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AYS News Digest 17/6/22: ‘The Life of Others’ scenario continues — the Greek story

Will the UN and partners be allowed to remain the main stakeholder and organisation the people depend on? / More refoulements after Italy-Libya agreements / Pushbacks “de facto general policy in many States”, UN Special Rapporteur confirmed / calls for support, reports on geo areas, SAR mission reports, podcasts & recommended reads by our team

Utopia 56 reported about thirty women, men and children on the street demonstrating their right to accommodation. The group joins those asking that the hundreds of free places dedicated to people in Ukraine are put into use for the concrete people in need of shelter. — Photo: Paris by Utopia56

FEATURE

While the exact arrangements made between police and people who are manipulated into collaborating in the criminal pushbacks in Greece remain unclear, reports state that the men do the work in exchange for travel documents, as well as items such as phones and clothing stolen from those pushed back.

“He asked me if I wanted to work with them for a month, maximum two months, not for money but I would get asylum,” Ali said. “He also told me I could take anything that was taken from the people being pushed back,” one of the witnesses told the media

According to our partner organisation Mobile Info Team, the practice is linked to restricted access to asylum and increasing exploitation of people on the move.

Greek authorities, including through proxies they use, are assaulting, robbing, and stripping Afghan asylum seekers and migrants, including children, before summarily pushing them back to Turkey via the Evros River. They are employing men who appear to be of Middle Eastern or South Asian origin, to force stripped or barely clothed migrants onto small boats, take them to the middle of the Evros River, which marks the land border between Greece and Turkey, and force them into the frigid water, making them wade to the riverbank on the Turkish side. These men often wear balaclava masks to conceal their faces and black or commando-like clothing.

This report is based on interviews with 26 Afghans, 23 of whom who were pushed back between September 2021 and February 2022 at Greece’s land border with Turkey.

Read more on what our colleagues from Josoor and MIT had to say:

At the same time, the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee has denounced the Greek pushbacks.

As the tension in the Evros area continues, the chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), Juan Fernando López Aguilar, denounced “consistent reports referring to dozens of persons seeking international protection pushed back from Greece to Turkey through the land border area of the Evros River.”

A reminder: the ECHR has issued 13 orders of interim measures over the past few weeks, demanding that Greek authorities ensure that the persons impacted by the illegal pushbacks be given immediate humanitarian and medical assistance and that they be allowed to start the “reception and identification procedures provided by law.”

In the meantime, Refugee List published 12 new name tags for 12 people on the move whose boats capsized crossing the Ervos River.

TURKEY

Will the UN agencies stay or leave?

As many as 4.1 million people trapped in the non-Government-controlled northwest of Syria, especially those who are displaced, rely largely on humanitarian aid to survive, the UN pointed out as the 15-member Security Council is about to decide whether or not to renew the UN agency’s and their partners’ provision of humanitarian aid in northwest Syria, which is about to expire.

80 per cent are women and children.
Over 3.2 million people are food insecure and need food assistance.

Deportations continue as more people flee Afghanistan

In the meantime, Turkey is deporting thousands of Afghans despite an international outcry about the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have been accused of human rights violations.

79 Turkish chartered deportation flights have landed at Kabul international airport, carrying more than 18,000 Afghans, according to Turkish officials and the IOM. Their estimate is that in the first four months of this year nearly 840,000 Afghans crossed international borders without travel documents due to the consequences of the Taliban regime.

SEARCH AND RESCUE AT SEA

The trial against four crew members of the IUVENTA and 17 other defendants charged with “aiding and abetting unauthorised immigration” was suspended due to procedural errors by the prosecution. The judge rejected the prosecution’s claim that the procedural errors could be ignored. Instead, he followed the defence’s argument that the prosecution had failed to inform the defendants about crucial aspects of the proceedings, thus violating the fundamental rights of the defendants. He therefore returned the case to the public prosecutor’s office to correct these errors. The reopening of the trial is expected in autumn, the group reported.

Missionn updates:

Refugee List has published 40 new name tags for 40 people on the move who went missing between Libya and Italy

GREECE

One of the field teams in Greece, in Attika, reports on the current needs and calls for support:

The summer season has arrived in Greece. It transforms the country into a summer paradise, at least for the tourists. For those still in limbo for asylum or without food or shelter it’s a completely different story. With the heatwaves in south Europe, we see the need for summer clothing growing bigger every day that passes by and the constant need for food is not decreasing. Clothing items like shorts, t-shirts, summer dresses, are requested a lot but no one has enough.

