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AYS Daily Digest 15/10/20: Clandestine hospital pickups and pushbacks from Croatia continue

New border fence in Melilla / reports of dire living conditions in camps across Greece mount / Vial camp in Chios has been put under quarantine for the second time this year / & more news

Oct 16 · 8 min read

Melilla, photo via: CEAR


Spain — Up to ten meters high and with a clear appearance of a wall. This is the case for some sections of the new fence that the Ministry of the Interior is constructing on the border perimeter that separates Melilla from Morocco, as well as the Ceuta fence, according to media reports.

Some sections of the new device installed in Melilla, in the area of the Beni Enzar border crossing up to the southern dike, increase by 30% the height of the previous one, and are crowned by a kind of metal roller that makes crossing difficult. The base of the fence is composed of wide, large bars that discourage climbing, followed by another smooth section, then a metal wall that transforms into a fine metal mesh, all the way up to the polished cylinder of the summit.

Croatia — Lately, AYS has received many different calls for help from people across the Balkan Route, with a number of worrying testimonies, both from those people within the “system”, and those who are left on their own, including for basic needs — even if they are official asylum seekers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The local and cantonal authorities there ignore their own laws and continue fighting mutual battles with the international organisations on the back of those most vulnerable and unprotected people. In Croatia, we have become aware of the growing number of people on the move admitted to hospitals for Covid-19 symptoms, as well as other medical conditions. According to the medical staff who spoke to AYS, the people are neither provided translation nor instructed about their rights, and most often — in cases when they are tested for coronavirus — they are left without the results. After taking a test, people are usually instructed to practice self-isolation until the results are ready, and these people who have nowhere to go or stay are told (mostly in Croatian, ironically) that they should inquire about the results themselves, just as any other citizen. Also, in cases when the medical staff notifies the police of the presence of undocumented people at the hospital, the police waits for their official release and then expel them to Bosnia and Herzegovina, without any written trace. Most of these medical professionals are not familiar with the system of international protection, nor the rights of people arriving in the EU under both national and international law — a situation that seems to suit those in power.

Such practice has been reported to us with a higher intensity in recent weeks as more people seem to be passing through the seemingly impenetrable longest land border of the EU.


Limited access to COVID-19 tests for Syrians

Although testing the presence of the virus is crucial in the fight against the pandemic, the latest report by Minority Rights Group (MRG) shows that Syrian refugees have highly limited access to testing. There are up to 1,5 million Syrians in Lebanon (around 20 % of the total population); given the situation these refugees are in, both economically and socially, the cost of the tests in private facilities are still prohibitively high for the most.


Greece is planning to build a new fence across its border with Turkey, allegedly to prevent migrants from entering the country. The project has a budget of 62.9 million euros and will stretch for 27 km.

Alarmphone has published an analysis of regional pushbacks in the Aegean Sea.

The analysis “focuses on the latest shocking developments in the Aegean region and reports on push backs in the Aegean Sea and at the land border that the Alarm Phone was alerted to from February to September 2020. It is primarily based on testimonials from activists and migrants on both sides of the border. Together, they draw an image of systematic violence against people on the move in Greece, Turkey and at the border zone in between. They also show the absence of any services which might allow people to meet their basic human needs. On either side of the border migrants are used by the states involved as chips in their political power games on both a national and regional level.”

For the whole report, see here.


The inhumane living conditions of the vast majority of the 4,500 people on Samos are only becoming worse. Reportedly, only 650 are hosted in proper structures, while the remaining nearly 4,000 people live in make-shift barracks in the open-air “forest”. The situation has been further aggravated by the Covid-19 crisis, as most of the activities provided in the camp have been discontinued.

For more stories about people stuck in Greece, and the heavy emotional, psychological, and financial toll their journey has taken on them, see the story of Samuel, an Eritrean stuck in Greece and seeking opportunities for his studies and family reunification. — Samuel* in Platia Koliatsou in Athens (Photo: InfoMigrants / Private)


There are multiple reports of dire living conditions in camps across Greek islands, as basic facilities are lacking, and food is often scarce and of extremely bad quality or unhealthy to eat — as we can see from this testimony . Here we know more about the appalling conditions in Moria camp 2.0 after the first heavy rains, documented by NoBorder Kitchen Lesvos.

