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AYS Daily Digest 11/1/2019 Over 100 people on Hunger Strike in French Detention Centres

UN report on Libya /// Updates from the Western Med /// Winter shelters opened in Thessaloniki /// Lagkadikion camp without running water for days /// Lack of doctors is slowing down transfers to mainland /// Italian ports are not closed /// In France it’s true: people are numbers /// German government admits illegal deportations

FEATURE — Over 100 people on Hunger Strike in French Detention Centres

Numbers of hunger strikers in the detention centres of Vincennes and Mesnil-Amelot in the Paris region range from 100 to 150. They are on hunger strike against their living conditions, arrests and detention. Some people at Vincennes have already been striking for over a week, according to local media. The hunger strikers’ situation has been aggravated by a new law which came into force on the 1st of January, which doubled the maximum length of detention from 45 days to 90 days.

In the last year, the number of migrants being held in the detention centres where the Cimade association intervenes has risen from 20% to 40%.

Locals also update from hunger strikers in the Rouen-Oissel Centre de Rétention Administrative:

they got gassed and beaten up this afternoon because they refused to eat, take their treatments, clean up… two are in isolation…. but they are determined!

More deeply disturbing reports are coming from other local activists working in the area stating that people are enduring various forms of serious abuse in Rouen-Oissel.

He’s a detention centre where a policeman likes to put his index finger in the anus of the selected foreigners.

It is a detention centre where, in the isolation cell (solitary) of the police officers handcuffed a person’s wrists to the bars of a chair, put a foam helmet on him, shot in that chair and left this man So on earth 6 hours while passing regularly guffaw before him to provoke him.

It is a detention centre where tonight, after testifying anonymously to the radio by telephone, a prisoner was threatened by the director who accused him (wrongly) of being the leader of the hunger strike that Started last night following other serious violence suffered by another detained and collective bullying.

They call for all journalists, politicians, elected officials and activists to call the director to let him know that he must immediately stop letting his staff abuse the residents of this facility.

We stand in solidarity with the Hunger Strikers.

End arbitrary detention!

Freedom of movement and the right to work for all!


26,577 barrel bombs dropped over Syria since 2015

The Syrian Network for Human Rights has published a new report documenting the use of barrel bombs by the Syrian regime forces — 26,577 barrel bombs have been deployed since the start of the Russian intervention on September 30th, 2015, even though Vitaly Churkin, the former Russian representative to the United Nations, promised in October 2015 that barrel bombs would no longer be used by Assad’s forces. These bombs have been filled with poisonous gas and anti-tank mines.


Finally there has been a break in the weather.


EU-Libya deal causes a rise in number of people at risk

Sally Hayden reports from those stuck in detention in Libya. Originally it was thought that only 30 people had been forcibly taken from detention in Khoms this week but now it could be up to 70, all unregistered by the UN. Multiple sources confirm that these people have been taken to Bani Walid:

a Libyan town many refugees speak of with great fear because of the numbers of smugglers & traffickers there, & the scale of the abuse.

In UNHCR’s weekly update, it states that these people were intercepted at sea on the 29th of December, by the Libyan coastguard, before being brought to Khoms. Yet they do not mention that many of those ‘rescued’ are now in this deeply precarious position. Even while the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in his report on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, states that the situation in Libya is highly dangerous for people on the move.

Across the country, arbitrary detention and torture continued to be widespread. Approximately 6,400 individuals were being held in 26 official prisons operated by the Ministry of Justice, of whom an estimated 75 to 80 per cent were in pretrial detention. Thousands of others were being held in facilities nominally under the control of the Ministry of the Interior or the Ministry of Defence, as well as facilities directly run by armed groups. Those held had little opportunity to challenge the legality of their detention or seek redress for violations suffered.

In relation to detention facilities, UNSMIL continued to receive credible reports of prolonged and arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, poor detention conditions, medical neglect and the denial of visits from families and lawyers by those in charge of prisons and other places of detention.

He also states that the rise in numbers of people who are in detention and thus at risk is a direct result of the EU’s deal with Libya.

owing to more interceptions at sea and the closure of sea routes to migrants, preventing their departure. Perpetrators of the above-mentioned acts included State officials, armed groups, smugglers, traffickers and criminal gangs. To date, an estimated 5,300 refugees and migrants had been detained in Libya, of whom 3,700 were in need of international protection.

The abuses suffered by people are listed as: deprivation of liberty and arbitrary detention in official and unofficial places of detention; torture, including sexual violence; abduction for ransom; extortion; forced labour; and unlawful killings. The report also cites the abduction of children by armed gangs, the rape of women in detention, the imprisonment of journalists and activists and the death of civilians, including children, due to armed conflicts.


This is what you are participating in, this blood is on your hands.


Another death in Morocco

Association Marocaine des Droits Humains — Section Nador report that Nador hospital has received the body of a dead migrant woman and 6 other wounded sub-Saharan Migrants on Friday. It is not yet understood what happened but other migrants were also arrested.

