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Jobs

Employment

All vacancies at EuroMed Rights, be it for employment or internship, are published on our website (and other relevant job search websites if relevant) and filled via transparent recruitment procedures. All potential applicants are encouraged to visit EuroMed Rights website on a regular basis and to submit an application for a specific vacancy if interested, following the application guidelines mentioned in each application package.

 

Equal opportunity employer

EuroMed Rights prides itself on its dedicated and diverse staff committed to the promotion and respect of human rights in the region. Aware of the importance of satisfaction and fulfillment of its employees, EuroMed Rights strives to provide them with productive and attractive working conditions.

EuroMed Rights is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in its hiring practices on any basis. We are committed to the creation and strengthening of both a working environment and a corporate culture that respects gender parity, equal representation at all levels of decision making, equal opportunity, as well as equal distribution of resources for women and men according to their respective duties within EuroMed Rights

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Publications

About us

Rooted in civil society, EuroMed Rights seeks to develop and strengthen partnerships between NGOs in the Euro-Mediterranean region, advocate for human rights values and develop capacities in this regard.

Following the launch of the Barcelona Process in 1995, a group of human rights activists from both sides of the Mediterranean believed that they could make a positive impact on the human rights situation by creating a civil society network, linking up the Barcelona Process to Human Rights NGOs operating in the region.

In December 1997, a constitutive assembly established EuroMed Rights as genuine north-south network. The first Executive Committee composed of members from north and south Mediterranean countries, in equal measure, adopted EuroMed Rights first statutes and action plan.

In 2000, a new action plan was adopted and the Network multiplied its activities. 2004 saw the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights (EMHRF) which was set up to assist human rights defenders with flexible, small-scale grants. It also saw the adoption of Gender Mainstreaming as a comprehensive strategy to advance gender equality, to be implemented in all EuroMed Rights structures and activities. Since then, EuroMed Rights has regularly conducted gender audits.

Following the “Arab uprisings” in 2011, a new strategic plan was adopted, including a policy paper on Gender Equality highlighting the issue of gender equality in the global fight for human rights and to promote the adoption of measures supporting  women’s rights and gender equality. The General Assembly elected Michel Tubiana, Honorary President of the French Human Rights League as its new president. EuroMed Rights was one of the first international organisations to officially establish an office in Tunisia following the ousting of Ben Ali. The Tunisia Mission’s ambition is to assist its members and emerging civil society develop their work in a new Tunisia. Thus, EuroMed Rights has become a key partner for civil society capacity building across the country, facilitating dialogue between local civil society, government institutions. Having established its credibility on both sides of the Mediterranean, EuroMed Rights is now widely recognised as an key organisation for civil society and decision-makers alike.

Who we are

Rooted in civil society, EuroMed Rights seeks to develop and strengthen partnerships between NGOs in the Euro-Mediterranean region, advocate for human rights values and develop capacities in this regard.

Following the launch of the Barcelona Process in 1995, a group of human rights activists from both sides of the Mediterranean believed that they could make a positive impact on the human rights situation by creating a civil society network, linking up the Barcelona Process to Human Rights NGOs operating in the region.

In December 1997, a constitutive assembly established EuroMed Rights as genuine north-south network. The first Executive Committee composed of members from north and south Mediterranean countries, in equal measure, adopted EuroMed Rights first statutes and action plan.

In 2000, a new action plan was adopted and the Network multiplied its activities. 2004 saw the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights (EMHRF) which was set up to assist human rights defenders with flexible, small-scale grants. It also saw the adoption of Gender Mainstreaming as a comprehensive strategy to advance gender equality, to be implemented in all EuroMed Rights' structures and activities. Since then, EuroMed Rights has regularly conducted gender audits (gender audit 2008gender audit 2012 and gender audit 2015).

Following the “Arab uprisings” in 2011, a new strategic plan was adopted, including a Policy Paper on Gender Equality highlighting the issue of gender equality in the global fight for human rights and to promote the adoption of measures supporting women’s rights and gender equality.

The 2018 General Assembly Wadih Al-Asmar as its new president. EuroMed Rights was one of the first international organisations to officially establish an office in Tunisia following the ousting of Ben Ali. Now a Maghreb Office, the ambition is to assist members and emerging civil society develop their work in a new Tunisia and elswhere in the Maghreb. Thus, EuroMed Rights has become a key partner for civil society capacity building across the country, facilitating dialogue between local civil society, government institutions. Having established its credibility on both sides of the Mediterranean, EuroMed Rights is now widely recognised as a key organisation for civil society and decision-makers alike.

A network bridging two shores

EuroMed Rights is one of the largest and most active networks of human rights organisations in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

Founded in 1997, EuroMed Rights encompasses 70 organisations from 30 countries. Its work is aimed at promoting and protecting human rights and democracy in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean regions and at influencing the policies of major European actors towards these areas.

EuroMed Rights' vision is human rights and democracy for all in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

Its mission is to strengthen the collaboration between human rights organisations from the South, the East and the North of the Mediterranean, and to increase their influence at home and abroad. This mission is achieved by facilitating the creation of joint strategies and action plans between members, and by conveying their shared analyses and views to decision-makers and to the public.

In its 2022-2027 strategy, EuroMed Rights identified five key political goals alongside its regular work on Southern Mediterranean countries.

In the period from 2022 to 2027, EuroMed Rights will organise its work around the five political goals below:

  • Reinforced Migration and Asylum Rights
  • Advanced Gender Equality
  • Increased Accountability, Justice and Space for Civil Society
  • Strengthened Democracy and Fundamental Freedoms
  • Enhanced Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

EuroMed Rights will, in parallel, strive to achieve the subsequent five organisational goals:

  • Energising its Member Base
  • Increasing its Visibility and Impact
  • Reducing its Carbon Footprint
  • Improving its Financial Sustainability and Diversification
  • Improving Internal Learning

Read "Improve and Advance", EuroMed Rights' 2022-2027 strategy.

How we work

EuroMed Rights works through, for and in collaboration with its members. Besides, we engage with hundreds of other civil society organisations and with national and international state institutions operating in the field of human rights. We do so by combining the key work methods explained below.

Analysis and monitoring: EuroMed Rights monitors the development of the human rights and democracy situation in the Euro-Mediterranean region through desk-studies, field missions and other forms of data-collection. We also procure or produce fact-checked analyses of key trends and phenomena of relevance for our work. We use the results of the monitoring and analysis to strengthen the capacities and understanding of our members on specific issues and processes. We also use them as input and background for our political positioning and in the planning of our programme and advocacy and communication activities.

Collaboration and co-creation: EuroMed Rights facilitates collaboration and co-creation among its members and stakeholders. In our co-creation processes, we often reach beyond the civil society sector to engage and mobilise national and international state actors and institutions. Most of our work is implemented through the organisation of a broad number of working groups, in which our members meet with their peers and with other stakeholders to exchange ideas, receive training, make joint action plans, and take joint decisions.

Advocacy and communication: EuroMed Rights influences and reaches out to decision-makers, policymakers and the broader public through its advocacy and communication work. It does so in close collaboration with our members and partners. Our advocacy actions target international bodies such as the EU, as well as both regional and national governments including the EU member states and governments in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean.

Mainstreaming: EuroMed Rights uses mainstreaming to address issues and concerns that affect the entire organisation. We systematically conduct gender mainstreaming throughout our work and ensure that freedom of expression, freedom of association, the right to peaceful assembly and movement, and access to decision makers and funding for civil society are addressed in all our programmes

You can find EuroMed Rights' 2022-2027 full strategy "Improve and Advance" on this link.

Secretariat

EuroMed Rights Secretariat, headed by Executive Director Rasmus Alenius Boserup, is in charge of implementing the organisation's three-year work programme, as well as strategies and action plans adopted by the Executive Committee.

Executive Committee

The General Assembly is the supreme body of EuroMed Rights; it meets every three years and elects the Executive Committee.

The 2021-2024 Executive Committee is composed of:

Our donors

EuroMed Rights fundraising strategy is articulated around three general principles; ensuring the network’s independence; minimising our donor dependence and guaranteeing our financial sustainability. EuroMed Rights would like to acknowledge and thank the following donors for their financial support:

Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency)

Danish-Arab Partnership Programme

European Union

Church of Sweden

Fondation de France

Sigrid Rausing Trust

Open Society Foundations

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Swiss Confederation

Heinrich Böll Foundation

 

Countries

In accordance with its 2022-2027 strategy, EuroMed Rights develops programmes in the following countries. The organisation also monitors the human rights situation across the Euro-Mediterranean region, notably across five key political goals.

Goals

EuroMed Right’s 2022-2027 strategy identifies the five political goals below as priorities alongside its country focuses and monitoring work across the Euro-Mediterranean region.

Our Members introduction

our members

EuroMed Rights is a member-driven network with a broad and diverse membership base. The Network serves as a platform to mobilise and engage our members in policy collaboration, capacity building, and advocacy and communication to jointly work on addressing human rights issues in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

In particular, EuroMed Rights builds its members’ capacities in order to:

  • Better understand local contexts, European mechanisms and human rights instruments;
  • Influence governmental and inter-governmental stakeholders more effectively by participating in regional policy processes and debates;
  • Contribute further to the reform process in the South of the Mediterranean by strengthening and providing input into the democratisation processes;
  • Increase members’ outreach in conveying human rights values and principles, including in the media and on social media platforms.

EuroMed Rights provides members with:

  • International/regional support to their work within EuroMed Rights’ key areas;
  • Facilitated access to human rights NGOs in 30 countries on both sides of the Mediterranean;
  • A broader platform to promote their work to regional and international audiences;
  • Training sessions and opportunities to build their capacities;
  • Increased protection when members or their work are at risk.

As the Network has grown in size and importance over the years, it aims to attract young and active civil society organisations and to widen its outreach to new audiences such as social movements and youth activists by incorporating new and emerging themes. You can find more information on how to become a member on this page.

Campaign

EuroMed Rights is at the forefront of campaigning for the respect for human rights issues in the region. Since its creation, the Network has launched and participated in many campaigns.

Frontexit

Frontexit is an international campaign for the defence of migrants' human rights at the external borders of the European Union. The campaign reports and denounces the impacts of Frontex operations in terms of human rights.
www.frontexit.org/

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, EuroMed Rights takes stock of the situation of women in Euro-Mediterranean region, and lament the sharp increase in gender-based violence and the widespread impunity. Throughout the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence that follow, EuroMed Rights regularly updates this page with factsheets, activities and statements, including those of its members, to shed light on the bleak situation for women in the region.

Free Syrian Voices

This campaign sheds light on the plight of Syrian civil society activists including human rights defenders, media and humanitarian workers who have been targeted for their work or peaceful activism.
www.free-syrian-voices.org/

migartion

Become a member

Being a EuroMed Rights member means being part of a regional human rights forum that is a major source of knowledge and action on human rights and democratic reform in the Euro-Mediterranean region. It also means that your organisation supports the Network and its activities. It furthermore gives your organisation the opportunity to participate in the General Assembly meetings and receive invitations for activities organised by the EMHRN.

Membership applications that we receive undergo an initial review by the Executive Committee of EuroMed Rights (EC). The EC recommends new members to the EuroMed Rights General Assembly that alone retains the prerogative to accept a new member.

Individuals who have provided outstanding contribution and sat in the political bodies of EuroMed Rights (namely the EC) are granted formal recognition as honorary members.

If your organisation wishes to apply for membership, you should provide Rasmus Alenius Boserup from the EuroMed Rights Secretariat with the following documents: 

Regular or Associate Membership:

  • A letter of motivation
  • A copy of your organisation’s Statutes;
  • A declaration stating that your organisation accepts and complies with EuroMed Rights Statutes ;
  • A letter of recommendation signed by at least two Regular members of EuroMed Rights
  • Material related to the activities of your organisation, including how you work to promote gender equality within your organisation and its activities.

For more information, please refer to our statutes.

We recommend that you also send us the following documents to give our Executive Committee a complete picture of your organisation and its activities, including:

  • Narrative Report of main fields of activities over the past two years (max. 2 pages)
  • List of members of board (including when they were elected)
  • List of publications (past 2 years)
  • List of meetings/ seminars/ conferences/ events (past 2 years)
  • Latest Annual activity Report (if available, if not please indicate why)
  • Latest Financial Report (if available, if not please indicate why)
  • Gender equality policy or strategy (if available)

For more information please contact Rasmus Alenius Boserup.

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Members Releases

EMHRN Brings Over Hundred Activists to its General Assembly in Brussels

EMHRN held its 10th General Assembly as the ever-volatile Euro-Med region is rocked by escalating conflicts, deaths at sea, radicalisation of its disenchanted youth, refugee and displacement crisis and mounting crackdown on dissent and peaceful protests. 

This context makes the Network’s mission and work as relevant as ever. The EMHRN is one of few regional organisations bringing human rights activists and civil society activists on both sides of the Mediterranean together.

The General Assembly has re-elected Michel Tubiana as president and a new Executive Committee (see below for full list). The GA has admitted new members and taken stock of the past three years and adopted political priorities to face difficulties ahead.

Reflecting on its current concerns and priorities, the General Assembly has also run three workshops: “Multiple Borders: Deaths, Encounters and Access to Rights,” “Human Rights and the Militarisation of Politics in South of the Mediterranean” and “ENP Revision: Human Rights First”.

Read our general resolution here

See the photo gallery here

 

 

Call for representation

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EC Member Osman Isci Speaks on Ankara Attacks (13/10/2015)

[caption id="attachment_4333" align="alignnone" width="599"]Osman Isçi (IHD, Turkey) interviewed by EuroMed Rights on 13/10/2015 Osman Isçi (IHD, Turkey) interviewed by EuroMed Rights on 13/10/2015[/caption]

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Human Rights Behind Bars in Egypt

Privacy Policy

https://euromedrights.org/egypt-human-rights-behind-bars/

Please read this policy carefully to understand how we collect, use and process your personal data.

 

Acceptance of our Terms

This website, including all information and materials contained in it, is managed by EuroMed Rights, who is committed to ensuring the privacy of all our users. This Privacy Policy governs all pages on the EuroMed Rights website. It does not apply to pages hosted by other organisations, related organisations or third party sites. The EuroMed Rights website may be linked to the websites of such other parties, but those other sites may have their own privacy policies which apply to them.

By visiting this website and/or using any of the services or information created, collected, compiled or submitted to EuroMed Rights, you consent to the following Terms. If you do not want to be bound by our Terms, your only option is not to visit, view or otherwise use the services of EuroMed Rights. You understand, agree and acknowledge that these Terms constitute a legally binding agreement between you and EuroMed Rights and that your use of the EuroMed Rights website shall indicate your conclusive acceptance of this agreement.

What type of information do we collect and store?

The type and amount of information we receive and store depends on how you use the EuroMed Rights website. You can access most of the pages on the EuroMed Rights without telling us who you are and without revealing any personal information.

We do not collect personal information (such as your name, address, phone number or e-mail address) on the EuroMed Rights Website unless you choose to provide it. For example, where you show your support by sending us a picture, sign a petition or subscribe to our email updates.

Your personal information will be retained by EuroMed Rights in a secure environment, kept confidential and will only be used in connection with the purposes for which it is submitted. It will not be sold or rented nor will it be shared with third parties. However the transmission of information over the internet is never completely secure, so while we do our best to protect personal information, we cannot guarantee the security of information transmitted to our website.

Access to your personal information

You may have rights of access to personal information that we hold about you, to correct that information or, in some circumstances, to object to our processing of your information, under data privacy law. If you wish to exercise any of these rights or have any questions about this policy, please contact us via email at information@euromedrights.net.

Proprietary Rights

You acknowledge and agree that EuroMed Rights may contain proprietary and confidential information including trademarks, service marks and patents protected by intellectual property laws. Our content may not be sold, reproduced, or distributed without our written permission. Any third-party trademarks, service marks and logos are the property of their respective owners. Any further rights not specifically granted herein are reserved.

Submitted Content

When you submit content to EuroMed Rights you simultaneously grant EuroMed Rights an irrevocable, worldwide, royalty free license to publish, display, modify, distribute and syndicate your content worldwide. You confirm and warrant that you have the required authority to grant the above license to EuroMed Rights.

Disclaimer of warranties

You understand and agree that your use of EuroMed Rights is entirely at your own risk and that this website is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, EuroMed Rights does not warrant that:

  • this website will be constantly available, or available at all; or
  • the information on this website is complete, true, accurate or non-misleading.

Nothing on this website constitutes, or is meant to constitute, advice of any kind. If you require advice in relation to any legal matter, you should consult an appropriate professional.

Limitations of liability

You understand and agree that EuroMed Rights will in no event be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, or exemplary damages. These limitations of liability apply whether EuroMed Rights has been or should have been expressly advised of the potential loss.

As EuroMed Rights has an interest in limiting the personal liability of its officers and employees, you agree that you will not bring any claim personally against EuroMed Rights officers or employees in respect of any losses you suffer in connection with the website. Without prejudice to the foregoing paragraph, you agree that the limitations of warranties and liability set out in this website disclaimer will protect EuroMed Rights employees, agents, subsidiaries, successors, assigns and sub-contractors as well as EuroMed Rights.

External Content

EuroMed Rights may include hyperlinks to third-party content, advertising or websites. You acknowledge and agree that EuroMed Rights is not responsible for their content and does not endorse any advertising, products or resource available from such resources or websites. Tweets sent by any account other than @EMHRN with the hashtag #DetainNoMore do not imply in any way endorsement or agreement on behalf of EuroMed Rights.

Jurisdiction

You expressly understand and agree to submit to the personal and exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of the country determined solely by EuroMed Rights to resolve any legal matter arising from this agreement or related to your use of EuroMed Rights. If the court of law having jurisdiction rules that any provision of the agreement is invalid, then that provision will be removed from the Terms and the remaining Terms will continue to be valid.

Trials of Spring projection at One World Festival

On 22 April, the movie Trials of Spring was projected at the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU in cooperation with EuroMed Rights as part of the One World Festival 2016.

The projection was followed by a debate on the situation of women in Egypt and other Mediterranean countries. The panel included Nawla Darwiche, New Woman Fondation, Egypt and Kholoud Saber Barakat, formerly AFTE, and was moderated by Hayet Zeghiche, EuroMed Rights Communication Director.

 

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EuroMed Rights

Why Turkey is not a Safe Country

READ THE REPORT – “Turkey, Human Rights Under Curfew”

Analyse the Turkey factsheet

CoveR-TURKEY-ENWhile European institutions discuss the possibility of including Turkey in a European list of “safe” countries of origin, AEDH, EuroMed Rights, FIDH and LDH warns against the silence of the European Union and its Member States faced with the severe rights violations perpetrated by Turkish authorities.

In light of this and of the authoritarian drift of the AKP government as well as the climate surrounding Turkey’s general election of 1st November 2015 and the lack of adequate reaction from the international community, our organisations agreed on the importance to send a joint high-level mission to the country. The delegation aimed to show solidarity with human rights defenders and civil society activists and organizations under pressure and with victims of human rights violations and their families, and to contribute to drawing international attention to the situation in Turkey.

The delegation met with a large number of civil society activists, human rights defenders and victims and witnesses of human rights violations. The mission also aimed at gathering information to prepare advocacy activities at the international (United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and Council of Europe (CoE) level.

In parallel, our organisations have edited a factsheet on Turkey, highlighting clearly whyTurkey is not the "safe country" EU claims to be.

Test home

Home Back Up

Violence Against Women is not Fate

Online training guide – EU advocacy ▶️

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Many human rights NGOs and individuals have steadily reported how obscure and sometimes elusive the European Union (EU) is, making advocacy towards its institutions a very challenging exercise.

In a bid to help them navigate through the EU institutional maze, EuroMed Rights has developed a web-based version of its training guide on influencing EU relations with the Southern Mediterranean countries.

This interactive guide aims to ease up the understanding of the EU and help NGOs devise efficient advocacy strategies to champion their cause, by identifying the right targets and instruments.

In the first part, the main EU institutions and bodies, their competencies and the actions they can take on human rights are decrypted. As EU foreign policy is still very much driven by the Member States, their role is also specifically underlined.

The second part focuses on global EU human rights policies and tools at global, regional and bilateral levels. The Euro-Mediterranean partnership as well as the EU’s bilateral relations with Southern Mediterranean countries are described in detail.

The third part provides guidance on how to devise and implement an effective advocacy roadmap towards the EU, with practical tips and good practices.

We hope that this website will allow you to strengthen your advocacy skills, and ultimately promote and enhance human rights standards throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region and beyond.

EuroMed Rights

Step 1: The European Union ▶️

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The European Union (EU) was set up to maintain peace and democracy, and improve cooperation between European countries. It is a unique economic and political union gathering 28 countries (27 in 2019 after the Brexit). Together they shape and adopt common legislation and policies, including to “promote human rights both internally and around the world.”

Originally conceived as an economic and trade entity, the EU has become a stronger political actor over the years. The adoption in 1993 of the “Common Foreign and Security Policy” illustrates this trend. Yet, foreign policy is still very much dominated by Member State governments and their agendas. When it comes to advocacy on foreign policy and human rights, Member States should be among your priority targets.

At EU level, the following bodies can make a difference if they are receptive to your recommendations:

  • The European Council and the Council of the European Union, both representing the interests of the Member States;
  • The European Commission representing the interest of the Union as a whole;
  • The European External Action Service (EEAS) as the EU diplomatic body; and finally,
  • The European Parliament, representing the EU citizens.

Let’s dig into their respective profiles…

The European Council

The European Council represents the highest level of political cooperation between EU countries. It gathers the Heads of state or government of the Member States, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The EUCO is chaired by a President, appointed by the Heads of state or government for a once-renewable two-and-a-half-year term. He/She coordinates and oversees the work of the European Council.

It is the EUCO that decides on the EU’s overall direction and political priorities. It also sets EU’s common foreign and security policy.

 

The EU Member States

Member States are still very influent in shaping EU foreign policy; they decide by consensus or unanimity. It is therefore crucial to understand their political positions to be influential at their level.

Some Member States are particularly involved in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), considering their historical legacy, geographical proximity, political, economic and cultural ties. Yet this can also hamper them to take firm positions on human rights.

Member States are present in Brussels through their ambassador-level Permanent representatives and their country’s Permanent Representation.

But the national scene may also be relevant to influence the Member States. For instance, national parliamentarians interested in foreign affairs may turn out to be key interlocutors to promote their country’s human rights policies towards the South Mediterranean region.

In the field

Another window of opportunity are the EU Member State embassies and consulates in non-EU countries. Through them, Member States advance their own interests abroad, following their political agendas. On the other hand, EU embassies must act in accordance with the binding common positions of the EU and are expected to implement EU’s policies.

The Council of the European Union

The Council of the EU is the institution where all the EU Member States' governments are represented.

In ten different configurations, national ministers from all Member States meet to coordinate policies. The most relevant configuration when it comes to promoting human rights in the world is the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) where foreign ministers of the Member States discuss with a view to adopting a common line on EU's external action.

Chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, the FAC takes positions on human rights violations in non-EU countries and agrees on measures the EU should take.

In the FAC, decisions are taken by consensus or unanimity and not by majority voting, which means one Member State can block EU action, watering down EU positions.

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) prepares the work of the FAC. Composed of the Member State Ambassadors to the EU, chaired by the European External Action Service (EEAS), the PSC provides coordination and expertise in foreign policy. It is supported by several geographic and thematic working groups, notably the Maghreb/Mashreq Working Party (MAMA).

Those working parties prepare EU’s positions relating to their mandates and deal with bilateral relations with non-EU countries.

Another relevant Working Party is COHOM, which deals with Human Rights in foreign policy. Responsible for shaping EU’s positions and policies in that area, COHOM monitors the implementation of related instruments.

The Council of the European Union should not be confused with the Council of Europe.

Composed of 47 European member countries, the Council of Europe promotes common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights. If it works in close cooperation with the EU, it is not institutionally linked to it.

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) represents the EU externally. As the EU's chief diplomat, the HR/VP chairs the Foreign Affairs Council, coordinates and carries out the EU foreign and security policy. He/she regularly visits non-EU countries to discuss their relationship with the EU.

Expressing publicly the voice of the EU on EU foreign policy issues, she is also in charge of promoting and protecting human rights externally.

In 2012, the Foreign Affairs Council appointed an EU Special Representative (EUSR) for Human Rights to support the HR/VP’s work in that field. There is also an EUSR for the Middle East Peace Process.

The European External Action Service

Established in 2010, the European External Action Service (EEAS) – based in Brussels - is the diplomatic service of the EU.

Divided into geographical directorates, including on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), it also includes a thematic directorate on human rights, global and multilateral issues.

To support the work of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP), the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and its working parties, the EEAS prepares policy positions, drafts agendas ahead of bilateral and multilateral meetings, as well as reports and statements.

In the field

In non-EU countries, the EU delegations are the first point of contact for local NGOs. They represent valuable advocacy targets and play a key role in the development and implementation of EU human rights policies.

Usually divided into a political and an operations section, the EU delegations act on behalf of the EU, conduct political dialogue and issue statements. In each delegation, a focal point on human rights is appointed.

The delegations are expected to consult regularly local NGOs, gathering their inputs ahead of human rights sub-committee meetings and debriefing them afterwards.

The Head of the EU Delegation and Member State Ambassadors, collectively known as the Heads of Mission, meet regularly to coordinate policy.

The European Commission

The European Commission is the executive body of the EU. It consists of a college of commissioners. The President of the European Commission is appointed by the European Council. In turn, he/she appoints other Commissioners for a five-year term. All appointments must be approved by the European Parliament.

The European Commission proposes and enforces legislation, sets objectives and priorities for EU action, manages and implements EU policies and the EU budget. In certain policy areas, it also represents the EU externally, notably on migration and trade issues.

For issues related to Southern Mediterranean countries, one of the most relevant Commissioners is the one responsible for the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, supported by a Directorate General called DG NEAR. Another one is the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, supported by the DG for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME), in charge of negotiating bilateral agreements such as those dealing with readmission of irregular migrants.

What about funding?

At the European Commission, the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) manages the funding provided to the countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), including a Civil Society Facility created in 2011 to support civil society organisations.

The Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) administers thematic funds as well as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), a fund specifically directed toward human rights NGOs and civil society without government approval or intervention. Grants are allocated through global calls for proposals announced on the DG DEVCO website or through EU delegation. Each delegation further disposes of an emergency fund for human rights defenders at risk.

The European Parliament

The European Parliament (EP) represents the citizens of the EU, being the only directly elected institution of the EU. It plays a major role in monitoring EU policies and in making recommendations to the Council of the EU and the European External Action Service (EEAS). Although it is the most active on human rights and supportive of civil society, it has little formal power or influence over EU foreign policy.

The 751 Members of the EP (MEPs) serve five-year terms. According to the size of its population, each Member State is allocated a certain number of seats. Once elected, MEPs elect a President that represents the institution externally and vis-à-vis others EU institutions.

On human rights issues, it is through parliamentary questions to the Council, Commission or EEAS that individual MEPs can publicise a situation and express concern. They can also recommend specific actions. Then, during the EP plenary, general resolutions pertaining to human rights, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Mediterranean region may be adopted as well as human rights urgency resolutions. Although not binding for other EU institutions, resolutions may call for action. Moreover, the EP issues an annual report on human rights and democracy in the world.

The EP organises its work through 20 parliamentary committees.

The committees relevant to human rights in the MENA region are:

  • the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET),
  • the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) - holding hearings, with NGO experts or representatives of civil society frequently invited, and adopting reports about country-specific or thematic human rights issues,
  • the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM), and finally
  • the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).

There are also 41 parliamentary delegations that maintain relations with parliaments in non-EU countries. The EP also has the capacity to send election observation missions.

The European Economic and Social Committee

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative body that gathers representatives of EU-based employers’ organisations, trade unions and civil society organisations. It adopts non-binding opinions. The EESC has an Euromed follow-up committee that focuses on the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Step 2: EU instruments and policies ▶️

The EU makes numerous commitments and references to human rights within its foreign policy, both at the global and regional levels; it has developed several policy and funding instruments.

EU global human rights commitments

Presentation of the commitments of the EU in terms of Human Rights Commitments

The Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy

The objectives of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) includes the development and consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Recently, in 2012, the EU released a Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy that establishes some mechanisms and instruments supporting the implementation of its human rights goals.

EU Human Rights Action Plan

EU’s five-year Action Plan on Human Rights lays out specific tasks for various EU institutions and bodies to undertake. The progress towards implementing the Action Plan is evaluated annually in a public report on human rights and democracy around the world.

EU Human Rights Guidelines

The EU has adopted a series of guidelines that aim to provide a practical toolkit for actions to be taken by EU delegations and Member State embassies on key human rights issues. Those guidelines have been agreed upon at the ministerial level.

Examples of guidelines:

  • Human rights dialogue with third countries
  • Human rights defenders
  • Violence against women and girls
  • Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  • International humanitarian law

EU Human Rights and Democracy Country Strategies

The human rights and democracy country strategies are developed by the EU delegations based on an analysis of the human rights situation in the country. The strategies identify priorities for EU action, for a three to five-year period. They are endorsed by all the EU Member States.

The priorities are to be taken into consideration in human rights and political dialogues at all levels. While these strategies are in principle confidential, the EU delegations can share the priorities on their website, or at least verbally with civil society.

EU Country Roadmaps for Engagement with Civil Society

The Country Roadmaps for Engagement with Civil Society were introduced to improve the consistency of EU cooperation with civil society and to promote better coordination between EU delegations, Member States and other relevant actors. They assess the state of civil society in a given country as well as the EU’s current engagement with it.

Those Roadmaps are drafted jointly by the EU delegations and Member State embassies, with input from local civil society.

EU commitments in its policy towards the Southern Mediterranean

The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and Union for the Mediterranean

In November 1995, adopting the Barcelona Declaration, the then 15 EU Member States and 12 Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries launched the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP). This process aimed at achieving a common area of peace and stability underpinned by sustainable development, rule of law, democracy and human rights.

In 2008, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership was replaced by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). Yet this multilateral partnership has become stagnant due to the conflicts in the region. At the moment, the UfM deals mainly with promoting regional economic and infrastructure projects.

The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership/ UfM has also held three ministerial conferences on strengthening the role of women in society and made commitments to working towards ensuring gender equality.

The European Neighbourhood Policy

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), launched in 2004, is a bilateral mechanism regulating the EU’s relationship with two regionally-defined areas: South and East. It has become the main foreign policy instrument guiding EU external action towards its neighbouring countries

The ENP-South is built on legally binding Association Agreements. On top of them, non-binding Partnerships Priorities have been mutually agreed following the ENP review published in November 2015. The stated priorities are: stabilisation and security, economic development and migration management. Human rights are at the margin.

EU commitments in bilateral relations with Southern neighbourhood countries

Bilateral Association Agreements have been signed between the EU and a number of the Southern Mediterranean countries.

These agreements are legally binding to both sides. Those agreements contain a clause allowing for the suspension of signatory countries or the introduction of sanctions in the case of a violation of democratic principles or human right. Despite occasional calls from the European Parliament or civil society, this clause has not been invoked with regard to any of the Southern Mediterranean partners to date.

Some countries have been granted an advanced status to entail closer political relations and increase EU financial support. Currently it is the case of Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan.

Joint structures between the EU and its partners implementing the Association Agreements

  • Association Council: Ministerial-level meeting that usually takes place once a year. The EU is represented by the High Representative for foreign affairs or the European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner, and the Southern partner by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • Association Committee: An annual meeting of high-level public servants/ senior officials. Prepares the Association Council and discusses mainly technical cooperation.
  • Sub-committees: Technical sub-committees covering various areas of co-operation. These meetings happen once a year at the civil servant level of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the relevant ministries of the partner country. There are specific human rights sub-committee meetings.

The EEAS organises consultation meetings with NGOs in Brussels and on the ground. It is expected to debrief them systematically.

Step 3: Design an Effective EU Advocacy Roadmap ▶️

This part will help you develop an advocacy roadmap.

First, what does “advocacy” mean?

