Europe’s migrant crisis: Roundup, October 2

Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry, State Agency for National Security and prosecutors detained 46 alleged people-traffickers and 501 migrants who had entered the country illegally, a news conference about the continuing operation was told on October 2.

The operation, which started on October 1, involved checks at border areas and places where migrants were believed to be staying illegally.

Close to 2000 Interior Ministry staff were involved in the operation, and 9000 people and 5000 vehicles had been checked. Thirty-eight pre-trial proceedings had been initiated, prosecutors said.

In an incident on October 1, police arrested the driver of a vehicle carrying illegal migrants that crashed after a police chase.

The vehicle was travelling between Stara Zagora and Chirpan when police instructed the driver to stop for an inspection. Instead, the driver made a bid to escape, resulting in a brief chase in which the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a ditch.

No one was injured. The migrants in the vehicle, who told police that they were from Syria and Afghanistan, were taken to refugee centres in Harmanli and Lyubimets.

Bulgaria’s National Assembly approved the second and final reading of amendments to the Asylum and Refugees Act on October 2, transposing European Union rules into domestic legislation.

The amendments introduce into Bulgarian law the term “international protection”, covering refugee status and humanitarian status. Forms of protection include asylum, international protection and temporary protection.

The law provides for temporary protection to be given in the event of mass influx of foreigners who have been forced to leave their country of origin by an armed conflict, civil war, foreign aggression, violation of human rights or large-scale violence in their own country or part of it, making it impossible for them to return there. The government will give temporary protection on the basis of a decision by the Council of the European Union, which will also set the duration of the protection.

The amendments say that within three months of applying for protection and with no decision yet for reasons beyond the applicant’s control, the applicant will have right of access to the labour market.

The amended law provides for people who have been given asylum or international protection to be offereed an integration agreement setting out their rights and obligations, as well as those of the state or municipal bodies.

The State Agency for National Security will now be involved in the procedure for protection applications, with the amendments requiring to agency to provide a written opinion on an application.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says 700 000 asylum-seekers will reach Europe via the Mediterranean this year and it projected that approximately the same number will arrive in 2016, the Voice of America reported.

The UNHCR almost doubled the estimate of the migrant and refugee influx into Europe in 2015. It also appealed for $128 million in donations to cope with the refugee crisis, a much higher sum than the $30.5 million it requested last month.

The agency said more than 520 000 people, more than half from Syria, have reached Europe this year, while close to 3000 people have died during the attempt.

The number of migrants and refugees arriving on Greece‘s shores has fallen this week due to poor weather but the flow will pick up again if the weather improves, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday, according to a report by Turkey’s Today’s Zaman.

Almost 400,000 people have already made the risky trip by boat to Greece this year, the bulk of the 520 000 who have crossed the Mediterranean, and 6600 arrived on September 25 alone.

The Independent Balkan News Agency said on October 2 that the large number of Syrian refugees and from other countries of Middle East that arrive in Macedonia was continuing.

Based on the information of Macedonia’s interior ministry, about 3500 refugees have entered the territory in the past 12 hours, in order to then continue their journey to Serbia.

The UNHCR office has also reported an increase of the number of refugees that enter Macedonia. According to its figures, in the past two weeks alone, about 150 000 people have entered the country.

Deutsche Welle reported that Germany’s Bundestag voted on October 1 in favour of a German military role in phase 2 of the EU’s mission to seize boats used by people smugglers in addition to naval rescues of refugees already taking place.

In the ballot, 450 of the 568 parliamentarians present voted to extend Germany’s role in the EU mission. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet had endorsed the move on September 16.

Formerly called EUNAVFOR, EU ministers on Monday renamed it Sophia after a baby girl born to a Somali migrant rescued recently by a German vessel. The mission is commanded from Rome by the admiral Enrico Credendino.

From October 7, Sophia’s 1300 personnel drawn from 22 European nations will be able to “board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling” in international waters between Libya, Tunisia and Sicily.

On October 1, the Czech Chamber of Deputies rejected today the idea of a permanent mechanism of refugee relocation among the EU states and backed measures aimed to improve the protection of the EU’s outer border, the readmission of migrants without the right to asylum and crackdowns on people smugglers, the Prague Post reported.







The Sofia Globe staff

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