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AYS Daily Digest 5/11/20: Report on Criminalisation of Solidarity in the Western Balkans

Ivorians are fleeing to neighbouring countries as they fear post-electoral violence / More death in Libya / Malta’s government facing legal action over rights abuses / Italy: the failure of the management of the coronavirus pandemic in the protection of health / Children of all immigrants residing in Portugal for over a year to receive nationality at birth / Deportations continue from Germany and Spain / recommended reads & more

Trieste, Photo: Lorena Fornasir


Some of the volunteers from the Border Violence Monitoring Network have compiled a report documenting some of the most recent pressures on solidarity work along the Balkan Route. The report seeks to contextualise different tropes within criminalisation, including:

  • Formal Criminalisation
  • Policing, Repression and Informal Criminalisation
  • Scrutiny
  • Obstruction of Individuals and Organisations
  • Arbitrary and Informal Acts of Policing
  • Verbal Violence
  • Physical Violence

“While this is by no means a complete inventory of the repression civil society actors and people on the move face in the region, we hope to raise awareness of this threat to freedom and solidarity.Taking this report as a starting point we will continue to document cases of repression and criminalisation in the region and urge others to do the same. This dynamic of repression, especially targeting local solidarity actors and people on the move, is of concern now more than ever because of the changes taking place in the region during Covid-19.”


Thousands fleeing the country after the country’s autocrat wins elections

Although the eyes of the world are all pointed to the US presidential elections, the elections held in some other smaller, and to the West insignificant, countries are having a huge impact on the lives of thousands of people on the move. Apart from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s pre-election anti-refugee policies, the presidential elections in Ivory Coast are leaving people worried and in running in fear. Several thousand people have fled from the country into neighbouring countries after the presidential election sparked violent clashes in the country. More than 3,200 Ivorians had arrived in Liberia, Ghana and Togo. Reportedly, the Ivorian electoral commission had provisionally declared 78-year-old incumbent Ouattara the winner, with 94.27 per cent of the vote on a turnout of 53.9 percent.

“And we know that people are looking back to the 2010–11 period when there was violence, which at that time, led to 3,000 dead, more than 300,000 refugees fleeing in the region and around 1 million displaced.”


A man dies after having been tortured inside a prison, with no meals, only a piece of bread and sea water provided

2interceptions at sea were reported happening on Wednesday, with nearly 300 persons involved who were pushed back to the unsafety by the Libyan Coast Guard, the partners of the EU. Back to the same dreadful conditions where people are kept, and where Ismael Ibrahim died.


A Syrian refugee in Lebanon on Thursday set himself on fire outside the UNHCR reception center in Beirut




No Border Kitchen Lesvos reports on the current situation:

The cold has come. Winter is beginning to settle on the Island, and with the new camp it has the potential to be one of the worst. New lockdown restrictions have been announced, and the camp will be locked down. This whilst the covid-19 quarantine area is a joke and there is no 24 hour medical service in the camp. It is a repeat of April, where we spend many words on writing about the cruel situation where a well known inhuman disaster of a camp was unfit for measeures that govemerments worldwide demanded to curb the pandememic. But it’s November now, and that camp is gone. The new one was build in the middle of the pandemic, and it therefore would have been reasonable to expect that this location would be somehow build with this in mind. They must know, that keeping people in conditions like these would put them at higher risk of dying from covid-19. But, like many other things, they don’t care.

In the meantime, new rules have been imposed on the residents of Kara Tepe, aka Moria 2:

However, many questions remain unanswered:


Glocal Roots team is remembering Mieke Kaspers, 82, from the Netherlands, who sadly passed away this week and who had volunteered at the We Are One Center several times and “was an absolute pleasure to work with”, as they all say.

She gave the strongest hugs, had the biggest heart and most infectious smile, and impacted the We Are One Center in the most wonderful ways.

In November last year she arrived on Samos with 750 beautiful handmade blankets and shawls that she had knitted for the women who visit our center. When we remember the day of distribution, we remember every woman leaving our center with a huge smile on her face, all thanks to Mieke.

We are sending all our love to Mieke’s family and friends


Maltese government in court

Maltese authorities left people stranded at sea before ordering their return to Libya in a fishing boat, and for this they are now facing a trial. Find more information available at the moment, here.

