AYS Digest 29/8: Despite seeds of support sprouting, time ticks on.

Women’s health in focus on Chios. Solidarity after Notara 26 attacks. More peaceful protests in Softex. September asylum schedule released. Plans to send refugee children to school in Greece. Calais administrator seeks to give “Jungle” residents more flexible application options.

Artwork from Greece by Razan Issa. Photo Courtesy of Through Refugee Eyes

Many of the stories featured in today’s digest showcase the results of hard work, patience, and collaboration between groups and refugees and camp residents. Although these stories provide flickers of hope amidst a bleak outlook, let them not lull us into complacency, but rather spur us on to action, serving as inspiration for the strength we possess together.

GENERAL

The Italian ANSA Med released a thorough recap of the current situation across Europe:

- Turkey hosts 3 million refugees, 2.7 of them from Syria. The agreement with the EU calls for Brussels to pay Ankara €6 billion to support them, as well as the relocation of one migrant from Turkey for each irregular migrant sent back to Turkey after arriving in Greece. So far, only 1,152 migrants have been relocated to Europe.
- Greece: 162,730 people entered [in 2016], but about 58 thousand are stuck in the country. Many of them are seeking asylum in Northern Europe.
- Italy: of the 105,000 people who have entered the country, so far only 961 are hosted in a second European country as refugees with rights to asylum.
- Germany: After hundreds of thousands were accommodated in 2015, a further 238,424 people have entered the country from January to the end of July 2016, at an average rate of 16 thousand per month.
- Austria: 80,000 people entered the country in 2015. A limit of 37,500 has been set for 2016.
- Serbia: After the closure of the border with Hungary, it is estimated that 4,400 people are stuck in Serbia. One thousand of them are awaiting responses to their asylum applications.
- France: The main issue is the camp in Calais, where according to officials 6,901 migrants are waiting for the opportunity to head to the UK. The number according to NGOs, however, is 9 thousand.

YEMEN

ISIS continues to take advantage of the disruption in Yemen to make gains, borrowing from Al Qaeda’s playbook. In a suicide car bomb attack today, ISIS killed at least 60 people when the attacking vehicle drove directly into a group of new army recruits. As the civil war in Yemen rages on, various groups will continue to capitalize on this for their own ends. The situation does not look to be improving anytime soon, escalating the already horrifying and dire conditions of civilians trapped by the fighting.

SYRIA

Mounting evidence shows that the UN and its partner agencies have not remained neutral in their operations in Syria, according to increasing media coverage. The Guardian recently reported that, though careful investigation, there is evidence that the UN has awarded tens of millions of dollars’ worth of contracts to contractors closely associated with the Assad regime. Among other questionable contracts, the reports show that:

Two UN agencies have partnered with the Syria Trust charity, an organisation started and chaired by President Assad’s wife, Asma, spending a total of $8.5m. The first lady is under both US and EU sanctions.

The UN’s tortured history with neutrality in conflicts is nothing new; however, this report raises doubts about the effectiveness of humanitarian measures if the organization is simultaneously supporting combatant factions.

GREECE

Yesterday I slept in Lagadikia camp. After 45 days of sleeping in a house I felt so happy sleeping in tent again, I felt more strong and energy came back to me, don’t think our main priority is where we are sleeping. For these 45 days I was sleeping in a house and they were sleeping in tents but we were in the same boat, both of us waiting. I was feeling bad that I’m staying in an apartment while others are still in tents, because of that I was always around the camps, trying to sleep there, and that’s the reason that made me sleep there yesterday. 
I’d like to say that we don’t care about the place where we sleep, that we don’t care about what kind of food we get or what kind of tent we have, the thing we care about is the time. Just the time!! 
Think about it and imagine your hours slipping away from you without being able to do anything, staying in camp without school, without work, without a life… And imagine all you can do is wait.

— Abdulazez Dukhan, Through Refugee Eyes

Over 8,000 refugee children will get to attend school

The Education Ministry of Greece, in partnership with UNICEF, intends to send thousands of refugee children to school, either in camps or bussed into nearby Greek schools. According to the report, the project will educate 8,500 students — which is still less than half of the total school-aged population of 18,000. However, although this step is only incremental, it is a step in the right direction, and it is hoped that these children will be back on the path to academic achievement.

“We will continue to stay, and we will continue to say” Photo Credit: Abood Midilji

September Appointment Dates Released

Mobile Info Team has released their new document, complete with all the information on September Appointments in Greece from the Greek Asylum Service. Click below for more information, available in multiple languages!

285 people arrived in Lesvos today

Frontex rescued one boat with 102 people, with support from Emergency Response Centre International, and a Swedish Coast Guard vessel performed a rescue operation on a boat with 54 people. No fatalities.

Women’s empowerment in Chios

According to Action from Switzerland Team on Chios, there were 89 new arrivals on Chios Monday morning.

In other news, the Athena Centre for Women managed by Action from Switzerland is collaborating with Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA) and UNHCR to carry out a Women’s and Sexual Health education program. These programs are vital for women’s empowerment and for ensuring that women and familieremain safe, whatever the circumstances.

Notara 26

In the wake of the August 24th attack on the Notara squat, solidarity movements have sprung into action to protest the violence, and speak back against its aims. In addition to a demonstration at Notara, a solidarity demonstration also occurred in Athens.

