Tag: balkan route

Ahmed H.’s trial, act two

Freedom for Röszke 11from Free the Röszke 11

Ahmed H.’s trial, act two – 2nd instance court decides Ahmed H.s terrorism charges need to be re-consider due to “lack of reasoning and interpretation”

Two days ago, on the 15th of June 2017 in Szeged, Hungary, Ahmed H. had his second instance trial, after being sentenced to 10 years of prison on the 30th of November 2016 for committing an “act of terrorism“.

The prosecution, obviously, emphasized that the first instance hearings followed European law guidelines. They demanded a higher sentence for Ahmed H., close to 17,5 years. The new lawyer, P. Bárándy – former minister of justice of the socialist-liberal coalition – seemed well prepared and questioned many contradictory interpretations of the first instance judgment.

The defense argued that the verdict is faulty, using “special” words to create a “certain” atmosphere, containing non-relevant information (for example Ahmed H’s religious affiliations) and that “there are about 200 technical errors”. The evidence, according to the defense, was used selectively to support the argument of Ahmed H. being a terrorist.

The judge decided to refer the case back to the first instance court, claiming that although the evidences were properly established, there was a lack of reasoning and interpretation. The judge also suggested, that the first instance court needs to set up if Ahmed H’s acts (especially the alleged stone throwing) were a “deliberate attempt of forcing the state” or an act of “despair” or “anger” in order to determine if the terrorism accusation is correct.

A couple of days ago, Orbán responded to the criticism of the EU parliament regarding the trial of Ahmed H., saying that “the obvious lies of Ahmed H.” are more important to Brussels than the security of Hungarians, since they ignore the “fact” that “Ahmed H. had seven passports and he convinced other migrants to break through the border.”

In the end it is necessary to doubt in the first instance court-decision and support the efforts of Ahmed H’s defense. But should we rest our hopes in the Hungarian legal system and believe in their independence? Didn’t the whole Röszke trials expose the Hungarian legal system as the willing servant of the government’s ambitions? We think that the “new” first instance trial will be as much dependent on the political atmosphere as the previous ones. In the end it is not a question of “law” and “objective reasoning” but rather a political struggle. We believe in a world of equality, dignity and freedom for all. We will keep on fighting until Ahmed H. is free and we will not fall for the attempts of creating a fiction of legality.

Sadly, we are not financed by Gyorgy Soros, even though some honest and truthful politicians are claiming otherwise. So we still rely on your donations to help to cover the lawyer costs.

Account holder: Rote Hilfe e.V. Ortsgruppe Frankfurt
Catchword: Röszke 11
IBAN: DE24 4306 0967 4007 2383 90

A report from an activist perspective on current protests in Hungary and Serbia

September 2015. Tens of thousands of people are on their way to Western Europe. Thousands are stuck at the Keleti train station in Budapest. On the 4th of September, in increasingly difficult conditions, they decide no longer to wait for the trains to take then on, but start walking towards their destination. As in the case of a collective push to open the border at the Greek-Macedonian border two weeks earlier, the goal of the March of Hope is clear: cross the Hungarian border, then go to Austria, Germany or further, with the hope of security and better living conditions. Finally in the middle of September, when the last meters of Hungarian border fence are sealed with barbed wire, there is a clash between refugees and the police in Röszke. People direct against fortress Europe of foreclosure and against the border regime as an expression of racist nationalism – and decide to disobey it and to cross the borders.

During this time, numerous convoys from Germany start to show practical solidarity on the so-called Balkan route. In catastrophic conditions, they assist people on the move, through the supply of a warm meals. The developing dynamics lead to discussions, whether this is humanitarian aid, political activism or something else. State structures benefit from the work of these people. They are now busy in reestablishing the lost control. For this, trains and buses are chartered to bring people to where they want to go. In 2017, only detention prisons and border fencing remain.

Röszke has disappeared from the media long time ago. It has become quiet in this small border village. A deceptive idyll, which only exists because Hungary has completely closed off its borders. 19 months after the refugee protests, a demonstration passes through Röszke. The participants shout: “Nem kell a kerités, szabadság!” (“We don’t need fences, freedom!”) and “Vesszen a fasizmus!” (“Down with fascism!”). They are directed at the Hungarian fascist system, which has closed all open camps, and is holding asylum seekers in a container prisons near the border. Even though much less people manage to pass through, the closing of the borders can never stop the movement of people. According to Médecins Sans Frontièrs, many people are severely wounded, many have their bones broken, in the attempts to cross. Refugees in Serbia report brutal pushbacks by the Hungarian police, which are legal at up to 8km distance from the border.

Pictures in Belgrade in April 2017 are reminiscent of pictures from the year 2015. Many people on the Balkan route are stuck there, because the surrounding states isolate themselves with powerful means. About one thousand people live in former warehouses near the railway station in Belgrade. Under a parking deck, minors sleep in tents. Several activist and humanitarian organizations are also on the ground. English courses and a sports facility are self-organized. Demonstrations and information events are being held. The most common languages spoken are Pashtu, Urdu, Farsi, English, German and Spanish. In the barracks, as the warehouses are rightly called, there is a charging station for smart-phones and improvised sanitary facilities. On the walls, signs in different colors are written: “The problem is borders” and “I am a person too”. In addition to these statements you can also read: “We need shoes”. Neither the ruins of old warehouses nor the personal equipment available are sufficient to protect people from cold and wet weather. Not only do people drown in the Mediterranean daily, but also people in the metropolis of Belgrade are dying as a consequence of the EU border regime. Even the two hot meals a day are organized by non-governmental kitchens.

At the beginning of May, the No Name Kitchen alerted via Facebook: “WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT SERBIA.” The Commissioner for Migration and Refugees Serbia has announced the evacuation of the barracks. The people are to be accommodated in the official camps and forced to apply for asylum in Serbia. “The camp system in Serbia is an extended way of doing business in a fast way, is copy-pasted from other EU countries,” says the No Border Serbia collective. According to the state, camps should provide shelter and supply for refugees. In fact, they represent a further restriction of freedom for those who live in it. On the 11th of May, the evacuation starts in the early morning hours. Employees of the Commissariat for Migration and Refugees already sprayed insecticides in the halls the day before. Resistance is rising among the people living there, some of them starting a hunger strike.

Despite the protests, most of them are finally forced to get on buses. If people do not enter voluntarily, they are threatened with being deported to the closed camp in Preševo. Protest is also rising by supporting groups. The rooms of the No Name Kitchen were the first to be demolished. In the evening they write their struggle goes on, because they did not just come for cooking.

Behind the evacuation stands the large project Belgrade Waterfront of the Eagle Hills Company. New luxury buildings are planned, they would cover two million square miter of this urban area. What is described as an innovative “facelift” for the city on their website is a source of indignation. More than 200 tenants have already been deprived of their living space. Protests after the election of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić as the President of the Republic raised the topic of difficult living conditions in Serbia. Many people live extremely precariously, the average income is 350 euros a month, the youth unemployment at 44% and the social welfare system works only rudimentarily.

