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AYS Daily Digest 04/06/2021: Letters and memos from Greece

Greece wants to tackle border crossings with sound cannons // Syrians deported from Lebanon to Syria // Germany refuses solidarity with Italy // German nun fined for providing church asylum // New evictions in Bosnia and France

Greek authorities are increasing efforts to prevent people from crossing the border. Credits: Twitter/@DimKairidis

Greece: Letters and memos

Several EU member states, including France, Germany and Italy, have complained about Greece’s failure to take back people who have moved on to other Western European countries. In a joint letter seen by politico, the speak about a “rapid increase” of people who were granted asylum in Greece travelling to other countries and asking for asylum a second time — in Germany alone, some 17,000 people have done this successfully since July 2020. “Some national courts,” the letter said, “consider that Greece is not ensuring that these persons are given suitable accommodation and provided with a minimum level of physical subsistence.” A Greek official denied the accusations, saying that Greece was fully compliant with its obligations and is not responsible for so-called secondary flows.

In an open letter to the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs of the Commission of the European Union, Koraki demands an end to EU funding for the Greek government. In particular, they refer to the ongoing human rights violations such as pushbacks:

We must request that, given the ongoing shocking, illegal and unacceptable behaviour by the Greek government towards men, women and children who are attempting to use their right to live, learn and work in safety, you could perhaps at least suspend further payments to the Greek government until these cases — cases the Commission itself wants to be investigated — are taken seriously and heard by the Greek government?

Regarding pushbacks, the Supreme Court Prosecutor has sent 15 First Instance Prosecutors a criminal complaint for the investigation of 147 cases of pushbacks with more than 7,000 people affected betweetn March and December, Racist Crime Watch reveals. But a memo leaked from the Migration Ministry shows that officials are trying to intimidate their own staff and ordering them to not take part in any court trials of possible illegal acts. Anyone doing this will face disciplinary action.

At the same time, there are media reports about the Greek border police intending to use sound cannons and drones on a new border fence. “It is part of a system of steel walls that is being installed and tested along with drones on the 200-kilometre border with Turkey for migration defence”, site36 writes. The EU has clarified that it is not involved in this project and expressed its concerns, but at the same time it is funding projects using drones for border surveillance on land, water and air.

Greek authorities have started vaccination campaigns on the Aegean islands. Every Thursday and Friday people will be offered the opportunity to get a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to RND. But only 15 percent have shown interest in the programme so far, the Migration Ministry said. It is estimated that some 30 percent already have antibodies and another 30 percent are minors, who cannot be vaccinated at this time.

Worth reading:

Lebanon

Five Syrians who boarded a boat carrying 56 people to Cyprus have been pushed back by Cypriot authorities and then back to Syria, according to human rights organizations. Overall, 15 people were deported, a representative of Access Center for Human Rights told L’Orient Today. Of the passengers, 18 were detained for entering Lebanon illegally and five of them deported to Syria afterwards. “Others were either released or are detained in Lebanon and still facing potential expulsion,” the newspaper notes. In less than two years, some 2,700 people have been deported under this rule.

Sea

Salvamaneto Maritimo rescued 37 people around 177 kilometers southwest of Maspalomas. Moroccon authorities rescued another 30 people 200 kilometers off Gran Canaria, La Provincia reports.

Further reading:

Italy

Governmental parties in Germany, CDU and SPD, have refused to support Italy and relocate more people. Representatives argued that the increase of arrivals in Italy was nothing the country could not cope with alone, and Germany had already received 38,000 asylum applications by April. Therefore, there was no need for further support, Sueddeutsche writes.

Palermo will host the next conference of From the Sea to the City at the end of June.

Further reading:

Bosnia

Volunteers of No Name Kitchen have documented new evictions in the Šturlić area. Some 160 people were transferred to Borići and Lipa. However, some are already trying to return to the occupied buildings. “We are very concerned about the frequency of evictions in Northern Bosnia & Herzegovina in the last weeks,” NNK states.

