Feedback: Charter Flight to Afghanistan on 25th August 2015
Freedom of information request – 36560
Thank you for your e-mail of 26 August 2015 in which you asked for information regarding a charter flight to Afghanistan on 25 August 2015. The answers to your questions fall to be dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and in response I will answer your questions in order.
1. How many persons were removed? 11
2. How many escorts were on the flight? 36 of which 21 were assigned to returnees, 2 were medics and 13 were assigned to management and aircraft security roles.
3. Number of seats allocated for returnees? 40
4. Were all the seats filled? No
5. Number of returnees taken off the flight. Of the 107 cases referred for removal on this charter, 96 did not travel. Of those, 61 were the subject of court injunctions.
Please note that the figures regarding the numbers of returnees and their breakdown quoted are not provided under National Statistics protocols and have been derived from local management information. They are therefore provisional and subject to change.
Fenced Out: Hungary Violates Rights of Refugees and Migrants
Over the summer of 2015, Hungary began constructing fences along its southern borders, criminalizing irregular entry to its territory and expediting the return of asylum seekers and refugees to Serbia, through its inclusion on a list of safe countries of transit. The cumulative effect, and desired consequence, of these measures will be to render Hungary a refugee protection free zone. This briefing outlines Hungary’s violations of international and EU law with respect to the rights of refugees and migrants.
Read more: Amnesty International, 7th October 2015
Theresa May Announces Drive to Limit Right to Claim Asylum
A major drive to limit the right to claim asylum in Britain has been announced by the home secretary, Theresa May, prompting criticism from some business leaders and refugee groups. Outlining her “tough new plan for asylum”, May made clear that asylum claims for people affected by war and oppression should be processed in neighbouring countries, rather than the UK offering asylum to those wealthy and fit enough to make it to the country.
Her view was immediately condemned by the Refugee Council, which described the proposals as “thoroughly chilling”. The Institute of Directors, meanwhile, said it was “astonished by the home secretary’s irresponsible rhetoric” and accused her of pandering to anti-immigration sentiment and putting internal party politics ahead of the interests of the country.
Read More: Alan Travis, Guardian, 06/10/2015
Six Ways Theresa May is Wrong About Immigration
Theresa May used her speech to the Conservative party conference to make a series of warnings about the impact of high levels of immigration. It threatens social cohesion, she said; it forces down the wages of people already on low pay and pushes other people out of the workforce altogether. The Home Secretary added that Britain does not need net migration in the hundreds of thousands; she insisted that under her watch the Government had proven it could control immigration and she claimed that the net impact of high levels of immigration to the economy and the public purse are “close to zero”. Each and every one of these statements can be proven to be false, some with evidence from her very own department. Here are six of the claims she made today, followed by the evidence proving she is wrong:
Read more: Matt Dathan, Independent, 06/10/2015
Asylum Research Consultancy COI Update Volume 110
This document provides an update of Country Guidance case law and UKBA publications and developments in refugee producing countries between 22nd September 2015 and 5th October 2015 - Volume 110 here . .
Is UK’s Record on Welcoming Asylum Seekers Really so Honourable?
Easy to overdose on orthodoxies. One such is the notion that throughout its history, Britain has an honourable record in absorbing newcomers, providing refuge to refugees and gradually becoming a diverse society. That’s pretty much my take on things, but it’s good to receive a contrary view, if only for the purposes of stress testing. Such a challenge recently came my way in the form of a broadside from Pavle Popovic, a masters student at the University of Leiden in Holland, whose thesis concerns the exodus of Sino-Vietnamese refugees and the reluctance of Margaret Thatcher to open the door to them. Your view of things is too rose-tinted, he said. Everyone talks about happy endings, but not about the official hostility that always greets any actual or pending influx, and the racism many groups have encountered on arrival.
Read More: Hugh Muir, Guardian, 05/10/2015
Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - September 2015
10 Actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and 3 improved in September 2015, according to CrisesWatch 146
Deteriorated Situations: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Yemen
Conflict Risk Alerts: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic
In September, sectarian violence flared up again in the Central African Republic, while Burundi's political deadlock increasingly turned into a deadly conflict. Yemen's and Syria's conflicts further intensified, with a significant toll on civilians, and Afghanistan's and Somalia's long-running insurgencies made substantial gains. Meanwhile, Burkina Faso and Tajikistan saw political crises bringing the prospect of renewed instability, and rising violence threatened peace efforts in Turkey and Mozambique. In contrast, Colombia's peace process received a major boost with a breakthrough agreement on transitional justice, and Guatemala took a step to overcome a legacy of impunity.
