Tag Archives: refugees

Borrell visits Malta over migration

This visit is one of the very first visits after the lockdown and it carries a strong message of European Union solidarity with respect to Malta. We are facing major challenges in our Southern neighbourhood” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while visiting Valletta.

“We discussed all of them today: Libya, Syria, Middle East, the Middle East Peace Process and the migration flows, of course. We have been talking almost every day over the last few months with the Minister because you were worried and asking for the European Union’s intervention in order to deal with migration problems”.

«…On migration, Malta has been facing a huge pressure. We fully share Malta’s determination to address irregular migration in a comprehensive way, starting by addressing the crisis in Libya and supporting the Libyan authorities»

«Libya remains the largest beneficiary in North Africa under the European Union [Emergency] Trust Fund [for Africa]. We, Europeans, are contributing a lot for the population in Libya. We will continue supporting them and also the Libyan Coastguard in order to strengthen their capacity of intervention to dismantle trafficking networks and conduct rescue operations in their area of responsibility. This is done through our two CSDP missions and operations: Operation Irini (link is external) – recently launched – and EUBAM Libya. But the Minister explained me that we really have to increase the capacities of the Libyan Coastguard. But of course we also need a long-term solution in Libya and Malta is at the forefront when it comes to these efforts.

«We talked also with Prime Minister Abela about his meeting with Prime Minister [of Libya, Fayez] al-Sarraj. We have a common objective: a united and stable Libya. We need to work together in the framework of the European Union. The Berlin process remains the only international framework to relaunch a political dialogue on Libya.

«I am also glad that just yesterday Malta reached a deal with other Member States to relocate an important number of migrants with the coordination and help of the European Commission. We will continue encouraging Member States to show solidarity towards other Member States when rescued persons are disembarked.

«Malta is not alone, Malta’s challenges are also the European Union’s challenges and I am here to show that we will continue to work together to address all of them in the short-term and looking also for structural solutions in the middle and long-term».

Germany willing to shelter children

Government is seeking a “coalition of the willing” to shelter migrant children across Europe. The EU is searching for way to avoid the second wave of the 2015 refugee crisis while thousands of migrants gather at Greece’s border. (Image: social media).

Germany is prepared to take in “an appropriate share” of the neediest refugee children hosted in overcrowded Greek migrant camps, Berlin officials said on March 9.
The official underlined that they are prepared to take children together with “a coalition of the willing” along with the other EU countries.

The announcement from the government came after Chancellor Angela Merkel met with members of her coalition government to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Greece including already existing situation in the migrants camps.

At present the crowds of migrants have been gathering along the Greece-Turkey border following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announcement Turkey borders were open to refugees seeking to cross into Greece.

German plan is set to help between 1,000 – 1,500 children identified as being particularly in need. This means either unaccompanied children under the age of 14 or children in need of urgent medical assistance. However no clarifications of methods of establishing real age of children were presented publicly. So far in absence of documents humanitarian organisations register age of migrants on bona fide basis without any further verifications. This practice has opened a broad gate of abuses, when young men of 25 years, and older registered as minors.

The Europeans discovered gross abuses in hosting refugee system when a Somalianchild refugee” stabbed a Swedish social worker to death. In the cause of prosecution the assailant has been identified to be at least three years older than the declared age of 15.

Alexandra Mezher, 22, was killed (25.01.2016) after she tried to break up a knife fight at an child migrant centre where she worked in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Educated to care for children Mezher herself had expressed concerns to her family about being the guardian for “big powerful guys aged up to 24“.

Germany: refugee status implications

Refugees who return to Syria for holidays might lose their status in Germany, the Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild newspaper. The measure is taken based on the situation of some newcomers simultaneously claim to be fleeing persecution there, and returning to spend summer time.

In case the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) would became aware of travels to the country of origin, the authorities would immediately examine a revocation of refugee status, he said. In addition, they observe closely the developments in Syria. “If the situation permits, we will carry out repatriations” Horst Seehofer (CSU)  Federal Interior Minister said.

Around 780,000 Syrians have fled to Germany in recent years. For more than eight years, the devastating war has been raging, however now the troops of President Bashar al-Assad have gained control over the majority of territories, and reconstruction of infrastructure and houses began. The World Food Programme (WFP) Director of Supply Chain Jakob Kern assessed the investment into the entire reconstruction of infrastructure to amount up to  USD200-300 billion. The armed conflict in Syria has been ongoing since 2011. At the end of 2017, the victory was announced over the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. In some areas of Syria the fight is ongoing. At the moment, a political settlement, the restoration of Syria, and the return of refugees are in the forefront.

25 years in prison for Catalan referendum

The Spanish prosecutor’s office demands a 25-year prison sentence for the leader of the pro-independence Catalan party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ErC), Oriol Junqueras, for a challenge to the central government that resulted in the unilateral declaration of independence on October 27, 2017. Junqueras is charged with the Medieval crime of “rebellion”.