This word stands for a process of deliberate, planned and sustained efforts to advance an agenda for change. Different stages should be considered in your advocacy planning and implementation process to ensure success.

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How to develop an advocacy roadmap?

advocacy roadmap

1. Identify the advocacy issue

You need to be specific in identifying the advocacy issue. It is essential to have a good understanding of the challenge you want to address and a clear idea of how it could be solved.

2. Set long, medium and short-term objectives

An advocacy strategy may have various objectives in the short, medium, and long terms. Define them with precision to get them thorough.

Define what kind of action you want the EU to take, depending on the issue, its seriousness and extent. Therefore, give priority to the measures that are most appropriate for a given situation.

3. Identify the right targets

It is crucial to identify policy and decision-makers who have the power to introduce the policy changes you propose. Ask yourself: what are the best targets for my efforts, who has the greatest influence? Who are our existing contacts? Which are the ones the most/less sympathetic to my cause?

Identify and be in regular contact with allies within the EU missions in your country and, if possible, in Brussels as well as in Member State capitals.

4. Define key messages

Clear requests or recommendations should be developed, for a limited number of key actions, to achieve specific, concrete and realistic objectives. Prioritisation is key.

Tailor your message to your target audience and situation. Prepare different kinds of input depending on the type of meeting, and refer to relevant EU or Member State policies confronting your interlocutors with their own commitments.

5. Consider partnerships and networks

Working in coalition with like-minded organisations can bring added value since it bears the potential to increase the pressure on advocacy targets. However, keep in mind that this can also slow down the internal decision-making process.

Partnerships may be particularly strategic when trying to influence individual EU Member States.

6. Develop a timely action plan

Timing is crucial for achieving results. Link your issue to a topic that is already high on the agenda and/or that is receiving attention from the media or general public.

Keep regular contact with the EU delegation in your country to identify its upcoming agenda and priorities.

7. Monitor and evaluate

Take time to discuss the chosen strategy and its outcomes. Assess what has been achieved, what follow-up is required, and which approaches need to be reviewed to better achieve objectives in the future.

8. Review and adapt

Review and adapt your strategy in line with the findings of the evaluation process.

9. Follow up

Have the policy makers taken the actions they had committed to? If not, find out why.

Personal contacts can be the only way to obtain information that is otherwise confidential. If you identify a blockage, try advocating at a different level, using other entry points.

How to get the EU to act?

The EU has various specific tools at its disposal to react to human rights violations, in the short and long terms.

In the field

Human Rights and Democracy Country Strategies

Those strategies can be referred to when calling on the EU to act on a particular issue. Civil society’s input is considered in the drafting and implementation process of the strategies.

To ensure you will be consulted, contact the head of the political section or the human rights focal point at the EU delegation. If possible, also contact the geographical desks and the human rights unit of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels.

Partnership Priorities (previously European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plans)

Partnership Priorities include specific topics that the EU should monitor very closely on an ongoing basis, in order to ensure that relevant related reforms receive EU support and that the agenda of joint meetings - such as the human rights subcommittees – address these topics systematically.

Once Partnership Priorities are set, NGOs should carefully monitor their implementation. Any lack of progress should be reported to the EU.

Human rights dialogue

Human rights dialogue discusses both ongoing and structural issues in a country. The EU and the partner country set jointly the agenda of the meeting. EU delegations should hold consultation meetings with civil society ahead of subcommittee meetings as well as debriefings after.

Contact the EU delegation to ask for information on the meeting, get a specific issue on the agenda and call for consultation or debriefing if they are not organised.

Local statements

The EU Heads of Mission can jointly agree to make local statements on human rights issues to condemn ongoing violations or take a stand on an individual case.

Contact the EU delegation immediately after an incident or violation has taken place.

Demarches

Demarches are confidential statements or interpellations issued by the EU towards the host country. They are particularly relevant for serious and urgent cases. As it is non-public, a demarche may be an easier action to advocate for from the EU than a public statement.

Specify which authorities the EU should address and detail the exact concerns it should raise.

Visiting a victim of a human rights violation in detention

A visit – or at least attempting a visit - from an EU representative to a detained victim of a human rights violation can send a powerful message and have a positive impact.

Trial observation

Trial observation is a common form of intervention by the EU, particularly when there are pre-existing doubts about the fairness of the trial or the country’s judicial system in general. Ideally, a public statement should be issued after the trial observation.

Concrete assistance to individuals

The emergency fund for human rights defenders at risk, managed under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), allows for EU delegations to quickly provide small grants of up to 10,000€ directly to individuals or organisations in need of urgent support.

The EU mechanism for the protection of Human Rights Defenders, Protect Defenders, run by 12 NGOs, can also provide small grants and emergency support, including for temporary relocation.

 

Brussels level

Council conclusions

They are the most authoritative form of an EU political statement, thus providing an excellent basis for further advocacy efforts.

Due to the time required for the drafting and adoption of the text by Member States, this tool may not be appropriate for urgent cases. You should time your advocacy efforts at least four weeks before the Foreign Affairs Council meeting.

To influence Council conclusions, national governments are key advocacy targets.

EU bilateral relations with a Southern Mediterranean country

NGOs can also try to influence the EU’s bilateral relationship with a country ahead of Association Council meetings or negotiations.

For high-level and political meetings, it is better to focus on one or two priority human rights issues and advocate for their inclusion.

Public statements

Public statements by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) on behalf of the EU or on behalf of the mandate holder are an appropriate advocacy objective if you are dealing with urgent situations/ individual cases, as well as for ongoing issues.

Public statements can also be made by the President of the European Parliament, by members of an EP delegation visiting a country, or by chairs of a relevant EP committee.

European Parliament resolution

European Parliament resolutions on foreign policy matters are not binding to the EU. Yet they are useful advocacy tools for exerting pressure on other EU institutions and the governments of Southern Mediterranean countries.

The drafting process of such resolutions routinely takes a few months. The Parliament also issues three ‘urgency’ resolutions on particularly worrying human rights situations, or specific cases, in individual countries at each plenary session – for those, the drafting takes maximum a week.

Make sure to follow up on the resolution by contacting MEPs to ask if the requested actions have been taken into account by other EU institutions.

Parliamentary questions

MEPs can ask questions to the Council of the EU, the European Commission, or the HR/VP on what is being done to address a specific human rights issue in a country.

 

Member State capital level

Significant attention should be paid to advocacy towards individual Member State governments since they shape EU foreign policy and have the same types of tools available to address human rights issues.

We hope what’s above has helped you better navigate the EU institutional maze and identify avenues for advocacy.

Useful links – How to find EU contacts

We are a small organisation... Where to start?

As a field organisation, you should first get in touch with the EU representatives being the closest to you: the ‘EU missions’ (EU delegation and Member State embassies).

The EU delegation plays an increasing coordination role to promote human rights and support civil society. Member State embassies are also an important target for field organisations as they actively cooperate with the EU delegation on a large range of issues.


Front Page 2020

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On the Move 

Latest migration news

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Recent highlights

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In the Central Mediterranean, Malta follows a dangerous strategy of non-assistance to boats in distress in its Search and Rescue (SAR) Zone. 18 people were rescued by Greek authorities after more than one day adrift in the Maltese SAR zone, 24 people were left at sea for many hours with a broken boat until they were finally rescued by Sea Eye 4, which also rescued 34 people who had been left at sea for more than 36 hours. Civil rescue ships saved respectively 233, 470, and 145 people in the Central Mediterranean. Italian authorities rescued over 500 people in Maltese SAR. 119 people disembarked in Roccella Jonica, southern Italy.  

The so-called Libyan Coast Guard intercepted 70 people off the coasts of Zuwara and pushed back 120 people from the Maltese SAR, while Tunisian authorities intercepted respectively 81, 99 and 250 people in different operations. On 11 May 2022, Alarm Phone reported about 18 people in distress off Benghazi, but their fate remains unknown to this day.

Between 9-13 May 2022, many crossings were registered in the Atlantic route and at least 73 people lost their lives. In an attempt to block departures for the Canary Islands, Moroccan authorities are arresting 40 to 90 sub-Saharan migrants every day in Laayoune and send them to the desert. Eleven people died in a shipwreck off the coasts of Algeria. 191 sub-Saharan migrants, including 45 children, were deported from Algeria to their countries of origin.

Pushbacks from Greece continue unabated: 9 people were pushed back from the waters close to Rhodes, 15 Turkish citizens were violently pushed back on the Evros river and 13 people were pushed back from the island of Samos.

To find out more, click on the country pages below.

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Good news

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The Samos2 are free: on 18 May 2022, Hasan and N. faced trial in Greece and both were freed from their charges. Also, two migrants who had faced trials in Kalamata, Greece, on charges of smuggling were acquitted of all charges.

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EU updates

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Greece is pressuring the EU Commission to include the construction of walls in its migration plan for 2021-2027. 1,911 pushbacks registered along the Balkan route and at EU internal borders in 2022. Over 2,500 people detained in Lithuania after crossing Belarusian border. So far, 2.7 million people who fled Ukraine registered for protection but up to 2.4 million are still awaiting.

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Algeria

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Belgium

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Bulgaria

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Croatia

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Cyprus

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Denmark

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Egypt

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France

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Greece

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Italy

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Lebanon

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Libya

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Malta

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Morocco

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Spain

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Syria

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Tunisia

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Turkey

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UK

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Return Mania

Mapping policies and practices in the EuroMed region

The research provides an overview of the current return policies and practices in the Euro-Mediterranean region and sheds a light on the violations of human rights entailed by this “return obsession”, which is shared across Member States, EU institutions and third countries alike. The report covers national return policies and practices in the Mashreq and Maghreb regions, focusing on returns from Turkey and Lebanon to Syria, and on readmission agreements between Italy and Tunisia, Spain and Morocco as well as France and Morocco. It also looks at returns from Germany and Italy to Egypt. Read More

 

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Migrants and refugees in Bulgaria

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22/02/2022-08/03/2022 

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • The Border Violence Monitoring Network published its December 2021 report collecting 30 testimonies of pushbacks impacting 280 people-on-the-move across the Balkans. The report highlights increasing pushbacks from Bulgaria to Turkey.  

14/12/2021-11/01/2022

  • Along the Balkan route, migrants and asylum-seekers are increasingly trying to reach Western Europe via a new route that passes through Albania and Kosovo.
  • The persecution of pro-refugee activists and organizations continues. A Croatian court convicted a volunteer from the NGO Are you Syrious for aiding illegal immigration.

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • On the 2nd of November, the Bulgarian Defense Ministry said the government deployed 350 troops and military equipment to its borders with Turkey and Greece. Bulgaria has seen an increase in migrants' arrivals since July, however the numbers are not nearly close to the figures seen in 2015. The people crossing are mostly coming from Syria and Afghanistan. 

06/09/2021 - 22/09/2021

19/08/2021 – 06/09/2021 

  • Bulgaria has been in political crisis since April 2021 as no successful elections are taking place and a temporary expert government is in operation and the Afghan crisis is regarded as a way of gaining political advantage. Bulgarian defence minister, Georgi Panayotov, said that a contingent of 400 soldiers equipped with specialised equipment for the protection of land and sea borders has been sent to the borders with Turkey and Greece. In spite of that, the numbers of asylum seekers are growing rapidly, detention centers are packed, national authorities are still searching for ways to manage and react. The Centre for Legal Aid - Voice in Bulgaria, EuroMed Rights’ member, together with 30 other civil society organisations, sent an open letter to Bulgarian institutions calling for the respect of the asylum law and to provide adequate reception conditions to refugees from Afghanistan.

28/09 – 09/10

  • In Bulgaria, an increasing number of Turkish asylum seekers who try to submit an asylum application are deported to Turkey, in violation of EU and international conventions.

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Migrants and refugees in Cyprus

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • On 11 May 2022, a fire broke out in Pournara camp and at least six people were injured. They were brought to the hospital and their conditions are stable now. The cause of the fire is still to be determined, but conditions in the camp are infamously well-known.

5/04/2022-10/05/2022 

  • On 21 April 2022, EuroMed Rights Thematic Programmes Coordinator, Sara Prestianni, intervened in the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament on the situation in Cyprus, addressing the reception conditions on the island, the issue of pushbacks at sea to Lebanon and the risk of chain-refoulment to Syria. Watch the Exchange of Views here. 
  • The Republic of Cyprus announced the instalment of electronic surveillance systems along the green line to control the crossings from the Turkish part of the island. After that, the EU Commission contacted Cypriot authorities to ask for clarifications about this plan, considering that the Commission does not finance the construction of barbed wires and fences.  Meanwhile, the situation for asylum-seekers on the island remains critical, with many struggling with housing, employment and food security.  

22/03/202205/04/2022 

  • On behalf of the government, Nicos Nouris, the Interior Minister  will ask  EU to help with upgrading Pournara and Limnes, which will cost €20 million and €60 million respectively. He also said that a four-year, €34 million contract has been announced for the provision of food for those hosted at Pournara of which the EU will cover €4 million and the Republic of Cyprus €30. 

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • On 15 March 2022, the Minister of Interior briefed the nationalist movement ELAM on migration issues, including the management of the green line and returns. 
  • On 10 March 2022, Cyprus’ commissioner for children’s rights criticised conditions for unaccompanied minors at the Pournara reception center as “miserable” and “unhygienic”. 

22/02/202208/03/2022 

  • On 21 February 2022, the European Commission and EU Agencies (EUAA, Frontex, Europol) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and agreed on a Joint Action Plan to manage the “irregular migration” on the island. The main points agreed concern: enhancing the capacities on first reception of asylum-seekers on the island; achieving an overall improvement in the level of material reception conditions; implementing timely and effective asylum procedures; improving the efficiency of the return system; developing an effective strategy for the integration of third-country nationals. 
  • Since the beginning of 2022, more than 1,300 asylum seekers have entered the European part of the Cypriot island. Frontex, the European border control agency of the European Union, has strengthened its presence, while the authorities say they can no longer cope with the number of migrants, according to Mediapart.  

08/02/2022 - 22/02/2022

  • Cypriot Interior Minister accused Turkey of creating a migration emergency on the island. According to him, 60-80 migrants crossed the buffer zone every day, in an attempt by Turkey to instrumentalise migration.  

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • More than 700 migrants have reached Cyprus since the beginning of the year, and 19,000 asylum applications are still pending from last year. The reception centres on the island are overcrowded and people live in dire conditions as many people are crossing the buffer zone.  

14/12/2021-11/01/2022

  • UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recommended the extension of the mission of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus for another six months. While acknowledging the challenging situation that the island is facing due to the large number of refugees and the crossings from the buffer zone, Guterres also reminded the importance of respecting international law and the right to asylum. The harsh situation on the island was also acknowledged by the European Council, which denounced the crossings of the buffer zone from the Turkish side of the island.
  • EuroMed Rights’ member KISA shared a letter by a Syrian refugee living in Chloraka directed to the UNHCR. The letter denounces the constant police brutality against refugees in the area and asks for an intervention to stop this violence.
  • Cypriot MPs voiced strong concerns and launched alerts regarding the situation in the overcrowded center Pournara after a visit in December 2021. Refugees lack beds to sleep on, even children. Clashes and fights continue to emerge and in early December 2021 some people remained injured after a fight arose among about 300 people.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

  • At the beginning of December 2021, Pope Francis visited the Republic of Cyprus and used strong words to describe the widespread indifference of Europe towards the sufferings of migrants. He compared current migrants’ detention centres in neighbouring countries to Nazi concentration camps and talked about universal story of slavery that afflicts migrants. At the end of his visit, he offered 50 migrants and refugees the possibility to relocate to the Vatican.  

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • On the 10th of November 2021, Cyprus announced that it was submitting a request to the European Commission to suspend applications for asylum for all those arriving in the country irregularly.  
  • On the same day, a group of 61 Lebanese and Syrian asylum-seekers arrived to the island by boat from Lebanon. On the 11th of November 2021, Cypriot authorities informed them of the intention to push them back to Lebanon. After that, the asylum-seekers left Cyprus and started navigating towards Italy. Kisa, a Greek NGO, managed to contact them on the 17th of November when they were “somewhere between Greece and Italy”, but did not receive assistance from any authority.  

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • Cyprus will ask the European Commission to put in place measures to curb irregular migration, including “potentially suspending the examination of asylum requests”.  
  • Cyprus signed a 27.5 million euro agreement with Israel to install a monitoring system along the island’s buffer zone. This decision comes after the Cypriot government claimed that Turkey sends migrants to the Turkish part of the island in the north to pressure the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, in the south.  
  • During a visit on the 5th of November, the French Interior Minister agreed to initiate talks between Cyprus and francophone African countries. The talks aim to create agreements with African countries to accept their citizens whose asylum application have been rejected in Cyprus.  

05/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • KISA denounced the fact that the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the EU's border agency Frontex pressured a Syrian woman (who was forcibly separated from her two children and husband - who were pushed back to Lebanon) to withdraw her application for international protection in Cyprus by providing her misleading information.   
  • On 21 October 2021, KISA denounced that the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights referred to KISA as the “former” organisation at a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Equal Opportunities between Men and Women. According to KISA, by justifying the decision of the Ministry of Interior to deregister KISA from the Register of Associations and by refusing to examine their written complaints about this issue, the Commissioner is complicit in the violation of the freedom of expression.   

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • EuroMed Rights and 15 other members and partners launched a campaign to call for the family reunification of the 25-year-old Syrian woman Kawthar Raslan and her baby in Cyprus with her husband, Hasan Khaled Al Ali, and their two children who had been pushed back from Cyprus to Lebanon. The campaign calls on Cyprus to stop these unlawful pushbacks and on the EU to investigate violations committed by the Cypriot border forces.
  • A brutal attack from a group of Cypriot students against a 16-year-old Syrian was reported on 27 September 2021.

6/09/2021 - 22/09/2021

  • On 21 September 2021, hearing at the human rights committee of the House of Parliament was held on the latest pushbacks from Cyprus to Lebanon on 22 August 2021 and on the treatment of the 9-month pregnant woman that was forcibly separated from her husband and two children who were pushed back to Lebanon. KISA denounced that the pushbacks and the treatment of the pregnant woman by Cypriot police amounted to inhuman and degrading treatmentKISA also denounced the Cypriot police of failing to rescue a person who had jumped into the sea and who disappeared and is still missing. UNHCR confirmed that the pushed back Syrians had been deported from Lebanon to Syria.  

19/08/2021 – 06/09/2021

  • On 22 August 2021, two boats with approximately 40 and 15 people on board were located off Cyprus’ coasts. One Syrian refugee woman was evacuated to the hospital and gave birth, but the rest of the people on board were pushed back to Lebanon, including the woman’s husband and her two children.  

27/07/2021 – 19/08/2021

  • KISA denounced yet another pushback of Syrian refugees from Cyprus to Lebanon on 29 July 2021.

5/07/2021 – 27/07/2021

  • On 20 July 2021, the European Commission published its 2021 Rule of Law Report Country Chapter on the rule of law situation in Cyprus, raising concerns regarding “the ability of NGOs to operate in Cyprus and to the implementation of the legislation on associations which has recently led to the de-registration of several NGOs”.
  • Human Rights Watch  on the deregistration of KISA and Cyprus’ effort to shut down and criminalise human rights NGOs in the country.   
  • Le 20 juillet 2021, la Commission européenne a publié son chapitre pays du rapport 2021 sur l'État de droit concernant la situation de l'État de droit à Chypre, soulevant des inquiétudes concernant "la capacité des ONG à opérer à Chypre et à la mise en œuvre de la législation sur les associations qui a récemment conduit à la radiation de plusieurs ONG".
  • Human Rights Watch s'inquiète du désenregistrement de KISA et des efforts de Chypre pour fermer et criminaliser les ONG de défense des droits humains dans le pays.

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • On 25 June 2021, a boat with 58 migrants, including women and 18 children, was unlawfully pushed back from Cyprus to Lebanon. 25 people who were pushed back were brought in detention in Lebanon. A family, including two children, is still in detention and at risk of deportation to Syria.   
  • On 29 June 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) condemned Cyprus over torture and ill-treatment of detainees in the case of Monir Lotfy v. Cyprus. 
  • On 10 June 2021, the Administrative Court rejected KISA’s appeal against its deregistration from the register of associations, in a decision that “failed to examine or justify key aspects of violations of the constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights, among others”. 

For the period from September 2020 to June 2021, click here.

Migrants and refugees in Morocco

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • Sub-Saharan migrants in Laayoune, are subjected to constant harassment by Moroccan authorities. Since the city is a common departure point for people who want to reach the Canary Islands, Moroccan authorities have increased security operations considering that the summer months are approaching, and number of departures is believed to increase. Authorities are knocking on doors and stopping migrants in the street to arrest them and send them to the desert without food nor water. InfoMigrants reports that 40 to 90 people are being arrested on a daily basis.

05/04/2022-10/05/2022

  • On 26 April 2022, Alarm Phone launched a distress signal about 52 people at risk in the Atlantic. After more than 40 hours at sea, the people returned independently to Morocco. According to Moroccan authorities, no casualties were registered.  
  • Between 16-18 April 2022, the Moroccan Navy assisted 97 people in distress at sea, mostly from sub-Saharan countries, but also Bangladesh and Yemen.  

22/03/202205/04/2022 

  • In the latest revised draft action plan, EU invited Morocco to sign a working arrangement with Frontex that could also be extended to a status agreement with the EU. The next meeting of the Frontex-Morocco Comité Mixte is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2022.  
  • On March 28, Moroccan authorities reported over the weekend that two migrants were found drowned in a shipwreck. And more than 200 exiles were intercepted in the south of the country as they were about to embark for the Spanish Canary Islands.  

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • On 12 March 2022, at least 44 people drowned off the coast of Tarfaya (southern Morocco) while they were trying to reach the Canary Islands. There were 61 people on board, including women and children.  
  • On 9 March 2022, StateWatch published a revised draft action plan by the European Commission on a "comprehensive migration partnership" with Morocco, suggesting that the country should be informed of "the potential benefits of a status agreement with the European Union" that would allow the deployment of Frontex officials on its territory.  
  • Since the beginning of 2022, applications for residence permits have been subject to stricter enforcement, particularly for nationals of sub-Saharan African countries. 
  • On 12 March 2022, 22 Yemeni refugees were arrested in Nador and pushed back to the desert at the Algerian border. They declared that, after Algeria refused to receive them, they were brutalised by Moroccans with dogs.  

22/02/2022-08/03/2022 

  • On 24 February 2022, Alarm Phone launched the distress signal for a bota carrying 58 people in the Atlantic. Spanish authorities were contacted, but said that Moroccan authorities should intervene, even if the waters in front of Western Sahara are under Spanish responsibility. In the end, the 58 people were intercepted by Moroccan authorities.  
  • On 21 February 2022, Moroccan authorities rescued a group of 40 migrants in the Atlantic after they had spent nine days at sea. Two of them were found dead. The survivors are young Moroccans mostly from the city of Beni Mellal. On 23 February 2022, another boat capsized in the Atlantic: three people died and 47 were rescued 
  • On March 2 and 3, 2022, more than 800 migrants managed to enter Melilla, compared to 1,092 in the whole of 2021, according to figures from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior. "The aggressiveness that we have witnessed, yesterday as well as today [...] had not been seen on other occasions," the prefect denounced on public television. According to local authorities, 27 members of the police force were injured on Wednesday and 20 on Thursday. For its part, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) reported on Wednesday that around 30 migrants were injured. According to AdMDH, 250 migrants were arrested on March 3 and placed in a youth center, transformed into a detention center, in the Moroccan town of Kariat Arekmane, and will be removed by the authorities from the area. 

08/02/2022 - 22/02/2022

  • Moroccan academic Abdelkrim Belguendouz published a new book that exposes a critique of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, especially as concerns return and readmission agreements.  

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • 63 people were rescued by Moroccan authorities after an alarm was raised by Alarm Phone about the distress case.  

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • On 16 January 2022, Alarm Phone launched an alarm about a boat carrying 55 people that was sinking off the coasts of Tarfaya. Despite authorities being promptly informed, they intervened about 11 hours later and on their arrival, they were only able to rescue 10 people and found 2 bodies. The remaining 43 people - 26 men, 14 women, and three babies – are still missing.  
  • On 12 January 2022, Portugal and Morocco signed a migration agreement to open legal pathways for Moroccan citizens to work in Portugal, and fight trafficking networks.  
  • On 9 January 2022, 27 people went missing in the Alboran Sea after they left from Nador in Morocco to reach Spain. Moroccan, Algerian and Spanish authorities have searched for them, but they were not able to find any of them.  
  • The Barcelona Center for International Affairs published the paper The double logic of European outsourcing: protection and deportation in Morocco, which is available here 

14/12/2021 - 11/01/2022

  • In 2021, Moroccan authorities intercepted over 12,00 migrants trying to cross the land borders to Spain. Many more were intercepted at sea, including two groups of migrants who were trying to reach the Canary Islands on 30-31 December 2021, and four groups of migrants on 3 January 2022.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

  • On 1 December 2021, Alarm Phone reported that about 60 people were in danger in the Atlantic including 5 children. Later in the day, they were rescued by Moroccan authorities.  
  • In the end of November, the Moroccan authorities arrested 230 migrants who were trying to reach the Canary Islands from southern Morocco.  

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • Between November 12th and November 16th 2021, the Moroccan Coast Guard and Navy have rescued 331 migrants in distress. The boats were headed both toward the Canary Islands and mainland Spain, where arrivals have been on the rise since the beginning of the year. In the same period, at least ten migrants have died. 
  • After more than 24 hours since Alarm Phone launched the distress signal, 53 people who were in distress off the coasts of Morocco were rescued by the Moroccan Navy 
  • The recently released EU Commission Action Plan on Migration aims to strengthen a peer-to-peer partnership with Morocco. Morocco is described in the Commission’s draft as a key partner in the “shared challenges” posed by migration. In particular, the EU intends to support Morocco in the areas of governance and migration management, to promote a greater engagement of Morocco with EU border control agencies and renew joint efforts to tackle the root causes of migration. 

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • On the 10th of November, the Moroccan Royal Navy rescued 117 migrants in danger at sea. They were mostly from sub-Saharan Africa.  
  • On the 11th of November, the Security Services reported a shipwreck of a migrant's boat in a river near Rabat. They have recovered four bodies so far.  

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • According to the association “Assistance to migrants in vulnerable situations”, around 40 Moroccan migrants have been handed over to Moroccan authorities from Algerian authorities at the Zouj Bghal crossing point at the land border between Algeria and Morocco. It is the first time since the closing of borders between the two countries in 1994.

8/06/2021 - 21/06/2021

  • On 7 June 2021, Morocco threatened to suspend its cooperation with the European Union if the European Parliament voted on Thursday 10 June 2021 the resolution “on the breach of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and the use of minors by the Moroccan authorities in the migratory crisis in Ceuta”.  

Migrants and refugees in Greece

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • Migrants detained in the new camp on the island of Samos have been living without running water. The new camp, which was built as a closed facility like the ones on other Aegean islands, was presented as a new positive model for migrants’ detention. However, residents have only access to running water two hours per day.
  • On 15 May 2022, Alarm Phone reported about a pushback in the Aegean where 9 people, close to the island of Rhodes, were attacked by Greek authorities and pushed back to Turkish waters.
  • On 14 May 2022, Alarm Phone reported about 18 people in distress in the Maltese SAR zone who had departed from Tobruk, Libya. Despite alerts, Maltese authorities did not intervene while the boat was getting closer to the Greek SAR zone. After one day at sea, Greek authorities confirmed that they rescued the 18 people and disembarked them in Kalamata, Greece.
  • On 13 May 2022, Greek soldiers pushed back 15 Turkish citizens including 5 children who were crossing the Evros river by boat. The soldiers held the kids at gunpoint and threw them in the water to force the parents to go back to Turkey. Historically, Greece has welcomed Turkish opposition leaders and people facing persecution in Turkey for being accused of supporting the 2016 coup attempt, but this has changed in recent months. Among the 15 people, some were accused by the Turkish government of being part of the 2016-coup attempt and being part of terrorist organizations. Eight of them are now in jail.
  • On 13 May 2022, Greek authorities pushed back 13 out of 15 people who reached the island of Samos. Only 2 managed to reach the camp.

5/04/2022-10/05/2022 

  • The Greek Council for Refugees has assisted 5 groups of Syrian asylum-seekers, including 44 children, by filing 5 applications for interim measures “requesting for the Syrian refugees to be granted humanitarian assistance and access to the asylum procedure”. The first two groups were collected by Greek authorities, two other groups were pushed back to Turkey, and the last group was stranded on an island in the Evros river. The European Court for Human Rights granted the interim measures for this last group and ordered the Greek government not to remove the people from Greece and provide them assistance.  
  • 3 survivors of a shipwreck that took place on 21 December 2021 are now facing 18 life sentences for steering the boat.  
  • On 2 May 2022, a taxi driver in Athens shot a Pakistani migrant in the head. Luckily, the man was immediately taken to the hospital and is still alive.   
  • On 26 April 2022, Alarm Phone reported of a shipwreck that took place near the island of Kythira, with 73 people in distress. The Greek coast Guard intervened and rescued them saying no one went missing.  
  • On 22 April 2022, Alarm Phone reported about 86 people in distress in Greek waters. Greek authorities were informed but did not intervene. Finally, the people reached Italy, luckily no casualty was registered.  
  • On 21 April 2022, 35 people were in distress near Samos, Greece. They were assisted by the Turkish Coast Guard. On the same day, another group of 25 people was also pushed back by Turkish authorities while they were in distress close to Samos.  
  • Approximately 40 people were marooned on a small island in the Evros river between Greece and Turkey. Authorities were informed but there is no information on what the fate of these people was, possibly they were pushed back.  
  • On 16 April 2022, an African woman was found dead by gunfire while trying to cross into Greece with 11 other people by boat. Greek authorities said blamed the Turkish authorities for firing the gunshot, but this claim is not certain as the bullet seems to have been shot from very close distance (Turkish authorities were not so close to the boat).  
  • On 21 April 2022, the Greek police rescue 64 Syrians who were left on a small island in the Evros river by smugglers. Among them were 10 children.  
  • The UN Committee of Enforced Disappearances published its findings on Greece, highlighting its worries about pushbacks and lack of transparency on operations at sea as well as expressing grave concerns “about the criminalisation of search and rescue activities at sea under national legislation and about the prosecution and threats against human rights defenders involved in rescuing victims of enforced disappearance and pushbacks”.  
  • While the Greek government has praised itself over the past couple of years for its tough migration policies, it is now providing a different treatment for Ukrainian asylum-seekers, with easier access to shelter, schools and even employment. In the word of the UNHCR office in Greece, "the solidarity shown by the EU to Ukrainian refugees should serve as an example for all refugee crises and show that the EU can have an organised approach to asylum". 

22/03/202205/04/2022 

  • On 31 March 2022, following a request for Interim Measures from Alarm Phone and Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), the ECtHR demanded that Greece gives shelter & food to 34 people stranded on an Evros islet.  
  • On 29 March 2022, according to a statement by the Greek National Transparency Authority, which was tasked with investigating whether the Greek government carries out push backs, the authority  found no evidence of pushbacks but the findings have not yet been released.  

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • On 11 March 2022, for the first time the European Court of Human Rights issued a decision ordering that a pushback from the Greek islands should not take place, following a request by Aegean Boat Report to intervene with an urgent measure under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.  
  • Since 12 March 2022, 30 Syrians asylum seekers have been stranded on the small island on the Evros river for six days without water nor food. Following a request for interim measures filed to the European Court of Human Rights, Greece eventually transferred the asylum seekers to Greek territory.   
  • The Syrian Alaa Hamoudi, represented by the Front-Lex legal association, who was illegally pushed back into Turkey by Greek authorities is suing the European Union border agency Frontex for alleged complicity. 
  • On 13 March 2022, the Greek coastguards rescued about 100 migrants, most of them Afghans fleeing the Taliban, after their boat got into difficulties off the island of Paros. 
  • On 8 March 2022, 27 civil society organisations addressed a joint letter to the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, regarding the “systematic non-compliance by Greece with the Asylum Procedures Directive as regards the safe third country concept”.  