All our condolences.

Migration policies and borders still kill.


Updates from the Western Mediterranean

Human rights defender Helena Maleno Garzon reports that the dinghy with 71 people which has been missing since Tuesday was located by a Spanish plane and brought back to Morocco by the Moroccan coast guard.

Regarding the other two boats, carrying 141 people, missing in the Alboran Sea, only one has been found and brought back to Moroccan shores. It is the third day and still there’s no trace of the second boat. The search is ongoing.

A Contingency Plan for Disembarkation and Relocation

After the almost three weeks spent at sea by the people rescued by Sea Watch 3 and Sea Eye, Catherine Woollard, secretary general for the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), relaunched ECRE’s call for a European Contingency Plan on disembarkation and relocation. It should have two components:

- Agreement among EU coastal states on a division of responsibility for disembarkation of rescue ships for an initial period of six months, renewable

- Agreement among EU non-Mediterranean states on a relocation framework for the same period, covering pledges and legal aspects.

In parallel, negotiations on the underlying causes of the crisis need to continue, namely on reform of EU asylum law and on finding common interpretations of the Law of the Sea provisions on responsibility for rescue ships.

The ship-by-ship approach is causing suffering, risk and reputational damage. People stranded on board ships prevented from landing are used as bargaining chips to extract concessions or for political reasons.

In lieu of the resolution of the underlying causes of the crisis, a contingency plan is needed now and for the immediate future.

Before a plan is in place, the humanitarian imperative is to disembark first and argue later. And every Member State and other countries should offer to relocate people immediately to avoid what just happened in Malta. The point of a contingency plan, negotiated and agreed in advance, is to avoid the situation of negotiations and planning happening while people sit on a ship; when an incident occurs the plan should be invoked in order to immediately allow a ship to dock.

Read about the contingency plan in full HERE


Too little too late

Migration minister Dimitris Vitsas held a press conference on Thursday, reporting on last year’s migration flows in the country and presenting the government priorities for 2019, as reported by local media.

According to the minister:

  • Currently there are over 70,000 refugees and immigrants in Greece. In 2018, 47,929 people entered the country (34,707 in 2017), of which 32,155 came from the islands (+10% since 2017) and 15,814 from the land border with Turkey on the Evros river (+284% since 2017).
  • 6,558 left the country: 322 were deported to Turkey on the basis of the joint EU-Turkey deal. The minister called for an intensification and a speed up of the returns. Another 1,004 left through the IOM sponsored program of “voluntary returns”. 5,232 people left for other EU countries, for family reunifications (figure from January to November 2018)
  • 29,090 were transferred from the islands to the mainland: 14,887 from Lesbos, 5,611 from Samos, 5,031 from Chios, 1,724 from Kos, 1,330 from Leros and 507 from other islands (Rhodes and smaller of the Dodecanese).
  • There are currently 14,615 people on the islands. Of these, 11,683 people live in camps.
  • At least two new doctors will start working in every Hotspot on the islands from the end of January.

The ministry pointed out that the priorities of the government are the reduction of flows, the decongestion of the islands and the increase in resettlements to other EU countries. He pledged to increase the capacity of the ESTIA residential program by 5,000 places. Moreover, the government intend to open two more camps, in the village of Volhi and the village of Tempelohori in the municipality of Tempi, on mainland Greece.

Minister Vitsas complained that, of a total of 32 camps and hotspots in the country “it is common for both Europe and Greece to focus on one or two where the difficulties are really big in the sense of overpopulation. That is, wherever I go to Greece and abroad, the question is ‘Samos-Moria’”. He claimed that the remaining camps are “medium to good”, with excellent ones… evidently he hasn’t read our Special on Oinofyta camp, or he would be more cautious with his words.

People from inside the Lagkadikion refugee camp, in Koronia, Northern Greece have published two videos showing the conditions of the camps managed by DRC. The residents have been left without running water for days now.

Dear Minister, how exactly would you rate a camp without running water? “Medium or good”?

Lack of doctors slows down transfers to mainland

Local media sources report that a lack of doctors at three of the five ‘reception’ centres on the eastern islands is delaying the transfers to the mainland.

“A key problem is that in order for refugees to be defined as “vulnerable” — a precondition if they are to be transferred from overcrowded island facilities to emptier venues on the mainland — the signature of a doctor from the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) is required.

Those doctors visit the islands when possible but in other cases staff must travel to Athens to receive the final approval.”

11 Shelters for unaccompanied minors have closed due to funding issues

Safe Passage reports that 11 Praxis shelters for unaccompanied child refugees have closed across Greece due to funding issues. This could put some of the most vulnerable children, who have already suffered enough, on the streets during the coldest months.

“Right now there are over 3,400 unaccompanied child refugees in Greece, and over 2,000 of them are sleeping rough.”

