/en

    • Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk

      The environmental crisis is increasing risks to security and peace worldwide, notably in countries that are already fragile. Indicators of insecurity such as the number of conflicts, the number of hungry people and military expenditure are rising; so are indicators of environmental decline, climate change, biodiversity, pollution and other areas. In combination, the security and environmental crises are creating compound, cascading, emergent, systemic and existential risks. Without profound changes in approach by institutions of authority, risks will inevitably proliferate quickly.

      Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk surveys the evolving risk landscape and documents a number of developments that indicate a pathway to solutions––in international law and policy, in peacekeeping operations and among non-governmental organizations. It finds that two principal avenues need to be developed: (a) combining peacebuilding and environmental restoration, and (b) effectively addressing the underlying environmental issues. It also analyses the potential of existing and emerging pro-environment measures for exacerbating risks to peace and security. The findings demonstrate that only just and peaceful transitions to more sustainable practices can be effective––and show that these transitions also need to be rapid.

      https://sipri.org/publications/2022/other-publications/environment-peace-security-new-era-risk

      #rapport #sipri #paix

  • Greece reiterates open door policy for Ukrainians

    Greece is determined to take in Ukrainian refugees, according to Greek migration minister Notis Mitarakis. A reported 13,000 people have travelled to Greece from Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion so far.

    Greece’s Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis reiterated that his country was willing and prepared to take in more Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing their country due to Russia’s ongoing invasion, in a speech to parliament on Tuesday (March 22). “We are ready for the hospitality arrangements. And we are ready to register people and provide them with temporary protection,” Mitaraki announced.

    “The national reception system has the immediate availability of 15,000 beds”, Mitarakis said.
    13,000 refugees from Ukraine arrived so far

    Miratakis went on to say that Greece has already welcomed a total of 13,000 Ukrainian refugees.

    “We have created a reception center in Promachonas, the main entry point; we have created a special entrance lane and have quickly renovated an old building in order to have a proper reception area, with the presence of more medical support, plus hot drinks, food, and a warm welcome,” said Mitarakis.

    Greece has several hosting structures ready to welcome Ukrainians, the minister said. One in Sintiki, which is a new facility that is used for the first few days for those who arrive from Promachonas, which is only five kilometers from the border.

    In addition, Mitarakis said the government had set up the facilities at Elefsina and Serres to host Ukrainians, with 15,000 beds available iinitially, which could be gradually increased, if necessary, to 30,000.

    He explained that the ministry would create an electronic pre-registration platform which will be operational starting on March 28 to allow all potential beneficiaries to transfer their basic data and to receive a personalized appointment at the Asylum Service Offices.

    He added that the process of issuing a temporary protection ID will start “on April 4 at the Regional Asylum Offices of Thessaloniki, Attica, Patras and Crete.”
    Pushback accusations against Greece

    Though the current Greek government has launched policies to welcome refugees from Ukraine, the same cannot be said for refugees from other world regions and migrants.

    Migrant and refugee advocacy groups have repeatedly criticized squalid conditions in Greek reception facilities and Greek police have been accused of carrying out illegal pushbacks in the Aegean, sending migrants and refugees back to Turkey on boats unfit for the sea without allowing them to claim asylum.

    Greek officials have denied these claims, but the conservative government has openly talked about its goals to reduce irregular migrant and refugee arrivals.

    During his speech to Parliament on Tuesday, Mitarakis praised efforts to prevent border crossings, saying that “while Europe is experiencing a 57% increase in flows of people coming in, Greece has regained control and is not the main gateway.” He said that Greece had reduced arrivals from 72,422 in 2019 to 8,745 in 2021, “the lowest flows of the decade.”

    Mitarakis claimed that his government had achieved “the restoration of control over immigration ...through the drastic confrontation of illegal immigration. ...Now, we are investing in legal immigration, reforming and digitizing everything, and simplifying procedures.”

    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/39424/greece-reiterates-open-door-policy-for-ukrainians

    #Grèce #racisme #réfugiés #guerre #Ukraine #Africains #frontières #fermeture_des_frontières #catégorisation #tri #réfugiés_ukrainiens

    –-

    ajouté à ce fil de discussion :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/951230

    et plus particulièrement ici (Grèce) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/951230#message954735

    • Ukraine or the Middle East? Greece applies varying rules on refugees

      Thousands of Ukrainian refugees have entered Greece, where they enjoy international protection. For non-Ukrainian refugees, however, the situation remains tense and frustrating.

      After days of hiding in the basement of her house, Sofiia Malinovskaya finally made it to safety. Airstrikes and fighting near her home in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv forced her to leave Ukraine.

      “A friend and I left by car,” Malinovskaya said. “It took us four days just to get to the border. There were just so many cars, and the traffic jam was crazy. We moved 170 kilometers (106 miles) in seven hours.”

      They left via Slovakia because border traffic there had not been very busy. Volunteers helped Sofiia get to Krakow, Poland, then on to Warsaw and, from there, to the Greek city of Thessaloniki.

      Although she is now safe, she said she feels she has no prospects. “I feel very lost. You realize that you don’t have the place to get back, because my city is almost destroyed. There isn’t a building left without any destruction. You don’t know what to do next and you don’t know how to keep living a normal life after that,” she said.

      Malinovskaya came to Thessaloniki because she knew she would have a place to live. “I have a close friend living here, and I could stay with her,” she said.

      She added, however, that she did not know that Greece has been criticized for years for pushbacks and lack of protection of migrants and asylum-seekers.

      Aid without red tape

      More than 10,000 people crossed the border as of Wednesday, according to Vadym Sabluk, Ukraine’s consul general in Thessaloniki.

      “The Greek government kindly agreed to let all Ukrainians who escape from the war come to the Greek territory,” he said.

      Ukrainians carrying biometric passports could immediately enter the country. For those identifying themselves with other documents, such as a birth certificate, a center has been set up at Promachonas, the Greek-Bulgarian border checkpoint, where refugees are given paperwork to fill out by the police. They could then submit the document to the nearest immigration authority and be officially registered.

      “According to the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, starting from March 28, an online platform for pre-registration for receiving documents in the status of temporary protection of Greek government will be launched,” Sabluk said, adding that the status can remain valid for up to three years.

      Sabluk, who has been working nonstop since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, said he has been overwhelmed by the willingness of Greek authorities and citizens to help his compatriots.

      “Many people come to the consulate and offer their own apartments, houses and rooms in order to welcome Ukrainian people,” he said.

      Russians living in Greece are showing solidarity as well, Sabluk added. “The Russians are coming and begging pardon and they work shoulder-to-shoulder with our volunteers,” he said.
      Good refugee, bad refugee

      Inside Thessaloniki’s city hall, Ukrainians, Russians and Greeks have been working together to assemble packages of food, clothing and medicines to be sent to Ukraine. But out on the streets of Athens, more then 400 police officers have been busy with Operation Skupa ("broom"), carrying out checks on asylum-seekers and detaining anyone who can’t prove their identity.

      “I’m afraid to go out at all,” said a young Afghan, adding that he does not know where he will go when the camp where he lives shuts down in May.

      His application for asylum was rejected twice, he said. In Kabul, his hometown, he worked as an interpreter for international media outlets, and he fears the Taliban will make good on threats to kill him if he returns to Afghanistan.

      The Afghan’s attempt to submit a new asylum application was unsuccessful. For hours he tried, as required, to register via the Skype messenger service, but he never got through. Now he has to travel, at his own expense, to the district of Evros, situated at the other end of the country, to submit his application at a reception center.

      He said his time in Greece has left him with little trust in Greek authorities. He mentions witnessing police violence and illegal deportations while trying to cross the border from Turkey to Greece.

      The Afghan said comparing the treatment of Ukrainian refugees with his own situation makes him angry. “They’re new arrivals and should go through the same procedure as all the other refugees,” he said.

      The war in Ukraine is the main topic of discussion at the camp where he lives, he said, adding that the situation there was difficult enough without seeing how others have received preferential treatment.
      Documented breaches of law

      Human rights activists have long denounced the Greek government’s treatment of refugees. The government, however, claims that Turkey is a safe third country and that, therefore, people had no right to international protection in the EU.

      Speaking to the parliament, Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis recently labeled the refugees from Ukraine “real refugees.” Meanwhile, leading politicians have said asylum-seekers from the Middle East or Africa are “illegal immigrants,” according to Greek media.

      Neda Noraie-Kia, an expert in European migration policy at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which is affiliated with the German Green Party, said she disapproves of the Greek government’s unequal treatment of refugees. A rather somber picture has emerged regarding refugee protection in Greece, she said: Illegal deportations, lack of basic provisions, lack of integration efforts — the list of accusations is long.

      “It’s important that the EU responds to documented breaches of law,” she told DW.

      Nonetheless, it is also important that refugees from Ukraine receive protection in Greece without red tape, she added.

      “This proves, after all, that solidarity is possible,” said Noraie-Kia, adding that such solidarity also has to be extended to others who seek protection.

      Many people, including asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, have been waiting too long for an asylum hearing, trapped in a legal gray area for years.

      "Protection against war and persecution is not an act of mercy,"said Noraie-Kia. “We in the EU are not isolated in this world. When authoritarian regimes oppress their citizens, we can’t close our eyes. We must take responsibility.”

      https://www.dw.com/en/ukraine-or-the-middle-east-greece-applies-varying-rules-on-refugees/a-61262360

    • Greece Using Other Migrants to Expel Asylum Seekers

      Stripped, Robbed, and Forced Back to Turkey; No Chance to Seek Asylum.

      Greek security forces are employing third country nationals, men who appear to be of Middle Eastern or South Asian origin, to push asylum seekers back at the Greece-Turkey land border, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

      The 29-page report “‘Their Faces Were Covered’: Greece’s Use of Migrants as Police Auxiliaries in Pushbacks,” found that Greek police are detaining asylum seekers at the Greece-Turkey land border at the Evros River, in many cases stripping them of most of their clothing and stealing their money, phones, and other possessions. They then turn the migrants over to masked men, who force them onto small boats, take them to the middle of the Evros River, and force them into the frigid water, making them wade to the riverbank on the Turkish side. None are apparently being properly registered in Greece or allowed to lodge asylum claims.

      “There can be no denying that the Greek government is responsible for the illegal pushbacks at its borders, and using proxies to carry out these illegal acts does not relieve it of any liability,” said Bill Frelick, refugee and migrant rights director at Human Rights Watch. “The European Commission should urgently open legal proceedings and hold the Greek government accountable for violating EU laws prohibiting collective expulsions.”

