January 2016 highlights

Report covers period 23 November - 31 December 2015.

New arrivals

An increasing number of unaccompanied children arrive in Austria.

Slovenia continues to build a fence at the Croatian border and Austria installed barriers at the border in Spielfeld to facilitate orderly border crossings.

Some people are turned back at the border, either because they give inconsistent information (Austria), have false documents or do not want to seek asylum upon arrival (Germany, Sweden).

Criminal proceedings

In 2015, 1,064 people have been found guilty for unauthorised crossing of the border fence in Hungary.

In Germany, courts are confronted with a great number of human smuggling cases. It is, however, often unclear whether or not money was paid to facilitate irregular entry.

(See also FRA reference material on criminalisation)

Initial registration and processing

Italy opens an additional hotspot in Trapani (Sicily). Lawyers are concerned about insufficient information given to new arrivals at hotspots in Sicily. Almost 200 persons receive an expulsion order after disembarkation in Palermo and are only given the opportunity to apply for asylum after negotiating for two days.

In 2015, a total of 190 people departed from Italy and 82 from Greece under the EU relocation programme.

Slovenia accelerates the registration process, whereas it continues to be slow in Berlin where people sometimes wait for hours in the cold to access the registration office.

NGOs no longer have access to registration facilities in Croatia where arriving persons receive little or no information on asylum or return.

Vulnerability screening takes place late (Germany) or is carried out summarily (Sweden), which limits the identification of vulnerable people.

In Austria, interpreters are involved in determining the country of origin of new arrivals without having all the necessary expertise to do so.

(See also FRA reference material on provision of information, asylum, borders and immigration and border checks at land borders)

Reception conditions

In Austria, some 4,000 asylum seekers, more than half of whom are children, are not yet cared for at the provincial level, which is blocking the capacities of transit facilities.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) withdraws from the initial reception facility in Pozzallo, Italy, due to inadequate conditions.

Sanitary conditions are critical in some emergency shelters in Sweden. People at the Dobova train station in Slovenia (1,000 per train) do not have access to toilets for several hours as facilities are locked on non-running trains. Thousands of asylum seekers wait for weeks in the airport hall of Berlin-Tempelhof until showers are installed.

The hasty onward transfer of refugees in Croatia leaves no opportunity for persons to rest or for the authorities to identify vulnerabilities and provide support.

Child protection

According to the Swedish Police, about 25 % of unaccompanied children disappear from their accommodation.

Delays in appointing guardians to unaccompanied children are reported with respect to the situation in Austria, Slovenia and Sweden. In Austria, unaccompanied children have to sign documents on applicable procedures although they might not fully understand what they sign.

Children are spotted alone crying before being picked up by Red Cross interpreters in Croatia.

In Bulgaria, asylum seeking children continue to be outside the education system, and in Germany, children wait up to several months before accessing compulsory education.

(See also FRA reference material on guardianship and separated children as well as ENOC report on safety and fundamental rights at stake for children on the move, January 2016)

Legal, social and policy responses

Acceptance of refugees among the population is decreasing in Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and Sweden.

Racist incidents and hate crimes increase in Germany and Sweden.

Several demonstrations against the razor wire fence take place in Slovenia.

Sweden introduces border checks at its land and sea borders to Denmark, and Germany, and asks transport companies to check if their passengers have valid identity documents.

Hate speech

The Hungarian government sponsored a campaign against refugees in early December which portrayed refugees as potential terrorists.

(See also the FRA Focus 01/2015 on Embedding fundamental rights in the security agenda)


Monthly data collection on the current migration situation in the EU - January 2016

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