Following the postponed eviction of Pikpa camp in Lesvos, it is still unclear as to the Greek’s government rationale for the closure of sites and the re-settlement of minors and those considered ‘vulnerable asylum seekers’ in other structures.


Meanwhile, the Vial refugee camp in Chios has been put under quarantine for the second time this year, as at least 30 people reportedly tested positive for Covid-19. This news comes after many reports have shown how the camp, as many in the island of Chios, is overpopulated and is 66% over its actual capacity. See more here.

Youth Refugees Movement in Ritsona has set up a Corona Awareness team in the camp of Ritsona, under quarantine since the beginning of September. This team has been doing excellent work in raising awareness and sharing best practices about the virus and how to contain it, as well as other initiatives of recycling and up-cycling.

On the Moria fire, BVMN has put up this very interesting interactive timeline tracing the events leading up to the fire, and the following actions and relief responses on the ground. For further reporting and investigation on the fire in Moria, see this episode of BBC Newsnight.

A new fundraising initiative for Donate4Refugees has started to collect donations for food, winter clothes, and sanitary items for the almost 5000 displaced people in Chios.


More cases of pushbacks confirmed in Una Sana county

It has been reported that two groups of people (around thirty people overall, including women and children) have been violently pushed back by Croatian police as they attempted to cross the border from Bosnia, near Velika Kladuša. Before being illegally expelled, they were brutally injured by the police.

According to the media, “A group of 14 migrants was admitted to the Emergency Room and Health Center Velika Kladuša with bodily injuries inflicted on them, according to them, by members of the Croatian police while returning them to Bosnia and Herzegovina, confirmed for BHRT the spokesman of the Una Sana Canton Interior Ministry Ale Siljdedic.” Siljdedic further added that doctors will be working to determine whether the injuries occurred during the attempt to cross the border, or as a result of conflict between the people. This statement questions the testimonies of the injured migrants, and seems to absolve the Croatian police of its responsibility in the pushback.


Stopping real estate certification requests from countries of origin

The Regional Government of Lombardy decided to amend the discriminatory regulation by finally unblocking the allocations, pending for 7 months.

In their press release, ASGI reports:

“From today, October 15, foreigners resident in Lombardy will be able to access public housing without having to prove that they do not own real estate in countries where in many cases they have not resided for decades and in which sometimes they were not even born (often impossible, due to the absence of a cadastral system).”

The right of access to hotspot centres by civil society

Although internal and European legislation largely protects the right of access and communication from within to outside hotspot centres and, more generally, places of detention for foreign nationals, such places are often impervious to the outside world and the possibilities for access by entities independent of the institutions that manage them are extremely limited.

The monitoring work that ASGI has been carrying out for years has made it possible to see how the hotspot approach involves systematic use of de facto detention and concrete obstacles to asylum applications, restricting or selecting access to information and the right of defense. Find more information on the Sicilian case here.


The situation at the Arguineguín dock in Gran Canaria responds to the militarization of the Central Mediterranean and the consequent diversion in migratory routes. But the EU continues to refuse to create legal and safe pathways that would avoid putting so many human lives at risk.


State proposals emblematic of externalization, a migration management strategy that has won increasing favour among countries in the Global North, denoting measures taken by states beyond their borders to obstruct or deter the arrival of foreign nationals lacking permission to enter their intended destination country — topic of the latest in a series of great reflections by Jeff Crisp:

What is Externalization and Why is it a Threat to Refugees?

Ascension Island. Moldova. Morocco. Papua New Guinea. St. Helena. These are some of the far-flung destinations where…

Referring to the conditions in Niger camps as “concentration-camp like”, it was the slave auction that provoked a global dismay… :

Freedom and Force: Contesting the Figure of the Migrant Slave

Guest post by Maurice Stierl. Maurice is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick. Before, he was…

How the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum creates new loopholes to ignore human rights obligations:

More detention, fewer safeguards: How the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum creates new loopholes…

The new European Pact on Migration and Asylum, published on 23 September 2020, begins with the recognition that…

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