      Human Rights Watch interviewed 26 Afghan migrants and asylum seekers, 23 of whom were pushed back from Greece to Turkey across the Evros River between September 2021 and February 2022. The 23 men, 2 women, and a boy said they were detained by men they believed to be Greek authorities, usually for no more than 24 hours with little to no food or drinking water, and pushed back to Turkey. The men and boy provided firsthand victim or witness accounts of Greek police or men they believed to be Greek police beating or otherwise abusing them.
      Sixteen of those interviewed said the boats taking them back to Turkey were piloted by men who spoke Arabic or the South Asian languages common among migrants. They said most of these men wore black or commando-like uniforms and used balaclavas to cover their faces. Three people interviewed were able to talk with the men ferrying the boats. The boat pilots told them they were also migrants who were employed by the Greek police with promises of being provided with documents enabling them to travel onward.

      A 28-year-old former commander in the Afghan army who was pushed back to Turkey in late December, said he had a conversation in Pashto with the Pakistani man ferrying the boat that took him back to Turkey: “The boat driver said, ‘We are … here doing this work for three months and then they give us … a document. With this, we can move freely inside Greece and then we can get a ticket for … another country.’”

      An 18-year-old Afghan youth described his experience after the Greek police transported him from the detention center to the river: “At the border, there were other people waiting for us.… From their language, we could recognize they were Pakistanis and Arabs. These men took our money and beat us. They beat me with sticks. They dropped us in the middle of the river. The water was to my chest, and we waded the rest of the way [to Turkey].”

      Pushbacks violate multiple human rights norms, including the prohibition of collective expulsion under the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to due process in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the right to seek asylum under EU asylum law and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the principle of nonrefoulement under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

      The Greek government routinely denies involvement in pushbacks, labeling such claims “fake news” or “Turkish propaganda” and cracking down, including through the threat of criminal sanctions, against those reporting on such incidents. On March 29, Greece’s independent authority for transparency tasked by the government to investigate pushbacks “found no basis for reports that Greek authorities have illegally turned back asylum-seekers entering the country from Turkey.”

      Major General Dimitrios Mallios, chief of the Aliens & Border Protection Branch in Hellenic Police Headquarters, denied the Human Rights Watch allegations. He said that “police agencies and their staff will continue to operate in a continuous, professional, lawful and prompt way, taking all necessary measures to effectively manage the refugees/migration flows, in a manner that safeguards on the one hand the rights of the aliens and on the other hand the protection of citizens especially in the first line border regions.”

      Greece should immediately halt all pushbacks from Greek territory, and stop using third country nationals for collective expulsions, Human Rights Watch said. The European Commission, which provides financial support to the Greek government for migration control, should require Greece to end all summary returns and collective expulsions of asylum seekers to Turkey, press the authorities to establish an independent and effective border monitoring mechanism that would investigate allegations of violence at borders, and ensure that none of its funding contributes to violations of fundamental rights and EU laws. The European Commission should also open legal proceedings against Greece for violating EU laws prohibiting collective expulsions.

      Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which is under increased scrutiny for complicity in migrant pushbacks in Greece, should trigger article 46 of its regulation, under which the agency has a duty to suspend or terminate operations in case of serious abuses, if no concrete improvements are made by Greece to end these abuses within three months.

      On March 1, Greece’s migration minister, Notis Mitarachi, declared before the Hellenic Parliament that Ukrainians were the “real refugees,” implying that those on Greece’s border with Turkey are not.

      “At a time when Greece welcomes Ukrainians as ‘real refugees,’ it conducts cruel pushbacks on Afghans and others fleeing similar war and violence,” Frelick said. “The double standard makes a mockery of the purported shared European values of equality, rule of law, and human dignity.”

      https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/04/07/greece-using-other-migrants-expel-asylum-seekers

  • War of words over migrant deaths at Greece-Turkey border

    In early February, 19 migrants froze to death at the Greek-Turkish border. Ever since, both Ankara and Athens have been blaming each other for the deaths, yet providing no evidence of what actually happened.

    On February 2, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu published four disturbing images on his Twitter account. The pictures showed several men, seemingly unconscious, lying in the mud on a dirt track in the middle of nowhere.

    Soylu wrote: “12 of the 22 migrants pushed back by Greek Border Units, stripped off from their clothes and shoes have frozen to death. EU is remediless, weak and void of humane feelings.”

    It did not take long for Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi to respond. In a video message, he said: “The statements of the Turkish leadership regarding the tragic incident in which people lost their lives in Turkey were unacceptable. It is Turkey’s responsibility to prevent illegal departures.” He later added that the “migrants in questions never reached the border.”

    How Mitarachi can be sure of that remains unclear. A source within the Greek Ministry told DW “that there were absolutely no records of these people at all.” This, however, does not prove whether or not the victims set foot on Greek soil.

    For its part, Turkey has not provided any evidence to back up its allegations against Greece either. In the meantime, seven more people discovered near the Evros River along the border have died, bringing the death toll to 19.

    Lack of transparency

    Independent researcher Lena Karamanidou is reluctant to believe either side. She feels that there are too many allegations and a lack of transparency. Having grown up in the Evros region, she is now based in Glasgow and has been monitoring migration movements at the Greek-Turkish border for many years.

    Karamanidou pointed out that there is a history of pushbacks in the Evros region dating back to the 1980s.

    She told DW that people regularly lose their lives either while attempting to cross the border or during a pushback. “The unusual element of this incident is not that people lost their lives,” she explains, “but the high number of deaths.”
    Increased anti-migrant sentiment in Greece

    Karamanidou does not share the Greek interior minister’s theory that the victims failed to reach Greece. “We know from multiple reports by human rights organizations and NGOs [nongovermental organizations] that people who cross the border are not necessarily registered, especially prior to pushbacks.”

    She said that political discourse on migration in Greece has always been “hostile, nationalist, and racist” — but that anti-migrant sentiment has intensified over the past two years.

    Karamanidou believes that the government and mainstream media close to the government share responsibility for this: “They actively promote such discourse, including through representations of migration as a national security threat linked to Turkey,” she said.

    According to Karamanidou, this ongoing propaganda war between Athens and Ankara, which is being fought at the expense of asylum-seekers, has a long history in both countries.

    “Greek and Turkish national identities have been shaped through narratives of this enmity [...] responses to migration in Greece have long blamed Turkey for not controlling migration or not cooperating on migration control,” she asserted.

    EU divided on migration policy

    Meanwhile, the European Union continues struggling to find common ground on matters of migration. Several member states are not willing to take in asylum-seekers at all. As a result, the EU is now focusing on keeping its borders closed.

    With regard to Greece, countless media reports have documented illegal pushbacks, irregularities in the country’s asylum system and police violence against migrants.

    But despite evidence of this and numerous indications of Greece’s mishandling EU funds, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson has refrained from officially reprimanding Athens or launching an infringement procedure.

    Her only reaction so far has been to express “great concern,” insisting that Athens investigate cases of illegal practices, and to state publicly that border protection must be in accordance with EU law.

    Carefully timed tweet?

    Soylu’s tweet about the dead migrants at the Greek-Turkish border came during an informal meeting of the European Home Affair Ministers in Lille, France — an event attended by both Johansson and Mitarachi.

    Given the political turmoil between Ankara and Athens, and also between Ankara and the EU, it is hard to imagine that the timing was a coincidence.

    When asked that evening at a press conference about the incident at the Greek-Turkish border, Commissioner Johansson said: “This should never have happened, that migrants who try to enter the European Union lost their lives.”

    She added that Mitarachi had assured her that the victims had not entered Greece, but said that the incident needed to be investigated further.

    DW got in touch with her office for an update regarding this investigation, but the commissioner was not available for an interview.

    German response to the migrant deaths

    Human rights organizations were hoping that Germany’s new government and its new foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock of the Green Party, would be more vocal regarding the situation at the EU’s external borders.

    The German Foreign Office issued a statement about the death of the migrants, saying: “It’s important to find out the actual circumstances of the incident.”

    Experts have been demanding installation of an independent border-monitoring system in Greece, which would assure that authorities there play by the rules. Athens, however, refuses such a mechanism, saying that the situation is under control.

    The German Foreign Office told DW that the German government “generally supports the installation of an independent border mechanism,” adding that it is “important that nongovernmental actors, e.g. NGOs, are also granted access in order to observe the situation at the external borders of the EU.”

    https://www.dw.com/en/war-of-words-over-migrant-deaths-at-greece-turkey-border/a-60729270
    #décès #morts #mourir_aux_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Grèce #Turquie #Evros

    • 12 people found frozen to death near Turkey’s border with Greece

      Turkish minister claims Greek border guards pushed back people whose bodies were ‘stripped of shoes and clothes’

      The bodies of 12 refugees believed to have frozen to death have been found in an area straddling Turkey’s frontier with Greece, igniting a war of words between the two countries.

      After the bodies were found on Wednesday, Ankara’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, accused Greek guards of deliberately pushing the refugees back across the border. Several reportedly showed signs of frostbite while some were found near the İpsala crossing point “without shoes and stripped of their clothes”, he tweeted.

      Soylu said the dead had been among a group of 22 people pushed back into Turkey, and shared blurry photographs of eight of the recovered bodies, including three in just shorts and T-shirts.

      “They behave like thugs,” he said of the Greek border patrols, while accusing the EU of being “helpless, weak and inhumane”.

      Greece’s migration minister, Notis Mitarachi, rejected any suggestion of Hellenic frontier units forcibly expelling the refugees.

      “The death of 12 migrants at the Turkish border near Ipsala is a tragedy. But the truth behind this incident bears no resemblance to the false propaganda pushed out by my counterpart,” he said in a statement.

      “These specific migrants never made it to the border. Any suggestion they did, or indeed were pushed back into Turkey, is utter nonsense.”

      Mitarachi said that instead of making “baseless claims” Ankara should uphold its commitment to stop such “dangerous journeys”, referring to a deal reached between the EU and Turkey to stem migrant flows. “Turkey should assume its responsibilities if we want to prevent such tragedies from occurring again,” he said.

      Information on where the refugees were from, or when they had made the perilous crossing, was not released. But officials in the Turkish border city of Edirne clarified that among the dead was a migrant who had submitted to frostbite after being rushed to the local hospital.

      This is not the first time that the two regional adversaries – long at loggerheads over an array of disputes – have argued over the fate of migrants crossing their shared land and sea frontiers.

      But friction over the problem has worsened since early 2020, when a border crisis erupted after Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, encouraged thousands of asylum seekers to enter Europe via Greece.

      NGOs have also stepped up criticism of Athens, saying despite persistent denials they have collated ever more proof of the pushbacks.

      The practice of turning away people seeking international protection is illegal under domestic, EU and international law.

      On Wednesday Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International’s Europe director, said the group had documented evidence of collective expulsions occurring since 2013, describing them as de facto migration policy.

      Greece had always rejected the accusations with “anger, frustration and denial”, he told a virtual conference organised by the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights. “But my own view is that pushbacks have become more brazen, not just at borders but deep into Greek territory,” said Muižnieks, a former commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe.

