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AYS Daily Digest 15/05/19: More Illegal Pushbacks Documented Along the Croatian-Bosnian Border

Refugees aboard the Sea-Watch rescue ship denied port of landing//New arrivals in Greece//Funds needed for lawyers on Lesvos//Update from NNK in Serbia//Austrian “expert” on Afghanistan loses status//and more…

A photo from today’s rescue by the Sea-Watch. Photo Credit: Sea-Watch

Illegal Pushbacks Documented

Over the course of four days, the illegal push-back of over 70 people was documented by Swiss journalists working with Border Violence Monitoring along the Croatian-Bosnian border. The journalists documented many women and young children among the people who were forced across the border. Many of the people whom the group interviewed described being assaulted by the Croatian police, and having their money stolen and cellphones smashed before they were pushed back. As BVM wrote in their report that we previously published on our Facebook page, by committing these illegal acts:

The Croatian authorities violated international law, most glaringly the prohibition of collective expulsions laid down in Article 4 of the Fourth Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rightsand Article 19 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Similarly, the right to asylum, as agreed in the Geneva Convention on Refugees and Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, is disregarded.

Here is the story in German, published and aired on SRF:

You can read the story in full also at


Sea-Watch rescued 65 people today from Mediterranean waters. The sea-rescue group immediately informed Italy, Malta, Libya, and the Netherlands about the rescue, but has been denied a safe port of entry by Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini. “”I have just signed an INJUNCTION ORDER against them getting near Italian territorial waters. Our ports are, and remain, closed to migrant rescue boat,” wrote Salvini on Twitter. The rescue group is still trying to negotiate a port of landing, but as time goes on, more days are passing while the group could be saving lives in the SAR zone.

Sea-rescue group Mission Lifeline is looking for volunteers to join their team. If interested, email at


New Arrivals (numbers via Aegean Boat Report)

One boat landed on Fotini Beach, Chios south east at 12:30 today carrying
20 people (four children, five women and 11 men).

The European Lawyers in Lesvos legal charity ran out of funding this week, and were forced to suspend their work. The team has put out an urgent call for donations so they can begin their work again.

Over the past the years, European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL) has provided free legal assistance to over 9000 individuals on the island of Lesvos. This week, ELIL had to suspend their operations due to a severe shortage of funds. They will not be able to pick up their operations again until funding is settled.

I understand that in the face of the current circumstances on the Aegean islands, you might ask why you should fund legal aid rather than maritime rescue work or medical assistance in the camps…. For many, it’s the only ticket out of months or even years spent in a cramped tent or on the streets without adequate access to sanitary facilities or proper health care.

Donate here.


Update from No Name Kitchen in Šid

The No Name Kitchen team that is working along the Serbian border in Šid posted an update today on their work and the situation for refugees in the area.

Part of the refugee encampment in Šid, Serbia, Photo Credit: No Name Kitchen

I would love to write that this place is truly a transit location where people fleeing from war and persecution regain strength to continue their journey. I would love to write that this is taking place at a steady pace and that none of these people have been stuck in Serbia for almost a year. I would love to write that they are not heavily beaten up by the police until they are left with broken arms and bruised faces and that none of them have lost consciousness after long minutes of beating…

What do I actually see every day? Truly scary railroad tracks which conceal terrible stories; a windowless factory, flooded by the spring rains and crammed with summer tents; inconceivable amounts of money paid to smugglers to try to reach Europe — an amount that would allow any Westerner to spend the holiday of a lifetime; I see police violence, the destruction of humanity before my eyes in the injured bodies of exhausted young boys who are still capable of smiling.

No Name Kitchen is looking for volunteers to support their work in Serbia, Greece, and Bosnia. If you are interested, PM the group here.


Asylum cases re-opened after Afghanistan “expert” loses his status

A number of rejected asylum cases have been re-opened in Austria after the country’s long-time single “expert” on Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq was deprived of his status. Karl Mahringer is a business man who spent a number of years living in Afghanistan, and, based on this experience, was declared to be an expert on the country by the Austrian government. His optimistic portrayals of life in Afghanistan resulted in negative asylum decisions for many Afghani refugees in Austria. His status as an expert was recently rescinded after a number of researchers challenged his findings.


Refugees from Syria do not have to fear anymore that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) will decide their asylum applications differently than before. “We will NOT change the principles underlying the decision-making practice of the BAMF for the time being until we see new developments in Syria,” said Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU).A change of decision practice has been discussed for weeks. Pending decisions were halted following this decision.

A German media outlet recently reported on the “inhumane” conditions within the Fürstenfeldbruckrefugee camp. There has been at least one suicide attempt within the center recently.


Caritas and Italian Camp authorities attempt to take refugees’ gas cookers, charge them for food

Caritas and Italian authorities entered tents in the “camp” of San Ferdinando (the one that has been declared official and not the makeshift camp), in an attempt to take away all of the gas canisters people are using to cook their food. The gas canisters were previously the cause of fatal fires in the makeshift camp.

However, this was not the main motivation for this action. They did this not out of concern about potential fires, but because they could establish a MENSA service for those living in the camp, managed by Caritas, at the cost of €1/1.50 per person per meal. This means that people would need to pay for their own food!! The people living in the San Ferdinando camp are earning less than €20 a day, exploited in the fields for double the time allowed by the law, with no contract or insurance. And now Caritas is trying to exploit them for a few extra dollars as well.


Part of a detention centre was burned in protest of the impending deportation of an 18-year-old Moroccan. There has been criticism about this detention practice. The three people apprehended in the arson attack were immediately sentenced to two years in prison

The Refugee Info Bus Team is looking for usable mobile phones to give to refugees in France who desperately need to contact family and loved ones. If you have a phone you are willing to donate, please contact the group here.

Solidarity Migrants Wilson is looking for volunteers to help with their food distribution. Click here to learn more.


European Court of Justice rules refugees cannot be automatically deported for felonies

Refugees cannot go through automatic deportation procedures for crimes if they are at serious risk in their home countries, ruled the ECJ this week. People may still face the loss of their official refugee status if convicted of serious crimes, but may not be deported, according to the court.

UNHCR releases report on minors in Europe

In 2018, over 30,000 refugee minors arrived in Greece, Spain, Italy and Bulgaria, according to a recent report by UNHCR. Although the number of minors arriving in Europe overall has been decreasing, Greece saw a 55% increase in child refugees from 2017 to 2018. In Greece, 14% of the minors who arrived were unaccompanied, while in Italy the number was 83%.

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