REFUGEES are reasonable people in desperate circumstances. Life for many of the 1m-odd asylum-seekers who have fled Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-torn countries for Europe in the past year has become intolerable. Europe is peaceful, rich and accessible. Most people would rather not abandon their homes and start again among strangers. But when the alternative is the threat of death from barrel-bombs and sabre-wielding fanatics, they make the only rational choice.
The flow of refugees would have been manageable if European Union countries had worked together, as Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, has always wished (and The Economist urged). Instead Germany and Sweden have been left to cope alone. Today their willingness to do so is exhausted. Unless Europe soon restores order, political pressure will force Mrs Merkel to clamp down unilaterally, starting a wave of border closures (see article). More worrying, the migrant crisis is feeding xenophobia and political populism. The divisive forces of right-wing nationalism have already taken hold in parts of eastern Europe. If they spread westward into Germany, France and Italy then the EU could tear itself apart.
The situation today is a mess. Refugees have been free to sail across the Mediterranean, register and make for whichever country seems most welcoming. Many economic migrants with no claim to asylum have found a place in the queue by lying about where they came from. This free-for-all must be replaced by a system in which asylum applicants are screened when they first reach Europe’s borders—or better still, before they cross the Mediterranean. Those who are ineligible for asylum should be sent back without delay; those likely to qualify should be sent on to countries willing to accept them.
Order on the border
Creating a well-regulated system requires three steps. The first is to curb the “push factors” that encourage people to risk the crossing, by beefing up aid to refugees, particularly to the victims of the civil wars in Syria and Iraq, including the huge number who have fled to neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The second is to review asylum claims while refugees are still in centres in the Middle East or in the “hotspots” (mainly in Greece and Italy), where they go when they first arrive in the EU. The third element is to insist that asylum-seekers stay put until their applications are processed, rather than jumping on a train to Germany.
All these steps are fraught with difficulty. Consider the “push factors” first. The prospect of ending Syria’s civil war is as remote as ever: peace talks in Geneva this week were suspended without progress. But the EU could do a lot more to help refugees and their host countries. Scandalously, aid for Syrians was cut in 2015 even as the war grew bloodier: aid agencies got a bit more than half of what they needed last year, according to the UN. Donors at a conference on Syria in London this week were asked for $9 billion for 2016—about as much as Germans spend on chocolate every year. Far more is needed and will be needed every year for several years.
Europe’s money should be used not only to feed and house refugees but also to coax host countries into letting them work. For the first four years of the conflict Syrians were denied work permits in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Recently Turkey has begun to grant them. Donors should press Jordan and Lebanon to follow. European cash could help teach the 400,000 refugee children in Turkey who have no classes.
Pour lire en entier : http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21690028-european-problem-demands-common-coherent-eu-policy-let-refugees-regulate
Le gouverneur de la province de Flandre-Occidentale était au cœur d’une polémique en Belgique, mercredi 3 février, après qu’il s’en est pris aux réfugiés qui ont quitté par dizaines les camps de Calais et Dunkerque à destination du port belge de Zeebruges, d’où ils espèrent rejoindre plus facilement l’Angleterre. « Ne nourrissez pas les réfugiés, sinon d’autres viendront », a lancé lundi sur une radio flamande le chrétien-démocrate Carl Decaluwé, représentant de l’Etat fédéral dans la province côtière de l’ouest du royaume.Le message s’adressait en particulier aux habitants de Zeebruges, dont certains avaient apporté de la nourriture à des migrants pendant le week-end. Son appel, qui a été comparé à une « interdiction de nourrir les canards ou les mouettes » par des médias belges, a visiblement eu un effet contre-productif puisque des bénévoles ont distribué mardi soir un repas chaud à quelque 35 migrants, selon le quotidien flamand Het Laatste Nieuws.