After a year of investigations, the prosecutor presented the request for sentences, ranging from 25 years for former Catalan vice president to 16 for five former “advisors”: Jordi Turull, Raul Romeva, Joaquim Forn, Dolors Bassa and Josep Rull.

For the leaders of Omnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, the prosecution requests 17 years in jail and a 17-year ban on holding public office, similar punishment is proposed for the former Catalan Parliament Speaker Carme Forcadell.

All are charged with “rebellion“, a crime that carries a 30-year maximum sentence. For the three advisers who are not in detention – Carles Mundó, Maritxell Borrás and Santiago Vila – the requested sentence is limited to 7 years, since they are accused only of embezzlement.

Migrants siege at Croatia border

Croatian police clarified the situation blaming circulation of false information that the authorities  would open its borders letting  in hundreds of illegal migrants and refugees gathering at crossings in Serbia and Bosnia, hoping to enter the EU via Croatia.

Some 400+ migrants gathered this week on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s border with Croatia, with a similar number accumulating on Serbian  border with Croatia, local media reported.

Croatian police continues to announce that misinformation had been spread that the EU state would open its borders, however it has no effect on waiting crowds.

Among the migrant populations on the territory of Bosnia and Serbia, false information is spreading that the Republic of Croatia will allow their entry into its territory as well as further passage to the countries of Western Europe,” a police statement said.

Local police and members of Bosnia’s border units were deployed to the Maljevac border crossing in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, where hundreds illegal migrants attempted to enter Croatia. At present no major incidents or escalation reported, but migrants continue to camp, awaiting for their chance, and small groups have already  attempted to break through this morning.

There is a general public concern about the current developments in view of accumulating crowds of illegal migrants. An opinion prevails that without the EU assistance Croatian border control units will not be able to respond to the scale of the challenge.

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Orban warns against “chaos” of hasty answers to migration

Ahead of the upcoming EU Summit on migration (28-29 June) Hungarian Prime minister Viktor Orban expressed from behalf of the Visegrad group countries the understanding of the depth of the migrant crisis in a number of the EU member-states. However, he also expressed the reserve against any decisions taken “in haste“, warning against possible grave consequences of European “chaos“.

We understand that in some countries there are internal political difficulties, but this must not be allowed to lead to ill-considered haste at a European level: the European Union has a complex system of institutions, and acting in haste will lead to chaos”, – PM Orban said. 

The Visegrad group suggested to focus areas of cooperation, were agreement can be reached rather than on the dividing issues, leading to confrontation. Namely agree on two major areas: of border defence and hotspots. Orban returned to an ‘old proposal‘ to erect refugee camps outside the EU territory.

There is no point in forcing issues on which there is no agreement, such as migrant quotas, because that will never result in cooperation: it will only increase divisions and confrontation”Orban stated from behalf of V4.  “Therefore what we propose is that in the coming weeks and months we should solve the questions related to migration that we are able to solve: that we should place the emphasis on the points on which we agree“.

Greece: €180 million in aid to refugees

Today the European Commission has announced new funding of €180 million for aid projects in Greece, including to scale up the flagship ‘Emergency Support to Integration & Accommodation’ (ESTIA) programme which helps get refugees into urban accommodation and out of camps and provides them with regular cash assistance. The funding comes as Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides met today with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens.

“Our humanitarian programmes for refugees in Greece are a clear and loud signal of European solidarity. We continue to deliver on our strong commitment to help refugees in Greece live more secure, normal and dignified lives, and facilitate their integration into the local economy and society. Our ESTIA programme is achieving real results to change people’s lives for the better. I pay special tribute to the Greek citizens and mayors who have welcomed refugees in their municipalities with great empathy and care,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. 

Launched in July 2017 with the UN Refugee Agency, ESTIA is the biggest EU aid operation in the country and works in line with the Greek government’s ‘out of camps’ policy. So far it has created more than 23,000 urban accommodation places and set up a cash assistance scheme serving more than 41,000 refugees and asylum seekers.

Six other contracts have been signed with NGOs to address pressing humanitarian needs.

Overall, the European Commission has mobilised over €1.5 billion of support for Greece to help manage the humanitarian situation, migration and the external borders, through various kinds of funding.

Pontiff calls to receive more migrants

At Christmas Eve the Pontiff delivered a highly political speech arguing that Christians are obliged by their origins to show hospitality for today’s displaced persons, including immigrants and refugees.

“In this Child, God invites us to be messengers of hope,” Pope Francis said. “He invites us to become sentinels for all those bowed down by the despair born of encountering so many closed doors. In this child, God makes us agents of his hospitality.”

Pontiff closed by praying that the story of Christ’s birth will inspire Christians to action.

