Posts Tagged ‘asylum seekers’

Tunisian Navy Rescues 78 Migrants Off Coast

September 22, 2017

TUNIS — Tunisia’s navy rescued 78 migrants including two girls after their vessel en route to Europe took on water off the coast of Chebba and was stranded for three days, the defense ministry said on Friday.

Human traffickers increasingly use Tunisia as a launch pad for migrants heading for Europe after Libya’s coastguard aided by armed groups tightened its controls.

“Naval forces rescued 78 illegal Tunisian migrants 70 kilometers east of the coast of Chebba on board a boat that was damaged and leaking water,” the ministry said in statement, adding that nobody died in the incident.

Tunisia has been praised for its democratic progress after a 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali but successive governments have failed to create jobs for young people, some of whom head to Europe to seek work.

(Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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Asylum seekers in Europe left waiting, says study — Even after they live through Mediterranean journey

September 21, 2017

By the start of this year, more than half of Europe’s asylum-seeker arrivals over a two-year period had yet to be processed, a study shows. For many, the pace hinged on which nation was handling their applications.

Griechenland Lesbos Ankunft von Flüchtlingen an der Küste (DW/Diego Cupolo)

The Washington-based Pew Research Center said that permits to stay – at least temporarily – had been granted to some 40 percent of the 2.2 million who had arrived in 2015 and 2016.

By the begining of 2017, 52 percent of those who entered in the previous two years were still waiting for decisions. Only three percent had been ejected from the European country in which they had applied for protection.

Afghanistan abgeschobene Asylbewerber kehren zurück (Getty Images/AFP/W. Kohsar)An Afghan deported from Germany arriving in Kabul

Wednesday’s look at past data, based on information from the EU’s statistical agency (Eurostat) and sourced from all 28 EU members plus Switzerland and Norway, found that Germany had been relatively quick in processing applications.

Germany’s adjudication period for applicants from war-torn Syria was about three months. Belgium managed waiting times of only one month. By contrast the average Syrian waiting time in Norway had been more than a year.

Among the 650,000 Syrians who arrived in Europe over the period, only 130,000 had not received decisions by late 2016.

Longest wait for Albanians

Across the EU-plus group as a whole, Germany and Sweden had processed about half of their arrivals. The applicants who were left waiting the longest overall were Albanians.

The variations meant that asylum seekers’ prospects “largely” depended on where their applications were submitted, said Pew, intimating that Europe was far from fulfilling equal protection under UN conventions.

Also left waiting for a long time were applicants from Afghanistan and Iraq, despite conflicts in both those countries.

By late 2016, 77 percent of Afghans were waiting for first-time or final decisions on appeal; likewise 66 percent from Iraq and 77 percent from Iran.

Also left waiting were people from Kosovo (77 percent), Serbia (74 percent) Russia (72 percent), Pakistan (67 percent), Somalia (56 percent) and Nigeria (55 percent).

Half arrived in Germany

Of the 2.2 million, Germany received 1,090,000 applicants over the two years, Pew concluded. By late 2016, 49 percent of its intake was waiting for decisions.

Other nations with better than average decision rates were Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, Pew said.

Hungary, whose government remains anti-immigrant, had the worst rate, with 94 percent of its 70,000 applicants still awaiting asylum rulings by late 2016.

Serbien Kelebija Fotoreportage Diego Cupolo an ungarischer Grenze (DW/D. Cupolo)Languishing on the Serbian-Hungarian border in 2016

ipj/rc (AP, KNA)

German aid to migrants creating pull effect: minister — Merkel’s Christian Democrats “are ready to do anything” for votes

September 9, 2017
© AFP/File | Many migrants see Germany as their dream destination

BERLIN (AFP) – German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned Saturday that Berlin’s generous offer of benefits for asylum seekers was a siren call for migrants.

“The benefits for refugees in Germany are quite high compared to other EU countries. This is part of the pull effect towards Germany,” de Maiziere, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said in an interview with the Rheinische Post regional daily.

Under Merkel’s impetus, Germany welcomed more than a million asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, all of them ushered in by Maiziere’s interior ministry.

His comments on Saturday, two weeks ahead of legislative elections, were roundly criticised by the far-left Die Linke party and the German Greens.

Aid for refugees “cannot be reduced below the subsistence minimum,” argued Katrin Goering-Eckardt, head of the Greens parliamentary group.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats “are ready to do anything” for votes, she added.