      In an atmosphere that had become ever more permissive because of limited monitoring, reports of people being injured or strip-searched had also increased. “Much more violence is being used. We’re hearing of broken spines, hands and strip searches,” he added.

      While Turkey hosts about 3.7 million Syrian refugees and is regarded as a major transit route for those fleeing poverty and war in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Greece is seen as the easiest gateway into the EU.

      Since Athens reinforced Aegean sea borders after the 2020 crisis, growing numbers of refugees have elected to cross into the country via its north-eastern land frontier with Turkey, despite Greek authorities also erecting a 40km steel wall last year along the border.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/02/turkey-accuses-greece-of-pushing-back-people-who-later-froze-to-death

    • Turkish interior minister accuses Greek authorities of pushbacks resulting in death

      Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has lashed out at Greek authorities repeatedly in recent days, accusing the country of the deliberate mistreatment of migrants. Soylu has slammed Greece for committing acts of gross negligence amounting to manslaughter on at least two recent occasions.

      Soylu’s verbal attack on Greece started after he supported claims being discussed by the Turkish public accusing Greece of throwing three migrants into the Aegean Sea, alleging this resulted in the death of one. It was not clear when exactly this event was supposed to have taken place but appeared to be of a recent nature:

      At the end of January on Twitter, Soylu had specified that two of the migrants had been rescued while the other one had died. The alleged incident, which Soylu said amounted to “barbarism” and “murder,” took place off the Aegean coast near the tourist resort town of Çeşme.

      In his tweet, Soylu also said that “the European Union, that beacon of freedom and human rights, continues to sleep,” adding that the “murderous Frontex will have to answer for this.”

      Last words: ’I can’t swim’

      In the tweet, an Arabic-speaking man, whose identity is concealed, is seen recounting the alleged series of events with the help of an interpreter.

      The migrant claims that after all his belongings were confiscated by the Greek Coast Guard, he and the other two family members he was traveling with, were given life jackets which were too small for them.

      Despite protesting that some of them didn’t even know how to swim, they reportedly were left to fend for themselves in the cold waters of the Aegean Sea, the migrant says. He also specified that the individual who was reported to have drowned was his cousin.

      “The Greek Coast Guard gave us lifejackets before they left us in the sea, but they were for children and did not fit us. My cousin told them that he did not know how to swim. But they didn’t listen to him. They threw us into the water, where he drowned,” the unidentified man said.

      Politicized suffering

      Soylu lashed out one more time on Twitter at Greece on Wednesday, alleging that 12 migrants at the Greek-Turkish Ipsala land border near the Evros River had frozen to death after being pushed back and stripped naked by Greek border forces.

      The tweet was accompanied by images of blurred out people, who appeared to be dead.

      Soylu further politicized the alleged incident by saying that the EU is “void of humane feelings,” and adding that “Greek border units are heartless towards victims, but tolerant towards FETO,” referring to the infamous Turkish religious movement which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses of having orchestrated a coup attempt against him in 2016.

      FETO is the Turkish government’s name for the so-called Hizmet Movement, spearheaded by exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen. The organization is banned in Turkey as a terrorist group; hundreds of its adherents have fled Turkey to neighboring Greece and other countries in a bid to avoid arrest in recent years.

      Turkey has been under a constant state of emergency for over five years now, ever since the failed coup, giving police, military, judges and courts extraordinary powers to prosecute Gülen’s supporters.

      Illegal pushbacks at sea

      In the past year, the Turkish government has repeatedly accused Greece of pushing back asylum seekers, which would be in clear violation of international law and human rights.

      Several NGOs have also made statements claiming that Greece, with help from the EU, is trying to keep migrants away from entering Greek waters, and even of returning migrants to Turkish waters. However, there have also been counterclaims, saying Turkey moves migrants it intercepts in its own waters to Greek waters.

      The EU has also voiced concern over allegations of such pushbacks at sea, but in a series of investigations, Brussels has exonerated its Frontex agency from any complicity in the alleged pushbacks.

      Bot the Greek and the Turkish government have repeatedly denied conducting such pushback tactics.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/38298/turkish-interior-minister-accuses-greek-authorities-of-pushbacks-resul

      #Ipsala

  • Vladimir Putin says he drove a taxi after fall of Soviet Union
    https://www.dw.com/en/vladimir-putin-says-he-drove-a-taxi-after-fall-of-soviet-union/a-60097866


    O.K. verstanden: In Russland wird man vom Taxifahrer zum Präsidenten wie man in den USA vom Tellerwäscher zum Millionär wird. Das nennt man soziale Aufwärtsmobilität.

    12.12.2021 - The Russian president spoke of the devastating effect the demise of the USSR had on him and millions of others, admitting he took up driving a cab during hard times, even though he said “it’s unpleasant to talk about.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin drove a taxi to boost his income following the fall of the Soviet Union, state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported on Sunday.

    In a documentary film, RIA-Novosti quoted the Russian leader as saying: “Sometimes I had to earn extra money.”

    “I mean, earn extra money by car, as a private driver. It’s unpleasant to talk about to be honest but, unfortunately, that was the case.”

    Putin said the collapse of the USSR spelled the end of “historical Russia.”

    He has previously lamented its disintegration three decades ago, saying it remains a “tragedy” for “most citizens.”

    The end of the Soviet Union brought with it a period of severe economic instability that plunged millions into poverty, as newly independent Russia evolved from communism to capitalism.

    A loyal servant of the Soviet Union, Putin was dismayed when it fell apart, once describing the collapse as “the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century.”

    Putin’s comments come as critics accuse him of planning to recreate the Soviet Union with an invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin has so far dismissed the idea as fear-mongering by the West, and that Moscow would only attack its neighbor if provoked by Kyiv or another state.

    #Rußland #Taxi #Putin

  • Tollé au sujet de remises sur des produits de consommation pour les haredim Time of Israel
    Le site de livraison Shufersal Mehadrin, peu connu, offre les mêmes produits que le service régulier pour une fraction du prix - ce qui a provoqué la colère des consommateurs


    Illustration : Des clients devant un supermarché Shufersal à Safed, le 6 avril 2020. (Crédit : David Cohen/Flash90)

    La plus grande chaîne de supermarchés d’Israël a été vivement critiquée mercredi après avoir été accusée de proposer à ses clients de la communauté ultra-orthodoxe des tarifs plus bas sur certains produits que ceux appliqués pour le grand public.

    Un reportage de la Douzième chaine a révélé que les produits proposés sur Shufersal Online, un service de livraison de courses commandées en ligne géré par la chaîne Shufersal, étaient plus chers que les mêmes produits présents sur un autre site géré par le groupe et destiné aux consommateurs ultra-orthodoxes. Ce site ne propose que des produits qui ont une certification casher stricte dite « mehadrin ».

    Selon la chaîne, une pizza surgelée coûte 6 shekels de moins que lorsqu’elle est achetée auprès de Shufersal Mehadrin Direct ; le saumon surgelé passe de 64,90 shekel sur le site régulier à 34,90 shekel sur l’autre ; et un beignet à la confiture ne coûte que 2,90 shekel contre 5,90 shekel sur le portail principal de Shufersal.

    Le reportage a fait sensation parmi un certain nombre de clients de la chaîne. Michael Biton, député de Kakhol lavan, chef de la commission des Finances de la Knesset, a déclaré qu’il ordonnerait aux PDG de Shufersal et d’autres chaînes de comparaître devant la commission pour un échange sur les prix des produits alimentaires, a rapporté la chaîne.

    « Il n’y a aucune raison pour qu’une personne qui mange casher de telle façon paie 30 à 40 % de moins qu’une personne qui respecte un autre type de casheroute », a-t-il déclaré.

    Un certain nombre de consommateurs se sont plaints sur les réseaux sociaux auprès de la chaine au sujet de l’écart de prix et ont déclaré qu’ils n’y feraient plus leurs achats.

    « J’ai fait mes courses chez Shufersal pendant des années. Je suis laïc. Je m’attends à ce que vous me dédommagiez pour toutes ces années où vous m’avez trompé », a écrit un utilisateur nommé Eli Levin sur la page Facebook de la chaine.


    Un livreur transporte des courses du supermarché Shufersal dans un immeuble à Jérusalem, le 29 mars 2020. (Crédit : Hadas Parush/Flash90)

    Dans une déclaration largement diffusée, le groupe Shufersal a déclaré qu’il « dispose d’un certain nombre de formats de vente au détail différents, avec une variété de produits différents, des prix différents et des codes de vente différents, et qu’il n’y a donc pas de comparaison à faire entre eux ».

    Bien que le site Shufersal Mehadrin Direct ne soit pas mis en avant auprès du grand public et que peu de personnes en dehors de la communauté ultra-orthodoxe semblent le connaître, la chaîne a noté que n’importe qui pouvait y faire ses achats sans distinction d’origine, de religion ou de croyance.

    Le site propose une remise sur de nombreux produits, mais la sélection est plus restreinte, puisqu’il ne propose que des produits certifiés mehadrin – ce qui représente une fraction de ce qui est proposé dans la plupart de ses magasins.

    Un responsable du service client a déclaré à la Douzième chaine que les consommateurs s’étaient déjà plaints lorsque les produits étaient remplacés à la livraison par des articles similaires avec une certification considérée par la communauté ‘haredi comme moins stricte.


    Des produits dans un supermarché Shufersal, le 2 décembre 2020. (Crédit : Shoshanna Solomon/Times of Israel)

    Les prix dans les supermarchés en Israël sont une préoccupation permanente pour de nombreuses personnes dans le pays, où le coût de la vie est considéré comme un problème majeur pour les électeurs, dépassant même les questions de sécurité.

    Au cours de la dernière décennie, des protestations majeures ont été déclenchées suite à de prétendues hausse de prix sur des produits de consommation apparemment ordinaires, tels que du fromage https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottage_cheese_boycott ou des desserts lactés https://www.dw.com/en/milky-protest-not-about-the-chocolate-pudding/a-18005017 .

    #israel #prix #ultra-orthodoxes #alimentation @casher #rabbinats #certification #qualité #normes #supervision #surveillance #surveillance_religieuse #certificat de #casheroute #magasins #restaurants #LP

  • Poland : 4 people found dead on border with Belarus

    Four were found dead on the Poland-Belarus border, three Iraqi men in Poland and one Iraqi woman in Belarus. The Polish prime minister spoke of “dramatic events and Belarusian provocations.”

    Polish officials said Sunday the bodies of three men, believed to be Iraqi nationals, were found on the Polish side of the Poland-Belarus border while Belarusian authorities announced an Iraqi woman was found within a meter of the border.

    The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Facebook that he was in contact with the interior minister as well as the head of the border guards. Morawiecki said links between these “dramatic events and Belarusian provocations” would be investigated.

    Poland’s border guards said on Twitter they are opening an investigation into the deaths.