“Many people are fleeing from here because they have no other chance,” reports an activist. This makes it clear how difficult political activism is if one’s own existence is not adequately secured. The German government ignores this situation and in recent years has massively deported people back to the Balkan states, including some who left decades ago, or have never even lived there. This symbolizes the political pre-eminence of the German government. It has the freedom to decide on exacerbating asylum laws in the interior and relocating the devastating effects to the external borders.

The article is written by a feminist collective whose individuals are active in different anti-racist contexts. The question of how effective political activism is to be organized remains open. The decision to participate in the demonstration in Röszke and the visit to Belgrade came through existing contacts on one hand. On the other hand, it was still important to visualize the current situation on the Balkan route, as a continuation of the solidarity actions of 2015. We want to continue the discussion about (joint) political work with local activists. For this purpose, is scheduled to invite them to Germany to in September 2017.

#RefugeesSRB We Are Still in #Serbia

We are still in Belgrade. One of us joined the Cars Of Hope Wuppertal team, who are working with refugees and support the Soul Welders projects in the Serbian capital. Another short impression from Belgrade.

Written by Riot Turtle

Solidarity not charity! The situation in Belgrade changed since the last time I was here. The conditions people are forced to live in due to border closures are dehumanizing and many people work hard to stop that.

Yesterday there was a demonstration against Refugee detentions in Hungary and border closures in Röszke, at the Hungarian/Serbian border.

röszke protest Hungary

Image: Demo against Refugee detentions and border closures in Röszke, Hungary on Saturday. Image by Twitter account freetheroszke11

I had actually planned to go to the demonstration but changed my mind as we are leaving Belgrade in a few days and there are loads of work to be done here.

Yesterday we supported the shower truck of Soul Welders again. This time at the barracks behind the main train station of Belgrade.  Many refugees in Serbia live outside or in abandoned buildings and have no access to running water. Refugees can take a shower in the shower truck and get a clean towel, a t-shirt, socks and underwear. Soul Welders also distribute soap, shampoo, tooth paste and tooth brushes. The truck drives to Belgrade, the Serbian/Croatian border and the Serbian/Hungarian border. Soon we will publish an interview with Soul Welders activists about this great project.

Nobody knows how much people are living in and around the barracks. I guess there are about 1500 people here. Many people here are nervous, because they are afraid to be evicted soon. The huge construction site of the “Belgrade Waterfront” gentrification project is coming closer and closer to the barracks.

We observed that Serbian police is doing a lot of ID checks around the main train station in Belgrade. Much more compared to the last time we were here (February 2017). We also spoke with people who were intimidated by Serbian cops, especially close to the borders. People who are supporting refugees there hear sentences like: ‘The next time we see you here, we will arrest you! ”

That makes the conditions people are working in even more difficult, but the motivation to continue the work with refugees is high.

If you want to support our work with refugees, please donate.

Paypal account: carsofhopewtal@gmx.de

Bank account information :

Name of account holder: Sozialtal e.V.

Iban: DE80 3305 0000 0000 6968 49


Description : Cars Of Hope

“March of Hope” > zu Fuß auf dem Weg von Belgrad zur kroatischen Grenze

Am Freitag nachmittag, 11.11.2016 haben sich 200 Geflüchtete zu Fuß auf den Weg gemacht und hoffen auf Einlass an den Pforten der Festung Europa – an der kroatischen Grenze. Unterwegs auf der Autobahn zwischen Belgrad und Zagreb, eskortiert von der Polizei. Hinter ihnen bilden sich kilometerlange Autoschlangen. Stimmung ungebrochen. Geflüchteten hatten sich auf den Weg gemacht, nachdem eine ihrer Hauptunterkünfte in Belgrad einen Tag zuvor geräumt worden war. Der Protestmarsch wurde seit dem Start von der serbischen Polizei begleitet, zwischenzeitlich in Richtung Bahngleise und dann über freies Feld geschickt. Am 13.11.2016 haben die Geflüchteten die kroatische Grenze erreicht und harren nun dort aus. Unterstützung in Form von Decken, Essen und menschlicher Solidarität ist von Menschen vor Ort unterwegs, wird von der Polizei aber bisher nicht durchgelassen. Aktuelle Berichterstattung unter dem Twitter-Hashtag #MarchOfHope

Pressemitteilung Solidarity4all – Bündnis

PM vom 25.07.2016

Stadt versucht aus politischen Gründen ein Camp das Solidarity4all – Bündnis zu verhindern

Protestcamp Bamberg 04. bis 07. August 2016 – ARE Bamberg: Stadt blockiert Verhandlungen

Ein breites Bündnis wird im August ein mehrtägiges antirassistisches Protestcamp gegen die Ankunfts- und Rückführungseinrichtung (ARE) in Bamberg mit Kundgebung vor dem Lager, Demo durch Bamberg und Protestaktionen in der Innenstadt durchführen. Mit vorgeschobenen Begründungen versucht die Stadt Bamberg unterdessen das Camp zum mehrtägigen Protest zu verhindern.*

Das Protestcamp gegen die menschenunwürdigen Zustände in der so genannten Ankunfts- und Rückführungseinrichtung (ARE) ist bereits vor Wochen beim Ordnungsamt der Stadt Bamberg angemeldet worden. Seit Beginn der Gespräche blockiert die Stadt die Verhandlungen über einen geeigneten Standort. Diverse Standortvorschläge des Solidarity4all-Bündnisses wurden abgelehnt, dabei sind z.B. die Grünflächenverordnung oder eine diffuse Bedrohung von rechts vorgeschoben worden. Die vom Bündnis präferierte „JUZ-Ost-Wiese“ wurde vom OB im Gespräch ohne triftigen Grund mit unspezifischen Sicherheitsbedenken kategorisch verweigert. Dieses Vorgehen zeigt, dass die Stadt Bamberg ein legitimes Protestcamp gegen die ARE aus politischen Motiven zu verhindern sucht. Gegenüber dem Solidarity4all-Bündnis blockiert sie alle Vorschläge und ist nicht bereit, eigene Alternativen vorzuschlagen.

