pact on Migration and Asylum and recalled, in the spirit of the Global Refugee Forum, the importance of shared responsibility for refugees, asylum seekers and other people of concern to UNHCR. 90 per cent of forcibly displaced people are in developing countries and the EU has a key role to support large refugee hosting countries.

High Representative/Vice President Borrell and High Commissioner Grandi reiterated the importance of the EU-UNHCR partnership in the development and implementation of policies to protect those in need.

EESC: Asylum Pact IMBALANCES

Brussels 12.03.2021 The New Migration and Asylum Pact: short on solidarity and weighing heavy on states of first entry, according to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

The EESC is worried about the feasibility of a number of proposals contained in the pact. There are grave concerns that it may even add to the pressure on the already overwhelmed states of first entry, effectively turning them into “closed centres” for migrants at EU borders.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has welcomed the new Migration and Asylum Pact but says that the proposals it sets out will be hard to implement and cannot be called a clear step towards creating a resilient and forward-looking common EU strategy on migration and asylum.

In two recent opinions, in which it analyses several proposals for regulations governing asylum management and asylum procedures, the EESC states that the new pact might not be able to ensure the fair and efficient processing of asylum applications. These would need to be shared evenly among Member States, which would result in the swift granting of international protection at EU borders to those migrants that need it and the return of those that do not.

On the contrary, the burden of responsibility and inconvenience for the countries of first entry will only increase, since the proposed solidarity mechanism, which is supposed to regulate the control of migration flows at borders, is based on a hypothetical, voluntary system of solidarity.

This means that under the mechanism, Member States will be able to choose whether they wish to participate in the relocation or sponsored return of persons in an irregular situation. However, no mention is made of incentives to encourage countries to take part, or of clear-cut criteria for how much each country should contribute.

Coupled with the Pact’s new pre-screening and border control proposals, which are likely to result in complex and lengthy procedures at the EU’s external borders, the mechanism may lead to the transformation of first-entry countries into large pre-departure or detention centres, increasing the chances of human rights breaches and of pressure on host communities.

“The pact is not ideal. We wanted something with more initiative, something more supportive. But we have to endorse it. It has some fresh ideas after the failure of the Dublin process and it is a big package. It is extremely important for the future of the EU,” says Dimitris Dimitriadis, rapporteur for the EESC’s opinion on asylum management.

Mr Dimitriadis says the EESC is pleased that the regulations proposed in the Pact invoke the principles of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, but believes the solidarity obligations of the states of first entry to be disproportionate. The procedures provide no assurances for relocation. There are only mandatory border procedures without an automatic sharing mechanism. “Put simply, solidarity, in the form of relocation, cannot be voluntary. Solidarity needs to be automatic and it needs to be binding. We need to have mandatory relocations without a question mark, without red tape or bureaucracy hampering them.”

Panagiotis Gkofas, rapporteur for the opinion on asylum procedures under the new pact, is pessimistic about the outcome of the pact’s implementation: “Ultimately, the proposed regulations will place a huge burden on the Member States of southern Europe, with the inevitable consequence that the regulations will be inapplicable and will fail to achieve their intended result. These Member States will have no choice but to become either detention or pre-departure centres for human beings, for a period of up to six or seven months, if not more, until the outcome of the procedures is known, resulting in situations that are much worse than before.”

According to Mr Gkofas, Member States will end up being de facto forced “to reject many asylum applications, even those that meet the conditions for asylum to be granted, in order to avoid increasing numbers of people being held together in inhumane conditions”.

The legislation analysed in the opinions includes the proposals for a regulation on asylum and migration management and for a regulation addressing situations of migration crisis and force majeure. Three of the nine instruments contained in the new pact are also scrutinised: a new screening regulation; an amended proposal revising the asylum procedures regulation and an amended proposal for a recast Eurodac regulation.
The EESC recognises the importance of the proposals having the legal status of a regulation, which is binding and directly applicable in the Member States. In order to become a fully-fledged policy, however, all the relevant proposed regulations will need to be adopted concurrently.

Among other matters, the EESC discusses the proposed policy of return to countries of origin, which may be fraught with problems, as the EU will be forced to rely on the willingness of these countries, whether of origin or transfer – to collaborate. This is why those countries should be given clear incentives and disincentives

The EESC welcomes the introduction of a crisis and ‘force majeure’ component in the field of migration and asylum. While the crisis and ‘force majeure’ regulation provides a window of opportunity for binding solidarity, however, it covers procedural support rather than emergency solidarity measures. Solidarity is undermined by the complex and bureaucratic procedures required to implement it.
The EESC expresses concerns about the new border procedures, especially as regards protecting the right to request asylum. It also objects to the use of ill-defined legal concepts such as “security threat” and “public order” or the flawed concept of “countries with low asylum recognition rates”, which give rise to legal uncertainty.

In the EESC’s view, the proposals leave many questions unanswered, such as how and where people are going to be kept during the border procedure and how to avoid a state of legal limbo by guaranteeing the right to effective judicial protection.

The asylum procedure regulation should make solidarity mandatory when it comes to relocation: without such a provision and unless procedures are created to allow people to apply for asylum in EU Member States without the need to cross EU borders, in practical terms, the regulation will not work. Furthermore, the EESC urges the Commission to take special care of families with children and unaccompanied minors, stating that it is unacceptable for a child to only be considered as such under the age of 12 and not 18, which is contrary to international law.

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