Tag Archives: Refugees Welcome

EU Asylum Seeker Policies, Country by Country

In the past weeks and months, some EU countries have decided to change the way they accept and process asylum seekers’ applications depending on the person’s nationality and how they reached their destination country. A lot of contradictory information is being shared on social media.

Migreat, the trusted platform for information on immigration, will list (and keep updated) the actual asylum policies for most EU countries and highlight the ones with fair policies towards refugees (as well as pointing out the countries with rules that are not ideal).

We will be updating this article every month [Last update: 25th November 2015]

Germany
Germany has re-implemented checks at its border and is now sending back asylum seekers to the first EU country where they were registered. This policy went into affect on October 21st.

During the first week of November, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière declared that refugees arriving on the German border will be deported back to the first European Union country they entered. It means that Germany is now treating asylum seekers’ applications according to the Dublin Agreement. It is a reversal of the policies that were in place beginning at the end of August, 2015.

In addition, refugees from Syria are not being provided protection in accordance with the Geneva Conventions on refugees. The vast majority of Syrian refugees, who traveled through Turkey or other allegedly “safe countries of origin” during their journey, will only receive subsidiary protection. They will receive the right to reside for just one year rather than three years, and they cannot bring their family members to Germany.

The German government is striving to implement this closure, even though an interior ministry spokesman stated that there would be “no turning back at the borders,” only regulated deportations.

Sweden
Sweden has re-introduced border control checks too. Swedish police are now monitoring trains and ferries arriving from mainland Europe and stopping anyone without valid travel documents.

Anyone seeking to apply for asylum will not be turned back. This measure is implemented to create a more orderly process of arrival for refugees. The intention is to deter those hoping to cross Sweden to reach other Scandinavian countries.

Read more on Swedish reformed asylum seeking process for Syrians – dated: September, 2015.

France
France has re-introduced border control checks as a result of the Paris Terrorist Attacks of November 13th. The policy of welcoming refugees will not be changed and applicants for refugee status in France are expected to undergo tight security checks.

France will respect its commitment to helping 30,000 asylum seekers over the next several years.

Read more on France recent reform of Asylum Law and Refugee Immigration System.

Austria
Austria plans to construct barriers along its border with Slovenia to control the flow of refugees more effectively rather than stop everyone entering the country.

Austria wants to be able to carry out controls on the movement of people and it will not be a razor-wire barrier like the one in Hungary.

Hungary & Slovenia
These countries have begun building a border fence aimed at stopping refugees from both entering and using their countries to transit to more western countries in the EU.

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At Migreat, we regret that only Greece, Italy and Hungary are legally being held responsible for the vast majority of migrants due to the refugee seekers first being registered in those countries. Here the five things you can do to help refugees.

Keep up to date with the European Union’s Refugee crisis on Migreat blog by following us.

Can Tech help refugees? Take-Aways of #Techfugees conference and Hackathon

On October 1st and 2nd, leaders in the Tech Community gathered in London to brainstorm about what mobile and web technologies could be created that could help refugees find new homes and begin their new lives in Europe. Migreat was there, to present a prototype of an immigration assistant aimed at refugees and to participate in the effort. Here’s a recap of the intense two days and some of the main ideas that came out of the event.

A Spontaneous Reaction from the Tech Community
The event was organised in just two weeks time via a Facebook group led by Mike Butcher and supported by many other local industry representatives like Nesta,  London Tech Advocates, Skills MattersPavla Kopecna and the Exponential Network who offered space, sponsorship and support during the event.

Over two days, a group of 300 software developers, tech enthusiasts, NGOs and institutions like the UNHCR discussed, demonstrated and started building  technologies that have the potential to do things like save lives at sea and help refugees navigate the EU geography and immigration systems.

Here is the full agenda and live-stream of the presentation and participants

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Migreat presented and demo’d its immigration wizard and community platform that serves over two million migrants in Europe today.

We were impressed by What3words mapping technology, inspired by Marieme Jamme speaking as a refugee herself (and who is now a successful entrepreneur) and left energized by the UNHCR’s visionary talk.

The first day demonstrated how complex the crisis is and moved Ed Saperia to write on the hackpad the day after “A lot of people are building a lot of things all across the world, much of which is duplicated or never makes it to deployment. So (..) have  a look at other things people are doing” before building something yourself, Ed advised.

Techfugee Hackathon
Now hacking!

At the hack, the atmosphere was definitely more collaborative than competitive. Teams of volunteer software developers were split amongst small tables and given a common online hackpad with information from the previous day. Some people roamed the room to exchange information on what each table’s project was on and to connect similar/complimentary projects.

Migreat’s Experience
We met a group building an online platform to connect refugee families to local UK host families – and it made us want to share our experience developed while building local online communities with Migreat.

We discussed with the Hack Humanity group the possibility of building an algorithm of probability of refugee applications approval.

Refugee Immigration Wizard App

The event brought food for thoughts for Migreat team who proudly presented an immigration wizard for refugees at the end of the night (above).

Outcome & the future of Techfugees
Serving as a platform to connect concerned individuals and organisations, the event successfully showed  how the UK tech community can collaborate and work towards solutions to what looks to be one of EU’s most pressing issues.

Techfugees hackathon group picture

The event enabled the creation of a crowd-sourced map of organisations, and connections between them. The hackpad is still being updated with new events everyday since the event earlier this month and has started an online exchange of information between people building similar projects at the European level.