    State of emergency on Poland-Belarus border

    EU member-states Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, which border Belarus, have come under increasing pressure as Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko has opened a backdoor route for migrants into the EU.

    Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have labeled the recent influx of migrants a “hybrid attack” carried out by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko with the aim of destabilizing Europe and the EU.

    Poland and Lithuania are building razor wire fences and increasing border patrols. Both have declared a state of emergency along the border areas in an effort to halt, but more likely will only stymie migrant flows.

    One week ago, Poland declared a state of emergency along the border, barring any non-residents of the area access to the border zone. It was the first time such measures were imposed since the communism period in Poland ended in 1989.

    Soaring numbers of migrants crossing from the east

    Anna Michalska, a spokeswoman for the Polish border guards, said there were over 3,800 attempts at illegal crossings from Belarus in September and over 320 just on Saturday alone.

    Michalska told Polish media of a separate incident on Saturday where eight migrants, three women and five men, were stuck in the swamps near Poland’s border with Belarus.

    That group was rescued by the joint efforts of Poland’s border guards, police, firefighters, military and airborne ambulance service.
    Lukashenko retaliates for sanctions

    Western governments slapped sanctions on the government of Alexander Lukashenko for a brutal crackdown on civil society following last year’s disputed election that brought hundreds of thousands out into the streets in protest.

    EU officials and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have condemned this latest crisis brought on by a leader described as Europe’s last dictator.

    https://www.dw.com/en/poland-4-people-found-dead-on-border-with-belarus/a-59234536
    #mourir_aux_frontières #morts_aux_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Pologne #Biélorussie #frontières

    –-
    voir aussi la métaliste sur la situation à la frontière entre la #Pologne et la #Biélorussie (2021) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/935860

  • Fact check: Is sea rescue a pull factor for refugees?

    For years there have been claims that sea rescue is a pull factor in asylum-related migration. But is this theory true?

    What is the debate about?

    Some argue that more people will dare to embark on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, for instance from Libya or Morocco to Europe, because they believe they will be rescued from boats that are often not even seaworthy.

    Conservative politicians in particular regard sea rescue as an incentive to migrate. As a result, they criticize civilian sea rescue operations including Sea-Watch and Sea-Eye, groups that rescue tens of thousands of people in the Mediterranean every year. In some cases, the rescuers have been accused of colluding with smugglers, which in turn means they support human trafficking — an accusation the NGOs reject.

    EU ships no longer patrol along the migration routes and have saved hardly any lives since the naval mission Operation Sophia ended in spring 2020. One of the reasons why state rescue at sea has been so severely restricted is that Italy and Austria, for instance, feared these missions would lead to a rise in the influx of refugees and migrants.

    So-called push and pull factors play an important role in EU policy and discussions about limiting and managing migration.

    Whereas push factors refer to circumstances that turn people away from their countries of origin — war or environmental disasters — pull factors are those that attract people or create incentives for them to come to Europe, including political stability and prosperity as well as liberal immigration laws.
    Research status

    So far, there is not much sound research. According to Julian Wucherpfennig, professor of international affairs and security at the Berlin-based Hertie School of Governance, this is partly due to the poor data situation — and partly to the complexity of the issue. “Cause and effect are difficult to separate,” the scientist said, adding it’s like studying whether the number of lifeguards has an effect on the number of bathers.

    Some research on the issue does exist, however. The 2017 study Blaming the Rescuers by Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani of the University of London looks at when and where how many people fled across the Mediterranean until 2016. The researchers juxtapose this data with the periods in which European rescue and border protection missions were active. They could not establish a correlation.
    2015: Numbers down despite a rise in the number of NGOs?

    Sea Rescue NGOs: A Pull Factor of Irregular Immigration? is a dossier that focuses on civilian sea rescue as a possible pull factor and analyzes migration from Libya to Italy from 2014 to 2019. Here too, authors #Eugenio_Cusumano of the European University Institute and #Matteo_Villa of the Italian Institute for International Political Science Studies “could not find any correlation between the presence of NGOs at sea and the number of migrants.”

    According to the dossier, the total number of departures in 2015 from Libya fell slightly compared to the previous year, although the number of migrants rescued by NGOs rose sharply. “The results of our analysis challenge the claim that non-governmental rescue operations are a pull factor of irregular migration across the Mediterranean,” the authors of the 2019 paper wrote.

    “Unintended consequences” of sea rescue

    Claudio Deiana (University of Cagliari), Vikram Maheshri (University of Houston) and Giovanni Mastrobuoni (University of Turin) came to a different conclusion in their Migrants at Sea: Unintended Consequences of Search and Rescue Operations study.

    A rise in rescue activities in the Mediterranean led smugglers to switch from seaworthy wooden boats to inflatable boats of poorer quality, they found, concluding that the fact that more people risk the journey to Europe under worse conditions could be an “unintended consequence” of sea rescue.

    However, most of their colleagues have not arrived at the same conclusion. Almost all other scientific studies assume that rescue at sea does not lead to more crossings, according to the Hertie School’s Julian Wucherpfennig.

    Consequences for smugglers

    Many researchers conclude it seems logical that rescue activities don’t have so much of an impact on the refugees as on how the smugglers react — they could, as reported by Deiana, Maheshri and Mastrobuoni, choose less seaworthy boats and send them out with less fuel.

    “The reality is that there are many other variables that play a role in departures — like weather conditions and the security situation and monitoring of the coast — that would affect departures more than anything else,” Safa Msehli, spokeswoman for theInternational Organization for Migration (IOM),told DW. Over the past years, there have been many departures even when there were no rescue boats at sea — “and accordingly, a large number of deaths,” she said.
    Push factors play a bigger role

    But push factors — war, political persecution, and extreme poverty —are much more important for migrants and refugees, other researchers argue.

    “In our opinion, the push factors are much higher than anything else alleged (...) People are stuck in a cycle of abuse,” said IOM spokesman Msehli. “They end up in detention, forced labor, abuse, in many cases, torture, disappearances. And those are the conditions that migrants are mentioning to us that permit them to take such a difficult journey.”
    Sea rescue, an incentive for migrants?

    There is no proof that sea rescue has a direct effect on the influx of migrants and refugees to Europe. Most studies suggest that rescue activities do not increase the number of departures from the North African coast.

    However, the claim that sea rescue acts as a pull factor cannot be unequivocally refuted either. Almost all researchers who have studied the issue say more data and further research are needed.
    What it means for EU policies

    The cutbacks in state rescue at sea and the hurdles for civilian rescue at sea, such as detaining ships in ports or banning them from entering, are based on assumptions that are not substantiated.

    Sea rescue as a pull factor seems so obvious to many that they hardly question the assumption, nor do they require any evidence for it, Matteo Villa wrote in an article for Germany’s Die Zeit weekly. Yet the evidence to date would suggest that more lives could be saved “without risking many more people setting off for Europe. Unfortunately, the EU is choosing a different path.”

    https://www.dw.com/en/fact-check-is-sea-rescue-a-pull-factor-for-refugees/a-57804247?maca=en-Twitter-sharing

    #pull-factor #facteur_pull #appel_d'air #sauvetage #Méditerranée

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Philosoph Habermas lehnt Buchpreis ab : souveräne Entscheidung nach SPIEGEL-Kritik souveräne Ents - DER SPIEGEL
    https://www.spiegel.de/kultur/literatur/philosoph-habermas-lehnt-buchpreis-ab-souveraene-entscheidung-nach-spiegel-k

    Parce qu’il n’est pas en accord avec la forme de gouvernement qui est en place dans ce pays, Jürgen Habermas choisit (après quelque hésitation) de ne pas accepter le prix du cheikh Zayed (225 000 euros donnés par Abu Dhabi). Curieusement, la nouvelle ne semble pas intéresser la presse intellectuelle francophone !

    https://www.dw.com/en/j%C3%BCrgen-habermas-turns-down-uae-award-over-human-rights-concerns/a-57405254

    #Emirats #Habermas

  • In Serbia, migrant children left to fend for themselves on Belgrade’s streets

    Unaccompanied migrant minors are living on the streets of Serbia’s capital, even in the middle of winter. Their fate is in the hands of an international smuggling ring.

    A freezing wind blows through the streets of Belgrade as the residents of the Serbian capital prepare for the Orthodox Christmas on January 7. The stores are open despite coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Wrapped in thick coats, people saunter along the shopping streets or the new promenade on the banks of the Sava River.

    Things are quite different by the long-distance bus terminal on Zeleznicka Street, on the edge of downtown Belgrade. A group of children and teenagers hang out in a small park opposite the terminal, all of them refugees, unaccompanied minors aged 11 to 17, and most of them from Afghanistan.

    Some of the youngsters huddle under white blankets. “I bought them at the market across the street,” Sherkat said, his feet in sneakers with short socks. Some of the young people shiver from the cold, and fatigue is written all over their faces. They are waiting for a chance to continue their journey, to the Hungarian or Croatian border.

    Sherkat managed to get out of Serbia once. The situation on the EU side of the border was bad, he said. “In Croatia, the police stole my cell phone and sent me back.” The situation in the refugee camps in Serbia was difficult, he said, adding that since he did not have a registration card from the Serbian authorities, he had no access at all to aid.

    Children stay away from government agencies

    It is a problem familiar to Bogdan Krasic, who works for nongovernmental organization Save the Children International. “These children are on their way to other countries, they don’t want to stay in Serbia,” he said. Some children live in the official camps for asylum-seekers, but many live outside the camps, he added. “It is not easy to help the young people because they do not want to register,” Krasic said. “They want to go to western Europe and avoid aid organizations and the police.”

    Sherkat and his friends bunk in a construction site opposite the park, next to the lavishly renovated river promenade where investment projects worth billions are being built — shopping centers, hotels and office buildings. The construction site is deserted, but empty bottles and cans, mattresses and thin polyester blankets mark the spot where the boys camp out. It turns out Sherkat and a few other migrants took a bus to the Serbian town of Backa Palanka on the Croatian border in yet another effort to move on.

    Destination: France

    Rizvanullah and Ekram also want to move on as quickly as possible. The teenagers from Afghanistan — who assure us they are 15 years old — and two other boys spend the nights on the river promenade, wrapped in jackets and sleeping bags, but cold nevertheless. They do not have mattresses, so they spread out a thin plastic trash bag on the rocky ground.

    Rizvanullah wants to go to France, where he has relatives. He previously spent three-and-a-half years working in Turkey, but was not paid, so he moved on to Greece. “The Greek police beat me up and sent me back to Turkey,” he said. He made it to Belgrade via North Macedonia.
    ’They didn’t believe I’m a minor’

    Rizvanullah and Ekram have been in the Serbian capital 10 days. Rizvanullah would prefer to live in a camp for underage migrants, but has run into problems. “I’m 15 years old and I’ve already been to the camps in Obrenovac, Sid and Adasevci. They didn’t believe that I am a minor, they said I had to go to a camp for adults. They didn’t give me a card or papers.”