22/02/202208/03/2022 

  • Seven bodies washed ashore on Lesbos, probably after an unreported shipwreck.  
  • Filippo Grandi, the UN Commissioner for refugees, stated that UNHCR has collected evidence of 540 incidents of “informal returns” carried by Greek authorities since the beginning of 2020.  
  • A 32-year-old woman with French and Turkish citizenship accused Greek authorities of having pushed her and her husband back to Turkey. She claims they were escaping a politically motivated prison sentence in Turkey.  She is now detained in a prison in Turkey and is filing a lawsuit to the European Court of Human Rights. This would be the first case where Greek authorities pushed back a European citizen.  
  • On 13 February 2022, Aegean Boat Report asked the European Court of Human Rights to intervene under Rule 39 to prevent the pushback of four individuals who were hiding on Greek territory, on the Aegean Islands. The Court issued a provisional decision and demanded clarifications to the Greek government about these allegations of pushbacks and also demanded the government to provide assistance to the asylum-seekers. However, in the time it took the Court to issue a decision, three of the four individuals were pushed back. Importantly, as stressed by Aegean Boat Report “Rule39 of the Rules of Court are the only way for asylum-seekers and migrants to benefit from an effective protection of their rights against pushbacks perpetrated by Greek authorities”.

08/02/2022 - 22/02/2022

  • An investigation by Lighthouse Report, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and Mediapart showed how the Greek Coast Guards, during some pushbacks, are throwing people in the water without lifejackets and force them to swim to Turkey. According to the reconstruction, two people – Sidy Keita from Ivory Coast and Didier Martial Kouamou Nana from Cameroon – died this way and their bodies were found on Turkish coasts. In September 2021, they crossed the Aegean sea and landed on the Greek island of Samos. They were found by Greek authorities, who forced them to board a speedboat, beat them and threw them overboard without a lifejacket when they were close to Turkey. Another person, Ibrahim, was on board with them and is the only survivor and witness who can testify what happened. Two Greek officials that were interviewed under anonymity confirmed that this practice has been used on other asylum-seekers. According to Lighthouse Report, there is evidence of at least 29 other cases since May 2021 where people were thrown overboard during pushbacks.  
  • The UNHCR called for an investigation on the case of the 19 migrants who froze to death on the Greek-Turkish land border, after they were forced to undress and were allegedly pushed back by Greek authorities. Greece and Turkey have been accusing each other for these deaths, without providing any evidence on what actually happened.  
  • The LIBE Committee demanded the EU Commission to allow Syrian asylum-seekers, whose claim for asylum was rejected based on the designation of Turkey as a safe-third-country, the possibility to apply again.
  • The Greek police arrested five people on the island of Lesbos after a protest emerged against the construction of a new closed camp on the island.  

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • 16 people were found dead on the mountains between Greece and Turkey. According to the Turkish authorities, who found the bodies, the people died after being pushed back by Greek authorities in freezing temperatures and without clothes.  
  • On 30 January 2022, a group of 21 asylum-seekers arrived in the Greek island of Chios. 12 of them were intercepted by the Hellenic Coast Guard, who pushed them back at sea until they were rescued by Turkish authorities. 3 of them were throw at sea without boat nor life raft. Two of them made back to shore, one of them is missing, presumably drowned. There is no information about the remaining group of people, whether they are still hiding or were intercepted by the police.   
  • On 24 January 2022 a group of approximately 40 people, including 15 children, disembarked in the Greek island of Aspalathrokampos. Hours later, the people were taken by the Hellenic Coast Guard and pushed back at sea, and they were found by Turkish authorities who rescued them. Unfortunately, this practice – which is clearly against international law – is being used more and more by the Greek authorities, who push people back at sea even if they are already on Greek soil.  
  • Greek authorities trapped 29 asylum-seekers, including children, on an island in the Evros river for five days until they were intercepted by Turkish authorities. According to the reconstruction of the events by Efsyn, after five days, Turkish authorities convinced the people they would bring them to Greece, but they brought them back to Turkey and beat them violently when they realised some members of the group were Turks. One of them, a Syrian man with health issues, died.  
  • Refugees were hit particularly hard by the recent snowstorms in Greece, and many had to sleep on the streets or in tents in freezing temperatures, due to the decision of the Greek government to suspend asylum applications on the mainland since November 2021.  
  • Greece is planning to deploy new biometrics policing programme to gather biometric information from people on a vast scale and cross check it against police, immigration, and private sector databases primarily for immigration purposes”. Human Rights Watch denounces the fact this programme may expose asylum-seekers to racial profiling and may be against international privacy laws.  
  • Amnesty International presented a submission to the UN Committee Against Torture regarding ill-treatment and torture of asylum-seekers and migrants in the context of violent push-backs; immigration detention and conditions of detention; the asylum-system; human rights violations in the context of the policing of demonstrations including on-going reports of unnecessary and excessive use of force and failures of the Greek authorities to adhere to international human rights standards related to the protection of the rights of detainees and core safeguards against torture; excessive use of force in migration control; criminalisation of human rights defenders working with migrants and asylum-seekers; and attacks against refugees, journalists and NGOs working with refugees and migrants; and gender-based violence” 
  • Aid groups in Greece accuse the government of deliberately depriving more than 6,000 refugees of food and causing a severe hunger crisis. Indeed, the government decided to stop providing food to those no longer in the asylum procedure, leaving 40% of the refugee in the camps without food.  
  • Alarm Phone kept contact with some of the survivors from the December shipwrecks in the Aegean, who are mainly in detention in Athens. 28 bodies were recovered so far, possibly from those shipwrecks, but relatives of the missing are receiving no support from Greek authorities.  

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • The European Commission stated that for the cases of Syrian refugees whose asylum application has been considered inadmissible in Greece, as they could allegedly be sent back to Turkey, they should be allowed to apply for asylum again.  
  • Alarm Phone reports on a boat being pushed back in the night of 15 January 2022 near Rhodes. Greece is increasingly coming under scrutiny over the pushback practices of its Coast Guards, as 25,000 people have reportedly disappeared after being rescued by Greek authorities, but never landed on any of the Greek islands.  
  • On 10 January 2022, a body washed ashore on the island of Sifnos. It is likely to be from one of the shipwrecks that took place in December 2021.  
  • On 9 January 2022, a boat carrying 25 migrants – including 17 children – arrived on Lesbos. The group was trying to hide from the police and was in contact with the organisation Aegean Boat Report. For the whole night, the people managed to hide but eventually, the following morning, the police found them. The policemen were part of the Hellenic Coast Guard and transported the group of people for over 200 km before putting them on a life-raft at sea and pushing them back to Turkey. The Greek Coast Guard used violence against the people: they broke the foot of a little girl, while other kids report physical marks and bruises inflicted to them by the officers.  
  • 30 Cuban asylum-seekers were forcibly expelled from Greece to Turkey in the end of 2021 and are now accusing Greek authorities of abuse. The group accuses Greek authorities of using violence against them, stripping them of their clothes, taking their personal belonging, and forcing them to walk to the Turkish border by gun-carrying officers wearing balaclavas. 
  • A group of migrants fleeing Lebanon accused the Greek Coast Guard of abuse. They left Lebanon on 26 October 2021, and after having been at sea for three days, they docked on the Greek island of Kastellorizo due to a storm. Despite having received the Coast Guard’s permission to dock, the Coast Guard later approached the boat and hooked the migrants’ boat to theirs. Migrants were forced on board of the Coast Guard vessel, some of them were beaten up, and the Coast Guard even fired shots in the air for intimidation. After spending one night on the Coast Guard’s vessel, the migrants were divided in four smaller life rafts and told to go to Italy (but were actually directed towards Turkey). Finally, the migrants were intercepted by Turkish authorities, placed in removal centers and repatriated with a flight at the end of November 2021.  
  • The Mobille Info Team published the report ‘Live on hold: Access to Asylum on Mainland Greece, Crete and Rhodes’. The report is available here 

14/12/2021-11/01/2022

  • On 6 January 2022, Chios residents gathered at the port to prevent the unloading of the machinery that will be used in the construction of a new closed centre.
  • According to the Greek Minister of Civil Protection, between April and November 2021 there has been 45% increase in preventing refugees and migrants from entering Greece via the Evros river, with 143,472 people being stopped before crossing to Greece. This casts strong shadows on the violations of fundamental rights at this land border. The Minister also announced the deployment of 550 more border guards, and the launch of an automated surveillance system.
  • On his New Year’s Eve speech, Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis confirmed that about 25,000 asylum-seekers disappeared in 2021 after being rescued by Greek authorities. Indeed, 8,616 asylum-seekers arrived in Greece last year, and more than 4,000 of those disembarked on Greek islands. However, the Greek Coast Guard reported to have rescued about 29,000 people in the whole of 2021, casting doubts on the fate of those 25,000 who never reached the Greek islands.
  • Between 22 and 24 December 2021, three boats capsized in the Aegean causing the deaths of dozens of people. On 22 December 2021, a boat capsized with about 50 people on board near the island of Folegandros: 3 bodies were found, 13 people were rescued and at least 17 are missing. On 23 December 2021, a boat capsized near the island of Antikythera: 11 people died and 90 were rescued. On 24 December 2021, a boat capsized causing the death of 12 people, while 62 were rescued and at least 28 are missing. The shipwrecks occurred as smugglers are increasingly using a new dangerous route from Turkey to Italy, to avoid the heavily controlled Greek waters. On 6 January 2022, 3 bodies were found near to island of Naxos, who are believed to be part of the Folegandros shipwreck.
  • The Administrative Court of Syros ruled unlawful the measure to prohibit the exit of an Afghan asylum-seeker from the new closed centre in Samos. The Afghans asylum-seeker was represented by the Greek Refugee Council which argued that the deprivation of the applicant’s liberty is against Greek and EU law.
  • On 20 December 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) communicated that it will examine two cases filed against Greece concerning illegal collective expulsions. The evidence provided by Legal Centre Lesvos shows “that the Applicants were attacked, arbitrarily detained, psychologically and physically abused, and ultimately expelled from Greek territory, without having their asylum claims individually examined”. The ECtHR is expected to come with a decision on the cases in summer 2022.
  • Following an alarm raised by 27 Greek NGOs on the severe conditions refugees and asylum-seekers face in the country after the government stopped cash and food assistance, EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson issued a response criticising the Greek government’s decision and demanding the provision of food, shelter and hygienic products to all vulnerable individuals. In the meanwhile, many refugees and asylum-seekers are facing serious lack of food and access to basic needs.
  • The Deputy Ombudsman addressed the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum on the case of the NGO Refugee Support Aegean, whose application to the NGO registry was rejected.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

  • On the 27 November 2021, two new centers were opened on the Greek islands of Leros and Kos. Similar to the one opened in Samos in September, these new camps are closed structures built with EU funds. The camps are controlled by barbed wire fences, high-tech x-ray surveillance systems, ID, fingerprint scanning systems and military personnel. Two additional centers, based on the same model, will be opened next year in Lesbos and Chios.  
  • According to Amnesty International, about 100 asylum-seekers detained in the new centers are restricted from leaving the camp at any time of the day. They do not have a valid government-issued identity card either because their application has been rejected or because they are newcomers. Without the card they are never allowed to leave the centers, in violation of their right to liberty.  
  • 27 Greek NGOs are raising the alarm as asylum-seekers and refugees in the mainland stopped receiving food support and cash assistance. For about two months, refugees who already had their asylum application accepted stopped receiving food support because of the implementation of a law passed by the Greek government last year. At the same time, about 34,000 asylum seekers have not been receiving cash assistance after the program shifted administration from the UNHCR to the Greek government about two months ago.  
  • 19 organisations active on refugee issues in Greece published a joint statement denouncing the denial by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum to register the non-profit civil society organisation “Refugee Support Aegean” (RSA) on its NGO Registry.  

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • Greece increasingly persecutes people helping migrants: 
    • Activists working for the Greek NGO Emergency Response Centre International face 25 years in jail. In particular, the two activists Seán Binder and Sarah Mardini have been accused of human trafficking, money laundering, fraud and espionage due to their alleged interception of radio frequencies. Police also accuses them of being members of a criminal organisation that presents itself as an NGO but seeks to profit from smuggling people to Greece. The trial against them and 22 other volunteers, was supposed to be held on Lesbos on the 18th of November but was postponed 
    • Three young men from Afghanistan and Somalia are facing extremely long sentences in the Greek island of Chios for steering inflatable dinghies with migrants after smugglers abandoned them in the Aegean Sea. They are charged as smugglers and condemned to 50 years in prison for two of them and 142 years for the third.  
  • On 28th of November 2021, Greece opened two new migrant camps on the islands of Kos and Leros. These are isolated, closed and highly militarised facilities, on which several NGOs have repeatedly raised serious concerns.  
  • On 21st of November 2021, Alarm Phone reported 71 people in distress off the island of Crete. Despite authorities being informed, no one intervened. The people were finally rescued by a cargo ship, but one person remain missing.  
  • Seven migrants died in a car accident while trying to escape from a police check and eight remained injured. The accident took place on a motorway close to the Greek-Turkish border.  
  • Four members of the Italian Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration were taken into custody by a mixed patrol of Greek policemen, border police and Frontex agents during a field visit to the Greek-Macedonian border, in the Greek village of Idomeni. Despite having all the required documents for entering Greek territory, police and Frontex officers took them back to the border and forced them to cross to Macedonia.  
  • Athens has hosted over 700 Afghan women since the Taliban takeover in the summer, a number higher than in any other country. They arrived via the intervention of international organisations, aid groups and individuals who directly pressured the government. While this is a positive development, Greece's borders remain largely shut to migrants and asylum-seekers, including Afghan citizens, coming via land and sea borders.  
  • The International Rescue Committee published the report A chance for a better future: Supported independent living and the protection of unaccompanied children in Greece. The report analyses the improved situation of unaccompanied refugee children in Greece and highlights the main challenges and criticalities that still need to be addressed. 

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • On the 26th of October 4 people drowned close to the Greek island of Chios; 3 of them were children.  
  • After departing from Turkey on the 27th of October, 382 asylum-seekers disembarked on the Greek island of Kos on the 31st of October. They were mainly Pakistanis, Afghans, Bangladeshis, Syrians, Iranians and Lebanese. Due to bad weather conditions, the migrants alerted the authorities and were assisted by the Hellenic Coast Guard. However, the latter boarded the cargo ship and started navigating towards Turkey. According to the Aegean Boat Report, Alarm Phone and to the video footage shared by the migrants on board, it seems that the Hellenic Coast Guard was attempting a push-back. It would have been the largest single push-back carried out by Greek authorities ever recorded. However, after pressure from civil society, the UNHCR, the media, and after 4 days at sea where migrants were given no food, water, nor medical attention, the Hellenic Coat Guard disembarked the migrants on the island of Kos 
  • Five MEPs from the LIBE Committee travelled to Greece on a migration fact-finding mission. The LIBE chair López Aguilar commented the mission during a press conference. He stated that one of the goals of the mission was to help the EU do better concerning the solidarity mechanisms listed in the EU Migration Pact. He also stressed the need for securitization of the external borders and talked about “huge improvements” in the Greek reception centers. German MEP of The Left, Cornelia Ernst, documented, denounced and prevented the pushback of five asylum seekers in the island of Samos 
  • The Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi stated that further monitoring of possible rights abuses at Greek’s borders might constitute a rule-of-law violation. 
  • A young woman from Burundi and a minor from Congo sued Frontex for the first time since the European Agency was born. Both are accusing Frontex of complicity in a push back operations from Greece to Turkey. The two of them met on the 28th of November 2020 since they were part of a group of 18 asylum-seekers who arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos. The group was victim of a pushback orchestrated by the Greek Coast Guard. Besides this episode, they were both victims of other pushbacks incidents in 2020 and therefore decided to file a lawsuit against Frontex.  

05/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • Despite the highly militarised land border crossing point between Greece and Turkey at the Evros river, migrants try to cross and are continuously pushed back to Turkey. NGOs and locals don’t have access to the border to document and denounce the violations. 38 people died already in the Evros river in 2021.  
  • On 18 October 2021, 26 NGOs denounced that 60% of people staying in refugee camps in Greece don’t have access to food.   
  • An investigation by AlJazeera revealed how Greece is depriving thousands of refugees of their liberty for long times and in poor conditions. According to the Greek Council for Refugees, in July 2021, of those detained in Kos, more than 90 had been held for longer than a year.  
  • The NGO Mare Liberum denounced the numerous attempts by Greek authorities to hamper their work of monitoring human rights violations in the Aegean Sea. 
  • The NGO Aegean Boat Report documented a latest pushback on 18 September of a group of people who arrived on Lesvos and were later found adrift on a life raft by Turkish Coast Guards. 
  • The Greek National Transparency Authority (EAD) may act as the independent body that will investigate reports of migrant pushbacks, the Greek government said 

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • On 4 October 2021, Alarm Phone denounced that at least 67 people are in distress in the Aegean Sea and that the Greek Coast Guard is informed.
  • Amid growing concerns of Greek pushbacks at sea and land borders, Greek Migration Minister rejects a border monitoring mechanism.
  • Greece suspends deportation of a Syrian man with disabilities and chronic health issues following European Court of Human Rights’ grant of interim measures.
  • INTERSOS Hellas, Greek Forum of Migrants and Greek Forum of Refugees launched a campaign calling for the access to everyone, including undocumented migrants, to the COVID-19 vaccine.

6/09/2021 - 22/09/2021

  • According to Euractiv, “the European Commission has asked Greece to set up an “independent” mechanism to monitor and avoid pushbacks of migrants at its border as a condition to release an additional €15.83 million in migration funding requested by Athens”. 
  • On 18 September 2021, Greece opened the first official EU-funded closed refugee camp on the island of Samos. This prison-like camp has “barbed-wire fencing, surveillance cameras, x-ray scanners and magnetic doors”. On 19 September 2021, a major fire broke out at the Vathy migrant camp on the Greek island of Samos. 
  • An appeal authority annulled the decision of the regional asylum office that an Afghan family could return to Turkey, as it could not be considered a safe third country for the applicants.  
  • Greece requested EU funds to deploy patrol units and surveillance systems to intercept any Afghans crossing into its territory. EU officials have so far refused, “insisting any payments must be linked to Greece establishing an independent monitoring authority to ensure no one is illegally turned away”. 
  • Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the fire that destroyed the refugee Moria camp on Lesvos, forty-five civil society organisations called on the EU and the Greek government to stop the policy of refugee containment and exclusion reinforced with the new reception facilities in Greece. While refugees hosted in the EU-funded camps on the Greek islands “prefer being returned to Afghanistan and killed by the Taliban”.  
  • The September Lesvos Bulletin Update on the EU response in Lesvos, by the Greek Council for Refugees & Oxfam, focuses on the Joint Ministerial Decision of the Greek government, published on 7 June 2021 on considering Turkey as a “safe” third country. 63% of current residents in Mavrovouni camp (so-called Moria 2) are Afghan citizens, who are directly affected by the decision. 

19/08/2021 – 06/09/2021

  • On 5 September 2021, Alarm Phone fears another illegal pushback in the Aegean Sea since they lost contact with 85 people adrift near Folegandros island.  
  • On 27 August 2021, Greek Migration Minister, Notis Mitarakis, presented a legislative proposal in Parliament aiming at accelerating deportations of migrants. Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, called on the Greek government to align the deportations and return bill with human rights standards. In particular, Article 40 of the Bill “would seriously hinder the life-saving work carried out at sea by NGOs, and their human rights monitoring capacities in the Aegean”. Greek officials have previously declared that “Greece will not become a “gateway” to Europe for Afghan asylum seekers”.  
  • Refugee Support Aegean released a note on the functioning of the Greek asylum procedure during the first half of 2021.  
  • Alarm Phone denounced that 14 people have been stranded for days at the Greek-Turkish border without food and water, and some are severely injured. Authorities have been alerted but are not responding.  
  • Greek police have been imposing fines of 5,000 euros to asylum seekers entering the country, by treating them as tourists not having a Covid-19 test upon arrival.
  • On 20 August 2021, Greece announced that it had completed the construction of a 40-km wall on its border with Turkey and put in place a new surveillance system to prevent potential asylum seekers from trying to reach Europe. 

27/07/2021 – 19/08/2021

  • In a new report, EU funding for the integration of migrants and refugees in Greece: Τhe clock is ticking, two NGOs, International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Common Ground, claims that EU funds for the integration of refugees in Greece could be invested more efficiently.
  • In the first half of 2021, Greece released almost 10 000 detention orders for migrants, including 9,227 that were issued in the context of returns or deportations. The Greek NGO, Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) denounced this systematic deprivation of liberty and inaccessibility of remedies as well as lack of adequate psychological, medical and legal support in migrant detention centres.
  • More than 4,200 migrants are living in deplorable conditions in the limbo of the Kara Tepe refugee camp, on the Greek island of Lesbo, which was built after the destruction of the Moria camp. 45% of those are minors.
  • On 30 July 2021, the Greek Ombudsman called for the release of 19 people who are unlawfully detained in the Pre-Removal Detention Centre on the Greek island of Kos.

5/07/2021 – 27/07/2021

  • On 22 July 2021, a shipwreck off the island of Crete caused at least 10 people missing. 37 others, including a woman and a child, mainly from Syria and Iraq, were rescued by the Greek coast guard.
  • A landmark decision of the European Committee on Social Rights – in a complaint filed by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and the Greek Council for Refugees - finds that Greece is violating the right to education of migrant children on the Aegean islands. In 2021, only 7 of 2,090 kids in the island camps were in school.
  • Greece has launched an investigation against four NGOs, including Aegean Boat Report – active in denouncing and documenting pushbacks of migrants and refugees - accusing them of “facilitating illegal entry of foreigners and espionage”. On 26 July 2021, the EUobserver reports that “Greece has annulled an award for humanitarian aid worker Iasonas Apostolopoulos, known for his work with rescuing migrants and refugees at sea”.

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • A pushback in the Aegean Sea was reported, involving Greek Coast Guards and Frontex.  
  • A new barricaded refugee camp of around 1 800 places will open soon on the Greek island of Leros to isolate refugees from the outside world. The EU invested EUR 276 million in 2021 to build such camps on the Greek islands.  
  • On 28 June 2021, Greek Migration Ministry said that Turkey should take back 1,450 migrants whose asylum requests have been rejected, also as a deterrent for future crossings. In its effort to reform the deportation and return procedures, the Immigration and Asylum Ministry proposed a bill on “Reformation of deportation and return procedures for third-country citizens, issues of residence permits and procedures for granting international protection and other provisions of competence of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum and the Ministry of Civil Protection”. As Greece recently declared Turkey as a “safe country” to return migrants and refugees to, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns that 80% of children supported by IRC risks being denied asylum in Europe and being deported.  
  • A new Amnesty International report points at the violence against migrants and the unlawful practices of pushbacks by Greek authorities and calls on Frontex to suspend its operations in Greece.  
  • The Dutch journalist, Ingeborg Beugel, foreign correspondent in Greece, was arrested for having hosted an Afghan asylum seeker.  
  • The Greek Migration Ministry’s decision to cut financial assistance for all asylum seekers who are not housed in facilities run by the Ministry or its partner organisations, will seriously undermine effective integration efforts, human rights organisations warn.   
  • On 29 June 2021, the defendants for the fire in Vial Camp were all acquitted of the felony charge of arson and of the membership in a criminal group. However, rights groups denounce Greece’s practice of unfairly prosecuting and sentencing migrants. 

For the period from September 2020 to June 2021, click here.

Migrants and refugees in Libya

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • 120 people were pushed back by Libyan authorities after Malta left them adrift for over two days in its SAR zone.
  • On 12 May 2022, Alarm Phone reported about approximately 70 people in urgent distress off the coasts of Zuwara, as all the people had fallen in the water. Libyan authorities said they rescued all the people and returned them to Libya, but there is no way to confirm that everyone has been saved and no casualties were registered.
  • On 11 May 2022, Alarm Phone reported about 18 people in distress off Benghazi. Due to bad communication, they were not able to provide the GPS position. They informed authorities, but no one intervened. The fate of these people remains unknown.

05/04/2022-10/05/2022

  • So far in 2022, 4,461 people were intercepted by Libyan authorities and brought back to Libya.  
  • On 6 May 2022, Alarm Phone reported about a distress case off Libyan coasts where 34 people were at risk of capsizing due to the strong winds and high waves. Despite multiple alarms, no state authority intervened. A German merchant vessel was in proximity but could not transfer the people on board due to the bad conditions of the sea. Finally, after more than 3 days at sea, the people were rescued by rescue ship Sea-Eye 4.  
  • The International Criminal Court ICC) published the Twenty Third Report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to the United Nations Security Council Pursuant to Resolution 1970 (2011) “Through work conducted to date in this area, the Office has received a wide
    range of credible information indicating that migrants and refugees in Libya
    have been subjected to arbitrary detention, unlawful killing, enforced
    disappearance, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, abduction for
    ransom, extortion, and forced labour. The Office’s preliminary assessment is
    that these crimes may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes”.  
  • EU Commissioner Francisco Gaztelu Mezquiriz said that the Commission’s work with the Libyan Coast Guard is based on a “do no harm” principle and follows a humanitarian scope despite abundant evidence showing how the Coast Guard uses violence and abuses during its operations.  
  • Libyan security forces carried out raids in migrants’ homes in Zuwara and captured about 300 people, who were sent to the Ain Zara detention centre.  
  • On 15 April 2022, the IOM reported of a shipwreck that took place off Libyan coasts where 6 people died and 29 remain missing.  
  • On 10 April 2022, IOM Libya reported that a boat with 20 migrants on board capsized off Libyan coasts: 2 people were rescued, 4 bodies were found and 14 people remain missing.  
  • Migrant Rescue Watch reported that Libyan authorities intercepted 217 migrants in three different operations and disembarked them in Zawiya.

22/03/202205/04/2022 

  • In the period of 27 March - 2 April 2022, 362 migrants were intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to Libya by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard.  
  • On 1 April 2022, at least 11 people, 7 women and 4 children - died off Libya. They were travelling on a boat with around 145 people on board that have been adrift for many hours. The boat was intercepted by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and the people were forcibly returned to Libya.  
  • As of 4 April 2022, 113 people are currently on board the rescue vessel from MSF after a critical rescue and six days on board, awaiting for a safe port of disembarkation.  
  • On 2 April 2022, the vessel ALEGRIA1 rescued 4 people from a boat that capsized in international waters near Libya. The four survivors have been forcibly returned to Libya.  
  • Alarm Phone has been informed that at least 30 people are in distress at sea off Libya.  
  • On Sunday, April 3, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, declared that more than 90 people were drowned in yet another tragedy in the Central Mediterranean and alluded to the double standards adopted by European countries on the issue of refugees.  
  • UN investigators denounced widespread torture in detention centres and investigate the existence of migrant mass graves. 
  • On March 30, Germany announced that its military would no longer provide training to Libyan coast guards because of their treatment of migrants in the country.  
  • On March 31, the Libyan Coast Guard vessel "Ras Jadar" intercepted about 140 migrants and recovered 10 bodies from a heavily overloaded inflatable boat off Qarabolli. 
  • On March 25, the NGO SOS Méditerranée's ship, the Ocean Viking, rescued 128 migrants on board. Two victims were reported and only one body was recovered. On 28 March, the 109 survivors were able to disembark in Augusta, Sicily.  
  • On March 24, with the help of the International Federation of the Red Cross, 30 people were rescued off Libya.  
  • On 22 March 2022, Libyan, regional and international civil society organisations sent an open letter to social media company urging them to take immediate action to help end an ongoing online defamation campaign targeting human rights defenders in Libya which is putting their lives in real danger.   
  • Alarm Phone and other organisations denounced the death of Samy, who died on 30 March 2022, as a consequence of being tortured in a Libyan camp after he was intercepted and forced back to Libya.  

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • Between 6 and 11 March 2022, 158 migrants were intercepted and illegally returned to Libya. So far in 2022, more than 3,000 migrants were intercepted by the Libya Coast Guard and returned to Libya.  
  • According to the IOM, over the first two weeks of March, at least 70 migrants have gone missing at sea and are presumed dead off the coast of Libya. On 12 March 2022, at least 20 migrants died in a shipwreck off Libya. Following the shipwreck, patrols of Libyan Special Naval Forces continue to recover bodies 
  • On 14 March 2022, the Libyan Red Crescent recovered 2 unidentified bodies of migrants washed ashore in Dahla area. The remains were transferred to the morgue in Zawiya Teaching Hospital for completion of proceedings.  

22/02/2022-08/03/2022 

  • On 4 March 2022, the Seabird crew of the NGO Sea Watch witnessed an illegal pullback of a about 200 people, probably involving Frontex.  
  • Between 5-6 March 2022, the MSF NGO vessel GeoBarents rescued more than 110 people in distress at sea. A French merchant vessel rescued another 26 people in distress.   
  • Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees continue to peacefully protest in front of UNHCR headquarter in Tripoli asking for protection.  
  • On 2 March 2022, Alarm Phone published its Central Mediterranean Analysis, covering the period between July and December 2021, witnessing a “new level of brutality” against migrants.  
  • Sea Watch’s airplane Sea Bird witnessed a pushback by the Libyan Coast Guard where dozens of people were involved.  
  • So far in 2022, 2,481 people have been intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard.  
  • The New Arab published an article that analyse the role of the Libyan Coast Guard. Despite the political instability in the country, and the numerous evidence of human rights violations conducted at the hands of Coast Guard members, the Libya Coast Guard remains to this day the only institution in the country that has been systematically rehabilitated since 2011. Inside Libya, the population is split when it comes to the Coast guard: many criticize its work, but others, especially young Libyans in need of income often end up working for security services like the Coast Guard.  
  • EuroMed Rights drafted Input for the Special Rapporteur’s report on human rights violations at international borders: trends, prevention and accountability, available on this link. 
  • On 18 February 2022, the Libyan Stabilization Support Apparatus (a separate security body with naval equipment similar to those of the Coast Guard) intercepted one boat with 80 people on board and killed one person, while injuring several others. 

25/02/2022

  • EuroMed Rights drafted Input for the Special Rapporteur’s report on human rights violations at international borders: trends, prevention and accountability, available on this link.

08/02/2022 - 22/02/2022

  • On 19 February 2022. Alarm Phone alerted about 68 people in distress in the Maltese SAR zone. For many hours, no authority intervened until they were intercepted by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard 
  • On 11 February 2022, Alarm Phone reported on a distress case of about 50 people off Libyan coasts. After many hours from the distress signal, the people were intercepted by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard. 
  • The Outlaw Ocean Project reported that on 13 January 2022, one of the most infamous detention centers in Libya – al-Mabani – was officially closed. Most likely, this is the result of a political shift within the DCIM: the former director lost his leadership, and days after al-Mabani – run by a militia that supported him – closed. The new director used to run the center Tarik-al-Sikka, where it seems most migrants from al-Mabani were transferred to. The closure of al-Mabani reflects the “ever-shifting nature of incarceration in Libya and how such transience makes protection of detainees nearly impossible. Migrant detention centers open, close, and reopen from one week to the next. Detainees are moved with little tracking”.  
  • Some refugees detained in the Ain Zara prison, during the raids last January, started a hunger strike to protest against the horrible conditions in which they live.  
  • An article by the Mixed Migration Center shows how some nationalities of migrants are more likely to be intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard then others. Indeed, the primary nationalities departing from Libya are Sudanese, Bangladeshis and Malians. But besides Bangladeshis, Malians and Sudanese are not the main nationalities of arrivals in Italy. According to the data, it seems that the probability of being intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard is 71% for Sudanese and Malians, and 31% for Bangladeshis.  
  • The ICMDP hosted a workshop in Tripoli for the new Libyan Focal Points for the Rabat and the Khartoum Processes.  