In the Central African Republic, state disintegration and simmering intercommunal tensions were brought to the fore by the killing of a Muslim motorbike taxi driver on 26 September that triggered armed clashes in the capital Bangui. Almost 40 were killed and tens of thousands displaced. Crisis Group has repeatedly warned of the dangers of embarking upon electoral preparations before addressing intercommunal tensions, disarming armed groups, and ensuring sufficient international peacekeeping. Meanwhile, violence rose again in Burundi's capital Bujumbura. With dialogue between the government and opposition deadlocked, the country is slowly sliding back into deadly conflict.
Syria's war escalated further as Russia stepped up its military support for President Assad's government and launched its first airstrikes on 30 September, primarily targeting non-Islamic State rebels. The toll on the civilian population remains unabated, with over 11 million people displaced inside the country or having fled to neighbouring countries (see our blog). Meanwhile, Yemen's civil war entered a more dangerous phase in the north as the Saudi-backed coalition launched a campaign to capture Marib province to the west of Sanaa and increased airstrikes against Huthi/Saleh positions in the capital. The Huthi/Saleh bloc has ensured that any coalition gains in the north are costly, and its fighters are conducting more frequent deadly raids across the Saudi border. The conflict is exacting an increasingly heavy toll on the civilian population, including in Taiz where dozens were killed in the reported bombardment of a wedding party. With neither side likely to secure a clear or rapid military victory, Crisis Group continues to warn that only a political settlement can end the war.
Across the Gulf in Somalia, Al-Shabaab went on the offensive as AMISOM peacekeeping forces lost key strongholds. The Islamist militant group succeeded in retaking several towns in Lower Shabelle, Bakool, Gedo and Hiran regions, and staged several successful attacks. Meanwhile, factional fighting between the Galmudug Interim Administration and the Sufi militia Ahlu Sunna Wa Jama'a challenged the legitimacy of Somalia's fourth federal state. In Afghanistan, the Taliban seized control of the northern city of Kunduz at the end of the month, and were reported to be advancing on other northern districts. As fighting raged between insurgents and government forces, members of parliament called for President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah to step down.
Violence worsened in Turkey's south east as Ankara continued its offensive against Kurdish insurgent PKK targets within Turkey and in northern Iraq, and the PKK continued attacks on security officials. The violence is eroding opportunities for resumption of the peace process, and threatens to widen into a general Kurdish-Turkish confrontation. In Mozambique, violent incidents between security forces loyal to the government and Renamo militias, including direct attacks on Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama and clashes that killed up to twenty, also threaten to undermine the peace process launched last year and have heightened tensions.
Burkina Faso's political transition suffered a serious blow when the powerful presidential guard, the Régiment de sécurité présidentielle (RSP), staged a coup on 16 September. Led by ousted President Blaise Compaoré's right-hand-man General Gilbert Diendéré, it plunged the country into crisis, days ahead of elections scheduled for 11 October. The transitional government was reinstated on 22 September, the RSP has been dissolved, and calm has been restored, but the root causes of the crisis remain unaddressed. Political instability also deepened in Tajikistan after Deputy Defence Minister General Abdukhalim Nazarzoda, formerly a member of the United Tajik Opposition alliance that fought the government during the country's civil war in the 1990s, was killed by security forces after reportedly ordering deadly attacks on police near the capital. The government accused Nazarzoda of planning a coup. In contrast, Macedonia's government and opposition made progress in implementing the July EU-brokered agreement to end the country's political crisis, appointing a special prosecutor to investigate allegations that the government has been illegally wiretapping citizens.
The agreement on transitional justice reached by Colombia's government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on 23 September is a major breakthrough in the four-year peace talks (see our statement). Meeting for the first time, President Santos and FARC leader Timochenko agreed that a final peace agreement would be signed within six months. In a major step forward for Guatemala's struggle against impunity, President Otto Perez Molina, under pressure for his alleged involvement in a massive customs fraud scheme, resigned on 2 September, the day after Congress voted to lift his immunity. As Crisis Group has argued, whoever wins the upcoming run-off presidential election must work with Congress to clean up the country's political system, including reforming electoral laws and those governing the civil service, transparency and the justice sector.
