AYS Daily Digest 23/06/2018: “Saving lives is our duty”
EU still fails to find a humane response for people trying to reach Europe in search of protection and a better life / Information and updates from Greece / Two ships are still waiting for permission to land at a safe harbour in Italy / More than 700 people rescued off Spain / Next deportation scheduled from Sweden to Afghanistan / And more news…
FEATURE: The EU’s inhumane response
Emmanuel Macron, president of France, said he favours financial sanctions for EU member states who refuse people with proven asylum status, Reuters reports. “You can’t have countries that massively benefit from the solidarity of the European Union and that massively voice their national selfishness when it comes to migrant issues,” he said, adding that the benefit of the EU’s structural funds should be connected with the guarantee to take a share of people seeking protection.
However, France is still one of the countries promoting the idea of funding “detention centres in the closest and safest country,” as Macron names it. In fact, deals like the one with Turkey result in a small group of people receiving adequate care and treatment — leaving the majority abandoned and excluded from the cash flow. Even the inner-European funds like the one for Greece results in the benefit of an administrative system, where a lot of money is being burned without ever reaching the people who are in need of support.
While the EU seems to be talking only about how to get rid of people trying to make it to Europe, the Finnish interior minister recently suggested to increase the relocation quota by ten times to 250,000. For this scheme, Kai Mykkänen offered Finland to take in 2,000 people annually instead of the 1,000 currently being admitted. “They must be more evenly distributed. Sweden now accepts the highest number of quota refugees and even Finland is at the top in relation to its population. Let’s look to the large central European countries,” he added, Yle reports. “We must provide protection to those who need it. But the current process is very problematic. It creates uncontrolled people smuggling and complicates the repatriation of rejected asylum seekers, something that appears to be destabilizing societies, especially in central Europe.”
But on the bigger scale, even this number seems to be inaccurate. The German government alone intended to accept overall 180,000 to 220,000 people a year, including those considered new arrivals, family reunions, resettlements, and relocations, when signing the coalition contract. To effectively prevent people from taking this dangerous journey or waiting for years to be heard in a centre outside the EU, this number needs to be even higher. The one and only reason, why less people than in 2015 and 2016 are arriving in the EU are the Turkey deal and deals with transit countries in Africa, often violently preventing them from continuing their journey. In the case of Libya, militias are stopping boats from leaving the shore and the so-called Coast Guard, supported by Italy and EU, intercepts them — even in international waters.
On the other hand, since April 2016, some 14,000 people were resettled from Turkey to EU member states. Additionally, EU member states agreed in September 2015 to relocate 160,000 people from Greece and Italy, to support the most affected countries of new arrivals within two years. Now, almost three years later, only 12,700 people were transferred from Italy, and 22,000 from Greece. It is not even 25 percent of the agreed goal. Unfortunately, the member states don’t seem to be willing to change their inhumane policy.
People who arrive on the Greek islands need to process their asylum case there due to geographical restrictions, the Mobile Info Team for Refugees in Greece reminds us. “Only in some very rare cases is it possible to lift the geographical restriction. But this process is extremely complicated and there must be very exceptional circumstances.” Even if people make it to the mainland by themselves, they usually have to return to the island they arrived and need to wait for the authorities to give them the permission to travel to the mainland.
Their statement is also available in Arabic.
The 21st Anti-racist Festival in Athens will take place from June 29th to July 1st at Goudi Park. The activists have now released the program of the event in several languages. You can find more information on their homepage.
Today, one boat landed on Lesvos, Aegean Boat Report notes. 53 people, including 25 children and 14 women, made their way from Turkey to European soil. Additionally, eight boats carrying 308 people — more than half of them women and children — were intercepted by the Turkish Coast Guard. So far, 400 boats, with almost 16,800 people, were apprehended from making their way to Greece.
Four people from Morocco were arrested at the border to Belarus, probably from Russia, today. In other neighbouring countries of Russia, like Norway and Sweden, witnesses saw some people asking for international protection coming from Russia the last days. The fan-ID people may get by buying a ticket for the football World Championships taking place in Russia at the moment enables them to travel there without visa. Hence, some are trying to enter EU countries like Poland, where some people have already been picked up. Usually, the border between Russia and Belarus is open. Therefore, it is easy to cross. Security forces of Russia’s neighbour countries expected the first people to arrive after their teams were eliminated from the tournament. It can be assumed that more people will try to cross after their team too is eliminated.
220 people died in three shipwrecks in only the last two days alone, Bienvenidos Refugiados — España reports (via Europapress). The Libyan Coast Guard also found five bodies while pulling back 185 people. During the last week alone, they forcibly returned some 950 people, Reuters informs.
Even the rescued people hardly make it to a safe harbour, as Italy and Malta continue to ignore international and maritime law. A cargo ship, whose captain saved 110 lives, is still waiting for the permission to disembark the people at the port of Pozzallo, Ansa writes.
The Lifeline remains stranded in international waters still, with more than 200 people on board, waiting for a country to offer them a safe harbour. Because they were running out of supplies, they needed to charter a ship to bring them new ones. The cost of this action alone are estimated to be around 6,000 Euros, which the group has to pay. To cover them, the group started a fundraiser, which has since almost achieved its goal. You can participate to cover the rest here, at Betterplace.
What matters right now is that there are people suffering and we can choose to do something about it, or we can watch them drown — Mission Lifeline
Saving lives is OUR duty. Many people ask us why? Some people are accusing us of terrible things. And it hurts. It's…
Off Spain, almost 770 people have been rescued, Salvamento Maritimo says. In total, more than 25 vessels were on the way to Estrecho, Alboran, and the Canary Islands.
Guide Asile is looking for volunteers. Special skills are not required and the work can also be done remotely on the computer. If you can spend some time to support them, please contact email@example.com or find more information on www.guideasile.wordpress.com
The next group deportation to Afghanistan is scheduled for June 26th or 27th, according to volunteer sources. More information will follow. Most of them are left with nothing up on arrival. The people who will be deported currently live in accommodation in Åstorp and people are encouraged to go there on the scheduled day in order to stop the attempted deportations.
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