By Are you Syrious?, 11.3.2016
#LEBANON: At the present, the long term international volunteers in Lebanon are coordinating centrally around a Lebanese NGO called Salam LADC (Lebanese Association for Development and Communication). Salam has strong ties with the local authorities responsible for refugees, the UNHCR, the Lebanese Military (essential permissions for visiting and distributing at settlements) and other local and international NGOs. Independent volunteers are NOT allowed to visit settlements without military permission and contacts with local municipalities. Those who have come privately have run into trouble with the authorities when attempting to privately distribute supplies. Salam’s current international volunteers are long term (+4 weeks) and are helping to build the structure and administrative back end of our volunteer project. At the present, Salam is NOT taking any applications for international volunteers. However, we will be accepting applications for long term volunteers shortly. In the interim, volunteers who wish to come can start fundraising projects in their home countries as Salam can then direct these funds for the direct, wholesale purchase of necessary aid and organised effective distribution. Please follow Salam’s Facebook page, attached below, for regular updates on Salam projects and volunteer updates. Thank you for your continued engagement and support. https://www.facebook.com/salam.ladc/
#TURKEY: Turkish officials say that Greece has returned 90 migrants from Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria and Turkey who had crossed into the country from Turkey. The government’s migration agency in #Edirne, northwest Turkey, said the migrants crossed back into Turkey on Friday through the #Ipsala border gate. Greece returned the migrants under an existing agreement with Greece on the readmission to Turkey of migrants who do not qualify for international protection. The migration agency said eight Algerian migrants were placed at a deportation center in Edirne, while 71 Pakistanis and Moroccans were sent to a detention center in #Erzurum, in eastern Turkey.
#GREECE No boats landed in the north #Lesvos today and there is no available information on south. #Chios has also seen no boats last night. But sea is calm tonight and there are some arrivals already. There are 1,600 refugees in Chios at the moment. Ferry ticket agencies have issued very low numbers of tickets to refugees for the next days, so there are no available tickets to buy until Saturday 19th of March. The Soli Cafe on Chios (www.facebook.com/solicafechios) are urgently asking for support. In contrary to the official organizations present on the island, they strongly disagree to and reject the registration process that separates refugees by nationality and leads to illegalizing and deporting people. They fight for the freedom of movement and a world without borders. The group used to supply to 450 refugees in medium per day but because of the current situation of the border closings, they are now supplying a number of nearly 2,500 refugees on the island, and the number is supposed to grow. Their cost have grown from under 100 € to almost over 500 € per each day. They urgently need financial support to keep supporting the refugees with the needed food. Volunteer kitchen teams at #Vial are not allowed in hotspot anymore, army has taken over the catering. Yesterday there were 581 people on the island of #Samos. “Iokasti’s Kitchen” – Ladies of Samos & international volunteers need more volunteers and funds in order for the project to succeed. They currently provide 1,000 meals a day and from the 17th when the NoBorders kitchen leaves, they will be providing for 2,000 people. Contact them or donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/kingofsamosport. Total of 7,614 refugees are currently on the islands of northern #Aegean. With the increase of refugees, four hotspots camps will be established in #Epirus region near Albanian border: #Filippiada, #Igoumenitsa and two in #Ioannina. Also, #Kastoria, #Florina and #Ptolemaida began work on creating capacity of 5,000 people. A source close to MSF reported to ‘Top Channel’ that it will open three first aid points for refugees on the border with Albania at points #QafëBotë / #SagiadaMauvromati, #Kakavia and #Krystallopigi / Kapshticë. Sources also by the Greek foreign ministry said that negotiations are continuing at a political level with the governments of neighboring countries, Albania and Bulgaria, to absorb a number of immigrants from 10-15,000 in each country.
Mazaraki camp in Greece, 10.3.2016, by Statis Kokki.