In the past weeks we received many orders for summer clothing items and hygiene. Our team tried to fulfill all these requests but unfortunately our stock is getting limited and we have to start saying no. A hard part of our work, knowing that the needs are higher than our capacity and stock.

On top of these many orders, there was a fire last week in a refugee camp in Athens and around 50 people lost their shelter and two people, one of whom was a young child, were hospitalized. This is the hard reality of the camps. Attika responded to the call for help and we provided as much aid as we could with our limited stock, bringing sleeping mats, clothing items and hygiene for the people affected by the fire.

Once again, it shows that #unitedistheanswer. We continue working together with other organizations, strengthening our powers by collaborating, trying to fulfill all the needs by sharing resources, in our mission to make life a bit better for the people on the run.
If you want, www.attikahumansupport.org/donate

MALTA

MOAS’ complaint about migrants in Malta

In recent years Malta has increasingly ignored requests for help from migrants in distress in the Mediterranean. We interviewed Regina Catrambone, the director of MOAS, an NGO founded by her family after the shipwreck off Lampedusa in October 2013, which today addresses humanitarian crises around the world.

FRANCE

Warning of inconsistency and lack of proper accommodation for the young people fleeing to France, the Utopia group reports more cases:

SPAIN

Fined for documenting conditions in the Canary Islands

A photographer received fines for taking photographs as a rescue vessel arrived on the Canary Islands with people onboard.

According to the reports, in November 2020, the photographer arrived before police had cordoned off the area and began taking photographs as a rescue vessel arrived with people onboard. He was soon approached by two officers who accused Bauluz of insulting them and threatened to fine him under the so-called gag law. In the end, the threat became real and the (Pulitzer prize-winning) photographer has now been fined nearly €1,000.

Given the status of the photographer, this is now a story known to a wide public, but such examples are many and occur in most places across the EU. Ask around the place where you live if the reception facilities, so-called camps and ‘refugee centres’ provide access to all interested journalists and representatives of relevant organisations, local initiatives or other active and interested public bodies.

POLAND

On Wednesday it was their 21st day of hungerstrike in the Przemyśl detention centre

Here is a reminder:

A Yemeni citizen, along with two other Kurds, started the protest on May 26. He was beaten and briefly locked up in solitary confinement after attempting suicide. He has now been fasting for 21 days. The border guards have several times placed him in a single cell to force obedience on him, but he is steadfast and determined in his fight.

The second of the strikers is a Kurd, one of a group who went on hunger strike for 35 days at SOC in Lesznowola. The decision to suspend their protest was taken after one of them was brutally beaten by border guards during transport from the hospital.

No Borders Team

GENERAL

The EU seems to be continuing the poor practice of making deals with countries people are fleeing from. In spite of the reports on the criminal nature of the EU’s deal with Libya, now the next in line seems to be Egypt, EUObserver writes:

Pushbacks remain a very visible, present and dangerous practice along the EU borders. Now the latest report by the UN Speecial Rapporteur confirms —these are de facto general policy in many states” and warns against state “attempts to dismiss or cover up” wrongdoing.

ECRE’s weekly news corroborate the many findings and reports of groups, networks and NGOs, so this week’s topic is focusing on the Western Balkans:

Balkan Route: Irregular Arrivals Increase Says Frontex, Pushbacks Continue Says UN Special Rapporteur, Hungary Exposed Family to Degrading and Inhumane Treatment, says ECtHR:

WORTH READING & LISTENING TO

  • Hungary — an important topic to come back to in an interview Andras Lederer gave some months ago:
  • new feature from Save the Children on violence targeting minors on the move through Europe:
  • “After the fire in Moria, Milad Ebrahimi has to find a solution: The Mavrovouni transition camp is being built and Milad Ebrahimi also lives here. He calls it Moria Two, and today, almost two years later, this camp still exists, and Sham gets a tour there. The EU’s plan for the new camps was very quick at the time: high-security centres with barbed wire, cameras and exit restrictions. The first of these centers is opened on the neighbouring island of Samos, where Franziska travels and meets with residents*. In addition, the Green politician Erik Marquardt gives us an insight into the processes in the EU Parliament.”
  • ECRE’s Information Sheet — Measures in response to the arrival of displaced people fleeing the war in Ukraine:

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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