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AYS Daily Newsletter 15/7/21: Italy votes to renew collaboration with the criminal Libyan Coast Guard

Greece: “A lack of compliance with European and international law in practice, with violations of rights, such as deportations or reception conditions” / Torture-like deportation measures by the Norwegian immigration police / Amnesty’s report on Libya contradicts basis for Italian decision / Worrying news, but many good reads, too

Are You Syrious?· Jul 16 · 9 min read

Italy votes “yes” on this.

FEATURED

Italy’s cooperation mission with the Libyan Coast Guard, which will be gradually transferred to the European mission Irini, has received confirmation as the Italian parliament voted with 361 votes in favor, 34 against and 22 abstentions. Renewing cooperation with — and funding for — the so-called Libyan Coast Guard is on.

still via borderline-europe

The approved proposal asks the government to “facilitate training and training activities both in Italy and in Libya and taking into account that the gradual assignment to the Irini mission of the training and training function of the Libyan naval units responsible for controlling maritime borders will be possible once a Memorandum has been signed between Irini and the Libyan authorities relating to training activities in the field of combating human trafficking”, as ironic as it sounds.

However, the bill didn’t pass without opposition. On behalf more than 30 votes against this decision, it was said that “the systematic violations of human rights to which migrants and refugees in Libya are subjected have been the subject of several reports of the UN, major humanitarian organizations and many journalistic inquiries. In the detention centers run by the Libyan authorities, people suffer unprecedented violence: they are tortured, raped, killed or sold as slaves,” Erasmo Palazzotto said.

The collusion, and often the overlap, between the Libyan Coast Guard and the criminal organizations that manage the trafficking of human beings have been the subject of various investigations, including by the Italian judiciary.

In internment camps there is torture and exploitation, sexual violence and forced labor.

The Italians voted to keep their eyes closed to the many atrocities committed daily in Libya and by the Libyan Coast Guard. The abuses are not “alleged”, as is often written; they have been well documented for years now. They have been corroborated by the UN Secretary General himself, among others. So we need to decide — are we are united in supporting human life before all other things, or does doing dirty (expensive) deals have more weight?

The precarious situation for refugees has not changed in the first half of 2021, an Amnesty International report confirms:

Libya: Horrific violations in detention highlight Europe’s shameful role in forced returns

Fresh evidence of harrowing violations, including sexual violence, against men, women and children intercepted while…

l.facebook.com

This is transpiring alongside other worrying developments in the country.

SEA

50 people pulled back to Libya

After running out of fuel and fearing a shipwreck, a boat with around 50 people in international waters close to the Libyan coast called for help.
It took 8 hours and constant attempts to reach the so-called Libyan Coastguard to arrive and take the people back to Libya. Such “rescues” return people to the same violent, exploiting structures that they tried to escape from in the first place. Moreover, the Coastguard regularly endangers people’s lives by not turning up promptly during emergencies at sea. However, in spite of the many dangers, it is reported that some find this to be a better alternative to the increasingly dangerous Aegean route.

GREECE

NGOs criticize decision to make Turkey a safe third country

With its ministry’s designation from the beginning of June, which declared Turkey to be a safe third country for people from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia, the Greek government has laid the foundations for a new way of dealing with asylum applications. Besides Hungary, Greece is the only country which has given the status to Turkey.

A recent case of a family’s rejection showcases how inconsiderately the new designation deals with actual threats and individual situations in Turkey. The handlers of the case did not focus on the reasons that forced the applicants to leave their homeland. They mainly asked about Turkey, in order to judge whether it was a “safe third country” for the family.

The people in question: An Afghan family, on their journey for 3.5 years already, and in Turkey for 6 months before arriving in Greece. An 83-year-old father with symptoms of dementia, difficulty walking and hearing loss from the right ear; a 61 year old mother — survivor of two strokes and multiple fractures, suffers from paraplegia-quadriplegia, sits in a whelelchair and is unable to communicate — and their 15-year-old daughter.

The daughter reported their stay at the house of a human trafficker in Greece for the full time they were there, and spoke about the constant sexual abuse she had to endure by the trafficker.

“The rejection decision recognizes that the father is not autonomous in his day-to-day operations and that the mother is completely dependent on a third person. It is stated that their characteristics and profile “need special attention” and that their condition “may be an obstacle to their smooth readmission to Turkey”. The difficulty of the 15-year-old daughter to serve them is also accepted. The relevant decision also recognizes the difficulty of applying to the Turkish services for the issuance of identity documents (Kimlik), in order to gain access to health structures.”