Read more: ChrisisWatch 146
Doctors Without Borders Airstrike: US Alter Story Four Times
US special operations forces – not their Afghan allies – called in the deadly airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, the US commander has conceded. Shortly before General John Campbell, the commander of the US and Nato war in Afghanistan, testified to a Senate panel, the president of Doctors Without Borders – also known as Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) – said the US and Afghanistan had made an “admission of a war crime”. Shifting the US account of the Saturday morning airstrike for the fourth time in as many days, Campbell reiterated that Afghan forces had requested US air cover after being engaged in a “tenacious fight” to retake the northern city of Kunduz from the Taliban. But, modifying the account he gave at a press conference on Monday, Campbell said those Afghan forces had not directly communicated with the US pilots of an AC-130 gunship overhead. “Even though the Afghans request that support, it still has to go through a rigorous US procedure to enable fires to go on the ground. We had a special operations unit that was in close vicinity that was talking to the aircraft that delivered those fires,” Campbell told the Senate armed services committee on Tuesday morning.
Read more: Spencer Ackerman, Guardian, 06/10/2015
Nato’s Bombs Fall Like Confetti, Not Containing Conflict But Spreading It
‘The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” This is how an anonymous Nato spokesperson described Saturday’s disaster in Afghanistan. Let’s translate it into English. “We bombed a hospital, killing 22 people.” But “people”, “hospital” and “bomb”, let alone “we”: all such words are banned from Nato’s lexicon. Its press officers are trained to speak no recognisable human language. The effort is to create distance: distance from responsibility, distance from consequences, distance above all from the humanity of those who were killed. They do not merit even a concrete noun. Whatever you do, do not create pictures in the mind.
“Collateral damage” and “nearby” also suggest that the destruction of the hospital in Kunduz was a side-effect of an attack on another target. But the hospital, run by Médecins Sans Frontières, was the sole target of this bombing raid, by a US plane that returned repeatedly to the scene, dropping more ordnance on a building from which staff and patients were trying to escape. Curiously, on this occasion, Nato did not use that other great euphemism of modern warfare, the “surgical strike” – though it would, for once, have been appropriate.
Shoot first, suppress the questions later. The lies and euphemisms add insult to the crime. Nato’s apparent indifference to life and truth could not fail to infuriate – perhaps to radicalise – people who are currently uninvolved in conflict in Afghanistan.
Barack Obama’s promise of an internal investigation (rather than the independent inquiry MSF has requested) is as good as the US response is likely to get. By comparison with both his predecessors, and his possible successors (including Hillary Clinton), Obama is a model of restraint and candour. Yet his armed forces still scatter bombs like confetti.
George Monbiot, Guardian, 06/10/2015
Home Office Compensates Pregnant Asylum Seeker for Unlawful Detention
The Home Office has offered a formal apology and will pay compensation to a pregnant asylum seeker who was unlawfully arrested and detained at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre. The government admitted the woman, a Congolese asylum seeker who was arrested in 2014 when she was five months pregnant, should not have been detained and has announced that it will review its existing policy on the detention of pregnant asylum seekers. Under current guidelines, pregnant women are treated as vulnerable people who are unsuitable for detention and should only be detained “exceptionally”. But according to a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, there were 99 expectant mothers detained in Yarl’s Wood in 2014 and only nine were removed from the UK. Details of the current number of pregnant asylum seekers in detention have not been released by the government.
The solicitor acting on behalf of the woman, Jane Ryan at Bhatt Murphy, hailed the settlement as “groundbreaking”. “This is a great victory and a strong basis on which to argue that the detention of pregnant women should be ended altogether. The Home Office has been repeatedly criticised about its practice of detaining pregnant women. The apology and agreement to review both the policy and practice is an extremely important recognition that the system must change.” In the apology, the Home Office accepted that it had breached its own policy. The apology, from an unnamed assistant director of the Home Office legal team, states: “I apologise on behalf of the Home Office for unlawfully detaining you while you were pregnant.”
Read More: Diane Taylor, Guardian, 06/10/2015
European Court Should Dismiss Action Against UK concerning Allowances for Children
Checking whether claimants are lawfully resident in the host Member State in accordance with EU law when claims for certain social benefits are dealt with is justified by the necessity of protecting that State's public finances
Regulation No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems 1 lays down a series of common principles to be observed by the legislation of the Member States in this sphere. Those principles guarantee that persons exercising their freedom of movement and of residence within the EU will not be adversely treated by the various national systems because they have exercised that right. One of those common principles is the principle of equality. In the particular ambit of social security, it takes the form of prohibiting discrimination on grounds of nationality.
