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AYS Daily Digest 26/01/2021 — German Court Stops Deportations to Greece, Cites “Degrading Treatment”

Storm in Syria and Lebanon floods camps for people on the move// Boy missing off the Coast of Ceuta// Further militarization of Greek border// & more

The Evros border fence, via @ radiofragmata


German court blocks deportation to Greece due to inhumane conditions

The Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia stopped German authorities from deporting two men to Greece because they would be at risk of “inhumane and degrading treatment” if they returned.

The Higher Court indicated the high levels of homelessness among people on the move and the living conditions in reception centers as proof that the two men would not be safe if they were deported to Greece.

For proof of the awful conditions people on the move are suffering in Greece, one does not need to look any further than Lesvos. Despite confirmation that the temporary camp at Mavrovouni is built on a site with unhealthy amounts of lead and the request of 20 organizations to evacuate the camp, authorities are not taking action to protect people and are downplaying the risks. People are subject to discriminatory lockdowns with the excuse of “coronavirus protection.” Food provisions are also inadequate:

A Twitter post from an account inside Moria camp, showing what the residents received for breakfast

For years, European states have followed the Dublin Regulation, operating under the assumption that people receive equal levels of protection no matter which EU state they apply in. However, this has effectively trapped thousands of people in EU states bordering the Mediterranean, where they often live in inhumane conditions. This court case challenges the assumption of equal protection and highlights that membership in the EU does not necessarily mean that a state will provide people with safe living conditions.

This is not the only case where people have received protection elsewhere after receiving asylum in Greece — in fact, Greek authorities have sometimes tacitly encouraged people to leave the country. Since the 2020 decision to push recognized refugees out of state accommodation, more and more people have wound up homeless and desperate in Greece, pushing some to look for support elsewhere.

Somewhat ironically, the same day that a German court questioned Greece’s status as a safe country of return, the Greek government added states to the list of safe countries that are known violators of human rights, a move condemned by human rights organizations.


Storm exposes horrible conditions for displaced people

From Violations Documentation Center in Syria

Many displaced people, including families with young children, have had to deal with flooding and cold weather in addition to the already difficult living conditions.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights released their report on human rights violations in 2020, which you can access here. This is especially worth keeping in mind as the fifth round of peace talks begins in Geneva.


Young man missing in south bay in Ceuta

A boy has gone missing near to the Spanish autonomous city of Ceuta, which borders Morocco. He was allegedly trying to swim to Ceuta when he disappeared at sea. A companion sounded the alarm and the Civil Guard and Maritime Rescue have been searching for him since Tuesday morning. They were joined by a Maritime Rescue helicopter later in the day.

It has been a busy three days in the Central Mediterranean, with many rescues. This post from Mediterranea Saving Humans summarizes the events.

One of the most dramatic rescues of the weekend is slowly coming to a close as the Ocean Viking continues its second day of disembarkation in Augusta.

Last week, around 60 people drowned at sea, while rescue boats such as the Sea Watch 4 are still in administrative detention. The Moonbird has also been grounded due to bad weather, further reducing current rescue capacities.


Increased securitization and surveillance of borders

Amid economic collapse and conditions in Greek camps condemned as squalid by the international community, authorities are spending money on more surveillance and security apparatuses.

Frontex spent three million euros in order to rent two zeppelins. The balloons are not just a baffling throwback to the early decades of the previous century, they will be used to conduct surveillance in the Aegean Sea. The timing of the rental is interesting as Frontex is currently under investigation by multiple EU agencies for fraud and violation of human rights. The agency’s director Leggeri is facing resistance from the EU Commission. One of the investigators is OLAF, the European anti-fraud agency, who are interested in Frontex’s misconduct and concealment of pushbacks (along with other questionable financial decisions).

Meanwhile, work on the border fence near Evros is almost done, to the excitement of local politicians and media outlets that fuel the xenophobia. The fence will be made of galvanized steel railings that are five meters high. The border will be further militarized with eight anti-ballistic observatories.

