AYS Daily Digest 07/04/20 Luxembourg and Germany agree to take in small number of children from Greece
80 people still stranded at sea because of Italy and Malta // blackout in Libya // hunger strike in Moria // police brutality in Croatia // helpful resources you can use to support refugees during COVID-19 // and more…
FEATURE Luxembourg and Germany are finally going to take in some children suffering in Greece’s island camps.
Germany is going to take in 50 and Luxembourg will take in…12. There are at least 5,500 unaccompanied minors currently in Greece. A group of countries decided last week to collectively bring in 1,600 of these unaccompanied children, but COVID-19 has slowed this process.
Luxembourg is the first country escort any these children; their 12 being on Lesvos and Chios currently. Their relocation will happen sometime next week. At least 5,488 unaccompanied children will remain living in horrid conditions afterwards.
80 people have been at sea for over 40 hours and neither Malta nor Italy are making any moves to rescue
AlarmPhone sounded the alarm yesterday, but the response from governments is lagging, putting people’s lives on the line.
Alarm Phone warns of Malta’s mishandling of their COVID-19 response:
On Monday, the rescue mission Alan Kurdi rescued 150 people. On Tuesday, Malta and Italy refused to disembark the rescue ship due to COVID-19 fears.
To add to the severity of the situation, the Libyan Coast Guard fired shots in the air towards the first 68 people rescued on Monday. It was quite a feat just to get them on the Alan Kurdi to begin with. This did not persuade Italy and Malta. After hearing those countries’ refusals, Germany said to Sea-Eye and other rescue missions to bring in their boats and not to carry out any more missions for the time being. Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye e. V, responded with:
“Every human life is valuable. We are sure, that the German Federal Foreign Minister will succeed in taking on additional responsibility for 150 people. After all, Germany is our flag state. During the past few days, the Federal Government has successfully repatriated 200.000 of its own citizens from abroad in an immense effort. It must be imaginable and humanly possible to send an aircraft for 150 safety-seeking people to Southern Europe in order to immediately evacuate these people. In Germany, there are approximately 150 cities in the Coalition of Safe Ports who declared their readiness to receive people on the move”
GREECE → ISLANDS
Greek media is reporting that the Greek Coast Guard is located people, sending them off to sea until the “disappear” and the Turkish Coast Guard can take them back:
“The “Ef.Syn.” has managed to identify specific refugee figures and today brings to light for the first time revealing documents, which not only prove the deportations, but also show that they are now being carried out with special lifeboats, which look like scenes on the sea.”
A statement from inside Moria (where food lines are 2 hours long, people are afraid to get in the line for fear on contracting the virus; there is no running water; police are absent except to guard the gates, where they only let people out for medical emergencies; people testify that there has been increased violence since the lockdown; people have not received any updated information on asylum services…):
3rd day of hunger strike in Moria Prison
On April 5th, the prisoners in Moria’s pre-removal detention centre went on strike for their immediate removal. No Border Kitchen Lesvos explains:
“These days governments across the world have been releasing people with short sentences from prison, while the Greek state continues to insist that no migrant detainees will be released. The men here in the prison are held in administrative detention and have committed no crime. They are detained only because of their status. Some because of their nationality, some because their asylum claim was rejected, some because they tried to leave the islands, some even because they signed up for supposed “voluntary return”. Many of those with rejected claims haven’t even had the opportunity to apply for asylum, because of recent legal changes discriminating against people who don’t speak the colonialist language of the country they fled from. They are awaiting deportation to Turkey, despite there being no deportations scheduled for the foreseeable future.”
Migration Minister’s page says medical staff is recruited for detention centres:
“today began(…) recruitment of emergency staff(…), lasting three (3) months to meet the extraordinary needs of the Reception and Identification Centers and Temporary Supply and Supply Structures for Hosting Services. A total of 150 people will be hired at the KYT of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, as well as at the Structures of Malakassa and Sintiki” and Evros prison outpost.*”
“new arrivals from March 1 have not been taken to the Reception and Identification Centers of the Islands but in separate quarantine areas, however there are difficulties to do so(…). So far, the Ministry has not received a positive response from the municipalities for hotel rentals for the removal of vulnerable groups from the KYT to the islands. “The European Commission has offered to cover hotels for the most vulnerable for a short time now due to the crisis, we have a written response from the local municipality that it refuses to use hotels to get the most vulnerable out of Moria. What some are calling for a mass decongestion of Moria, that is, for 15,000 people to come from Moria to mainland Greece amid the crisis of the corona (…).there are no 15,000 vacancies in the hinterland and if there were they would be in structures like Ritsona. And in the end, it is not a given which place is safer “, the Minister stressed.
In an update on the Europe Must Act petition:
“Our campaign is producing results! Tomorrow a delegation of Europe Must Act will have a meeting with the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson. We look forward to having a constructive dialogue with the Commissioner. We will stress the need for immediate action to ensure the safety of the 39,500 people trapped on the Aegean Islands. There can be no compromise on human rights. The islands must be decongested.”
In some new arrivals reports:
GREECE → MAINLAND
Ritsona camp has been in lock down for 5 days now
…no asylum seeker in or out since at least 23 out of 2,700 people living in the camp have tested positive for COVID-19.
The 23 people who tested positive for the virus continue to live with their families, who most likely will contact it soon, and none of them show any symptoms of the virus as of yet. Therefore, they are said to feel discriminated by the tests and are refusing to move to the camp’s designated quarantine areas.
All 23 persons are from African nations, which is unfortunately increasing acts of racism in the camp. One of the residents said that the other refugees are avoiding African nationals.