Die Linke deputy Jan Korte said that Maiziere was seeking to “disfigure the right to asylum”.

De Maiziere on Saturday stressed the need to harmonise asylum procedures for European nations, an issue already broached at EU-level.

The European Union needs “a truly homogenous asylum system,” he said.

An asylum seeker arriving in Germany has the right to housing and up to 390 euros ($470) per month to cover food, clothing and other expenses.

Aid Group Calls on Libya to End Detention of Refugees — Doctors Without Borders wants to end “squalid detention conditions and ill treatment” in Libya

September 2, 2017

CAIRO — An international medical aid group has called on Libyan authorities to end arbitrary detention of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, slamming conditions inside detention facilities in the North African country as “dire,” ”unhealthy” and “.”

Doctors Without Borders, known by the French acronym MSF, said in a statement Friday that medical conditions in detention centers in Tripoli, where the United Nations-backed government is based, are either caused or aggravated by “squalid detention conditions and ill treatment.”

The European Union earmarked tens of millions of euros to improve conditions for migrants inside Libyan detention centers. But the group says international funding to Libya is not the solution and fears the narrow focus on improving facilities legitimizes the arbitrary detention system that harms and exploits people without recourse to the law.

German Minister Favors Longer Ban on Syrian Refugees Bringing Families

August 31, 2017

Image result for Thomas de Maiziere, photos

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere

De Maiziere, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, told the Heilbronner Stimme newspaper that a “huge” number of Syrians were expected to enter Germany unless the ban was extended when it expires in March 2018.

Officials expect every refugee to bring at least one family member to Germany, he said in an article published on Thursday.

Bild newspaper said this week that internal government estimates showed that about 390,000 Syrians who had been recognized as asylum seekers could request visas for family members when the two-year ban on reunifications expires next March.

Merkel, who is expected to win a fourth term in Sept. 24 elections, has said the government will decide the issue after the election. The government has sought to tighten asylum rules after suffering regional election losses over Merkel’s 2015 decision to leave borders open to over a million migrants.

Concern about migration has fueled support in particular for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which is expected to win seats in the national parliament for the first time at the election.

A poll conducted by the INSA institute for daily newspaper Bild this week showed that 58.3 percent of Germans opposed family reunifications for recognized asylum seekers, although they are allowed under German law.

The poll showed that 95.8 percent of AfD supporters and 66.8 percent of supporters of the pro-business Free Democrats opposed family reunifications. About 54.3 percent of conservatives were also opposed, compared to 42.7 percent of backers of the Social Democrats, junior partners in the current coalition government.

Richard Hilmer, head of the Berlin-based Policy Matters think tank, said migration remained a key issue for German voters in the 2017 election.

He said German law allowed family reunifications to help ensure good integration of asylum seekers whose applications were accepted.

“Otherwise you wind up with single men who are not integrated into the social fabric, and in the worst cases, even a sort of ghettoisation,” he said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Merkel has no regrets about opening Germany’s borders

August 28, 2017
ANGELA Merkel said she would open Germany’s borders to migrants all over again if she had the chance to turn back the clock to 2015 as she continues her election campaign.

PUBLISHED: 12:30, Sun, Aug 27, 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34, Sun, Aug 27, 2017

Angela MerkelGETTY

Angela Merkel said she would open Germany’s borders to migrants all over again

The German Chancellor said she still backed her decision to allow more than one million migrants to enter  since 2015, despite coming under fire for the so-called open doors policy and being relentlessly heckled at recent election events.

On the campaign trail  has been booed by protestors furious at her decision to completely open Germany’s borders during the .

But a defiant Mrs Merkel, who hopes to secure a record fourth term, says she would do the same again.

And she risked further outrage by announcing she will continue to push for the fair distribution of migrants across Europe rather than letting Italy and Greece shoulder the load purely “because of their location”.

I’d make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again

Angela Merkel

Today she struck a defiant tone as she vowed she would do things the “same way again” if she could turn back time.

In an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper Mrs Merkel attacked countries which have not followed Germany’s open-door policy.

Mrs Merkel said: “I’d make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again. It was an extraordinary situation and I made my decision based on what I thought was right from a political and humanitarian standpoint.

“Those kinds of extraordinary situations happen every once in a while in a country’s history. The head of government has to act and I did.”

She said more countries should help take in migrants and said it was unfair Italy and Greece were being hit the hardest simply “because of their geography”.