Smugglers operate in #Idomeni – they state they are doctors and would cross them for Euro 250. People do disappear without any trace. Another thing to beware of are poisonous snakes. Spring is coming, which means they will start waking up now. In Greece there are 70 species of snakes. Most of them are not venomous (have no harmful poison). 7 (of which 5 are vipers) do have poison and a possible bite should be treated. In case of a bite, you should go to the doctor. If you can document the snake (photos), do it. It will help the doctor. There are some precaution measures you can take and in my experience help a lot avoid unhappy meetings with a snake. 1) Always close your tent when you exit. Always. Also if you are sitting right outside. Snakes are silent and you will not see them enter. 2) If you have shoes outside the tent, turn them around – always (the hole where your feet get in should face the floor). Snakes look for dark places to cuddle. If your shoes are turned around, when you pick them up, anything that went in will fall down (also spiders or scorpions). Give them a good shake. 3) Same thing for bags that you just leave on the floor. Always close them or if forgotten open shake them off.
Another news from Idomeni comes from voluteer group in Idomeni camp that is offering tea (“The Tea Tent”), saying they were not allowed in the camp. Neither were the provisions for refugees. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both tweet that they have been denied access to Greek camps and hotspots for the past two weeks. Meanwhile, those who “wish” to be bussed to new camps are invited to do so. We believe this is an attempt to make the conditions harder than they already are, so that refugees do not have to be forcibly evicted. It remains to see what happens when all those who voluntarily leave, are gone. By allowing for the living conditions in Idomeni camp to be horrendous, Greek government forces refugees to leave the border, give up on attempting to cross, and settle in government-built shelters. A group of 800 refugees left Idomeni at the Greek-Macedonian border today. The border between Greece and FYROM is closed but more than 13,000 refugees remain in Idomeni, hoping that the border will open again. Greek authorities say there are over 42,000 refugees are currently waiting across the country. If You Are In Idomeni: The Greek government is considering how to move refugees from Idomeni and to transfer people to shelters in northern Greece. Greek government officials said that they will not evacuate the Idomeni camp using force. No clear timeline was given for an evacuation. Greek authorities say they plan to convince refugees to voluntarily move to places where they can find more humane living conditions. There are organized shelters in northern Greece, in #Diavata, approximately 70 km from Idomeni, and #Cherso and #NeaKavala Greek authorities say more new shelters will be ready in few days in the area. Government will provide buses to transfer refugees. Authorities say about 800 people have agreed so far to leave the camp, but more arrive daily. If you are in the #Piraeus port: Greek authorities already transferred up to 900 people from Piraeus to #Konitsa, in Northwestern Greece, and in temporary shelters in Central Greece. Transfers will continue in the next days. Authorities announced that the capacity of #Eleonas camp will be increased to 2,000 places from the current 700. A total of 3,000 refugees are hosted inside the port of Piraeus and two more ships have carried more than 880 on Friday. 162 refugees were moved from Piraeus port to the northern Greek town of Konitsa this morning. More than 10,000 refugees are hosted in shelters in #Athens. Police are not allowing refugees to sleep in #Victoriasquare, informing them that there are shelters in Athens where they can be transferred. AYS container is being unloaded on Saturday at 12:00, helping hands are welcomed.