« Et la charité, ça ne compte plus pour un gouverneur qui s’est toujours présenté comme chrétien-démocrate ? », s’est interrogé Ronny Blomme, un habitant de Zeebruges cité mercredi par le journal. « Si nous ne les aidons pas, nous les poussons encore plus profondément dans l’illégalité et dans les mains des passeurs », a réagi Médecins du monde. « Decaluwé a raison. On ferait mieux de les envoyer à Bruxelles, sinon nous aurons un deuxième Calais à Zeebruges », a toutefois estimé un autre habitant du quartier, cité dans Het Laatste Nieuws.
Pour lire la suite : http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2016/02/03/en-belgique-un-gouverneur-appelle-a-ne-pas-nourrir-les-refugies_4858762_3214.html
The perilous flight of refugees continues, with some 67,000 asylum seekers traveling to Europe last month. Meanwhile, the European Union and international donors are poised to increase their aid to one desperate group: Syrians displaced by war.
The refugees keep coming.
Forced from their homes by war and economic deprivation, tens of thousands of migrants made the perilous journey to Europe last month.
These asylum seekers, the latest surge in a great tide of human movement, have braved winter weather, stormy seas and closed borders in their escape from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.
On Thursday in London, the European Union and international donors are expected to pledge to increase their aid to Syrians displaced by war.
The toll, whether measured in lives or in dollars, is staggering.
More People, Fewer Choices
More than 67,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea since the start of the year. By comparison, 5,000 migrants made the journey across the Mediterranean in January 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration.
These newcomers join more than one million people who sought refuge in Europe last year. But more telling than the total number of migrants is the number who have been formally resettled: 190 in 2015, despite pledges to relocate almost 200,000.
“We have to go,” said Mohamed Salem Abrahim, a 17-year-old Afghan trying to make his way to Germany. Mohamed arrived in Greece two months ago after traveling through Iran and catching a leaky boat from Turkey. “What is the choice — to stay in our country and be killed, or come to Europe where we can be free?”
This year, 368 people have died making the journey across the Mediterranean, 60 of them children, migration figures show.
Since the beginning of the year 19,781 minors have arrived in Europe, almost one-third of the total number of people making the journey.
On Saturday, 10 children drowned when a boat carrying them and their families crashed on rocks near Ayvacik, a Turkish resort town. Photos of at least two of the children, their lifeless bodies on a rocky shore, were disturbingly similar to the photographs of the 3-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi that circulated on the Internet in September. The public outcry over repeated images of smartly dressed children washed up on Europe’s shores has been muted.
Women and children now make up most of the migrants entering Europe, surpassing single men, who were once the majority of travelers, according to Unicef.
For children, the journey is far more dangerous than a single boat trip. At least 10,000 unaccompanied minors have disappeared in Europe over the past year, according to Europol, the European division of Interpol. Many of those children have slipped through the bureaucratic cracks and found shelter with family members, but the police warned that many others have likely been kidnapped by traffickers.
Pour lire l'article en entier : http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/02/04/world/europe/migrant-crisis-by-the-numbers.html?emc=edit_tnt_20160203&nlid=49063493&tntemail0=y&_r=0
Il est étendu sur le ventre, comme endormi, au ras de l’eau, sur une plage déserte… Ai Weiwei a osé « rejouer » la mort du petit Aylan Kurdi. Cet enfant syrien de 3 ans avait été retrouvé noyé début septembre 2015 et sa photo avait réveillé les consciences sur l’inhumaine réalité des routes de migration. Quatre mois plus tard, son « remake » par le très médiatique artiste chinois, publié le 30 janvier par le Washington Post, crée un nouvel émoi. Malaise face à un cliché de mauvais goût, ou face à ce qu’il nous répète : que rien n’a changé, au contraire, depuis ce moment d’empathie internationale ? Pour le seul mois de janvier, selon l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), et pour la seule traversée de la mer Egée, le bilan était de 272 morts, dont de nombreux enfants.
