Are You Syrious?
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Are You Syrious?

AYS Daily Digest 18/9/19: Do you know how people are being treated in detention centres across the EU?

The importance of finding out what goes on behind the doors of detention centres near you / New evictions in Athens / Rescue missions still delayed, unnecessarily risking the lives of those on board / Volunteers and medical staff needed / & more news

Chios, Greece — Photo: Benjamin Anderson


We wrote extensively about the dangerous perception of detention as a legitimate means of avoiding putting into practice the obligations of EU member states to respect the rule of law and the rights of people on the move to seek international protection, and each case to be examined individually. With many mentions of the practices in Greece and the reactions to them, horrible stories from Hungary, fights against the treatment of people at Denmark’s notorious detention centre, testimonies from the UK, etc., often the EU forgets that the countries who are loudest to boast about civil liberties tend to neglect them when it comes to those who actually need their freedom and rights to save and protect their lives.

We appreciate receiving testimonies, stories and reports on the treatment of people in detention centres and ‘closed centres’ or ‘pre-deportation centres’ across the EU.

During one of the visits of Refugee Rights Europe team to Northern France earlier this year, they visited individuals held at the Centre Administratif De Rétention detention centre in Coquelles.

Widespread concerns were raised amongst displaced people and associations operating in the area, in particular in relation to the health and well-being of the individuals in detention.

One Sudanese detainee told them: “They wanted me to give my fingerprints and ask for asylum in France but I think they just want to have a fast process and send me back to Sudan. I want to go to the UK where I have family members. In detention, I did not eat for several days. I was exhausted and my morale was going down every day.” Several detainees went on hunger strike during the same period, with a number attempting suicide.

One of our roles here at RRE is to act as a broker between displaced individuals or frontline partners and the higher policy levels, to call for much needed structural change. Following our visit to the detention centre, we therefore sent an appeal to the French Défenseur des droits (Defender of rights) and the Contrôleur général des lieux de privation de liberté (General controller of places of deprivation of liberty), asking them both to investigate the situation in the centre and take a firm human rights stance vis-a-vis the French government.

Soon thereafter, they received a detailed response from the Contrôleur général des lieux de privation de liberté who amongst other things emphasized her commitment to raising these concerns with local and national authorities so fundamental rights and dignity may be upheld.

Last week, the RRE team received a response from the French human rights authority Jacques Toubon (Défenseur des droits), in which he confirmed that the concerns that were raised have been addressed in both a report outlining health risks for asylum seekers and direct communications with the Ministry of the Interior.

Pushing for accountability at local, national and European levels through strategic advocacy work such as this, rooted in the voices, experiences and views of the 6,000 displaced individuals the RRE team interviewed across Europe gives a strong voice to all those deprived of rights and liberties to fight their own battles that are in fact a fight for all of us.


45 people on a boat in distress again, Alarm Phone reported on Wednesday morning. The people have reportedly been at sea for two days already. One pregnant woman was bleeding and needed rapid medical attention. “They all lack drinking water. A rescue operation must be launched immediately”, the team tweeted, concluding yet another time:

We finally have confirmation that the 45 people in distress have been rescued and will be brought to Malta. What we do not have is a convincing explanation of why rescue was delayed, unnecessarily risking the lives of those on board. We hope that the pregnant woman has not lost her child.

“I am convinced that we need an automatic European mechanism for taking in the migrants that would permit Malta and Italy (to know) that before they arrive, the migrants can be taken on”, said French president Macron in the meantime. A meeting next week in Malta of the interior ministers for Italy, France and some other countries will test whether ringing appeals by political leaders can be turned into concrete policies for stable European cooperation on migration, media report.

In the last two weeks — from 2 September until 15 September — the Alarm Phone was alerted to 12 distress cases in the Aegean region. Three boats were intercepted near Turkey, while eight boats made it to Greece, either by being rescued by the Greek coast guard or by arriving independently. One boat from Greece was rescued by the Italian coast guard near Italy.

Ocean Viking rescued 73 other people from a tiny, loaded pneumatic canoe, about 29 minutes off the Libyan coast.


Amdh Nador publishes the information about the two Moroccan migrants from Taourirt who died off the coast of Oran in Algeria last Friday.


A call for help in kind and donations:


66,641 people are currently in Greek open and closed centres.
25,630 of them are in reception and identification centres on Greek islands, according to the Greek minister of Citizen Protection.

The current situation on the Greek islands, as officially documented, is:

Aegean Boat Report has launched a new statistical module, where you will find updated statistical information on the refugee crisis in the Aegean Sea. This gives organizations, volunteers, journalists and people in general a powerful tool to understand this crisis more deeply.

According to UNHCR data, over 3,150 people are stuck on Chios at the moment. The majority come from Syria (20 %), the State of Palestine (17 %), Afghanistan (15 %), Somalia (14%) and Iraq (11 %).

New eviction in Athens

After the disputed political decision to raid and evacuate squats in Exarcheia on 26 August, when 143 people were evacuated, including 86 women and children, with no trace of the explosives, weapons or drugs that were often mentioned by officials wanting to “clean” the area, another eviction happened just before we published this.

Eviction of the Jasmine Refugee Squat at Acharnon, Athens, a building located at the intersection of Sourmeli — Acharnon and Mager streets (Σουρμελή — Αχαρνών και Μάγερ), a squat hosting many families and people with vulnerability took place early in the morning.

According to preliminary information, there are 240 people, including dozens of children.

Mobile Info Team is looking for a volunteer translator with excellent Farsi, Dari and English skills who is available to start as soon as possible. Native speakers are preferred and strong preference will be given to those who can also speak Arabic, Pashto or other languages. They will need to be able to communicate with our Iranian and Afghani clients.

This opportunity is full time and will be based at our office in Thessaloniki. They offer a stipend of up to €150 per month, depending on the number of hours per week the translator will be able to work.

Due to the complexity of the work and our need to offer our clients continual and thoughtful counsel, a translator should be able to stay for a minimum of 3 months. They should also have the right to stay in Greece.

If you are interested, please send your CV to
You can find more information about the project on our website: or on Facebook:


AYS looking for new members of our teaching team

Are You Syrious has fought to be back at the Porin reception centre in Zagreb and with the educational activities back in action, we are looking for a boost to our team — teachers, pedagogues, those with skills in mathematics, art or science and previous experience with children or willingness to learn— welcome! We are not asking for volunteers to play with children, but people willing to dedicate some of their time to helping children learn and advance in school. Let us know if you think you have suggestions regarding our work, we’re happy to hear from you!



Some of the volunteer teams on site are reporting a growing need for medical staff in the border area:

We have significant and daily medical needs at the Italian-French border, whether it is for victims of police violence, travel wounds or many other things. If you know of any nurses or doctors who could help us, please let us know.

If you wish to contribute, either by writing a report or a story, or by joining the info gathering team, please let us know.

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:



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Are You Syrious?

Are You Syrious?

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