Across the Balkans, the No Name Kitchen continues their project Health on the Move, and you can follow the project’s outcomes and needs here.


Revealing the flaws hidden behind the pandemic

The report “The system at a crossroads” by ActionAid and openPolis reveals the destruction of the widespread reception system in the CAS from North to South and the failure of the management of the coronavirus pandemic in the protection of health. The cases of Sicily and Friuli-Venezia Giulia can be examined here.

Italian justice dismisses the submission to trial against the captain and the Open Arms mission chief

The court of Ragusa has rejected the request to send the Spaniards Ana Isabel Montes Mier and Marc Reig Creus, former head of mission and captain of the rescue ship of Proactiva Open Arms dedicated to carrying out the tasks rescue in the Mediterranean Sea. It refers to the situation from 2018 when Proactiva team intervened in the rescue of 218 people in distress at sea who, after the urgent evacuation of a woman and a newborn, disembarked in the port of Pozzallo (Sicily). See more here.

Racists against humanity

A well-known racist and xenophobic group organised a protest at the Trieste’s piazza della Libertà. For over a year it ahs been the place where the volunteers of the Linea d’ombra association, together with the SiCura street doctors, have been helping people and treating the wounds of those who arrive in the city via the Balkan route. And they do it in the forecourt of the station which has now been renamed “Piazza del mondo”. The entire story is available here.


810 evictions in Calais have been documented this year so far, that’s five evictions every 48 hours, it is reported.

To Paris: “We who sleep under your bridges”

People on the move installed in a camp north of Paris warn about the unspeakable conditions in which they live. In the currently uunstable social atmosphere of the country, they are once again asking for the basic, demanding papers, housing and the right to work legally:

We are more than 1,500 living under the bridges in Saint-Denis in unspeakable conditions. On October 17, many of us joined the national march of undocumented migrants to ask for papers and housing for all. Today we are writing to alert people to our situation. We are addressing this text to the French authorities, so that they stop violating our rights, so that they finally treat us as human beings. We are also addressing it to the French population and more particularly the Ile-de-France region: we need your support, to fight together, to make ourselves heard.

Macron called for a “deep overhaul” of the Schengen zone

Following the recent developments in France, the French president has announced that he wants to intensify very strongly their border controls to “fight the illegal immigration.” Macron announced France would be doubling the number of guards at its national borders from 2,400 to 4,800 “due to the escalating terror threat.”


4 young lives lost

Four young people died by drowning in a sewage canal when they tried to enter Melilla, according to the MAP agency. The deceased had entered the canal from the port of Beni Ensar, which borders the south of Melilla, the Spanish media have reported. It seems that the Civil Protection of the port of Nador located one of them still alive and transferred him to the Hassani Hospital in Nador, where he died shortly after, while the three bodies appeared in the canal, and were taken to the Nador morgue. According to these reports, the “attempts at irregular entry into Melilla are much rarer this year, as the migratory routes have shifted to the Atlantic Ocean, and specifically the coasts closest to the Canary Islands , from where most of the boats and cayucos now leave.”

Reactivation of deportations to Mauritania from the Canary Islands

After eight months on hold, the next flight is expected to leave next week, Spanish media reported. According to their sources, the first deportation flight will take place next week, predictably on the 10th. There are currently 23 people in the Barranco Seco (Gran Canaria) detention center, most of them Senegalese, while that of Hoya Fría, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, remains empty.


Children of all immigrants residing in Portugal for over a year to receive nationality at birth

Portuguese president enacted a new nationality law that allows the children of all immigrants who have lived in Portugal for at least one year to have Portuguese nationality at birth, even if their parents are staying in the country illegally, or if one of the parents is legally residing in Portuguese territory, in which case it is applicable regardless of the time they have been there. Also, they have amended the rule that any foreigner married or living in de facto union with a Portuguese national can apply for Portuguese nationality — without reference to the existence of children.


Deportations continue

In spite of the announced measures that included a plan that deportation will be stopped during the COVID pandemic, it is reported that a group of 10 men were deported on a flight from Germany to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday, October 27. Deportation flights are also expected to resume to Afghanistan from mid-November.


On the shortcomings, challenges and innovations (and their consequences for refugees/asylum seekers) in refugee status determination processes worldwide:

“The man who watched a bottle of water” :

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