Tag: Greece

Greece: Hunger Strike in Elliniko Camp in Athens

Hunger Strike in Elliniko CampInfomobile Information with, about and for refugees in Greece

On 5th February 2017, most of the adults among the 711 refugees residing in a state-run Camp in the former Athens National Airport (Camp Elliniko II), in the majority coming from Afghanistan, started a hunger strike to protest against their degrading living conditions demanding for their transfer to homes, papers and freedom of movement for all. As reported by one of the refugees, it is very likely that residents of the two other camps in Elliniko (the nearby Olympic baseball and a hockey stadiums) might join in the protest tomorrow.

Among the 1,600 refugees living in the three camps of Elliniko there are some who are there already since one year. Elliniko Camp was opened already back in autoumn 2015, in a period where thousands were arriving to Greece and many stayed homeless in the parks and squares of Athens.
Planned as a temporary solution to ‘clear’ the capitals’ streets from the many homeless and repeatedly announced to be closed as belonging to one of the most infamous camps in Greece, it still stayed open until today, but always portrayed as ‘provisory’ under the UNHCR-category ‘informal site’.

Refugees used to live in the former airport throughout 2016 for months suffering under overcrowdedness, filthy insufficient toilettes and showers, inadequate food and without any information or legal aid. While the population has been reduced visible, the camp still is inadequate to host refugees and living conditions remain poor. Many highly vulnerable people still stay there. There are elderly, pregnant women, single mothers, people with mental health problems, people with chronic and
heavy diseases etc. In the meantime, many refugees are living there since one year.

Amongst others, refugees who started the protest complained about the quality of the food, lack of basic needs as for example milk and diapers for babies and toddlers, no hot water, no laundry, lack of translators for sick persons who have to go to hospital and no coverage of their transportation there. It is matter of survival, they state. They do not care about having more clothes or more food. But: food which doesnt’ make sick. Enough food, in order not to be hungry. Heating in order not to freeze.

“There are only a hand full of persons among us who speak English
and who can translate. They have to accompany anyone who gets sick to
the hospital, as the authorities and NGOs do not provide us with
translators for these purposes nor are there translators found in the
hospitals. We don’t even get the transportation costs re-funded for the
public transport used while accompanying some sick person. Some of us
got fined more than 30 times already for using the public transportation
without tickets. We will have severe problems in our asylum procedure,
to get an ID and passport, if recognized, if we have open fines to pay.
And they will increase successively if unpaid.”

Refugees living in Elliniko are suffering also mentally from the living conditions in the camp and their insecure situation in Greece and Europe.

“There are often fights. No one feels safe. People are in a
miserable state. they don’t know what to do. Many fear to stay forever
in Greece, where even Greek people cannot survive. There are no jobs,
there is no future. We fear European policies, which aim to increase
deportations of Afghans. Some of us have their relatives back in
Afghanistan. They cannot sleep at night, because they left them back in
conflict. There are people staying here who drink and fight. There is no
safety in the camp. There is no survival in Greece and there is no
safety in Afghanistan.”

More than 60% of the refugees in all three Elliniko Sites are women and
children

Amongst the refugee population in the camp are women with their kids awaiting their transfer to another European state where their husbands are. There are small kids with Asthma, like this 4-year-old girl who has to go to hospital almost every single night. People lock the doors to protect the salon from the cold, so no fresh air can enter. Many people smoke inside, others cook. The sewage water from the toilettes smells. So many get problems to breath. There is also a young man who had so
severe psychological problems, that he had to be transferred into the psychiatric clinic for a month. He was paranoid, thinking at any point someone wanted to kill him. He is taking medicaments now, but he is back in the camp, staying among 700 persons with his family. There is this pregnant lady in her 6th month, who often gets pains and has to visit the hospital again and again. She still lives there. Another woman just gave birth in there one month before. She is also still there.

Now, the refugees are trying to rase their voices to the world. They are already self-organised, having elected five representatives and holding plenaries since months. Now they want to provoke change, as they cannot suffer any longer.

“I am in danger in Afghanistan. I am even in danger in Greece. I was
told to get myself an appointment at the Asylum Service via Skpye, but
Skype isn’t responding.”

A woman holding a speech on the protest today said:

“We left Afghanistan because of the life-threatening situation and
for a future for our children. You closed the borders in front of us.
You locked us up in Greece. Now you are responsible to provide us with
what is needed to survive at least. Our children get sick here, and the
one doctor we have here for a few hours a day doesn’t give them medicine
but tell them to go an drink some water or some juice. We have the right
to have a good doctor, to have medicine. Even a pregnant woman gave
birth here, because the ambulance came so late.”

“There are mice in here. There is so much garbage outside. People
get sick from being here.”

Most adult refugees living in the camp attended the hunger strike today and plan to continue until the authorities, UNHCR and Danish Refugee Council (DRC) who are responsible in the camp listen and react to their demands:

– Open homes! Open the cities! Immediate evacuation of all into
dignified living conditions!

