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AYS News Digest Monday 18/7/2022–300 asylum seekers sleep outside: Netherlands

Heatwave impacts Belgium // Greek online platform for registering asylum applications is now available // 19 people face jail in Italy // UK “Channel Crossings” report published

FEATURE

Photo Credit: Plaatsengids

NETHERLANDS

300 asylum seekers sleep outside Ter Apel reception centre

Between 250 and 300 asylum seekers slept outside the overcrowded refugee reception centre in Ter Apel on the evening of July 16 in fear of missing their registration appointment, states NOS.

According to the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) that is the highest number of refugees sleeping outside of the reception in recent years. As Trouw.nl reports, the situation has seriously deteriorated in recent weeks with people sleeping outside on the grass just in their clothes with temperatures overnight reaching as low as 6 degrees C. Trash is piling up in bulging garbage bins and toilets remain unclean for days.

Despite the fact that COA had found a total of 300 sleeping places in nearby municipalities in Apeldoorn, Stadskanaal and Zuidbroek, asylum seekers chose to sleep outside in fear of missing their appointment the next day for an interview with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) in Ter Apel.

“That’s because refugees often have to stay in emergency shelters for weeks. The waiting times at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) are enormous, which is why the refugees are not picked up for their appointment at the IND in Ter Apel. The asylum seekers see the chaos, have in some cases been in the Netherlands for months and want to take the next step in the asylum process. Staying close to Ter Apel then seems to be the only option. A spokesperson for the COA confirms that this occurs.” states Trouw.nl.

BELGIUM

In urgent need of water, people surviving in Brussel’s scorching heat

Asylum seekers in Brussels are in a similar situation around the Klein Kasteeltje application centre, which is a registration point for applications for international protection in Belgium. With Riet Dhont, municipal councillor of the Labor Party, making an urgent appeal on Facebook and asking people who live in Brussels or planning to visit these days to help with as little as providing a water bottle.

The situation is expected to get worse in the next few days as the Klein Kasteeltje will be closed from Wednesday afternoon to Monday morning leaving people with no ways of registering their applications or any shelter.

Photo Credit: Via Facebook

SEA/SAR

MOROCCO

29 people at risk in the Atlantic

On July 18, up to 29 people have been at risk in the Atlantic for the past 24 hours. Departing from the city of Tantan in southwest Morocco, they were in urgent need of rescue due to high waves and water entering the boat. Both rescue teams of Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) and Salvamento Maritimo were informed, however, a SAR vessel was sent only 8 hours after the alert.

CENTRAL MED

Another incident, this time near Kerkenah Island, saw six people clinging to a buoy whilst the Tunisian Coast Guard searched for them.

The dangers of the ocean are brought into focus with the statistics from ECRE: 10,465 people have returned to Libya in 2022 so far this year.

New platform providing legal support to people criminalised for driving boats across the Mediterranean Sea

Captain Support (YouTube video)— Borderline Europe in cooperation with other groups have launched a new platform in solidarity with people criminalised for driving boats across the Mediterranean Sea.

Affected people can ask for alternative legal support and receive information about their rights. The video linked above informs about European practices to criminalize people for driving boats to Europe and about the rights of the accused and the other passengers.

Contact the Captain Support network via Facebook and Instagram to ask for adequate legal assistance and support:

GREECE

Online platform for registering asylum applications is now available

The Greek ministry of migration and asylum has now made it possible to apply for asylum through its online platform. People seeking asylum can book an appointment to register their claim by completing an online form which is available in various languages and can be viewed here.

LITHUANIA

Rejected asylum seekers are free to leave accommodation centres — but they do not know where to go

Asylum seekers whose application has been denied in Lithuania are being pressured to leave accommodation centres and find their own housing in the country, states Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT.

NGO representatives state that people are being told to move out from accommodation centres as their stay is no longer justifiable.

“They keep repeating that they are being told: ‘If you want freedom, write that you have a place to live and go.’ Then, they write down any address and leave because they are afraid that they will not get freedom otherwise. But they have nowhere to stay, they rent a place in a guesthouse, and the money runs out,” according to a volunteer from Sienos Grupė.

“These are people who are no longer asylum seekers but cannot be deported from Lithuania for one reason or another. […] To our knowledge, such people are encouraged to find their own accommodation to make it look as if they are not being thrown out on the street but are going to live somewhere else,” said Viktor Ostrovnoj, head of advocacy at the Lithuanian Red Cross Asylum and Migration Programme.

The State Border Guard Service (VSAT) has called the claims baseless and that officials inform migrants of the rules for leaving the centres in detail.

Read more here.

ITALY

19 people face jail in Italy for occupying a house and the rooms of a church to host migrants

Jail sentences ranging between 7 and 11 months would face 19 squatters who had occupied a house and rooms in a church in order to host migrants who were trying to cross the border.

The fact that they were acting on humanitarian grounds and for reasons of particular social and moral value should be taken into consideration as mitigating factors to their sentence, according to the prosecutor.

The occupied facilities - a former roadhouse on the State 24 highway and the rooms of a church in Italy’s Valle di Susa - were transformed into a self-managed shelter and used to help people on the move toward France.

Read more on this here

BULGARIA

Update on the situation of refugees in Bulgaria

Bordermonitoring.eu and the blog Bordermonitoring Bulgaria which has been documenting the situation in the country for ten years, report on current updates in the country concerning corruption and human rights violations, pushbacks, increased military presence at the borders, detention of asylum seekers and recent political developments in the country.

Read more here:

UNITED KINGDOM

“Channel Crossings” report published

A report has been published which investigates the change in Channel crossing. “Channel crossings, migration and asylum”, published by the Government Home Affairs Committee, points out flaws in the current system, as well as the proposed use of Rwanda as a third country to send people to. The report indicates that those arriving by small boat from France account for around 3% of people entering the UK, and also that Brexit has meant an end to returning people to other European Countries via the Dublin agreement.

This thread unpicks the report, including why processing asylum claims in France isn’t the solution.

Groups and organisations have responded to the report, drawing attention to the fact that the Government don’t ask why people are seeking asylum in order to form future policy. Additionally, groups are emphasising the negative impact on people’s lives caused by the length of time that it takes for claims to be processed.

“Antiquated IT systems, high staff turnover, and too few staff are among the reasons for this slow pace, and reducing the outstanding caseload should be the Home Office’s highest asylum policy priority.” Home Affairs Committee report summary.

The Guardian newspaper highlights the fact that headline-grabbing policies including the Rwanda plan have had no impact on the number of people using the dangerous sea route, with numbers still rising compared with previous years.

Meanwhile, activities against current conditions for asylum seekers continue. Dangerous detention conditions are underlined by the current heatwave.

Activists and detainees were heard chanting together from either side of the fence at detention centre Brook House, at Gatwick Airport. Protests against proposed deportations to Rwanda continue. To join and support these actions, find out more here.

FRONTEX

Under EU law and article 46 of the agency’s founding regulation, Frontex is obliged to suspend or terminate operations where serious or systematic fundamental rights violations are known.

Despite this, Jonas Grimheden, Frontex’s fundamental rights officer has suggested reversing the law and increasing Frontex’s presence in these places.

Worth reading:

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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.