However, it was decided in the first instance that they should return to Turkey, where an adult son had arrived with his family and should be able to take care of them.

Now several NGOs have spoken out against the new ruling.

Emphasizing that 67 % of asylum seekers in Greece will be affected by this new decision, they predict thousands to be with even less protection — and with great fear of being detected and sent back to Greece. This would be a veritable goldmine for the whole smuggling industry.

“People whose application is rejected will not have the right to stay in the country. They will be in danger of being detained in pre-departure centers, They will not have access to benefits, to the labor market, except for very limited access to the health system.” — Alexandros Konstantinou, Greek Council for Refugees.

Kathryn Wallard, Secretary-General of ECRE, pointed out that there are two main concerns for Greece: “the lack of compliance with European and international law in practice, with violations of rights, such as deportations or reception conditions,” and “frequent changes in legislation,” which reduce protection. In addition, she stressed that the situation in Greece comes as a result of “the policy of the European Union and especially as a direct result of the EU-Turkey Agreement”…”Turkey is not a safe country because it does not offer a level of protection commensurate with the Convention for the Protection of Refugees.”

SERBIA

Our friends at APC are among those consistently monitoring the situation on the ground. They are witnessing more people along the borders with Hungary.

FRANCE

Activists in the north of the country report more evictions of temporary campsites in the area, with personal belongings being taken away, some containing documents and other essential personal items.

DENMARK

Report on security situation in Syria

The European Asylum Support Office’s (EASO) newest report about the security situation in Syria has been released, particularly troubling since Denmark’s latest reviews on safe zones of origin. Known for one of the harshest and most restrictive immigration policies in the EU, Denmark now states that it is „necessary to raise the bar for who can become a Danish citizen“. The country argues that the Syrian capital Damascus and its surrounding area is controlled by the government under Bashar al-Assad, it should be a safe zone and thus not a valid reason for an ongoing asylum request.

Since last summer, Denmark has been revoking residency permits of at least 189 people coming from the Damascus region.

Granted asylum status after appeal

Two young Syrians, Faeza and Aya, who recently had their residence permits in Denmark revoked by the immigration authorities based on the so-called paradigm shift of the Danish government in which asylum is granted on a temporary basis, today were granted asylum status after an appeal process to the Refugee Appeals Board in Copenhagen.

These two cases has been heavily covered in the Danish media and sparked a lot of support from civil rights groups and advocates. In this way, they served as trailblazers for the resistance against the harsh immigration policies of the Social Democratic government.

There are still hundreds of Syrians living in both personal and legal limbo after having their residence permits revoked by a government who wants them to go back to Syria, but the two decisions today shows a path ahead and hope for many, including the Danes involved in support and advocacy of the Syrians.

NORWAY

Torture-like deportation measures by the Norwegian immigration police

Resurfacing of an earlier report in the Norwegian press has made headlines in Norway. Immigration police paralyzed a prisoner with this illegal special helmet, as the documentation proved. A report states that the Police Immigration Unit (PU) had a practice of forcing people opposed to returning to their home country to wear a martial arts helmet and earplugs.

UK

As deportations continue, the recent question is on relations with Zimbabwe, ahead of another announced deportation:

A petition against deportations was started and is available here:

Sign the Petition

This petition is hosted by BARAC UK but brought by all the additional organisations listed at the end.

t.co

Action against the reporting system

Actions were organised at 6 Home Office reporting centres, demanding an end to the reporting system, to immigration detention, the system in which asylum seekers have to go regularly “sign on” and are often taken into detention without warning.

Abolish Reporting

Anyone who is waiting for a final decision on their application to live in the UK can be required to regularly travel…

t.co

Activists are determined this will not be the last step towards change and we stand in solidarity and support with them! If you’re in the UK, reach out and find out how you too can get involved.

Find daily updates and special reports on our Medium page.

If you wish to contribute, either by writing a report or a story, or by joining the info gathering team, please let us know.

We strive to echo correct news from the ground through collaboration and fairness. Every effort has been made to credit organisations and individuals with regard to the supply of information, video, and photo material (in cases where the source wanted to be accredited). Please notify us regarding corrections.

If there’s anything you want to share or comment, contact us through Facebook, Twitter or write to: areyousyrious@gmail.com

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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.