Das Denkmal für die ermordeten Roma und Sinti Europas in Berlin: Kein Platz für politischen Protest, Platz für Polizeieinsatz

Statement von alle bleiben

Berlin, 24. Mai 2016. Die Polizei räumt kurz nach Mitternacht die Versammlung der Roma, die sich abends dort eingefunden hatten – um gegen ihre Abschiebungen zu protestieren und sich Bleiberechte zu erkämpfen. Familien mit teilweise sehr jungen Babys, Kindern und Jugendlichen aus Norddeutschland waren nach Berlin gekommen, damit ihre Situation von der Bundespolitik wahrgenommen werden sollte.
Wir unterstützen ihre Proteste vor Ort, weil wir ihre Anliegen teilen.

familie3Was den Betroffenen am meisten fehlt, ist Solidarität. Vor Ort waren ein paar Aktive aus antirassistischen Initiativen sowie ein paar aufmerksam gewordene PassantInnen. Zum Glück, denn das waren die einzigen, die sich auf Seiten der Roma einmischten. Die Reaktionen von offizieller Seite an diesem späten Sonntagabend waren abwehrend, abwertend und eiskalt. Alle versuchten, auf die Roma einzuwirken, damit sie diesen Ort so schnell wie möglich verlassen. Niemand stellte sich in dieser krisenhaften Situation auf die Seiten der Roma, beispielsweise damit die Polizei ihre Blockade des Eingangs beendet (was die Lage deutlich entspannt hätte). Insofern ist die Behauptung, die Räumung wäre zum Wohl der Frauen und Kinder erfolgt, eine Art umgekehrte Schutzbehauptung. Sie spricht den Frauen die Fähigkeit ab, über sich und ihre Kinder selbst zu bestimmen. Dabei war deren Entscheidung klar. Zweimal gingen die Sprecher der Familien zu den Familien, um sich zu beraten. Zweimal entschieden diese unmissverständlich, dass sie bleiben wollten – „Hierbleiben!, Hierbleiben!“ riefen sie, auf Deutsch und in Romanes.

Es wäre ein Leichtes gewesen, die Verbleib der Familien über die Nacht zu ermöglichen. Immer wieder gab es diesen Vorschlag, immer wieder wurde er abgelehnt. Die Familien wussten auch nicht, wohin.

Sie wollten gerade an diesem Denkmal für ihre Rechte kämpfen, weil sie sonst keinen Ort haben. Nirgends.

In einem irren Versuch Härte zu zeigen waren die Vertreter der Stiftung schwach und hilflos, so überfordert, so unfähig, dass sie das Gelände stundenlang von der Polizei umstellt ließen und der Öffentlichkeit den Zugang verstellten. Ihnen kam es allein darauf an, keinen „Präzedenzfall“ zu schaffen, der zu dem Zeitpunkt längst eingetreten war. Völlig abwegig ist die Annahme, den Menschen eine Übernachtung im Denkmal zu erlauben würde nach sich ziehen, dass danach täglich fünfzig Roma den Ort einnehmen würden, um gegen ihre Abschiebungen zu protestieren. Sammelabschiebungen und Aufforderungen zur freiwillligen Rückkehr lassen den wenigsten Roma die Möglichkeit, sich überhaupt dort hin zu bewegen. Der Protest ist für diese Menschen gerade an diesem Ort wichtig.

Support structures for migrants in Belgrade under attack

miksaliste refugee aid belgradeCall from NoBorders Hostel collective

Comrades, read, share, resist!

URGENT:The political management of migrations on the Balkan Route has entered into yet another phase. Ever since the EU-Turkey Deal came into force at the end of March, one of its main parts was the repression targeting both the people traveling through the Balkans and the people involved with support and solidarity structures. Enormous amounts of violence was and still is being deployed at many points along the route: from the Greek islands up to Macedonia and Bulgaria. On the other hand Serbia was up until last Sunday’s parliamentary elections the only country along the Balkan Route in which people could move more or less freely and were faced with relatively little state repression. But the worrying developments of today mean that also the situation in Serbia is changing fast and to the worse.

For more than two weeks there has been a No Border Squat in Belgrade, sheltering up to 80 people against the harsh weather and giving some privacy and resting space to people who otherwise had to sleep in the parks in town. Today at 10am a group of uniformed and civil clothed police officers entered the premises and ordered everyone in the house to move to the asylum camp Krnjaca outside of Belgrade. As the reason for this intrusion they cited the provisions of a new law that obliged people who had not been registered with the authorities yet, to move to the camp immediately. Thanks to the local and international legal support on the spot this argument of the police officers was soon discredited as it turned out that the law in question had indeed been passed but will not come into force before 28th of May 2016. But the deceiving behaviour of the police officers did not end there, rather it was just a first of many highly problematic and possibly even illegal acts that followed in the course of the day.

As seven people that stayed in NoBorderHostel were taken to the police station in order to register them there (see picture), the fear arose that the authorities will tear down the squat quickly. International supporters were intimidated as police conducted harsh ID checks that involved screaming and other threatening behaviour. The police officers talked to some construction workers who were also present at the scene. It was at that point that the news reached us that ‘Miksaliste’, a container park that is situated right next to the NoBorderHostel is being emptied. Since early December ‘Miksaliste’ has hosted many different NGOs and other basic support structures for migrants providing toilets, clothing, food, tea, showers, medical treatment and child care. Thus it became clear that it is not only the NoBorderHostel that is being targeted but that the whole support structure for migrants in Belgrade is about to be erased. It turned out that yesterday evening Miksaliste got an eviction notice from the police in which they were told to vacate the container camp within 48 hours. In case of their non-compliance the NGOs were threatened to loose their permission to continue with solidarity and support activities.

Putting these incidents into the big picture of the recent Serbian elections and the general climate towards people on the move in Europe, the repression in Belgrade clearly fits in the well established framework of pushing people into illegalization and further out of sight into the shadows of remote areas on the one hand and criminalizing support structures on the other. Eight weeks after the official closure of the Balkan Route between Macedonia and Greece, the repression and neglect of basic human rights moves further north as Serbia too steps in the EU’s line. The intention of defending Europe’s wealth becomes extraordinarily obvious in this case as both Miksaliste and NoBorderHostel are located in the area of the Belgrade Waterfront Project. Investors from Serbia and the United Emirates clearly have no interest in tolerating non-profitable venues in their interest zone.

Gentrification uncovers its ugly smile

Outrage and anger about this illegal evictions was taken into the public scene in form of a spontaneous protest at 6pm. A dozen of freshly painted banners was unrolled in the two parks around the train station that are the main stage of the migrants movement since last summer. The police showed up as soon as they heard slogans echoing from the walls. When the protest was over and the banners were collected they asked for IDs and charged four activists with a hilarious made up fine multiplied by the number of banners – for ‘littering’. Again another sign of solidarity that became target of arbitrary police repression.

What is politically symptomatic is that the sudden 180° turn of the Serbian government came immediately after the ruling party of the master of political spectacle Aleksandar Vucic consolidated its grip on power at the Sunday’s elections. His party aimed at and ultimately gained an absolute majority and while everyone was busy dissecting the electoral results, the old and new government decided to use the opportunity and redefine its policy towards the migrants. The move of the Serbian authorities should be understood in the context of decidedly repressive regime that the EU has managed to implement along the whole Balkan Route over the last weeks. Deportations of migrants as well as destruction of solidarity structures on the Greek islands, heavily militarized and extremely violent operations on the border between Greece and Macedonia and the excessive use of violence against people on the move in Bulgaria and Macedonia are the context in which the latest move of the Serbian government can seen as an implementation of the same Balkan-wide regime of total closure of the route. Another political fence along the walls of Fortress Europe is being built on the Belgrade Waterfront. Clearly, media-savy government of Serbia did not want to expose itself during the election campaign but now this caution is no longer necessary and the implementation of EU plan in Serbia can happen.

