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efms Migration Report

September 2004

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Continuing debate on EU refugee reception centres in North Africa

The debate on proposals to set up EU reception centres for refugees in North Africa has been continuing, both at the national and the European level. Otto Schily (SPD), the German federal interior minister, has confirmed his conviction that it would be sensible to help refugees close their own home areas, citing the work of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) as a positive example. The Greens, however, have rejected Mr. Schily's proposals with a great majority, in a vote by the Green parliamentary party. In their view, the proposals must under no circumstances be allowed to develop into an "alternative" to submitting an asylum petition within the European Union. Reception centres should only be introduced "additively" on a trial basis, without infringing on any rights of the refugees concerned. The EU Commission has also expressed reservations, pointing out that Libya has already accommodated thousands of refugees in refugee camps under very modest conditions. Furthermore, UNHCR representatives have not been permitted to access these refugee camps as Libya has so far refused to ratify the UN refugee convention. What is more, the EU member states of Sweden and Finland have registered a veto in the minutes of the Commission meeting. Should both countries refuse to give up their objections, the proposals of Mr. Schily could not be implemented at the European level. However, his proposals have been welcomed by most representatives of the opposition CDU party, by Mr. Buttiglione, the designated EU justice commissioner, as well as by representatives of the Baltic states and Austria.
Die Welt 22.09.04 // FR 23.09.04 // taz 23.09.04 // Die Welt 28.09.04 // FTD 28.09.04 // FAZ 29.09.04 // SZ 29.09.04 // Die Welt 30.09.04 // FAZ 30.09.04

Italian-Libyan agreement as a potential model for a common European refugee policy

The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his cabinet minister and designated EU Commissioner of Justice and the Interior, Rocco Buttiglione, have stated that a bilateral agreement between Italy and Libya, which the two countries had finalised in Mid-August, could be a model for a common European refugee policy. Both countries have agreed to fight illegal migration from Africa to Europe by conducting common sea and border patrols, intensifying cooperation between the intelligence services of both countries and setting up refugee camps in Libya. The agreement has met with widespread criticism in the EU, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) as well as in Italy itself. Critics have expressed reservations both on account of humanitarian reasons and the agreement's uncertain prospects of success. Should the joint initiative of Italy and Libya fail, a joint surveillance and border control operation entitled "Neptune 2" would gain in importance. This operation, agreed upon by Italy, Malta, the UK, Slovenia and Portugal will take effect on 5th October 2004 in order to improve surveillance of those coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea that are frequently used by boat refugees.
Handelsblatt 14.09.04 // NZZ 28.09.04 // NZZ 29.09.04

Hamburg coordinates Europe-wide charter flight for deportation of West Africans

The Hamburg Department of the Interior has, for the first time, coordinated a Europe-wide charter flight for the purpose of deporting 17 West Africans to Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. 11 of the deportees had been residents of Germany. For each of the persons concerned, there had already been up to four deportation attempts by means of scheduled flights, which had all failed. Originally, authorities had planned to put up to forty refugees on the plane. The flight to West Africa was accompanied by 70 officials of the German Federal Border Guard and their Belgian and Swiss colleagues. Other countries, such as the UK, France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg had declined the offer to participate.
FR 14.09.04

Visa scandal in the Department for Foreign Affairs

In response to a parliamentary enquiry by the opposition CDU/CSU parties (submitted in May 2004), the Federal Government has now responded to charges that it had aided and abetted illegal human trafficking. The parliamentary enquiry is focussing on a decree by Mr. Volmer (The Greens), the former minister of state in the Department for Foreign Affairs. The decree on issuing visas to visitors had instructed German embassies in March 2000 to decide in favour of the freedom of travel "if the circumstances against issuing a visa to visitors are on a par with those in favour". After the implementation of these liberalised visa directives, there have been irregularities in several embassies. Public prosecutors in Berlin are now investigating allegations against embassy officials at German embassies in Kiev and Tirana on charges of bribery and aiding and abetting human trafficking.
Die Welt 07.09.04 // FAZ 23.09.04 // Die Welt 30.09.04

Decrease in illegal entries and human smuggling

In its annual report, the Federal Border Guard (BGS) has registered fewer illegal entries to Germany and a decrease in cases of human smuggling for the year 2003. According to the report, the number of registered illegal entries across the interior borders of countries participating in the Schengen Treaty has decreased by 2,604 (-16.6%). Illegal entries across Germany's Eastern border, which at that time also formed the EU's exterior border, amounted to 6,649 cases, and thus remained stable, compared to the previous year. Of the people detained by border officials, a combined total of 72% originated in China, the Czech Republic, Vietnam and Moldavia. At German sea borders, the number of detained illegal immigrants increased to 596 (compared to 481 during the previous year). At international airports, the number of illegal entries remained fairly stable, with 836 detainees. The number of detained human smugglers fell from 1,844 to 1,485 and the number of smuggled foreign nationals from 5,713 to 4,903.
Die Welt 11.09.04

Entries by Spätaussiedler (ethnic German immigrants) continue to decrease

The number of ethnic German immigrants entering Germany has continued to decrease significantly. Whereas three years ago the total number of Spätaussiedler entering Germany amounted to approximately 100,000 people, until the end of August 2004 only 36,000 ethnic German immigrants came. Currently, more than 90% of the Spätaussiedler come from the territories of the former Soviet Union, above all Russia and Kazakhstan. Mr. Welt (SPD), the federal government commissioner for Spätaussiedler, has predicted that the number of entries will continue to fall. The federal government has been offering incentives to strengthen potential migrants' "intention to stay" in their home countries. Furthermore, with the new Immigration Act taking effect on 1st Jan 2005, not only ethnic German immigrants themselves, but also accompanying family members will be required to provide proof of sufficient German language skills.
FAZ 15.09.04

Asylum statistics

In September 2004, a total of 2,768 persons submitted petitions for political asylum in Germany. These asylum figures constitute a decrease by 5.9% (-175 persons) over the previous month, and by 37.3% (-1,650 persons) over September 2003. Between January and September 2004, the number of asylum petitions has fallen by 30.1% (-11,749 persons), compared to the same period last year. In September 2004, asylum seekers' main countries of origin were the Russian Federation (286), Serbia and Montenegro (284) and Turkey (272), followed by Azerbaijan (146) and Iraq (139). During that period, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees reviewed the petitions of 4,305 persons, 52 of whom (1.2%) were recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 20 persons (0.9%) were granted protection against deportation according to §51 Par.1 Foreigners Act (AuslG). The petitions of 2,740 persons (63.7%) were rejected. The cases of a further 1,473 persons (34.2%) were closed for other reasons, e.g. because applicants had withdrawn their petitions.
Pressemitteilung BMI 10.09.04

September 2004

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