“We need to stay in the city and in our own rooms or flats. We don’t
want to be transferred to just another tent camp or prefab camp at the
margins of society! We want our children to go to school and we want to
go to work and earn our own living by ourselves in order to build up our
lives independently. We want to be free and participate in daily life as
all others do in this country.”

– Give papers and residence to stay to all refugees and allow anyone who
wants to move to another country to relocate legally and to join their
relatives! No discrimination of certain nationalities!

“The relocation program is discriminative. The right of free
movement should be given to all refugees. Many have their mothers,
fathers, brothers or sisters, their children or grandparents abroad.
Everybody has the right to be with his or her families. All people have
the right to live and work, somewhere, where it is possible to survive.
Even Greeks are searching for jobs outside of Greece. They are surviving
by returning to stay with their families. We have no one to help us
here, no one to open his or her house for us or to give us food. If
there is a chance to survive here, to find a job here, then we will
stay. As long as there isn’t, we should be allowed to move on legally.”

– Stop deportations to Turkey! Stop deportations to Greece! Stop
deportations to Afghanistan! Stop deportations to any unsafe countries!
The right to life for all!

“We fight for our rights. We fight for the rights of the others too.
The ones who are on the islands now, should be allowed to come to the
mainland, to seek asylum here, to stay here. Currently, people hardly
arrive to Greece anymore. The Turkish and the Greek Coast Guard,
together with the European Coast Guard fight refugees back on the sea
border. They stop them, from arriving to a place for asylum and
protection. The few who still come should be given a chance to stay.
Some of them who were allowed to move to the mainland arrive to Athens
without a place to stay. They are not permitted in the camps. Others
come to Athens without permit. They even have to return to the island.
We want freedom for all.”

“They want to start returning refugees who have been fingerprinted
here after March 15th of this year, back to Greece. No one can survive
here. We like to be in Greece. There are some nice people here, the
weather is good and the mentality of the Greeks is a little bit like our
own. But there are no jobs and there is no help for us. So how can we
find a home? How can we secure food for our kids? We also liked much
more to be in our homes in Afghanistan. But there is so safety but but
only war.”

“Europe is talking about the deportation of Afghans. Some countries
started already to return our people back even though their lives are in
danger in Afghanistan. Our president has signed a deal with Europe to
get money in exchange for taking refugees back. But our own politicians
keep their families in Europe for their own safety. European governments
advice their own citizens not to visit our country for safety reasons.
If we go back, we will die. Everybodys’ lives matter!”

w2eu Statement 22.01.2017: No Dublin Returns to Greece!

‘One step forward, hundreds back…’ seems to be the motto under which EU experts implement refugee policy, as currently also demonstrated in Greece. On 8 December 2015, the European Commission published its fourth recommendation on the resumption of Dublin Returns to Greece, this time stating that they could be gradually re-installed, as according to them, refugee rights would be adequately protected in Greece. At the same time, images of people who fled war and are now staying in tents covered in snow are spreading through the global media. Once more, the EU is using Greece to make a point: Dublin has to survive, not matter what, that’s the plan. But in reality, this failed plan has significant consequences, causing one more massive human tragedy in Europe for thousands of people who are escaping war, conflict, disaster, hunger and poverty.

Refugees are exposed to snow and rain while forced to stay in tents and unheated prefabricated houses, some of which are old and have broken doors and windows. Over the last days awful pictures from the “Hotspot” detention-camp in Moria on Lesvos have travelled around the world. This time, small tents, not even sufficient for a short summer rain, were collapsing under the pressure of snow and the heavy rains. These pictures where taken by the inhabitants themselves, only a few days after the Greek Deputy Minister of Migration Ioannis Mouzalas had proudly announced that now most refugees would not have to live in tents any more. But refugees and solidarity people alike rose in anger immediately posting photos and videos from camps all around Greece on the internet, demonstrating the opposite. The ‘Winterization’ project failed, during a time when the EU is asserting that Greece is now a safe place for refugees, able to offer adequate living conditions and proper access to asylum procedures.

Greece is not a safe country for refugees. Refugees stuck in Greece are suffering in the inhuman and inadequate living conditions in detention centres and mass camps despite the presence of the UNHCR and numerous international and national NGOs. Refugees lack basic legal rights, access to information and legal aid. They have endured months without access to asylum procedures. They have spent months fighting for their right to stay in Greece while the feasibility of their deportation to Turkey is being examined by the EU’s so-called asylum experts. Hundreds were returned without proper access to legal aid for an appeal against the return decision, without a proper examination of their individual persecution in Turkey, without their asylum claim being heard, without a proper examination of their vulnerability, which should exclude them from any deportation procedure. Their lives have been put on hold on the islands of the Aegean and on the mainland by long-lasting procedures of pre-registration and registration. Access to the asylum procedure is yet not secured as the blocked Skype calls to authorities remain the only way to make an appointment, while thousands of families are separated and have to wait to reunite for almost one year.

