Tag Archives: migrants

Europarl: Belarus sanctions in view

Strasbourg 26.10.2021 Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke to MEPs about the continuing crackdown on dissenting voices in Belarus and called on the EU to take firm action against the regime.

“The Belarusian regime has shown itself willing to seize individuals from international flights, misuse international agencies to punish dissent, to weaponise migrants in a way deliberately designed to undermine the stability and security of Europe,” said Tsikhanouskaya during her speech in the Parliament on 24 November.

The Belarusian opposition leader called on the EU to help address the ongoing crisis with migrants on the EU-Belarus borders: “Both Belarussians and migrants are now hostages of the regime and these two problems cannot be solved separately.”

She said the EU should coordinate sanctions against the regime with the US and the UK to make the sanctions “effective and not only symbolic”.

Ahead of Tsikhanouskaya’s speech, Parliament President David Sassoli condemned the actions of the Belarusian regime and called on other institutions to defend the respect of fundamental rights in the country.

“Belarus continues to violate the rights of its citizens, to silence civil society’s voice, to use repression as a daily weapon,” said Sassoli. “The regime didn’t hesitate to use men, women and children who needed protection, putting their lives in danger without any respect for fundamental human rights, just to destabilise the EU.”

Tsikhanouskaya’s address comes amid a continuing geopolitical crisis on the EU-Belarus border. The Belarusian regime has been funnelling migrants primarily from the Middle East to the country’s border with the EU, and in particular Poland. In response, the EU agreed to expand the bloc’s existing sanctions on Belarus to target, among others, airlines and officials involved in bringing migrants to the border areas.

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.”

Migrants storm Polish border

Brussels 11.11.2011 Polish law enforcement officers thwarted an attempt to storm the border by a large group of migrants late on Wednesday evening, November 10, Spokeswoman for the Polish border guards service Ewelina Szczepanska reported on Thursday.

“The incident occurred late last night. The situation is very complicated. It constantly comes to attempts to storm the border. 150 violent migrants tried to cross the border in the area of Bialowieza this time. They threw branches and stones at our officers, attempted to break the fence with these branches,” she said.

“This attempt was prevented. Later some of these people were taken to the forest by the Belarusian law enforcement agencies. The rest made bonfires,” Szczepanska informed. According to her, the border guards have been monitoring the development of the situation and expect similar attempts in the coming days. “We don’t rule this out. We are ready and will not allow any illegal border crossing,” she stated.

Polish border guards thwarted about 33,000 attempts to illegally cross the border in the past year. Most of those trying to enter Poland are Iraqi nationals who want to reach Germany.

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”.

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