    Their stories are not unusual. Many minors travel from Turkey via Greece to the Western Balkans. In 2015 and 2016, there was great public interest in the so-called Balkan route, with aid organizations offering food and medical supplies. There was also more transparency, the agencies knew approximately how many people were in what place at a certain time.
    International smuggling ring

    Those times are a thing of the past despite the fact that there still is significant traffic on the Balkan route. The conditions that refugees face in Turkey and in Greece have led to a significant increase in migration on the route from Greece to Croatia and Hungary.

    A study by Save the Children’s Balkan Migration and Displacement Hub found that although the children travel alone, they are controlled by smugglers throughout. “They speak of a ’kachakbar,’ a kind of chief smuggler based in Afghanistan who is in touch with local smugglers,” said Katarina Jovanovic, a psychologist and researcher who interviewed 40 underage and unaccompanied refugees on the streets of Belgrade with her team for the study.

    Parents try to stay in touch

    Usually the parents would approach the kachakbar to send their eldest son on the journey to western Europe, she said, adding the trip would put them in debt. “People think the parents just let their children go and then forget about it, but they don’t. They try to maintain a certain level of control,” Jovanovic said.

    On the journey west, local smugglers, informed by the kachakbar in Afghanistan, get in touch with the children. Access to cash is also in the hands of local smugglers. “Most children hardly have any cash, they know it’s dangerous. Depending on the arrangement the parents have made, the smugglers on the ground give them small amounts of cash,” said Jovanovic. The children are in touch with their parents at least some of the time — the smugglers give them money for phone cards, but they control what the young migrants tell their parents.

    Children hush up violence, abuse

    In many cases, the children experience violence and abuse, sometimes even sexual abuse. But they won’t mention any of that to their parents, Jovanovic said. “They don’t want to worry their parents, they feel they must be strong and grow up.”

    “There is a system that protects the children sometimes, but in most cases it doesn’t, and the children experience terrible things,” Jovanovic said, adding there is no official aid for the young migrants. The coronavirus pandemic spelled the end for whatever aid groups were looking after unaccompanied minors on the Balkan route.

    No reliable data on migration

    In addition, there are no reliable figures on the current state of migration. “We see big discrepancies in the figures the UNHCR publishes at the national and regional levels,” Krasic said “We see children coming from Greece, so we suspect that their numbers are similar in the other countries on the Balkan route. But the UNHCR figures do not reflect that.” Save the Children does not know how many children were actually traveling in 2020, he said.

    Less reliable data on migration is part of the Balkan route countries’ refugee policy, Jovanovic argued, adding that only once did the authorities let her and her team talk to children, and that was back in 2018 for the study.

    Currently no one bothers, she said — not UNICEF nor the UNHCR or the International Red Cross. “We don’t really have access to data anymore, or it comes sporadically and is not translated into English. You can clearly see that the information policy has changed,” she said.

    https://www.dw.com/en/in-serbia-migrant-children-left-to-fend-for-themselves-on-belgrades-streets/a-56089115
    #réfugiés #mineurs #enfants #enfance #Belgrade #Serbie #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #SDF #sans-abri #MNA

  • Is Frontex involved in illegal ’pushbacks’ in the Balkans ?

    Refugees and migrants in Greece trying to reach western Europe have accused EU border protection agency Frontex of taking part in illegal deportations known as “pushbacks.” DW reports.

    Ali al-Ebrahim fled in 2018 from Manbij, a Syrian city that was under Kurdish control, to escape being forced to fight in the conflict.

    Al-Ebrahim, now 22, first tried his luck in Turkey. When he arrived in Antakya, not far from the Syrian border, Turkish authorities took his details and sent him back home without citing any reasons, the young Syrian man says in very good English. He explains that this meant he was banned from legally entering Turkey again for five years.

    Nevertheless, al-Ebrahim decided to try again, this time with the aim of reaching Greece. He managed to make his way to Turkey’s Aegean coastline and eventually reached the Greek island of Leros in a rubber dinghy. When he applied for asylum, however, his application was rejected on the grounds that Turkey was a safe third country.

    But al-Ebrahim was not able to return to Turkey, and certainly not Syria — though this was of no interest to Greek authorities. “The new Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is very strict when it comes to migrants,” he says. “So I decided to go to Albania.”
    Uniforms with the EU flag

    Al-Ebrahim says that in September 2020, he traveled by bus with five others to the northern Greek city of Ioannina, and then walked to the Albanian border without encountering any Greek police.

    But, he says, staff from the EU border protection agency Frontex stopped them in Albania and handed them over to Albanian authorities in the border town of Kakavia. When asked how he knew they were Frontex officials, al-Ebrahim replies, “I could tell from their armbands.”

    Frontex staff wear light-blue armbands with the EU flag on them.
    €5,000 to reach Austria

    Al-Ebrahim says that he and the other migrants asked the Albanian authorities for asylum but were told that the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to file any new asylum applications. They were then just sent back to Greece without the Greek authorities being notified, he says.

    Al-Ebrahim had more luck on the second attempt. He managed to travel to the Albanian capital, Tirana, and then on to Serbia via Kosovo.

    His interview with DW takes place at a refugee camp in the Serbian city of Sombor, near the Hungarian border. Al-Ebrahim says he wants to travel on through Hungary into Austria, but the traffickers charge €5,000 to get as far as the Austrian border.

    Detention instead of asylum

    Hope Barker has heard many similar stories before. She coordinates the project “Wave - Thessaloniki,” which provides migrants traveling the Balkan route with food, medical care and legal advice. Barker tells DW that the northern Greek city was a safe haven until the new conservative government took office in summer 2019.

    In January 2020, a draconian new law came into effect in Greece. According to Barker, it allows authorities to detain asylum seekers for up to 18 months without reviewing their cases — and detention can then be extended for another 18 months.

    “So you can be held in detention for three years without any action on your case if you ask for asylum,” says Baker.

    Pushbacks by Frontex?

    Baker tells DW that the illegal deportation of migrants, known as “pushbacks,” happen both at the borders and further inland. Migrants trying to reach western Europe avoid any contact with Greek authorities.

    Refugee aid organizations say there have been “lots of pushbacks” at the border with North Macedonia and Albania. Baker says that witnesses have reported hearing those involved speaking German, for example, and seeing the EU insignia on their blue armbands.

    Frontex rejects allegations

    Baker says that it is, nonetheless, difficult to prove pushbacks at the Greek border because of the confusing situation, but she adds that they know that Frontex is active in Albania and that there are pushbacks on a daily basis across the River Evros that flows through Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey and forms a large part of the border. “We know that pushbacks are happening daily. So, to think that they don’t know or are not at all involved in those practices seems beyond belief,” says Baker.

    A Frontex spokesman told DW that the agency had investigated some of the allegations and “found no credible evidence to support any of them.”

    Frontex added that its staff was bound by a code of conduct, which explicitly calls for the “prevention of refoulement and the upholding of human rights, all in line with the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

    “We are fully committed to protecting fundamental rights,” it added.

    Border protection from beyond the EU

    So why does the European border protection agency protect an external border of the European Union from the Albanian side? “The main aim of the operation is to support border control, help tackle irregular migration, as well as cross-border crime, including migrant smuggling, trafficking in human beings and terrorism, and identify possible risks and threats related to security,” said Frontex to DW.

    Frontex also said that cooperation with countries in the western Balkans was one of its priorities. “The agency supports them in complying with EU standards and best practices in border management and security,” the spokesman said.

    Yet it is worthwhile taking a look at another part of Greece’s border. While military and police officers are omnipresent at the Greek-Turkish border and are supported by Frontex staff, you seldom encounter any uniforms in the mountains between Greece and Albania. As a result, this route is regarded as safe by refugees and migrants who want to travel onward to western Europe via Greece.

    The route west

    Many migrants travel from Thessaloniki to the picturesque town of Kastoria, about 30 kilometers outside Albania. “There, the police pick us up from the bus and take us to the Albanian border,” Zakarias tells DW at the Wave Center in Thessaloniki. He is Moroccan and arrived in Greece via Turkey.

    But at this point, these are just rumors.

    That afternoon the men get on the bus. Another Moroccan man, 46-year-old Saleh Rosa, is among them. He has been in Greece for a year and was homeless for a long time in Thessaloniki. “Greece is a good country, but I cannot live here,” Rosa tells DW. He aims to reach western Europe via Albania, Kosovo, Serbia and then Hungary.

    Ominous police checks

    Police stop the bus shortly before its arrival in Kastoria. There is a parked police car with uniformed officers. Two men in plain clothes board the bus, claiming to be police. Without showing any ID, they target the foreigners, detaining Saleh, Zakarias and their companions.

    At around 11pm that same evening, the migrants send a WhatsApp message and their Google coordinates. They say that the men in plainclothes have taken them to a place some 15 kilometers from the Albanian border, but within Greece. Later in the Albanian capital, Tirana, DW met with Rosa again, who stresses that his papers were not checked in Greece.

    Conflicting accounts

    When asked by DW, Greek police authorities confirmed the existence of the plain-clothed officers and the roadside check. But then their account diverges from that of the two men. Police said they wanted to check if the migrants were legally permitted to be in Greece and they were released once this was confirmed.

    But the migrants say that Saleh Rosa was the only one with the papers to stay in Greece legally and that the other men were unregistered. Moreover, there is a curfew in Greece because of COVID-19. You are only allowed to travel from one district to another in exceptional cases. Even if they had been carrying papers, the men should have been fined.

    The police refused to comment on that.

    https://www.dw.com/en/is-frontex-involved-in-illegal-pushbacks-in-the-balkans/a-56141370

    #Frontex #Balkans #route_des_balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #push-backs #refoulements #Albanie #Serbie #Kosovo #Sombor #Hongrie #Macédoine_du_Nord #Evros #Grèce

    –---

    voir aussi les accusations envers Frontex de refoulement en #Mer_Egée :
    Migrations : l’agence européenne #Frontex mise en cause pour des #refoulements en mer
    https://seenthis.net/messages/882952

    • Frontex confronted with allegations of violence in North Macedonia

      Allegations that officials deployed on Frontex operations have participated in or condoned violence against people on the move in North Macedonia must be investigated, says a letter (https://www.statewatch.org/media/2494/letter-to-frontex-sw-and-bvmn.pdf) sent to Frontex today by #Statewatch and #Border_Violence_Monitoring_Network (#BVMN).

      Allegations that officials deployed on Frontex operations have participated in or condoned violence against people on the move in North Macedonia must be investigated, says a letter sent to Frontex today by Statewatch and Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN).

      Since September 2019, volunteers for BVMN have gathered five separate testimonies from people pushed back from North Macedonia to Greece alleging the presence of Frontex officers on North Macedonian territory, where the agency has no legal authority to act. The reports involve a total of 130 people.