One of the essential goal of the Techfugees, says Mike Butcher is to build a “Minimum Viable Product” which in the language of the tech community means to see working prototypes and solutions emerging in the next months. For our part, Migreat is looking forward to launching our refugee immigration wizard 🙂

Refugees Searching for a New Continent – Photographic journeys from undocumented migrants

Migreat spoked with Phil Le Gal,  a French documentary photographer, currently travelling in regions where asylum seekers are found to be entering the EU. Phil tells us about his initial documentary project on the Schengen space, what is happening in Calais on the ground and the importance to paint a more human picture of the crisis in the media.

The Start of the New Continent Project

Two years ago, Phil had formed the project to tour Europe’s in the aim to document with pictures and local migrant stories the human impact of the Schengen Agreement signed thirty years ago – on June 14th 1985.

“[Europe] has been suffering from bad publicity, whether it’s about migration, or about Greece and economics. But so much has been achieved,” he said. “Twenty-six countries without passport controls — you just whizz through and it’s amazing. And the fact that you can have rights in all these countries is amazing. People now take it for granted.”

The project named “the New Continent” aimed first to report on the new borders of the EU and celebrate the agreement’s achievement: a peaceful Europe, finally re-united. But the project went through a major refocus after May 2014.

A defining moment: the rise of extreme rights movements and the Calais crisis.

In May 2014, European extreme right parties – the likes of UKIP, Golden Dawn and Le Front National – won a majority of seats – and soon followed an IFOP poll that stated half of Western Europeans would be in favour for a return of border controls.

For Phil Le Gal, the EU elections was a “defining moment. That’s when I decided to go forward with the project”. Initially, Phil had a map of places where he wanted to go and collect stories. This is how it looked like:

Refugee Europe Map

However, after his visit to Calais and the news of an unprecedented wave of refugees crossing borders of Europe, Phil Le Gal had to adjust his travel plans to accommodate with the news. He no longer follows his map but let the news and refugees tell him which places to go next.

Using a documentary approach to media – he writes on his blog his reflections – coupling this with an embracement of social media tools – he posts daily on instagram and facebook pictures on the ground. He even set up a studio for a day.

Abdullah from Sudan. Photo Credit: Phil Le Gal.
Abdullah from Sudan. Photo Credit: Phil Le Gal.

Phil has now been documenting the refugee’s perspective of the Schengen space and it is working: his pictures illustrated an article from the World Policy Institute and other major media. What he has to say about the crisis seen from the ground is tough and draws a real insight of the current complex situation out of sensationalist headlines, expert ego fights on numbers and empathetic but naive calls.

First Insights.

Calais Refugees Afghani Brothers holding
The two friends from Afghanistan met on the route to the UK. They have arrived in Calais and they say there are looking after each other. They are posing in front of a makeshift shop in Calais’ Jungle.

Phil started in Calais’ named “jungle” – today perhaps one the most embarrassing and mediatic hot spot of the refugee crisis after the Macedonian border and the wall being currently built in Hungary. At the end of the summer, he will have stopped by most hot spots: Serbia, Hungary, Italy and Greece.

“What you see there is an unprecedented of number of people who have reached this area. Calais is unique because it offers three ways to reach the UK: by boat, lorry or train; and it is one Schengen border within the EU.”

Most asylum seekers Phil has met had sometimes little knowledge of European Geography. In Hungary, Phil met an undocumented migrant who asked him where he could find a taxi to Sweden. “They do not know that there is a border in Calais” – says Phil.

With a little sense of Geography, they also all share no knowledge or poor information about their rights in the UK. “Some asylum seekers in Calais have friends or relatives in the UK. They are bilingual with some mostly speaking a bit or good English. They are coming from regions which were, for some of them, previously part of the British Empire. They think life will be better there for what they have been told. They have no idea that they will likely end up living in modern slavery and that refugees can be detained there – unlike in France”.

Over the summer, Phil started distributing disposable camera to them so they can themselves document their journey and life. So far 20 cameras have been distributed over Europe and Phil has had no news yet. “I asked them to get in touch when they are in a safe place”.

Eritrea proud refugee boy
Awel is from Eritrea. He is only 12 and has been living in the Calais Jungle for many weeks.

The summer UK headlines of Calais and a surge of journalists reporting there seems to have empowered migrants – and brought a positive change in the camps. Night lights and water are now available in what Phil continues to call a “shanty town”.

The French Government closed the Sangatte centre, the humanitarian centre and shelter that was build for asylum seekers in Calais in 2002. “The French Government does not want to build a full scale asylum center as a way of not acknowledging the problem”.

Caption: Musa from Darfour. Musa has arrived 3 weeks ago in the Calais Jungle. He has been wearing the amulet around his neck since he left Africa. He hope it will protect him when trying to reach the UK.

“Many of them suffer of post traumatic disorders because of their journey through the Mediterranean. When I meet them, some want to share their stories. They want to talk, talk, talk, and talk to tell what happened – like a psychologist. They want their stories recorded and known; for others that are going to take the same journey, they ought to know better the truth of the way we welcome asylum seekers in Europe”

Phil is at the moment putting together these stories gathered during summer 2015 and aim to release related material in the coming weeks.

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Follow the project on social media: The new continent on Facebook, The new continent on Instagram. and web site : http://TheNewContinent.eu