Mrs Merkel said: “That some countries refuse to accept any refugees is not on. That contradicts the spirit of Europe. We’ll overcome that. It will take time and patience but we will succeed.”

Her decision to open the borders contributed to a surge in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which pollsters say could win up to 10 per cent in the September election.

Mrs Merkel has had to contend with loud and sustained heckling from demonstrators strongly opposed to her migrant policies so far on the campaign trail.

Angela MerkelGETTY

A poster reading ‘Merkel must go’ at a recent German election campaign event

Angela MerkelGETTY

Angela Merkel has defended her decision to allow hundreds of thousands of migrants to enter Germany

The volume and intensity of the protests have been especially strong in her home region in formerly communist eastern Germany. But the 63-year-old Chancellor said she would not be kept away from areas where animosity towards her runs high.

She said: “We’re a democracy and everyone can freely express themselves in public the way they want. It’s important that we don’t go out of our way to avoid certain areas only because there are a bunch of people screaming.”

Support for Mrs Merkel and her party has recovered somewhat after the influx of refugees slowed in 2016 to 280,000 and fell even further to about 106,000 in the first seven months of this year.

Four weeks before the September 24 election, an Emnid opinion poll on Sunday showed Mrs Merkel’s conservatives would win 38 per cent, or 15 points ahead of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). That is up from 32 per cent in February but well below the 41.5 per cent her party won in the last election in 2013.

EU, African leaders meet in Paris to discuss migrant crisis — 125,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean by boat this year

August 28, 2017



© Carlo Hermann, AFP file picture | Migrants rescued from the sea stand on the deck of the Italian rescue ship Vos Prudence as it arrives in the port of Salerno July 14, 2017


Latest update : 2017-08-28

Leaders from seven African and European countries meet in Paris on Monday for a mini-summit to discuss how to ease the EU’s migrant crisis.

French President Emmanuel Macron has invited his counterparts from Niger and Chad as well as the head of the Libyan unity government Fayez al-Sarraj, whose countries lie on the main transit route for migrants heading to Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish and Italian prime ministers Mariano Rajoy and Paulo Gentiloni, and Europe’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, will join the talks.

European nations are keen to offer development aid and funding to their African partners in return for help in stemming the flow of economic migrants and asylum seekers.

A total of 125,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean by boat this year, according to UN figures, with the vast majority arriving in Italy before travelling on to other EU members. An estimated 2,400 have died en route.

France is seeking improved border controls and patrolling of the waters around Libya complicated by the country’s competing governments and state of lawlessness as well as development aid to create jobs in Africa.

“The fight against illegal migration is being led on two fronts: development and security,” said a source in the French presidency, asking not to be named.

In July, Macron also proposed without consulting his allies the creation of so-called “hotspots” in Africa where asylum seekers fleeing persecution or war could lodge a request to travel to the EU.

would mean they would not need to make the perilous trip across the Mediterranean with the help of people traffickers, who frequently pack too many people onto flimsy boats and often mistreat the migrants.

Sharp fall in crossings

The meeting might also provide information on why arrivals have plummeted in recent weeks from Libya, the main route into Europe since a separate pathway from Turkey into Greece was shut down in 2016.

The numbers arriving in Italy have fallen by around 50 percent in July and August compared with last year, leaving experts scrambling for an answer.

Improved action by the Libyan coastguard, tougher border controls in transit countries inland, as well as Libyan militias joining efforts to stop boats leaving have all been touted as possible reasons.

The president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, will tell his European counterparts that the number of migrants passing through the transit town of Agadez in his country has fallen by 80 percent thanks to government efforts, a source in his team told AFP.

Libya has also sought to restrict the work of NGOs operating rescue boats in the Mediterranean which pick up migrants stranded on inflatable dinghies or other unseaworthy crafts.

Italy has also sought to impose a code of conduct on the NGOs, which face accusations from some critics that their operations have encouraged migrants to attempt the crossing, knowing that they will be picked up in an emergency.

The code has been signed by five out of seven NGOs with rescue ships only the French organisation Doctors Without Borders and Germany’s Sea-Watch have refused out of principle.

The code is set to be approved by all the countries present on Monday, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

After the talks about immigration during the day, the European leaders are set to meet together in the evening to discuss reforming the EU and joint efforts to prevent terror attacks.