Ministry of Interior has published information on the relocation program for refugees from Greece to another EU country. This information refers to the people who entered Greece after the Sep 16th 2015, and who are citizens of Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Yemen, Bahrain, Swaziland, or a stateless person who used to live for many years in these countries. According to the information provided in the document, it means that: First – a person must file an asylum application in Greece and have his/her fingerprints taken. Greece will request another EU country to take over the examination of a case. As soon as the Ministry is informed by the other country that a person applying for relocation program and his/her family members (e.g. wife and children) are accepted, the Ministry is going to ensure that they are transported there safely and free of charge within two months. As soon as a person arrives to the other country, this country will take over the examination of the asylum application and will attend to cover asylum seeker’s basic material needs. People cannot choose the EU country in which he/she will be relocated, however factors such as having relatives, having lived, worked or studied in a European Union country as well as the condition of one’s health are taken into account. A person must hand over any documents he/she has for identity verification, as well as any documents provided to you by the Greek Police. More info is available at: http://asylo.gov.gr/en/?page_id=824. This info is written in English, as well as Arabic, Kurmanji, Greek, Sorani and Tigrinya. Some other useful links for refugees, which include more information on the relocation program, but also on family reunification, tracing lost people, free legal help, free medical care and others, can be found at the following AYS page: https://www.facebook.com/areyousyrious/posts/593580880790799?hc_location=ufi. If you are a refugee or a volunteer looking to inform a refugee-fellow, feel free to use these links as a credible and current source of information.
#BULGARIA: Bulgarian border police have thwarted attempts of a total of 66 refugees to cross the country’s border with Turkey over the past 24 hours, the Ministry of the Interior announced in a statement on Friday. The refugees, who carried no identity documents with them, all claimed to be Iraqi citizens. In another case, 17 refugees, all of them claiming to be Syrian citizens, were discovered on Thursday in the trailer of a Romanian-registered truck at #Lesovo border crossing. Police used sensors detecting elevated carbon dioxide levels inside the trailer to find the people. Bulgaria will send humanitarian assistance to the migrants and refugees stuck at Greece’s border with Macedonia in adverse weather conditions, the government in Sofia announced on Friday. The assistance will comprise tents, beds, blankets and heating materials as specified by the Greek authorities in a letter sent to Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry, the cabinet said in a statement. Heavy rains and poor living conditions at the camp in Idomeni require urgent measures to avert a humanitarian crisis, the Bulgarian government said.
#MACEDONIA: Around 1,000 refugees are currently waiting in the #Tabanovce camp. Additional shelter is created by MSF in Tabanovce, which consists of 4 tents. Camp management placed most vulnerable in these new containers. Still, the horrific situation of people living in mud and hunger is not resolved, as there are many refugees who remained by the border line. The only difference is now that they stay on their free will, as most refugees are afraid to come inside the camp fearing being pushed back. If you are a refugee stuck in Macedonia wanting to know what your options are, please talk to IOM officers and Macedonian Young Lawyers Association, both of whom provide free legal help in Macedonia and have teams in the Tabanovce camp. A group of 13 refugees remained forgotten at the camp in #Gevgelija for 4 days now with dry food. As of today, volunteers will continue to serve them hot meal.
Tabanovce (Mac-Ser border), 11.3.2016, by Are you Syrious?
#SERBIA: There are currently around 2,000 refugees in Serbia. Among those, 800 are in #Sid, 600 in #Presevo, 300-400 in asylum-seekers’ camps, 140 at #Krnjaci, 80 at #BanjiKoviljaci, and 100-200 in #Bogovadja, #Sjenica and #Tutin. These numbers exclude the “invisible refugees,” who are not registered at any of the official sites. There are always around 300-400 of these unregistered refugees. Refugees still continue to cross from Bulgaria to #Dimitrovgrad, 50-80 refugees per day. Gordan Paunovic, an Info Park/Fond B92 manager, has shared his scepticism about the current measures succeeding in what their claimed purpose, namely, the closure of Balkan route, and suggested that the closure is only apparent. According to Info Park findings, and from what Dimitrovgrad numbers suggest, we are witnessing an uninterrupted flow of refugees from Bulgarian border. The difference is, however, that these refugees are now being smuggled rather than entering freely. As the InfoPark Dimitrovgrad team on Bulgarian border reports, there are practically no activities in the registration center for the last 10 days, except for an occasional refugee or a group who lost their smuggling logistics. This