Even Greeks are escaping Greece. And so are recognized refugees as there is no welfare system and no labour market, which could offer on the prospect of a dignified life. Even survival is not secured upon receiving the right to stay in Greece as those recognized are excluded even from state housing for refugees and from most of the social support structures offered by NGOs. May we remind you that Greece is suffering for years from a massive economic crisis and all people living here have to cope with the devastating austerity measures forced upon them by the Troika, by our European governments and institutions.

We strongly denounce the EU’s dirty game! The Hotspots are detention centres at the external borders of Europe, meant to select and sort human beings into ‘deportable’ or ‘not-deportable’, ‘migrant’ or ‘refugee’, ‘useless’ or ‘useful’, ‘unwanted’ or ‘wanted’. EASO experts are those who carry out the selection. Frontex is not only the key-institution pursuing militarised controls and the deterrence of “refugee flows” at sea, but also responsible for deportations from the Aegean islands back to Turkey. The Dublin Regulation is a mechanism aimed to keep all refugees at the external borders of the EU. Relocation has failed with only 6,212 persons out of 66,400 successfully moving to other EU-states until the beginning of January 2016 – within the first year of a two-year implementation period. ‘Voluntary’ return is for most people the last choice, and a decision followed the suffering of massive deterrence policies, such as enduring for a year a life in a tent at the rims of Greek society. Refugees give up, finally, preferring to “die at once, than every second again and again” – a sentence that is heard over and over again by refugees in the Greek camps. The cruelty of deportations to Afghanistan is obvious, when we see how European citizens are advised not to go there due to concerns for their safety. Nevertheless, and ironically, the life-threatening situation in Afghanistan is swiftly forgotten when it comes to the granting of asylum to Afghan refugees. The EU-Turkey Deal is nothing more than the result of the blackmailing strategies of a dictator, using Europe’s desire to keep refugees out as leverage.

But Dublin will fall again! Deportations to Greece were already once stopped back in 2011 following the decision of the European Human Rights Court in the case ‘MSS v. Greece’ – and as a result of a long struggle during which many, many refugees escaped from Greece, were deported and escaped again. Some had to flee through Europe 5-6 times. But finally it was over, they succeeded often, and stayed.
Dublin Returns to Greece will be strongly contested in national and international courts again now. As we have seen, the Dublin-regulation has been overrun many times before by the struggles for freedom of movement of individuals and groups.
Mouzalas had to correct himself. We politely suggest the European Commission to do the same.

Refugees are no numbers on a tent, no fingerprints, but people with faces, names and stories!

The Dublin Regulation has to be abolished now.
Human rights violations have to end now.
People have to join their families now.
People have to be in safety and in dignified conditions now.

We therefore demand:

Equal rights for all!
Freedom of movement to all refugees in Greece and elsewhere!
The right to stay for all!
Stop deportations!

No one is illegal!

w2eu – a network born out of the struggle against Dublin returns in 2009

w2eu Statement 22.01.2017: No Dublin Returns to Greece!

Two Month Report: ‘They want the Sea to Kill – We want a Bridge to Life!’

More than 5,000 lives lost in the Mediterranean in 2016

and several Shipwrecks already in 2017 –

Stop the Mass Dying at Europe’s maritime Gates!

WatchTheMed Alarm Phone 2 Month Report

21st November 2016 – 15th January 2017

On the 3rd of January, at 5.21am, the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone shift team received the first distress call of 2017, from a boat in the Ionian Sea (an embayment between Greece and Italy). This was the first time that we received a call from this part of the Mediterranean Sea. The 55 people on board undertook the dangerous journey to reach a safe place after having risked already the perilous sea passage from Turkey to Greece. Some of the passengers had joined the boat in Greece, escaping the appalling conditions of the Greek camps. When the travellers called us, they had already spent 30 hours at sea. We alarmed the Italian Coastguard, who eventually rescued the precarious passengers and brought them to Italy. We kept in touch with one of them – a boy, one of 12 children on board, who had travelled all the way from Turkey and who hoped to be reunited with his uncle in Germany. He told us that his uncle had undertaken the same journey as a young man, fleeing from violence in the 1990s. One week later, the boy informed us that he had reached Germany already. While this particular story seems to have found a happy end, it demonstrates how many people, including children, have to continue to risk their lives on dangerous sea journeys to reach EUrope, as safe corridors for them do not exist.

This cruel reality was confirmed once again in the most harrowing of ways in the second week of January. On Friday the 13th of January, our shift team supported a boat in the Western Mediterranean Sea. They were already close to Spain but lost orientation. The Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo searched for them but then, in the evening, decided to not continue their search overnight, which, in our eyes, was a far-reaching mistake. They seemed to problematically assume, without evidence, that the boat was still in Moroccan waters, and that Moroccan authorities were actively searching for them. When they were finally detected, one woman had lost her life on the boat, and two men remain missing. Another boat that had left from Morocco, carrying 12 people and including two small children, remains missing. The hope to find any of them alive is fading, not least as the six corpses that were already found may be from this boat.