Germany’s Angela Merkel: ‘Refugees must be distributed fairly’

August 27, 2017

Chancellor Merkel has called in an interview for EU countries to show solidarity in taking in refugees. But she said her decision to open Germany’s borders in 2015 was one she would take again in the same circumstances.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

In an interview published on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel again defended her resolution two years ago to provide refuge to those fleeing from warfare in Syria and other countries.

“I would take all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again,” she told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper, saying they had been necessary to “avert a humanitarian catastrophe.”

However, she admitted that EU law at the time had been inadequate for dealing with the enormous refugee influx that ensued. She criticized the so-called “Dublin Regulation” on refugees, which requires those seeking asylum to register in the first EU state they enter.

Read more: Angela Merkel from A to Z: the many faces of the chancellor

Migration flows in the Mediterranean 2017 ENGMediterranean countries bear the brunt of the migrant flows

Unfair burden for Greece and Italy

The regulation means that EU countries on the Mediterranean are forced to take in the overwhelming majority of migrants, most of whom come via the sea route.

“It is unacceptable that Greece and Italy should have to carry the burden alone only because they have the geographical location that they do and the refugees land in them,” she told the Welt am Sonntag.

Instead, refugees should be distributed among the EU member states in solidarity, she said.

Calls for redistribution of refugees in the bloc according to a quote scheme have previously met with considerable resistance, particularly from eastern European countries such as Poland and Hungary.

Holidays at home?

Merkel however also called for harsher measures to be taken against asylum seekers if it was discovered that they had gone on holiday in their countries of origin, as recent reports have suggested.

“Taking holidays in the country in which you are being persecuted is not on,” Merkel said, adding that if it did happen, it could be a reason to re-examine any decision to grant asylum to those involved.

The chancellor also spoke about the issue of EU cooperation with Libya on refugees, which has come under vehement criticism from human rights groups who say migrants in the largely lawless North African country have been subjected to abuse of many kinds.

Migrants in sea off Libya Migrants often have difficulties after setting off from Libya

Merkel said that she wanted to provide the Libyan coast guard “with the necessary equipment to do its work,” which under a recent agreement means trying to prevent migrants leaving Libyan territory. She said the EU-Libya deal aimed at preventing human trafficking, which had led to many deaths.

But she said that at the same time, the EU “of course considers it to be of the greatest importance that the Libyan coast guard adheres to the rules of international law, both in dealing with refugees and migrants and with non-governmental organizations.”

If doubts were to arise about Libya’s behavior in this regard, the reports would be investigated, Merkel said.

Marchers Protest Police Eviction of Asylum-Seekers in Rome

August 26, 2017

ROME — Several thousand asylum-seekers, other migrants and supporters have marched through Rome to protest Italian police’s recent evictions of migrant camps.

Some carried a banner Saturday proclaiming themselves “refugees not terrorists.”

On Thursday, police used water cannons to clear out 100 asylum-seekers, most of them from Ethiopia or Eritrea, from a Rome square. Authorities had already cleared out most of the 800 migrants who had been squatting in a building near the square since 2013.

Human rights advocates and the U.N. refugee agency protested that the evictions were conducted without warning.

Many asylum-seekers sleep on the streets of Rome for lack of housing.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants rescued at sea have arrived in Italy in the last few years. Some Italian towns are refusing to take in any more.

Migrant boats in Black Sea spark fears of new route

August 21, 2017


© AFP/File | A boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region, officials said
BUCHAREST (AFP) – Romanian authorities said Monday that they had caught a fishing boat with 68 asylum seekers off Romania’s coast, the second such incident in a week, raising fears that a new migrant route to Europe is opening up.

The boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region, officials said.

“They were accompanied by two Turkish traffickers,” Ionela Pasat, a spokeswoman for the Constanta coastguard, told AFP.

The group was brought to the port of Mangalia for medical examinations on Monday before being handed over to the immigration authorities, she said.

On August 13, coastguards discovered a boat with 69 Iraqi migrants in Romanian waters. One Bulgarian and one Cypriot were taken into custody on suspicion of human trafficking.

EU member Romania, which is not part of the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone, has largely been spared the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War II.

But Bucharest worries that the Black Sea could become an alternative route to the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.

More than 111,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea so far this year, most of them arriving in Italy from Libya, according to the most recent figures.

Over 2,300 have died attempting the crossing.

This month, NGO rescue ships were banned from patrolling waters off Libya where hundreds of thousands of people have been rescued in recent years and brought to Italy.