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • Oxfam denounced that in 2021, over 20,000 migrants returned by the Libyan Coast Guard to Libya went missing and as many ended up detained in informal centers where their traces are lost.  
  • The journalist Sara Creta reported that 1,000 migrants were collectively expelled in the southern Libyan border to Niger.  
  • Associated Press obtained a leaked report circulated in January to EU officials by Stefano Turchetto, the head of the EU military mission Operation IRINI. The report acknowledges the excessive use of forced by Libyan authorities on migrants and cites the case of an interception at sea carried out by the Libyan Coast Guard where the latter used tactics “never observed before and not in compliance with (EU) training ... as well as international regulation”. The report also acknowledges the limitations of the EU’s training program due to the political situation in the country. Despite these concerns, the EU keeps being determined in continuing its relationship with Libyan authorities in the handling of migration.  
  • On 27 January 2022, the DROI Committee of the European Parliament held an Exchange of Views on the ‘human rights situation in Libya and the fundamental rights of migrants’. The speakers presented the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report “Unsafe and Undignified: The forced expulsion of migrants from Libya”, and the report of the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya (FFM). Among the speakers there were representatives of the European Commission External Action Service and the EU’s Head of Delegation in Libya. 

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • On 22 January 2022, Alarm Phone shared a distress call from a boat off the Libyan Coasts with 24 people on board. Aircraft from the EunavforMed Irini mission and Maltese authorities were checking on the boat but no one intervened, until they were pushed back by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard many hours later.  
  • On 19 January 2022, the rescue vessel Louise Michel witnessed a pushback by the Libyan Coast Guard which shot at one person who had jumped in the water. It is uncertain whether the person was hit or not.  
  • A new MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) is under construction in Tripoli. The centre is financed with EU budget for 15 million EUR. The centre will be constructed by an Italian company and the equipment has already been transported to Libya by the Italian military ship San Giorgio. Italian authorities will also be present in the centre for 48 months to train Libyan personnel.  
  • On 10 January 2022 Libyan militias raided the informal settlements of about 1,000 refugees in Tripoli, in front of the UNHCR office, where they have been protesting for over three months. Violence was used against refugees, people have been beaten up, shot and tents were set on fire. It seems that the raid was conducted by the DCIM - the Libyan Department Against Illegal Migration – but also militia groups like the Janzour group. More than 600 refugees were then arbitrarily detained in the Ain Zara detention centre. The MSF team who aided some of those detained later communicated to “have treated patients with stab wounds, beating marks, and signs of shock/trauma caused by the forced arrests. Among them there were people who had been beaten and separated from their children during the raids”. 
  • The raids that led to the detention of more than 600 people were the first public actions of the new head of the DCIM, Mohammed Al-Khoja. Al-Khoja is also a militia leader who has been accused of many occasions of trafficking and smuggling of human beings. Moreover, one of the most infamous detention centres where migrants are held – Tarik Al-Sikka – is owned by al-Khoja himself.  

14/12/2021-11/01/2022

  • Refugees in Tripoli have been protesting for over three months now. They demand protection and safety an ask the international community to intervene.
  • On 26 December 2021, 28 bodies were found 90 kilometres from Tripoli. The bodies were in an advanced state of decompositions, indicating that the shipwreck occurred a few days before.
  • Libyan presidential elections scheduled for 24 December 2021 were postponed. The House of Representative is now supposed to come up with a new date for elections within 30 days.
  • More than 160 people drowned in two shipwrecks off the Libyan coasts in the week before 25-26 December 2021. The first boat was carrying over 100 people, the second one about 60. In the same days, the so-called Libya Coast Guard intercepted 210 migrants on a wooden boat. These shipwreck brough the death toll in the Central Mediterranean in 2021 to at least 1,506 victims.
  • On 17 December 2021, the so-called Libya Coast Guard intercepted a migrants’ boat in the Central Mediterranean using dangerous manoeuvres. The boat tried to escape from the Coast Guard for about an hour, until its engine broke and the people were forcibly pushed back. In 2021, a record number of interceptions were carried out by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard: 32,425 people were pushed back to Libya. In 2020, the number of interceptions was 11,891.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

  • On 13 December 2021, 176 asylum-seekers were evacuated from Libya to a UNHCR transit centre in Rwanda.  
  • On 10 December 2021, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) released a statement raising concerns on a “series of forced expulsions of asylum-seekers and other migrants in Libya, including two large groups of Sudanese over the past month, with another group of 24 Eritreans apparently at imminent risk of similar treatment”. The statement also calls on the international community to ensure human rights due diligence in any operational and financial support to Libya on migration and border management. On 25 November 2021, the OHCRC published the report Unsafe and Undignified: The forced expulsion of migrants from Libya highlighting the high risk of arbitrary and collective expulsions for migrants and refugees from Libya's external land borders.  
  • On 5 December 2021, violence erupted outside the UNHCR office in Tripoli where migrants have been protesting since October. Migrants lit a fire in front of the office and when police intervened, violence escalated. Previously, on 24 November 2021, Libyan forces had burnt down the tents where refugees where sheltering. Refugees demand that their rights be respected while their situation keeps worsening.  
  • On 2 December 2021, the UNHCR announced that its Community Day Centre in Tripoli will close by the end of the year due to the continued protests and turmoil that took place in front of it in the past two months. The UN agency announced that it is working to develop alternative solutions to keep providing medical, psychological and legal assistance to asylum-seekers in Tripoli.  
  • Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Gaddafi’s son, won an appeal to the Court in Sebha and is running again for elections. Previously, the electoral commission had disqualified his candidacy, together with 24 others, because those candidates did not have a clean criminal record. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is also wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.  
  • The Outlaw Ocean Project and the New Yorker published on 28 November 2021 an extensive publication on the situation of migrants in Libya. The publication is the result of an 11-months investigation that shows how “from the minute the migrants are brought ashore by the Libyan Coast Guard, EU money is used at virtually every step of the way to pay for how they are handled”. The research focuses on the Al Mabani detention center in Tripoli, the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and on the fate of migrants in the country. The authors of the reports have themselves been beaten and incarcerated in Tripoli with the accusation of ‘illegally’ talking to migrants.  
  • The Mixed Migration Centre just published a report on the impact of Covid-19 on the EU’s Mediterranean Migration Policies focusing on Libya. The report is available here 

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • The protest of migrants and refugees in front of the UNHCR building in Tripoli which started almost 60 days ago continues.  
  • The so-called Libyan Coast Guard were seen shooting on a distressed migrants’ boat in the Maltese SAR zone on November 24th. According to Alarm Phone, 85 people were on board and they were pushed back to Libya, in breach of international obligations.  
  • On the 23rd of November, the UN Special Envoy in Libya Jan Kubis unexpectedly resigned, precisely a month before the presidential elections.  
  • On the 23rd of November 2021, the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights and Lawyers for Justice in Libya, in collaboration with survivors, filed a communication to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity committed against migrants and refugees in Libya. They also published a report which is available here 
  • On the 18th of November 2021, the so-called Libyan Coast Guard threatened to hijack the rescue vessel of the NGO Sea Watch who was in international waters, 40 miles from the Libyan coast. Later the same day, the Coast Guard also forced Sea Watch to stop its engine under threat of shooting it.  
  • The UNHCR said on Friday the 18th of November 2021 that the so-called Libyan Coast Guard intercepted 302 migrants and disembarked in Tripoli and Zawiya. So far in 2021, 30,104 people were intercepted and pushed back to Libya according to the IOM.  
  • On the 17th of November 2021, 75 people died in a shipwreck off the coasts of Libya. Only 15 survived and were rescued by fishermen who brought them to Zwara.   
  • EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson met with Libyan vice president of the Presidential Council Moussa al-Koni to discuss migration management in the country. She described the meeting as open and constructive and repeated the EU’s commitment to support Libya in managing its borders.  
  • All candidacies for the 24th December elections have been presented. The total amount of candidates is 98, including Aguila Saleh (current president of the House of Representative), Abdulhamid Dbeibah (current Prime Minister), Fathi Bashagha (former Minister of Interiors), and Khalifa Haftar. On the 24th of November 2021, the election commission rejected the candidacy of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, one of Gaddafi’s sons.  
  • The New Humanitarian released an interactive guide to the Search and Rescue situation in the Mediterranean. The guide shows the different scenarios and actors involved in the SAR operations in the Central Mediterranean, as well as the outcomes (shipwrecks, interceptions, rescues) resulting from the various scenarios.  

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • The so-called Libyan Coast Guards have carried out an unprecedented number of interceptions, with 28,636 people being forcibly returned to the country since the beginning of 2021.   
  • From over 40 days, migrants and asylum-seekers have been protesting outside the UNHCR office in Tripoli to denounce the inhuman conditions they face in the country.
  • On the 7th of October 2021, the Council of the European Union released the Migration Action Plan for Libya. The Action Plan stresses the EU engagement in continuing strengthening the capacity of the “Libyan Coast Guard”, working with EUBAM Libya and Frontex to step up Libya’s border management capacity in close collaboration with the proposed Team Europe Initiative on the Central Mediterranean route. It mentions also that other EU financial instruments, such as the AMIF and the Border Management and Visa Instrument (BMVI), may contribute to the external dimension of migration. As concern the next steps to be taken, the Plan mentions a strengthening of the cooperation between the AU, EU, and UN especially regarding evacuation flights to Niger and Rwanda and the establishment of a Migration Dialogues platform after the Libyan elections.  
  • On the 12th of November, and international conference on Libya was held in Paris. The main issue on the table was the presidential election of December 24th. During the same week, Libya opened the registration for election candidates. There are some talks that controversial actors like Saif al Islam and Khalifa Haftar could register as candidates. Current Prime Minister Dbeibah could also run for elections. International actors fear that elections are under pressure because of resumed turmoil between local factions. Some fear that some of the factions will not recognize the vote and conflict will escalate. Another conflictual element on the ground is the presence of foreign troops and mercenaries. On the 11th of November, eastern-based forces stated that they would repatriate 300 foreign mercenaries. However, the UN estimates the numbers of foreign fighters in the country to be around 20,000.  

05/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • Between 3 and 16 October 2021, 882 people have been intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to Libya by the so-called Libyan coast guard. Between 17 - 23 October, 846 migrants were intercepted at sea and returned to Libya. On 23 October 2021, 198 people on two boats were brought back to Zawiya and Tripoli.  
  • On 22 October 2021, the MSF rescue ship Geobarents rescued 36 people from a wooden boat in international waters and another 65 people from a rubber boat in distress. There are currently 296 rescued people onboard the GeoBarents. 
  • On 15 October 2021, EuroMed Rights, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Libya Platform and the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) denounced the unprecedented level of violence against migrants and refugees in Libya, where more than 5,000 migrants have been detained in the raids, including many children and women, and at least 6 people were killed. In Shara Zawiya detention centre, MSF team witnessed more than 550 women and children crammed into the cells, including pregnant women and newborn babies, and around 120 people sharing just one toilet. MSF also denounced that “many of those captured were reportedly subjected to severe physical violence, including sexual violence”. Since 4 October 2021, the UNHCR office in Tripoli closed due to the mounting tensions while hundreds of refugees gathered in front of UNHCR office asking for protection. The UN Refugee Agency on 22 October 2021, said that “The Libyan government must immediately address the dire situation of asylum-seekers and refugees, in a humane manner, consistent with international human rights law”.  
  • At least 15 people died off Sabratha, Libya, when a boat with around 105 people on board capsized. Alarm Phone had alerted the authorities several hours earlier but no one rescued the people in distress. On 6 October 2021, at least 17 bodies have been washed ashore on a Libyan beach from a deadly shipwreck off Libyan coasts. 
  • On 12 October 2021, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and the Libya Platform published their semi-annual update on the human rights situation in Libya, Peace process and legitimacy of elections in Libya threatened by lack of accountability and rule of law 
  • Despite the continued violations and abuses documented in Libya, the European Commission recently announced its aim to deliver new ‘P150’ class patrol boats to the Libyan coast guard that will be used to intercept and forcibly return migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to the horrors of Libya. 

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • Several organisations denounced the current inhumane practices of deportations of migrants from Sub-Saharan countries from Tunisia to Libya. These deportations involve many women, including pregnant women, and children and the last one happened on 27 September 2021, involving around 100 people. Several human rights violations have been documented, including threats, lack of medical assistance, ill-treatment and violence, and arbitrary arrests and detention.  
  • On 1 October 2021, Libyan security authorities carried out raids against thousands of migrants, including hundreds of women and children, in the western town of Gargaresh, near Tripoli, and detained 4,000 of them. During the operations, one migrant was killed and 15 others injured. According to the UN, unarmed migrants were harassed in their homes, beaten and shot. A Libyan government official said authorities would “deport as many as possible” of the migrants to their home countries. EuroMed Rights reiterated that the only solution is to open humanitarian corridors to allow people to escape Libya’s violence and mistreatment. Watch Migration and Asylum Programme Officer’s, Sara Prestianni, interview on AlJazeera. 
  • On 4 October 2021, the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya released a report providing evidence of war crimes committed since 2016 in Libya while violence against migrants in prison may amount to crimes against humanity. 
  • On 3 October 2021, according to UNHCR, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted and returned to Libya more than 550 migrants on board two boats. On 2 October 2021, 89 people, including 8 women and 3 children, were forcibly returned to Tripoli. 2 dead bodies were retrieved. 40 others are still missing and fear dead.
  • Doctors without Borders (MSF) has resumed its operations Tripoli’s detention centres almost 3 months after they suspended medical activities in those centres. 
  • Between 19-25 September, 865 migrants were intercepted at sea and returned to Libya by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard. 25,285 people were forcibly returned to Libya so far in 2021. 
  • On 30 September 2021, the UN Security Council voted to extend the UNSMIL (UN Mission in Libya) until after the country’s elections in late December.  
  • On 26 September 2021, notorious Libyan human trafficker, Abdel-Rahman Milad (known as Al-Bidja), has been appointed as Officer at the Libyan Naval Academy and as Head of the Coast Guard in the western region by the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). 
  • Sea-Watch published its July 2021 Airborne Monthly Factsheet with an overview of the operations conducted and the people and boats in distress at sea. 

19/08/2021 – 06/09/2021

  • On 2 September 2021, the Sea-Eye 4 rescued 29 people, including four babies and two nine-months pregnant women, who now need an urgent safe port of disembarkation. 
  • In just one week, between 22-28 August, 1,131 migrants were intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to Libya. 
  • On 28 August 2021, the rescue vessel Astral of the NGO Open Arms rescued 103 people in distress at sea in the Central Mediterranean. 
  • On 22 August 2021, at least 16 people, including a woman and a child, died in a shipwreck off Zuwara, 48 others survived. 
  • An interview to Tarik Lamloum from the Libyan NGO Belaady on the human rights situation in Libya.  
  • According to the IOM Libya Migrant Report May-June 2021, “88% of migrants reported that economic reasons were the primary motive behind their migration to Libya”.  

27/07/2021 – 19/08/2021

  • In just two days, on 30-31 August 2021, more than 1 000 migrants were intercepted by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and forcibly returned to Libya. In the period of 08-14 August, 1,788 migrants were intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to Libya, reaching a total of 22,045 people returned to Libya so far in 2021, according to IOM Libya.
  • On 27 July 2021, the so-called Libyan Coast Guard threatened to arrest the crew onboard the NGO vessel SeaWatch3 falsely accusing them of being in the Libyan exclusive zone over which they have jurisdiction. However, the Libyan SAR zone is international waters, not Libyan waters, and do not represent an exclusive right of intervention.

5/07/2021 – 27/07/2021

  • On 26 July 2021, a deadly shipwreck off Khums, Libya, caused at least 57 deaths, including 20 women and two children.
  • On 15 July 2021, Amnesty International denounced , in a report, the European complicity in “horrific violations, including sexual violence, against men, women and children living in Libyan detention camps after being returned from the Mediterranean”.
  • On 21 July 2021, at least 20 people drowned off Libya and over 230 others were intercepted and forcibly returned to Libya. On 12 July 2021, in two shipwrecks off Libya and Tunisia, at least 20 people died.
  • On 14 July 2021, in a common statement, the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations raised concerned “about the nearly 6,000 of the most vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers currently arbitrarily detained in detention centres by the Libyan authorities”. At the same time, according to a leaked paper seen by the EUobserver, the EU is planning a military mission to Libya.
  • Between 4-10 July 2021, 326 migrants were intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to Libya. In just three days, between 20-23 July 2021, more than 1,500 people were intercepted by the so-called Libyan coast guard. According to a recent report from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Migrant deaths on maritime routes to Europe, more than 31,500 people were intercepted or rescued by North African authorities in the first half of 2021, including over 15,300 people who were forcibly returned to Libya in the first six months of 2021 (three times more than the same period in 2020).

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • Between 1-3 July 2021, the bodies of at least 20 people, including a child and a woman, were washed ashore in Libya.  
  • On 22 June 2021, following continuous violence against detained migrants in Libya’s detention centres, MSF announced that it is forced to suspend their activities in Mabani and Abu Salim detention centres.  
  • Almost 15,000 people were forcibly returned to Libya in the first six months of 2021 – a record-high number.  

Migrants and refugees in Italy

28/09 – 12/10

  • Migrants and asylum seekers who have been tested positive to COVID-19, and already hosted in reception centres across Italy, have been transferred to the quarantine boats. Many appeals have been raised against this unlawful, discriminatory and illegal practice by numerous civil society organisations (testimonies from ARCI, ASGI, MSF and LasciateCIEntrare).
  • The dire conditions inside the quarantine boats are extremely worrying. On 1 October 2020, 5 Tunisian migrants tried to escape when the quarantine boat arrived in the port of Palermo, 2 fell down on the pier and injured themselves. On 5 October 2020, a 15-year-old  migrant died after been evacuated from the quarantine boat Allegra: he had passed out after he was kept on the boat for 15 days despite his very serious health conditions. Italian prosecutors are investigating his tragic death.
  • Italy-Libya: An investigation by the New York Times revealed how the Caprera, an Italian warship, which was deployed to Tripoli to help combat people-smugglers in Libya, stopped 7,000 migrants from leaving Libyan shores, and prevented the smuggling of 700,000 cigarettes to Italy.
  • Italy-Tunisia: Italian and Tunisian associations requested access to documents of the agreement concluded on 17 August 2020 as the details of this agreement were not published. According to press reports discussing the agreement, Italy is to provide 11 million euros of support to Tunisia in order to strengthen the border control systems. These funds may also be used to better train Tunisian security forces in preventing the departure of migrants and in intercepting ships in Tunisian territorial waters.

 

Migrants and refugees in Tunisia

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • On 14 May 2022, the Tunisian Navy intercepted 81 people who departed from Libya. They were then transferred to the Tataouine shelter of IOM. On 11 May 2022, the Tunisian Coast Guard rescued 99 people in distress in front of the Libyan coast. A few days before, Tunisian authorities intercepted 250 people and retrieved three bodies in different operations. 10 of them are Tunisian nationals, the others are from different African nationalities.
  • African women living undocumented in Tunisia are among those migrants who decide to take to the sea because they can’t leave Tunisia in a legal way. Many are from the Ivory Coast and are able to enter Tunisia visa-free and stay for three months. But often, they find themselves in situations of forced labour, working as domestic workers for Tunisian families who do not pay them. After the three months expire, if they do not leave immediately, they are fined for everyday of illegal stay in the country. Therefore, undocumented migrants find themselves with a huge dept to the Tunisian state that must be paid if they want to leave the country. This pushes many to leave irregularly and risk their lives in the Mediterranean crossing.

05/04/2022-10/05/2022

  • Tunisian organization FTDES issued a call for the decent burial of migrants. Bodies of migrants recovered in Tunisia end up in Sfax hospitals “amid reluctance to expedite their burial, a reluctance justified by the unavailability of vacant spots or the high cost of burial procedures”. FTDES calls on “relevant authorities to take legal and medical measures that will later allow families to identify the bodies and to check identities and calls on municipalities of the governorate of Sfax to express their solidarity and to ensure that the bodies are buried in appropriate and decent places and in full respect of human dignity”. 
  • Migrants in Tunisia keep protesting from Zarzis to Tunis against the UNHCR lack of protection and assistance. In Tunis, more than 200 people have settled in front of the building of the UNHCR since 16 April 2022 demanding to be resettled to a safe third country. In Zarzis, the protests had already started from February, when people voiced their concerns against the UNHCR decision to expel them from their shelters in Medenine and have since then occupied UNHCR’s building.  
  • Four boats shipwrecked off Sfax in the end of April, leading to the death of at least 17 people while Tunisian authorities could rescue 98 people.  
  • On 10 April 2022, Tunisian authorities reported two shipwrecks in which at least 13 people lost their lives and 12 went missing. Among the dead bodies found there were six children 

22/03/202205/04/2022 

  • On March 21, at least 25 bodies of migrants attempting to reach Europe were washed ashore off the coast of northeastern Tunisia, according to a report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).    
  • In collaboration with Lawyers Without Borders and ASGI, the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights FTDES published this report last March on the conditions of stay and the trajectories of Tunisian migrants repatriated from Italy. https://ftdes.net/rapports/rapatriesitalie.pdf 

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • On March 19, the death toll from the sinking of a migrant ship off the coast of Tunisia rose to 20, most of them Syrians, as they tried to reach Italy, according to a civil protection official.   
  • Between Friday 18 and Saturday 19 March, the bodies of 25 people washed up on the beaches of Nabeul. The boat they were traveling on reportedly departed from the Tunisian coast several days ago and counted 60 people on board according to IOM Tunisia.  
  • Since 8 March 2022, Alarm Phone was alerted of 2 boats in distress off Tunisia with around 60 and 24 people on board. Authorities refused to provide information. The two groups went missing and the biggest fear is that the two boats shipwrecked. On 19 March 2022, 17 bodies were washed ashore on the coasts of Hammamet. According to authorities, the people were from sub-Saharan countries and Syria. 
  • Sub-Saharan women continue to be victims of racism and discrimination in Tunisia, explains this report by France 24 published on March 10 

22/02/202208/03/2022 

  • On 28 February 2022, a shipwreck occurred off Tunisian coasts. Nine people were rescued, and at least nine others drowned.  
  • EuroMed Rights drafted Input for the Special Rapporteur’s report on human rights violations at international borders: trends, prevention and accountability, available on this link. 
  • Student and worker associations note an increase in acts of racism and targeted arrests of black people. Le Monde on February 22. NGOs such as the Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities (ATSM) have denounced these "arbitrary arrests" which reportedly concern nearly 300 young Sub-Saharans. 
  • The bodies of four sub-Saharan migrants were found dead in east-central Tunisia, not far from the border with Algeria, regional authorities said Thursday. 

08/02/2022 - 22/02/2022

  • In the past weeks, migrants have been protesting in the city of Zarzis against the decision by UNHCR to evict them from shelters and diminish assistance. As reported by Infomigrants, they were given an eviction notice to leave the accommodation they had occupied, provided by the UNHCR, in 15 days. In exchange they would receive 250 dinars per month for three months, in order to find accommodation on their own. On 14 February, about 150 Sub-Saharan migrants started a sit-in in front of the UNHCR offices in Zarzis to demand evacuation from Tunisia. They have been in Tunisia for 3-5 years and have no way to regularize their status.  

  • In the beginning of February, the Tunisian Coast guard rescued 163 migrants off the coasts of Sfax. They had departed from Sfax and were trying to reach Italy.   

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • On 31 January 2022, the Italian National Preventive Mechanism Against Torture monitored the return of 13 Tunisian citizens to Tunisia.  
  • On 26 January 2022, a shipwreck was recorded off Tunisian coasts. The boat, with 70 people on board, had departed from Libya and capsized close to Tunisian coasts. Tunisian authorities were able to rescue 34 people, found 6 bodies on board, but more than 30 people remain missing and are feared to be dead. On the same day, 34 people left from Sfax in Tunisia, and alerted Alarm Phone. However, authorities did not have information about the people, and their fate remains unknown.  
  • The Independent published an article that analyses the migration of young Tunisians across the Mediterranean. More and more people leave Tunisia as they have no hopes for the future and are ready to attempt the Mediterranean crossing as many times as it will take to reach Italy.  
  • The Tunisia Forum for Economic and Social Rights published the report The Covid-19 pandemic and the evolution of migration intentions among Tunisian households. The report is available here 

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • A shipwreck took place off Tunisian coasts, 21 people were rescued but 11 lost their lives. They were all Tunisian citizens and among the victims is a 10-year-old girl.  

14/12/2021 - 11/01/2022

  • The Tunisian Navy was involved in a pull-back of 70 people who were stranded on a Shell oil platform in the Maltese SAR zone. Despite being informed, Maltese authorities did not intervene.
  • Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio stressed the importance of Tunisia in fighting irregular migration, after a visit to the country in the end of the year. Tunisian President Kais Saied also highlighted the will to have a closer relationship with Italy in the future, also in the field of irregular migration.
  • Tunisia’s president Kais Saied announced a constitutional referendum next July 2022 and parliamentary elections at the end of 2022.
  • Avocats Sans Frontières published the report ‘Deconstruct the myth of Tunisia as a “safe” country’. Find the report here.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

  • The recent case of Abdel Latif, a Tunisian citizen who died on 28 November 2021 in Italy while waiting for deportation, shed light on the continuous deportations of Tunisian citizens to Tunisia. After an agreement in August 2020 between Italy and Tunisia, over 2,000 migrants were repatriated to Tunisia in 2020 and about 1,600 in 2021. 
  • IOM Tunisia and the Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists strengthened partnership aiming to “encourage a more balanced and evidence-based media reporting on migration issues”.  

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • On 21st of November 2021, Tunisian authorities said they intercepted over 200 migrants in nine different operations. According to the Tunisian organisation FTDES, Tunisian authorities intercepted about 19,500 migrants in the first nine months in 2021.  
  • Gabriel Attal, the spokesperson for the French government, said during an interview that Tunisia is cooperating in the refoulement of its citizens, contrary to other Maghreb countries which actively oppose it.  

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • UN experts condemn Tunisia for collective expulsions of migrants and asylum-seekers to Libya. As reported by the UN human Rights Council, dozens of migrants are pushed to the border with Libya by Tunisian authorities and not allowed re-entry in the country. Tunisian authorities also threatened and beaten the migrants. The expulsions are in breach of the non-refoulment principle and most of the migrants are from sub-Saharan Africa and face severe violations and racism in Libya.  
  • According to the NGO Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), France and Tunisia are into talks to accelerate the forced return of Tunisian citizens to Tunisia.   
  • The Missing At The Borders project is gathering testimonies from missing migrants’ families, such as Bilal Khaled’s family. He’s been missing since the 6th of September 2012. Despite the family's effort to contact the authorities, and trying to find answers on their son’s destiny, to this day they have not received any results. They also gathered the testimony from Salim Benbekai’s family, who has been missing since the 17th of April 2007. He is originally from Algeria and tried to cross the Mediterranean but was intercepted by Tunisian authorities and later arrested. Since then, the family has not received any information about their son.  
  • On the 8th of November, the Council of the European Union released the Action Plan for Tunisia. Overall, the Plan underlines the support that the EU has provided to Tunisia and will continue to do so to foster Tunisia’s path to democracy, its response to the pandemic and to economic challenges. The EU monitors closely the evolving of the political situation in Tunisia and the Plan repeatedly states that EU’s support is conditional on Tunisia’s adherence to democracy, human rights, gender equality, and good governance. 

05/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • On 17 October 2021, a shipwreck off Mahdia and Monastir left 22 people missing and 2 dead. 7 people were rescued.  
  • On 13 October 2021, Alarm Phone alerted that 97 migrants were on a boat in distress at sea off Tunisia.  

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • Several organisations denounced the current inhumane practices of deportations of migrants from Sub-Saharan countries from Tunisia to Libya. On 27 September 2021, seven boats, four with people from Sub-Saharan African countries on board and three with Tunisians on board, who had left Kerkennah, off Sfax, were intercepted by the Tunisian authorities and brought back to Tunisia. According to the organisations, the Tunisian people were released while the ones from Sub-Saharan African countries, around 100 people, were brought to the Libyan border. One group of migrants was kidnapped in Libya and currently held in private houses. Another group was arrested by Libyan authorities. One of these groups has been deprived of food and assistance for five days, while several sub-Saharan women have denounced being raped in Libya.
  • In a statement on 1 October 2021, the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) raised deep concern on the escalation of violence and abuses against migrants in Tunisia - as a result of the EU border externalization policies - including systematic forcible deportations on the Tunisian-Algerian and Tunisian-Libyan borders.

6/09/2021 - 22/09/2021

  • On 9-10 September 2021, High Representative Josep Borrell went on his first official visit to Tunisia 

5/07/2021 – 27/07/2021    

  • According to the Tunisian Red Crescent, on 21 July 2021, at least 17 Bengali migrants drowned off Tunisia. They had departed from Libya to Italy. 380 others were rescued by the Tunisian coast guard.

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • On 4 July 2021, at least 43 migrants, who had departed from Libya, are feared to have drowned off Tunisia in a deadly shipwreck. 84 others were rescued.   
  • On 28 July 2021, a deadly shipwreck off Sfax, Tunisia, caused at least 4 deaths, 19 missing people. 12 people were rescued.  
  • On 25-26 June 2021, according to Alarm Phone, around 100 people who were in distress in international waters were pushed back to Tunisia and at least two people died. 

Migrants and refugees in the United Kingdom

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • The UK has not ruled out the possibility of deporting Ukrainian refugees to Rwanda. This comes after the UK has signed a deal to deport all asylum-seekers who are deemed to have arrived irregularly to the UK to Rwanda, and the first flights to the African country should be scheduled for the next months. However, the first legal action has been launched by lawyers in the UK to challenge this plan on the basis that it breaches international law, the UN refugee convention, and British data protection law.

05/04/2022-10/05/2022

  • On 27 April 2022, the controversial Nationality and Borders Bill became an act of law. The Bill still needs to receive scrutiny by the House of Commons and House of Lords which may propose amendments before it becomes a law. The Bill reduces the provisions for family reunification, proposes offshore processing of asylum, the use of large-scale reception centres, and a general criminalisation of asylum seekers.  
  • The UK has dropped the plan to push out of British waters the boats crossing the Channel. The controversial proposal had been receiving criticism from civil society and French authorities and was going to be challenged in court.  
  • On 14 April, the UK announced that it would send asylum seekers to Rwanda. The development comes a week after the U.K. sealed a £120 million deal with the Rwandan government that will see people who attempt to cross the English Channel to seek asylum in Britain sent to Rwanda for resettlement. The move sparked criticism from refugee NGOs, who called the plan “cruel and nasty”. UNHCR also expressed its opposition to this plan. At the same time, with this agreement, Rwanda gains political leverage by presenting itself a reliable partner to Western countries for international issues, while shadowing other critical aspects like the repression of freedom of expression in the country.  

22/03/202205/04/2022  

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • As the visa application centre for Ukrainians fleeing war opens in Lille, Calais is organizing to receive the people who were pushed back at the English border. 
  • The House of Lords  voted last week in favour of the Dubs Amendment, which allows unaccompanied minors to join family members living on English soil, according to InfoMigrants. 

08/02/2022 - 22/02/2022

  • Former tory MP Rory Stewart proposed a plan for liberal democracies to set “a long-term internationally agreed target for the number of refugees they are each prepared to take each year” starting from the response to the situation in Afghanistan. He proposes this target number to be 0.05% of each country’s population annually, which would be a considerable increase compared to the number accepted by the UK last year.  

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • A report by Statewatch shows how under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the UK can carry “cross-border searches of national police databases holding biometric and other data and a system for the mass surveillance and profiling of air passengers” without the need for a parliamentary debate nor scrutiny.  
  • The UK Home Secretary and Ministers have kept calling Channel crossings ‘illegal’ despite a Court ruling confirmed they were not.  

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • The UK Home Office told a Syrian asylum seeker to return to Syria. It is the first time the UK deems it ‘safe’ to return someone to Syria. The 25-year-old asylum seeker has escaped forced military conscription in the country, and fears for his life in case he is sent back.  
  • On 14 January 2022, 32 people were rescued while attempting to cross the Channel but one person died after falling in the water. So far, in 2022, 450 people crossed the Channel.  

