AYS Daily Digest 12/8/19: Critical times for action

SAR teams struggle more than ever / situation getting even harder for those stuck across Bosnia and Herzegovina / medical staff needed in France / Worrying trends in Germany and Scandinavia / more news

Are You Syrious?
Aug 13 · 8 min read
SOS MEDITERRANEE Suisse and Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) completed a critical rescue. Minutes after lifejackets were distributed, a rubber tube on the fragile boat burst, causing people to fall into the water. All 105 people are now safely on board the Ocean Viking, who is currently carrying 356 on board the vessel. (Photo: SOS MEDITERRANEE Suisse)


“When someone travels through this difficult terrain, it’s normal for them to get scrapes, bruises and injuries,” Croatian President Grabar-Kitarovic told local journalists during a visit to the border last month.

With their continuous practices of beating and sending off groups of people forcibly to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the so called push backs at the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian police is in violation of Article 4 of Protocol no.4 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘the Convention’) prohibiting collective expulsion. The police and their auxilliary forces deployed for the dirtiest work of them all, are also preventing any communication, or official demands to the country from the potential asylum seekers, and by applying such treatment they are preventing the exercising of the people’s right to challenge their return by means of a remedy with suspensive effect, in further violation of Article 13 of the Convention. Many other articles and rights are daily being broken, all with the support, knowledge and finances of the EU, surely, although the EC has recently (probably just having found about about this matter that the entire continent has been talking about for a year now) asked about and reportedly made several inquiries.

Just as the police in Montenegro who has only recently received a donation of Germany for their border police, worth 543.800 euro, the Croatian police is also boasting constant influx of equipment and funds for their border activities.

For more on the border activities, please read our earlier reports on pushbacks that you can find under ‘Specials’ here, on AYS Medium site.

Instead of demanding for a close re-examination of the humanitarian impacts of war and weapons on civilians and human security, experienced and lived by most of the country’s population in the relatively recent war (and the previous 2, for that matter!), the country is running a lucrative business in arms sales. Some of the countries Croatia has been selling their arms to lately are also Albania, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Tchad, Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia, UAE and others. A lot has been written about Croatia’s export of firearms and battle ships, especially about the surge of export using a small airport on the island of Krk for (relatively silent) export. An increase in the transportation of weapons from Krk came after the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command, USSOCOM, ordered subcontractors to stop transporting weapons purchased in the Balkans for fighters in Syria through Germany because they were worried in Berlin about the amount of weapons crossing their territory, media wrote at the time.

In spite of many wonderful people who have helped and are helping people who are passing through the areas where they live, rest or hike, with many of them carrying children, inviting the people for a meal, providing what they can for the rest of their journey etc., it is striking to see how many are referring to people on the move online and in person. On a number of social media sites and forums, there is an alarming number of accounts of having ‘turned people in’ upon meeting someone on the move, people who never bothered to ask about injuries, water, food or anything like that, but who -sounding much like the Bulgarian, Hungarian and now even Slovenian paramilitary — ultimately present another hateful outlet to the people in distress.

When asked about their attitude towards the people on the move, many Croats say how, unlike other big countries with colonial histories and a war legacy, their country is not implicit in the current war stage driving millions to leave their homes in search for safety, they should think. Twice. At least.


Today there will be more evacuations, but the 151 people who will remain on board need a secure port NOW. Europe has abandoned them.

In Spain, Safe Passage calls a rally on Wednesday in front of the Government Delegation in support of the ‘Open Arms’ and the ‘Ocean Viking’.

In their statement, Safe Passage has called on all citizens and civil society solidarity organizations “to demand immediate safe ports” for the ‘Open Arms’ and the ‘Ocean Viking’; to share the solidarity with people on the move; “to challenge and show disobedience to all government norms and decisions that go against secure access and dignified reception.”

In the meantime, the activities are prevented in situations where high waves and rough seas are in sight:


819 people have arrived in Greece by sea in August this year.

Also, many arrests have been made within the groups that crossed from Turkey into Greece, reportedly:


“Restoring law and order with a series of police operations” is among the activities planned and presented last week at a meeting that confirms announcements about a 10mil. euro investment in a makeover of the neighborhood, including aconstruction of a metro station in Exarchia’s central square, Greek media report.

The plan to clean and “sprouce” up the area so that it is transformed into a model neighborhood, includes cleaning and painting walls, evacuating illegally occupied buildings, consolidating sidewalks and pruning trees.

Under the surface and discourse of urban planning and renewal, this can be read as a declaration of a certain attitude of the new ND government towards the solidarity and anarchist environment in the area. Here we do not feel entitled enough to speak on behalf of or to give an insight on the anarchist collective of Exarchia. However, some residents say the authorities are targeting refugee housing, leaving hundreds of vulnerable people with nowhere to go.
No doubt that struggles and heavy clashes are ahead, and this will undoubtedly also have an impact of the migrants and refugees, both in Exarcheia, but also the surrounding areas.