The Commission received many complaints from nationals of other Member States resident in the United Kingdom, stating that the competent UK authorities had refused their claims for certain social benefits because they had no right of residence in that State. The Commission has brought an action against the UK for failure to fulfil obligations on the grounds that the legislation of that Member State was incompatible with the provisions of Regulation No 883/2004, inasmuch as it required checking whether applicants for certain social benefits, including child benefit and child tax credit," which are the subject-matter of this case, are lawfully resident in its territory. The Commission takes the view that that condition is discriminatory and contrary to the spirit of that regulation, which takes into consideration only the claimant's habitual residence.
In response to those arguments, the United Kingdom, relying on the judgment in Brey? maintains that the host State may lawfully make the grant of social security benefits to EU citizens conditional upon them meeting the requirements for obtaining a right of residence in its territory, which are laid down in Directive 2004/38.4 On the other hand, the UK, although acknowledging that it is easier for UK nationals, who as a matter of principle enjoy the right to reside in that Member State, to fulfil the conditions giving entitlement to the social benefits in question in this case, claims that its national system is not discriminatory and that the condition of a right of residence is, at all events, a proportionate measure for ensuring that the benefits are paid to persons sufficiently integrated in the United Kingdom.
In his Opinion today, Advocate General Pedro Cruz Villalon proposes that the Court of Justice should dismiss the Commission's action.
A condition requiring beneficiaries of subsidiary protection to reside in a particular place constitutes a restriction of freedom of movement within a Member State
Such a restriction is permissible only in specific situations in which serious considerations of immigration and integration policy apply, and cannot be justified on the basis that the burden of social assistance should be distributed across national territory. An EU Directive 1 provides that Member States must allow freedom of movement within their territory to beneficiaries of international protection - persons who have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection status 2 - under the same conditions and restrictions as those provided for other third-country nationals legally resident in their territories.
Advocate General's Opinion in Joint Cases C-443/14 Kreis Warendorf v Ibrahim Alo et C-444/14 Amira Osso v Region Hanover
150,000 March in Vienna In Solidarity With Asylum Seekers
It was a crowd the likes of which have not been seen in Vienna for a quarter of a century. An estimated 150,000 people gathered in the city's Heldenplatz (Hero's Square) to show their solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers who've fled their war-ravaged homelands in the Middle East. For a city of 1.8 million, the turnout was extraordinary, well surpassing organisers' expectations.
From a stage erected before the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburgs, prominent politicians, singers, actors, representatives of aid organizations and refugees spoke and performed before an impassioned gathering. "Europe is a rich continent," event organisers People's Aid Austria declared. "Our wealth and security gives us the responsibility to help those who seek refuge from hunger, war and death.
Read more: ABC News, 04/10/2015
"Operation Sophia" Mark 2, In Force 07/10/2015
"Operation Sohia, takes the EU naval operation from its intelligence-gathering phase to its operational and active phase against human smugglers on the high seas. The European Union has proven its capacity to act in a swift and united manner. We are also united in our diplomatic efforts to find both a political solution to the crises in Syria and Libya, and, in partnership with the countries of origin and transit of the migration flows, to support the economic and social development of these countries." Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Following the political guidance provided by the defence and foreign affairs ministers at their informal meetings on 3 and 5 September, EU Ambassadors within the Political and Security Committee agreed to start the first step of the second phase of the operation as of 7 October 2015 and approved the corresponding rules of engagement. The EU naval operation against human smugglers in the Mediterranean will be able to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking on the high seas, in line with international law. The Political and Security Committee also agreed that EUNAVFOR Med should be renamed "Sophia" after the name given to the baby born on the ship of the operation which rescued her mother on 22 August 2015 off the coast of Libya.
The decision by the Political and Security Committee to launch the first step of phase 2 of the operation follows an assessment by the Council on 14 September that the conditions to move to this stage have been met. The Operation Commander Rear Admiral Credendino has judged the transition possible as member states provided the assets needed for this more active phase in the force generation conference of 16 September 2015. The operation is aimed at disrupting the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean and to prevent the further loss of life at sea. It is part of a wider EU comprehensive approach to migration, tackling both the symptoms and root causes such as conflict, poverty, climate change and persecution.
European Council Council of the European Union, October 2015
AA (Article 15(c)) Iraq - Country Guidance
(United Kingdom: Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)
A. Indiscriminate Violence In Iraq: Article 15(C) Of The Qualification Directive
B. Documentation And Feasibility Of Return (excluding IKR)
C. Position On Documentation Where Return Is Feasible
C. Internal Relocation Within Iraq (Other Than The Iraqi Kurdish Region)
D. Iraqi Kurdish Region
F. Existing Country Guidance Decisions
Published on Refworld, 05/10/2015