14/12/2021 - 11/01/2022

  • Reception conditions for migrants who crossed the Channel are very bad, according to a recent report by the Prison Inspectorate and Independent Oversight Boards of Dover and Heathrow. Among the evidence gathered, is proof of insufficient support to raped women, children held in promiscuity with adults, untreated injuries, and migrants forced to sleep on the ground.
  • Lawyers representing the family members of the 27 victims of the November Channel shipwreck denounce ‘serious failings’ in the rescue operation that may have contributed to the deaths. Meanwhile, Channel crossings continue, with 900 people crossing before the weekend of 25-26 December 2021. Overall, the number of crossings in 2021 tripled that of 2020, with 28,431 crossing according to BBC.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

  • A legal challenge was launched against the UK government's plan to push back asylum-seekers crossing the Channel. The group of advocates behind the legal challenge say that there is no legal basis in domestic law that justifies such pushbacks and that they go against the sanctity of life.  
  • On 7 December 2021, the Nationality and Borders Bill reached its final reading in the House of commons before proceeding to the House of Lords, who cannot block its adoption. The bill is highly controversial as it aims to criminalise Channel crossings by boat with prison sentences, even if migrants want to file asylum claims in the UK. It also allows pushbacks to France and the creation of offshore asylum centres, where asylum seekers may be held while their application is examined.  
  • The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović said that France and the UK should engage in the establishment of safe and legal routes for migration and for the protection of the human rights of refugees. She added that an increase focus on border security leads people to take more dangerous routes, increasing the risks of deaths at the borders.  
  • Calais Migrants Solidarity raises concerns over delayed assistance of British and French authorities in the shipwreck that led to the death of 27 people on 24 November 2021. According to survivors’ and relatives’ reconstructions, people on board contacted both French and British authorities around 2 a.m. Despite the authorities being alerted, the rescue operation was only launched around 2 p.m. of the next day, after 12 hours from the first distress signal. By that time, 27 people had died. 

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • On the 23rd of November 2021, at least 27 people drowned in the English Channel after they left from Calais. More than 23,000 people have crossed the Channel since the beginning of 2021, a considerable increase compared with the 8,400 from last year. 
  • In the meanwhile, conservative MPs in England are suggesting drastic ‘solutions’ to deal with the increase of arrivals. One of these, includes sending all boat migrants to offshore centres in the Falkland Islands.  

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • In October 2021, the number of people crossing the Channel has been almost six times higher than last year. On the 26th of October, three migrants are feared dead in their attempt to cross the English Channel, while the UK is pursuing its new law “that will give its coast guard legal immunity if people drown after their boats are pushed back toward France by British vessels”.  

05/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • Despite the many attempts by French and British authorities to prevent the Channel crossingsfrom 8 to October, 1,115 people reached the UK by sea, while the UK Interior Minister is increasingly tightening the asylum system.  

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • According to a leaked document, UK Home Minister, Priti Patel, plans to send migrants crossing the English Channel to detention centres in Albania.
  • A UK Court ruled that traumatised young asylum seeker stranded in Greece must be reunited with brother in the UK.
  • Doctors of the World published a new report titled “Barriers to wellbeing. Migration and vulnerability during the pandemic”.
  • On 29 September 2021, a Sudanese 16-year-old boy died in Calais, France, while trying to board a lorry to the UK.
  • According to the Home Office, on 22 September 2021, 459 migrants were intercepted in the English Channel on 14 boats in just one day, amounting to 3,879 people attempting the crossing in September 2021 alone.

6/09/2021 - 22/09/2021

  • The UK is rewriting its interpretation of international maritime law, allowing British coast guard to push migrant boats back into French waters, and ask French authorities to rescue them, instead of rescuing them directly. Soon after the announcement, the organisation Channel Rescue documented a pushback of a migrant boat in the English Channel.  
  • UNHCR’S representative in the UK said that the new nationality and borders bill could criminalise Afghan refugees who managed to escape the Taliban but arrived in the UK through irregular routes.   

19/08/2021 – 06/09/2021

  • Defence secretary said that the “UK plans to establish offshore asylum centres for Afghan refugees in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey”. 
  • On 21 August 2021, at least 828 migrants crossed the English Channel, a new daily record that brings the number of people who have made the dangerous crossing this year to over 12,000. 

27/07/2021 – 19/08/2021

  • On 13 August 2021, Home Secretary, Priti Pratel, in yet another attempt to deter migrants from crossing to the UK, announced that up to 8,000 asylum applicants will be put in huge holding centres.

5/07/2021 – 27/07/2021

  • In a highly controversial Nationality and Borders Bill, the UK is giving the Home Secretary power to block visas for countries that are not cooperating in readmitting rejected asylum seekers or offenders.
  • On 9 July 2021, Britain's Crown Prosecution Service declared “it would not charge asylum seekers with offences, such as ‘illegal entry’".
  • Following a record-high number of people rescued on 19 July 2021 (430) who crossed the Channel from France to the UK, French and UK Interior Ministers announced new measures to prevent migrants from crossing. The UK will pay France EUR 62.7 million to increase police and border patrols along the French coast and equipment to securitize the border. So far in 2021, 6 600 migrants have been intercepted by UK authorities, while French authorities prevented 8 000 migrants to cross the Channel.

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • Over the weekend of 3-4 July 2021, UK’s Interior Minister announced they will increase the prison sentence from 6 months to four years for migrants arriving “irregularly” in the UK by crossing the Channel. Around 6 000 migrants arrived in the UK through the Channel in the first six months of 2021.  
  • On 1 June 2021, a group of migrants arrived in Dover, UK. More than 2,000 migrants crossed the Channel and arrived in the UK in June 2021.  
  • UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, proposes legislation to offshore asylum applications, following the recent move by Denmark to externalise asylum procedures and reportedly UK-Denmark talks on sharing an offshore facility.     
  • A new, open-source research on attempts and crossings of the Channel by sea, 2018-2021, “Exiles at the UK-French border” has been published 

26/05/2021 - 07/06/2021

  • In just five days, between 28 May and 1 June 2021, at least 700 migrants crossed the Channel and arrived in the UK from France on board dozens of boats.

10/05/2021 - 26/05/2021

  • In another attempt to speed up “removals, the UK government is trying to strip migrants and refugees of their right to use judicial review and to challenge deportation orders in the High Court. 

27.04.2021 - 10.05.2021

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) criticised the UK government’s asylum plans, which includes deporting migrants who entered the UK irregularly to safe countries such as “France and other EU countries”. UNHCR will soon publish a legal opinion on the plan.
  • On 29 April 2021, around 209 migrants in nine boats crossed the English Channel: the highest number in one single day so far in 2021. Another 166 people were intercepted by the French authorities. More than 1,850 people have reached the UK by boat in 2021.

12.04.2021 - 26.04.2021

  • The UK immigration court ruled that three of the detention policies wanted by home secretary Priti Patel breached human rights rules 
  • Despite criticisms on the reception conditions in the military barrack of Napier, the UK Home Office is planning to increase the reception capacity there to an additional 337 places.  
  • Certain EU countries declared they would not conclude bilateral readmission agreements with the UK to facilitate the return of refugees to Europe.  

10/03/2021 - 29/03/2021

  • On 23 March, six boats carrying a total of 183 migrants reached the UK coast, 231 people were intercepted and arrested on the French side. 
  • UNHCR raised concerns over the UK plan to offshore asylum. UK interior minister Priti Patel stated that the new plan for immigration will make it more difficult for people entering “illegally” to stay in the country.  
  • The Civil Fleet revealed that the UK government spent EUR 1.1 billion in surveillance drones to monitor migrants’ crossing in the Channel. The report reveals that “no-one made it past the coastguards”.  
  • UK Home Office staff are facing legal charges after wrongly carrying out age assessments of minor asylum seekers who were deemed adultdetained in adult accommodations and faced removal.  
  • The executive director of Refugee Rights Europe denounced the dangerous migration management at the French-British border and the situation of migrants in Northern France, where people are constantly subject to evictions, violence and abuses.  

08/02/2021 – 22/02/2021

  • The government announced that all migrants living the UK, regardless of their status, will receive COVID-19 vaccination and the vaccine shot should not trigger documents’ checks.

25/01/2021 - 8/02/2021

  • The Anglo-German flight company TUI has become the “main airline carrying out charter deportation flights for the UK Home Office”. In November 2020, it conducted nine mass deportations to 19 destinations and its deportation flights continue in 2021.
  • The UK Court of Appeal overturned the convictions of a group of activists, known as Stansted 15, who prevented 60 people from been forcibly returned to three African countries in 2017 by stopping their charter deportation flight.

13/01/2021 - 25/01/2021

  • Asylum seekers hosted in a military training camp in Penally, Pembrokeshire, are denouncing the very bad and unsafe conditions which put them at risk of coronavirus. 

21/12 2020 –12/1 2021

  • As the Dublin III Regulation will cease to apply to the UK as of 31 December 2020, when the Brexit transition period ends, the Home Office is accelerating remove operations of asylum seekers to return them to other EU countries under the Dublin system. The Independent reports that “£2.3m was spent on forcibly removing 225 people to European countries in July, August and September this year”.

21/12 2020

  • Starting from 1 January 2020, the UK will deny access to asylum, and treat their applications as inadmissible, to people travelling through a “safe third country”.  

15/10 - 26/10 2020

  • Data reveals that thousands of child victims of trafficking are at risk of deportation when turning 18 as a result of the Home Office’s immigration policies.  
  • On 21 October 2020, the Court of appeal ruled that the forcible removal of a migrant from the UK sometimes within hours and in many cases without access to lawyers” was unlawful 

28/09 – 12/10 2020

  • The government suggested to build an offshore asylum reception centre on Ascension Island, a remote UK territory in the Atlantic Ocean. The British Interior Minister declared he wants to reform the system to welcome migrants via "safe and legal routes" and systematically refuse entry to those arriving by boat. The installation of floating barriers in the Channel between France and the United Kingdom to deter migrants would also be considered. During the first deportation flight from the UK after the COVID-19 outbreak, one deportee cut his wrists and another had a concealed blade in his mouth.

Good news – Migrants and refugees in the EuroMed region

05/04/2022-10/05/2022 

  • On 4 May 2022, the European Parliament (EP) voted against the budget discharge of Frontex due to its lack of investigation into human rights violations against asylum-seekers in Greece. This decision comes after a recent publication by the EP Committee on Budgetary Control stating that “the agency's inability to fulfil the conditions laid down in Parliament's previous discharge report, but also the conclusions of the Office Anti-Fraud Commission (OLAF) regarding acts of harassment, misconduct and pushbacks of migrants involving Frontex (…) nothing has been done regarding reports of fundamental rights violations in Greece and that the operations of returning migrants by Hungary have continued in 2020, despite a judgment of the Court of justice of the EU deeming them incompatible with European law”. This decision follows Fabrice Leggeri’s resignation from his CEO position at Frontex, after the disclosure of some findings from an investigation into misconduct at the agency related to pushbacks and human rights violations. Even if the problems of the agency will remain despite Leggeri’s resignations – given that Frontex is one of the most funded EU agencies – the Parliament’s decision signals a strong political message for a radical transformation of the agency.  

08/02/20222/02/2022

  • A judge in Ceuta ordered that 14 Moroccan minors who were expelled at Ceuta’s borders should be repatriated to Spain because their rights were violated. The boys were part of a big group of almost 2,000 minors who attempted to enter Ceuta in May 2021 and were expelled to Morocco. The judge found that “the action did not comply with the legal procedure, that the fundamental right to physical and moral integrity of minors was violated and demands that the necessary measures be adopted for the return of minors”.  

25/01/2022 - 08/01/2022

  • A court in Agrigento, Sicily, archived the case on the rescue ship Mare Jonio, from the NGO Mediterranean Rescue. According to the judge ruling on the case of a rescue operation carried out on 9 May 2019, the ship was properly equipped to perform SAR operations since Italian law does not require any specific certification to perform SAR activities. Moreover, the crew acted according to international law when rescuing 30 people in the Libyan SAR zone who were at risk of capsizing.  
  • SOS Méditerranée’s ship Ocean Viking was released after being detained for two weeks. It is heading back to the Central Mediterranean.  

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • The Brussels Court of First Instance condemned the reception agency Fedasil and the Belgian State for their failures in the reception of asylum-seekers. The reception system has reached saturation, and authorities refused to register many asylum-seekers, thus breaching international obligations. The Court sentences the Belgian state to a penalty of 5,000 EUR per day, as long as it refuses to register the application for asylum of at least one person. The same penalty is addressed to the Fedasil agency if it does not provide a reception place. This sentence is the result of the actions taken by ten organisations, which demanded a legal action to the court. Here is the call of the signatories’ organisations.  

14/12/2021-11/01/2022

  • On 22 December 2021, all the accusations against Sea Watch’s captain Carola Rackete were dropped. Previously, the Court of Cassation had declared the arrest of Carola Rackete illegal; last May 2021, the accusation of resisting public officials and attacking a military ship were also dropped. Now, the request to archive all the accusations against Carola Rackete was officially accepted, proving how her conduct was in line with international and Italian law.
  • The Court of Cassation in Italy expressed a historic judgment on the case of two migrants accused of resisting public officials and opposing their refoulment to Libya. The migrants were part of a group of people who was rescued three years ago by the private vessel Vos Thalassa and once on board, protested against their deportation back to Libya. In 2020, the Court of Palermo condemned the two migrants to three and a half years in prison and a EUR 52.000 fee. However, last 17 December 2021, the Court of Cassation overruled this judgment and declared that the migrants had the right to oppose their refoulement to the Libyan detention camps.
  • The Administrative Court of Syros ruled unlawful the measure to prohibit the exit of an Afghan asylum-seeker from the new closed centre in Samos. The Afghans asylum-seeker was represented by the Greek Refugee Council which argued that the deprivation of the applicant’s liberty is against Greek and EU law.

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • The Catalan NGO Open Arms announced that it has a new rescue vessel called Open Arms Uno 
  • On Thursday the 18th of November 2021, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on the M.H. and Others v. Croatia case against a pushback on the Croatia-Serbia border. The case refers to the death of Madina Hussiny, a six-year-old girl who was killed by a train on the border with Serbia after Croatian authorities expelled her and her family. The Court established that Madina Jussiny and her family were expelled without having the possibility to file for asylum, thereby performing a collective expulsion that is illegal under international law. 

25/10/2021-15/11/2021

  •  On the 11th of November, Sea Watch 4 has left the port of Burriana in Spain and is navigating towards the Central Mediterranean on its third Search and Rescue mission.
  • On the 12th of November, Médecins Sans Frontières’s vessel Geo Barents started its 5th Search and Rescue mission in the Central Mediterranean.
  • On the 14th of November, Open Arms’ vessel Astral has left the port of Badalona in Spain and is navigating towards the Central Mediterranean.

5/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • A public prosecutor’s office in Sicily, Italy, has asked to dismiss the case against the  humanitarian rescue ship Mare JonioThe German NGO Sea Watch 3 has been acquitted tooThe Italian Court of Cassation ruled about the failure to grant international protection to a migrant who deserved to be protected like anyone who survived the prison camps in Libya. 

6/09/2021 - 22/09/2021

  • The rescue vessel GeoBarents from Doctors without Borders (MSF) is back in the Search and Rescue zone again to save lives in the Central Mediterranean.  

19/08/2021 - 6/09/2021

  • On 23 August 2021, the search and rescue vessel Astral of the NGO Open Arms set sail to the Central Mediterranean to save lives at sea. Following the rescue of more than 200 people in distress at sea, on 3 September 2021, the Astral concluded its 84th mission and arrivein the port of Siracusa, Sicily. 

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • On 28 June 2021, the search and rescue vessel Ocean Viking from the NGO SOS Méditerranée left the port of Marseille, France, for other rescue missions in the Central Mediterranean. 

EU updates – Migrants and refugees in the EuroMed region

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • The European Parliament’ Committee on Budgets (BUDG will be on a mission to Turkey between 23-25 May 2022, to examine the implementation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey: “the Facility is a mechanism to coordinate the mobilisation of resources made available under both the EU budget and additional contributions from Member States integrated into the EU budget as external assigned revenue”
  • The French Presidency of the Council of the European is struggling to deliver the progress on the migration reform pact that it had promised at the beginning of its presidency. Now, the focus is on passing an EU bill on screening mechanism that would increase detention at the borders and apply the legal fiction of non-entry for people detained. There are also talks of including penal sanctions for those who abscond during the screening procedures. Before the end of its presidency, the French want to close the bills on the screening mechanism and Eurodac registration, a biometric database that collects fingerprints and facial imagining of asylum-seekers. However, Member States have different positions regarding the categories of people to be registered in the Eurodac system and it seems unlikely that an agreement will be reached before the end of the rotating presidency.
  • Greece is discussing with the European Commission about the possibility to include the construction of walls and border fences in its migration plan for 2021-2027. Greece wants to build a wall on its land border with Turkey, but the Commission has so far rejected the demand of different Member States to use EU funds for the construction of border fences. However, European Council President Charles Michel said that legally this could be done, and Greece pushing to use the EU funds from the Border Management and Visa Policy instrument to build the wall on the Turkish border.
  • Eight people have been stuck between the Belarus-Poland border for five days and were attacked repeatedly.
  • According to Frontex, there has been a sharp increase in arrivals to Europe in the month of April when 15,000 people entered the EU. Arrivals have been on the rise since the beginning of the year, especially on the Balkan route.
  • The results from a Swiss referendum on the funding of Frontex show that a majority of voters supported providing further fundings to Frontex. The referendum was called due to the numerous reports of human rights violations carried out by the agency.
  • VoxEurope published an analysis of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) that was launched in 2015 during the so-called “refugee crisis” and is being now substituted by the new EU financial instrument called Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI). The EUTF had the objectives of promoting stability and fighting against “the root causes of irregular migration” and allocated 5 billion EUR to 250 projects in 26 African countries. The EUTF was criticized by the very beginning because Trust Funds are not monitored by the EU Parliament and it was based on a declaration of emergency in all the 26 African countries where the projects took place, which was not conductive of long-term stabilization and development projects aimed at addressing the root causes of migration. The new instrument NDICI approved for the period 2021-2027 allocates 10% of the total budget of €79.5 billion for migration management projects, with the possibility of drawing on a reserve of €9.53 billion in the event of “unforeseen circumstances”.
  • The Danish Refugee Council recorded 1,911 pushbacks incidents in the first three months of 2022 along the Balkan route and at EU internal borders. Half of the people who were pushed back were from Afghanistan, and 1 out of 10 was a minor.
  • MSF denounces that over 2,500 people are being detained in inhumane conditions in Lithuania, after crossing the border from Belarus.
  • Syrian, Iraqis and Yemeni asylum-seekers in Poland feel abandoned, after having crossed the Belarusian border, being detained and finding themselves on their own while Ukrainian refugees are being welcomed in the country.

UKRAINE

  • ECRE published an analysis on the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) after three months since the displacement of millions of people from Ukraine. A few challenges emerge in its implementation. First, there are discrepancies on the scope in which the TPD is applied in different member states: While at least 12 Member States have used their discretion to widen the categories covered, for instance to include third country nationals who were resident but without permanent residence permits or Ukrainians who left before the invasion, the majority of Member States have chosen a more restrictive approach”. Then, challenges to registration considering that so far 2.7 million people have been registered but up to 2.4 million are still awaiting registration. Lastly, there are widespread difficulties among Member States to provide adequate housing and accommodation options due to the large number of people fleeing the conflict.
  • Politico interviewed different Russian families who fled to Turkey since the beginning of the war with Ukraine. Some of them fled to show disagreement with the government, some were at risk because they showed support to Ukraine.

05/04/2022-10/05/2022 

On 15th May 2022 Switzerland will decide whether it wants to increase its Frontex contribution, from CHF 24 million to CHF 61 million for enhanced surveillance of European borders. 

Statewatch published the report “At what cost? Funding the EU’s security, defence, and border policies, 2021–2027”. Available here.  

On 27 April 2022, the European Commission presented a new package of measures to increase legal pathways of migration and address shortages in the European labour market. The proposal also includes a pilot project specifically dedicated to people displaced by the war in Ukraine. As reported by Politico, the reform aims to shorten both the single permit directive to obtain residence while working short term and the long-term residence directive, that would allow “non-EU nationals to accumulate residence periods in different member states in order to meet the 5-year residence criteria needed to stay in the long term, as well as improving the right to family reunification”. The measures also include the establishment of an EU Talent Pool, that is supposed to match employers with people looking for jobs in other countries. Finally, the measures aim to establish so-called “talent partnership” with Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco “to improve access to work and training, in a bid to prevent smuggling and also to improve cooperation with countries on returns and readmissions of those who arrived illegally”.  

Alarm Phone reported about 4 people being trapped in the forest at the Poland-Belarus border for over 20 days. They have been beaten by authorities of both countries, pushed back by Polish authorities, and Belarusian authorities did not let them return. Despite multiple alarms by civil society, no one assisted the group. 

The Council of Europe (CoE) published a report that denounces the "generalised" refoulement of migrants at the borders. A practice punctuated by "serious and systematic violence", according to the organization, which calls on member states to put an end to these human rights violations. 

The German civil rescue organization Sea Watch sued Frontex for its lack of transparency on the cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard. The lawsuit addresses a case of a pushback carried out by the Libya Coast Guard from the Maltese SAR zone with the alleged help of a Frontex drone.  

An investigation by Le Monde, Lighthouse Report, Der Spiegel and Republik presents evidence of Frontex covered up illegal expulsions of migrants from Greece to Turkey. Between March 2020 and September 2021, the agency hid at least 22 cases of illegal expulsion by registering them as prevented departures operations by Turkey.  

UKRAINE  

More than 2,5 million Ukrainians have registered for temporary protection status in the EU. So far, 5,6 million people fled Ukraine, and more than 1 million have returned to Ukraine according to the EU Commission.  

Ten EU countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) signed a joint statement asking the EU Commission for more funds to tackle to refugee influx from the war in Ukraine.  

As reported by InfoMigrants, about 10,000 displaced Ukrainians who arrived in Ireland risk to remain without shelter by the end of April. So far, about 21,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the country and the reception capacity has already been filled. 

UNHCR has demanded that the British government provides a more appropriate matching process for Ukrainian women fleeing the conflict. Some of them reported being contacted by predatory men who offer them rooms in their homes as part of the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.  

22/03/2022-05/04/2022 

On 31 March 2022, Members of the European Parliament MEPs suspended clearance of accounts of EU border control agency Frontex citing as reasons, among others, “findings by the EU’s Anti-Fraud watchdog regarding harassment, misconduct and migrant pushbacks involving the Agency”.   

On 24-25 March, the European Council adopted a 10-Point Plan for the reception of people fleeing Ukraine, including allocating 17 billion EUR.  

On March 22, an IOM charter flight repatriated 98 migrants from Belarus to Iraq with EU support. 

On 24 March 2022, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva received a legal notice by front-LEX, askiong her to table a proposal to get Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri fired. 

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will adopt the report on safe third countries in June 2022 and the report on pushbacks in October 2022. 

On 28 March 2022, the extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) discussed the implementation of the decision on temporary protection, the reception of refugees from Moldova and “reiterated the need for the continued strict application of external border controls”. It also supported the mobilisation of the EU network to fight organised and serious crime (EMPACT). 

UKRAINE  

 

The European Commission is creating an index to help determine "fair burdensharing" to manage the roughly 3.6 million Ukrainians already settled in EU states. EU index identifies Poland, Austria, but also Cyprus, as needing refugee aid.  

According to Lighthouse Reports, several people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, India, Pakistan and Sudan are still detained in EU-funded detention facilities in Ukraine and have not yet been evacuated. The European Commission allocated €30 million under its 2007 National Programme for Ukraine to build and equip migrant detention facilities and “Ukrainian police officers routinely ignoring requests for asylum and instead placing those on the move in EU funded detention centres”.  

Amnesty International France reported on 23 March that racialized people have been discriminated against and abused by Ukrainian forces when trying to leave the country.  

On March 21, the Ukraine Take Shelter platform was launched to help connect Ukrainian refugees with people around the world who are willing to provide them with a room or an apartment.   

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

On 17 March 2022, LightHouse Report revealed photographs proving that Frontex was aware of a pushback of asylum seekers in the Aegean but denied they knew.  

Frontex revealed they have 433 documents listing interaction with the Libyan Coast Guard but had denied cooperating with them.  

On 10 March 2022, StateWatch published a leaked EU document produced as part of the MOCADEM (Mécanisme opérationnel de coordination des actions pour la dimension externe des migrations) structure within the Council outlining Frontex’s increased role in Niger trying to “boost control over the borders between Niger, Algeria and Libya”. 

The migration control.info published a leaked Commission non-paper providing an overview of the distribution of funds on the external migration control.  

On 9 March 2022, StateWatch published a revised draft action plan by the European Commission on a "comprehensive migration partnership" with Morocco, suggesting that the country should be informed of "the potential benefits of a status agreement with the European Union" that would allow the deployment of Frontex officials on its territory.  

Ukraine 

On 18 March, according to UNHCR, 3.27 million refugees fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries and some 2 million are internally displaced. Poland received 1,975,449 refugees, Romania 508,692 and the Republic of Moldova 355,426. Frontex has deployed 150 officers at the border with Romania. On 17 March, the Council adopted a decision on a status agreement between the EU and the Republic of Moldova regarding operational activities carried out by Frontex. Austria, France, Germany and Norway are amongst the countries to have agreed to relocate refugees from Moldova. 

An extraordinary EU Home Affairs Council has been scheduled for March 28 to coordinate on the arrival of refugees from Ukraine and Moldova into the EU. 

On 18 March, the Commission published operational guidelines that advise member states on how the TPD should be implemented.  

On 8 March 2022, the European Commission outlined support  to help people fleeing war in Ukraine, as well as for the European Union (EU) countries receiving them. The Commission also launched a webpage dedicated to information for people fleeing the war in the Ukraine.  

The UN anticipates that around 18 million Ukrainians will be affected by the conflict in humanitarian terms, 7 million newly internally displaced, and 4 million may flee the country as refugees. The IRC highlights eight priority actions for a humane and effective refugee response, as the conflict continues to escalate.  

On 17 March, the European Asylum Agency published a ‘Rapid response by EU+ countries to address the needs of displaced people from Ukraine’.  

Poland-Belarus border  

Mid-March 2022, Polish Border Guard announced that it had arrested a group of 73 refugees on the border with Belarus, accused of throwing stones at the military. Among them were people from Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Ghana and also eleven people from Cuba. 

On the Belarus side around 1500 people are stuck (500 in the Bruzgi camp) mainly Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, Afghans, Iranians, Pakistanis, Egyptians and some from Somalia and Cameroon.  

22/02/2022-08/03/2022 

Following Russia’s military attack on Ukraine, more than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring countries in 10 days, according to UNHCR. The EU’s response so far has been overwhelmingly more positive than that offered to populations coming from the Euro-Mediterranean region in the past. On 2 March for instance, the European Commission tabled its proposal to activate the Temporary Protection Directive to rapidly assist people fleeing Ukraine. On 3 March 2022, EU Member States decided, during the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, to trigger, for the first time in history, the Temporary Protection Directive. (read EuroMed Rights’ interview on Redattore Sociale and Press Release on the topic).   

The European Union Asylum Agency (EUAA) released the 2021 overview of asylum trends. In 2021, the EU received about 617,800 applications for international protection, mostly by Afghans and Syrians. The other main countries of origins of applicants were Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and Bangladesh. The recognition rates among EU countries were highest for Eritreans (81 %), Yemenis (79 %), Belarusians (75 %) and Syrians (72 %). For Afghans, it increased to around 90% in the end of the year. 

At the Poland-Belarus border, another body was found, probably of a 26-year-old man from Yemen. Since the summer, 19 bodies of presumed dead migrants were found at the border, but the actual number is likely to be higher.  

UNHCR warns of increasing human rights violations at EU borders, where violence, ill-treatment and pushbacks remain widespread both at internal and external land and sea borders. EU states have failed to investigate reports of violent practices at the borders despite abundant evidence, and UNHCR states that “Progress on preventing human rights violations at borders as well as the establishment of truly independent national monitoring mechanisms to ensure reporting and independent investigation of incidents are urgently needed” 

Commissioner Johansson says Poland should not prolong the state of emergency legislation concerning migrants at the border since the situation has de-escalated. This would imply giving access to the border area to humanitarian organizations, journalists etc. 

08/02/20222/02/2022

Austria has disputed the French Presidency claim that an informal agreement on mandatory solidarity was reached among Member States. France is trying to push for a principle of compulsory solidarity, where Member States either have to contribute by relocating asylum-seekers, offer financial aid or help in deportations. But Austria does not agree to a principle of mandatory solidarity. Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have similar positions.  

After the justice and home affairs ministers in Lille in the beginning of February, the French Presidency circulated a new document to push forward the migration files. The document focuses on operationalising the external dimension of migration, by toughening border management, screenings at external borders, appointing a new EU Return Coordinator and focusing on the relocation of asylum seekers “not manifestly ineligible for international protection”. In this document, France also proposes that “for the sole duration of the screening process, the persons concerned would be considered as not having fulfilled entry conditions”. This would create a legal limbo in which asylum-seekers at the external borders are not considered to be legally within the EU and would be placed in monitored detention or house arrest. 

PICUM published a comment on the new draft Schengen Border Code proposed in December 2021. The organization denounces how it risks increasing ethnic and racial profiling, and strengthens the narrative that migration is a threat that needs to be dealt with by increasing policing.  

Poland - Belarus 

A group of around 100 migrants, mainly Iraqis, started a hunger strike to denounce the conditions in Polish detention center in Wędrzyn, where they are currently held.  

Poland started building a 180km long wall on the border with Belarus that endangers rare species living in the area, which is the protected primeval Białowieża Forest.  

In Lithuania, migrants are stuck in detention centers close to the Belarus border. They thought they could be freed after the six-months compulsory detention voted by the Lithuanian government in July, but the detention was prolonged up to a year in December. They are mainly from Iraq and Syria, but also Cameroon and DRC.  

Frontex 

MEP Tineke Strik requested Frontex to access documents that prove its communications with the Libyan Coast Guard and the coordination of vessels in distress with the Libyan Coast Guard. Frontex replied it has 119 of such documents for 2020 but refused access because – according to the agency – this would put migrants’ lives at risk.  

On 22 February 2022, Frontex will face a hearing in the Federal Parliament in Brussels concerning pushbacks at the EU’s external borders. The Flemish branch of CNCD 11.11.11, Amnesty International, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants Felipe González Morales, Refugee Support Aegean and The Centre for European Policy Studies will also be present at the hearing.  

Frontex reported an increase in the number of migrants trying to enter the EU irregularly in January.  

The EU Commission is thinking to strengthen the monitoring over Frontex. Commissioner Yohansson said that “we should at least once a year have a political management board for Frontex with ministers (…) to gather and take some political steering and make policies for the development of Frontex". These comments may be a result of the recent criticism Frontex faced for its disregard of fundamental rights at the EU external borders and its lavish expenditures.  

On 14 February 2022, the European Parliament's LIBE Committee voted on amendments requesting the postponement of the vote on the discharge of the 2020 budget of Frontex. Despite the numerous allegations of fundamental rights’ violations, and the fact that the agency still has to hire 40 fundamental rights monitors, the Committee decided to vote against the postponement and hence discharged the budget.  

Frontex suspended its travel agency contract stating difficulties with travel arrangements for officers. However, the move could also be justified as the agency was strongly criticised for its poor human rights record and high expenses.  

The EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen traveled to Senegal with the Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson to push for the deployment of a Frontex operation in Senegal. It would be the first operation of the EU agency to be based in Africa. The Commission will follow the negotiations for such agreement, which may come into place by the summer of 2022. On its part, Senegal demands financial assistance for the country’s economy and possibilities for legal migration to the EU. Negotiations will also likely include a deportation deal, by which Senegal will have to accept their own nationals but also those of other countries if they can prove that they have travelled through the country to the EU and have received an exit order there”. Overall, this cooperation is overviewed by the newly established MOCADEM body (Operational Coordination Mechanism for the External Dimension of Migration). Even if the plan is still being discussed, the first armed border and coastguard forces have been sent on mission to Senegal.  