A day later, on Saturday the 14th of January, Father Zerai alerted us to a boat carrying more than a hundred people in an emergency situation in the Central Mediterranean Sea. They were in acute distress and the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre sent out Search and Rescue vessels. However, rescue came too late for the vast majority of travellers. The vessel capsized, and only 3 men and 1 woman survived. While it was initially reported that there were about 100 fatalities, the survivors now report of many more, of possibly up to 180 people who were killed by Europe’s borders.[1]

As these cases show, the EUropean strategy of border closure does not work to stop the movements of people, but makes their journeys only lengthier, costlier, and more dangerous. The risk to perish on the way to EUrope has further increased. In 2016, the overall number of sea arrivals via the Mediterranean has dropped to 361,709, compared to about 1 million in 2015. At the same time, while the number of sea arrivals in Greece decreased after the infamous EU-Turkey deal in March 2016, the closure of the Balkan route, and worsening conditions in Greek internment camps, the arrivals from North Africa to Italy increased: more than 181,000 people successfully embarked on the perilous journey via the Central Mediterranean to Italy – even more than in the preceding years. The number of people who died or went missing in the attempt to cross has gone up from 3,771 in 2015 to more than 5,000 in 2016.[2] The real number of EUrope’s border fatalities in the Mediterranean is likely to be even higher, given that many cases are not documented.

The staggering number of sea fatalities resemble those of war zones and should prompt, with great urgency, a radical re-orientation in the ways in which EUrope governs its borders. If there were safe ways to cross, the 5,022+ would still be alive. But what we witness instead are novel draconian measures to stop people from entering EUrope. Deterrence policies are further on the rise, the sea is increasingly militarised and borders are externalised. In line with EU border externalisation strategies, as showcased with the EU-Turkey deal in March 2016, the EU is now collaborating with Libyan forces to attempt to undermine unauthorised migrant crossings in the Central Mediterranean.

The rescue and survival of those in distress at sea is obviously not a priority for Europe. Without those who struggle every day to make migrant journeys a little bit less dangerous, who have sent out humanitarian search and rescue vessels or operate, like us, hotlines to support those in distress, 2016 would have been even deadlier. And these are the actors who now face an attack by the European border agency Frontex! Frontex accused humanitarians of colluding with smugglers – a cynical accusation meant to undermine their valuable and desperately needed work and divert attention from the real causes of migrant suffering and death.[3] They do not want civilian actors and activists in the sea monitoring their border enforcement practices. They want the sea to kill. The border agency’s objective is clear: reduce search and rescue activities off the coast of Libya and let even more people drown as a policy of deterrence.

Doctors without Borders have powerfully responded to these allegations, stating: “Smugglers may indeed ‘profit from our presence’, as they will profit from the EU naval forces that work beside us and profit altogether much more from war and poverty across the world and the desperate people who look for an escape route which the EU still refuses to provide. Search and rescue is not a solution, it’s a band aid that will never prevent people from dying at sea. With more than 4,800 people drowned, suffocated, burned to death or missing in 2016 alone, we are effectively patrolling a graveyard in the Mediterranean Sea. […] MSF did not create smugglers, just like MSF did not create the conflicts and deep inequality many of those we rescue flee. Until politicians reverse this absurd situation in which we find ourselves, MSF will continue to try and save the maximum number of lives as possible, both on land and on sea.”[4]

In 2017, we will continue to support the disobedient movements that continue despite the increasing militarization, externalization of borders, and anti-search and rescue missions.

Just like in the Central Mediterranean, crossings in the Western Mediterranean have increased in 2016 – both to mainland Spain and the Spanish enclaves. On the 9th of December 2016, 438 people managed to climb the fences to the Spanish colony of Ceuta; the biggest group in a decade to enter Ceuta. In the very beginning of 2017, on the 1st of January, 1100 people tried to enter Ceuta. This led to clashes with Moroccan and Spanish police forces, and out of the 1100 people only 2 made it to Ceuta. The others were either stopped before they could reach the fences, or immediately pushed back to Moroccan territory. Only a few days later, on the 5th of January, hundreds of Moroccan police officers attacked all the camps in the forests around Nador, where they burned down the camps and arrested many. This massive attack came just weeks after it was announced that Morocco would restart their regularisation campaign. This shows clearly the massive gap between Morocco’s official human rights discourse and the de facto treatment of migrants in Morocco. While many people try to jump the fences to Ceuta and Melilla, others continue to attempt to cross the rough sea in winter. One of the reasons for their crossings is the high level of repression they face in Morocco.