Notara 26 Support Demonstration. Photo Credit: Κατάληψη Στέγης Προσφύγων/Μεταναστών Νοταρά 26

Below is the full statement detailing the attack on the squat as well as the reaction to this attack.

The message remains clear: Notara 26 will stand.

Softex

Residents of Softex have organized a street art campaign in their camp to speak out about the conditions they are facing.

The text reads: “Peaceful sit ins in Greece, 1/9/2016” Photo: Ahmad Hamed

In conjunction with these artworks, they held a protest:

We have the right to live like humans the right of our children and women be safe to Allaah and humiliating death threats every day from rodents, snakes and my brothers got to promise relief to, but the demand for a single to open the border !!!!!!!!! Everyone who does this publication communication and interaction to reach the floor of the Department of asylum and we are sure they know now that the great sit-[in] and demands strict … after today’s peaceful [action]. Alaasam God bless you all
1/9/2016.

It is unclear if these demands will fall on uncaring ears, but no one can claim that the refugees are voiceless against their situation.

Volunteer offers criticism and possible solutions

In a sentiment echoed by many, volunteer Maria Jezabel Pastor Navalón offers both critiques as well as some easily scalable solutions to the stagnant and deplorable camp conditions. Although the situation and challenges are complex, simple solutions exist, such as moving towards on-site kitchens, using reusable silverware, and creating building projects for the men to maintain the environment and also reaffirm their humanity and personal autonomy. She also highlights and breaks down the importance of practical judgement when donating used clothing. Give this report a read.

ITALY

On Sunday, the Italian coast guard rescued more than 1,000 people off the coast of Libya in eleven different rescue operations. The number of people crossing to Italy is now over 105,000 so far this year. Around 162,000 have crossed to Greece in the same period.

In Ventimiglia, the situation at the receiving centre for refugees managed by Red Cross is calm.

The Ventimiglia center currently hosts 467 individuals, almost all Sudanese. Since opening a month and a half ago, it has seen the transit of 1,400 foreigners, eight of whom asked for asylum in Italy. Daily activities at the camp allow residents the opportunity to study English, play football, and call family.

More than 200 migrants have suddenly left Como San Giovanni railway station last night.

The departure of some 200 migrants from the station has been confirmed by Caritas, after distributing lunch bags for fewer than 300 people, rather than the usual total of more than 500. Director Roberto Bernasconi commented, “We noticed a consistent decrease in their presence. Nobody transferred them. There’s are high probability some groups moved to Milan.”

The procedures to build a new camp at the end of Via Regina continue. It will be ready by the end of September, consisting of 50 containers to house a total of 300 people. There will be toilets, showers, and a health clinic, and meals will be served. Authorities may open the camp before construction has fully concluded, in order to redirect migrants from the Como San Giovanni station.

Claudio Marro, from the Papa Giovanni XXIII Society, states that playing football allows participants to interact across the cultural barriers.

This is how Mr. Marro has explained the goals on an interethnic football tournament hosted in Piedmont, involving a dozen teams of migrant players hailing from Boves, Fossano, Garessio, Piasco, Farigliano and Trinità. Around 200 athletes participated, with special categories for people with disabilities and youths under 18.

Support from volunteers proved fundamental in organizing the championship, as well providing lunch and transportation for the nearly 300 people who attended the event.

SWITZERLAND

Swiss officials are taking measures to improve communication with refugees along their southern border. In a statement released on Monday, Mauro Antonini, chief of the local border guards, described how strengthened cooperation between agencies will also help to clarify the situation for those stranded.

GERMANY

Currently, some 9,000 refugees in Germany are missing, according to official statistics. The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA / Federal Criminal Police Office) reports that 8,991 unaccompanied refugee children or teenagers have gone missing, as of July 1st 2016. This is more than in the entirety of 2015, and double the number from the beginning of the year, when 4,749 minors were reported missing.

Most of these minors are between 14 and 17, and, according to the BKA, it’s assumed that in most cases lack any criminal background. As the BKA explained further, minors often leave to visit relatives and friends in other German cities or abroad. Upon their arrival, however, authorities are not informed of the children’s change in location. Furthermore, many children are registered multiplied times, either after moving to a new location, or merely due to discrepancies in the spelling of their names.

This news comes as Germany is in the midst of revising last year’s estimate of 1.1 million total arrivals. The German government is assessing these figures in order to account for double registrations, as well as cases that did not meet the formal requirements for asylum. Additionally, the German government pointed out that around 40% of those who have arrived have work experience, despite lacking formal vocational training. These skills will prove crucial to the economic aspect of their eventual integration into German society.

Photo Credit: Through refugee eyes

FRANCE

The president of the Calais region hopes that amendments to the existing treaty between France and the UK will diffuse increasing tensions in the Calais camp. These proposed changes to the Treaty of Le Tourquet would allow those seeking to go to the UK to file their claim in France, rather than having to wait to get to UK soil. As people continue to turn to illegal smugglers in a desperate attempt to cross the border, it is hoped that this possible solution would decrease the interest in this market.

THE UNITED STATES

The United States will shortly welcome its 10,000th Syrian refugee of 2016.

On Sunday, the US Ambassador to Jordan announced that the United States has satisfied its target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in the 2016 fiscal year. Most of these refugees come from established camps in Jordan and Lebanon. It is hoped that the United States will not stop at this number and will help to relieve the mounting pressure exerted on other countries from the global refugee crisis.

On average, the United State resettles 80,000 refugees per year.

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