A Swiss coalition of left-wing parties called for a referendum against the Swiss government’s contribution to the Frontex budget. The parliament had indeed voted to substantially increase the financial contribution to Frontex, and in response the coalition of more than 30 parties demanded a referendum. Now they need to gather 50,000 signatures in 100 days.  

The Turkish Minister of Interiors accused Frontex and the EU for being ‘partners in crime’ in the inhumane treatment refugees receive at the Greek-Turkish border and in the Aegean. His comment came after the Turkish Coast Guard rescued a group of migrants who said they had been beaten by Greek police and thrown into the sea without lifejackets. 

Frontex launched a new land operation called Joint Operation Terra 2022, that will cover 62 border crossing points, will deploy more than 450 officers to support national authorities with border management. 

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

On 3 February 2022 justice and home affairs ministers gathered in Lille, France, for two days of meetings together with the European Commission, representatives from Frontex, Europol and the Agency for Asylum. The meetings were focused on migration, with French President Emmanuel Macron calling for a ‘rebalancing’ of the Schengen free movement system. He made a pitch for a Schengen council, “a political project which would see EU countries take political ownership of migration issues (…) with a coordinator, so that ministers can regularly take decisions and politically steer this area”.  EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said she is satisfied and optimistic by Macron’s speech and the French Presidency to lead on migration. As reported by Politico, Johansson hopes to progress on specific migration files of the EU Pact – namely the registrations and screening file and the return file – under the French Presidency.  

On 2 February 2022, the AFET Committee of the EU Parliament held an Exchange of Views on the situation in Libya. Henrike Trautmann, the Acting Director of the Southern Neighborhood Directorate at DG NEAR, presented the Commission’s effort to continue supporting the Libyan Coast Guard and the reinforcement of border control capacity among Libyan authorities, as well as strengthening the role of the IRINI mission.  

On 1 February 2022, the Council’s Presidency and the EU Parliament reached a provisional agreement on Europol’s new mandate and on strengthening its capacity.  

The French Presidency of the Council presented amendments to the proposal for emergency measures at the Poland, Lithuania and Latvia’s borders with Belarus. The proposed amendments are the following: 

Asylum-seekers from Belarus will be excluded from these emergency measures, and ordinary asylum law applies for them  

The possibility to further delay asylum registration by a week (while prioritising applicants with vulnerabilities) 

The three Member States can decide on all asylum applications at the border  

The obligation to prioritise applications that are likely to be well-founded becomes optional  

The derogations on the material reception conditions would be “without prejudice” to rules on vulnerable persons and access to lawyers 

Article 4 on the Return Procedures is dropped  

These amendments are not final, and further changes may still take place.  

On 27 January 2022, the DROI Committee of the European Parliament held an Exchange of Views on the ‘human rights situation in Libya and the fundamental rights of migrants’. The speakers presented the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report “Unsafe and Undignified: The forced expulsion of migrants from Libya”, and the report of the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya (FFM). Among the speakers there were representatives of the European Commission External Action Service and the EU’s Head of Delegation in Libya. 

The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions published the report Gaps in Human Rights Accountability at Borders. The report is available here 

The European Agency for Asylum said that the number of asylum applications in the EU in November 2021 reached the second-highest level since 2016. The majority of applications since 2016 were lodged by Syrian asylum-seekers, followed by Afghans.  

ECRE published its comments on the Commission’s Proposal on Situations of Instrumentalisation in the Field of Migration and Asylum. ECRE “opposes the measures proposed in the Regulation, which would have an adverse effect on the right to asylum by creating a parallel system of managing borders and asylum for situations of “instrumentalisation”, based on derogations from the standards in the asylum acquis”.  

Protecting Rights at the Border published a report that registered 11,901 pushbacks at European border, both external and internal. 32% of the pushbacks concern Afghan citizens, who have a right to claim for asylum in Europe. Often the pushbacks entailed episodes of physical and sexual violence, harassment, extortions, destructions of property, thefts and forced separation of families. The report is available here 

Poland – Belarus 

Poland started building a wall on its border with Belarus. The wall will be 5.5 meter high, topped with barbed wire, and 180 km long. There will be cameras and electronic alarm systems. It is supposed to be finished in June.  

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

On 20-21 January 2022, on the occasion of the Conference on Border Management in Vilnius, Lithuania, 16 EU Member States, including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece and Malta, published a joint statement on the need to “protect EU’s external borders”. They call on the EU to finance border management measures, including “physical barriers and other mobile or stationary infrastructures”.  

A leaked internal document from the European Commission’s Services, dated 14 January 2022, includes an update on state of play of external cooperation in the field of migration policy. The update covers countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.   

The new President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, commenting on her stance on migration, stated that “the protection of life comes first. We cannot have a migration policy that does not value life first, but we cannot even leave first arrival countries alone”. She also said that Search and Rescue NGOs should not be criminalised, and that there is a need to strengthen dialogue with countries of origin and transit.  

On 19 January 2002, the European agency EASO was substituted by the newly established EUAA, European Union Agency for Asylum. The latter has a reinforced mandate “with more tools to support Member States in bringing greater convergence to asylum and reception practices at the EU’s high standards.” 

Following the beginning of the French Presidency in the Council of the EU, a non-paper was circulated mid-January 2022 detailing the priorities concerning migration and the EU Pact. The core elements presented in the non-paper include screening procedures at the border, registration on Eurodac, progress on deportations and readmission policy, and “a new mechanism for the relocation of persons in need of protection”.  

The UNHCR made recommendations to the French presidency of the Council to preserve the rights to asylum. Among the points addressed, the UNHCR asked for “progress on ending pushbacks, as well as establishment of independent national mechanisms to investigate them, and measures related to rescues at sea, such as enhanced search and rescue”.  

On 13 January 2022, during a meeting of the LIBE Committee, MEPs criticised the Commission’s Proposal for a Council Decision on provisional emergency measures for the benefit of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Some of the criticisms focused on the restrictions to the right to asylum, questioned the need for emergency measures even if the situation at the border has de-escalated and some MEPs asked for infringement procedures against Poland, Latvia and Lithuania for their recent legislations that favour pushbacks.  

In 2021, Hungarian police carried out more than 70,000 pushbacks at the border.  

Frontex demanded the European Court of Justice to reject a complaint filed by the organisation Front-LEX on the case of a minor and an adult refugee who argue “Frontex contributed to the fundamental rights violations they suffered on the journey to Greece”.  

German economy minister said the country is in need of migrant workers to prevents labour shortages in the future.  

OSCE published the report “Regularisation of migrants in an irregular situation in the OSCE region: Recent developments, points for discussion and recommendations”. The report is available here 

Focus on the Poland-Belarus border

Since the beginning of the year, Polish border guards said they have stopped 600 people trying to cross the border with Belarus. On 18 January 2022, Polish authorities detained 32 migrants who crossed from Belarus in one of the detention centers at the border, that are inaccessible by journalist and civil society.  

The Lithuanian government will not prolong the state of emergency at its border with Belarus, that was in place since 9 November 2021. 

Along the Poland-Belarus border, border police arrested “various people” believed to be human smugglers. In the last five months, 500 have been arrested with smuggling charges.  

14/12/2021 - 11/01/2022

The Telegraph published an investigation into ‘Fortress Europe’, detailing how 32 years after the fall of the Berlin wall, 1,800 km of fences were built or are under construction at Europe’s borders. The investigation examines the technologies used at land borders in Greece, Hungary and Poland but also the externalisation efforts carried out in North Africa to deter migrants to take the route to Europe.

According to the Danish Refugee Council, in 2021, almost 12,000 asylum-seekers were pushed back at Europe’s border, a number that could be an all-time record.

A new report titled ‘The Torture Roads – The Cycle of Abuse against People on the Move in Africa’ exposes the systematic abuses and violence migrants are subjected to while moving from origin to transit and destination countries. The report is available here.

On 16 December 2021, The European Council held a meeting where it discussed, amongst other things, the external aspects of migration. The main points highlighted are: returns from the EU to countries of origin; countering attempts of ‘instrumentalization’ of migration by third countries; strengthening measures for border control. Here are the conclusions.

During the third High-level Inter-parliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum, MPs and MEPs debated over external and internal aspects of migration management, ranging from partnership with third countries to a more humane and dignified internal migration and asylum policy that presents long-term solutions.

Some EU Member States including Austria and Poland are pushing for more detention of asylum-seekers, citing hybrid attacks and threats to internal security, health or public order. The document is available here.

First arrivals countries like Italy are sceptical about the Schengen reform proposals. Indeed, internal border checks, hindering of secondary movements and facilitation of returns may put more pressure on them.

On 14 December 2021, EU Commissioners Ylva Johansson and Margaritis Schinas presented the proposed updates to the Schengen Border Code. The updates aim at strengthening external borders and cross-border police cooperation to reduce internal border checks and secondary movements. Internal border checks can be put in place for a six-months period, with possibility of extension up to 18 months. The proposal also puts forward a legal definition of a situation of instrumentalization of migration by third countries and allows for longer registration periods, for the detention of migrants at the borders and for tougher border militarization to be deployed in such circumstances. The proposal is now examined by the Parliament and the Council.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

During the Press Conference following the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on 9 December 2021, Commissioner Johansson stated that 15 EU countries announced 40,000 additional resettlement pledges for Afghan people in need of protection.  

According to a leaked report, Frontex registered a record number of deportations in the first six months of 2021, returning a total of 8,239 individuals. This shows how EU Member States are increasingly resorting to the EU agency to manage migration and border control.  

An EU interpreter working for Frontex said that in September 2021 Greek authorities mistook him for an asylum-seeker, assaulted him and expelled him to Turkey. According to his testimony, he was together with a group of people who also were exposed to violence by Greek authorities and were pushed back to Turkey via the Evros river.  

The incoming German government signed a coalition treaty which presents a shift of policies concerning migration. Amongst the various points, the coalition aims to “reduce irregular migration and enable more regular means of migration” by facilitating family reunifications, resettlements, possibilities for humanitarian corridors and speeding up asylum procedures. The coalition also stated that voluntary repatriations will be a preferred method for returns rather than deportations. New measures should also grant an easier access to citizenship and the possibility for maintaining dual citizenship.  

The Guardian published the investigation ‘Fortress Europe: the millions spent on military-grade tech to deter refugees’. The investigation details how hundreds of millions of euros are spent on advanced technologies and military equipment to monitor and deter migrants at the borders. Among the high-tech tools employed, there are high performance drones, sensors and cameras, and lie detectors based on artificial intelligence.  

According to a leaked document, some EU Member States are opposing the Commission’s proposal to relocate people saved following search and rescue operations.  

According to the Presidency Compromise proposal on the EU Pact’s Screening Regulation, which was published by Statewatch, the Council is trying to decrease rights protection and add the incorrect term “illegal” migrants. 

Focus on the Poland-Belarus border

Eileen, a four-year-old from Iraq went missing during the night of the 7th of December after she was separated from her parents during a pushback at the Polish border.  

On the 1 December 2021, the European Commission presented a proposal for a Council decision to deploy exceptional measures to tackle the situation at the borders of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania with Belarus. These measures extend the deadline to register asylum applications to four weeks, allow the countries to detain asylum-seekers at reception centers at the border up to 16 weeks, generally reduce access to asylum, expand accelerated border procedures and make returns easier and faster. The measures are supposed to be temporary but can be renewed after 6 months if the ‘emergency’ continues. Civil society stands together in criticizing these measures, as they expose asylum-seekers to increased risks of abuses and pushbacks at the border and set a dangerous precedent on weakened refugee rights. Poland seems to be critical of the proposal as it wished to ‘suspend asylum procedures, and not extending them’. The proposal is available here. Read EuroMed Rights press release on the proposal here 

Despite talks of de-escalation at the Belarus-Polish border, many migrants are still stranded between the two countries. Official data on the death toll said 15 people have lost their lives since the summer, but according to testimonies collected by Infomigrants, the death toll could be much higher as many people have gone missing.  

On 30 November 2021, the Polish Interior Minister declared the area along the border with Belarus off-limits to everyone, besides residents and people working or studying there. The measure comes after the state of emergency declared by the government expired and will be in place for three months.  

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

On the 15th of November 2021, the European Parliament and Council reached a deal on the 2022 EU budget. MEPs managed to increase funding on health, research and climate action. Regarding external assistance and humanitarian aid, extra funding is assigned to the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) especially to tackle the pandemic. Increased budget was also agreed to help Syrian refugees in Turkey and in the region.  

European Council President Charles Michel stated that the EU could legally fund the construction of border barriers. This statement represents a new positioning of the EU, which has historically refused to finance border walls. The ultimate decision is up to the Commission.   

On the 17th of November 2021, a leaked internal document revealed an EU plan to make over 1,400 arrests of people smugglers in 2022, mostly through Frontex.  

Slovenian interior minister Aleš Hojs stated during a conference in Sarajevo that “external borders must be secured, even with fences if necessary” and that illegal migration is destabilising the EU.  

Emmanuel Macron stated that France will push for a stop in the set-up of long-term refugee camps, to dismantle smuggling networks and to strengthen cooperation with migrants’ origin countries when it hosts the European Union presidency from January. 

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders published the report Europe: Open Season on Solidarity, A study on the patterns of criminalisation of solidarity through the voices of migrants’ rights defenders. The study identifies three key patterns on the criminalisation of solidarity: the creation of a hostile environment around migration; the use of administrative law to impede human rights defence work; the use of criminal law to silence their voices. 

Human Rights Watch has published a report Dismantling Detention: International Alternatives to Detaining Immigrants where it explores possible alternatives to detention in Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the US. 

EU-Belarus border

The victims’ count on the Belarus-Poland border increases, now reaching a dozen deaths since the summer: 

On the 10th of November 2021, a 14-year-old boy froze to death on the Polish-Belarus border. He was in a camp on the Belarusian side of the border. Officials brought him to the hospital, but he died there.  

A one-year-old Syrian child died in the forest on the Polish side of the border. The family had been living in the forest for over a month. The cause of death remains unclear. 

On the 15th of November 2021, Alexander Lukashenko said he would start repatriate migrants at the border with Poland to de-escalate the situation. Following this statement, Belarus started moving 1,000 migrants from a camp on the border with Poland to a temporary shelter. 

On the 18th of November 2021, Belarus stated that it would repatriate 5,000 migrants to de-escalate the crisis at the Polish border, but it wants the EU to take 2,000 migrants in.

On the 18th of November 2021, almost 400 Iraqi citizens were repatriated on a flight that left from Minsk. Some of them later reported being abused by Polish and Belarusian authorities.   

On the 19th of November 2021, the Polish army detained hundreds of migrants who crossed the Belarus border.  

Local doctors and activists on the Poland-Belarus border who try to help migrants feel increasingly intimidated by the police and hostile groups. Local organisations received threats of being charged as smugglers for providing food and shelter to migrants, and had their vehicles attacked.  

The Estonian government announced that it would start building a new border fence to Russia as a response to the crisis at the Belarusian border. Even if Estonia does not have a border with Belarus, the government fears that Russia is helping Belarus orchestrating the migrants’ crisis.  

25/10/2021-15/11/2021

On 26 October 2021, the LIBE committee in the European Parliament held debates on the draft report on the Asylum and migration management Regulation by rapporteur Tomas Tobé and of the draft report on the regulation on a common procedure for international protection in the Union by rapporteur Fabienne Keller. Most MEPs criticized the report of Tomas Tobé, mainly because it would strengthen the core issues within the Dublin The draft report is available here. Keller’s report was received more positively. It generally expresses support to the Commission’s proposal and adds amendments to improve the refugee camps at the external borders, proposing that they should be financed with EU budget.

The situation at the Belarus-Poland-Lithuania border is severe:

Lithuania started building a 3.4-metre high border fence topped with razor wire on its shared border with Belarus. The fence will be 500km long and should be completed by September 2022.

The crisis is particularly severe at the Belarus-Polish Migrants fly to Belarus from Middle Eastern countries and are pushed by Belarusian authorities at the Polish border. At least 2,000 migrants are currently camped on the Belarus side of the border. Polish authorities have declared a state of emergency along the border with Belarus and are sending thousands of border guards, soldiers and the police in the area. Journalists are not allowed in the area.

The border crisis is the result of Lukashenko’s response to the sanctions imposed on him by the EU. Given the rapid worsening of the situation, European defense ministers are alert on the possibility of a violent conflict escalation that would spurge a military crisis.

Poland, Latvia and Lithuania all declared a state of emergency and passed laws to push-back asylum-seekers to Belarus without allowing them to file asylum claims, in breach of international human rights law. The EU Commission will likely demand the countries to amend them.

Ursula von der Leyen stated on the 8th of November that third country airlines “active in human trafficking” risk being sanctioned and blacklisted in the EU. This statement comes after the incident with Turkish Airlines and FlyDubai, who were accused of flying migrants and asylum-seekers to Belarus and contributing to the worsening of the Belarus-Polish border crisis. On Friday, Turkish airline companies announced that citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen travelling to Belarus will not be allowed to buy tickets any longer.

On the 15th of November, EU foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss new sanctions on Belarus for its responsibility in the migrant situation at the Polish border.

The tenth migrant was found dead at the Belarus-Polish border. Since the summer, 9 other victims were found on both sides of the border. Migrants die while trying to cross unsafe rivers or swampy grounds or die of cold an exhaustion. There has also been an increase in the number of migrants who cross the Polish-German border. (Read EuroMed Rights’ Press Release on EU-Belarus border: fences, pushbacks and human rights violations and watch EuroMed Rights’ interview on AlJazeera on the situation at the EU-Belarus border).

The OECD has published the 2021 edition of the International Migration Outlook. According to the report, the impact of COVID-19 on migration flows to the OECD countries resulted in a record drop in migration flows. Despite that, the number of asylum requests remained high. The report also shows that in the last three months of 2020 the employment rate of migrants is growing again and reaching pre-pandemic figures. Finally, the report shows how migrant populations in OECD countries contribute more to taxes than they receive in benefits, health and education.

Der Spiegel recently released a long-read based on months of reporting at Europe’s external borders. The article shows the systematic violence and abuses migrants face at the Greek border, the Balkans, Libya and the Mediterranean. The article emphasizes the widespread use of pushbacks at the external borders, stressing how they breach asylum-seekers rights.

On the 9th of November, an EU court verdict established that children in refugee families who only have one parent with asylum status, have the right to live in Europe. The case was about a family of a Syrian father with asylum status, Tunisian mother without asylum status and their daughter.

On the 9th of November, C40 Cities and the Mayors Migration Council released the Global Mayors Action Agenda on Climate and Migration and received a $1,000,000 USD contribution by the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH. The agenda includes measures that aim at a green and just transition to protect the people most affected by climate displacement. These measures include investment to improve the living conditions of climate refugees while on the move and in urban areas. The agenda has been endorsed by the mayors of Barcelona, Bristol, Dakar, Dhaka North, Freetown, Houston, Lima, Los Angeles, Milan.

5/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

Two Dutch lawyers, Flip Schüller and Lisa-Marie Komp, filed a complaint against Frontex in the European Court of Justice for a pushback of a Syrian family in 2016 who were forcibly transferred from Greece to Turkey where it was detained and then deported to Northern Iraq. The lawyers are for the first time seeking damages.  

On 21 October 2021, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, sent a strong message to Member States to “take a stand against pushbacks at borders and clearly oppose attempts to legalise this illegal practice”.  

On 21-22 October 2021, the European Council’s conclusions on migration focused very much on externalisation, protecting the EU’s external borders and increase returns. During the press conference following the Council, the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, stated that EU funds will not be used to finance barbed wire fences or walls.   

On 20 October 2021, the European Parliament held a plenary debate on pushbacks at the EU’s external borders.  

On 20 October 2021, three MEPs from The Left group wrote an op-ed calling against the 2019 budget discharge of Frontex, which was voted in plenary on 21 October 2021. MEPs voted in favour of a discharge of the budget but asked that part of the 2022 budget be made available if there are improvements in fundamental rights monitoring (read CNCD-11.11.11 note Frontex: Human rights in danger).     

On 20 October 2021, three MEPs from the S&D group wrote to the President of the European Commission raising concerns on pushbacks at the EU’s external borders and asking for conditioning EU migration funding to stopping pushbacks and to implement by Member States an independent mechanism to monitor pushbacks at borders. They also asked the Commission to start an infringement procedure against Greece and Croatia.  

On 12 October 2021, during the G20 summit, the EU pledged EUR 1 billion in support to AfghansAmnesty International released an advocacy briefing on 20 October 2021, denouncing the fact that Afghanistan’s neighboring countries have closed their borders to Afghans without travel documents and “countries across Europe and Central Asia have subjected Afghans to illegal pushbacks, detention and deportation”. Human Rights Watch published on 21 October an analysis on ‘Policy Responses to Support Afghans Fleeing Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan’. 

On 7 October 2021, 12 EU Member States, including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark and Greece, sent a letter to the European Commission asking for increasing physical barriers at the EU’s external borders by using EU funds.  

EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, called for a thorough investigation into pushbacks allegations from Croatian and Greek police revealed by an investigation by German media outlets Der Spiegel and ARD.  

National reports authored by the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) of Croatia, France, Greece, Serbia, and Slovenia outline the findings from monitoring activities at their borders over the last two years. The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRIs) regional report examines the human rights of migrants at borders.  

Lithuania-Poland-Belarus border: According to a Frontex fundamental rights monitoring report, Lithuania carried out at least 14 collective expulsions involving at least 42 officers, “some of whom were partly financed and equipped by EU budgets”. On 13 October 2021, the Director of the EU border agency Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, reported around 20 incidents of violation of fundamental rights in Lithuania. On 20 October 2021, Amnesty International denounced the pushback of 17 Afghans from Poland to Belarus. On 14 October 2021, the Polish Parliament voted to legalise pushbacks at the border with Belarus where it is building a EUR 350 million wall and deployed an additional 6,000 soldiers. On 20 October 2021, the dead body of a 19-year-old Syrian man was found in the river Bug at the Belarus border, amounting to the eight confirmed tragic death at the Belarus border. UNHCR appealed States to save lives and prevent suffering at the Belarus-EU borders.  

On 29 September 2021, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has published a set of training materials on access to justice for migrants. 

UNHCR Chief, Filippo Grandi, condemned countries externalising and outsourcing asylum procedures, by accusing them of betraying their responsibilities.   

On 15 October 2021, Privacy International, together with 5 other human rights organisations, has submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsman calling for an investigation into EU surveillance aid to non-EU countries 

The foreign ministers of the African Union and the European Union will meet on 26 October 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda to prepare the summit of heads of state and government of EU and Africa to be held early 2022. 

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

Poland-Belarus border: Human rights activists have warned that there will be more deaths at the Polish-Belarus border, where migrants are stuck in the forests and in worsening health conditions. Polish Members of Parliament on 1 October 2021 extended the “state of emergency” at its border with Belarus for an additional 60 days, thus preventing journalists and activists to access the border and document violations. On 26 September 2021, the sixth migrant death at the Polish-Belarus border was registered. Thanks to special reconstruction techniques, Amnesty International was able to document the illegal pushback of around 32 Afghan asylum seekers, including a 15-year-old girl, on 19 August from Poland to Belarus. Alarm Phone denounced that 15 people stranded for four days without food nor water are dying of hypothermia at the Poland-Belarus border.

On 8 October 2021, the EU Home Affairs Council will discuss migration in relation to the screening and detention of migrants, the situation in Afghanistan, the external dimension of migration and it is expected to adopt the blue card directive. On the Blue Card Directive, aiming at attracting highly-qualified migrant workers to Europe, Hungary is the only EU country against the bill. At the same times, reports denounce that Hungary resorted to pushing back at least 40 000 people since the beginning of 2021.

On 29 September 2021, the European Commission presented the Report on Migration and Asylum, including key developments in migration and asylum policies and data on migratory routes in the last year.

An EU-Turkey High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Security is planned in October 2021.

On 25 September 2021, the so-called MED5 – the Interior Ministers of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain – released a joint statement calling on the need “for common European participation in returns, and an active role of the EU’s organisations in the external dimension”.

According to the discussion paper “EU return policy – gaps and opportunities” from the Slovenian Presidency to the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA), the EU is looking for ways to step up the number of deportations.

The Slovenian Presidency of the Council, following concerns by some EU Member States, suggested to increase the detention periods in the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation from four to five weeks.

According to a draft action plan for strengthening comprehensive migration partnerships with priority countries of origin and transit, the European Commission intends "to step up border management support at Libya’s Southern border".

6/09/2021 - 22/09/2021

On 20 September 2021, according to EU Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, in an interview with Euractiv, a final deal on the EU Migration Pact could be reached after the French Presidential elections next year.  

On 19 September 2021, four Iraqi migrants were found dead on the Poland-Belarus border, three men in Poland and one woman in Belarus.  

The Slovenian Council Presidency seeks to accelerate negotiations for an agreement on expanded migrant biometric database 

On 16 September 2021, Members of the European Parliament called for special visa programmes for Afghan women seeking protection.  

According to a draft European Commission action plan, seen by Statewatch, the EU is suspending forced returns to Afghanistan “but encourages EU member states to continue deporting Afghan nationals to other third countries, where permitted by readmission agreements”.  

According to EUobserver, the Netherlands is against voluntary returns for rejected asylum seekers, for fears of granting them more rights.  

According to the European Court of Auditors, “ineffective EU deals to return migrants to home countries are "encouraging" arrivals”.  

On 8 September 2021, Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri, told that “Afghan exiles living in Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan would be among the first to try to enter the EU via Belarus, Greece, and Turkey”.  

EASO published an update on the security situation in Afghanistan.  

31 non-governmental organisations sent a letter to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) “to rethink plans to overhaul the Eurodac database of asylum seekers’ fingerprints”. 

On 8 September 2021, Statewatch published the comments from the EU Member States on the proposed Asylum and Migration Management Regulation.  

On 7 October 2021, the European Commission’s DG HOME and EEAS will jointly host a High-level Resettlement Forum dedicated to the situation in Afghanistan.  

According to the latest EASO asylum trends, applications by Afghans increased for the fifth consecutive month, to about 7,300 in July 2021 and the gap between Afghans and Syrians has been shrinking. 

19/08/2021 - 6/09/2021

During a visit to a Spanish reception centre for Afghan refugees on 21 August 2021, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU Commission was ready to provide “funding to EU countries that help resettle Afghan refugees and more humanitarian aid for the country” amounting to EUR 57 million for 2021. At the G7 meeting on 24 August 2021, she announced an increase in EU funds in humanitarian support to Afghanistan to EUR 200 million, the need for close cooperation with UNHCR for resettlement operations and the importance that development assistance must be condition-based, linked to fundamental values, human rights, and women's rights. The UK has pledged to resettle 20,000  Afghan refugees. The first 36 Afghan refugees will be resettled in Denmark, Germany, Poland and Lithuania, from Spain. So far, no EU country has pledged concrete numbers for resettlement of Afghans from countries of first arrival or transit. European Council President, Charles Michel, declared that the EU is determined to keep “the EU's borders protected”. On 19 August 2021, the High Representative, Josep Borrell, mentioned before the European Parliament the possibility of triggering the Temporary Protection directive (TPD), which could require a qualified majority vote (and not based on unanimity) in the Council. EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson told Euronews that the TPD is “not the issue for today” and that the EU “must intervene before Afghan refugees arrive at external borders”. Following a request from the US, Uganda will temporarily host around 2,000 Afghan refugees for three months. On 25 August 2021, in a letter addressed to the European Commission, 66 Members of the European (MEPs) asked for the urgent evacuation of Afghan staff working for EU missions and programmes while in another letter 80 MEPs called on the European Commission to activate humanitarian corridors and the temporary protection directive. On 30 August 2021, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung that his government would be willing to accept Afghan rejected asylum seekers who would then face court. A senior EU official said that the EU is “discussing safe passage with Pakistan and central Asian countries for a limited number of Afghan refugees”. On 31 August 2021, EU interior ministers released a statement following the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on Afghanistan, focusing on externalising migration control by supporting third countries and increasing border management instead of presenting concrete resettlement pledges and reception for Afghan refugees. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, had called on member states not to undermine human rights protections in their response to Afghan displaced people. On 2 September 2021, EU Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministers discussed the possibility to create a future deployable force totalling 5,000 to 20,000 EU troops. Deployment however should not depend on an unanimous decision by the EU's 27 states.  

Poland has sent more than 900 soldiers to strengthen security on the border with Belarus and has started building a 2.5-metre high wall. In August alone, more than 2,100 people have crossed into Poland from Belarus, but Poland is denying them entry. The UNHCR called on Poland to admit a group of refugees, including Afghans, children and women, stuck at the border for days. According to an official in Latvia, the Belarusian authorities “ask for EUR 2,000 for the airline tickets and EUR 3,000 for transportation to the border and provide accommodation in government properties”. There are also reports that Belarus is arranging for new flights from Morocco and Pakistan. Lithuania announced on 23 August 2021 that it will “complete a 508-km fence along its border with Belarus by September 2022 to stop migrants”. In a letter to Lithuania’s Prime Minister published on 24 August 2021, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, calls to ensure “fair asylum procedures and prevent summary returns without adequate safeguards”. On 25 August 2021, the European Court of Human Rights released an interim order asking Latvia and Poland to provide Iraqi and Afghan refugees stuck at the border with Belarus with “food, water, clothing, adequate medical care and, if possible, temporary shelter”, specifying that “this measure should not be understood as requiring that Poland or Latvia let the applicants enter their territories”.  

On 2 September 2021, following the hearing in the European Parliament’s Petition Committee (PETI) with the NGOs ARCI, ASGI and GLAN on the EU programme “Support to Integrated border and migration management in Libya” - which allows for the unlawful pullbacks of migrants in the Central Mediterranean - the European Commission will be required to update and transmit the programme's periodic monitoring report, and to send the information in the petition to the European Court of Auditors for inclusion in the special evaluation report on the EU Trust Fund for Africa. 

On 1 September 2021, the Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) discussed the second draft discharge report for Frontex in relation to the 2019 Discharge procedure. The Civil Liberties Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee refused to grant budgetary discharge to Frontex, following allegations of human rights violations. Plenary vote is scheduled for October.  

27/07/2021 – 19/08/2021

On 18 August 2021, European ministers responsible for migration met after the Slovenian presidency of the Council called a ministerial meeting of the Integrated Political Crisis Response mechanism in order to discuss Belarus’ instrumentalization of migrants and refugees at borders with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland and the situation of Afghan refugees. On 30 July 2021, the High Representative issued a declaration on behalf of the European Union on the instrumentalisation of migrants and refugees by the Belarus regime. On 27 July 2021, Lithuania detained 171 Iraqi migrants who tried to cross from Belarus, while Latvia has started to push back migrants at borders, including women and children on 11 August 2021. On 11 August 2021, the European Commission announced that it will provide Lithuania with EUR 36.7 million to support migration management, including the setting up ofshelter, medical care and asylum procedures.