For the year to come, we promise to struggle on to make sea crossings a little less dangerous, as we have done in the past two years when we supported more than 1,775 boats in distress. In 2016 alone we did so in 500 cases. We are determined to speak up against those who show hostility towards the newcomers, who preach hatred and seek to divide us. We will welcome those who had to risk their lives to find protection in a new community, a trans-border community that is inclusive and open, based upon the principles of global justice and the freedom of movement for all. We believe that a world without borders is possible, in which both Frontex and the smugglers would then have disappeared.[5]

 

Summaries of Alarm Phone Distress Cases

 In the past two months, the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone was alerted to situations of distress in all three regions of the Mediterranean Sea. We were engaged in 18 distress cases, of which 9 took place in the Central Mediterranean (including the case in the Ionian Sea), 6 in the Western Mediterranean and 3 in the Aegean Sea. You can find links to the individual reports of the past 6 weeks below.

 

Central Mediterranean Sea

On Tuesday the 22nd of November 2016 at about noon, Father Mussie Zerai alerted the Alarm Phone to a boat in distress in the Central Mediterranean Sea and forwarded a Thuraya satellite phone number to us. We immediately recharged the credit of the phone and tried to call the travellers, but did not reach them. At 1.45pm, we informed the Italian MRCC about the boat in distress and forwarded its satellite phone number. At 6pm, the coastguard confirmed to us that the boat was found and that all travellers had been rescued. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/602

On Sunday the 27th of November 2016 at 9.20am, Father Mussie Zerai informed the Alarm Phone about a rubber boat in distress with 110 travellers on board, including 30 women and many children and babies. He forwarded their GPS position and Thuraya satellite phone number to us and we tried to call the phone, but without success. At 9.50am, he informed us about a second boat, the first one had started together with, but has lost sight of. At 10.15am, we called the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome and forwarded all information we had received so far. At 4.20pm the MRCC confirmed to us that the first boat had successfully been rescued, and at 5.20pm the confirmation of the rescue of the second boat followed. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/603

On Tuesday the 29th of November 2016, at 7.40am, we received a distress call from travellers near Tanger Med, Marocco. We could not get more information, because the phone connection broke off and we did not manage to get in touch with the travellers after the first contact. At 1:15pm, we eventually decided to call the Spanish search and rescue agency Salvamento Maritimo. They told us that they had not rescued any boats today, but that the Moroccan Marine had intercepted the boat we had been in touch with and another one. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/594

On Monday, the 5th of December 2016 at 5.35am, a contact person alerted us to a boat north of Sabratha carrying 70 travellers, amongst them families and five children. At 6.55am we decided to pass on the information we had about time and place of departure to the Italian coast guard. For the rest of the day both we and the contact person kept trying to reach the travellers, but without success. At 3am the following morning we got a confirmation that the travellers had been rescued to Catania, Italy. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/597

On Tuesday, the 6th of December 2016, we were alerted, via Father Mussie Zerai, to two boats in distress. In both cases Father Mussie Zerai had already informed the Italian coast guard. At 3.54am we learned about the first vessel, carrying 156 people, and we were forwarded their satellite phone number and their position, showing that they were north east of Tripoli. At 4.55am we informed the Italian coast guard about the vessel. At 5.20am we reached the travellers for the first time, and they gave us a new position.  From around 9.30am we could no longer reach the travellers, and by monitoring their credit we could see that they were also not in contact with others. At 11.25 Father Mussie Zerai alerted us to a second vessel in distress. He didn’t know their exact position, but forwarded their satellite phone number. At 11.36am we reached the travellers, but communication was almost impossible. At 12.28am we reached the boat again, and this time we learned that they were a group of around 100 travellers, amongst them women and children. We also managed to get their position. After this call we called the Italian coast guard and passed on the coordinates of the vessel. From around 2.30pm it was no longer possible to reach the travellers. In the evening we found a newspaper article stating that 473 travellers had been rescued by the Italian coast guard today in five different rescue operations. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/598

On Saturday, the 10th of December 2016 at 7.10am, Father Mussi Zerai alerted us to a group of 150 travellers in distress on their way from Libya to Italy, forwarding us their satellite phone number. At 7.40am we managed to reach the boat, but the connection was bad, and it was not possible to get any information. At 8.00am we reached the boat again, and this time we managed to get their position, which we passed on to the Italian coast guard. At 11.20pm we got a confirmation from the Italian coast guard that the vessel had been rescued and that all the travellers were safe. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/599

On Tuesday, the 3rd of January 2017 at 5.21am the Alarm Phone was called by a group of 53 travellers in distress on their way from Greece to Italy. We later managed to re-establish contact to the boat, and were informed that they had been travelling for more than 30 hours, and that amongst the 53 people were 12 children. We called the Italian coast guard and passed on the information and position. At 6.20am we received a confirmation from the travellers that the rescue vessel had arrived. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/600