brings us to the conclusion that what the new measures of the EU have brought is a mere flourishing of smuggling business and a complete transfer of a legal and relatively safe flow of people into illegal channels. Indeed, the numbers of 50-80 refugees a day completely coincide with the official statistics in the last weeks in Dimitrovgrad before the border’s closure. The new EU measures have only made smugglers happy. Their profits have sky-rocketed. A drive between #Sofia and #Belgrade is 1000 Euros per head, while within Serbia, smugglers charge 300 Euros per person from Bulgarian border to Belgrade. Lots of NGO and humanitarian teams are leaving Dimitrovgrad or cutting their staff down, as refugees are more keen on going directly to Belgrade. Indeed, Belgrade is boiling. There are new faces every day, people are coming and leaving. This is throwing us back to the situation from the Summer 2015, when Belgrade acted as a transit knot, where everyone was seeking for a way to leave. While it gets pretty obvious that Dimitrovgrad, Presevo and Sid are fading out, at least on the flow, Belgrade in the last days has seen pretty constant numbers of average 500-600 people present in the parks. Where do refugees go from there, when the western border is closed? Some opt to seek for an asylum in Serbia, buy some time, have a bit of rest and peace in the open camps in Krnjaca, Tutin, Sjenica and Banja Koviljaca, and plan their future. Some, like many Afghanis or Pakistanis arriving to Belgrade, are not interested at all in asylum in Serbia, do not waste time in the long registration queues and just seek for smugglers to take them across the border. Smugglers are everywhere around parks, offering their services. The smuggling route through Hungary is up and running. Some refugees get caught, imprisoned and sent back, but some makes it to the EU, in a full secrecy of illegal migration, thus becoming invisible persons that will never become EU citizens. The recent arrest of three Serbian nationals, who were smuggling 15 Pakistani refugees across the border, attests further to the proliferation of the smuggling business along the Balkan route.
#CROATIA: There are 311 refugees currently located at #Slavonskibrod camp. Double that number, however, has gathered today in #Zagreb at the protest against the Balkan route border closures. The protest was organized by Are You Syrious and Centre for Peace Studies
#SLOVENIA: From the police report released today until 6 AM, there are currently 123 refugees in accomodation centers: #Šentilj camp – 2; #Vrhnika – 52, Center for foreigners #Postojna – 69). Reception centers are empty. No-one has entered nor left the country today.
#AUSTRIA: The Austrian ‘Volksanwaltschaft’ is a public body entitled to investigate wrongdoings within public administration, as well as assists citizens if they feel they have been treated unfairly by an Austrian authority. Volksanwaltschaft recently published a report harshly criticising police authorities for hiring non-trained translators in the registration center in #Spielfeld. The translator’s job is, among others, to determine a person’s origin through interviews. These interviews often lasted for a mere couple of minutes. Nevertheless, based on these translators’ and the police officers’ hasty decisions, more than 300 people have been pushed back from Spielfeld to Slovenia and Croatia. Above all, the Volksanwaltschaft deplored the Ministry of Interior ‘s choice to hire translators via the private security company G4S, which has alleged links to senior officials in the ruling conservative party ÖVP, showing that their choice was under the strands of nepotism and corruption, rather than fair and just employment of capable translators. Austria volunteers of Border Crossing Spielfeld and legal advisors are offering legal aid to those pushed back to Slovenia who want to seek legal remedy against the Austrian police’s decision. Push-backs are illegal once a person expressed the intention to seek asylum in Austria. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
#GERMANY: A 17-year-old refugee from Egypt leapt from a train outside #Munich on Friday morning after police found him carrying a deportation order. The tragic death came about when police moved through the train checking passengers’ identity documents, Bayerischer Rundfunk reports. Officers found the young Egyptian hiding under a bench in an empty compartment. When they asked him to show his identity papers, he provided documents that he had been given in Austria. While the one document recognized the teenager’s status as a refugee in Austria, the other ordered his deportation to Italy. The officers ordered the young man to leave the compartment and wait in the corridor. But according to eyewitnesses, he used the opportunity to escape into another compartment where he opened the window and jumped out. The train was still travelling at a high speed through a town called Haar. The boy landed on an adjacent set of tracks and was killed by the impact. Police in Munich said the teenager had recently been caught by officers illegally entering Germany and had been sent back to Austria at the time. This means that Germany broke its promise of granting a special protection to unaccompanied minors, which ensures that minors will not be pushed-back out of Germany.
