Are You Syrious?
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Are You Syrious?

AYS News Digest 14/11/2022: British and French coastguards “passed the buck” instead of saving lives.

Winter is coming in Serbia // The trial of humanitarian worker Seán Binder in Greece // Journalist to stand trial against Italian PM // UK FR €72.2 million to keep people out


Dover Cliffs: Photo by Niklas Weiss on Unsplash

Early on the morning of November 24th 2021, 34 people left the shores of France in the hope of finding security and a future in the UK. Sadly, only two people survived the journey.

As the anniversary of the shipwreck nears, details about the actions of the authorities have come to light. The call log of the French coastguard has at last been shared, which shows that the first call for help was at 1:51 am, nine hours before assistance reached those in trouble.

27 people died and five people remain missing in “the worst maritime disaster for 30 years” which appears could have been avoided. In a documentary due to be released by ITV, full details show how authorities were aware of the stricken vessel but didn’t dispatch help, instead passing responsibility back and forth between the two nations. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch are still conducting an investigation into the events of that day, whilst families of those who died are taking legal action.

This article offers details, whilst the documentary will air on Monday 14th November on UK’s ITV at 10.45pm.

A vigil will be held this weekend to remember those who died in the tragedy.

The UK has just signed an agreement to pay France €72.2 million to increase their patrols along the coast. The deal signed on Monday 14th November includes funding for the equivalent of 350 additional officers as well as a budget to increase port security using CCTV, dogs and drones.

Manston Processing Centre in Kent has seen a rise in the case of diphtheria among those held there, leading to vaccinations being offered. Activists have been calling for the closure of the Manston, as reported in a previous News Digest.

Diphtheria is an extremely contagious disease which affects the nose and throat and in some cases can be fatal. Cases amongst those seeking asylum in England as a whole have sharply risen this year, possibly indicating that people are being housed in overcrowded facilities.

Several groups in Serbia and Bosnia are working together to provide clothing and fuel to people sleeping rough. Serbian organisation klikAktiv explains why people can’t stay in Serbia and the conditions they face.

27-year-old Binder is facing charges of people smuggling, membership of a criminal organisation and espionage after being arrested on the island of Lesvos in 2018 whilst volunteering with Emergency Response Centre International.

Greek authorities are highly criticised by Amnesty International and other groups for the criminalisation of humanitarian workers. Binder said on the matter:

“Despite having worked [through volunteering] transparently with the coastguard and standing shoulder to shoulder with the police officers, we were in fact eventually arrested by them.” Binder,

23 other people face similar charges, and 60 MEPs have written in support of the group.

Robert Saviano, journalist and novelist, is facing charges of defamation against the new Italian Prime Minister because of an incident in 2020. Saviano was a guest on a chat show, and when asked who was to blame for the death of an infant in a shipwreck, he named Meloni and fellow politician Matteo Salvini. The trial is due to start next week.

The case is representative of the way that the press are treated in Italy, with Reporters Without Borders rating it the lowest country in Europe on the press freedom index.

Migration Control have updated their extensive article about Frontex, which covers different border areas, deportations and the arms industry, have a read here.

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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.