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AYS DAILY DIGEST 25/7/18: EC moves forward with suggestions on ‘controlled centers’ and external platforms

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said: “Disputes over rescues put lives at risk” // As #Athensfire continues people organize themselves to help // Attack in Thessaloniki // Sweden will upgrade the UN Child Convention to law, but has to change their migration legislation to include every child // Temporary accommodation for families in Bosnia // Dubs amendment discussed in court // And more news…

Photo: Osvaldo Gutierrez Gomez, via Art Against


Disputes over rescues put lives at risk, Human Rights Watch said today in a report with the same title. Instead of continuing fighting over sea rescues and those performing them, the European leaders should focus on joint solutions where people’s best interests are the focus.

One thing HRW pointed out was the fact that it is inhumane to return people disembarked at sea to Libya.

Regardless of this, the European Commission yesterday said they will move forward with the plans on Controlled Centers and Regional Disembarkation Arrangements (also called platforms) for people trying to enter Europe. The “centers” will be located in Europe and the “platforms” in North Africa. In the press release, it says that the purpose of the centers in the EU is to improve the orderly and effective processing of those disembarked in the European Union. The potential centers will be managed by the host Member State with the full support of the European Union and its agencies.

Another suggestion in the press release was to offer the EU Member States accepting migrants disembarked 6000 euros per person.

Furthermore, the Regional Disembarkation Arrangements (platforms) will, according to the EC, be arranged in partnership on an equal footing, with interested third countries. The EU will support and assist, and the work at these disembarkation locations will be carried out with full respect of international law and human rights. This arrangements, first suggested by the UNHCR and IOM, are being discussed seemingly without any reflection over the fact that no northern African nation has agreed to host them. Tunisia turned this down, and with Libya excluded from the program, Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt are the potential candidates.

How this will be done in reality, the EC still has not explained further. But, the centers will be established as far away as possible from points of irregular departure.

Back on 6 July UNHCR called for a collaborative, regional approach with clear and practical guidelines after explaining that while the number of asylum seekers and migrants reaching Europe has decreased, the chances of dying while trying to do so have increased. One in seven people died during the attempt to cross the Mediterranean in June 2018, compared to one in 38 in the first half of 2017.

The NGO vessel Proactiva Open Arms docked in Palma de Mallorca this week, with one rescued woman and two corpses on board — one, a woman, and the other, a four-year-old boy. They were found off the Libyan coast face down on floating wreckage. Proactiva has accused the Libyan coastguard of failing to render aid. As for now, with an increasing death toll following the disputes at sea, as HRW said, Proactiva is the only ship, besides the EU’s Operation Sophia, patrolling the international waters off of Libya.

According to an article by Elizabeth Collett (Director of Migration Policy Institute Europe and Senior Advisor to MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration) and Susan Fratzke (Policy Analyst and Program Coordinator at MPI), writing for The Migration Policy Institute, the policies being suggested are a form of outsourcing and write that …[European] leaders also hope that by reducing inflows to the European Union, they will face less pressure to compromise on sharing responsibility for asylum within the bloc.

According to Statewatch the suggestions will be discussed further at the following meeting to be held in Geneva on 30 July with IOM and UNHCR, after which contact will be made with interested third countries.

EU will, as it looks like, bribe those offering to take in rescued people fleeing war and persecution. Solidarity is now for sale.


Several NGOs working in the Mediterranean signed this open letter addressed to Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s PM and holder of the EU presidency.


SOS Mediterranee France reports that 40 people are still waiting to disembark in a safe place after being rescued off the Tunisian coast almost two weeks ago. According to Watch the Med Alarm Phone on twitter the vessel is in the Search and Rescue Zone of Malta which has failed to act. The incidents of today are a great example of the topic featured above.

Meanwhile the Spanish coast guard reports rescuing 25 people from a small boat near Cabo de Gata. Those rescued have been taken to Almeria. This came only three hours after coast guard reports stated that 399 people on 29 small boats had been assisted in the same region and taken to Algeciras and Barbate.


Update on the fires

As featured in yesterdays digest, the fires in Greece have wreaked terrible damage and our thoughts are with the people affected in different ways. In response to the fire, the Greek Forum of Refugees released this map with donation sites.

People, living as refugees in Athens, are giving blood at Athens hospitals to donate to people who have been injured in the fire.

NoBorders also updated:

Leftist and anarchist groups, squats and social centers, practice extended solidarity actions by gathering clothes, medicines and food for the victims of the #AthensFires all over #Greece#Solidarity has become our weapon!

People coming together and bringing donations for the people suffering from the fires. Photo: No Borders

Attack in Thessaloniki

There was a racist attack in the early morning at Navarinou Square, in the center of Thessaloniki. Four people including three immigrants, were attacked by a group of 15 people.

The fascists was wearing helmets during the attack and one of the attackers was holding a knife. A witness said that the perpetrators were shouting “leave and go back to your country”, and continued beating anyone who was in front of them.

A 28-year-old Algerian was stabbed on the leg, while a 33-year-old Greek on the square suffered multiple head and body injuries. The incident is currently being investigated by the authorities. According to the police, this is a clear case of robbery since the group of people attacked the three with a knife, injuring one and grabbing a cell phone and money. The injured person was taken to AHEPA hospital.

This morning in Thessaloniki, after the Fascist attack. Photo: Χώρος Στέγασης Προσφύγων City Plaza


Population on the Greek islands

Over 16,000 refugees and migrants are living on the Aegean islands. In line with recent arrival trends, the majority of the population on the Aegean islands are from Syria (30 percent), Iraq (24 percent) and Afghanistan (16 percent). Of them, 21 percent are women and 31 percent children. Of the kids, almost seven out of 10 are younger than 12 years old. Unaccompanied minors account for 13 percent of the children, and they are mainly from Afghanistan and Syria. Forty-three percent of the arrivals are men between the ages of 18 and 39.