On Friday the 13th of January 2017, our shift team was alerted to a boat in distress in the Central Mediterranean, carrying about 90 people. At 5.10pm we were able to speak to the travellers. We spoke to the Italian MRCC in Rome at 5.20pm and passed on the information we had. At 6.30pm we spoke to the travellers again and instructed them how to find their GPS position. They also informed us that they could see a big vessel nearby which, however, was not reacting to their calls for help. At 6.50pm they finally passed on their GPS position to us which we passed on to MRCC Rome. At 7.37pm, MRCC Rome thanked us for the provided information and told us that rescue operations were ongoing. At 10pm, MRCC Rome confirmed that the boat had been rescued and all people on board were safe. On the day, about 550 people were rescued in the Central Mediterranean Sea, and two dead bodies were recovered. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/607

On Saturday the 14th of January 2017, our shift team was alerted by Father Zerai at 5.43am to a vessel in distress in the Central Mediterranean, carrying over a hundred people. In the following hours, we tried to reach the travellers repeatedly on their Thuraya satellite phone, but we could not get through. The MRCC Rome informed us at 12.22pm that they were searching for the boat but they were unwilling to pass on any further information. Then the news broke in the media about a tragedy in the Central Mediterranean. MRCC Rome still refused to provide further information. Father Zerai then confirmed to us the day after what we had already feared: the boat had capsized. There were more than 100 people on the boat, and only a few survived. At 11.45am, MRCC Rome also confirmed that the boat had capsized, with only 3 men and 1 woman surviving. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/608

 

Western Mediterranean Sea

On Monday the 21st of November 2016 at 5pm, a contact person called the Alarm Phone, informing us about 8 travellers who had departed from Tanger/Morocco in the direction of Tarifa/Spain on a rubber boat on the morning of that day. He forwarded their phone number to us and asked us to alert the Spanish rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo (S.M.). We did so and stayed in contact with both S.M. and the contact person during the following hours, but the travellers could not be found. On the next day at 2pm, the contact person informed us that the travellers had been rescued by fishermen and had been brought back to Morocco. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/592

On Thursday the 24th of November 2016 at 7.35am, the Alarm Phone was called by a contact person from Morocco and informed about a rubber boat that had left Tanger/Morocco at 5am, with 10 men and one woman on board. We were provided with the travellers’ phone number and were able to talk to the travellers at 8am. We alerted the Spanish rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo (S.M.) at 8.15am. At 9.56am, the Spanish MRCC in Madrid called us and confirmed to us that the 11 travellers had been rescued by S.M. and were brought to Tarifa/Spain. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/593

On Tuesday the 6th of December 2016, at 9.03am, the we received a call from 11 people, including two women, in distress on their way from Morocco to Spain. They had already been on their way for around 6 hours, and the boat was starting to lose air. At 9.22am we alerted the Spanish rescue organisation, Salvamento Maritimo (S.M.), to the case. At 11.23 we got a confirmation that the boat had been intercepted by the Moroccan Navy. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/595

On Saturday the 10th of December 2016, at 9.00am, a contact person alerted us to a boat on its way to Tarifa, forwarding us the phone number. We managed to reach the travellers who informed us that they were a group of 10 people, including one woman, and that they had left six hours earlier. At 9.25 we called the Spanish rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (S.M.) who told us that they working on coordinating the rescue. At 11.44am we called S.M. again, and they confirmed that the travellers had been intercepted by the Moroccan Navy. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/596

On Tuesday, the 3rd of January 2017 at 12.05am, we were alerted by a contact person to a group of 33 travellers, amongst them four women, on their way to Spain. They had left Morocco at 4am from a beach close to Nador. Communication with the boat was very difficult. At 2.45pm we passed on the information about the vessel to the Spanish search and rescue organisation, Salvamento Maritimo (SM), in Almeria. We later spoke to the travellers who told us that water was leaking into the boat, and that they could see the aircraft of SM above them. At 7.30pm we got a confirmation that the boat had been rescued and all the travellers were safe. They were all taken back to Nador. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/601

On Friday the 13th of January 2017, our shift team was contacted by travellers on a vessel in the Western Mediterranean. In several phone conversations with the boat-people, we learned that there were 10 people on a black rubber boat that had left from Tangier/Morocco about 2am. They could not specify the exact location of their departure and were also not able to pass on their current GPS position. We reached out to Salvamento at 8.38am and passed on all the acquire information. They informed us that they were engaged in another Search and Rescue operation and wondered whether this was the boat in question. […] At 9.44am, Salvamento told us that they were in contact with the boat but not yet able to find them. As of 10.44am, we were unable to reach the boat-people any longer. […] The next day we learned that Caminando Fronteras knew of 21 people who had disappeared the day before, with two bodies already found on the beaches of Tarifa. […] The following days we received further information about the shipwrecks. […] By the time Salvamento found the boat, one woman had died on board and two men had gone missing. The survivors, 5 men and 2 women were brought to Ceuta. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/609

 

Aegean Sea

On Thursday the 24th of November 2016 at 6.45pm, a contact person informed the Alarm Phone about eight travellers who had stranded on the Greek island of Samos and forwarded a phone number to us. At 7.20pm we reached them and learned that they were seven men and one woman. They were walking in a forest but had lost orientation, even not knowing on which island they had arrived. We explained to them how to find out their position and asked them to walk on in order to find a road or even to reach a village. On the afternoon of the next day we received confirmation from the contact person that they had been picked up by the police on Samos island and had been brought to the refugee registration centre. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/604