Tandis qu’Aylan avait échoué côté turc, la photo d’Ai Weiwei a été prise sur l’île grecque de Lesbos, devenue la première porte d’entrée migratoire en Europe pour sa proximité des côtes turques. C’est l’onde de choc de la première photo qui avait décidé l’artiste à passer à l’action. Dès la mi-septembre 2015, il lançait à Londres une marche avec l’artiste britannique d’origine indienne Anish Kapoor, arborant un « symbole du besoin auquel font face 60 millions de réfugiés dans le monde aujourd’hui » : une couverture. « En ouvrant les esprits, un espace poétique, nous pouvons au moins espérer changer la façon dont nous abordons ce problème », déclarait alors au Guardian le duo d’artistes, qui rappelait à chacun : « D’une manière ou d’une autre, à un moment ou à un autre, nous sommes tous des réfugiés. »
Pour lire la suite : http://www.lemonde.fr/arts/article/2016/02/03/ai-weiwei-et-banksy-uvrent-pour-les-migrants_4858709_1655012.html
Sur EU Immigration and Asylum Law Policy : Hotspots and Relocation Schemes: the right therapy for the Common European Asylum System?
The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and the Schengen travel area are in considerable jeopardy. The spontaneous arrival of approximately one million persons in 2015, 90% of them from the top refugee-producing countries of the world, has cruelly exposed their paradoxes and set in motion centrifugal forces that appear to threaten their very existence. The remedy proposed by the EU institutions includes as its centrepieces the “hotspot approach” and intra-EU relocation schemes. Great store is being placed in their implementation. Indeed, Greece is reportedly under the threat of exclusion from Schengen if it does not implement its “hotspots roadmap”. Hotspots and relocation also loom large in the debate on the future of the CEAS. The Commission has already proposed to include them permanently in the Union’s crisis toolbox and reportedly plans to replace Dublin with a permanent distribution key “quasi-automatically” allocating protection seekers to Member States.
While no one denies that the CEAS and Schengen urgently need therapy, it is worth asking whether the EU and its Member States are selecting the right one. I will offer my reflections on this after recalling the context in which hotspots and relocations schemes have been devised, their essential features, and the first experiences made to-date with their implementation.
The arrivals observed throughout 2015 have been concentrated in both Greece – accounting for more than 800,000 in 2015 alone – and Italy. These two “frontline” states, have been faced with the formidable logistical challenge of organising the first reception and identification of migrants. A full implementation of Dublin and EURODAC would have made the challenges even more difficult. Frontline states would have been responsible for fingerprinting all arriving persons, receiving their claims, and in most cases – given that Dublin assigns responsibility primarily to the state of first entry – processing them as well as organizing long-term reception or return.
Many of these responsibilities have remained virtual. A large number of those who arrived on Greek shores in particular have moved on to other Member States via the “Balkan route” without filing a claim or even being identified there. Failed identification in the first state of entry raised security concerns and rendered the Dublin system practically inapplicable vis-à-vis the frontline states – nothing new in respect of Greece, already “excised” from the Dublin system by the European Court of Human Rights in 2011. Destination and transit states reacted with a flurry of unilateral responses ranging from the temporary reintroduction of checks at internal borders, to the erection of barbed wire fences, to the announcement of national ‘caps’ on the number of persons who would be admitted to claim asylum.
The situation is quickly degenerating in a chaotic and acrimonious chacun pour soi, where refugees are literally left out in the cold at the borders of e.g. Greeceand Croatia. The very idea of common policies based on common rules, common interests, free travel, respect for refugee rights and solidarity (see Art. 77, 78 and 80 TFEU) is in tatters.
The ‘Hotspot approach’ and the Relocation schemes: essential features
As part of a package of ‘immediate actions’ to counter the unfolding crisis, the Commission announced a series of measures in May 2015, including the ‘hotspot approach’ and ‘relocation measures’. Both were endorsed by the European Council – nota bene in the perspective of ‘better contain[ing] the growing flows of illegal migration’ inter alia through the ‘reinforcement of the management of the Union’s external border’.
In the European Agenda on Migration, hotspots were presented as an initiative to ‘assist’ frontline states ‘to swiftly identify, register and fingerprint incoming migrants’ – or more enticingly as ‘comprehensive and targeted support by the EU Agencies to frontline Member States’. As per the official definition of the Commission, a “Hotspot” is a section of external borders characterized by “specific and disproportionate migratory pressure, consisting of mixed migratory flows”. The “hotspot approach” means that EU Agencies intervene there in a coordinated manner through “Migration Management Support Teams”, relying essentially on personnel and equipment to be made available by other Member States.