This week, 668 people reached the Aegean islands. The majority arrived to Lesvos and the average daily arrivals on all islands were 95 people.


One boat arrived this morning, carrying nine people, of whom four children, two women and three men, according to an update from Aegean Boat Report.


One boat was picked up off Chios this morning, with 30 people on board. It was two children, seven women and 21 men.

Photo and info: Aegean Boat Report


In Serbia, 3529 people were counted on 22 July. Of these, 400 people were seen outside the official centers, 150 in Belgrade city center and another 150 in the border areas with Hungary and Croatia. In Loznica, a border city close to Bosnia and Herzegovina, another 100 people were observed.

The most common route to Serbia is from Macedonia. The new arrivals are from Pakistan (39 percent), followed by Afghanistan (29 percent), Iran (10 percent), and Iraq (5 percent), and 17 percent from Bangladesh, Libya, India, and other countries. Authorities in Hungary resumed admitting asylum seekers from Serbia into their “transit zones”. Compared to the two preceding weeks when only three people were allowed to enter, they admitted 20 people in this two-week period.

Additionally, the UNHCR and its partners collected reports of about 266 collective and illegal push-backs. Of them, 124 people were returned from Croatia (up from 113 in the previous period), followed by 88 from Bosnia and Herzegovina (down from 296), 28 from Romania (up from 11), and 26 from Hungary (up from 11).

More than 50 percent of the people encountered after being expelled back into Serbia said they were denied access to asylum procedures by the neighboring countries’ authorities.


Update from Velika Kladuša and Bihać area

According to the Ministry of Security, over 9000 people on the run entered Bosnia this year. It is not know how many people left the country.

On Wednesday, around 100 families were moved from outside areas in both cities to Hotel Sedra in Cazin, a town in between Bihać and Kladuša. This old hotel, turned into temporary reception center, will accept about 300 people, only families, and will be open until the end of October.

The Hotel will be put up for sale at the end of August, due to debts incurred by the management. They owe money to suppliers, but also staff. So far it is not clear how the IOM, which is responsible for the center, will deal with this situation or why they accepted to pay for a space that will soon be sold and is private property. Local media are reporting that the IOM is paying the current management 35,000 euro per month.

No media, as the local media are reporting, were allowed to enter the premises of the hotel. From what is known so far, the hotel does not have running water; the showers and other facilities are set up outside.


In Sarajevo, volunteers and refugees are currently setting up a new and bigger kitchen to meet the needs on the streets due to the growing number of people who are arriving every day.

The street food-team in Sarajevo has organized themselves under a new name and group: AidBrigade. Find them here on Facebook for more information about what is happening on the streets of Sarajevo.

Funds are also needed. If you can support, follow this link.

A new, bigger, kitchen is being built; the growing food line in Sarajevo. Photo: Dylan Longman

Bosanska Gradiška

28 people were discovered in the town of Bosanska Gradiška in Bosnia after crossing from Serbia. According to volunteers in Sarajevo, every day new people are arriving, and very often it is more than 100 people daily in the capital alone. At the same time, many people are arriving in other cities and heading toward border area. Many people are coming from the direction of Serbia, where the number of people who are arriving is also increasing.


The appeal for the Dubs amendment began today, as Help Refugees updated. They were there and are asking for support, as pressure from the public has been essential so far in pushing the Dubs amendment forward. After the eviction of the Jungle, it was the support from the people that forced the government to start transferring children to safety. The decision to increase the number of Dubs children to 480 also resulted from public pressure. Even though that is not nearly enough. The appeal today was an attempt to make a difference for even more children in Europe. As of today, only 250 out of the 480 places have been filled by the government. Hopefully, this shameful way of refusing 230 children stuck in Europe protection will not become reality.

At first, the number suggested by Lord Dubs was 3000. After the government asked local authorities about their capacity and how many children they could grant protection to, the number was reduced to 350, and then increased again to 480.

Help Refugees will be there during the hearing tomorrow as well, and they need people’s support by spreading the message that the Home Office calculations of places are wrong. In Scotland and Wales for example, the local authorities claimed they only had capacity for six children each.

Lord Dubs was in the court today as well. Photo: Help Refugees


The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will become Swedish law in 2020. It has to include all children, according to the Rättsrådet för barn och unga i migration (the Legal Counsel for Children in Migration). There are many things to change before implementation, with consideration for protecting the rights not only of Swedish children but also of those coming to Sweden in order to seek asylum.

The legal counsel claims that a proper implementation of the child convention into a law cannot be secured as it is in direct conflict with the current migration laws. They are calling for the following measures:

1. Strengthen the children’s perspective of the alien act. The role of children and their perspective must be taken into greater consideration during the asylum process

2. Let the children’s voices be heard during the asylum process. Children are not asked about their own reasons for being granted asylum, decisions are based on the protection needs of the parents

3. Stop with the controvesial age exams. They are not reliable enough and cannot be motivated.

4. Make sure that the rights provided also include paperless children. It is an extremely vulnerable group and therefore guidelines for how to meet their rights must be included as they are written in the UN Child Convention. This must be done at both on the national and the local levels within the municipalities.

5. The time-limited migration law has to end. It has very negative consequences for children in need of safety and stability. It also eliminates the right to family reunification and other things that are documented having a negative impact on a child’s mental and physical well-being.

It is the Swedish politicians and the Migration Agency’s obligation to meet these five demands in order to make sure that the child convention includes every child.

We strive to echo correct news from the ground through collaboration and fairness.

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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.