      The testimonies include allegations that officers deployed by Frontex engaged in or condoned brutal violence – including the use of tasers and electroshock batons, throwing people into rivers, and tying people up and beating them.

      Frontex says it has no records of any such incidents. The agency’s press office said to Statewatch last month that “Frontex does not have any operational activities at the land border from the North Macedonian side,” and “is only present on the Greek side of the border.”

      The letter, addressed to Frontex’s executive director, the new Fundamental Rights Officer, and the agency’s Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights, calls for a thorough investigation into the allegations to clarify the facts and ensure appropriate action against any individuals found to have engaged in, condoned or consented to violence and/or to have acted on North Macedonian territory.

      The violence allegedly meted out or condoned by Frontex officials is part of a broader wave of violence against people on the move through North Macedonia. Since February 2019, BVMN volunteers have gathered 37 reports of pushbacks from North Macedonia to Greece, which are likely only a fraction of the total number of pushback cases.

      The five reports alleging the presence of Frontex officials are a subset of 15 testimonies that cite the involvement of foreign officials working alongside North Macedonian officers.

      An analysis published today by Statewatch (https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2021/foreign-agents-and-violence-against-migrants-at-the-greek-macedonian-bor) looks at the deployment of foreign border guards to North Macedonia, which since 2015 has played a key role in the EU’s efforts to prevent migrants and refugees departing from Greece to reach ‘core’ EU territory further north.

      A number of states (members of the EU and other states in the region) have signed bilateral deals with the North Macedonian government that allow the deployment of border guards in the country.

      Frontex, meanwhile, is not yet legally able to operate there. An agreement between the EU and North Macedonia is in the works, but is being held up in a dispute over language (https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2021/briefing-external-action-frontex-operations-outside-the-eu).

      The agency must provide answers and an investigation into the numerous allegations of its officials being involved in abuse.

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/june/frontex-confronted-with-allegations-of-violence-in-north-macedonia
      #Macédoine_du_Nord

    • Briefing: External action: Frontex operations outside the EU

      The EU has negotiated five agreements with states in the Balkans that allow Frontex operations on their territories, and most of the agreements have now been approved by both sides. This briefing looks at the main provisions of those agreements, highlights key differences and similarities, and argues that they will likely serve as a template for future deals with states that do not border the EU, as made possible by the 2019 Regulation governing Frontex.

      For an overview of the key points of the agreements, see the table at the end of this article, or here as a PDF (https://www.statewatch.org/media/2011/eu-frontex-external-action-briefing-table.pdf).

      Frontex launched its first official joint operation on non-EU territory at Albania’s border with Greece in May 2019. Still ongoing today, this was the first operation resulting from a series of Status Agreements between the EU and a number of Western Balkan states – Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and North Macedonia.

      These agreements make it possible for Frontex to undertake operations on those other states’ territories. Signed in accordance with the agency’s 2016 Regulation, all five agreements allow the agency to carry out joint operations and rapid border interventions on the states’ borders, where those borders are coterminous with those of an EU member state or states. Frontex can also assist those states with deportation operations from EU member states to those countries. Since the entry into force of Frontex’s 2019 mandate, the EU can now also make such agreements with states that do not border EU territory.

      The contents of the status agreements, all based on a template document produced by the Commission, are very similar, with small but important differences emerging from the negotiation procedures with each state, explored below.

      The first agreements in context

      The five Balkan states targeted for the first agreements make up what is seen by officials as a “buffer zone” between Greece and other Schengen states, and they have long been embroiled in the bloc’s border policies. Through long negotiations over accession to the Union (https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/albania-dealing-with-a-new-migration-framework-on-the-edge-of-the-empire), Western Balkan states are at various stages of approximating domestic law with the EU’s legal ‘acquis’, involving substantial amendments to migration and asylum systems.

      In theory, these systems must match up to EU legal and fundamental rights standards in order to allow accession, though violence against migrants is well documented on both sides of these “coterminous borders”. The so-called Balkan Route is the site of well-documented abuses (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/january/eu-the-black-book-of-pushbacks-testimonies-of-pushbacks-affecting-over-1) suffered by people on the move, recently compiled and published in a ‘Black Book of pushbacks’ which detail violence perpetrated by border agents, member state police and soldiers. Pushbacks from Croatia (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2020/november/european-commission-plans-to-visit-croatia-in-light-of-human-rights-viol) and Hungary are particularly notorious, with Frontex finally withdrawing its support for operations in Hungary (https://www.statewatch.org/statewatch-database/frontex-suspends-operations-in-hungary) in January this year due to the state’s violation of a European Court of Justice ruling against pushbacks into Serbia.

      The agency had long-insisted that its presence discouraged fundamental rights violations (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/february/frontex-management-board-pushes-back-against-secrecy-proposals-in-prelim) - a far less credible claim in the wake of allegations (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2021/february/frontex-management-board-pushes-back-against-secrecy-proposals-in-prelim) of Frontex complicity in serious incidents in the Aegean, including possible pushbacks.

      Frontex expands external operations while future agreements remain on hold

      Following deployment of officers to Montenegro’s border with Croatia in July, Frontex launched a second operation in Montenegro in October. The third executive operation outside the EU (and the second in Montenegro), the aim of this activity is “to tackle cross-border crime at the country’s sea borders, including the smuggling of drugs and weapons, smuggling of migrants, trafficking in human beings and terrorism”.

      The agency says it will provide aerial surveillance, deploy officers from EU member states, and provide technical and operational assistance with coast guard functions in international waters, “including search and rescue support, fisheries control and environmental protection”.

      The agreement with Serbia was approved by the European Parliament in February this year, along with the agreement with Montenegro. Three presidential entities need to sign the agreement in order for it to be ratified by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s government; the Serb entity has so far refused to do so.

      Meanwhile, the agreement with North Macedonia was due to be tabled in the European Parliament this autumn, but negotiations have been held up, in part by Bulgaria’s objection to the language in which it is written. According to the site European Western Balkans, “Bulgaria does not recognise the language of North Macedonia as ‘Macedonian’”, but “as a dialect of Bulgarian”. It will apparently take “a change in terminology regarding Macedonian language in order to allow progress in drafting a final negotiating framework”. While negotiations are stalled, the agreement cannot be considered by the European Parliament.

      Once the status agreements are in force, Frontex operations are launched in accordance with an operational plan agreed with each state. These plans include the circumstances under which Frontex staff can use executive powers and other details of the operations not available elsewhere. These plans are not systematically made public and although it is possible for the public to request their release, Frontex can refuse access to them. These non-public documents contain important provisions on fundamental rights and data protection, as well as details on the aims and objectives of the agency’s operations.

      Fundamental rights

      Under article 8 of the agreements with Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina (article 9 of the other agreements) all parties are obliged to:

      “[H]ave a complaint mechanism to deal with allegations of a breach of fundamental rights committed by its staff in the exercise of their official functions in the course of a joint operation, rapid border intervention or return operation performed under this agreement”.

      Both Frontex and the host state must operate such a complaints mechanism, to handle allegations against their own team members. Frontex’s complaint mechanism is currently the subject of an Ombudsman inquiry, following years of research showing it up as inaccessible and ineffective. Details of updates bringing the mechanism into line with Frontex’s 2019 Regulation have not yet been made public, although the rules set out in that Regulation have problems of their own. It is noteworthy that the agreements do not explicitly require an independent complaints mechanism.

      On the question of parallel complaints mechanisms for Frontex officers and host country officers, a Frontex spokesperson explained:

      “The complaints team within Frontex Fundamental Rights Office has been working since 2019 on the concept of how to deal with complaints concerning Frontex activities in [Albania]. For that purpose, the FRO team met with competent national authorities in Albania in October 2019. Both parties agreed on the draft of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the purpose of which is a coordination between both complaints mechanisms. The MoU draft proposal was shared with Albanian authorities for their consideration on September 2020 and finalization of the modalities.

      The draft of this MoU will serve as basis for other third countries arrangements on the coexistence of complaints mechanisms, such as the case for Montenegro.”

      An extra article 3

      The agreements with Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia contain an article not included in the agreements with Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. From article 3, on launching an action:

      “The Agency may propose launching an action to the competent authorities of [the host state].

      The competent authorities of [the host state] may also request the Agency to consider launching an action.”

      The launching of any action requires the consent of competent authorities of the host-state and of Frontex (Article 3(2) of the status agreements), while any disputes over the content of the status agreements shall be resolved between the non-EU state in question and the European Commission (Article 11).

      Privileges and immunities of the members of the team

      Members of teams deployed in each of the host states shall enjoy immunity from the criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction of the host state, for all acts carried out in the exercise of official functions, where these are committed in the course of actions contained in the operational plan (articles 6 or 7). It is at the discretion of the executive director of Frontex (currently Fabrice Leggeri) to determine whether acts were committed in the course of actions following the operational plan. This immunity may be waived by the team members’ home state – that is to say, the state of nationality of a Frontex team member, such as Spain or Germany.

      While the agreements with Albania, Montenegro, and North Macedonia include the provision that the executive director’s decision will be binding upon the authorities of the host state, no such article is found in the agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

      A further difficulty with this article was highlighted earlier this year in an internal Frontex report: Protocol No 7 annexed to the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) and to the TFEU, under which the privileges and immunities Agency and its statutory staff are covered, is not applicable outside of the EU. The Commission has not yet responded to a request for comment on an investigation said to be underway into this issue.

      Acting on behalf of the host non-EU state

      Across the status agreements, members of the teams are limited to performing tasks and exercising powers in the host territory in the presence and under instructions of the host state’s border guards or other relevant authorities. The host state may authorise members of teams to act on its behalf, taking into consideration the views of the agency via its coordinating officer. The agreement with Serbia contains extra emphasis (article 5):

      “the competent authority of the Republic of Serbia may authorise members of the teams to act on its behalf as long as the overall responsibility and command and control functions remain with the border guards or other police officers of the Republic of Serbia present at all times.”

      This agreement also emphasises that “the members of the team referred to in paragraphs 1 and 3 to 6 do not include agency staff”.

      Members of teams shall be authorised to use force, including service weapons as permitted by the host state, home state, and Frontex. Each host state may authorise members of the team to use force in the absence of border guards or other relevant staff under article 4 (6) – Albania and Bosnia and Herzegoviina – or 5 (6) – Montenegro,

      Access to databases

      The agreements with Albania and Montenegro allow the host state to authorise members of the team to consult national databases if necessary for the operational aims or for return operations. Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s status agreements are more cautious, allowing certain data from national databases to be shared at the request of a member of the team, provided it is needed to fulfil operational aims as outlined in the operational plan. The agreement with Serbia contains, once more, additional provisions: “members of the team may be communicated only information concerning relevant facts which is necessary for performing their tasks and exercising their powers”, though it also includes in the subsequent paragraph:

      “For the purposes of fulfilling operational aims specified in the operation plan and the implementing actions, the competent authority of the Republic of Serbia and members of the team may exchange other information and findings”.