In 2015 a lot less refugees came to Germany than reported. While interior minister spoke of more than one million new arrivals, government now said, that only around 600.000 refugees arrived. 627.000 lived in Germany in the end of 2014, so the total number was around 1.250.000 refugees. In the end of 2015 950.000 people in Germany had an asylum or refugee status. Additionally, to that around 300.000 were not able to ask for asylum by now but have been registered as refugees.
#DENMARK: Denmark is punishing its citizens for taking on the task that State has failed in accomplishing. A Danish children’s rights activist, Lisbeth Zornig Andersen, was Friday fined €3,000 for transporting a Syrian refugee family in her private car. Her husband was fined the same amount for taking the family into his home for coffee and biscuits, and then driving them to the railway station, where he bought them tickets to Sweden. “This was a political trail, using me and my husband to send a strong message: don’t try to help refugees,” Zornig said after the verdict. “I am very angry because the only thing we did was the decent thing, the same that hundreds of others did. They are criminalising decency.” Zornig has decided to appeal against the verdict. The trial is one of the first of hundreds of Danes who responded in early September to the thousands of refugees who walked from Germany into Denmark, many of them on their way to Sweden where the asylum regime at the time was more relaxed. Under Denmark’s Aliens Act, it is a crime to transport people who do not have residence permits. Police say 279 people have been charged in the period from September 2015 to February 2016. In January, a man was fined DKr5,000 (£517) for driving an Afghan family from the German border in September. On Thursday, a 70-year-old pensioner was fined DKr12,500 for a similar offense. Zorning has become a voice for ordinary people who saw footage of refugees on the news in early September and wanted to help, according to Line Søgaard, a spokesperson for refugee support group “Welcome to Denmark.“
#FRANCE: Tensions have been mounting in the #Calais Jungle today, with migrants and volunteers confronting riot police as authorities pushed ahead with destroying the southern part of the camp. Several shelters in the Calais Jungle, including a makeshift mosque, have been set on fire as migrants are refusing to leave the shanty town build barricades, in a bid to block authorities from dismantling the camp. The huge blaze started at around 4.30pm local time, following up on a series of fires that were started yesterday. One witness claims the fires were started by French riot police “to accelerate the destruction of the Jungle”. Several shelters were also set on fire by groups refusing to leave the camp, as refugees aimed at forming a fire barricades to avoid eviction. French authorities are encouraging migrants to move into accommodation kitted out with heating and showers provided by the government. However, many migrants have been reluctant to move into the shipping containers because they fear it will ruin their chances of reaching the UK. Nevertheless, the demolition of part of a vast and infamous refugee camp in Calais is forcing people into new makeshift settlements in the surrounding area. Aid workers said that as many as six new camps had sprung up since authorities started dismantling the southern part of ‘the Jungle’ nearly two weeks ago. These new camps, which residents also referred to as ‘jungles’, house anywhere from 15 to 150 people and are located near service stations and truck stops.
#EU: The first ever request to the European Court of Human Rights for an interim measure has been sent by Afghan asylum applicants. These applicants are fleeing Afghanistan with their children, and currently living in Idomeni in flooded tents, appalling conditions, and being daily refouled at the border.
The lawsuit is filed against Greece, but also against Macedonia, Serbia, Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia, because of their joint decision for discriminatory closure of borders and massive discriminatory refoulment on grounds of international protection seekers’ nationality.
English information about RELOCATION by w2eu (Arabic translation to be followed.): http://w2eu.info/greece.en/articles/greece-legal.en.html
Cover photo by Reuters.