“We ask that your crying may shake us from our indifference and open our eyes to those who are suffering,” he said. “May your tenderness awaken our sensitivity and recognize our call to see you in all those who arrive in our cities, in our histories, in our lives.”

“Mary and Joseph, for whom there was no room, are the first to embrace the One who comes to give all of us our document of citizenship,” the Pope said,  touching a particularly sensitive political issue in Italy at the moment.

Just days ago, the Italian Senate declined to adopt a measure that would have granted the children of immigrants and refugees citizenship by birth, rather than compelling them to apply at the age of 18 through a complicated and expensive bureaucratic procedure.

EU Commission laudits for migrant relocations

The European Commission has adopted its 14th progress report on relocation of asylum seekers within the EU and resettlement of refugees from outside the EU. The considers that that there is ‘good progress’ in the resolution of the situation.

“With relocations reaching record levels in June (with over 2,000 relocated from Greece and almost 1,000 from Italy) and almost all Member States pledging and transferring regularly, relocating all those eligible remains feasible before September. However, more efforts are needed to accelerate transfers from Italy, especially in view of the current situation in the Central Mediterranean. Meanwhile, good progress continues to be made on resettlement and the Commission has launched a new pledging exercise to resettle the most vulnerable people from Libya, Egypt, Niger, Ethiopia and Sudan while continuing resettlements from Turkey.” – says the communication issued by the European Commission.

 

 “Looking at the results achieved so far, one thing is very clear: relocation works if the political will is there. What we need now is a final push to achieve our common goal of relocating the vast majority of the asylum seekers present and eligible in Greece and Italy by September,” – EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said.  “Italy in particular is under enormous pressure and I call on all Member States to further step up their relocation efforts from Italy. The EU won’t leave countries with an external border alone and the Commission will continue to ensure that all Member States comply with their legal obligations when it comes to relocation”  –  Avramopoulos underlined.

In parallel, the Commission  taking forward the infringement procedures against the Czech RepublicHungary and Poland for  what it defines “failing to meet their legal obligations on relocation”.

According to the  Commission the pace of relocation has continued to increase over recent months, with transfers reaching more than 1,000 every month since November 2016 and June 2017 representing a new record monthly high with over 3,000 transfers. As of 24 July, the total number of relocations stands at 24,676 (16,803 from Greece; 7,873 from Italy).

However, the Commission insists on continuous efforts needed for around 4,800 candidates currently awaiting relocation from Greece — with the number likely to increase to 6,800 — and continuous arrivals of eligible candidates to Italy. Italy still needs to urgently enrol eligible arrivals in 2016 and the first half of 2017 in the scheme. This concerns in particular Eritreans of whom around 25,000 have arrived in Italy since the beginning of 2016 but of which only 10,000 have been registered for relocation. As outlined in the Commission’s Action plan to support Italy, the Italian authorities should swiftly register all Eritreans currently present in the country and centralise the relocation procedure in dedicated hubs. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) is supporting Italy’s efforts with an online outreach campaign to identify all potential applicants.

https://twitter.com/V_of_Europe/status/890279900569055233

In this final phase, it is crucial, according to the Commission’s opinion, that Member States accelerate relocations and provide enough pledges to relocate all eligible applicants, including those who are likely to arrive until 26 September. In any case, Member States’ legal obligation to relocate will not cease after September: the Council Decisions on relocation apply to all persons arriving in Greece or Italy until 26 September 2017 and eligible applicants must be relocated within a reasonable timeframe thereafter.

A number of Member States are close to fully fulfilling their relocation obligations: MaltaLatvia and also Norway — a Schengen Associated State participating voluntarily in the scheme — have all relocated their full allocations for Greece and Sweden who only started relocation in June will have relocated almost 60% of its allocation. The Commission also welcomes the recently-announced increase in the monthly pledges by Spain and the announced acceleration in the pace of transfers by Germany.

 

 

 

Afghan refugee murders a child taken hostage

A knife-wielding assiliant from Afghanistan has taken hostage and lethally injured a 5-year-old boy and wounded his Russian mother in a centre for refugees in the Bavarian municipality of Arnschwang. The carnage unfolded in the shelter on Saturday afternoon, police report. (Photo: police, illustration)
Police, who had promptly arrived at the scene, shot dead the assailant, after he stabbed the boy, and wounded his mohter. The assassin was identified in a police report as a 41-year-old Afghan national, a resident of the same shelter as his victims.

Before being neutralized, the perpetrator also injured the boy’s mother, a 47-year-old Russian national, who was taken to the hospital with injuries. Her other child, a six-year old boy, who was present at the scene at the time of the brutal attack, was deeply shaken but physically unharmed, police said. He was also brought to the hospital.

https://twitter.com/V_of_Europe/status/871247616083988480

 

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