For the people involved in support and solidarity work in Belgrade and across the Balkans this is just the latest in a series of attacks on the freedom of all of us. But even as gestures of solidarity get criminalized and people are pushed into the hands of criminal associations, our resolve and determination to fight Fortress Europe does not vain. We will continue to open NoBorder squats, to cook in NoBorder kitchens and to support the people with whom we want to build a new and better Europe together in other practical ways. We are inspired by the infinite acts of resistance and courage from our co-travelers from other parts of the world. It is because of them that the border regime broke down in the first place and it is because of them that our solidarity efforts make sense. You cannot evict a movement.

NoBorders Hostel collective
26th April 2016

European Borders update 15.4.2016. Greece starts rejecting people as Turkey labeled ‘safe third country’


Up to 30.000 refugees started heading to Turkey during the last 48 hours, Spiegel Online reports based on the information provided by the volunteers. This follows several attacks by IS at refugee camps in Northern Syria. However, Turkey refuses to let them to cross the border. As already known, Turkey is building a 911km long cement wall along the border which is said to resist missile attacks. According to Human Rights Watch, one third of it has been finished.


IMPORTANT – today we came into possession of a document issued by the Greek authorities (Regional Asylum Office of Lesvos) stating the inadmissibility for international protection to an individual’s claim based on presumption of Turkey as a Safe Third Country. If this continues as a practice, the principle of non-refoulement mentioned in the EU-Turkey agreement will be most certainly breached. The document states:

„(…) the application that she lodged is rejected as inadmissible, because Turkey is considered to be a safe third country for her.
Furthermore, I informed the applicant with the assistance of the interpreter that he has the right to appeal this decision before the Appeals Committees within 5 calendar days starting tomorrow and that the appeal has automatic suspensive effect. In case the decision is not appealed against within the above time limit, the applicant will be removed from the country. “

According to the UNHCR, there were 106 reported arrivals yesterday to the Greek islands, and 36 departures to the mainland. According to their numbers, which are based on the Government data, today there were 46,450 people on sites in the Mainland and 7,216 people in the islands. According to these numbers, today there were 4142 people at ‪#‎Lesvos‬, 1823 at ‪#‎Chios‬, 772 at ‪#‎Samos‬, 316 at ‪#‎Leros‬, 12 at ‪#‎Kalymnos‬, 44 at ‪#‎Kos‬, 77 at ‪#‎Rhodes‬, and 30 at ‪#‎Megisti‬.

There were 3770 refugees in ‪#‎Athens‬ ‪#‎Piraeus‬, 4358 in 3 sites of ‪#‎Elliniko‬, 1502 in ‪#‎Eleonas‬, and 1939 in ‪#‎Schisto‬.
Besides Northern Greece, large numbers of refugees are accomodated in the following camps accross the rest of the country – 1021 in ‪#‎Katsika‬, 578 in ‪#‎Filipiada‬, 809 in ‪#‎Larisa‬ (Koutsochero), 2009 in ‪#‎Pieria‬ (5 locations), 1060 in ‪#‎Skaramagas‬, 717 in ‪#‎Ritsona‬, 1100 in ‪#‎Malakasa‬, and 882 in ‪#‎Lavrio‬ (2 locations).

In the Northern Greece UNHCR reports the presence of 10392 refugees in ‪#‎Idomeni‬, 1237 at the Polykastro Station, 3963 at ‪#‎NeaKavala‬, 3983 in ‪#‎Cherso‬, 780 in ‪#‎Giannitsa‬, 816 in ‪#‎Alexandreia‬, 2281 in ‪#‎Diavata‬, 382 in ‪#‎Thessaloniki‬ Port.


Volunteers in #Lesvos report no boat arrivals today to the Northern coast, while no information is available for the South.
Preparations to clean up a refugee camp turned detention center in Moria in advance of the Pope’s visit tomorrow do nothing to address the deteriorating conditions in the center, where 2,900 people are locked up in a facility meant to hold 2,000, reports The Independent. Save the Children reports conditions for children in the center are appalling. Volunteers report that the more than half of the refugees have been moved to ‪#‎KaraTepe‬ where at least volunteers are able to access them and assist with better food and clothing, as a part of the preparations for Pope’s visit. Those who are still in #Moria have been given much better shelter, tables and chairs to sit at to eat meals and a much cleaned, repaired and painted environment. All graffiti outside suggesting that borders should be opened has been covered with whitewash.

On his visit to Lesbos this Saturday, Pope Francis should visit the Lesvos Solidarity Camp #Pikpa, a volunteer-run camp that since 2012 has given shelter, care, and comfort to thousands of the most vulnerable asylum seekers who have reached the Greek island of Lesbos by boat, says HRW. Now the island’s mayor wants to convert this haven into a holiday resort. Since the beginning of the refugee crisis, Pikpa has become a sanctuary of refuge. The situation is worse now, since the EU and Turkey agreed to a deeply flawed migration deal last month, by which everyone arriving by boat from Turkey is automatically detained. Moria is now a detention center where people will not have adequate access to health or psychosocial care or services for young children and persons with disabilities. Efforts to stop Pikpa’s closure are underway. The advocacy group Avaaz has started a petition; open for signatures, calling on the government of Greece and the mayor of Lesbos to keep Pikpa’s doors open. A visit by Pope Francis could also help save PIKPA and its vital efforts to alleviate suffering, HRW reports. The petition is available through the following link http://bit.ly/1TVEZ6F
Volunteers in #Kastellorizo were told that the 30 refugees who remained at the island will be taken to the hot spot in #Leros on Monday. Volunteers there report no new arrivals for nearly 2 weeks. The ferry companies who run from to Kastellerizo are building up to their summer schedule so it is much easier to get volunteers over there at short notice now.

28 refugees are detained at #Kos right now. 51 imprisoned refugees were brought to Lesvos and back to Turkey last week. Flying Help and Kos Solidarity are still providing additional food and clothes for the detained people, whenever the police allow them to. The planned hot spot is still not ready, even if it was planned to open today. A new date for its opening is not set yet. Volunteers report no new arrivals to the island for already a week.


Volunteers in Pireaus report on the case of a family whose child needed a surgery and who were taken to the public hospital where there was no room. Since there was no room in any of the hospitals or camps, the family was left to sleep in the street overnight, since they could not afford an accommodation.
Donations are needed in Camp Petra Olympou in Northern Greece. There are about 1000 Eazidi refugees from Syria and Iraq accommodated, mostly from Idomeni. 480 of them are children. It is a military camp with decent tents but meals are military rations (bread, small box of something like egg/potato pie) and a bottle of water, as reported by volunteers. There is running water at the camp, but camp managers have told people it is not safe to drink. People complain that there is not enough drinking water. Also there is no camp staff other than military, so the sanitary conditions are unsatisfactory. There is no light around the camp as it is dark at night. There is no electricity in the tent areas. People are asking for charging stations for mobile phones. Volunteer help is needed, too.