On Friday the 25th of November 2016 at 10pm, the Alarm Phone was directly called by a woman who informed us about a friend of her, who was stuck in a forest close to the river Evros at the Turkish-Greek border for two days. She had lost contact to him 8 hours ago and was afraid that he was injured or had lost consciousness. She forwarded his last known GPS position to us, which was on the Greek side of the border, close to the village of Souflion. In the following hours we tried to reach various numbers of the Greek police and other organizations in this area, all without success. At 1.15am, we reached the Hellenic Rescue Team and convinced them to call the local emergency number 112 and to forward the GPS position of the man. At 7.40am we learned from the Greek police that they had searched at the given position and in the surrounding, but did not find anybody. In the evening of this day, the contact woman confirmed to us that a friend of her had found the missing person. He was in need of a doctor but had survived and reached Greece. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/605

On Friday the 13th of January 2017, our WatchTheMed Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a contact person to a vessel in distress in the Aegean Sea. Shortly after midnight, our contact person informed us via Facebook about an inflatable boat near Demircili, in Turkey, seeking to reach Samos/Greece. The boat had departed about an hour earlier but now had problems with the engine. We tried to reach the travellers repeatedly, but were unable to get through. At 2.26am, the Turkish coastguard confirmed to us that the group had safely returned to land. http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/606

[1] http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/fluechtlingsboot-117.html

[2] http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php

[3] https://www.ft.com/content/3e6b6450-c1f7-11e6-9bca-2b93a6856354

[4] http://msf-analysis.org/bounties-not-bodies-smugglers-profit-sea-rescues-though-no-clear-alternative-available/

[5] http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/12/2016-year-world-stopped-caring-refugees-161227090243522.html

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

TURKEY:

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.

GREECE:

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.

ISLANDS

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.

MAINLAND

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

SERBIA:

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.”

CROATIA:
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.

AUSTRIA:
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.
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.

GERMANY :

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.

FRANCE:

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.

NORWAY:

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.

Idomeni Petition: Stop killing us slowly with Skype asylum applications

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION

This is a petition made by the people in Idomeni camp. They are forced by Greece government to apply for asylum through a skype call. They have to call a skype number, which is never available. they write:

 

n Idomeni camp, living in tents in the mud, rain and sun for over forty days, life is becoming a normal hell, frustrations are rising as we lose hope.

Our emotions cycle between apathy, frustration and decreasing hope as our lives are reduced to a routine of sleeping and waiting. Waiting in line for food, for tea, and to charge our phones, and waiting on hold for a Skype call that is never picked up.

Our lives are stuck in limbo.

And even though you know we are here, you force your eyes to look away.

The current system for us to apply for asylum or relocation – to continue our lives beyond camps in Greece – can only begin with an appointment made by a Skype call with very limited capacity.

See the following link for more info
https://newsthatmoves.org/en/?p=2216

Skype is frustrating at the best of times, but when your future depends on the call?

For people living in camps with limited access to electricity, smart phones, computers, or internet, this is a cruel and senseless procedure.

After we make our applications for asylum or relocation we may will still have to wait months – or even years – for decisions about our future to be made. But at the very least let us begin the wait now with some certainty – that we won´t be in this camp forever.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, Panagiotis Kouroumplis, Ioannis Mouzalas and Maria Stavropoulou

  • We want you to change the current hugely inadequate system of only being able to make asylum appointments to the Greek Asylum office by making a Skype call that is never picked up.
  • We want you to replace Skype with a face-to-face service in the refugee camps here in Greece.
  • We want you to increase the resources spent on this crucial service, to ensure that those of us who ran from war, who for weeks upon weeks have been living in a hopeless Limbo since the borders closed, are given a sense of hope that our lives can continue.