Racism and segregation remain present in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the citizens, volunteers and activists repeatedly report about people (still) being forced to sit in the back of the bus, while “the white” (sic!) people can sit in the front part and, according to some accounts, many stay outside of the buses and trains, even if they have purchased a ticket and there was place for them to ride on board. Some individuals have protested this kind of treatment, but unfortunately no greater protest, rebellion or boycott was organized. During the biggest religious holy day for the Muslims, many were accepted in the areas of the mosques, but that is usually also not the case. We have received reports of heads of the mosques hiring private security companies to ‘safeguard’ the areas, report any ‘migrants’ in the proximity and have them removed, which came as a big disappointment to many young Muslims on the move, who regarded their holy spaces as safe havens in the midst of all sort of dangers and suffering on the way. Also, many children travelling through the country are, as most people, relying on the ‘kindness of strangers’, the locals across the country who have been providing selfless care, devotion, advocacy, food, shelter, means and medical assistance, but most of all, a trace of humanity in the middle of constant fights over fundings, projects (for the sake of projects), hyprocrite photo sessions of occasional ‘events’ in the camps that more and more resemble 21st century version of concentration camps, and petty political distribution of power and money, all at the expense of the most vulnerable in the story. This is on longer a poetic expression, but very literally, people with so many wounds that will hardly ever get to heal properly. As long as keeping people in cage-like facilities is ‘within the EU standards’, chasing people and depriving them of their liberty is a way to ‘run a town’, segregation is ‘a way to show them’, unprofessional and demeaning actions by those hired by the international organisations is going unpunished and people are forced by the government to stay in a severely dangerous dump site — none of us can say we’ve done all we can.

In the meantime, another confusing and misleading thing are the numbers… :

1150 people have been registered by the Ministry of interior to have been referred and registered with the Foreigners’ Office in Tuzla since the beginning of the year, but this number is way higher, as our volunteer contacts on the ground confirm.

9081 people on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina were so far referred to the Foreigners’ Office during this year, according to the official numbers. Most of these people are reportedly from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iraq.

1568 people are pending asylum requests in 961 applications filed last year, according the to the Ministry’s database, which along with previously filed applications that were not resolved by the time the stats were published, makes for 1,152 applications for 1,776 people in 2018, out of which 577 applications for 739 in total were annulled for a variety of reasons, ranging from meritum of the particular case, to bureaucracy.


AYS Free Shop in Zagreb is looking for volunteers — if you happen to find yourself in Zagreb and would like to lend a hand, even for a day — let us know!


First Aid Support Team — FAST still urgently require volunteers with paediatric experience!

If you are available to help out, even if only for a few days, your help would be really appreciated!


The Federal Police is increasingly using shackles and other tools to limit mobility during deportations. In the first half of this year alone, policemen used foot or hand restraints, straps or tape 1289 times during deportations — usually by plane, it is reported. That was more than in the entire year 2018 and more than ten times as often as in the whole of 2015.


Threat assessment for right-wing terror in Norway upgraded

The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) confirmed on Monday that the threat assessment for right-wing terror in Norway was upgraded this summer in a secret report and that other police branches as well as the government were warned that the danger of such attacks had increased. This reportedly happened before the big attack in El Paso in the US and the shooting in the mosque in Bærum.

While the PST’s public assessment in January was that the right-wing terrorist attacks in 2019 were “unlikely,” it was considered “possible” prior to the attack in Bærum. At this point, the police were now concerned both with religious communities and with politicians and parties on the left as possible targets.

The reason for the change was that international developments in right-wing networks after the New Zealand mosque terror — with 51 killed — also are influencing Norwegian sympathizers in a critical direction.

In an interview with Filter News, section leader Arne Christian Haugstøyl in PST elaborates further into what lies behind the worrying analysis. As section leader for non-state actors, he is the head of anti-terrorism work in the security service.

–There are several right-wing extremist networks established online with groups that share more right-wing propaganda than we have seen in a long time. There, these terrorists are glorified, and they are described as heroes. There have also been some direct calls for terror, says Haugstøyl.

We strive to echo correct news from the ground through collaboration and fairness. Every effort has been made to credit organisations and individuals with regard to the supply of information, video, and photo material (in cases where the source wanted to be accredited). Please notify us regarding corrections.

Apart from daily news in English, we also publish weekly summaries in Arabic and Persian. Find specials in both languages on our medium site.

If there’s anything you want to share or comment, contact us through Facebook, Twitter or write to: areyousyrious@gmail.com.

Are You Syrious?

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

Are You Syrious?

Written by

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

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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