Sunday

19th Sep 2021

EU 'stands by Afghans' but wants most kept away

The European Commission wants to help vulnerable Afghans to reach the EU, while seeking to resettle thousands of others. But an internal document also says those not welcomed should be returned to transit or so-called third countries.

EU seeks Afghan safe passage to Pakistan

The EU wants to create safe passage routes out of Afghanistan towards Pakistan and other central Asian states in order to evacuate Afghan women's rights activists and others with similar profiles.

Asylum seekers dread new EU camps on Greek islands

A new EU camp for asylum seekers is being inaugurated later this month in Samos. Vagelis Stratis from the IRC says people are leaving the island to avoid to go to it, amid a spike in mental health cases.

Podcast

A hunger strike at the heart of Europe

This summer some 450 undocumented workers and migrants in Brussels refused food during two months. They were protesting Belgian immigration rules that human rights officials and campaigners say arbitrarily obstruct them from legal and stable residency.

Lead MEP on asylum fingerprint bill dismisses NGO appeal

NGOs are appealing for EU lawmakers to stop work on Eurodac reforms, a bill that collects the biometric data of migrants and asylum seekers. But the lead MEP on the file says the European Parliament intends to adopt it anyway.

Polish-Belarus asylum-seeker border standoff continues

An EU Commission spokesperson called the situation's origins as "an attempt by a third county to instrumentalise people for political purposes, which we very firmly reject and described as a form of aggression".

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Column

Afghanistan: Europe's disgrace

Last year, 1,200 Afghans were deported from the EU. Thousands of them left voluntarily. Clearly 2021 is not 2015, despite what some governments might say.

Letter

Urgent EU action needed for Afghan refugees

For 20 years, Westerners and Afghans have been trying to build a free and democratic Afghanistan. This project has failed. Let us avoid that those who believed in it pay the price.

Afghans' plight reignites migration fears in Europe

Several EU member states are worried that the Taliban takeover would trigger a replay of the 2015-16 migration crisis when the bloc has seen the arrival of over one million asylum seekers in a matter of months.

Germany and Netherlands halt returns of Afghans

Last week, six EU countries, including Germany, and the Netherlands, said forced returns must continue despite violence in Afghanistan. Now they have changed their mind. Belgian Greens are also criticising the decision.

Telegram groups lure migrant hopefuls to Lithuania

Telegram messaging boards are providing false hopes for young migrants seeking to enter Lithuania through Belarus. A handful seen by EUobserver include links to travel agencies, costs, and routes. Most will likely ended up being detained in Lithuania.

Feature

Third-time lucky for one Syrian grandmother in Denmark

In Denmark, Syrian men aged 18-42 are protected against returning, as they would be conscripted into the army, while many women, children and elderly Syrian refugees are having their asylum revoked.

NGOs rescue around 800 people in Mediterranean

The NGO rescue vessel Ocean Viking has 555 people onboard, while Sea Watch 3 has 250. The rescues come as the Libyans intercept over 1,000 people in two days, while another boat in Malta's search-and-rescue zone pleas for help.

Moldova facing Europe's worst demographic crisis

The loss of population is down to several factors - both negative demographic growth, plus Moldovans leaving for work abroad, or even taking up Romanian citizenships in order to move freely within the European Union.

Opinion

Separating migrant families at EU borders must stop

Hundreds of documented cases of pushbacks of migrants and asylum seekers tell the story of a European Union whose member states seem to resort to increasingly degrading and inhuman practices in the management of its external borders.

'We are not slaves': Brussels' migrant hunger-strike

Almost 500 undocumented migrants in Brussels have been demanding a legal pathway for residency in Belgium. Most have been on hunger strike since 23 May, with some now refusing water. MEPs are demanding the Belgian government offer them a solution.

Exclusive

EU firms up plans for Libya military mission

The EU is firming up plans for a military mission to Libya in order to compete with foreign powers there, according to a leaked paper seen by EUobserver.

Frontex chief accused of possible rights 'cover up'

A group of MEPs delivered their final report into the EU's border agency Frontex. After a four-month probe, they found it had failed to take its responsibility to protect fundamental rights at Europe's external borders.

Syria refugees prefer Libya sea-crossing to 'dangerous' Greece

A group of Syrians fleeing their country say that Greece has become too dangerous and expensive as an option to enter the EU, in order to claim asylum. They have instead opted for Libya and the highly-risky Mediterranean sea-crossing.

On board with SOS Méditerranée

NGO sea-rescue mission exposes reality of EU 'values'

The NGO search-and-rescue vessel Ocean Viking was the only civilian ship at sea. In the span of just four days, it saved nearly 600 people - often in a race with an aggressive Libyan coast guard.

EU threatens to suspend visas from Belarus

Minsk suspended an EU-readmission agreement in June. Now the European Commission announced similar threats, possibly making it more difficult for Belarusians to travel to the EU.

On board with SOS Méditerranée

Food rations run out on Friday onboard Ocean Viking

The final round of food distribution will be on Friday, possibly leaving the 572 people rescued by the Ocean Viking without sustenance, as tensions begin to rise. Of those rescued, 183 are minors, including 41 aged 15 or younger.

On board with SOS Méditerranée

Ocean Viking's largest ever rescue - witnessed first-hand

The Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking search-and-rescue vessel saved 369 people on a boat in the middle of the night, some 80 nautical miles off Libya. EUobserver was onboard and witnessed the rescue first hand, in this exclusive by Nikolaj Nielsen.

Feature

The exploited Sikh labourers babysitting Italy's buffalos

The migrant workers are exploited (by landlords and dairy-businessmen) like slaves. They work up to 14-hours per day, every single day non-stop without any leave, for barely €400 per month. If they get injured, their bosses hide these incidents.

On board with SOS Méditerranée

Libyan police lieutenant: 'Coast guard are smugglers'

The Libyan coast guard actively works with smugglers and are run by a militia, an ex-Libyan lieutenant police officer. The EU is buying the guard three new P150 high speed patrol boats.

On board with SOS Méditerranée

Malta refuses to help rescue involving disabled children

The Libyan Coast Guard intercepted a wooden boat of 30 people some 10 nautical miles inside Malta's search and rescue zone. But then suddenly let them go, allowing the Ocean Viking to perform its first rescue since leaving Marseille.

On board with SOS Méditerranée

Adrift at sea: an empty wooden boat

After leaving the French port of Marseille on Sunday, the Ocean Viking on Thursday morning spots an empty wooden boat at sea, an eerie prospect of what lies ahead as it plots a course south towards international waters off Libya.

Feature

Denmark shattering lives of Syrian refugees

Denmark is throwing out Syrian refugees, who risk violence and who made Denmark their home for years, in a test of the EU country's respect for human rights.

On board with SOS Méditerranée

Migrant rescues: 'You can't save everyone'

Somewhere east of Sardinia in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Ocean Viking crew ran drills on their two primary rescue speed boats. The teams are preparing for the real rescues, which may take place before the end of the week.