RefuComm DailyComm

Curated News Daily.

Our team scours the news to bring you important updates about refugees and migration from across Europe.

Today, we have more on Arash’s campaign to document violations of the #1951 Refugee Convention, an update from the Athens branch of the Melissa Network (an organisation working with female refugees across the Middle East and Africa). In Sweden, a petition to prevent to the deportation of the world’s oldest refugee is gathering momentum, while Finland have launched a new scheme to provide refugees with Blockchain-linked debit cards.

The Guardian report that security firm G4S are apparently earning huge profits from running Immigration Removal Centres for the British government (more than the maximum specified in their contract).Police in Sicily have impounded a number of yachts suspected of transporting wealthy migrants to Europe, and Human Rights Watch have published a report revealing how money pledged to help Syrian children into education has been mismanaged.

From the field

Lesvos

1951 Refugee Convention BUY A SHIRT & SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

“I met Arash at Lesbos in August”, says Elin Linden. “He is a human rights activist from Iran.”

“In support of his campaign for refugees human rights, you can follow him on Social Media # 1951 Refugee Convention”.

“I can also fix a similar shirt that I have where you can show your support. I buy the shirt on Weekday if you do not have a favorite shirt that you want to print. Women’s shirt 450 SEK / 47.20 euro incl. Print, men’s sweatshirt 500 kr /52.44 euro incl. Pressure.”

“If any artistic soul wishes to contribute a further print with the # 1951Reconvention Convention, say so!”

Athens

Women help female refugees build new lives in Athens

Tucked away on a busy street in the heart of Athens, the door to the Melissa Network is always open. Today, the women’s refuge is buzzing with activity.

Few organisations in Athens have the resources to address sexual and gender-based violence that can affect female refugees. As a result, victims are failing to receive the support they need when they arrive in Greece.

Recently arrived refugee women are being taught how to code, speak Greek, develop leadership skills — and even how to decipher fake news.

The not-for-profit Melissa Network opened in July 2016 and has become a home away from home for women from the Middle East and Africa and is known as one of the few organisations in Athens catering specifically to refugee women. It’s also run by women who came to the Greek capital as migrants themselves.

Read their story here.

UK

Samim Bigzad

Home secretary ignores court order and sends asylum seeker to Kabul

Samim Bigzad says he is living in fear in hotel room in Afghan capital after armed men arrived looking for him

Samim is holed up in a hotel room in Kabul in fear for his life after the home secretary breached a high court order not to remove him from the UK and instead put him on a plane back to Afghanistan.

Samim Bigzad, 23, says he is a prime target for the Taliban because he worked in construction for the Afghan government and American companies before he sought sanctuary in the UK.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We do not comment on ongoing legal matters.”

Bigzad’s solicitor, Jamie Bell, of Duncan Lewis solicitors, said: “We were deeply shocked that the Home Office had manifestly breached the first order and requested immediate confirmation that they would be returning him back.

“We pursued the Home Office all night but we have had no confirmation that the Home Office is going to comply with it and given its strong nature, we believe they are now in breach of the order once more.

Full story from the Guardian here

The security firm G4S appears to have been making more profit than its contract allows from the immigration removal centres (IRCs) it runs for the government, according to an internal document seen by the Guardian.

In light of the recent reports about the aggressive methods employed by their staff in deportations, should there be a deeper review of this company?

Sweden

Let blind the 106-year Bibikhal Uzbek stay in SwedenAs reported previously by Refucomm, Bibikhal Uzbek, the 106 refugee n Sweden facing deportation is still fighting to remain.

A petition has been organised in Sweden and to present to the Swedish Immigration office.

Bibikhal Uzbek is blind, does not speak and cannot walk without assistance. Soon she will be 107 years old, and her family does not think she will survive the trip back to Afghanistan. Today she is the world’s oldest refugee.This expulsion must be stopped.

Sign the petition here

https://www.mittskifte.org/petitions/utvisa-inte-varldens-aldsta-flykting?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1504901187

Read more:

Finland

Finland Solves Refugee Identity with ‘Blockchain’ Debit Cards

Finland claims to have “solved” the problem of refugee identity, using the Blockchain to record data of new residents.

As part of its commitment to support asylum seekers, Finland is providing arrivals with a prepaid debit card instead of cash, and linking the identity of cardholders to the Blockchain.

Read more here

See video

Spain

Spain: People Held in Poor Conditions

Automatic Detention, Obstacles to Seeking Asylum

Asylum seekers and other migrants arriving by sea to Spanish shores are held in poor conditions and face obstacles in applying for asylum.

They are held for days in dark, dank cells in police stations and almost certainly will then automatically be placed in longer-term immigration detention facilities pending deportation that may never happen.

“Dark, cage-like police cells are no place to hold asylum seekers and migrants who reach Spain,” said Judith Sunderland. associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Spain is violating migrants’ rights, and there is no evidence it serves as a deterrent to others.”

Read the full story here

Italy

Only the wealthiest migrants and refugees could afford to pay for a voyage on the beautiful 10-metre yacht that sailed under a Ukrainian flag.

Today that sailboat is under police guard along with a dozen other luxury vessels impounded at the Sicilian port of Augusta.

“I saw Syrian doctors, Afghan lawyers and magistrates, Iraqi professors and entrepreneurs [disembarking] from these boats,” said Carlo Parini, the police chief inspector for illegal immigration in the south-eastern port of Syracuse, who led the operations in which the boats were recovered from Turkey and impounded.

Some families are known to have paid nearly €100,000 to reach Europe from the Middle East. According to witnesses, some of those who arrived by yacht were dressed elegantly, carrying suitcases and expensive bags.

Italian authorities believe a Turkish crime ring with links to gangs in Ukraine is behind the luxury landings. The skippers ferrying the passengers on the impounded boats were exclusively Ukrainian and the vessels were registered in Turkey, the US or were rented.

Europe

Millions of dollars in aid money pledged to get Syrian refugee children in school last year did not reach them, arrived late, or could not be traced due to poor reporting practices.

In a report released today, “Following the Money: Lack of Transparency in Donor Funding for Syrian Refugee Education,” Human Rights Watch tracks pledges made at a conference in London in February 2016. We followed the money trail from the largest donors to education in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, the three countries with the largest number of Syrian refugees, but found large discrepancies between the funds that the various parties said were given and the reported amounts that reached their intended targets in 2016. The lack of timely, transparent funding contributed to the fact that more than 530,000 Syrian children in those three countries were still out of school at the end of the 2016–2017 school year.

From across the web:

The Vienna hotel where refugees welcome the guests

The Magdas Hotel in Vienna offers jobs and training to multilingual former asylum seekers — while making a political statement about the plight of refugees in Europe

Photos of the staff

If you found this update interesting and important, check us out on Facebook to find out more about our work.

If you would like to donate to our vital work in Europe, please check out this link.

If you would like to contribute to RefuComm’s daily briefing, please contact us here

Like what you read? Give RefuComm a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.