They need – food, medical supplies, milk for children, blankets, clothes. The contact number is +30 698 641 5751 (Tariq who speaks English, Kurdish and Arabic).

Volunteers report on the #Alexandria Camp, which is a camp open for only 11 days, it is military run, but there is a strong cooperation with the established volunteer group. On that site, the army prepares the food, but the volunteers have to buy baby food. There is a measles outbreak and the camp is in need of nurses and doctors. Refugees in general report that the present medics are very busy. Volunteer group has secured funding to renovate the abandoned buildings on site, and there is a plan for refugees-run shops and a communal kitchen. Everyone is registered and has a ration card, so there are lists to ensure that everyone gets the right amount of food. The army prints the lists with the size of shoes and clothes for volunteers so the refugees can get exactly what is required. The nearest hospital is 45km. It is not allowed to make fires in camp so no one can cook. Inside the tents people seem to mostly sleep in camp beds. UNHCR is present on site apparently 3 times per week; however the refugees do not know anything about asylum rights. There are snakes, as everywhere.

However, at the #NeaChrani location, at 40 minutes distance from Alexandria camp, there is no medical coverage now. Allegedly, they had volunteer doctors who started demanding money. So, there is a need for doctors and nurses in Nea Chrani that can stay 2 weeks or more – please help if you can.

14 groups of independent volunteers in #Idomeni have shared their General Statement today. They respond to the accusations by the media and the politicians for inciting violence or spreading false information among the refugees. They say: „We believe that spreading false information amongst a vulnerable population is immoral, gives false hope and only causes more harm. These false accusations have only resulted in the increase of police activity and the unjustified arrest and detention of at least 25 volunteers in recent days. These actions only reduce the already limited access the refugees in Greece have to basic needs such as; food, hygiene, medical care, shelter and education.“
News that Moves reports that a group of volunteers have set up an informal school for refugee children at the Idomeni camp. According to the Greek news agency ANA-MPA, at the makeshift ‘Idomeni cultural centre’ daily classes includes math, Kurdish and Arabic language. Courses for adults are also held. Refugees who have studied math, science or languages are teaching in the school. Volunteers are giving children English and German language classes


Migszol volunteers asked the Serbian and Hungarian Authorities and UNHCR on both sides to facilitate access for NGO’s and Volunteer groups to the stranded people in #Kelebija and #Horgos. Between 60 to 200 people are waiting in front of the two official Tranzit Zones on the Hungarian-Serbian border for days, some of them for weeks. The Hungarian authorities reduced the number of accepted entrances from 30 to 20 recently and often they accept only 12 or 15 people. Usually they chose one or two families, take them in and close the doors for another day, volunteers report. During the last few days, the practice was that they let only Syrian or Iraqi families in. The Afghan, Pakistani, Iranian, Somali families are left waiting, and eventually return exhausted to Belgrade. One Afghan family is stranded there for 4 days and nights with several small children. The mother is pregnant. They have been talking to UNHCR on both the Serbian and the Hungarian side with no success. So far only MSF and UNHCR get access to the people stranded on the Serbian side of the Hungarian transit zone. No other support structures are in place. Nobody is allowed to hand out tents, which means that people are exposed to all weather conditions. There are no sanitary facilities at all. The situation is deteriorating daily.
In #Belgrade Migszol witnessed 200-300 new arrivals daily during the last week -numbers are increasing, not decreasing, volunteers say. Most of the newly arriving people come through Bulgaria, where they have been jailed and tortured, chased through forests, walked for many hours and lacked food and water. Nevertheless, NGO’s are planning to withdraw in many places, closing their missions, while numbers show that the need for support is increasing.

Serbian media B92 reports that on Friday morning police officers forced their way into a house in Sinjska Street in Belgrade where a group of migrants had previously barricaded themselves. They were searching the house and talking with the people in the yard, before taking 16 of them to a police station where they were interviewed. No incidents occurred during the intervention. B92 learned that 16 migrants lived there for months, with the number sometimes reaching 50 people, and that they have no documents. Women and children are among the group. According to unofficial information, the owner of the house lives in Germany, while “his son occasionally visits the house.”

On April 15th, the Croatian transit camp #Slavonski Brod was closed. This camp, that was officially able to host around 5000people was intended to be transit camp, but since the push-backs at the Route and since the Route’s closing, it became a sort of a detention center for over 300 refugees stranded there, among whom there were minors. During the last couple of weeks, many of them applied for asylum in Croatia – they were transferred during the last couple of days to the asylum seeker center in Zagreb (Porin Hotel), asylum center in the town of Kutina and asylum center Ježevo (single men). Croatian authorities have closed the refugee camp, due to its inadequacy for the long-term stay of the refugees. The last 62 refugees accommodated at the camp did not seek asylum in Croatia were transferred yesterday to Porin Hotel in Zagreb (corr. 16/4). Are You Syrious? and Welcome Initiative volunteers are in touch with the people in these centers.

Volunteers report that a family from Afghanistan was deported from Austria to Croatia today. They were in Austria for 6 months.

Austrian media report that the Austrian police rescued 27 refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan, including 16 children and a teenager, out of a truck cargo bay in #Rohrbach in Upper Austria about 20 kilometers from German border on Monday. The smuggler was arrested.

Austrian media also report that trafficking has strongly increased in the Eastern Austria during last weeks, according to Federal police. In April this year 44 cases of smuggling have been reported only in the Upper Austria. Police suspects that the small groups of people (usually 8 to 10 persons) are brought to Austria in small trucks or transporters from Hungary. The desired destination is Germany. On Thursday night 43 refugees have been brought to Burgenland. The authorities expect a massive increase of smugglers in the following period.

Austrian government wants to transfer 160 million Euro to the World Bank’s International Development Agency (IDA) during the next nine years, starting from 2017, which makes about 15 million Euro per year. Several media report that this money is meant for refugee relief in the Middle East. The Austrian council of Ministers is supposed to accept this proposal next week. (source: Tiroler Tageszeitung)

According to Huffington Post, Austrian President Fischer declared: “Rumors about a border’s closure between Italy and Austria are false and misleading. ” Fischer claims that without an adequate protection of the European external borders the situation forces Austria to adopt further measures to stop people, whose identity and motivations are unknown, coming in unlimited numbers from non-EU countries. EU commissary for internal affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos disagrees on Austria’s intentions. He argues that these initiatives put Schengen’s agreements at risk. He formally demands to Austrian ministry Mikl-Leitner an adequate report stating what is going on at the border and why. According to Avramopoulos, verifications on identity are “total”, and no hints suggest that massive migrants’ flows are shifting from Greece to Italy.
Italian regional journal, Messaggero Veneto reports that thirty-four associations for the rights and assistance to migrants wrote an open letter against the responsible people for the decision of closing an underground passage, currently used as shelter by refugees. The signatures of citizens are currently being collected. President of the border region Friuli Venezia-Giulia and the associations accuse Austria for the decision of a wall, and they blame Italy for not supporting refugees, as they had previously requested.

