AYS Daily Digest 21/11/2019: New Closed Centres to be built on Greek Islands

Are You Syrious?
Nov 22 · 9 min read

Confused days in the central Mediterranean /// EU acknowledge human rights abuses in Libyan centres while praising cooperation with Libya /// Ultimatum against squatters in Greece /// Eviction halted in Paris /// Man stabbed in Sarajevo

“I had not yet experienced a storm on the high seas. It is a mixture of physical discomfort and fascination for what is happening outside, at sea. This vision of the sea raging with its high waves is breathtaking! I took this picture during a storm: it describes the intensity of the scene and how lucky we are to be aboard a ship such as the Ocean Viking, while people are there, outside, on boats that are not at all able to navigate” (Avra Fialas, communication officer currently on board of the Ocean Viking) — From SOS Mediterraneé logbook

New Detention Centres Planned on Greek Islands Despite Ruling Against Island Conditions

(Photo Credit: Philipp Schönberger)

While the European Court of Human Rights has informed the Greek Government that they are in breach of the Human Rights Act and that the hotspot of Samos poses an “imminent risk of irreparable harm” to pregnant people, they have decided to further contain people seeking asylum within closed detention facilities.

The Greek government announced to replace the camps on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros in July 2020. The new so-called “pre-departure centres”, in fact once again closed detention centres, will be designed for at least 5000 people on Lesvos, Chios and Samos, 2000 on Kos and 1000 on Leros, local media reports. Presented pictures showed container villages instead of tents.

These will likely be isolated spots, far from media and NGO attention. Aegean Boat Report states that one may be placed on the uninhabited island of Levitha south west of Leros another will be in an isolated region of Chios. Local Authorities on the Islands are also campaigning against this move as it will negatively impact of press coverage of the islands and turn them into “floating prisons”.

Despite the fact that their plan involves the closure of the hotspots on Samos, Lesvos and Chios, several concerns have already been raised about potential repercussions including the small capacity of the new detention centres, which leaves open the possibility that the old hotspots will at some point have to be reopened, the legal and human rights implications of their measures to ‘tighten the border’ and the lack of care given to those who will actually be effected, people who have fled war to find the cold and brutal embrace of Europe.

The new “pre-departure centres” are part of the new government plan to transfer 20.000 people to the mainland — 15.000 in new and existing structures and 5000 in hotels — by the beginning of 2020. For the host regions, a new fund with 50 million Euros will be set-up.

The closure of Stage 2 camp in Skala Sikamineas on Lesvos was voted on Tuesday, local media report. The request of the North Aegean Police Directorate to run the transfer camp for at least six more months has been rejected. Aegean Boat Report commented:

Stage 2 is a small camp where new arrivals in the north can get dry clothes, food and medical services before being transported to Moria. Normally people stay there from a few hours to 1–2 days, depending on the situation in Moria. The camp is managed by UNHCR and several NGO’s as well as local staff.

Arrivals on Lesvos, and especially in the north is high. This camp is very much needed, and is used 24/7. Closing of this vital camp in the north can only be seen as another attempt to make a bad situation even worse, a political game at the expense of vulnerable people.


EU acknowledge human rights abuses while praising cooperation with Libya

According to media outlets, a leaked internal report written by the European Commission presidency confirms what we reported incessantly for the last years. No official record of the numbers of detention centres has ever been published, but only estimates that account for 17 to 35 official and unofficial facilities. Given that there is no proper registration system for people on the move, at least 5,000 people are being held in such centres and about 3,700 of those are located in ‘conflict areas’. Cases of corruption have been detected, human rights violations widely reported, as well as cases of people having to pay a ransom to be able to leave the centres. A number of these centres “are alleged of having links to human trafficking”. EU officials are not allowed onshore to monitor the makeup or activities of the Libyan coastguard to the “security challenges”. The failure of the Libyan government to address the inhumane conditions of the centres or the “disappearances” of people rescued by the LCG “raises the question of its own involvement”.

The same paper praises the cooperation between the EU and Libya for its success in curbing the arrivals of people on the move on European shores.


At a time when Tripoli and surrounding areas are witnessing some of the heaviest shelling since the conflict erupted in April, better weather conditions in the central Mediterranean over the last few days meant an increase in departures from Libya. At least nine boats carrying more than 600 people have left the north African shores since Monday. Alarm Phone received several distress calls, and informed European authorities and civil rescue fleet. Rescue ships have been busy saving more than 300 people, more boats are still missing, and deaths at sea are reported again. IOM Libya confirmed that 289 where brought back to Libya by LCG.

On Tuesday Alarm Phone informed of a shipwreck off the Libyan coast, reported by fishermen, with around 60 people drowned. They tried to contact the Libyan Coast Guard but could not reach them. No confirm has been given by authorities yet. Another boat, carrying 90 people made its last contact at 18.36 CET on Thursday and is yet to be found.

Open Arms rescued 73 people. Among them, “cases of traumatic shock, 2nd and 3rd degree burns, gunshot wounds, severe hypothermia, dehydration”. Ocean Viking operated 3 rescues since the beginning of the week, last one on Thursday. Now 215 people are on board. At the request of the rescue vessels for a safe port, they were told to disembark people in Tripoli, which they obviously did not consider. As usual, Italian and Maltese authorities have not responded to such requests yet.

One boat, carrying 70 people was rescued by Maltese coast guard on Thursday night.