Testing has stalled in the camp because the medical professionals can only go in to conduct the tests with police, but fewer police are willing to enter now.
Croatian police brutality…
In a new PSM brief, they provide brief camp and security updates on Cherbourg, Dieppe, Lille, the side of Norrent Fonts, Ouistreham, Steenvoorde, and of course Calais.
“In Calais, between 800 and 1000 people live on the different jungle, and have not been confined. From the beginning of the health crisis, and as it went, several associations had to withdraw, including Refugee Community Kitchen as of March 24, leaving only Salam and Active Life for food distribution. The forced evictions of camps continued despite the health crisis, even when the police forces themselves were leaving and demanding to stop the daily evictions! Police violence has grown on the exiled; law enforcement has sanctioned several associations with tickets, for one of them, police saying that people were “not vulnerable enough” for volunteers to use the certificate derogating from that capacity. At the level of the authorities, a solution on the basis of volunteer s’ volunteering was set up a first time on Friday, March 27 (86 people safe), and on Monday, April 6, a similar operation took place in the same format. On the health response, the Red Cross, Doctors of the World and the PASS are best involved in its coordination: joint maraudes are put in place to inform, raise awareness and guide the people who are living.”
In an update from Collectif Action Logement 14\09 they lament the ways the state has failed to relocate people during the pandemic:
“One week for the day after the start of a housing and accommodation operation aimed at “safe” in an epidemic environment, more than 180 people still living at the squat of the Veyettes in Rennes, the balance sheet without being totally negative, fortunately, is more than mixed. A few crucial points are even ineligible.
First, some data: more than 130 people were more or less welcomed in various structures and in various places of the Ille-et-Vilaine. There are about thirty residents left in the Veyettes, of which at least 80 % of people scattered, ran away. A number of people don’t have requisitioned places with or without the Collective Action Collective 14 09. The negotiations are continuing with the state, that is to say with its social services the SIAO, the Abbé Pierre Foundation, a roof is a right, the Red Cross to get the accommodation of the 30 people still on site. The best delays would be 48 H…”
They continue on with how the state has continued to assert positions under the cover of COVID-19 against actors helping homeless refugees and asylum seekers. Find out more here.
In an update on their AIDA (The Asylum Information Database) 2019 report on France, ECRE added some details concerning the country’s decisions during the pandemic and the consequences for refugees in France:
Subsequently measures have been taken to limit access to the asylum procedure for newly arrived asylum seekers…On 31 March 2020 the following measures were being applied:
“Access to the procedure: Registration activities have been temporarily suspended following the closure of the single desks for asylum seekers (Guichet unique pour demandeur d’asile — GUDA). Subsequently, access to the asylum procedure and to reception conditions is suspended.
→ This measure has no legal basis and mainly resulted from the lack of available civil servants within State agencies. No derogations are foreseen for applications lodged at borders, although it should be noted that the implementation of the existing legal framework already faces challenges (see in particular Access at the Italian land border).
→ An instruction has been published by the French Prime Minister on 18 March 2020 with the aim to limit the spread of Covid-19 at borders, but it makes no reference to the right to seek asylum.
Reception conditions: Asylum application certificates have been extended for three months, thus ensuring access to reception conditions during that time.
→ Reception centres have been instructed to not remove asylum seekers that are currently being accommodated, including rejected-asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection. Asylum seekers who registered their application for international protection prior to the closure of GUDAs are being accommodated gradually by the OFII in the remaining reception places. The remaining reception capacity amounts to 3% to 5%.
→ Asylum seekers who are not provided accommodation may resort to emergency accommodation which are currently being established in accordance with the Ministry for Territorial Cohesion.
***It should be further noted that the declaration of a state of health emergency has enabled the suspension of time limits for appeals in many areas, including appeals against decisions taken by the determining authority (i.e. appeals in front of the CNDA and/or other appeals).”
Josephine Goube wrote a poignant piece on Tech Refugee’s blog about tracking COVID-19 among refugee populations and some helpful steps:
“The facts speak for themselves; the message is clear. Compassion is a strength, one that brings tangible material benefits to native and migrant populations alike.”
“But it’s not all bad news. Anyone can help refugees in need, using practical technologies which Techfugees have helped support over the past five years from their homes. Here are a few of our favorites; you can find more on our Covid-19 collective doc.
Services like NaTakallam let you take language classes from refugees, supporting them and learning a new language in the process. In times of lockdown and economic hardship, this is a particularly vital financial lifeline for many.
If you know healthcare workers or immigrant families who need translation or interpretation to fight Covid-19, share Tarjimly with them to get free immediate help. This app is a translation service helping refugees overcome language barriers, providing them with on-demand interpretation and translation for health matters right now.
If you’re a doctor yourself faced with coronavirus related patient issues, MedShr is an app which lets medical professionals exchange information and enables peer-to-peer learning around the world. In areas with limited hospital infrastructure, like camps, this app can literally make the difference between life and death. You can also participate in their initiative to collect data on Covid-19.
Audiopedia has started building a library of coronavirus health information delivered as audio whatsapp messages in a number of languages spoken by refugees, and they’re looking to get more. You can get involved and help them expand.
Finally, Habibi.Works supports local communities and medical actors by providing 3D-printed materials for humanitarians and health workers. Where resources are scarce, being able to print vital parts out of thin air is another life-saving idea.
In a world that’s getting scarier by the day, the response from a handful of well-organised tech-for-good activists should serve as a message of hope. The tools are there, all we need is the will to use them before one crisis falls prey to another.”