quarta-feira, 16 de março de 2016

EU needs Greek action to save Turkey refugee deal / Mogherini warns of new migrant flows from Libya and Iraq

Mogherini warns of new migrant flows from Libya and Iraq

EU foreign policy chief says more than 450,000 new refugees could come from North Africa.


The EU’s foreign policy chief warned this week that potential new migratory flows from Libya and Iraq are a serious concern for the bloc as it tries to contain a refugee crisis that shows no signs of slowing down.

In a letter sent to foreign ministers ahead of their meeting in Brussels Monday and obtained by POLITICO, Federica Mogherini said the “volatile situation in Libya” raised the possibility that more than 450,000 refugees there “could be potential candidates for migration to Europe.”

The danger of new flows crossing from Libya to Sicily was also addressed by EU interior ministers last week.

“The concern remains that there are alternative routes, to mention Libya-Italy, we are in talks with the Italians to avoid at an early stage a similar movement like on the Balkan route,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière told reporters at the meeting.

Mogherini, in her letter, makes Libya a priority in the effort to address the root causes of the heavy migration to Europe — adding to a list that includes Syria, Turkey, Morocco and the Western Balkans.

Migrants at the Idomeni refugee camp on March 13, 2016 in Idomeni, Greece

EU foreign ministers decided last month to extend the mandate of a civilian mission in Libya, called Eubam, to support Libyan authorities in improving and developing the security of the country’s borders.

In her new message to foreign ministers, Mogherini said the Eubam reinforcements will “support planning efforts in view of a possible civilian capacity building mission, in the field of police, rule of law and criminal justice system, including counter-terrorism, migration and border management.”

Mogherini also said the situation in Iraq highlights “the risk of additional migratory flows this year in the wake of the ongoing military campaign against Da’esh,” referring to the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

In Iraq, she writes, the EU is “contributing substantially to stabilization efforts in the liberated areas, where the challenges remain immense, in order to facilitate the voluntary return in safety of displaced persons as soon as possible.”


Jacopo Barigazzi  

EU needs Greek action to save Turkey refugee deal

Greece must ensure its refugee ‘hotspots’ don’t ruin the EU-Turkey migration deal.

By FLORIAN EDER 3/15/16, 7:59 PM CET

The European Commission wants Greece to drastically speed up the processing of asylum requests to a week, rather than months, to avoid scuppering a potential deal with Turkey to slow down the inflow of refugees.

Brussels is already struggling to secure unanimous support at an EU summit this week for the agreement, which is backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel but has met objections from at least six member countries, with stiff opposition from Cyprus.

Greece will play a crucial role in the refugee deal, being tasked with sending back to Turkey those migrants who illegally arrive on the Greek islands. In return, EU countries are supposed to agree to relocate an equivalent number of Syrian asylum seekers who are in Turkey, and the Turkish government will receive €6 billion of EU aid to help deal with the humanitarian crisis.

However, underlining its concerns about Athens’ ability to perform that role, the Commission is putting pressure on Greece to boost the capacity of its asylum service “in order to process a high number of asylum applications within a short period of time.”

Couched as legal advice, that was the gist of a Commission document for Greek and Turkish authorities being prepared for the summit, of which POLITICO obtained a copy. Given the Greek government’s poor track record on processing refugees, the document repeatedly stressed the need for acting “swiftly,” “in a short space of time” and “within a short period of time.”

That means Greece should no longer take months to process an asylum request, but “about one week,” said one EU diplomat familiar with the plans.

As well as accelerating its bureaucracy, Greece needs to set up one-stop shops that can accept or reject asylum requests and go through the requisite legal appeals process, from the first instance to the final court appeal, “within a short period of time.”

A Syrian girl looks through the window of a bus where she has lived with her family for the eight months at a refugee camp in Bab al-Salama, on the Syria-Turkey border

The EU-Turkey agreement will pledge to respect the legal and human rights of migrants and refugees and a discussion paper for the summit prepared by European Council President Donald Tusk’s office, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, says that all migrants being returned to Turkey will be “protected in accordance with international standards.”

However, Greece has been suspended from parts of European asylum agreements since 2011 because of the poor conditions in its asylum shelters. It takes longer than almost any other EU country to process them legally, and it has been criticized by the EU repeatedly for delays in setting up so-called “hotspots” to register incoming refugees.

The Commission tells Greece, in the paperwork prepared for the summit, that it must ensure the “logistics and workflows” of these hotspots are efficient enough to stop migrants who are to be shipped back to Turkey leaving the registration centers: It must ensure there are necessary “reception capacities … including closed detention.”

The hope is to dissuade would-be migrants from giving people-smugglers money to ferry them into Europe in the first place.

Jacopo Barigazzi contributed to this article.    

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