6 break free from Petrou Ralli detention centre in Athens

Noborders report that 6 people escaped from the alien department’s Petrou Ralli detention centre. One was arrested.

Winter shelters in Thessaloniki

Due to the cold weather, heated spaces and hot food are available at the Cultural Center ‘Alexadros’ (1, Ethnikis Amynis, 546 21) and inside the building of Ministry of Macedonia — Thrace.

Volunteers and donations needed on Samos, from February to April

Action for Education is looking for volunteers to join their team in Samos from the beginning of February. They are setting up a new space and centre in response to the absolutely devastating conditions endured by asylum seekers on the island.

Further application details HERE — Apply HERE

Support the project donating HERE

Donations needed on Chios

FEOX rescue team are sorting their warehouse. They are still in need of: baby diapers, instant baby milk and wheelchairs.


There is no law to support the Italian government’s claim that ports are closed to humanitarian rescue

After six Freedom of Information requests (FOIA) to the Interior Ministry and the Minister for Infrastructures and Transports, ASGI (Association for law studies on immigration) confirms that no law has been implemented to formally close Italian ports to rescue ships.

ASGI sent the FOIA requests after the standoff between the Italian government and the Diciotti military ship and the events related to the vessels of Proactiva Open Arms.

This means that rescue boats could have accessed Italian ports without violating any government provision or law and that as of today there’s no legal obstacle for humanitarian organisations in to docking on our shores.

While the EU and the governments of member states are blind and deaf to the suffering and deaths they are causing with their policies and rhetoric, we ask — is it finally time to challenge these empty criminal threats?


Yearly arrivals data

UNHCR published new data (PDF) on arrivals in Spain in 2018.


Predominately sunny. During the morning weak frost along the coast and land, inwards mostly strong frost and in the north local fog or low clouds. Wind weak to moderate from changing directions. The lowest temperatures from -14 to 0 and highest daily from -4 to 10 degrees.

During the morning moderate frost, locally strong, and foggy. Cloudy before noon and throughout the county as the day progresses, locally predominantly sunny with sunny intervals in the morning. In the north weak snow may fall. Wind weak to moderate, from the southwest, in the evening from the west. The lowest temperatures from -12 to 5 and highest daily from -3 to 3 degrees.

In Bosnia mostly predominately cloudy and in Herzegovina predominately clear. In the centre and east of Bosnia possibility of some snowfall. The wind in Bosnia will be a weak southwestern and in Herzegovina a moderate Bura. The lowest temperatures from -11 to 3 and highest daily from 4 to 8 degrees.

Partly to predominately sunny with changeable levels of cloudiness. During the night and in the morning possible snowfall. Wind mostly weak blowing from the southwest and west, alongside the coast moderate northern and northwestern wind. The lowest temperatures from — 9 to 3 and highest daily from 3 to 10 degrees.


Two more convictions for people working in solidarity

Chez Jesus — Rifugio Autogestito report that there have been two more convictions of people working in solidarity. Pierre was sentenced to 3 months suspended. Kevin to 4 months, even though the prosecutor had asked for 6. Kevin was also accused of refusing to comply with the gendarmerie’s request to stop his car. The third person was also tried, and was fined for helping a migrant to cross the mountain pass. All three have appealed.

It is clear to us that the objective of the tribunal and its judges is to scare people working in solidarity in order to weaken the networks of direct solidarity that are not subject to the will of the state and the institutions.

See our recent special on state harassment of people working in solidarity.

The Asylum seekers’ guide in Paris

Comité de soutien des Migrants de la Chapelle have published the January version of “The Asylum seekers’ Guide in Paris”. It is available in French, English and Arabic. It can either be downloaded on to a smartphone or printed as a paper copy.

Appeal to open winter shelters in Saint-Denis

Local media report that the Mayor of Saint-Denis wrote to President Emanuel Macron and the Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Friday telling them of the terrible situation for migrant people sleeping outside in his Arrondissement. He asked the prefecture once again to make its holiday centre, Mériel (Val-d’Oise), available for shelter during the winter.

In France it’s true — People are numbers

On Friday morning in Grande Synthe, the police stopped people and recorded a number on their hand. They did not detain minors.


Admitting illegal deportation, but denying problems in asylum system: supplementary asylum statistics

According to local media sources, the Federal government recently published supplementary asylum statistics, which the Federal Government regularly compiles on request from the Left Party:

  • From January to September 2018, courts have ruled on more than 131,000 decisions by the asylum authority Bamf;
  • At the end of September, 323,000 complaints against asylum decision were still pending.
  • In almost a third of the cases the claimants were successful. In such cases administrative courts ruled against Bamf decisions, where they wrongly refused to grant protection or granted too weak a protection statuses.

Moreover, the government admitted to having illegally deported nine people between January and November 2018. Nevertheless, it denies fundamental problems in the asylum system.

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Are You Syrious?

News digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and people on the move, but also for journalists, decision makers and other parties.