On 18 August 2021, EU interior ministers held an informal video-conference discussing, among others, the situation in Afghanistan. EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, said that “the instability in Afghanistan is likely to lead to increased migratory pressure. We are therefore preparing for all scenarios”. On 9 August 2021, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Denmark sent a letter to the European Commission asking to continue deportations of Afghan refugees despite the critical situation in the country. From 2008 to 2020, EU Member States repatriated 70,000 Afghans seeking asylum, among them 15-20,000 women, classifying Afghanistan as “safe”. A few days later, some of them reversed their positions (Germany and the Netherlands on 11 August 2021 and Belgium on 16 August 2021). Germany also declared that “the focus must be on humanitarian aid on site, unlike in 2015”, while Greece’s Migration Minister, Notis Mitarachi, also stated that they want to “avoid any pressure [on] our country similar to the one we experienced in previous years, in similar crises”. French President, Emmanuel Macron, said that we must “protect ourselves against major irregular migratory flows” and suggests implementing a European plan for cooperation with transit and host countries such as Pakistan, Turkey or Iran, while rights groups, including EuroMed Rights, are urging the EU to ensure safe passages for all at risk through emergency visas, evacuations, relocation and resettlement and by suspending all deportations and forced returns. On 16 August 2021, according to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, about half of Afghanistan’s population, need humanitarian assistance. UNHCR published its position on returns to Afghanistan. Some Members of the European Parliament called on the urgent tackling of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Following the emergency meeting of foreign affairs ministers on Afghanistan on 17 August 2021, High Representative, Josep Borrell, declared that “the EU will engage in dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan to prevent a “humanitarian and potential migratory disaster”.

Following the informal videoconference of interior ministers on 18 August 2021, the European Commission announced that it will present, at the end of August, a migration preparedness plan for the migratory situation in the Central Mediterranean.

The NGO Privacy International denounced that, in the framework of a Frontex pilot project, private satellites companies are deployed to tracking and intercepting migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea in order to push them back.

In July 2021, Bulgaria, Denmark and France have been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for asylum and border policies.

The European Parliamentary Research Service published the Horizontal substitute impact assessment on the European Commission’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

The World Health Organisation published a report titled “Refugees and migrants in times of COVID-19: mapping trends of public health and migration policies and practices”.

5/07/2021 – 27/07/2021

More than 150 people crossed to Lithuania from Belarus in less than 24 hours beginning of July 2021, amounting to a total of 800 people crossing in July 2021 and of 1,600 since January The country declared itself in a “state of emergency”. Frontex deployed a team there and EASO announced it will deploy up to 50 personnel in Lithuania to support with asylum processing of applications. The main nationalities are Iraq, Syria, Guinea, the Gambia and India, but also the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, declared to Euronews that it is unacceptable that Belarus' president Alexander Lukashenko uses “human beings in this instrumentalist way of putting political pressure”.

FRONTEX: The European Parliament's Frontex Scrutiny Working Group published the Report on the fact-finding investigation on Frontex concerning alleged fundamental rights violations (rapporteur: Tineke Strik) denouncing that Frontex has failed to investigate reports of fundamental rights violations during migrant pushbacks by EU states and calling for the resignation of Frontex’s Chief, Fabrice Leggeri. In response to the publication of the report, Frontex continues to deny any evidence of the Agency’s involvement in fundamental rights violations. On 15 July 2021, Statewatch published the first of four reports examining Frontex’s search and rescue obligations since its foundation in 2004. For the first time in 17 years of operations, Frontex has been referred to the European Court of Justice for human rights violations for its activities in Greece, following an appeal by the Amsterdam-based non-profit legal aid organisation Front-Lex.

On 15 July 2021, the European Commission decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union for unlawfully restricting access to the asylum procedure for violating Art. 6 of the Asylum Procedures Directive. On the same day, the European Commission proposed temporary restrictive visa measures for Bangladesh, Iraq and The Gambia to improve cooperation on return and readmission.

On 14-15 July 2021, EU interior ministers met in Slovenia in an informal meeting to discuss migration matters. They announced step forwards in the adoption of less sensitive files of the EU Pact, such as the Eurodac Regulation, and confirmed their focus on cooperation with third countries and returns.

Interviewed by the BBC, EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, said that the pushbacks by Greece to Turkey are in contradiction to European values and any violation of fundamental rights should be properly investigated. The Greek migration and asylum minister, Notis Mitarachi, rejected the claims that Greece is breaching EU fundamental rights and said that allegations of pushbacks are unfounded.

During the EU High-Level resettlement forum on 9 July 2021, EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, announced that she’s working to secure EUR 300 million for the resettlement of 30,000 refugees until the end of 2022.

On 9 July 2021, the Council of Europe and the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) have published a joint note titled “European standards on legal remedies, complaints mechanisms and effective investigations at borders” for effective remedies at European borders for for migrants, asylum applicants and refugees.

On 8 July 2021, in the European Parliament resolution on the Annual Report on the Functioning of the Schengen Area, Members of the European Parliament called for the establishment of an independent mechanism for monitoring human rights violations at borders.

On 7 July 2021, the European Commission published the Mid-Term Evaluation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. In addition to the EUR 6 billion already contracted since 2016 - and most of it already disbursed - the EU agreed to allocate an additional EUR 3 billion to Turkey for 2021-2023. According to the Mid-Term Evaluation, 2,735 migrants were returned from Greece to Turkey between March 2016 and March 2020, 20% of those were Syrians.

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

A document published by Statewatch shows diverging comments by 14 EU Member States on the Screening Regulation. A report by the French Bar Association stated that the screening procedure “would be introduced solely in the interest of the Member States and to the detriment of the exiled persons." 

According to a recent analysis from Human Rights Watch, Frontex fails to investigate or safeguard people against serious human rights violations at the EU’s external borders.  

On 6-8 July 2021, the Slovenian presidency of the Council organizes an informal meeting of the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA). 

On 29 June 2021, the European Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement on the new EU Asylum Agency (EUAA), former EASO, which will have a stronger role in liaising with third countries. EASO published its 2021 Asylum Report.  

On 29 June 2021, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons calls on States to effectively protect victims of trafficking instead of punishing them “for any unlawful activity carried out as a direct consequence of their trafficking situation”. The UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) denounced that human smugglers who subject migrant to violence, torture, rape and kidnapping are rarely persecuted by authorities.  

On 24-25 June 2021, the European Council discussed, among others, migration, with a strong focus on the external dimension and cooperation with third countries. On 25 June 2021, EU leaders confirmed another EUR 3 billion to Turkey over the next years to increase border controls and provide assistance to Syrian refugees. The plan has been widely criticized by rights groups and experts as it risks returning migrants to Syria, Iran and Iraq. Additional funds for Lebanon and Jordan “will soon be formally endorsed.” Member States still have very diverging positions on relocation measures and further discussions under the EU Pact are postponed to the autumn.   

Migrants and refugees in Spain

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • Spain has denied access to a group of 17 Sahrawis who arrived in Madrid airport and asked for asylum. Only two of them were granted access to the Spanish territory since one was recognised as stateless and the other in need of international protection.
  • The week between 9-13 May saw many crossings in the Canary route:
    • On 11 May 2022, 223 people were rescued by Salvamento Maritimo. Another 71 people were rescued by Guardamar Caliope and another group of 61 people were rescued by the vessel Salvamar Mizar. On the same day, a boat with 37 people autonomously reached the island of Lanzarote.
    • On 12 May 2022, 318 people were rescued by Spanish authorities from a total of 5 boats, which were brought to Gran Canary and Lanzarote.
    • Overall, 73 people lost their lives during this week and it is unclear whether there are missing people.
  • EuroMed Rights’ member Iridia published a report on the violations of human rights migrants face when arriving to the Canary Islands. The organization reports that “Discrimination in access to international mobility, the lack of legal channels and the improvised and insufficient response of the institutions have generated the creation of spaces of repeated violation of rights in the reception of people once they disembark on land, during detention in the CATEs and CIEs, as well as in the emergency mechanisms created in the Canary Islands Plan”.

05/04/2022-10/05/2022

  • On 1 May 2022, Alarm Phone reported on three people in distress in the Gibraltar Strait. Finally, they disembarked in Tarifa, Spain.    
  • On 30 April 2022, an agreement between Spain and Morocco on security and anti-crime cooperation agreement will enter into force. The agreement aims at “strengthening [Spain and Morocco’s] border security policies, in line with European migration policies, which increasingly criminalize the migration process”. EuroMed Rights and Migreurop issued a press release that denounces the content of this agreement.  
  • Between 26-27 April 2022, 31 people died in the Canary Route in different shipwrecks.  
  • Since the reopening of the border between Spain and Morocco, after they had been closed due to the pandemic, dozens of Moroccans and Saharawis have been expelled on a weekly basis from the Canary Islands, sometimes without having fulfilled their right to legal assistance. On 14 April 2022, 20 people were repatriated to Western Sahara.  
  • Survivors of a boat that was rescued on the 10 April 2022 told that two of the people who were on board committed suicide after a week at sea.  

22/03/202205/04/2022 

  • On 27 March, after a month with practically no arrivals, four boats arrived in the Canary Islands in less than 24 hours. 
  • On 31 March 2022, at least 26 people went missing at sea in the Atlantic trying to reach the Canary Islands.  
  • The 21 of march, after a year, repatriation flights to Morocco of migrants arriving in the Canary Islands by boat were resumed. 

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • On 12 March 2022, at least 44 people drowned off the coast of Tarfaya (southern Morocco) while they were trying to reach the Canary Islands. There were 61 people on board, including women and children.  
  • On 15 March 2022, Spanish authorities arrested Mohamed Benhlima, activist of the Hirak movement and asylum seekers in Spain, and transferred him in a deportation centre. Amnesty International launched a petition and asked Spanish authorities to immediately stop his deportation as he risks torture and other inhumane and degrading treatments if deported to Algeria.  
  • Aid organisations have said that 2021 saw more fatalities in the Atlantic than ever before. 

22/02/202208/03/2022 

  • On 25 February 2022, Alarm Phone launched the distress signal of a boat carrying 45 people in the Atlantic. The people were rescued by Spanish authorities.  
  • The government has proposed to change the asylum process in Ceuta and Melilla to speed up the return of migrants and to process applications within a maximum of 10 days, as is the case in the airports, but it depends on Morocco to take back all those people whose asylum application is rejected.    
  • On 2 March 2022, some 2,500 people tried to cross into the Spanish enclave of Melilla by jumping the fences -  the largest attempt in recent years. More than 500 migrants managed to cross. "The aggressiveness that we have witnessed, yesterday as well as today [...] had not been seen on other occasions," the prefect denounced on public television. According to local authorities, 27 members of the police force were injured on Wednesday and 20 on Thursday. For its part, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) reported on Wednesday that around 30 migrants were injured. According to AdMDH, 250 migrants were arrested on March 3 and placed in a youth center, transformed into a detention center, in the Moroccan town of Kariat Arekmane, and will be removed by the authorities from the area. 

08/02/2022 - 22/02/2022

  • A judge in Ceuta ordered that 14 Moroccan minors who were expelled at Ceuta’s borders, should be repatriated to Spain because their rights were violated. The boys were part of a big group of almost 2,000 minors who attempted to enter Ceuta in May 2021 and were expelled to Morocco. The judge found that “the action did not comply with the law, that the fundamental right to physical and moral integrity of minors was violated and demands that the necessary measures be adopted for the return of minors” 
  • On 14 February 2022, Alarm Phone informed that 6 people had been missing for 48h in the Alboran Sea. Spanish authorities were searching for them. Finally, they were rescued and disembarked in the town of Motril.
  • On 10 February 2022, Alarm Phone launched a distress signal of a boat carrying 61 people in the Atlantic. The people were rescued by Spanish authorities and disembarked in Gran Canaria. On the same day, Spanish authorities said they rescued a total of 222 people on different boats. In the winter months, arrivals to the Canary Islands have been intense, with 3,039 arrivals in November, 2,451 in December and more than 2,674 in January 2022.  
  • Spain wants to immediately resume the deportations to Morocco now that the airspace has been reopened. Moroccan airspace was closed since April due to the pandemic and the maritime borders remain closed.  
  • An agreement is in place to install an Integrated Exterior Surveillance System (SIVE) in the island of Lanzarote, 10 meters from the Mirador de Haría in the north of the island.  

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • 245 people went missing in the Canary Route on 6 February 2022. They were on board 4 vessels, and among them were 6 babies.   
  • 50 people are currently in severe distress in the Canary Route, 4 of them have died already. Authorities are informed, but they have not intervened so far.  
  • In the last two weeks of January, 2,200 people arrived to the Canary Islands.  
  • 16 people are missing after a shipwreck took place off Fuerteventura. Spanish authorities were able to rescue 39 people and found one dead person.  
  • On 26 January 2022, more than 319 people in seven different boats were rescued by Spanish authorities in the Atlantic. However, rescues arrived too late for a boat carrying 27 people, and 18 lost their lives. The NGO Caminando Fronteras demanded the investigation of the death of these 18 people, as Spanish authorities intervened hours later they received the GPS location of the boat in distress.  
  • Five bodies washed ashore close to Malaga in a few days, probably from an unreported shipwreck. According to Alarm Phone, these could be the victims of a shipwreck that took place on the 8th of January in the Alboran Sea, where 27 people went missing. If that is the case, 22 of them are still missing.  
  • In the weekend between 22-23 January 2022, Spanish authorities rescued 445 people and disembarked them in the Canary Islands.  
  • The number of women crossing the Canary route is increasing: in 2020, 5% of arrivals to the Canary Islands were women; in 2021, the percentage rose to 14%. So far in 2022, women constituted more than 15% of arrivals.  
  • The Spanish Supreme Court ruled that “citizenship requirements can be relaxed to accommodate women coming from countries where they have faced discrimination in access to education”. The decision refers to the case of a woman from Morocco who failed her integration test to get citizenship.  

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • On 18 January 2022, a boat carrying 62 people, including a pregnant woman who gave birth on board, launched a distress call. Spanish authorities rescued the people who disembarked in Fuerteventura.  
  • On 17 January 2022, 3 people left from Laayoune to reach the Canary Islands. They were adrift and in need of urgent assistance and were finally rescued by Spanish authorities and disembarked in Lanzarote.  
  • Since the 9 January 2022, 52 people – including 8 children - have been missing in the Canary Route. Spanish authorities have been looking for them but were not able to find them.  
  • 50 anti-racist groups denounce the use of biometric technologies and artificial intelligence at borders, as these technologies often produce false results on non-Caucasian subjects, and there is a widespread lack of transparency on how they data is used and collected.  
  • Over 4,500 young foreigners applied for residency and work papers after a month since the new regulations facilitating the integration of foreign youths came into effect.  

14/12/2021 - 11/01/2022

  • In 2021, 41,979 people disembarked in Spain. Of those, 23,042 arrived in the Canary Islands. The five main countries of origin are Algeria, Morocco, Mali, Guinea and Ivory Coast.
  • 2021 has been the most lethal year on record on the migratory routes leading to Spain. According to the recently released report by the organization Caminando Fronteras, 4,404 people died en route to Spain. Find the report here.
  • In the night of 2 January 2022, a shipwreck occurred off the coasts of Spain. 16 people were rescued by a private vessel that was in the vicinity, 3 bodies were recovered and 10 people are missing. In previous days, other shipwrecks occurred and Spanish authorities are now looking for 17 missing people.
  • 9 asylum seekers were pushed back on 1 January 2022 from the Chafarinas Islands, against their right to apply for asylum in Spain.
  • In the week before 25-26 December 2021, more than 600 people tried to reach the Canary Islands. On 18 December 2021, Spanish authorities rescued about 500 of them. Many were also intercepted by Moroccan authorities.
  • Amnesty International reports on the progressive deterioration of the right to asylum on the Canary Islands. The organization denounces the saturation of the reception system on the islands, the inadequate living conditions in the centres and the lack of appropriate protection for the most vulnerable people, like children or victims of trafficking.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

  • In the night between the 6th and 7th of December 2021a baby, two women and a man died in the Atlantic Ocean.  
  • On 1 December 2021, Spanish authorities rescued more than 200 people and disembarked them in Fuerteventura. Unfortunatelya 2-months-old baby died 
  • Alarm Phone published the report ‘No Human is Illegalcriminalization in North Africa and Spain’ where it analyses the developments in the Western Mediterranean route in the first half of 2021.  
  • In the end of November, the Spanish authorities rescued 134 migrants on their way to the Canary Islands, but 4 people died and 4 others went missing. This route is still attracting many migrants despite the elevated dangers of the crossing. So far, almost 19,000 people made the crossing since January 2021. At the same time, 936 – including 83 minors - died in the crossing, but the number could be much higher, as many people disappear at sea and their bodies are never found.  
  • The Spanish authorities archived the investigation of a pushback of a minor from Ceuta last May, when about 10,000 people entered the Spanish enclave. The boy, named Aschraf, had entered Ceuta from the sea and was expelled on the same day to Morocco. As the boy was a minor, the expulsion would have been illegal. However, the investigation was dropped as, allegedly, the age of Aschraf could not be confirmed.  

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • The Catalan NGO Open Arms announced that it has a new rescue vessel called Open Arms Uno 
  • On the 23rd of November 2021, a shipwreck occurred in the Atlantic Ocean. The 34 people on board left the city of Dakhla and were directed towards the island of Gran Canaria. They were at sea for three weeks when they were found by a merchant vessel, but only 20 survived.  
  • Spanish authorities rescued more than 370 migrants who were trying to reach the Canary Islands from Morocco. Among the 370 people, there were 36 women, 26 minors and two babies. The number of arrivals to the islands have been increasing since the beginning of the year, as has the number of interceptions carried out by Moroccan authorities.  
  • On the 27th of November 2021, two people died and four went missing in the Atlantic. The boat capsized during the rescue operation carried out by Spanish authorities.  
  • Three agents of the Spanish Guardia Civil have been accused of deliberately killing a young Yemeni migrant who was attempting to enter Melilla. The agents have allegedly beaten the migrants and thrown him back at sea, where he died.  
  • 39 Palestinian refugees sought asylum at Barcelona airport after they landed from a flight departed in Cairo. 29 of them were allowed to enter Spain, whereas the requests of the 10 others are still being examined.  

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • The numbers of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the Atlantic to arrive to the Canary Islands is predicted to be the highest since 2006. The numbers of those who died attempting the crossing is also higher than last year, with 880 certified deaths and 1,000 potentially dead in so-called invisible shipwrecks, but the numbers are likely to be much higher. Despite the increase of arrivals, the reception of migrants on the islands has seen an improvement compared to last years, especially because people are now regularly transferred to the mainland. At the same time, police sources cited by El Paìs, state that the cooperation between the Spanish government and Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia stopped around 8,000 migrants from reaching the islands.  
  • 34 people are reported missing on the Canary route. They left from Dakhla on the 2nd of November and are still unaccounted for. Spanish authorities have been informed by Alarm Phone, but they have not been able to locate the migrants. 
  • On the 14th of November, 8 people drowned on their way to the island of Gran Canaria.  
  • EuroMed Rights participated in the conference Migratlantes. Encuentro De Migraciones Atlánticas organised by the Government of the Canary Islands. Here’s the link to the intervention.  

05/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • On 18 October 2021, a shipwreck off Almeria left 12 missing. Only two people were rescued.  
  • Between 16 and 18 October 2021, more than 300 people, including women and minors, were intercepted and rescued by the Moroccan coast guard while trying to cross by boat from Morocco to the Canary Islands. They were all brought back to Morocco.  
  • On 16-17 October 2021, 37 people died off Spanish coasts.  
  • On 24 October 2021, a six-year-old boy died trying to reach the Canary Islands after being rescued off Gran Canaria with another 49 people, including his mother and sister, after almost two weeks at sea. Between 11-12 October 2021, in less than 24h, 280 people were rescued on the route to the Canary Islands. An additional 187 people were rescued on 13 October 2021 on the Canary Route. One year after the sharp increase in arrivals in the Canary Islands, migrants, including families and minors remained stuck in overcrowded camps in deplorable hygienic and living conditions.  

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • Canary Islands: According to the NGO Caminando Fronteras, 57 people, including 12 minors, died in a shipwreck in the Atlantic route trying to reach the Canary Islands after spending a week at sea. Most of the people were from Guinea Conakry and Ivory Coast. Five people survived and only 16 bodies were recovered. Around 50 people, including 27 women and 8 children, in a wooden boat who departed from Dakhla to the Canary Islands have been missing since 26 September 2021. On 26 September 2021, at least 340 people arrived in the Canary Islands in eight boats. On 27 September 2021, another 33 people were rescued South of Gran Canaria. Despite the critical conditions of the camp facilities denounced by many organisations, these temporary reception camps built under the Canary Islands Plan in 2020 and capable of hosting up to 7,000 people across the Islands, will remain the main facilities hosting migrants in the event of an increase in arrivals. The Ministry of the Interior announced the acceleration of the installation of the Integral System of External Surveillance (SIVE) in the island of Lanzarote.
  • A group of 700 migrants tried to cross from Morocco to the Spanish enclave of Melilla, but they were prevented by Moroccan border guards.
  • On 27 September 2021, Salvamento Maritimo rescued 404 people on 29 different boats in just one day. Most of the people departed from Algeria.
  • The bodies of 7 adults and a 3-year-old child were discovered on the shore in the coast of Almería.
  • According to IOM, whose data are which are lower than the reality, in the first eight months of 2021, 785 people died in the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands, while 240 in the Western Mediterranean Route from Morocco and Algeria to Spain, for a total of 025 people (doubled compared to the same period in 2020).

6/09/2021 - 22/09/2021

  • CANARY ISLANDS: In the first eight months of 2021, a total of 20,491 migrants arrived in Spain, 9,255 of them in the Canary Islands, amounting to a 135.8% increase compared to the same period last year in the Islands. On 14 September 2021, 365 people, including 13 women and three children, arrived in Lanzarote and Gran Canaria. One dead body was recovered. The Government of the Canary Islands asks the central government for an agreement to care for minors, in light of an increase in migrant arrivals expected for the autumn 2021.  
  • On 20 September 2021, 125 people, including 60 women, some pregnant women and children, have arrived at the Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, Spanish territory in Northern Morocco, and requested asylum. They were eventually returned to Morocco despite their willingness to request asylum in Spain. 

19/08/2021 – 06/09/2021

  • CANARY ROUTEOn 4 September 2021, after 4 days at sea45 people, including 17 women and 2 kids, who had departed from Dakhla, were rescued by the Spanish coast guard and brought to Gran Canaria. On 2 September 2021, a boat capsized with 86 people on board. The Moroccan Navy has recovered 22 bodies, 21 women and 1 girl – there are no survivors. On 31 August 2021, at least 11 people who had departed from Tan-Tan died in a shipwreck en route to the Canary Islands. On 30 August 2021, the NGO Caminando Fronteras denounced another shipwreck on the Canary route with 29 victims, including 7 children. On 28 August 2021, another tragedy on the Canary Route, off the coasts of Senegal, left 48 people missing and one dead. 11 survivors were rescued by the Senegalese Navy. On 27 August 2021, Salvamento Marítimo rescued 27 people in distress off Dakhla, four people had already died on board (a woman, a man, a teenager and a girl) and of the 27 survivors one woman died when reaching Gran Canaria. On 25 August 2021, 46 migrants, including 14 women and two babies, were rescued off Gran Canaria, Canary Islands: some of the survivors were transferred to the hospital for their critical health conditions. On 20 August 2021, at least 52 people died in a shipwreck on the Canary route: they had left Laayoune several days before and just one woman survived. Following a deadly shipwreck off the coast of Mauritania, en route to the Canary Islands, on 16 August 2021, UNCHR and IOM published a joint press release call for strengthening search and rescue capacity off the coast of Mauritania and recall that “many rescued at sea end up in administrative detention”.  
  • On 28 August 2021, around 350 people were prevented by Spanish border guards from entering the enclave of Melilla from Morocco
  • On 27 August 2021, the Spanish Coast Guard rescued 87 people off the coast of Cádiz
  • On 24 August 2021, the Court in Ceuta rejects the government’s evidence justifying deportations and continues to halt the returns of minors to Morocco, saying that the returns were not in compliance with Spanish legal system and rights safeguards.
  • On 21 August 2021, Alarm Phone denounced that around 30 people, including women and children, are stuck on Isla de Tierra without food and water and risk being pushed back to Morocco, instead of being allowed to ask for asylum in Spain.  
  • According to the European Commission, the Internal Security Fund – Border and Visa was used to reinforce border controls in Ceuta and Melilla, through the introduction of optical fibre in the border perimeter, a human counting system using facial recognition via CCTV cameras and the update of the Ceuta CCTV”.  

27/07/2021 – 19/08/2021

  • On 13 August 2021, Spain and Morocco agreed to return 700 unaccompanied minors from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta to Morocco who had entered Ceuta in May 2021. The return of unaccompanied minors is in breach of Spanish law and the European Convention of Human Rights. Save the Children declared that the Committee on the Rights of the Child replied to their initial petition, submitted jointly with Gentium and Andaluciaacoge asking the Spanish government to halt the return of 10 minors. Although 5 of them have already been expelled, it halted the return of the other 5. More and more girls are present in the migratory route from Morocco to Ceuta: Save the Children interviewed 85 minor girls who arrived in Ceuta in May 2021, reporting that 4% are cases of LGTBI people who suffer violence inside or outside their family environment, others escaped situations of labour exploitation as well as forced marriages. On 16 August 2021, the Court of guard Number 2 of Ceuta has decided to suspend for 72 hours all returns of minors to Morocco after hearing the testimony of five children.
  • On 5 August 2021, 42 people, including 30 women, 8 children and 4 men, died in a shipwreck on the Atlantic route from Dakhla to the Canary Islands.

5/07/2021 – 27/07/2021

  • On 22 July 2021, around 240 people crossed the fence from Morocco to the Spanish enclave of Melilla.
  • According to an internal document, seen by El Pais, the Civil Guard of Alicante orders its agents not to share "in any case" information with Frontex, as part of its Operation Índalo which patrols the Algeria-Spain route.
  • According to the activist Helena Maleno, 64 people, including 38 women and 10 children, were in distress at sea for days en route to the Canary Islands but their calls for help remained unanswered. On 12 July 2021, a shipwreck on the Canary Route of a boat with 30 people on board caused the death of at least 16 people.
  • Between 10-13 July 2021, around 300 people arrived in the Canary Islands (Fuerteventura, El Hierro, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Fuerteventura) in different disembarkation operations. On 24 July 2021, 44 people arrived in El Hierro after 5 days at sea.
  • The Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras denounced that 2,087 people died or gone missing on sea crossings en route to Spain in the first six months of 2021.
  • An investigation reveals that migrant women seasonal workers in strawberry fields in Spain face constant sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation by their employers.

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • On 30 June 2021, a five-year-old girl died while she was evacuated in helicopter after 17 days crossing the Atlantic. 35 other people, including 16 women and six children, were rescued but one dead man was found on the boat. In just 2 days, 44 deaths were registered on the Canary Route.  
  • On 29 June 2021, Alarm Phone denounced that a boat that left Dakhla on 25 June with 46 people on board, including 22 women, one of them pregnant, and 5 children was still missing.  
  • On 27 June 2021, yet another tragedy en route to the Canary Islands, when a boat with around 60 people, including 15 women and 2 children, capsized off Western Sahara. 40 people died and 22 others were rescued by a fishing boat. Around 298 people on seven different boats arrived in the Canary Islands on the same day.   
  • As EASO will increase reception conditions’ support in Spain, its Chief Nina Gregori commented that Spain “has a rather unique system and the management of places is in the hands of NGOs”, while Spanish Migration Minister said several times that the reception system is not efficient.  
  • More than 1,700 migrants in the Canary Islands are still waiting, after months, for their age determination tests, amid discord between the Government of the Canary Islands and the Las Palmas Prosecutor's Office.  
  • On 28 June 2021, Salvamento Marítimo rescued 37 people who were adrift in a boat off Gran Canaria, Canary Islands. Two people on board had died and seven were hospitalised in serious conditions.  

Migrants and refugees in Algeria

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • 191 sub-Saharan migrants, including 45 children, who were living in Oran were repatriated to their countries of origin. As reported by Algeria Watch, the overall number of sub-Saharans staying irregularly in Oran is increasing despite the numerous repatriations carried out by the government.
  • Eleven people died on 15 May 2022 off the coasts of Algeria. In total, 16 people were on board the boat and five were rescued. Between 21-22 May 2022, the Algerian Coast Guard found three male bodies that were allegedly part of a group of eight harraga who had left five days before. The bodies were identified and buried in the cemetery of Annaba.
  • According to Algeria Watch, since January 2022, Algeria authorities have intercepted nearly 1,200 people who were attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

05/04/2022-10/05/2022 

  • The Algerian Coast Guard has been accused of shooting at a smuggler boat, possibly coming back after smuggling people from Oran to Spain.  
  • Some Syrian migrants, who escaped the country at the beginning of the war and established themselves in Algeria are now trying to cross the dangerous Mediterranean route to reach Europe.  
  • On 15 April 2022, a Tunisian court in El Kef summoned the families of 39 Algerian harragas who went missing in 2008, after trying to cross the Mediterranean. The families have long believed that their relatives were intercepted and then secretly detained in Tunisian prisons. In the written summons received by the families, Tunisian authorities recognised for the first time that the harragas were still alive. Nonetheless, once the families arrived at the court in Tunisia, they were informed that no trial was going to be held, leaving the families with no answers on the fate of their missing relatives.  

22/03/2022-05/04/2022 

  • On 19 March, more than 700 Nigerien migrants arrived at a migrant transit site in Tamanrasset to be repatriated from Algeria. 

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • On 15 March 2022, Spanish authorities arrested Mohamed Benhlima, activist of the Hirak movement and asylum seekers in Spain and transferred him in a deportation centre. Amnesty International launched a petition and asked Spanish authorities to immediately stop his deportation as he risks torture and other inhumane and degrading treatments if deported to Algeria.  
  • On 14 March 2022, Alarm Phone denounced the forced deportation of Malians from Algeria to Niger.   
  • Since the end of February 2022, four meter-high concrete walls have been built on the coast of Ain el Turk, west of Oran, explains InfoMigrants in an attempt to prevent groups of migrants from reaching shore with small boats.  

22/02/2022-08/03/2022 

  • On February 16, 2022, on the sidelines of the visit of the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the president of the Algerian Red Crescent (ARC) said in Tindouf that Algeria had decided to provide health care for migrants in the border areas. 

08/02/20222/02/2022

  • In the whole of 2021, at least 413 Algerians went missing at sea while trying to reach Spain. This is a sharp increase compared to 2020, when the number of people who went missing at sea was 291.

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • The families of a group of Algerian migrants, who went missing in September 2020 after they took the sea to reach Spain, now believe they are detained in Tunisia.  

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • On 8 January 2022, 17 harraga drowned off the coasts of Oran. Among the victims are a Syrian minor, five Moroccan citizens including a girl, and 11 Algerians.  

14/12/2021-11/01/2022

  •  On 31 December 2021, 13 people left Annaba in Algeria to reach Sardinia. They were rescued on the 3 January 2022 by Italian authorities.
  • Three boats left Algeria to reach Sardinia and Spain on New Year’s Eve. One of them was rescued off Ibiza, but there is no information about the fate of the other two.
  • In the last week of December 2021, due to good weather conditions, the departures from Algeria to Spain accelerated. Algeria Watch reports that almost 150 people left for Spain in small boats in the days before 25 December.
  • On International Migrants Day, the Algerian organization Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) once again called for an end to forced expulsions of migrants seeking refugee status in Algeria. The organization stressed how these expulsions are illegal unless they are carried out on a case-by-case and voluntary basis, with a guarantee of access to appeal the decision.
  • Since 2016, the number of migrants irregularly entering Algeria has been increasing and reached a peak in 2021. According to sources in the National Gendarmerie Command, the numbers of arrests of irregular migrants in 2021 was 10,889 compared to the 5,825 of 2020.

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • On the 17th of November 2021, around 30 Algerian were expelled from Spain and returned on a ferry that left from Almeria and disembarked in Oran. Similarly, some days before, 26 Algerians were returned by ferry to Ghazaouet 

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • An increasing number of Algerians are crossing the dangerous sea route to reach Spain. Spanish authorities estimate that around 10,000 Algerian migrants have arrived in Spain since the beginning of 2021, 20% more than last year. At the same time, Algerian authorities have intercepted 4,704 migrants since the beginning of the year, mostly in September. The number of women, children, disabled people and pregnant women crossing the sea is also increasing.  