Subject to arrangements to be made on a case-by-case basis, the support that may be provided includes the identification, registration, and removal of apprehended migrants (FRONTEX); the registration of asylum claims, the preparation of files, and the relocation of claimants (EASO); the investigation and prosecution of crimes (EUROPOL and EUROJUST). Not included in this “comprehensive and targeted support” are the reception of claimants and the processing of claims. Returns also remain essentially in the hands (and on the budget) of the host state despite some funding and assistance being available from the EU. The host state must finally submit a “roadmap” setting out “complementary measures” to be adopted to manage the situation (e.g. building reception facilities).
On the whole, notwithstanding the “assistance” rhetoric, hotspots are clearly designed to shift back on frontline states all the responsibilities they (theoretically) shoulder under current EU legislation: to identify migrants, to provide first reception, to identify and return those who do not claim protection, and to channel those who do so towards asylum procedures in the responsible state – in most cases, none other than the frontline state itself.
This is where temporary relocation schemes come in. Established by the two Decisions of 14 and 22 September 2015 as temporary emergency measures under Art. 78(3) TFEU, relocation schemes constitute a derogation from Dublin: until September 2017, the responsibility for a number of applications (66,400 from Greece and 39,500 from Italy) should be transferred to other Member States. In conformity with the goal of the scheme – re-establishing EURODAC/Dublin “normality” in frontline states – applicants may only be relocated after applying for protection there, being properly fingerprinted, and after the responsibility of Italy and Greece under Dublin has been established (Art. 3(1) and 5(5) relocation Decisions). Furthermore, only applicants “in clear need of international protection” are eligible, i.e. those who possess a nationality for which the EU-wide recognition rate at 1st instance is 75% or higher (Art. 3(2) relocation Decisions). Very much in the Dublin tradition, the persons to be relocated have no right to choose the relocation state or to refuse relocation as such.
The policy link with the “Hotspot approach” is made explicit in Articles 7 and 8 of the relocation Decisions: relocation is to be accompanied by “increased operational support”, and may be suspended should the beneficiary state fail to comply with its “Hotspot roadmap”.
Pour lire l'article en entier : http://eumigrationlawblog.eu/hotspots-and-relocation-schemes-the-right-therapy-for-the-common-european-asylum-system/
Pays maghrébins classés «sûrs», obligation de résidence pour certains demandeurs d'asile, réduction des aides et limitation du rapprochement familial : le gouvernement allemand a approuvé mercredi des mesures devant rendre l'Allemagne moins attractive pour les migrants économiques.
Ce projet de loi, accepté dans son principe la semaine dernière après des mois de tractations par la coalition regroupant les conservateurs (CDU) d'Angela Merkel, ses alliés bavarois (CSU) et les sociaux-démocrates (SPD), a été validé en conseil des ministres et doit désormais être soumis au Parlement.
Outre les mesures phares déjà connues - Maroc, Tunisie, Algérie classés pays sûrs et rapprochement familial repoussé de deux ans pour certaines catégories de réfugiés -, d'autres ajustements visent en priorité à accélérer le traitement des demandes d'asile considérées comme n'ayant aucune chance d'aboutir.
Ainsi, les ressortissants des pays jugés sûrs, et donc sans grande chance d'obtenir le droit d'asile, les personnes faisant appel du rejet de leur première demande, celles ayant menti sur leur identité ainsi que les migrants pouvant «représenter un danger pour la sécurité et l'ordre publics» auront désormais une obligation de résidence. Objectif : faciliter leur expulsion une fois les recours épuisés.
La procédure d'examen et d'appel pour ces catégories de demandeurs d'asile doit être limitée à trois semaines.
Par ailleurs, l'Allemagne va limiter de manière draconienne les raisons médicales empêchant l'expulsion d'un demandeur d'asile débouté aux seules maladies mortelles ou graves.