According to the Italian RAI, the Italian Prime Minister Renzi submitted a letter to the EU Parliament where he argues that the management of the migrants’ flow is unsustainable, without a thorough and participatory cooperation with the departure countries. Substantially, Italy urges the EU Parliament to speed up the process of liaising with countries such as Libya, in order to avoid massive migration. He proposes to deliver financial resources to the transit countries, to block illegal migration, to manage an extraordinary plan of repatriation, and to support legally, logistically, financially and structurally the partner countries in screening migrants (distinguishing refugees and economic migrants).

Volunteers report that there were lot of arrivals in the last three days – more than 2.000 people arrived to Sicily. Southern Italian hotspots are already full, it seems that the people are stuck there, however the volunteers do have the information about the people who were able to escape. They also report very difficult conditions for volunteering in the island of #Lampedusa at the very South of Italy, due to the large number of soldiers in the harbor. According to the volunteers, a lot of people use Bozen/Bolzano as a transit zone to arrive to Munich from Sicily and the rest of the Southern Italy. Volunteers report that currently there are no people in transit, but that they are all stopped in Southern Italy.


Nearly 70,000 unaccompanied minor refugees are currently in Germany – more than twice as many in comparison to the last year. Since they are considered to be particularly vulnerable, intensive supervision is supposed to be provided by the social workers for minors. The reality is rather different. Because of the sharp rise in numbers, the staff is inadequate in many areas. “In certain cases, a guardian looks after 100 minors” Around 6,000 children and young people are still missing, reports Huffington Post.


Volunteers in #Paris report that the refugees there urgently need food. They say that the situation is critical and that many of these people have not eaten in days. Food delivery is dependent on local volunteers and it is scarce, which is causing conflicts among the people – volunteers report that last night the police tear gassed the refugees after one such conflict occurred. If you can help, please contact volunteer Ruhi Loren Akhtar.


According to Norwegian newspapers Aftenposten, Norway has signed an agreement with Italy and Greece to bring out 1,500 asylum seekers over two years. It is part of the EU program to remedy the situation in the two countries. EU’s own member states have failed their efforts and has only accepted a small number of refugees: 160,000 should be moved from Greece and Italy over two years. To date, only 1,145 people has been able to travel to another EU country. Also Norway has promised the EU to take refugees. Vice-secretary Berger Røsland confirms that the agreement for the relocation of asylum seekers to Norway is signed – 1500 refugees who have come to Greece and Italy are to be moved to Norway.

Photo credit: Volunteer to AYS – The document issued by the Greek authorities (Regional Asylum Office of Lesvos) stating the inadmissibility for international protection to an individual’s claim based on presuming Turkey is a Safe Third Country.

Update at the borders 5.4.2016

By Are You Syrious?

#‎GENERAL‬: On Wednesday interior ministers of Germany, Austria and Switzerland met in Vienna to talk about refugees and terrorism. German interior minister Thomas de Maizière suggested to make a deal with North African countries as EU did with Turkey. “The method is right”, he said, meaning deporting illegal migrants and for that taking equal amount of ‘legal’. He didn’t mention countries to collaborate with, but said a deal with them would be “unequally difficult”. The ministers are now focused on two alternative routes: Austrian interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner explained the East Balkan Route (Turkey-Bulgaria) has a potential of 1.1 million migrants, the Mediterranean Route 300.000. She also underlined to support Greece and possible in future affected country, obviously referring to Bulgaria and Romania. To the closing of the Balkan-Route de Maizière said it’s done. “And we are in complete agreement that it needs to remain done.”

#‎LIBYA‬: At least five African migrants are dead and 15 injured, some of them seriously after guards at a detention in the coastal town of ‪#‎Zawiya‬ (who form part of the Al Nasser Militia) opened fire during a mass escape early on Saturday morning.

‪#‎TURKEY‬: The agreement between the EU and Turkey, signed on March 18, paved the way for the return of refugees from Greece to Turkey, where they may be able to get international protection according to the EU. According to Amnesty, since January, Turkey has expelled groups of around 100 Syrians from the southern border provinces of Turkey to Syria. This has been happening on a daily basis, and includes families, women and children. Amnesty did not provide precise numbers about mass returns of Syrian refugees to Syria. “All forced returns to Syria are illegal under Turkish, EU and international law,” Amnesty International emphasised in the report. Further, “the large-scale returns of Syrian refugees we have documented highlight the fatal flaws in the EU-Turkey deal” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia. According to Amnesty, there is a risk that some of the people the EU will send back from Greece to Turkey could be also sent back to Syria. Amnesty International (AI) report shows that Turkey may be not considered a ‘safe country’ for refugees, including Syrians.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said 78 Syrian refugees had been sent to Europe to their new homes. Some 32 Syrians were sent to Germany as 11 Syrians went to Finland on April, while 31 Syrians were sent to the Netherlands on April 5, according to figures.

Prices for the Turkey-Greece sea crossing dropped with the EU-Turkey deal from 600€-800€ to 500€. Wirtschaftswoche quoted a smuggler saying, “Some colleagues are trying to convince the most stupid and desperate people to ferry across the sea.” Lesser number of refugees are coming to Turkey now, as the prices for crossing the border into Turkey are now being more expensive than the sea crossing. Fake IDs are now being increasingly requested by refugees, so they could go by plane. Price is 6,000€-8,000€; for tickets to UK even double that. Smugglers are also preparing the route from Turkey to Italy now. “They will use big ships not small rubber boats”, smuggler said. Price is 2,500€.

Two deported refugees, Pakistanis who arrived yesterday in Turkey “inaugurating” the agreement between the European Union and Turkey attempted suicide when they arrived in current center for returnees. The reason for that was attempted and requested political asylum, for which their application was rejected immediately. One of them passed away later at a Turkish hospital.

Big complex for Syrian refugees built with EU financing should be opened on April 16th in ‪#‎Kilis‬ (south-east Turkey).

