Are You Syrious? — Weekly Digest (1/11/2017–7/11/2017)
Summarized: this week’s reports about the refugee situation in Greece courtesy of Are you Syrious?.
Hunger Strike at Syntagma
In the capital, where another extreme situation sparked an hunger strike, people continue to demand the unification with their families in Germany. It is day 8 of the protest. According to AYS yesterday (7/11/2017) the Greek asylum services finally answered but not to everyone.
Asylum service has informed two of the’s hunger strikers that their tickets were issued and they can travel to Germany. The two women decided to continue the protest and the hunger strike until the struggle of the refugees for family reunification is justified. For some people or solidarity, it is more than a slogan.
Numbers of October
4,172 new registrations were reported in October. In total, on all of the Greek islands, 112 boats arrived in October, carrying a total of 4,116 people.
Migration Minister Mouzalas expressed his concern about the rise of arrivals on the Greek coasts and ties it to the difficulties the country is facing to manage the migration problem. He states that, since August, the number of people reaching the shores has increased by over 200% compared to the same period last year.
Open letter from Chios
More voluntary organisations, who have been providing humanitarian aid on the Greek island of Chios for more than two years, are now addressing European Comission with an open letter.
We are writing to express our deepest concerns with regard to the situation of refugees on the island. Whilst the inhumane conditions on Chios for refugees is not a new issue, the situation has reached tipping point in recent weeks with an increase in arrivals, the withdrawal of most NGOs, and the closure of Souda camp in the city, which has left the EU hotspot Vial as the sole facility that accommodates refugees on the island. In particular, we would like to draw your attention to the following issues:
Lack of accommodation: There are currently more than 1800 people in Vial, which by far exceeds the official capacity of the camp. The camp fails to provide dignified shelter and sanitation, and cover even the most basic human needs. More than 20 UNHCR tents have been set up in a nearby field to provide some form of rudimentary shelter to hundreds of recently arrived, traumatised refugees — including many children, pregnant women, and people suffering various health problems. All tents are currently over capacity, with 9 to 12 people in each. Conditions are atrocious — there is no electricity, no toilets, no sanitation, no running water. Toxic waste water from nearby chemical toilets, which are no longer functioning, flows next to the tents, causing serious public health risks. Basic items such as blankets and clothes are provided only by independent groups of volunteers who are already overstretched to capacity.
Only in the last two weeks, more than 600 people, including many children and other vulnerable persons, have arrived and local authorities have failed to offer an adequate solution for sheltering them. In scenes not seen since the first days following the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal in March 2016, dozens have spent the night outside on the concrete floor at the main port of Chios due to a lack of accommodation.
Lack of medical care: there continues to be a lack of medical support for the population residing in Vial.
Inadequate provision of food: we are receiving complaints daily from children and adults that the queuing time for the food distribution in Vial can take up to three hours.
Delay of asylum procedure: due to the high number of arrivals, refugees who arrive on Chios often wait more than two months for their interview with the Greek Asylum Service or the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). This is alarming given the inhumane conditions the refugees are staying in.
The situation on Chios is critical and, with weather rapidly conditions deteriorating and severe rain forecast this week, demands an immediate response from local, national and European authorities. We hereby add our voice to a recent call by more than 100 grassroots civil society organisationsand leading international NGOs to promptly close the hotspots and decongest the islands by ending restrictions on the freedom of movement of asylum-seekers arriving on the Greek islands and provide them with adequate reception on the mainland outside of detention facilities.
We are not willing to tolerate the sight of thousands of refugees freezing in tents along the EU’s borders. While acknowledging that the Greek government bears primary responsibility for guaranteeing the fundamental rights of refugees, we would like to draw your attention to the European Union’s positive and supervisory obligations under EU law and ask:
How long will it take for the European Commission to assume its shared responsibility for the inhumane and degrading conditions in the hotspots, established and funded by the EU, in the Aegean Sea?
How long will the European Commission continue to hail the ‘success’ of the EU-Turkey deal in spite of the widely documented fundamental rights violations of the thousands of refugees trapped on these islands that we witness daily?
What concrete and immediate actions will the European Commission undertake to guarantee the protection of fundamental rights of refugees in these hotspots?
- Associated Press on 3/11/2017 reported that a wooden boat with refugees have sunk off the coast of Kalymnos island in Greece. At least three people drowned while 15 people, among them children, were saved. There were probably 24 people on board, but the rest are missing.
- Around 230 refugees had to leave the temporary camp north of Athens, with the order to be moved to other camps. The majority of the refugees who have resided in the Oinofyta camp in recent months are of Afghan origin, the rest are from Iran and Pakistan, reports NoBorders.
“I do not know why they close the field when it is ready to face the winter and can accommodate around 600 refugees who will need shelter for the winter season,” says volunteer Amy Anderson.
- On 2/11/2017 the President of the Administrative Court of Mytilene ordered the release of three Syrians, detained upon arrival, after objections against detention (legal remedy) were filed by our legal team in Lesvos. The three Syrians were detained upon arrival in the Pre-removal Centre (Section B) in Moria despite the fact that they expressed their intention to apply for asylum and subsequently submitted their asylum applications. These are the first cases of detention of Syrians upon arrival (at least in Lesvos) as per the new practice being implemented, AYS reports.
- Those on the ground have reported fighting among various nationalities in the Moria camp. With the conditions on Lesvos driving more people to acts of desperation, volunteers on the island worry for the safety of all of those living in the camp.
- There are still protesters at Sappho square: it is day 20 of the protest, and day 12 of the hunger strike for men and the 7th day of the hunger strike for the women who recently joined, among whom there are minors. There has been no response from authorities on the island as of yet.
- The fights broke out in Vial center between Syrian and Afghan residents on 1/11/2017 and all the staff had to be evacuated. Other sources reported that the situation was calmer in the afternoon.
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