Switzerland

Residents of St. Gallen are organizing several actions to commemorate the people who drowned in the Mediterranean during recent years. Between Saturday and Sunday, volunteers will read the names of more than 44,000 people who have died since 1993, Tagblatt writes.

France

Défenseur des droits has published a report in which it raises concerns over the growing and worrying invisibility of exiled people. Basic rights such as housing, access to medical care, education, seeking asylum and being treated with dignity have not been granted to many people in France.

Solidarité migrants Wilson warns that many minors in Paris are not being sheltered by the municipality any more. “Unfortunately, we have no other solution today but to set up a camp,” the volunteers stated, announcing plans to set up tents in a park.

Another big eviction happened in Grande Synthe on Thursday. Hundreds of tents and tarps were destroyed. Human Rights Observers have criticized the fact that a slaughter knife was used near children.

Germany

A nun has been fined 500 Euro by a German court for providing church asylum for two people. The two women had fled Nigeria and later Italy, as they were threatened with forced prostitution and faced being deported back to Italy under the Dublin III agreement. One of the women has already been granted a residence permit in Germany, while the other is still waiting for it. “The diocese argued that church asylum was justified in both cases because the women had faced extreme emergency situations,” InfoMigrants writes.

Denmark

The UNHCR has opposed Denmark’s plans to externalize asylum applications to third countries. ”The amendments will enter into effect if Denmark secures a formal agreement with a third country,” Ansamed quotes from the UNHCR website. However, this would be against the spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention and global strategies. High Commissioner Filippo Grandi noted that:

“Already today nearly 90 percent of the world’s refugees live in developing or the least developed countries that — despite their limited resources — step up and meet their international legal obligations and responsibilities.”

Refugees DK also demanded that a safe environment be provided for refugees in the country:

Refugees should decide for themselves when they are ready to go back — maybe never. If they go back, it should be with an education and a need to make a difference in the home country, or as a peaceful end of a long and chaotic life.

UK

After the ruling of the High Court against the Home Office, saying the accommodation in the Napier Barracks in Kent was “inadequate” for asylum seekers, who where unlawfully detained there, the pressure on Home Secretary Priti Patel is increasing. A Home Office spokesperson argued there have been “significant improvements” since the six plaintiffs had filed the lawsuit, Sky reports.

EU

In an interview with SRF, Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri expressed his will to continue in his position. He further stated that all of the accusations made against Frontex staff regarding pushbacks and illegal actions were incorrect.

This statement goes along with a new officer overseeing fundamental rights, saying the agency should conitnue its activities in Greece. “I think the enjoyment of fundamental rights is not necessarily best served by pulling out on behalf of Frontex but by constructively engaging,” Jonas Grimheden told MEPs, according to EU observer. He further explained he wants to strengthen his team of rights monitors, which should be 40 but are only 20 so far.

Worth reading:

General

In a fact check, Deutsche Welle explained whether sea rescue leads to more people trying to cross the Mediterranean. “Most of the studies suggest that rescue activities do not lead to a higher number of departures from the North African coast,” DW summarizes. There was no evidence of a direct effect of sea rescue on the number of people arriving in Europe. However, more data is needed to prove this further, according to scientists.

In its weekly bulletin, ECRE focuses on EU fundings for Greek camps and new legislation to increase deportations. “Violations of the rights of people on the move along the Balkan Route continued in recent weeks with multiple pushbacks involving brutal violence across different borders, including from Croatia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Romania, and evictions of makeshift shelters in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” it continues. It is further mentioned that the EU is still neglecting its duties to rescue people at sea, causing more deaths in the Mediterranean.

The Oxford University made its research collection on Forced Migration and Refugee Studies available for free for a limited time.

Worth reading: A Great Unseen Humanitarian Crisis Migrants and Refugees in Yemen

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Daily news digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and refugees on the route, but also for journalists and other parties.

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Are You Syrious?

Are You Syrious?

Daily news digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and refugees on the route, but also for journalists and other parties.

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