AYS Daily Digest 31/05/2018: Two refugee children shot by Croatian police

Donations needed in Bosnia, Greece, and France / Evictions continue in Calais / Report on living conditions on Rhodes / And more news…

Photo by Dino Stanin/Pixsell

FEATURE: Violence against refugees persists along the Croatian border

Croatian police officers have shot two refugee children while trying to stop a van that was smuggling 29 people from Bosnia to Croatia. The incident happened on Croatian soil, near Donji Lapac in Zadar county. While the smuggler ran away, two children and several wounded adults were transferred to Zadar hospital, where one child with facial gunshot wounds had urgent surgery and had to be transferred to Zagreb hospital for the additional reconstructive surgery of the jaw and face. According to medical sources, there were 15 children in the van — the youngest being seven years old. In total, seven people ended up in the hospital. Both children, aged 12, had facial wounds from the gunfire and remain under intensive care.

It is important to say that this might have been avoided if refugees had safe legal passage to the European Union. If Croatian police was respecting their wish to ask for asylum instead of pushing them back, there would be no need for the smuggler nor his van. According to Croatian and international laws, anyone entering Croatia has the right to ask for asylum, but in reality people are beaten, robbed, and violently pushed back — sometimes even forced to walk into the minefields that still dot parts of Bosnia, a legacy of the war in the 1990s. 

Last night’s incident is just one of many recent examples of police brutality along the Croatian border. Vulnerable people are targeted, criminals often avoid any legal consequences, and police officers involved in deaths or injuries of refugees on Croatian borders also avoid any penalties. Officers remain on duty, further endangering people who are trying to find safety in Croatia and other EU countries. 

UNHCR and its partners have recorded around 3,000 cases of illegal push-backs from Croatia in 2017 — the real number is believed to be higher. MSF has recorded seven deaths at the Croatian border in 2017 — again, the real number is believed to be higher. In 2018, violent push-backs have been happening day in and day out. It is impossible to estimate how many have drowned while trying to enter Croatia, but the number also seems to be high. In addition to that, entire groups and families are being repeatedly pushed back from Croatia to Serbia, Bosnia, and Montenegro. Even though they have the legal right to ask for asylum in Croatia, they are not given this opportunity. Therefore, for many of them, smugglers may seem like saviours. More and more people are resorting to services of criminals in order to enter the EU. In this way, they are further endangering their own lives. Because they’ve run out of options. Because Croatia is acting like a guardian dog of Europe. Because political priorities like getting more EU funds and membership in the Schengen border system are put before refugees lives.

Instead of expressing their empathy, the Croatian Police Officers Union has asked for increased powers in their grotesque response to the recent incidents where two children were shot and the smuggler got away. They’re trying to find an excuse for even more brutality, instead of redefining national border policy. No one has been held accountable for the injuries and deaths of refugees along Croatian borders, but this has to change. There’s just too much evidence to support accusations against the Croatian government and the Interior Ministry. Too many lives have been lost. Too many children have been traumatized. This needs to stop and we’ll pursue every case of police violence until someone is held accountable for such deeds.

If you have any solid proof of violence at Croatian border areas, feel free to contact us through our Facebook profile or by emailing us at areyousyrious@gmail.com


Donations needed in Sarajevo and Velika Kladusa

As our volunteers continue to be involved in the civil response in Bosnia, we would like to use this opportunity to present two fundraisers that would make a big difference for refugees arriving to the country:

In Sarajevo, donations are needed to finance a van and expand distribution operations. To support volunteer actions in Sarajevo, please click here.

In Velika Kladusa, donations are needed to to reconstruct two old containers and organize more tents. Please click here and watch until the end to donate. Thank you!


Donations needed on Lesvos

Photo by Drop in the Ocean

Donations are needed in Lesvos, after over 600 people left Moria as the result of conflicts and fights in the camp. Refugees4Refugees says that nothing has changed since around 300 people arrived at the “House of Humanity” of the group Humans for Humanity, and support is still needed. Refugees4Refugees has installed mobile toilets, but the toilets need to be cleaned — a cost of €150 every day.

You can support Refugees4Refugees financially here or support Humans for Humanity directly here, so that they can buy essential goods such as food and water.

Photo by Refugees4Refugees

Donations needed in Athens

The Ellinikon Warehouse run by the Pampiraiki Group (PG) is calling for donations, as funds are drying up while needs are increasing, with more people coming overland to Athens. The group co-ordinates and distributes dry foods and essential non-food items to more than 5,000 people in shelters, squats, day centres, and private apartments. You can donate by PayPal or via bank transfer:

Pampiraiki Support Initiative for Refugees and Immigrants
IBAN: GR7001101980000019800232050

Alternatively, by prior arrangement, you can support the initiative by ordering and paying directly to TheMART wholesaler for food to be delivered to Pampiraiki for distribution. Contact pampiraiki@gmail.com if you would like to try this option.

The Pampiraiki group also needs long-term and short-term volunteers to help with the sorting and distribution of donations. Please email and register at pampiraiki@gmail.com if you are able to help.

Inhumane living conditions on Rhodes

Dimokratiki reports on inhumane living conditions of refugees, who have been temporarily housed in a warehouse next to the detention facilities of the Police Department of Rhodes. It says the area has not been sufficiently disinfected and does not have the basic structure to hosting people.

Eight people, including a disabled minor with special needs, are living in a very hot room with ticks and fleas. The Ministry of Citizen Protection continues to be indifferent to the situation despite complaints by the association of police officers, organizations, and MPs.

The paper adds that the detention centre of Rhodes has become an informal hot spot, with 65 people stacked in an area for 40 people, leading to health
and safety issues. Refugees are detained there for several weeks, while the facilities are made for a detention of only a few hours. 
Among the prisoners are a pregnant woman, three minors of six–eight years old, a man with a fractured arm, three with serious dermatopathy, and an unaccompanied 14-year-old.


Donations and volunteers needed in and around Calais

Help Refugees has run out of tents in the Calais warehouse and needs donations to replenish their stocks. Refugee Info Bus notes that evictions take place three to five times a week and often end with the destruction of tents and personal belongings, which explains the constant need for new donations. A volunteer for l’Auberge des Migrants says two evictions took place on Thursday morning, with tents distributed on Tuesday destroyed in less than 36 hours.

The Refugee Community Kitchen, meanwhile, needs new volunteers. The kitchen provides food to people surviving in the Calais area and beyond. Please email refugeecommunitykitchen@gmail.com if you would like to help.

The School Bus Project needs a Team Lead in Northern France, “ passionate about supporting refugees and migrants through provision of educational opportunities.” More information can be found here.

Protest against immigration and asylum law to take place in Paris

On Saturday, a big protest against the new asylum and immigration law will take place in Paris.


SOS Méditerranée has rescued 158 people off the Libyan coast, including 26 women and nine children. They come from West Africa, Bangladesh, Sudan, and Morocco.

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