Autre nouveauté, le gouvernement allemand va réduire les aides sociales versées à un demandeur d'asile. Et une personne ne pourra y prétendre que si elle s'est bien présentée au centre d'accueil que les autorités lui ont attribué et pas à celui de son choix.
Pour lire la suite : http://www.lapresse.ca/international/crise-migratoire/201602/03/01-4946789-lallemagne-veut-devenir-moins-attrayante-pour-les-migrants.php
ONDON – Last autumn, I was in Malta at the Valletta Summit on Migration, attended by European and African heads of state and government. I was invited as United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration. As is customary at such events, there was a group photograph, in which I ended up beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel. I took the opportunity to whisper to her that, in my opinion, she was a heroine for her action on the migration issue. Her reply was to the effect that she was doing what was “necessary for Europe.”
Since then, I have reflected on her actions and what she, not just then but over the many months of Europe’s migration crisis, has said. In essence, Merkel has called this an existential crisis for Europe, and more serious than the Greek debt imbroglio. She has also repeatedly cited the moral (and legal) obligation that we all owe to refugees.
Much of the world is surprised that a German chancellor is speaking in these terms. Altiero Spinelli, the late Italian European federalist, wrote that German racism, which incited World War II, may have been occasioned by, but was not caused by, economic motives. He argued that, in historic terms, “the absurd anarchy of European international organization” has been “the most propitious terrain imaginable for the full expression of racism.” That suspect terrain is clearly visible once more in the absence of support for the EU’s proposed migrant quota system, which would allocate refugees to the member states on the basis of fair criteria.
It is clear from Merkel’s comments and actions that she wants to take the lead on this issue not just in Germany, but in Europe as a whole. It is also clear that many Europeans (and others) appreciate her courageous and principled stand. Europe needs leadership, and its institutions require its member states – particularly the most powerful ones – to address an issue that goes to the heart of the values we profess to hold.
It goes without saying that the principles of shared sovereignty and solidarity that underpin European integration are an expression of a moral vision that contradicts the nationalist principle of earlier times, with its taint of racism. So, when Merkel argues that European integration is threatened by the public’s negative reaction to the mass flow of desperate people, it is the fate of the post-nationalist vision that she has in mind.
She is right to worry that Europe’s states and peoples have lost the will to remain united in (and by) a system based on law and morality, including the application of the concepts of human dignity and equality to the question of our obligations toward refugees. Democracy demands that politicians respect their voters; but an increasing number of politicians are respecting the often odious views of the public toward refugees, adopting brutal responses toward those seeking shelter in Europe.
And now, in response to the crisis, borders are being reinstated in the Schengen Area, which not too long ago symbolized European unity and freedom of movement for its citizens. Inevitably, new borders will lead to the creation of large refugee camps in member states like Greece. Elsewhere, too, refugees are to be kept, it seems, under lock and key. Indeed, in Denmark, “valuables” are to be confiscated from migrants at the border in order to help defray the costs of their “sanctuary.”
Pour lire la suite : https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/merkel-embodies-leadership-that-europe-needs-by-peter-sutherland-2016-02
Sur le site du Haut Commissariat pour les Nations Unies (anglais) : Best interests of the child must come first, UN child rights committee reminds Australia
GENEVA (3 February 2016) – The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has reminded the Australian authorities that, under the terms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a party, the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration when taking any decision concerning children.
The Committee was reacting to the decision by the Australian High Court that the government’s policy of detaining asylum seekers offshore is legal, thereby clearing the way for more than 260 people currently in Australia, including dozens of children and infants, to be deported to an immigration processing centre in Nauru.
“The Committee had already expressed its concern in 2012 when it reviewed Australia at ‘the inadequate understanding and application of the principle of the best interests of the child in asylum-seeking, refugee and/or immigration detention situations’,”* said Committee Chair Benyam Mezmur. “This decision by the High Court greatly concerns us as these children and their families face a great risk in being sent to a place that cannot be considered safe nor adequate.”
Among those who could face deportation are reportedly 54 children, as well as 37 babies who were born in Australia.