Please help us leave this limbo

Please change this system

Please let us apply for asylum or relocation in person in the camps

Please sign the petition

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION HERE

لقد اصبحت الحياة في مخيم ايدوميني كجحيم تغزوه خيمٌ في الطين و المطر و الحر لأربعين يوماًو الاحباط يعلو وجوهنا مع خسارة الأمل ، حيث يموت الناس هنا ببطيء يوماً بعد يوم، ويتناوبالأمل و الإحباط و اللامبالة مؤثراً على مشاعرنا ونحن نرى حياتنا تنحصر في روتينٍ من النوم والانتظار في طوابيرٍ للطعام والملابس وشرب الشاي كطريقة عصرية مبتكرة تهدف لإعدامنا . إن حياتنا تدور في المجهول، حيث أننا محصورون بعنق زجاجةٍ تحجزنا وعنق الزجاجة هذه ليست بأكبر من رأس الإبرة، وبالرغم من معرفة الجميع بحالنا هذه يرغمون أعينهم على النظر بعيداً عنا.
إن النظام الحالي للتقدم للجوء او لإعادة التوطين لإستكمال حياتنا خارج هذه المخيمات في اليونان لا تبدأ ألا بموعدٍ من خلال الإتصال ببرنامج السكايب ضمن إمكانيات محدودة لإجراء هذا الإتصال.
إن برنامج السكايب محبطٌ في أفضل أحواله، فكيف اذا كان مستقبلك يعتمد على مكالمةٍ بإستخدامه ؟
لأشخاص يعيشون بمخيمات بالكاد تتوفر فيها الكمبيوترات و الهواتف الذكية و الإنترنت و حتىالكهرباء، فإن هذه العملية فعلاً لقاسيةٌ وعديمة الرحمة، و حتى بعد تقديم طلباتنا للجوء أو لإعادة التوطين سيتوجب علينا الانتظار لأشهر أو حتى لسنوات لقرارات ستحدد مستقبلنا، على الاقل دعونا نبدأ مرحلة الإنتظار هذه الآن باعطائنا أمل بأننا لن نضيع مستقبلنا في المخيم و نبقى به للابد. – نريد منكم أن تغيرو هذا النظام الحالي الغير ملائمٍ إطلاقاً بأن لا يوجد خيار غير حجز موعدٍ للجوء في مكتب اللجوء اليوناني عن طريق إجراء مكالمة باستخدام السكايب الذي لا يجيب اطلاقاً.- نريد منكم إستبدال طريقة الحجز عن طريق السكايب بمقابلاتٍ وجه لوجه بالمخيمات .
– نريد منكم زيادة النفقات المسخرة لهذه الإجرائية المصيرية للذين هربو من الحرب وعاشوا أسابيع و أسابيع في مكانٍ عديم الامل منذ إغلاق الحدود لإعطائهم شعوراً بلأمل باستمرارية حياتهم
– رجاءً غيروا هذا النظام.- من فضلكم دعونا نقدم للجوء أو إعادة التوطين في المخيمات.
– ساعدونا على مغادرة المجهول.- رجاء وقعوا على هذه العريضة .

Demo 15.04. // Stop deportations – There is enough space for everyone! // Alexanderplatz

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*Arabic ** English below *** Francais en bas

Stop deportations – There is enough space for everyone!

Aufruf zur Demo am Freitag den 15.04.2016 um 16Uhr am Alexanderplatz gegen die Abschiebungen in die Türkei und für die Aufnahme von Geflüchteten.

Seit Montag werden Flüchtende von Griechenland in die Türkei abgeschoben. In die Türkei, in der gerade munter jegliche Freiheitsrechte eingeschränkt werden und ein Krieg gegen die Kurd*innen läuft. In die Türkei, zu der Amensty International berrichtet, das von dort Menschen zurück nach Syrien geschoben werden. Mitten ins Kriegsgebiet.

Zeitgleich sitzen Zehntausende Flüchtende an der griechisch-mazedonischen Grenze in Idomeni und in den Inhaftierungslagern auf den griechischen Inseln fest. Knapp die Hälfte der Menschen dort sind Kinder, bei denen diese Lebensumstände lebenslange gesundheitliche und psychische Folgen haben können. Viele der Menschen habe enge Familie in anderen europäischen Ländern. Familienzusammenführung funktioniert jedoch nicht. In der Türkei beträgt die durchschnittliche Wartezeit für einen Termin zur Vorsprache für Familienzusammenführung 14 Monate. In Idomeni können Termine nur über Skype gemacht werden. Die Nummer ist ständig blockiert.

Wir fragen uns wo bei diesen Deals und Gesetzgebungen die so viel beschworenen Menschenrechte bleiben. Es scheint das Bewusstsein zu fehlen, dass es Menschen sind wie wir, die dort an den Grenzen misshandelt werden. Wir möchten uns solidarisch zeigen mit den Forderungen der Menschen an den europäischen Außengrenzen: Öffnet die Grenzen! Stoppt die Abschiebungen in die Türkei und in andere Länder!

Kommt zu unserer Demo am Freitag den 15.4. ! Zeigt eure Ablehnung gegen den Deal mit der Türkei ! Macht deutlich, dass hier noch Platz ist für Geflüchtete ! Zeigt euch solidarisch mit den Menschen an den europäischen Außengrenzen !

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

Actions in Idomeni

The actions in Idomeni continued to happen since one month after closing the borders from the European side. The migrants in Idomeni (on the Macedonian border ) who are coming mostly from Syria,Iraq, and Afghanistan are demonstrating since then, the main demands of the people were to open the border  after it was closed by fence in the last December .
The humanitarian situation in Idomeni is getting worse with time, and diseases are spreading ..

Today is our third day in Idomeni and we documented the demonstrations and the life in Idomeni hoping that the people will find their demands fulfilled.

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Police confronting migrants.

On the rail way .

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Freedom of movement

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Demonstration .

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Blocking the demonstration way .

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Preparing to move .

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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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