May 2016 highlights

Report covers period 1 - 30 April 2016.

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New arrivals

Some 3,470 people arrive in Greece by sea, including more than 1,000 children. Compared with the number of arrivals in March 2016, this corresponds to a decrease in arrivals by more than 80%.

At the same time, more than 10,000 people remain stranded in Idomeni, Greece, including many persons with disabilities, pregnant women, patients with chronic diseases and unaccompanied children.

Arrivals increase slightly in Austria, Bulgaria and Hungary. The number of arrivals also remains high in Italy, where some of those rescued at sea have bullet wounds.

The number of migrants arriving in Slovenia decreases sharply and none are reported in Croatia.

In Hungary, people wait out in the open for days until they are allowed to enter the facilities in the transit zone to Serbia. No accommodation, toilets, showers, sanitary facilities or rubbish collection points are available. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) face difficulties when distributing food to the people waiting on the other side of the fence outside the transit zone on Hungarian territory.

The humanitarian corridor established by Italian Christian groups in Lebanon continues to enable refugees to enter the country in a legal manner by air.

Austria commences preparing to build a fence at its border with Italy (Brenner) with the prospect of possible border controls.

Some 560 persons, mainly from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, are returned from Greece to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal in April 2016.

Criminal proceedings

Migrants are usually not punished for their irregular entry into a European Union Member State. Hungary, however, continues to prosecute unauthorised border-fence crossings, although the number of prosecuted cases has decreased by half compared to the previous month.

Initial registration and processing

People held at the closed hotspot facilities in Lesbos and Chios, Greece, are released following the maximum period of detention. Open facilities in Chios, where asylum seekers may subsequently stay awaiting the assessment of their asylum claims, are overcrowded.

Due to administrative restrictions in Bulgaria, identity documents are not issued to some asylum seekers because reception facilities cannot register people after they reach the limit of their official capacity.

The Italian parliament questions the government on the identification procedures and the conditions in the newly established hotspot in Taranto.

Requests for international protection drastically decrease in Slovenia.

Hungary continues to systematically reject asylum seekers entering through Serbia, which is considered a ‘safe third country’.

Reception conditions

Critical deficits remain concerning the capacity and provision of basic services at official reception sites in Greece.

The transit zones along the Serbian borders with Hungary host about 100 asylum seekers a day.

Tensions arise at reception centres in several EU Member States. For example, in the Porin Reception Centre in Croatia, residents protest due to a lack of healthcare, inadequate food, no access to schools and insecurity about their future.

In Sweden, NGOs report receiving an increased number of calls from asylum seekers, including single women, who feel unsafe in some of the remote facilities.

Child protection

Transfers of unaccompanied children to accommodation facilities are delayed in Greece due to overcrowding.

Unaccompanied children are sometimes not immediately identified and left outside the fence at the Hungarian-Serbian border under very poor living conditions.

In Bulgaria, a security company is responsible for security at the centres where unaccompanied children are accommodated. Guards are not specifically trained to work with children and are not allowed to communicate with them.

In Sweden, authorities move unaccompanied children to the municipalities they were assigned to. Children and their guardians sometimes oppose such a move because it means changing schools, social services and guardians. According to a risk analysis by the Swedish national authorities, 20 % to 30 % of unaccompanied children show signs of mental health issues.

Children in Croatia still do not have access to education.

Austria reports tensions and fights between unaccompanied boys who are accommodated in ethnically mixed groups.

Legal, social and policy responses

A new law enters into force in Greece: it establishes a Reception and Identification Service, an Appeal Authority and new Regional Asylum Offices, and restructures the Asylum Service. Furthermore, it provides asylum seekers with long pending appeals to be granted ‘humanitarian status’.

The Italian Prime Minister proposes a common EU policy for the management of migration flows into the EU, ‘Migration Compact’, using as a model the agreement between the EU and Turkey.

In Austria, the parliament adopts a new asylum law. The law introduces the possibility of returning asylum seekers to a neighbouring country without examining their claim for international protection, if a threat to national security or public order is established.

Legislative proposals are under discussion in Croatia and Sweden to limit certain entitlements for asylum seekers and/or refugees. In Italy, the system for appealing against negative asylum decisions is being reviewed.

Italy declares 3 October as the National Day of Commemoration of Migration Victims. Germany agrees on a white paper on integration.

In Sweden, national authorities acknowledge the important role of civil society when responding to the needs of asylum seekers in 2015. Moreover, a guide is being developed, which outlines the experiences and lessons learnt.

In Slovenia, the government calls out to people to offer private accommodation for relocated asylum seekers, but very few people respond.

Hate speech

Hate crime incidents continue to occur in several Member States. For example, in Bulgaria several residents from an asylum centre were beaten, robbed and verbally harassed. The victims, however, refuse to report to the police.

Many hate crime incidents are reported in Austria and Germany. Social media continues to be a medium for spreading anti-migrant propaganda in Slovenia.

In Sweden, a case where a police officer physically assaulted an asylum seeker and used offensive language is being investigated.

Downloads: 

Monthly data collection on migration situation - May 2016

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Monthly data collection on migration situation - May 2016 - Highlights

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