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AYS News Digest 20/6/2022: Has the Rwanda Deal made a difference in France?

World Refugee Day — Ten thousand protest in Italy // Four missing following shipwreck near Mykonos // Afghan Activist Speaks Out Against Racism // GPS Tags Illegal? UK


Changing Perspectives: has the Rwanda Deal made a difference in France?

Despite the intention of the UK government to deport those seeking asylum to the African country of Rwanda, people are still hoping to reach the UK from Northern France.

The hundreds of people from Middle Eastern countries and continental Africa have travelled various routes to reach Northern Europe. Those hoping to reach the UK already face a dangerous water crossing, now the added risk of potentially being sent far, far away hasn’t deterred people from trying.

“If they take me to Rwanda, I will feel like I’m a dead man. Because everything, my idea that I have put in my mind, they will have destroyed it.” Ahmed, from Sudan, currently in Calais.

People have faced many traumas and dangers on their, often years-long journeys. The reasons for wanting to reach the UK are the same — family, language skills or historic ties with the country.

BBC journalist Lewis Goodall visited Calais to speak with people there. His report explores more of the reasons why people are still committed to a dangerous journey across the Channel — including that many people have faced the possibility of death before.

That possibility of death is sadly emphasised by news from France that a man died in the Bidasoa River whilst trying to reach France. Two others have died this year, and another person is missing, at this cross-point between Spain and France.


The protest that has been going on for months has been violently dispersed. People had gathered at the UNHCR headquarters in Tunis, demanding evacuation to safe countries due to the lack of a reception system and the “systemic discrimination”. The police removed families and their belongings from the protest area, those who resisted were reportedly treated with violence.


A group fo NGOs have called on the authorities to evaluate the law and policies relation to refugees.The hostile treatment of refugees results in people being stranded at sea.The statement was released in time for World Refugee Day and also highlights the lack of equality between those fleeing the war in Ukraine compared with those from South Sudan as an example.

The El Hiblu 3, three men arrested for people smuggling is the topic of this feature. Pope Francis visited Malta two months ago, and this piece focuses on the need for compassion


Ten thousand protest in Italy

Five thousand people took to the streets of Caserta, Italy, seeking a route to obtain documentation. A similar demonstration also took place in Naples at the weekend, with a reported seven thousand people present. Legislation, the pandemic and descrimination are the reasons that people who fled persecution have been prevented from accessing a path to jobs or regularisation. Members of the committee Migrants and Refugees Movement of Caserta and Naples were received by Pope Francis and by city officials.


Four missing following shipwreck near Mykonos

Over 100 people were involved in a shipwreck off the coast of the island of Mykonos. The boat was carrying 112 people, including women and children, when it sank on 19th June. At the time of writing, 4 people were still missing.

Also in the same area, four people have been arrested following another shipwreck near the uninhabited island of Delos. The sail boat is reported to have drifted from Turkey.

A vast camp being built on Lesbos is subject to further criticism. Already months behind schedule, the construction has raised concerns of sparking forest fires in its remote location. The head of the fire union spoke out, saying “It’s the worst location possible to build the camp,”. Fire-risk brings back traumatic memories of the blaze at Moira camp in 2020.

A refugee from Kurdistan is facing criminal charges. Read Omar’s story here.

A TV show featuring a love story between a Syrian refugee and a local person is due to be aired. The series was largely filmed on Lesvos, where the story is set.

World Refugee Week is being marked in Athens by workshops, stand-up comedy and lectures. The initiative is organised by the Athens Comics Library.

A man faces 100 years in prison for driving a car. Homayoun was attempting to reach his children in Berlin from Iran when he was arrested in Greece in September 2021. His daughters call for his release.


The EU has urged the Turkish part of the island to do more to prevent people arriving. The number of people arriving to the island, which is part EU controlled, has doubled in the first five months of this year. On a visit to a migrant facility on the island, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said:

“They [the Turkish-Cypriot government] must also assume their share of responsibility and we’ll find a way to remind them,


Afghan Activist Speaks Out Against Racism

Activist Malalai Joya has spoken out against the racist treatment of those fleeing war. Joya fled Afghanistan after the Taliban take-over, having survived seven assination attempts due to her previous role in the Government — she was the youngest MP when she took her place in the newly formed government in 2005.

“The Afghans, the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Libyans, the Palestinians or the Yemenis understand the Ukrainians very well… When I see images of devastated Mariupol it reminds me of Afghanistan, but in 40 years of war and occupation we have not had the same treatment as them,” she laments. “Of course we feel discriminated against,” Malalai Joya

Joya spoke at the invitation of the Spanish Commissioner for Refugee Aid at El Congreso de los Diputados.

Protests outside the Foreigners Office in Madrid are taking place due to the lack of appointments available. Without appointments it’s not possible for people to access their rights.

Teenagers trapped in Ceuta is the topic for this article. The Spanish enclave on the land mass of Morocco is seen by many as a gateway to a better future in the EU. However, young people end up trapped in detention centres. The regular border crossing between Ceuta and Morocco was closed for years due to the pandemic and political tensions.

The route to the Canary Islands is becoming more popular. This full and interesting read gives further insight.


More people are fleeing the war-torn country, as Russian aggression continues. The realities of life in a warzone are depicted by fleeing residence in this article.


15 people are on hunger strike at a closed detention centre in Belgium. Caricole Detention Centre has been the scene of other protest actions since 11th June. Now the 15 detainees have been on strike since 16th June in order to demand their release. They claim physical and mental torture as well as lack of competant legal representation, and ask for activists to support them.


GPS Tags Illegal? UK

As reported in this previous news digest, electronic tags are to be used by the Home Office to track the movements of asylum seekers. The scheme of GPS tags appears to contradict the Home Office’s own advice, which promotes the use of tags only for those people who have been convicted of a crime. The 12 month trial, which started last week, has faced criticism from Ministers, with others confused as to the necessity — there is no evidence that asylum seekers abscond and this has been labelled “victim blaming” — criminalising those who are seeking help. This opinion piece further dissects the volatile politics in the UK.

Meanwhile, on the same day that the Rwanda was first announced, an art installation at the White Cliffs of Dover was illuminated as a beacon of hope. Artist Nathan Coley has erected the sign that reads: “You Imagine What you Desire” and he discusses this piece here.


A number of rescues have taken place over the weekend. 165 people are in need of a port of safety onboard the Louise Michel rescue vessel, whilst Sea Watch 4 is host to more than 300.

30 people remained in distress near Malta for more than a day, with no rescue yet reported, whilst another vessel was reported to have left Tunisia before going missing.


Rwanda: Why the UK needs to acknowledge its role in displacing people

Mixed Migration’s Weekly Round Up

World Refugee Day in Numbers from Al Jazeera

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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.