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Are You Syrious?

AYS DAILY DIGEST 20/12/2018: European union connection with unimaginable horrors in Libyan detention centers

Teenage asylum seeker from Ethiopia is planning to sue the government for its role in funding detention centers in Libya // Student from Belgium held by gang in Morocco for three hours // Jugendrettet demands toward the EU — stop criminalizing humanitarian action, instead prioritize saving lives and protect human dignity of all people // Twelve people have been found dead near Spain // 16-year-old boy died of heart failure in IOM run camp in Bosnia // And more news…

Photo by Jérémie Crépin. “The place of the Montpellier comedy, used to see the Christmas lists here, covered by a list of names: those of migrants dispear or are dead in the Mediterranean between 2014 and July 2018.”


“Unimaginable horrors,” “extrajudicial killings,” “sexual abuse,” “torture,” “slavery,” and “arbitrary detention,” are the key terms mentions in the latest report about Libya by the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR). And the leaders in the EU are supporting those who responsible for it, as we know it.

The report calls on European Union states to “re-examine their cooperation with the Libyan authorities on the issue of migration to avoid contributing to such rampant abuse.”

This should include working towards an end to the mandatory, automatic and arbitrary detention of migrants and refugees in irregular situations, stamping out of torture and ill-treatment, sexual violence and forced labour in detention, and ending all return practices that would violate the strict prohibitions on collective expulsion and refoulement,” the report says.

One of the countries which supported this system in Libya is the UK. And one boy from Ethiopia, an asylum seeker in the UK, is planning to sue the government for its role in funding detention centres in Libya where he experienced physical abuse, extortion, and forced labour.

It is the first time ever somebody will try to initiate legal action against the government’s Department for International Development (DfID).

The teenager claims that “officials are acting unlawfully in funding the detention centres and should stop doing so.” He is also asking for compensation for the suffering he endured there.

The period I was detained and enslaved in Libya was a living hell,” he said. Doctors found 31 different lesions on this body after he came to the UK.

During their visits to Libyan detention centers, the UN team could see what media and activists, as well as survivors, have been reporting for months now: severe overcrowding, lack of proper ventilation and lighting, inadequate access to washing facilities and latrines, constant confinement, denial of contact with the outside world, and malnutrition.

This climate of lawlessness provides fertile ground for thriving illicit activities, such as trafficking in human beings and criminal smuggling, and leaves migrant and refugee men, women and children at the mercy of countless predators who view them as commodities to be exploited and extorted for maximum financial gain,” the UN report states.

In the mean time, rulers in Libya announced even more controversial projects. Again, measures will be implemented with the help of the EU member states, in this case Spain, under the pretext of “combating illegal migration.”

The Deputy Minister of Interior for Illegal Immigration Affairs, Mohammed al-Shibani, announced the formation of the Desert Patrols Department, but he did not elaborate on how the desert patrols will function, and whether they already started working.


The situation for people on the move who are in Morocco is not getting any better, too. Association Marocaine des Droits Humains — Section Nador continues reporting from Nador where “traffickers and real criminal gangs” arrested a Belgian student in one of the camps, and kept him for hours under threats. The student was doing his PhD research.

The student was finally released, after three hours.

“Amdh Nador reiterates its urgent request to the authorities to put an end to these criminal gangs that terrorize both migrants and visitors to the camps before crimes are committed.”


At the end of the year, Jugendrettet published a statement demanding the EU to stop criminalizing humanitarian action, and start prioritizing saving lives and protecting the human dignity of all people!

“This year constitutes an extraordinary year for the protection of human rights — and simultaneously their devaluation — as it marks the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. However, in light of current EU migration policies, there is no cause for celebration. Over 2.100 people died this year, trying to reach safety in Europe. EU member states should use this anniversary to evaluate European migration policies with regards to the values agreed by the international community after the atrocities of the Second World War.”

Aeroplane Colibri is back above the sea.

“Even in winter time people in need are trying to cross the Mediterranean. In this dangerous situation, together with our partner Sea-Watch. we stand by the people out there.”


On Thursday, according to the Aegean Boat Report, one boat was picked up at Lesvos with 47 people on board.

At the same time, more reports are coming in about the violence and bad treatment of people at the land border between Turkey and Greece. MSF made an urgent appeal to the authorities for the necessary health care of people in this region.

About 240 people are stranded there, out of which half are unaccompanied minors.

Human Rights Watch warned yesterday about the violence.

Help is needed!

European Lawyers in Lesvos need your help to continue working. They have operated for over two-and-a-half years, and so far they have given legal advice to over 8,500 people.

“Yet thousands of people still live in Moria — most of them are women and children. The need for legal advice is greater than ever.”

For more information, and if you want to donate, please contact them.

The Mobile Info Team is looking for funding to continue and extend its support on family reunification cases in 2019! Have a look here.

Refugee 4 Refugees group in Samos needs your help, too. They need volunteers.


Twelve people have been found dead in a boat discovered in the sea off southern Spain, along with 33 survivors, the Spanish coastguard said. A further 12 people were still missing from the boat.

Rescue services had been searching for the boat for two days in the sea between Spain’s southern Andalusia region and the north of Morocco.