Article 3 (1) of the Convention states: “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”
Pour consulter en ligne : http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17008&LangID=E
For nearly a year Israel has been offering African migrants cash and the chance to go and live in what is supposed to be a safe haven in a third country - but the BBC has spoken to two men who say that they were abandoned as soon as they got off the plane. One was immediately trafficked, the other left to fend for himself without papers.
Adam was 18 when he arrived in Israel in 2011. Attackers had burned down his home in Darfur at the height of the genocide, and he had spent his teenage years in a UN refugee camp in another part of Sudan. With no prospects in the camp and no sign of an end to the conflict in Darfur, he made his way north through Egypt and the lawless Sinai peninsula to Israel.
But Israel - which has approved fewer than 1% of asylum applications since it signed the UN Refugee Convention six decades ago - has not offered asylum to a single person from Sudan. It turned down Adam's application, and last October, when he went to renew the temporary permit allowing him to stay in the country, he was summoned to a detention centre known as Holot, deep in the Negev desert.
This was no surprise for Adam. As most Sudanese and Eritreans in Israel know, it's just a matter of time before they get the call to Holot.
The government calls Holot an "open-stay centre", but it's run by the prison service and rules are strict, including a night-time curfew, which, if broken, will land you in jail.
It's in such an isolated area that there's very little to do and nowhere to go.
I talked to Adam and a group of his friends just outside the gates of Holot, where, at that time, they spent most of their day playing cards or snooker, and eating and cooking in makeshift restaurants.
They told me they took turns to make the hour-long bus ride into the nearest town, Beersheva, where they bought food. The meals served in Holot were insufficient, they said, and contained little meat or protein.
Most of the men there were young - in their 20s or early 30s. Some had been teachers, activists or students in their own countries.
"We are wasting our youth here," Adam says. "If someone lives in Holot, they have no future... You find many people here go crazy."
Since I visited Holot, those makeshift restaurants and game areas have all been demolished on the orders of the government, leaving those inside with even fewer ways to pass the time.
Pour lire la suite : http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35475403
Dans le Huffington Post Canada : Syrian Refugees Experience 'The Psychological Warfare' Of Winter Cold
In my third year of university, the only apartment I could afford had ice on the inside walls. The winter temperature in Kingston, Ontario, regularly plunged to -20 C. The bedroom had no insulation.
Each night, I slept in sweats, heavy socks, a hat and mitts. Even with a space heater, and winter-weight sleeping bag under my quilt, I still shivered. In the mornings, I reached up to feel how much ice had formed above my bed during the night. I counted the days until March, when my room-mate and I could give notice.
The psychological warfare of cold
Like those who survived the lengthy power outage in Toronto a year ago December, many Canadians have experienced living conditions too cold to be believed. It's not the same as winter camping, when you come prepared and go home on Sunday. Having the elements invade your home is quite a different thing.
Millions of Syrian families are experiencing that kind of cold right now. It may come as a surprise to many Canadians that places like Lebanon and Turkey actually get extremely cold in the winter months, making life even more miserable for people who have fled conflict to live in refugee camps.
It's something World Vision photographer Ralph Baydoun experienced this week, when he chose to camp out in an informal Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, to get a sense of what the families there experience all winter long. A snowstorm was expected. Ralph documented the refugees' preparations, their survival tactics over a 24-hour period -- and his own sense of fear and dread.
"It was a psychological war that I was fighting," Ralph recorded. "The wind was growing stronger and the tent was shaking all around me. I tried to squeeze my head and neck into my sleeping bag, because they were freezing."
No mercy for the vulnerable
With his cameras, Ralph documented the refugees' storm preparations, including bracing their tents to withstand the expected 40 cm of snow. He met two of the children who would spend the coming hours climbing up on the roofs of the tents, cleaning away the snow throughout the night.
"I met Mhammad and Jomaa, both nine years old. They were on the roofs of two tents, clearing away the falling snow. They told me that they work all night cleaning snow off the tents, paid by the other refugees. They earn around 50 cents each."
Pour lire l'article en entier : http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/debbie-wolfe/syrian-refugees-winter_b_9118266.html?ncid=fcbklnkcahpmg00000001