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25 February 2016


Migrants and refugees wait to cross the border between Serbia and Croatia. Photo: Francesco Malavolta / IOM 2015.

Austria and 9 Balkan States Agree on Steps to Address Refugee Crisis

Germany — Austria and nine Balkan states have agreed on several measures to choke off the flow of refugees from Greece, effectively imposing their own response to the migrant crisis while the European Union has been paralyzed over what to do, writes Alison Smale in The New York Times.

The moves, by the foreign and interior ministers of the 10 countries, come amid Europe’s preparations for another surge in people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond as winter wanes and the weather turns warmer.

The practical effect of the steps they agreed on during a meeting in Vienna on Wednesday will probably be to keep more of the migrants in Greece, the primary point of entry into the European Union for people coming from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other troubled countries.

Among the measures was an agreement to grant entry to the 10 countries only to those “in proven need of protection,” which would essentially limit passage to Iraqis and Syrians and exclude Afghans and people from countries where the main problems are economic.

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Malakal protection of civilians site following the violence. Photo: IOM / Gonzalez Palau

Survivors of Malakal, South Sudan Violence Face New Crisis

South Sudan — A new humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Malakal, South Sudan, just days after an attack by government soldiers on a camp sheltering displaced people – the challenge of caring for tens of thousands of survivors, writes Justin Lynch for IRIN.

Around 18 people died in the violence that began on Wednesday night last week following growing ethnic tensions between Dinka and Shilluk communities in the camp. Government soldiers broke into the UN-administered Protection of Civilians (PoC) facility and were involved in the fighting that intensified on Thursday, sending people fleeing the wild gun battles and a fire that destroyed half the camp.

Some 15,000 people, mostly Nuer and Shilluk, have taken shelter in a small, narrow strip of land near the UN Mission in South Sudan peacekeeping base, 500 meters from the PoC. Around 5,000 mainly Dinka have fled into nearby Malakal town and the protection of the largely Dinka army. Around 25,000 people are still living in parts of the PoC that escaped destruction.

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Migration in the News


  • AFP and Reuters reported that a group of 135 Afghan migrants voluntarily returned to Afghanistan on an IOM charter flight from Germany on Wednesday, after deciding that they had few prospects in Europe.
     
  • Reuters reported that while international groups track numbers of migrants who drown crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, no one knows how many people die in the Sahara.
     
  • Reuters reported that Europol says people smuggling may have generated between $3 billion and $6 billion last year. Most of the money is raised and transferred by family members of migrants and refugees abroad.
     
  • CNN reported that in the future more migrants trying to reach Germany will be stuck in limbo in Greece as gateways into Europe are narrowing markedly.
     
  • Telegraph UK reported that Hungary is to hold a referendum on whether to accept EU migrant quotas. Austria has warned the EU’s own future is now at stake over the refugee crisis.
     
  • RFI reported that Austria said reducing the flow of migrants is a “question of survival” for the EU, following a meeting in Vienna of 10 countries on the Balkan migration route.

Trending on the Internet


  • Politico reported that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said he hopes to change EU leaders’ attitudes towards migration by giving them copies of the award-winning Italian documentary Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea) when they meet at a Summit in Turkey in March.

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