The European Commission’s new screening regulation is based heavily on the Greek government’s “reception and identification procedure”—and could potentially replicate its failures. This document by several NGOs expands more on the similarities between the two.

Playing “the game” in Patras (excerpt from No Name Kitchen’s Facebook page):

The aggressors have different faces. It is for example security guards in black or army coloured uniform with caps showing the greek flag, port police wearing dark blue uniform, often driving motorcycles or black vans, police officers that wear common police uniform, who drive police cars or motorcycles.

Coming to several potential hate crimes, this is a testimony of a person who experienced a security guard dog attack.

Tomorrow, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties will meet with representatives of the European Commission and the Hellenic Refugee Council to discuss conditions on the Aegean islands and the plans for a new reception center on Lesvos.

Together for Better Days.” which helps young people grow through sport, delivered sports equipment to several organizations in the Lesvos community.


Reports of brutal pushbacks from Romania into Serbia

Volunteers are continuing to gather horror stories of the actions of the Romanian police. The Romanian police beat people on the move and took their possessions. They also tortured and humiliated them by forcing them to do push-ups and eat pork. More information in NoNameKitchen’s thread.


Helsinki committee creates map of pushbacks

You can find the map here and an explanation of the project here.


More details on ruling against pushbacks

On January 18th, a Rome tribunal ruled that Italy’s practice of “informal readmissions,” or illegal pushbacks, is unlawful. This article expands more on the case, which was brought by a Pakistani man who escaped his home country due to persecution for his religion and sexuality.

Today’s good news story: this article about the expansion of coding academy Powercoders, which helps people on the move to learn valuable IT skills and find jobs in Milan.


16 activists from Rif region in Morocco had asylum rights violated

APDHA published the story of 16 people who arrived in Spain in mid-January. Since then, they have been detained in the CATE, then the CIE in Murcia, in poor conditions. They have not received adequate legal counsel, which could impact on their asylum applications. If returned to Morocco, they would face lengthy prison sentences because of their activism.

63 people arrived in an inflated small boat on Fuerteventura, most were in good health. They were rescued by the Salvamar Mizar.


Violation of human rights in north

French authorities have prevented journalists from covering illegal evictions in Calais, Coquelles, and Grand-Synthe. The journalists filed a complaint with the Lille Administrative Court. Although the court rejected their suit due to a “lack of urgency,” the journalists will appeal to the Council of State.

This morning in Grand Synthe, the soil is frozen. 16 vans from CRS and four hours to expel the people from the forest. All shelter was taken and destroyed, every duvet or personal item was thrown in the mud by the eviction team. Fundamental rights are still not respected at the border.


United Kingdom shuts the door on unaccompanied minors

The Home Office announced that they would no longer provide a legal route for unaccompanied minors already in Europe since the quota for the Dubs Amendment was filled last May.

This affects at least 288 children in the north of France who were hoping to reach the UK, as well as the thousands in the Aegean camps. The Home Office justified its decision by claiming that they were prioritizing children in active conflict zones, even though the official UK resettlement scheme, which includes resettlement for children, does not even have a new launch date. The Home Office also said that offering a safe route would provide a “pull factor” even though the relevance of pull factors has been disproven.

The Home Office is also under pressure to publish an official review into accommodation for asylum seekers after the COVID-19 outbreak in Napier Barracks.

Advocates are questioning the use of the Biometric Services Gateway, especially how it will be wielded against marginalized people. Read more in this report from The Racial Justice Network and Yorkshire Resists.


This is an interesting article on the internet as a research tool when working with people on the move, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

This article follows the situation of people on the move pushed back to Afghanistan from Iran. Iran deported about 860,000 people to Afghanistan last year.

To end the digest on a good note: this is a wonderful article on a community in Arguineguin rallying to help four young people from Senegal survive.

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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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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.

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