Are You Syrious?
Aug 23 · 6 min read

UNHCR representatives sound off about what they feel are the “obligations” of at-risk people // Arrivals to Greece // Tragic death in Greece // Protest in Germany

Photo Credit: No Border Network

In the days surrounding the Open Arms blockade at sea, several UNHCR representatives rightfully came under criticism for their rather provocative (for lack of a better term) commentary on the Open Arms refusal to dock in Spain. To recap, according to Open Arms, their reason for refusing to go to Spain was contingent upon the serious condition of many people onboard, who they felt would not be fit for a long journey to the port.

Moreover, if Open Arms also caved to this, it would help embolden Salvini in his mandate to forbid SAR ships from docking in Italy, which could further a dangerous legal precedent. According to a number of laws, due to the location of where Open Arms was, it should have docked in Italy.

In an important story by EuroNews, Vincent Cochetel, special envoy of UNHCR for the “Central Mediterranean Situation,” sounded off with a bizarre discussion:

“Open Arms rejects Spanish offer of safe haven… while I understand the difficulty of the situation on board, I am very concerned by the radicalisation of the migratory dreams & demands of some migrants & refugees in Libya & neighbouring countries.”

What now? “Radicalisation of migratory dreams” is a rather nonsensical phrase, but it seemed to many readers that Mr. Cochetel was subtly reinforcing the idea that refugees and migrants are either “pawns” in a political game of NGOs vs. states, or that they are somehow being disingenuous or expecting too much.

But Mr. Cochetel decided to dig deeper with the following “clarification”:

How people “refusing to attend” vocational classes has anything to do with a SAR ship being refused port is beyond us. Another UNHCR spokesperson also weighed in repeating the idea that people are in some ways “asylum shopping” and arguing that refugees should be applying for asylum in neighboring countries.

We encourage you to read the full article and to highlight the deep level of disingenuousness of these statements (although later individuals attempted to backpedal and explained they were not approving of the dangerous conditions around the flight of these people).

So at what point is someone considered an “asylum shopper” versus someone who realizes that their situation is precarious? For years, many have commented and noted the awful conditions in refugee camps in so-called safe third countries. Who decides when someone is safe enough? AMDH Nador reported that a group of people were attacked in Morocco simply while getting supplies.

There is constant and ongoing abuse of registered asylum seekers in Greece, with camps being left to rot and be overcrowded in hopes, we suppose, of “reducing a pull factor.” With arrivals from Turkey increasing month by month through the summer of 2019, to numbers only topped by arrivals in 2015 at the start of the “European sphere” of the crisis, it seems that push factor outweighs pull factor.

Yesterday alone, Aegean Boat Report noted the following:

Today at least seven boats arrived on the Greek Aegean Islands, carrying 297 people. Five of the boats arrive on Lesvos. So far this month 62 boats have arrived on Lesvos, last months total on Lesvos was 67 boats

Live in squalor in an abandoned camp! You’re “safe” now! Maybe you just didn’t “try hard enough to integrate” (yes, show us the person who has moved to a new country and fully integrated even with financial security and an extensive support system within two years).

A new report from Refugee Rights Europe highlights the perilous conditions of people in Greece, with most people unable to access legal aid; several horrifying cases where people were not given appropriate medical treatment on time; limited access to water, even more limited access to hot water; people terrified to go out at night for lack of security. Read the full report linked on their website.

People continue the perilous land journey, resulting in one man being horrifically killed by a train at night.

Maybe people didn’t want to integrate as they realized that the communities they were in would always find a reason to push them out? Perhaps start trusting the gut instincts of people who value their lives rather than insinuate that they are just being foolish, deceitful, or greedy.

Meanwhile, 356 souls aboard the Ocean Viking await a safe port now. It is reported that they only have five days of rations left. People aboard are terrified they will be sent back to Libya, according to an MSF doctor aboard the ship.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Spain, 15 were rescued off of Cadiz, and six more in other Spanish waters.


A fire in the Beqaa Refugee Camp in Lebanon destroyed several places where people were staying two days ago. Please consider supporting Salam LADC as they are trying to assist the residents in the aftermath. Visit here for a video.


Next week there will be a protest at the Munich Airport Terminal 1. This is an important demonstration as it shows how we must continue to enact solidarity with the ever changing and inhumane policies designed to push people out and keep them out of Europe.

The English announcement is here:

For the right to come, for the right to stay!

On 27th of August, yet another of the monthly deportation flights to Afghanistan will take place. We, an alliance of Seebrücke München, Ausgehetzt, Solidarity City and Karawane München, take this as an opportunity to protest together against this [inhumane] policy against refugees. This policy has many faces. Above all Our protest is directed against the massive increase of deportations as well as the continuous and politically intended practice of letting people drown in the Mediterranean.


Currently, one out of six people is drowning while attempting to flee across the Mediterranean. At the same time, sea rescuers are being prosecuted for saving human lives. Instead of doing everything to save human lives, we are experiencing a low point of solidarity on part of the European nation states: people are forced back into Libyan torture camps, the rescue of people is actively blocked and civilian sea rescue ships, such as recently the Ocean Viking and the Open Arms, are for weeks prevented from bringing the rescued persons to a port of safety.

We demand safe passages, ensuring safe arrivals and …


The monthly mass-deportations to Afghanistan show the [inhumane] face of German refugee policy all too clearly: people who have sought protection in Germany are forcibly sent back to a country marked and torn apart by war, terror, persecution and crime.

We not only criticise deportations to Afghanistan, but the entire asylum policy. The conservatively led governments of recent years have continuously tightened the asylum laws. For years, racist hardliners like Seehofer or Herrmann have been successful with every new demand and change in the law.

For the CSU there seems to be no more red lines in refugee policy. Joachim Hermann is already dreaming of deporting refugees back to Syria.

We oppose any deportation! We do not want and will not resign ourselves to people being sent back to terror, war, oppression and misery.

For the right to come, for the right to stay!

We demand a radically different way of dealing with flight and migration in Germany! We demand a humane asylum policy!

We demand:

Safe passage!

No more criminalization of sea rescue by legislators and judges! We demand state led rescue missions at sea so that nobody in the Mediterranean has to die!

Push-back actions must be stopped, and rescued people have to be brought to ports of safety.

We demand:

Abolish the Dublin system!

No more overcrowded collective camps without privacy and shelter, no more deterrence and constant fear of deportation — For right to stay no more Ankerzentren!

And the most urgent demand we have here today:

No deportations, not to Afghanistan and nowhere!

Join our protest on 27.08. at 20:00 o’clock at Munich airport against the collective deportation to Afghanistan and the dying on the Mediterranean.

Meeting point for the collective S-Bahn journey: 18:30 o’clock under the big scoreboard at the central station.

For the right to come, for the right to stay!

Please see the event link!

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.

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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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