      Language on discrimination

      The agreement with Serbia once again follows slightly different wording to the others in terms of the prohibition of discrimination. The agreements with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia recite:

      “While performing their tasks and exercising their powers, they shall not arbitrarily discriminate against persons on any grounds including sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

      However, the agreement with Serbia does not include (https://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/july/eu-frontex-in-the-balkans-serbian-government-rejects-eu-s-criminal-immun) any reference to gender identity.

      Obligation to give evidence as witnesses in criminal proceedings

      Under each of the agreements with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia, members of the team shall not be obliged to give evidence as witnesses. Not only does the agreement with Montenegro omit this provision, it also outlines:

      “Members of the team who are witnesses may be obliged by the competent authorities of Montenegro, while respecting paragraphs 3 and 4, to provide evidence through a statement and in accordance with the procedural law of Montenegro.”

      Frontex and home state obligation not to jeopardise criminal proceedings

      The agreement with Serbia is the only agreement not to include an obligation on the agency and home state of a team member to “refrain from taking any measure likely to jeopardise possible subsequent criminal prosecution of the member of the team by the competent authorities” of the host non-EU state.

      Lingering uncertainty

      On top of uncertainty over when the agreements with North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina might be completed, questions remain regarding the accessibility of complaints mechanisms and the application of rules governing privileges and immunity of team members, even in Albania and Montenegro, where operations have been launched already.

      Additionally, since the entry into force of its new regulation in 2019 and the removal of provisions limiting Frontex’s extra-EU operations only to neighbouring states, the EU can now conclude status agreements with countries not bordering the EU. The implementation of these agreements, as well as their contents, will likely set a precedent for negotiations and operations further afield.

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2021/briefing-external-action-frontex-operations-outside-the-eu
      #Albanie #Monténégro #Serbie #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #buffer-zone #zone-tampon

    • Albania: dealing with a new migration framework on the edge of the empire

      In 2014, Albania was formally accepted as a candidate for membership to the EU. The country is aiming to approximate its domestic law with the EU legal ’acquis’ within the next two years, prompting big changes in the country’s immigration and asylum system - at least on paper. Currently, those systems cannot be said to meet fundamental rights or EU legal standards, but given conditions within the EU itself - notably in Greece - it remains to be seen whether this will be a barrier to Albania joining the bloc.

      Background

      In the 1990s Albania, a small country in the middle of the Balkans, was just emerging from a harsh communist dictatorship. In 1991, a new era in Europe began for the country, as it opened diplomatic relationships with the then-European Community. But it was not until 2014 that Albania was formally accepted as a candidate for membership of the EU, following the endorsement of the European Council.[1]

      In that time, the European Community had evolved into the fortress of the European Union, its borders and expansion reminiscent of the spread of the Roman Empire. Speaking of the EU’s borders, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has even commented, “big empires go down if the external borders are not well-protected”.[2] Since 2014, Albania has been racing to fulfil all the requirements needed to be accepted among the fabulous 27, making major changes in the five main areas identified by the EU: public administration, rule of law, tackling corruption, organised crime and fundamental rights.

      In February 2018, the European Commission declared that further enlargement to encompass the states of the ‘Western Balkans’ (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo) would be “an investment in the EU’s security, economic growth and influence and in its ability to protect its citizens”.[3] In short, the EU was presenting a so-called win-win agreement, where all sides stand to gain.

      In March 2020 – following a limping reform of the justice system, some destabilizing stop-and-go of talks between the EU and Albania, a gloomy summer election crisis in 2019, German concerns, a temporary French veto and a devastating earthquake in November 2019 – the EU finally said ‘I do’ and committed to opening accession negotiations with Albania, in a statement that underscored the need to ‘keep an eye’ on the country:

      “The Council further invites the Commission to continue to monitor the progress and compliance in all areas related to the opening of negotiations and to carry out and complete the process of analytical examination of the EU acquis with the country, starting with the fundamentals’ cluster”.[4]

      Aligning Albania with the EU’s “area of freedom, security and justice”

      The current ‘Project Plan for European integration 2020-2022’[5] lists all the legislative reforms and changes required to align Albanian and EU law. The full approximation of Albanian law with that of the European Union, and its full and effective implementation, is one of the criteria for membership. Indeed, the process of membership negotiations is in itself that process of approximation.

      The process involves the following steps: analysis of EU legislation; identification of deficiencies or contradictory acts of Albanian law; drafting or reviewing of the approximated Albanian acts; and monitoring the implementation of approximated legislation. The 24th chapter of the plan, on “justice, freedom and security”, focuses on: border control; visas; external migration; asylum; police cooperation; the fight against organised crime and terrorism; cooperation on drugs issues; customs; and judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters.

      Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the area of Freedom, Security and Justice is regulated in Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, running from Article 67 to Article 89.[6] This covers secondary legislation on: border checks, asylum and immigration; police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters; judicial cooperation in civil matters; and police cooperation. Primary and secondary legislation is complemented by a large body of jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU, whose primacy is a cornerstone principle of EU law. The acquis inherited by Albania for this specific chapter consists of a volume of 392 acts, divided into a “hard acquis” (which derives from binding acts such as treaties, directives, regulations, etc.) and a “soft acquis” (which derives from standards, principles and recommendations of EU or other relevant international organizations).

      Updating the laws on immigration and borders

      The government affirms to have completed and adopted a comprehensive national cross-sectoral migration strategy, included a new strategy on the diaspora for the period 2018-2024.[7] The government also says it has updated a contingency plan for a possible massive influx of migrants and asylum seekers, expected to be approved soon. But the other side of the coin is that Albania, as the project plan admits, is largely unprepared to host and protect migrants on its territory. Albania currently has one reception centre for irregular migrants in Karreç, with a capacity of only 150 beds. The centre was visited in September 2019 by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which found it to be inadequate in many respects.[8] Even more concerning is the lack of facilities for unaccompanied minors.

      According to a footnote in a 2016 law,[9] Albania’s border control legislation has been aligned with the Schengen Borders Code.[10] However, it appears that the wider legal framework for managing Albania’s external borders is not yet fully in line with EU standards. The government reports that the implementation of the integrated border management strategy and action plan is proceeding: the reconstruction of the two border crossing points Hani i Hotit and Morina has been completed; the country has signed a protocol with Montenegro on the establishment of joint checkpoints; the trilateral centre in Plav (in Northern Macedonia) has become operational; an agreement with Kosovo on the joint border crossing point in Morina has been concluded; anti-corruption preventive measures have been implemented at border crossing points through the installation of cameras; and cooperation between agencies and neighbouring countries has improved.

      Frontex: already on the scene

      The section of the government’s report on regular and irregular immigration states that the agreement with the EU permitting the deployment of Frontex officials on Albanian territory was finalised in February 2019.[11] The deployment began on 22 May 2019, for an indefinite period.[12]

      The joint operation – Frontex’s first outside the EU – deploys 50 EU officers in Albania to “help Albanian authorities with border surveillance and border checks… They will also assist their Albanian counterparts in screening of migrants”.[13] This is not the first time that an EU presence has been active on Albanian territory – an Italian operation in 1997 sought to prevent migration, and there have also been monitoring missions. However, the Frontex presence is an executive mission, marking a more active departure from the monitoring exercises of the past.[14]

      The Albanian Minister of Internal Affairs, Sander Lleshaj, has described the operation as “really effective, very collaborative… crucial in the way to EU integration”.[15] The Prime Minister, Edi Rama, has said the operation makes Albania a contributor to the EU in countering illegal migration and organised crime.[16] The Albanian press has so far expressed an uncritical view of the Frontex mission. In a state where many are supportive of EU accession, appetite for critical investigation is possibly low.

      And asylum?

      Albania reports that its Asylum Law is partially in line with the EU acquis. The country has the necessary institutions and procedures to handle asylum applications. Complaints can be filed with the National Commission for Refugees and Asylum, which was established in 2017 and reopened in 2019. All relevant national legislation should be publicly available on the government website,[17] but the information available does not clarify if complaints related to the application process are admissible, or if the word “complaints” refers to appeals related to unsuccessful applications. Regarding the asylum procedure, applications are registered by the Border and Migration Police by filling out the pre-screening forms, then reported to the Directorate of Asylum and Citizenship to proceed with the status determination procedures.

      Although the number of asylum seekers increased significantly in 2018, with 5,730 arrivals, the authorities say they have responded to the large number of asylum applications. According to UNHCR asylum applications that year increased to 4,378, a 14-fold increase compared to 2017.[18] Albania’s official Gazette outlined in March 2020 that the number of people applying for asylum was at its highest in 2018, and 40 times higher than it had been in 2015.[19] According to the Project Plan for European integration, an asylum database has been functioning since April 2019; it serves as an integral data centre between the Directorate of Asylum and Citizenship, the Directorate of Border and Migration and the National Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers, exchanging information in real time between these institutions and enabling the completion of procedures as well as the issuance of statistics.

      The government also says it tripled its reception capacity for asylum seekers in October 2017. Total reception capacity, including the national reception centre in Tirana and the temporary accommodation centres in Gjirokastra and Korça, reaches almost 380 places. In October 2019, a new centre with a reception capacity of 60 beds was inaugurated to cope with the expected increase of people needing temporary housing in Kapshticë/Korça,[20] which has the same parameters as the transit centre in Gërhot of Gjirokastra.

      Summary

      Both Albania and the EU have undergone a transformative thirty years, with talks of accession beginning six years ago. The EU sees Albania’s incorporation into the bloc as a way of contributing to the economic growth and strengthened security; a different understanding of “expanding the fortress”. Accession negotiations were reinvigorated in March 2020, and the current goal is for Albania to approximate its law to the EU acquis, and implement those measures, within two years. This includes legislation on immigration and borders, which have been updated on paper. Though conditions for asylum seekers and migrants in Albania are not in line with fundamental rights law or the EU acquis, nor are those in EU member states – most notably the Greek island hotspots. The deployment of the EU’s border agency in Albania, unlikely to be criticised locally, represents further step in the EU’s mission to control migration across a wider terrain.

      Sara Ianovitz, Ph.D. in International Law

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/albania-dealing-with-a-new-migration-framework-on-the-edge-of-the-empire

      #Albanie

    • Foreign agents and violence against migrants at the Greek-Macedonian border

      An increasing number of reports of violent pushbacks at the Greek-Macedonian border have been collected by volunteers in recent years. Some reports allege the presence of Frontex, but bilateral policing deals in place may also explain the presence of foreign officers in Macedonia. The violence underpins a long-standing plan to close the ‘Balkan Route’ and keep people out of ‘core’ EU territory. Whoever is behind the violence, there is no shortage of border guards to mete it out – but justice is in short supply.