‪#‎GREECE‬: According to the Government sources, at 8am there were 52, 352 refugees stranded in Greece. There were 5,984 people stranded on the islands – 3,149 on Lesvos, 751 on Samos, 1,776 on Chios, 93 on Leros, 72 on Kos, 81 on Rodos, 15 on Kalymnos and 47 on Kastellorizo.The Government reports 14,506 in Attica – 1,950 in Schisto, 1,502 in Eleonas, 1,150 in Elleniko Baseball camp, 1,440 in Elleniko Hockey camp, 1,612 at the Elleniko Terminal, 120 in Agios Andreas, 1,115 in Malakasa, 400 in Lavrio agrotiki camp, 456 in Lavrio asylum centre and 4,761 in Piraeus. Further, there is 2,542 people in Central Greece – 856 in Ritsona, 290 in Thermopylae and 1,396 in Koutsochero, and 340 in Southern Greece in Kyllini Andravidas. Finally, the Government reports 28,980 in Northern Greece – 11,280 in Idomeni, 2,265 in Diavata, 382 in Thessaloniki (port), 3,900 in Cherso, 1,264 in EKO-Polykastro, 3,543 in Nea Kavala, 202 in Eleftheroupoli, 750 in Nea Karvali, 479 in Drama, 223 in Kozani, 171 in Konitsa, 151 in Paralia Skotinas, 400 in Nireas (Kalivia Varikou), 291 in Nea Chrani, 164 in Ktima Irakli, 669 in Filippiada, 201 in Doliana, 1,117 in Katsikas, 837 in Giannitsa, 307 in Alexandria and 384 in Veria (Kokkinou camp). Number of new arrivals on the islands in 24h period until 07:30am was 225, of which 187 on Lesvos, 20 on Samos and 18 on Kastellorizo. Significant free spaces according to official capacity: Leros 900, Elleniko Baseball 150, Ritsona 140, Thermopylae 110, Koutsochero 100, Diavata 230, Nea Kavala 460, Nea Karvali 250, Kozani 180, Nea Chrani 110, Doliana 200, Katsikas 380, Alexandria 890.

Pakistani refugees at ‪#‎Lesvos‬ told volunteers that police were arresting all Pakistani refugees, even those who claimed an asylum. Thus, refugees were protesting at ‪#‎Moria‬. At ‪#‎Chios‬, there are rumours about the deportations of refugees despite the fact that they claimed they wanted to claim asylum. Also, from several cases, volunteers got the impression that the deportations happen in a super-arbitrary way. Twice, volunteers claim, refugees almost got deported because they were standing “in the wrong crowd.” Finally, Vincent Cochetel, director of UNHCR’s Europe bureau, said on Tuesday that 13 Afghans and Congolese asylum seekers who reached the Greek island of Chios after 20 March, and who were deported back to Turkey on Monday, had not been allowed to formally register their asylum claims due to administrative chaos on the island.

On the applications people fill out at ‪#‎Vial‬, there is two questions in the same column:
“Do you want to apply for asylum yes / no?”
“Do you want to go back to Turkey yes / no?”
This is suggesting a choice. Volunteers talked to refugees who had answered no to both questions, which is a problem the EU-Turkey deal doesn’t account for. Moreover, while on Monday 202 refugees were deported to Turkey, 225 arrived on Greek islands from Turkey.

The Greek Asylum Service is being overwhelmed by thousands of applications every day, it said on Tuesday, admitting that it is unable to handle the volume and is considering emergency measures to speed up the process. The Greek Parliament adopted last week the Law 4375/2016, which introduces several changes in the asylum and first reception procedures. The law came in force on April 3rd.
The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) yesterday published a legal analysis of the new law, which you can see at the following link: http://bit.ly/1qq4ZLY

On the other hand, Greece has postponed the return of the next group of migrants to Turkey under a deal with the European Union until Friday, a Turkish government official said on Tuesday, with no other deportees expected before then.

After 2 days of “occupation”, Greek police have erected a fence in Chios port squeezing refugees who refuse to move on one side and leaving majority of the port free so ferries may dock again.

On ‪#‎Samos‬ things have changed drastically in last weeks. Refugees are now being taken to a closed camp the minute they arrive to the island. Many of the big NGOs have pulled out of the camp because they do not agree with the fact that the refugees are being kept locked up under prison like conditions. Friendly Humans Samos are one of the rare organizations that remain. In the past, their main focus was making sure the refugees had breakfast every morning. As they are now locked in the camp, the food is the army’s responsibility. Thus, they have decided, among other things, to focus on the unattended minors in the camp. They have been able to provide cake, crisps and soft drinks to the minors last week, so they could celebrate three birthdays. Furthermore, they support a young Syrian mother with two small children, who has applied for asylum here in Greece and now lives in a small rented studio. Unfortunately, the system does not provide for her, so they do what they can to help her. They have also provided food for small groups of people stranded outside the camp with no access to food. As for the work within the camp, they are distributing clothes and other necessities as they did at the port, talk to the refugees and play with the children. Please continue to support them, so they can continue their work at Samos.

In Greece, the work is being done to set up many new camps. Every couple of days, a new camp opens. The new camps are placed in order to replace the older ones. The first cleanout will probably be ‪#‎Piraeus‬. The numbers of refugees in Piraeus port continues to sit just under the 5,000 mark, with approximately 100 refugees returning on site this morning from a camp they were taken to yesterday, due to lack of support and bad conditions. Many refugees who are returning are not happy with the set up at new camps. This dissatisfaction of new camps is being voiced loud and clear across the gates, and will surely make the evacuation of Piraues difficult. On the other hand, the pressure from authorities on solidarity structures and volunteers is growing in recent days. They are blamed for preventing refugees to leave for new camps. Today authorities interrupted sharing lunch to refugees saying that the port will get empty by the end of the week and one officer recently said that “the aim is the peaceful movement, but if that doesn’t happen, we’ll ultimately go with broom.” Nevertheless, the situation at Piraeus is not ideal either. For example, head lice is becoming an issue in E1. Team Brit is still looking for long term translators to work in the team due to a number of members in the team departing on relocation.

After Piraeus, there are also plans either to close down ‪#‎Idomeni‬ completely, or to put it down to 4,000-5,000 refugees. Discussions on Greek TV claim that, for now, authorities are trying to encourage people to leave Idomeni voluntarily, but that they will use police force if they have to. Greece is opening several new camps until the end of the month, so there will be space to move refugees away from the border. Speaking of Idomeni, the camp is in urgent need of volunteers!

Soup&Socks kitchen team reports slow progress is being made but the technical conditions in ‪#‎Katsikas‬ remain poor. Hygiene is still a problem: broken taps and Dixie-toilets, too few showers, garbage cans, growing lice problems with children. There is no flooring in the tents, majority is still without mattresses and new arrivals have to sleep on the rubble if they don’t find anything better. They merely recieve a plastic sheet to place beneath them. Among a few refugees there’s great frustration visible due to poor living conditions. Some have started drinking and tensions between the different nationalities are getting stronger. But majority is still hopeful and tolerant to the difficult situation around. There’s many efforts to improve the situation: Soup&Socks cooks 1000 portions of soups and purees and they involved refugees to assist them, Olvidados have started singing and dancing activities for the children, group of 10 greek clowns visited the camp 2 days ago and made all laugh, Lighthouse Relief has plans to start school lessons, the men from the Greek military play football with kids, and altogether even organized screening of “El Classico” football match in the camp. Besides, local people of Ioannina are very helpful and supportive.

Group of Carry the Future volunteers was 1st international team to visit ‪#‎Konitsa‬ refugee center close to Albania and they report that residents are reasonably well cared for, though head of the camp was not open to outside volunteers (he begrudgingly allowed them to work outside). Besides, in last 2 days they visited all other Epirus region camps: Filippiada, Doliana and Katsikas. They were allowed access to all camps and were able to get carriers and other basic aid to all families with small children that asked for it.

