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AYS Daily Digest 26/10/20: New evidence of pushbacks by Greek forces

MSF denounces conditions on Samos // 75 deaths after airstrikes on Idblib // New drone operation of Frontex in the Mediterranean // Expert speaks about the situation in Libya // Report on UKs border controls in France

Turkish and Greek forces are intercepting people at sea. Credits: Aegean Boat Report

Greece: New evidence of pushbacks

There has been new evidence of illegal pushbacks by the Hellenic Coast Guard. Between March and May alone, Just Security documented eleven incidents, when people in inflatable boats were dragged by the HCG from Greek to international waters. “Whether the migrants were intercepted at sea or apprehended after arriving on land, these pushbacks violate fundamental rules of international law,” the authors recall. They further highlight that Turkey cannot be considered as a safe third country, as deported protection seekers are at risk of chain refoulement. The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, demanded an investigation into Frontex’ reported actions in such pushbacks. Speaking to tagesschau, she demanded that an independet monitoring mechanism be implemented to make sure pushbacks are not taking place.

MSF has condemned the situation on the Aegean island of Samos. Residents of the camp in Vathy are locked down in containers, forced to sleep on the floor with holes in it and lacking water supplies, and others are without a toilet. Journalist Franziska Grillmeier writes: “Now, there are more than 100 infected in the EU hotspot, but their medical support is completely inadequate.” The Civil Liberties Committee of the EU parliament will discuss the “situation and challenges” of refugee camps on the Greek islands this Tuesday from 17.15 on. Salvamento Maritimo has deployed four volunteers in Moria on Lesvos to provide medical care to the residents.

According to the records of Aegean Boat Report, 27 people arrived at the Aegean islands last week. Eleven boats with more than 370 people were intercepted by Turkish authorities.

Due to the rise of new infections with the coronavirus, several schools and classes throughout the country have been suspended. A list of affected institutions can be found on this link: https://www.sch.gr/anastoli/web/index.php. As the page is in Greek, the team of Refugee.Info is happy to provide support.

Syria: Airstrikes on Idlib

Syrian local media reports about 75 deaths and more than 130 injured people after an airstrike on Idlib, close to the Turkish border. Eleven of them were treated by MSF. “When the airstrike happened, the team in our co-managed hospital nearby activated the mass casualty plan,” says Cristian Reynders, MSF project coordinator for northwest Syria. “Soon after, we started receiving critically injured patients in need of surgery. Two patients had badly damaged limbs that had to be amputated and the others needed treatment.”

Turkey

Volunteers of İmece İnisiyatifi Çeşme distributed masks to families and children.

Sea

Following a test period of two years, Frontex and Italy are starting to monitor the Mediterranean with drones. From three airports on Sicily, they want to cover a radius of 550 kilometres. Matthias Monroy speaks about costs of 7.2 million Euros provided by the Italian Interior Ministry to operate this action. The EU’s commission is funding 50 percent unter der ISF scheme.

Following a distress call, 87 people were rescued by the Italien Coast Guard and transferred to Lampedusa.

Libya

Speaking to the Routed Magazine, immigration solicitor Giulia Tranchina spoke about the situation of people on the move in Libya. “Unfortunately, conditions in all detention centres are horrific,” she pointed out. More than 25 people have died in the Zintan camp since November 2018. She speaks about forced labour, attacks on the camps by armed militias, pushbacks at sea and inhumane treatment.

European governments are paying millions to Libyan authorities through the European Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) in a very non-transparent manner — not to speak of funds going to Libyan authorities through informal channels.

In a recent shipwreck off Libya, at least eleven people drowned. Ten were rescued by fishermen and the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, according to Stol.it.

Spain

In Tenerife, a boat with more than 100 people arrived, according to La Provincia. Last week more than 2,000 people made it through the Canary Route, which is much more frequented these days. Rescue workers are overwhelmed by long shifts and calls of boats in distress. More than 900 people needed to spend the night at the Arguineguin Pier, and 300 were transferred to a tourist site, reports EuropaPress. Southeast of Cape Scratif, 54 people were rescued and transferred to Granada.

Serbia

A group of people has been pushed back to Serbia by Romanian police, reports Azil u Srbiji Asylum Protection in Serbia. Among them were three young women, one of them pregnant. “As she stated, they hit them all at least once on their backs with truncheons. They took their phones, chargers, all their money and sent them back.”

In Savalma, a 20-year-old man was shot from an air pistol.

NoNameKitchen reports about an incident at the end of September, when a volunteer of the group tried to assist someone in medical need. When he visited the person in Adaševci to take him to an emergency room, he was intimidated and violently pushed away by staff of the Commissariat. The other person was not allowed to leave the site.

In Kikinda, about 600 people are staying in the camp. Most in tents, some under the open sky in sleeping bags. Outside the camp, around Vrsac, Kikinda, Mokrin and Maidan, at least 200 people a day try to enter Romania, writes APC_CZA.

Slovenia

Infopolka will host an online event about the systemic oppression of migrants and asylum seekers in Slovenia at 6 pm on Friday.

UK

The Detention Forum draws attention to the so-called Short-Term Holding Facilities (STHFs) at the Northern French Coast. They are operated by UK forces as part of juxtaposed border controls. In the four facilities, up to 600 people a month, including an average of 80 children, were held in the four STHFs. They were suspected of having incorrect paperwork or were found hidden in commercial vehicles.

Indeed, no inspection visits were made to these centres for a period of almost ten years due to ‘lack of jurisdictional clarity’, and only one of the four is currently subject to the 2018 Short-Term Holding Facility Rules. The inspection reports point to a worrying lack of accountability and judicial oversight, an absence of access to information and legal advice, as well as multiple serious safeguarding concerns which are only likely to have become more pronounced during this global health pandemic, particularly for displaced individuals who are subject to insalubrious living conditions in informal settlements in northern France as well as a lack of access to proper healthcare and shelter.

But also on the island the situation is far from good. Surprise inspections in Kent showed problems in all sites, especially measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentlive writes. People were “kept for long periods with ‘no sleeping facilities, showers or access to the open air.”

General

In a recent study, the OECD concluded that the foreign population in several member states has “an infection risk that is at least twice as high as that of the native-born”. Also the mortality rates could be significantly higher, considering the worse living and working conditions this group often has to face. They are also at risk of more discrimination, especially when regions are hit hard by the economic damage of the pandemic, when a good network is even more important to find a new job. It also impacts the education of children: “Their parents tend to have fewer resources than native-born parents to help them with their homework, and 40% of native-born children of immigrants do not speak the host-country language at home.”

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Are You Syrious?

News digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and people on the move, but also for journalists, decision makers and other parties.