News Update – 10 Nov ’15

Our weekly news update on refugee issues around the world by Isobel Fraser.


  • The UK based aid group London2Calais were detained by police on their return from Calais, under legislation intended for suspected terrorists. Volunteers were held under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and police said steps taken were part of “routine” border checks. London2Calais have been distributing food packages and donations to refugees at Calais’ “New Jungle”migrant camp since August.
  • Europol have warned of criminal gangs exploiting refugees, with the young and unaccompanied most at risk. Europol’s chief of staff, Brian Donald, said organised gangs were targeting desperate refugees, particularly young women and unaccompanied children, and forcing them into prostitution and slave labour. Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, Germany’s federal commissioner for child sexual abuse issues has also warned about the dangers posed to refugee children by paedophiles.
  • Britain is under pressure to resolve the status of refugees detained at a British military base in Cyprus as footage has shown protests and pleas from those held. 114 Refugees were brought to the base last month after appearing in the base’s territorial waters. Cyprus has agreed to process the asylum claims of the group although the UN have determined the UK to hold official responsibility.
  • NGOs including Doctors of the World won a lawsuit against French authorities for dehumanising conditions at Calais’ migrant camp. A French court ordered the department of Pas-de-Calais to provide new toilets, a garbage collection and increased access to emergency services. The charity described the living conditions of inhabitants in the camp as a “violation of their human rights, dignity”.
  • The European Commission published a report on Thursday outlining the benefits refugees will bring European nations taking in the highest numbers. Refugees are seen to offer positives for European countries in terms of GDP and employment, as a result of increased labour supply.
  • Chancellor Merkel met with leaders of her coalition on Thursday to agree upon new measures for tackling refugee influxes. Ending weeks of infighting, party leaders agreed to set up new “reception centres” to process the applications of migrants predicted to be unsuccessful in their asylum applications but rejected proposals for closed “transit zones” to be set up near the Austrian border. It was also agreed that economic migrants deemed to be from countries of “safe origin”, would be sent back within three weeks whilst refugees from Syria and other war zones would continue to be granted asylum.
  • Scotland prepares to welcome one third of the refugees the UK has committed  to take in before Christmas. Over half of Scotland’s local authorities are onboard to take one of the three thousand refugees that will be arriving before the end of the year although Scotland makes up only 10% of the UK’s population. Refugees arriving under this scheme will be taken from refugee camps close to the Syrian border.