‪#‎MACEDONIA‬: After the start of the EU-Turkey agreement, Macedonia is no longer a country of transit. The northern border camp ‪#‎Tabanovce‬ holds 1,040 refugees: Afghans, Syrians, and Iraqis. The south camp ‪#‎Vinojug‬ in ‪#‎Gevgelija‬ has registered 135 refugees, of which 38 are Yazidi, 3-4 Afghans, and the rest are Syrians. Conditions in Gevgelija are comparably good: refugees have 3 meals a day, including fruits and vegetables, free Internet, beds for sleeping, kindergarten, 24/7 medical team, legal support of the Association of Young Lawyers “MILA,” present UNHCR is available, volunteers and NGO’s that provide refugees with clothes and food.

On the other hand, in Tabanovce again today we received complains from Afghan refugees who claim that the food is really terrible, and there’s someone allowed coming in the camp and selling food: 2 Euro for loaf of bread, 10 Euro for chicken. Food they get smells really bad, so they usually buy that bread and some other food from the guy, at least the ones who have money. Sometimes police beats them, more out of pure boredom. Here is a little video from yesterday showing bad food situation: http://bit.ly/22aWa4k

On the bright side there’s a newborn baby Sivar in Gevgelija camp. He is first Yazidi born in Macedonia.

‪#‎SERBIA‬: Until the end of ‪#‎Miksaliste‬ working hours, a total number of newcoming refugees was 328: 255 men, 35 women and 38 children. Refugee Aid Miksaliste has yesterday started with creative workshops for refugees. They started teaching refugees English, German and Serbian, and they also plan to make jewelry. Likewise, refugee-volunteers from Pakistan and Afghanistan will teach volunteers Persian language. Thanks to Novi Sad Humanitarian Center, Refugee Aid Miksaliste will be holding these workshops for all interested visitors every single day.

‪#‎CROATIA‬: Two more men asked for asylum yesterday leaving 111 refugees in ‪#‎SlavonskiBrod‬ camp on this sunny and hot day. Heat could pose serious problems as temperatures rise. Volunteers from CMS held the 1st class of Croatian for refugees. Meantime in ‪#‎Zagreb‬, Minister of foreign affairs announces that Croatia won’t have more than 500 relocations from Turkey. Croatia is supposed to host 1,600 refugees according to 2 EU programmes – relocations from Italy&Greece and relocations from 3rd countries (namely Turkey and Jordan).

‪#‎GERMANY‬: During the “no border action days” in ‪#‎Freiburg‬/‪#‎Basel‬ last weekend, hundreds of left activists blocked a highway on the Swiss/German border crossing for 3 hours to protest against the fortress Europe, for open borders and to show solidarity with all refugees.

According to ORF.at: While Austria is closing its Southern and Eastern borders German Interior Minister Thomas de Maziere is planning to stop border controls at the German-Austrian border soon. Because of the low numbers of migrants crossing the border, he sees no need to continue the border controls after 12th May. The number of officers at the borders is already decreasing.

Germany saw arrival of its first group of refugees (78 Syrian) as part of EU-Turkey deal.

‪#‎ITALY‬: MSF Italia opened today in ‪#‎Rome‬ a rehabilitation centre for refugees and immigrants survivors of torture.

‪#‎NETHERLANDS‬: Netherlands saw arrival of its first group of refugees (31 Syrian) as part of EU-Turkey deal.

#BELGIUM: Belgian state secretary for asylum Theo Feancken announced that he will present a new law to the Parliament. The law stipulates that citizens of the non EU countries who want to stay in Belgium for more then three months are obliged to sign a promise that “they will try to fit into Belgian civilization”. This formulation is explicitly written in the said document. This means that “violence against other persons, wives and children is punishable by law” and that a signatory of the document has to respect “the freedom of religion” and that they are obliged to try and prevent terrorist attacks.

#NORWAY: The Norwegian government has presented a comprehensive suggestion to law change to tighten refugee policy. It will be one of the most stringent regulations in Europe, says Immigration and Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug of the Progress Party, which claims that the legislative changes do not violate international rules. Under the plan, asylum seekers whose case is viewed as “obviously groundless” could be jailed while their claim is fast-tracked under Norway’s so-called ’48-hour procedure’. That measure, put in place in January 2004, calls for migrants arriving from what the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) to have their asylum applications processed and rejected within two days. Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug is now proposing that migrants with no legitimate asylum claim should be jailed while their cases are processed. “We can see that unfounded asylum seekers disappear while the police are processing their applications. This will prohibit them from running off and eventually getting involved in criminal activity. Now we will know where we have them, get their applications processed and then return them,” Listhaug told broadcaster NRK. Listhaug said that 90 of the 537 asylum seekers whose cases were processed under the 48-hour procedure in 2015 disappeared. “Of those, we don’t know where 90 percent of them are and thus we also haven’t sent them out [of the country],” she said. Listhaug’s plan is backed by the Liberal Party (Venstre) and the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti), assuring the government of a parliamentary majority. The Norwegian Bar Association (Advokatforeningen) is among the critics of the plan, saying that it could scare off those who have legitimate asylum claims.

In a tiny village of #Neiden, Norway, a third of the people are Syrian refugees. While most refugees from Syria and Afghanistan come to Europe by sea, a fraction have taken the northern route instead and have crossed the border from Russia into Norway. It’s cheaper, and somewhat safer, although so cold that at least one person waiting to cross the border into nearby Finland froze to death. The village is literally almost empty. “There’s no supermarket, no petrol station, nothing,” says Iovino. “What they really do during the day is nothing, watching TV and waiting. They can’t even say I’m going outside, because it’s too cold . . . they want to go to school, they want to start a life. That’s why they came to Norway.” The hotel is one of six refugee centers in the region, all privately run and getting subsidies from the government. The centers often lack enough basic supplies. “They give you food, which is not enough for a cat,” says Mansour Hanna Youssef, who stayed at the hotel until he was sent to another center nearby. In 2015, more than 30,000 people applied for asylum in Norway; 10,000 of those were from Syria, and almost 7,000 from Afghanistan. In the beginning of the year, most applications were granted. But that quickly changed. Now, the majority of applicants are deported. At the same time, Norway has contributed generously to refugee relief elsewhere (it gave 385% of what Oxfam consider a country’s “fair share” in 2015; the U.S. gave 76% of its share). But many wonder why a country as rich as Norway—with a per capita GDP twice that of the U.S.—can’t also help support those who have crossed its borders.

Thank you United Rescue Aid for the images of the baby Sivar and Madelena Grossmann for the images of volunteers sending knitted hats for babies like Sivar. Finally, thank you Soup & Socks for your wonderful work and images from Katsikas.

Cover photo via Anti-Racist Front Without Borders

European borders update, 11.3.2016

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.

10.3.2016, Idomeni, Are You Syrious  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  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 border.crossing.spielfeld@gmail.com 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.

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