People who were saved were taken to the port of Almeria.

The coastguard is searching for three other boats in the same area, each with between 50 and 55 migrants on board.

According to the IOM, more than 55,000 people have arrived in Spain by sea this year, and that 744 have died trying.



Changeably to entirely cloudy with weak precipitation early in the morning and before noon. The wind will be weak to moderate, at places amplified blowing from the south and from the west. The lowest temperatures will be from -3 to 9 and highest daily from 2 to 14 degrees.


Cloudy with light frost in the morning, light rain which will freeze on contact with the soil in the north, west, and south, and in the mountains sleet and snow. It will clear up in the afternoon a little bit. The wind will be weak to moderate from the south and southwest and stronger in the evening and night. The lowest temperatures will be from -6 to -1 and highest daily from 4 to 9 degrees.


Predominately cloudy before noon with chance of rain locally in the north and west. Fog and low clouds alongside the rivers and in the basins. Decrease in cloudiness as the day progresses and new cloud formations in the evening again. The wind will be weak to moderate blowing from the south, in the west at times stronger. The lowest temperatures will be from -3 to 6 and highest daily from 3 to 12 degrees.


Changeably cloudy with sunny intervals. In the morning and evening local rain. Fog and frost during the morning on land inwards. The wind will be moderate to strong blowing from the southwest and alongside the coast a weak to moderate southwestern wind turning into a southwestern. The lowest temperatures will be from -3 to 10 and highest daily from 2 to 15 degrees.


One of squats in Sarajevo. Photo by Basis.

It is very cold in Bosnia where about 5,000 people are stranded at the moment. Some of them, over 4,000, are placed in centres and camps that were established over the last couple of months. Most of the centres are run by the IOM, with a UNHCR presence. The living conditions are minimal. People stay in former factories and old hotels, not suitable for decent living.

This week we reported about the death of a child in one of the centers, Bira in Bihać. On Thursday, local media published additional information saying that the child, 16-years -old and from Pakistan, most probably died of heart failure.

A local TV station tried to get more information from the IOM about this, but they just shifted the responsibility to the DRC team that is in charge of vulnerable categories.

In Sarajevo, many people are staying in squats. One group of volunteers, BASIS, distributed 165 sleeping bags during one night in 18 squats.

In Kladuša, over 500 people daily come to eat at the small community kitchen Kod Latana. SoS Team Kladuša is there to offer additional help, providing basic first aid, and free shop. But, they need help to continue doing that.

This week, Telecoms Sans Frontiers, came to Bihać to instal free WiFi in BIRA camp.

“TSF’s free internet connection does not only give migrants and refugees in the centre a glimmer of normal life, but it also provides them with the opportunity to remain informed and safe. They read news about their home country to be able to know the situation their families are living in and they can also find information on their rights, asylum procedures, safety and security.”


This week, a 22-year-old Afghan man (Hazara) was sentenced to 100 hours of community service by the district court in Nuremberg.

In their decision, the court concluded that he is guilty because he tried to resist police officers escorting him out of his vocational school to have him deported to Afghanistan in May 2017.

The deportation eventually was stopped because on the very same day Kabul was hit by a bomb attack, killing 150 people.

He was found guilty of resistance against police officers, personal injury, property damage, and illegal residence without a passport. He was sentenced under juvenile criminal law, otherwise, the sentence would have been much higher.


This week, six families originally from Syria and South Sudan, a total of 33 people, arrived in Lisbon. This is the first group of 1,010 people whom Portugal pledged to admit from Turkey and Egypt by October 2019, in the framework of the current EU resettlement programme.

In addition, Portugal accepted some 1,500 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece between 2015 and 2017 under an EU relocation programme.

Municipal authorities and NGOs throughout Portugal will support the refugees, who will be offered initial support with housing and basic needs while they learn the Portuguese language and pursue employment.

The refugees will have access to healthcare and education, as well as professional and vocational training.


On Thursday, the decision was made enabling hundreds of more children for the Dubs scheme, following the Government’s decision to scrap the ‘cut-off’ date.

Activists have been campaigning for a long time for this change, ”warning the Home Office that the arbitrary cut-off date was preventing Britain from filling the remaining places and ruling out some of the most vulnerable children in Europe from qualifying under the scheme.”

Read the Safe Passage press release here.


Emil Karenji in Washington DC hosts a refugee family who cannot cover the costs of their dental care. It’s a family of eight: a married couple with six children. They are refugees from Afghanistan, who arrived in the United States in January 2018. Emil has worked with them as a volunteer mentor for the last four months or so.

“The six children — the youngest was born in the United States last August, the eldest is 11 years old — fortunately have medical and dental coverage. The parents’ dental coverage is insufficient and spotty. They have constant problems with their teeth, but no money to allocate for this important need. In constant pain, the man pulled out one of his teeth by himself, because he could not afford a dentist. Last week, when I accompanied the family for a dental appointment for their children, the dentist looked over the woman’s dental situation, and she needs $3,356.50 of dental work, at a 30% discount, including multiple fillings and extractions.”

Emil is raising $5,000 to cover her dental expenses.

It is a great cause and worth helping if you can.

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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.