05/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • The Interior Minister, Kamel Beldjouddeclared that investigations were underway in order to shed light on the networks that exploit both migrant women and children of Sub-Saharan countries by forcing them to beg 

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • According to the association “Assistance to migrants in vulnerable situations”, around 40 Moroccan migrants have been handed over to Moroccan authorities from Algerian authorities at the Zouj Bghal crossing point at the land border between Algeria and Morocco. It is the first time since the closing of borders between the two countries in 1994.

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • In just four days, at the beginning of July 2021, more than 800 Algerians, including many women and children, arrived in Almeria, Spain. In just a few days between end of June and beginning of July 2021, more than 1 100 people landed in Southern Spain (Motril, Almería, Cartagena, Alicante, Baléares) from Algeria. 

For the period from September 2020 to June 2021, click here.

Migrants and refugees in Bulgaria

28/09 – 09/10

  • In Bulgaria, an increasing number of Turkish asylum seekers who try to submit an asylum application are deported to Turkey, in violation of EU and international conventions.

Migrants and refugees in Belgium

5/04/2022-10/05/2022 

  • Belgium rejected the asylum claims of hundreds of Afghans asylum-seekers who are now at risk of deportation, as Belgian authorities believe the situation in Afghanistan has improved.  
  • Belgium is facing difficulties to deal with the arrival of 600 unaccompanied minors from Ukraine, because they need a legal guardian to start the administrative procedures according to Belgian regulations, but there are not enough legal guardians available. Right now about 900 minors are waiting to be assigned one.  
  • While the Belgian reception system has been under pressure for many months now, there are evident differences in the treatment received by non-Ukrainian and Ukrainian asylum-seekers. The latter have access to the temporary protection that was activated by the European Commission, and they are hosted in a shelter while waiting to submit their application. Non-Ukrainian asylum-seekers instead must wait for days without shelter while queuing to try and secure a spot in the centres.  

22/03/202205/04/2022 

  • On 31 March 2022, different collectives of undocumented people launched a new revendication by planting tents at the Ninove Gate in Molenbeek, Brussels, asking for regularization, proper accommodation and the same treatment of asylum seekers, migrants and refugees without discrimination.  
  • On 25 of march, The Telegraph revealed that Britain is paying Belgium £10 million for security and surveillance measures to deter Channel migrants, with the numbers crossing having trebled in three months.  

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • Belgium is expecting 200,000 refugees from Ukraine, amid challenges in the reception system. 

22/02/2022-08/03/2022 

  • Crossborder Forum produced a report of a conference held in November 2021 titled “Deconstructing the border and building bridges: Towards a critical collective analysis of the French-British-Belgian border”. The report addressed four topics: a historical perspective on border controls and the externalisation of the British border; criminalisation and containment; funding the border and the delegation of control to non-state actors; pathways for action and advocacy. 

08/02/2022 - 22/02/2022

  • On 22 February 2022, Frontex will face a hearing in the Federal Parliament in Brussels concerning pushbacks at the EU’s external borders. The Flemish branch of CNCD 11.11.11, Amnesty International, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants Felipe González Morales, Refugee Support Aegean and The Centre for European Policy Studies will also be present at the hearing.  
  • The Belgian government demanded to ensure durable solutions to the Syrian refugees, specifically “quality protection and local integration in neighboring countries; the creation of the conditions for a safe, voluntary and dignified return in Syria; and resettlement to third countries”.  

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • The Brussels Court of First Instance condemned the reception agency Fedasil and the Belgian State for their failures in the reception of asylum-seekers. The reception system has reached saturation, and authorities refused to register many asylum-seekers, breaching international obligations. The Court sentences the Belgian state to a penalty of 5,000 EUR per day, as long as it refuses to register the application for asylum of at least one person. The same penalty is addressed to the Fedasil agency if it does not provide a reception place. This sentence is the result of the actions taken by ten organisations, which demanded a legal action to the court. Here is the call of the signatories’ organisations.  

14/12/2021-11/01/2022

  • European Asylum Support Office (EASO) will support Belgium in its reception crisis. It is the first time that EASO supports a member state that is not located at EU’s external borders. In the meanwhile, the Belgian reception system has reached saturation and, for over two months, asylum-seekers were forced to sleep on the streets.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

  • Asylum seekers are left on the streets in cold temperatures in front of the asylum-reception centre in Brussels. To denounce the inadequacy of the Belgian reception system, 40 activists protested in front of the office of the Secretary of State for Asylum.   
  • On 10 December 2021, a new transit centre for asylum seekers was opened in Brussels with approximately 70 places. People will have access to food, medical assistance and clothes.  
  • The movement of undocumented people in Brussels launched the campaign “In my name” for a proposal for a citizen’s law. For the proposal to be passed, 25,000 signatures from residents in Belgium are needed. Several human rights networks and organisations, including EuroMed Rights, and Members of the European Parliament published a call for the regularisation of undocumented migrants in Belgium and beyond. On 10 December 2021, the Belgian Federal Parliament held an Exchange of views with the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, the Director General of the Aliens Office and the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons on the “regularisation of hunger strikers”. 

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • Belgium, together with France, haappealed to Frontex to help with aerial surveillance of migrant boats to the UK. 

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • Since the 1st of November, 140 migrants have occupied the Beguinage Church in Brussels. Most of them are the same people who went on hunger strike during the summer. They felt betrayed by the first decisions of the Immigration Department on the regularizations of the hunger strikers.  

05/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • The staff of the Petit Château migrant reception centre in Brussels started a 24 hours strike on 18 October 2021, denouncing their degrading working conditions and their impossibility to take care of the people hosted there with dignity.  

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • On 3 October 2021, several hundred people demonstrated for the regularisation of undocumented migrants in Brussels, in the framework of the “We are Belgium too” campaign. Listen to EuroMed Rights’ last podcast episode on Afghan refugees and their living conditions and rights in Belgium with Abdul-Azim Azad, spokesperson of the undocumented Afghani Collective in Belgium.

6/09/2021 - 22/09/2021

  • Local NGOs, including Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde, raise concerns on the increased number of unaccompanied minors living in Brussels and the conditions they are forced to live. 

27/07/2021 – 19/08/2021

  •  On 16 August 2021, just a few days after declaring to continue the deportations of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan, the Belgian Secretary of State on Migration and Asylum, Sammy Mahdi, stated that no asylum seeker should be returned to Afghanistan right now.

5/07/2021 – 27/07/2021

  • The movement for the regularisation of undocumented people in Belgium’s capital continues, with more than 400 people on hunger strike for more than 50 days in the VUB and ULB universities and the Beguinage Church in Brussels. There are around 150 000 undocumented people living and working in Belgium. On 15 July 2021, several renowned Belgian figures signed a letter addressed to the government, “Dying for papers?”. On 21 July 2021, the migrants reached an agreement with the government, after the green and left parties threatened to withdraw from the government coalition. The deal will probably speed up regularisation procedures, on a case-by-case basis, for the strikers.
  • On 16 July 2021, 22 asylum seekers were transferred from Greece to Belgium.

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • More than 400 migrants have been on hunger strike since 23 May 2021 at the Free Universities in Brussels (VUB and ULB) and the Beguinage church (Brussels). Four among them sew their lips in protest, as the government has still not responded to their asks. Civil society organisations raised serious concerns on their health conditions.

For the period from September 2020 to June 2021, click here.

Migrants and refugees in France

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • A volunteer of Calais Solidarity called the emergency housing number in Grand Synthe for a family who was on the street with a baby. He was told that there were no room unless the people were Ukrainians.
  • On 13 May 2022, 350 migrants settled in informal settlements in Calais were evacuated by the police. Local organizations denounced the use of force by authorities who also seized migrants’ properties.

5/04/2022-10/05/2022 

  • The second part of the "Terra Fecundis case", named after the Spanish temporary employment company, that employed migrants in the south-east of France, has just closed. The company and seven farms were convicted of concealed labour and the employment of undocumented migrants. 

22/03/202205/04/2022 

  • Every year, France locks up families with children behind the barbed wire of detention centres. This practice condemned 8 times by the European Court of Human Rights recalls La Cimade in its last report.   
  • A report from Human Rights Observers revealed continued evictions and destruction of property of migrants in Grande Synthe and Calais says ECRE. Frontex has deployed an aircraft to support France and Belgium in detecting “unauthorized” border crossings to the UK. 

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • In France, non-Ukrainian foreigners who have fled Ukraine are worried, writes Le Monde. A government’s instruction excludes temporary protection for refugees who can return to their country of origin, including many students from the Maghreb and West Africa.   
  • On 14 March 2022, several French organisations published a press release on discrimination in reception on the basis of nationality in northern France.   
  • In February 2022, Human Rights Observers documented 153 evictions from informal settlements in Calais, 306 tents and tarpaulins seized, and 12 arrests during evictions.   
  • On March 15, 2022, the organisation Utopia56 received 4 calls from boats in distress between France and the United Kingdom with more than a hundred women, men and children on board. 
  • As the visa application centre for Ukrainians fleeing war opens in Lille, Calais is organising to receive the people who were pushed back at the English border. 

22/02/202208/03/2022 

  • An increasing number of migrants are trying to cross Spain-France border by passing through railway tunnels to avoid checks. Migrants attempt the crossing in both directions, and often they are pushed back by the authorities when they are found without papers. In 2021, about 12,865 migrants were turned back. The local population complaints about the militarization of the border: the only response by the authorities seem to be adding barber wire, without providing assistance to people on the move who risk their lives by crossing irregularly. 
  • Crossborder Forum produced a report of a conference held in November 2021 titled “Deconstructing the border and building bridges: Towards a critical collective analysis of the French-British-Belgian border”. The report addressed four topics: a historical perspective on border controls and the externalisation of the British border; criminalisation and containment; funding the border and the delegation of control to non-state actors; pathways for action and advocacy.  
  • According to Calais Food Collective, on 28 February 2022, a 20-year-old Sudanese person lost his life near Calais.  

08/02/2022 - 22/02/2022

  • The UK will install cameras in French municipalities along the coastline to monitor migrants’ crossings, as part of a project called Terminus 

  • The French Coast Guard rescued 36 migrants in the English Channel on 10 February 2022.  
  • Activists occupied a building in Calais to support migrants who live on the streets and are constantly exposed to evictions by the police.

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • About 1,000 people, including minors, are currently living in informal settlements in the area of Calais. The number of unaccompanied minors has increased in the last years, but it is hard to monitor as many of them live in informal settlements that are evacuated via forced expulsions constantly. According to NGOs in the area, this strategy of “zero fixed settlements” is making more and more young people become invisible and exposed to risks like sexual exploitation, petty crimes, smuggling etc.   
  • The Migrant Support Platform published a report that analyses the policy of deterrence that is being used against migrants on the France-British border. Since 1998, at least 1.28 billion EUR were spent on fences, barbed wire, video surveillance, private security etc., and all of this was constantly topped by daily harassment by the police. This approach can be summed up accordingly: “the objective of the state is to make exiles leave by pushing them to the limit" 

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • In Calais, conditions for migrants are rapidly deteriorating due to continuous evictions, freezing temperatures, and lack of access to basic services. Many are Afghans who fled the Taliban regime. Meanwhile, Channel crossings continue: on 14 January 2022, 32 people attempted the crossing but one young Sudanese migrant died.  
  • On 13 January 2022, 150 people were expelled from Grande-Synthe where they were living in informal settlements. Some of them took buses directed to the reception centers close by, but the majority had nowhere to go, they were left with nothing.  
  • In the beginning of January 2022, Fathallah Belafhail was found dead along the France-Italy border, in the area of Briançon.  
  • French newspaper Libération shared a call by multiple organisations to end widespread arbitrary detention of refugees at various borders in France but also external border in Europe. The organisations also denounce how the EU Pact intends to make the model of detention at the border even more widespread and systemic.  
  • In 2021, France repatriated about 5,000 individuals through ‘voluntary returns’.  

14/12/2021 - 11/01/2022

  • CSOs assisting migrants in Calais warn that about 2,000 people could be left without basic assistance as a charity cut fundings for organizations in the region.
  • In the winter of 2021, approximately 1,200 people every month attempted to cross from Italy to France via the Alps. The number is higher compared to previous years and the route is considerably dangerous given the low temperatures in the winter months.
  • The 27 bodies of the victims of the 23rd of November 2021 shipwreck were identified and a funeral was held on 16 December 2021 for four of them. These were later repatriated to Afghanistan.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

  • Crossings of the Alpine route between Italy and France, in the area of Briançon, have been increasing in the past weeks. Most of the people crossing are Afghans. Les Terrasses Solidaires, a reception centre run by a local association, demanded support to the State as it reached its capacity and people have nowhere else to stay. So far however, it seems that the only response from the authorities has been to step up border controls, while people remain on the streets in freezing temperatures.  
  • France rejected the UK government’s proposal to carry out joint patrols in the area of Calais to prevent border crossings. French authorities stress how the proposal undermines French territorial sovereignty and they suggest the UK open legal channels for migration.  
  • On 9 December 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron presented the priorities of the upcoming French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. On migration, the priorities are: 1) reforming the Schengen space in order to better protect EU’s borders; 2) work on a mechanism to face migratory ‘crisis’ at borders, by working with Frontex and allowing Member States to deploy border police forces in other Member States; 3) moving on with the EU Pact on Migration (focusing on cooperation with origin and transit countries, protect the EU’s borders and harmonise the asylum system and secondary movements).  

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • The first victim of the shipwreck in the Channel to be identified is a 24-year-old Kurdish woman from northern Iraq, Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin, who was trying to reach her husband in the UK. After the shipwreck of 27 people in the Channel, British and French government officials were supposed to hold a meeting in Calais. However, France cancelled the meeting with Priti Patel after Boris Johnson published a public letter asking France to take back the migrants crossing the Channel. The meeting still took place with officials of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the European Commission, who agreed on boosting cross-border police operations and deploying a Frontex airplane to monitor the Channel. (Watch EuroMed Rights’ interviews with Al Jazeera and TV Canarias 
  • On the 17th of November 2021, protestors in Calais ended the hunger strike that had started on the 11th of October. The activists reached an agreement with the government to end all unannounced evictions and open a dialogue between NGOs, migrants and the state.  
  • The 'Commission of Inquiry on Migration, Displacement of Populations and the Conditions of Life and Access to Rights of Migrants, Refugees and Stateless Persons' has published its report in which it denounces the conditions of life and violations against migrants and refugees at the various French borders. It puts forward some recommendations. 

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • On the 12th of November, France hosted an international conference on Libya in Paris. The conference was attended by Libya’s head of the transitional presidency council Mohamed al-Menfi as well as Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah. The conference was co-presided by France, Germany, Italy, Libya and the UN, and among the international actors present were US Vice President Kamala Harris and Egypt’s President Al-Sisi. The main issue discussed were the December 24th elections and the departure of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya. In the Declaration released after the conference, the “importance of providing technical assistance and capacity building to Libya” is stressed.  

05/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • The organisation La Cimade analyses the issue of family reunification of Afghan asylum seekers.  
  • Human Rights Watch denounced that the living conditions of migrants, including many children, around Calais, inflicted to them by French authorities, amount to degrading treatment. Around 2,000 migrants are staying around Calais by mid-2021.  
  • During a visit to the new migration camp in the Greek island of Samos, on 10 October 2021, French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, has praised the “Greek model” of migration control and restated France’s commitment to increase border controls during the upcoming French Presidency of the Council of the European Union.  

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • On 29 September 2021, a Sudanese 16-year-old boy died in Calais, France, while trying to board a lorry to the UK.
  • French police in Dunkirk shot rubber bullets at migrants trying to cross the Channel to the UK, by injuring two of them.
  • On 28 September 2021, France announced the restriction of visas for three Maghreb countries, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia as a result of their non-cooperation in readmitting their citizens returned from France, in a logic of negative conditionality (reduction of visas for non-cooperating on readmission) as present in the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum. Many civil society organisations denounced this move (La Cimade, CRLDHT). While Algeria is banning French planes from flying over its territory, also in retaliation for the visa restrictions. Tunisian President, Kais Saied, during a phone call with French President, Emmanuel Macron, regretted France’s decision to restrict visas.
  • On 27 September 2021, four Afghan asylum seekers have been returned from France to Bulgaria, in the framework of the Dublin regulation. Lawyers fear that they could be deported back to Afghanistan given that Bulgaria has not suspended returns to Afghanistan.

6/09/2021 - 22/09/2021

  • Increased obstacles for Afghan refugees in France for family reunification procedures.  

19/08/2021 – 06/09/2021

  • More than 1,000 people in distress, including about 100 children, are still waiting for a shelter in front of the Prefecture in Paris.  
  • Refugee Rights Europe published the report Five years on. An analysis of the past and present situation at the UK-France border, five years after the peak of the Calais ‘jungle camp 

27/07/2021 – 19/08/2021

  • On 24 July 2021, French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, asked Frontex to deploy an aerial operation off the coasts of Calais to increase controls at the border. At the same time, Pierre-Henri Dumont, a French Member of Parliament of the Calais region declared that the solution is to detain migrants in closed detention centres to examine their situation and see "whether or not the person is eligible for asylum in France".

5/07/2021 – 27/07/2021

  • On 22 July 2021, the European Court of Human Rights condemned France - for the 8th times since 2012 – for violating Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, prohibiting inhumane and degrading treatment, by detaining families and children in migrant detention centres.
  • Following a record-high number of people rescued on 19 July 2021 (430) who crossed the Channel from France to the UK, French and UK Interior Ministers announced new measures to prevent migrants from crossing. The UK will pay France EUR 62.7 million to increase police and border patrols along the French coast and equipment to securitize the border. So far in 2021, 6 600 migrants have been intercepted by UK authorities, while French authorities prevented 8 000 migrants to cross the Channel.

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • On 2 July 2021, the Council of State removed three African countries (Benin, Senegal and Ghana) from the list of the so-called “safe” countries, in a decision motivated primarily by the need to protect LGBTIQ+ people and which will be retroactive according to local organisations. This controversial list, established by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA), had not been changed since 2015 and comprises 16 countries. 

For the period from September 2020 to June 2021, click here.

Migrants and refugees in Croatia

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • Frontex reported that since the beginning of 2022, 27,172 people crossed the Balkan route to enter the EU, among them many Afghans and Syrians. According to Frontex “the route represents almost half of the all the irregular border crossings into the EU”.
  • Border violence Monitoring Network published its report on the situation on the Balkan route in March 2022.

5/04/2022-10/05/2022 

  • A decreasing number of migrants have been crossing the border from Bosnia Herzegovina to Croatia according to government bodies and local police, as they seek new routes to enter EU countries.

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • The Border Violence Monitoring Network published its December 2021 report collecting 30 testimonies of pushbacks impacting 280 people-on-the-move across the Balkans. Concerning the Balkan route, the report analyses the death of a 10-year-old Kurdish girl in the river between Croatia and Slovenia, the pushback of her family, the report of the Croatian Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) on ill-treatments suffered by migrants at the hand of Croatian police, and the criminalisation of a member of the organisation Are You Syrious 

11/01/2022 - 25/01/2022

  • Over 4,500 migrants and asylum-seekers are being held in Serbian reception centres, the majority are from Afghanistan and Syria. Serbia is seen by many migrants as a transit country on the so-called Balkan route, and many want to cross its border into Croatia.  

14/12/2021-11/01/2022

  • Along the Balkan route, migrants and asylum-seekers are increasingly trying to reach Western Europe via a new route that passes through Albania and Kosovo.
  • The persecution of pro-refugee activists and organizations continues. A Croatian court convicted a volunteer from the NGO Are you Syrious for aiding illegal immigration.

30/11/2021 - 14/12/2021

  • The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published a report on their impromptu visit to Croatia in the summer of 2020. The report denounces Croatian police ill-treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers at the border and urges for investigations to be opened on cases of ill-treatment. The report also shows how the Croatian police tried to hide evidence of pushbacks written in a logbook from the CPT, that confirms the general pattern of violence and abuse at the borders that was broadly documented in the past years.  

16/11/2021 - 29/11/2021

  • On Thursday 18th of November 2021, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on the M.H. and Others v. Croatia case against a pushback on the Croatia-Serbia border. The case refers to the death of Madina Hussiny, a six-year-old girl who was killed by a train on the border with Serbia after Croatian authorities expelled her and her family. The Court established that Madina Jussiny and her family were expelled without having the possibility to file for asylum, thereby performing a collective expulsion that is illegal under international law. Croatia must compensate the family, composed of 14 Afghan citizens, with €40,000 in damage and €16,700 in costs and expenses. In the press release issued by the ECHR, the Court states the following: "The Court found in particular that the investigation into the death had been ineffective, that the applicant children’s detention had amounted to ill-treatment, and that the decisions around the applicants’ detention had not been dealt with diligently. It also held that some of the applicants had suffered a collective expulsion from Croatia, and that the State had hindered the effective exercise of the applicants’ right of individual application by restricting access to their lawyer among other things”. Here is the ECHR judgement.  
  • The Migreurop network has published the report Exils sans fin: Chantages anti-migratoires le long de la route des BalkansThe report analyses the process of European border externalisation in the Balkan region.  

25/10/2021 - 15/11/2021

  • On the 16th of October, the Border Violence Monitoring Network reported a violent pushback from the Croatia to Bosnia. According to testimonies, the Croatian police apprehended first a group of five Afghani and three Pakistani men and then a group of twelve Afghanis. The people were put in a van and driven back to the Bosnian border. The Croatian police also used dogs against them and burned all their belongings except for their phones, power banks, and money that had been already confiscated. At the border, the police forced the migrants to enter Bosnia by crossing a river despite the cold temperatures.  

05/10/2021 - 25/10/2021

  • Three police officers, accused of being involved in violent pushbacks, have been suspended 

23/09/2021 - 05/10/2021

  • The Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) published a new legal toolkit to “map possible legal complaint mechanisms on human rights violations at borders, at both domestic and European level”.

6/09/2021 - 2//09/2021

  • According to the Balkan Region Report – August 2021, Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) recorded 30 pushbacks, impacting 324 people across migratory routes in the Balkans. 
  • Testimonies from Korenica, at the Croatia-Bosnia border, where “the practice of violence and torture against migrants has become daily practice”.  

19/08/2021 – 06/09/2021

  • Between 16 and 29 August 2021, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) documented about 60 illegal pushbacks by the Croatian police against Afghan families in Bosnia attempting to reach Europe.
  • The Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) documented 22 pushbacks in the Balkans in July 2021, affecting a total of 544 people.

27/07/2021 – 19/08/2021

  • The Protecting Rights at Borders (PRAB) initiative recorded pushback incidents involving 3,403 persons between 16 April and 30 June 2021.
  • According to Frontex, between January and July 2021, 22,600 migrants, mainly Syrians and Afghans, tried to enter the EU via the Western Balkans, 90% more than in 2020.
  • On 3 August 2021, 8 human rights organisations denounce that Croatia’s recently announced border monitoring mechanism “falls short of the standards needed to ensure its effectiveness and success”.

5/07/2021 – 27/07/2021

  •  In early July 2021, in a groundbreaking court ruling, the Regional Administrative Court of Styria (Southeast Austria) upheld the complaint by a young Moroccan man who was pushed back by the Austrian border police and declared this practice illegal and inhumane.

21/06/2021 – 05/07/2021

  • A video from the German newspaper Der Spiegel, shows the brutal and illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers, including pregnant women, babies and children with disabilities, from the Croatian police.

For the period from September 2020 to June 2021, click here.

Migrants and refugees in Italy

10/05/2022-24/05/2022

  • Rescue ship Ocean Viking saved 233 people from two overcrowded boats in the Libyan SAR. Among them are 6 pregnant women and a 3-months old baby. Survivors told the crew that one man drowned a few hours before the NGO arrived because he fell off the boat.
  • 119 people disembarked in Roccella Jonica, southern Italy. They are mainly Syrian and Afghan
  • The Italian government announced that it will prolong the use of quarantine ships until May 31st, without saying whether they will be abolished or prolonged again after that date. Even if the Covid19 state of emergency has been lifted in Italy, the use of quarantine ships continued without any official explanation.
  • Amnesty International and ASGI launched a call not to renew the Italy-Libya Memorandum of Understanding (which will expire in February 2023 and will be automatically renewed) and to stop financing the so-called Libyan Coast Guard. Indeed, the Italian Parliament will discuss in a few weeks the financing of Italy’s military missions abroad, including in Libya.
  • EuroMed Rights was present at Festival Sabir in southern Italy with a panel on identification procedures for dead and missing migrants in the Maghreb region. The panel included representatives from CSOs in Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and Algeria and denounced the lack of national and international identification procedures, to give answers to those families who lost loved ones on deadly migratory journeys.
  • On 16 May 2022, Alarm Phone reported about approximately 500 people in distress in the Maltese SAR who had left from Tobruk, Libya. The Italian Coast Guard rescued them during the night, and they disembarked in Lampedusa.
  • On 15 May 2022, Alarm Phone reported about a distress case of 26 people off the coasts of Benghazi. They had been at sea for three days, had no food nor drinking water left and water was entering their boat. The people entered the Maltese SAR zone, but no authority intervened. A merchant vessel nearby was ordered by Maltese authority not to intervene. After 40 hours of non-intervention by relevant authorities, the people reached the Italian SAR zone. Finally, the people were rescued by Italian authorities and disembarked in Pozzallo, Sicily.
  • Between 9-12 May 2022, MSF vessel Geo Barents rescued 470 people in the Central Mediterranean. After 7 days at sea, they were able to disembark in Augusta, Sicily. On 9 May, the NGO Sea Watch rescued 145 people in the Mediterranean, who were disembarked in Augusta, Sicily after over a week at sea.
  • On 11 May 2022, a fire broke out during the night in Borgo Mezzanone, in Apulia, in an informal settlement where migrants live. Twenty shacks burned down but luckily no one got injured.

5/04/2022-10/05/2022 

  • So far in 2022, 550 people have lost their lives along the Central Mediterranean route.  
  • On 4 May 2022, civil rescue ship Sea Watch rescued 57 people 
  • By the end of April, civil rescue ship Ocean Viking rescued a total of 295 people in different operations. The NGO had to wait 10 days at sea for the assignation of a port of disembarkation, which was finally assigned in Pozzallo, Sicily.  
  • MSF rescue ship Geo Barents rescued 101 people in the Central Mediterranean, who disembarked in Augusta, Sicily, after five days at sea.  
  • On 30 April 2022, 218 people disembarked in Calabria, Italy, after being rescued by Italian authorities. Among the people on board, there were also two babies who were born while at sea. The people on board are Syrians and Lebanese.  
  • On 24 April 2022, Alarm Phone reported about a distress case of 51 people adrift near the island of Lampedusa. Finally, they were rescued by Italian authorities.  
  • The weekend between 9-10 April 2022, the humanitarian ship Sea Watch 3 rescued more than 200 people in the Central Mediterranean. Unfortunately, in one of the operations, not all the people on board a dinghy could be saved, and several remain missing. 
  • On 8 April 2022, Italian far-right politicians Matteo Salvini, appeared in Palermo, Sicily, for his trial for kidnapping migrants and abuse of power. The trial refers to the Open Arms case, dating back to summer 2019 when Salvini was Minister of Interiors.  

22/03/202205/04/2022 

  • On 31 March, the BBC interviewed a Senegalese man who was accused of people smuggling soon after he survived crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Hundreds of innocent migrants are currently locked up in Italy waiting for the legal process to be concluded. 
  • In 2022, a reported 6,701 migrants disembarked in Italy - around half were rescued at sea and the other half landed on their own.  

08/03/2022 - 22/03/2022

  • As of 15 March 2022, 6,263 migrants disembarked in Italy, including 1,518 Egyptians and 737 unaccompanied minors.  
  • On 14 March 2022, the search and rescue NGO vessels Open Arms and Geo Barents were finally allowed to dock at the port of Augusta, Sicily, where the 28 and 111 migrants who were on board, respectively, were allowed to disembark. The SAR vessel Sea-Eye 4 left on 13 March to arrive in the central Mediterranean to survey the search and rescue area. 
  • According to FTDES, the number of minors arriving to the Italian coast from Tunisia quadrupled in 2021 compared to 2017, reaching a "record number", especially for those who arrived alone.  

22/02/2022-08/03/2022 

  • As of 3 March 2022, 5.474 migrants arrived in Italy by sea. The top-three nationalities are Egypt, Bangladesh and Tunisia.   
  • Almost 100 asylum-seekers were evacuated from Libya to Italy via the UNHCR evacuation flights.  
  • Civil rescue ship Sea Watch rescued 129 people off Libyan coasts on 25 February 2022. After many days at sea, they could disembark in Porto Empedocle, Sicily.  
  • Between 21-22 February 2022, the Italian Coast Guard rescued 573 people off the coasts of Sicily. They were travelling on two overcrowded ships, and among them there were 59 minors and one dead person.  
  • Fondazione ISMU published its annual report on migration in Italy in 2021, which especially highlights the impact of the pandemic on migratory fluxes to Italy and the situation of Afghan refugees.  
  • By providing a new mobile container connected to the radar of the naval base of Abu Sitta, on the Libyan coast, Italy is continuing playing a key role in intercepting and returning migrants back to Libya. 
  • On 1 March 2022, EuroMed Rights was invited to present its concerns and recommendations on the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum before the Human Rights Commission at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Parliament. (watch the recording here). 

08/02/2022 - 22/02/2022

  • On 19 February 2022, Sea Watch rescued 121 people. Later, it rescued 8 people in a second operation.  
  • On 12 February 2022, Alarm Phone launched an alarm about a boat in distress in the Maltese SAR zone with approximately 90 people on board. Maltese authorities ordered a merchant vessel in the vicinity not to intervene. The people were in distress for over 9 hours, until they were finally rescued by the Italian civil ship Ocean Viking. The NGO ship has conducted five SAR operations and rescued a total of 247 people 
  • Between 12-13 February 2022, more than 400 people were rescued and disembarked in Lampedusa. Among them, a group who was on board a dinghy that was accidentally hit by a fishing boat off Libyan coasts. During the accident, 3 people went missing and their relatives have no news as to whether they are alive or not.  
  • On 10 February 2022, 65 people from Tunisia arrived in Lampedusa in 4 different boats.  
  • ActionAid and Openpolis launched a new platform called Centri d’Italia which collects all information on the reception system in Italy and on the various reception centers in the country. The platform was launched together with the report L’emergenza che non c’è and highlights a first important point: from 2018 to 2020, the number of people in reception centers in Italy has diminished by 43%, but most of them are still held in Centers for Extra-Ordinary Reception (CAS). Indeed, 52,451 people are currently in the Centers for Extra-Ordinary Reception (CAS), 22,152 are in the Centers for Reception and Integration (SAI – ordinary reception) and 1,633 are in the First Reception Centers.  
  • Amnesty International launched a petition to withdraw the Italy-Libya Memorandum of Understanding. The petition can be signed here 

25/01/2022 - 08/02/2022

  • The 2 February 2022 marked the 5th anniversary of the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya. In the past 5 years, more than 82,000 people were intercepted at sea and returned to Libya, in detention centres where human rights abuses are systematic.  
  • A court in Agrigento, Sicily, archived the case on the rescue ship Mare Jonio, from the NGO Mediterranean Rescue. According to the judge, ruling on the case of a rescue operation carried out on 9 May 2019, the ship was properly equipped to perform SAR operations since Italian law does not require any specific certification to perform SAR activities. Moreover, the crew acted according to international law when rescuing 30 people in the Libyan SAR zone who were at risk of capsizing.  
  • The rescue ship Aita Mari saved 176 people in two different operations who were disembarked in Lampedusa.   
  • On 24 January 2022, Alarm Phone launched an alarm about a boat with 280 people in the Maltese SAR zone. After 6 hours from the alert, they were rescued by the Italian Coast Guard but 7 people were found dead, probably from hypothermia. They were mainly from Bangladesh, Egypt, Sudan and Mali. They disembarked in Lampedusa.  
  • 11 Syrian refugees in Lebanon landed in Italy via humanitarian corridors. Another 11 will be evacuated in the next days, mostly for family reunifications. On 28 January 2022, another 48 people arrived via humanitarian corridors from Athens, mostly from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Syria, Iraq and Somalia.