Between Wednesday and Thursday at least 20 boats, carrying 732 people arrived on the Greek Aegean islands. Info by Aegean Boat Report, check breakdowns and more details on their website.

Ultimatum to Greek squatters

On November 20, The Ministry of Citizen Protection urged all activists to leave occupied building within 15 days (by December 5).

Those who have illegally occupied buildings, public or private, are urged to evacuate. If they are asylum seekers or third-country nationals, they should be informed that they will be transferred to inland accommodation structures. […] If the buildings are private, to stay current occupants need to contact the owners and agree on lease terms.

Volunteer Call Lesvos

Legal Centre Lesvos are currently looking for new volunteers to join their team starting from the end of December — beginning of January.

Interested in human rights and migration?
Available for a 3-months period?
Willing to get to know more about what is at stake at the EU-Turkey border?

Have a look at http://legalcentrelesvos.org/volunteers/ and send your CV and cover letter to norma@legalcentrelesvos.org

Volunteer Call Athens

Volunteers needed for the new Pampiraiki warehouse in Exarchia

this opportunity is open to all — existing volunteers, new volunteers, refugees themselves who would like to help etc ….

They support the distribution of warm clothes and other items throughout Greece and to the Aegean Islands.


Bail request for the “EL Hiblu 3” finally approved by court

After 7 months of preventive detention, the three teenagers of the El Hiblu 1 commercial tanker are finally free on bail. On March 26, the 108 passengers of a rubber boat were recovered safely and embarked onto the tanker. When they realised that the tanker was steering towards Libya, panic arose among the rescuees.

Some even threatened to jump overboard in desperate attempts to avoid being taken back to the war torn country they had escaped from. The crew of the El Hiblu 1, complying with international law, eventually changed course towards Malta as the nearest place of safety.

Upon reaching Maltese territorial waters on March 27, 2019 the El Hiblu 1 was stormed by a Special Operations Unit of the Armed Forces of Malta. Subsequently, the three minors, aged 15, 16 and 19 at the time, were arrested and charged with several major crimes, including piracy and terrorism. (Joint Statement, November 20)

The court approved their release on November 15. In an attempt to further delay the proceedings, in the last months state magistrates have asked for more age test on the two minors arrested, despite their age had already been assessed by Maltese authorities. They are still under severe restriction and possibly face an extremely long sentence.

As AYS we join the several human rights and rescue organisation who signed a statement demanding the Maltese courts “to end the proceedings immediately and respect the inalienable human right to seek protection from persecution and the principle of non-refoulement as anchored in the Geneva Refugee Convention and the European Convention for Human Rights”.



74 people landed in Cala Pisana, Lampedusa on Wednesday morning on a small wooden boat. Reportedly they are all from Bangladesh, and left from Libya. One has been taken to the local hospital and the others to the hotspot on the island.

This is the boat they used to cross the Mediterranean:

Photo by Angela Caponneto

5 new detention centres to open “as soon as possible”, minister says

On November 20, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese confirmed the government intention to follow the footsteps of their predecessors, and open 5 new CPRs (detention centres).

  • In both Milan and Macormer, Sardinia, the calls for bids for the management of the centres are open, and they will open as soon as new management is defined.
  • In Gradisca d’Isonzo, a few miles from the Slovenian border, work is completed, and the call for bid for new management has been won by Edeco Onlus, but the Regional Court has halted the opening, as several cooperatives and companied that have participated in the call for bids have been found short of documentation and excluded from it. According to local news, Edeco Onlus had already been under investigation for the shortage in the provision of services at the reception centre in Cona (Venice), which was closed following the death of Sandrine Bakayoko, who was accommodated in the centre. Edeco won the call for bids for the CPR in Gradisca d’Isonzo offering to save 11% on the costs spent for each detainee.
  • In Modena, a suitable building is being seeked to open a new CPR.
  • In Oppido Mamertina, by Reggio Calabria, southern Italy, a new centre is set to open in a disused prison.



In the 36 hours between late Tuesday 19th and the early hours of Thursday 21st November, 4 boats have arrived in the Canary islands, with 153 people on board. (more details HERE)


Man stabbed in Sarajevo

One man has been stabbed with a knife at the Sarajevo railway station, local media reports. He was brought to hospital for treatment.


Update from Calais

Refugee Community Kitchen have released a video on the situation in Calais where winter has arrived and people still sleep on the streets, face daily police harassment and continually have their possessions stolen by officers.

What we’re seeing is, we’re seeing people trench foot. We’re seeing people with flues. We’re seeing people with mental health issues. We’re saying a whole generation of people just being ignored. Well, actually you know, we’re here and we’re fighting the fight, but we need support.

Evacuation in Paris Cancelled

Yesterday and evacuation was announced in Paris at Porte D ‘ aubervilliers. However, it appears that the 500 to 600 people who were gathered for this evacuation and put on to buses where then abandoned with 9 of the 10 buses leaving empty.

Hundreds of people waiting since 2 pm are left on site, without anything to drink or eat! Including families, women and children… — Solidarité migrants Wilson

Although we know that these people would most likely only be temporarily housed and may have chosen to move back to Paris, clearing the place that they currently live and then telling them they will be moved is only to abandon them is unacceptable.


In the detention center of Sjælsmark no kids will be hosted from April 2020 on, DR reports. On 30th November will be a demonstration in Copenhagen demanding to close the camps.

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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