      Midnight in Macedonia

      Around midnight on 14 August last year, a group of some 20 people were intercepted by border police just north of the Greek-Macedonian border, near the small town of Gevgelija. What happened next, according to the testimony of one member of the group, makes for grim reading.

      “[T]he police officers approached the group and became physically violent. The officers struck various group-members with their batons. Others were pepper-sprayed, including the women and children. After this, the officers loaded the group into a van and left them there without any air conditioning, jammed, soaking in sweat for around two hours, while going about to catch more transit groups. In the end, they squashed around 40 people in a van for fit for ten persons.”[1]

      Macedonian officials were not the only ones involved in the operation. The testimony also recounts “foreign officers wearing uniforms with the European Union flags on their shoulders,” the distinctive mark of EU border agency Frontex.

      Foreign agents

      The testimony is one of five reports gathered by Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), altogether involving some 130 people, that describe violence being meted out in the presence of, or even by, border guards allegedly deployed by Frontex on North Macedonian territory. A further 10 reports gathered by the network, encompassing some 123 people, recount the use of violence by foreign border guards and police officers operating in North Macedonia, but do not mention uniforms bearing the EU flag.[2]

      Statewatch and Border Violence Monitoring Network have written to Frontex to demand an investigation into the allegations recounted in this article. Read more here.

      The violence recounted in those testimonies is shocking. According to the report on the 14 August incident, after cramming people into the van, the police drove them to the banks of the Vardar river. There, they threw peoples’ possessions into the water, took their phones and money, and “the group was beaten brutally with metal electroshock batons and some people were thrown into the river by the police. One person was thrown in despite crying and begging not to be thrown in.” They were subsequently taken back to the border and pushed through a gate leading to the Greek side, while police beat them with electroshock batons.

      In that incident, the witness said that officials with uniforms bearing EU flags were present, but did not directly participate in the violence. But a report from the same area, concerning an incident less than a week later, refers to officials in uniforms bearing Croatian, Slovenian, Czech and EU flags, who bound a group of four men with zip ties and beat three of them with batons (one of the group, who was a minor, was spared the beating).[3] Reports of other incidents allege the presence of Italian, German and Austrian officials.

      No reports at Frontex

      While BVMN volunteers have gathered multiple testimonies that allege Frontex’s presence or involvement in violence in North Macedonia, the agency itself says it has received no reports of any such incidents. The agency also denies any presence in the country – in May, a press officer told Statewatch that “Frontex does not have any operational activities at the land border from the North Macedonian side,” and “is only present on the Greek side of the border.”

      In December 2020, Frontex responded to an access to documents request filed by Statewatch some months earlier. The request sought copies of all serious incident reports (SIRs) concerning the agency’s activities at the Greek-Macedonian land border from 1 January 2020 onwards. SIRs are supposed to be filed by officials deployed on Frontex operations for a variety of reasons, including in case of “suspected violations of fundamental rights or international protection obligations.”[4]

      In its response, the agency said that it did not hold any SIRs concerning the geographic area and time period covered by the request. This does not mean, however, that the incidents recorded by BVMN did not take place – it may simply be that nobody is reporting them.

      A working group set up by Frontex’s own Management Board, in response to allegations of involvement in pushbacks in Greece, found numerous problems with the agency’s reporting system. It noted that there was no way of monitoring the quality of reports submitted, and there were no confidential avenues for team members to report rights violations by their colleagues.

      The report also called for “a newly introduced culture,” suggesting that the existing ambience at the agency is not one in which the rights of migrants and refugees are at the forefront of officials’ minds. The working group said that the agency needed “awareness of and sensitiveness towards possible misconduct,”[5] a call it repeated in its final report.[6]

      Not even numbers

      Serious incident reports may not exist, but the request from Statewatch to Frontex also sought to establish the scale of the agency’s activities at the Greek-Macedonian border through another means – by requesting data on the number of migrants and migrant smugglers apprehended at the Greek-Macedonian border over the same period (1 January 2020 onwards).

      This data, argued Frontex, could not be released – doing so “would jeopardize the work of law enforcement officials and pose a hazard to the course of ongoing and future operations aimed at curtailing the activities of such networks,” despite the request seeking nothing more than figures that Frontex itself has published in previous reports.

      A public evaluation of the tongue-twistingly titled ‘Joint Operation Flexible Operational Activities 2018 Land on Border Surveillance’ (JO FOA Land) says that in 2018, 16,337 migrants and 313 smugglers were apprehended in the area covered by the operation – “the ‘green borders’ of Greece with Turkey, the North Macedonia [sic] and Albania, Bulgaria with Turkey, North Macedonia and Serbia.”[7] Yet for reasons known only to Frontex, providing a breakdown of these figures for the Greek-Macedonian border would apparently undermine public security.

      A significant presence

      According to Frontex’s evaluation report, 25 member states took part in operations at land borders in south-eastern Europe in 2018, along with 47 officers acting as observers from six different “third countries”, namely Georgia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine. Over 1,800 officials were deployed by Frontex over the course of the year. The operations recorded 2,011 “incidents”.

      A substantial Frontex presence at the border between Greece and North Macedonia has been in place since then. In a response to a parliamentary question from German MEP Özlem Demirel, the European Commission said last June that at Greece’s land borders with Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Turkey, 71 officials, 24 patrols and three “thermo-vision vans” were deployed as part of the 2020 edition of JO FOA Land. Thirteen different member states were providing contributions to the operation: Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.[8]

      While Frontex denies any physical presence on North Macedonia territory, the testimonies gathered by BVMN that allege the presence or participation of Frontex officials in violent acts raise serious questions for the agency. All the testimonies concern incidents that took place in North Macedonia, where the agency has no legal basis to operate. An agreement between the EU and North Macedonia that would permit Frontex deployments, similar to those currently in place with Montenegro and Albania, is facing hold-ups due to objections from the Bulgarian authorities.[9]

      Bilateral agreements

      Frontex operations are not the only deployments of foreign officials in North Macedonia. As noted above, nine of the 15 reports gathered by BVMN describing the involvement of non-Macedonian officers in pushbacks to Greece make no mention of Frontex at all. There are, however, multiple references to violence being meted out by officials in uniforms bearing the flags of Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany and Serbia.

      The presence of some of these officials in the country is made possible by bilateral border control agreements. North Macedonia has cooperation agreements with eight other states in the region (Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia), who provide the Macedonian authorities “with assistance from foreign police officers in patrolling the south border with Greece and in performing their daily duties.”[10] The agreement with Austria, Hungary and Serbia has come in for particular criticism, as it is a memorandum of understanding rather than a formal agreement, and therefore has faced no parliamentary scrutiny in Macedonia.[11] Germany, meanwhile, does not appear to have such a formal agreement with North Macedonia at the federal level – which makes the allegations of the presence of German officers puzzling – but the EU’s largest state has provided a ready supply of equipment, including vehicles, mobile thermal imaging cameras, boots and torches.[12]

      The Croatian and Czech governments have made extensive deployments under these agreements. Between December 2015 (when Croatia and North Macedonia signed a police cooperation deal) and February 2019 “over 560 Croatian police… intercepted almost 6,000 illegal migrants in North Macedonia.”[13] The Czech deployments have been even larger – by December 2019, “1,147 police officers [had] been sent to North Macedonia” to police the border with Greece, according to the Czech government.[14]

      High-level police coordination preceded the signing of many of these agreements. In July 2016, the police chiefs of 12 states said that “the deployment of foreign police officers along borders which are strongly affected by irregular migration conveys a strong message that the countries concerned are resolute in jointly coping with the migration crisis.”[15] Under the agreements with Macedonia, foreign officials can “use technical equipment and vehicles with symbols, wear uniforms, carry weapons and other means of coercion”.[16] In some instances, it seems coercion tips over into outright violence.

      An incident dating from 16 August 2020, recorded by BVMN volunteers, refers to officers “with black ski masks over their faces” and “Croatian and Czech flags emblazoned on their uniforms.” The interviewees said that “these officers were violent with them – kicking the group, destroying their mobile phones, taking their money, insulting them, pushing their faces on the ground with tied hands behind the back. One of the respondents was also attacked by a dog, while the officers [were] laughing at him.”[17] As far back as March 2016, an activist supporting refugees at the increasingly well-guarded Greek-Macedonian border told the newspaper Lidovky that, in Macedonia, “the Czech police are known for violence and unprofessionalism.”[18]

      Buffer states in the Balkans

      Bilateral cooperation between EU states and North Macedonia extends far beyond these police cooperation agreements. In September 2020, the German Presidency of the Council of the EU described the region stretching from Turkey to Hungary (known in official jargon as the “Eastern Mediterranean/Western Balkans”) as being “of great strategic importance for the EU in terms of migration management.”[19] Significant attention is therefore being given to reinforcing the ability of states in the region to control peoples’ movements (an issue highlighted in another recent Statewatch report).

      As of May 2020, 15 EU member states were providing bilateral “support” on migration issues to states in the Western Balkans through a total of 228 activities, according to a survey carried out by the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The majority of that support was focused on control measures, “namely border management and combating the smuggling of migrants (over 50% of all MS activities),” said a summary produced by the Presidency. More than 50% of the 228 activities were taking place in Serbia and North Macedonia, both of which border EU territory.[20]

      The Croatian Presidency highlighted the “geopolitical importance” of those two countries, given that “Member States’ focus is on the prevention of irregular migratory movements to the EU.” This was “both expected and understandable, but may contribute to strengthening the Western Balkan partners’ self-perception as a transit region, which poses a challenge for the further improvement of all aspects of their migration capacities.” Rather than a transit region, the plan is to provide ‘capacity-building’ and technical assistance to develop buffer states that can keep people out of the ‘core’ of the EU after they depart from Greece.

      This is, of course, not a new plan. In February and March 2016, as the EU-Turkey deal was heading for agreement and in the wake of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people travelling by foot, road and rail to the ‘core’ of the EU, the ‘Balkan Route’ was declared closed by EU leaders. Initially done on the crude, discriminatory basis of nationality,[21] exclusion measures were extended to apply to all those crossing borders in the region. That process of closure continues today, and violence is a longstanding component of the strategy.[22] Indeed, it is a prerequisite for it to work effectively, and has been denounced repeatedly over the years by NGOs and international organisations. In March 2016, the Macedonian authorities sought supplies of pepper spray, tasers, rubber bullets, “special bomb (shock, with rubber balls)” and “acoustic device to break the mob.”[23] The concern now may be with smaller groups of people attempting to pass through the country, rather than with “the mob”, but the violence is no less brutal.

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2021/foreign-agents-and-violence-against-migrants-at-the-greek-macedonian-bor

  • Identifying online threats: An NGO′s experience | Innovation for Media Development: Digital security, data journalism and media viability | DW | 15.10.2020
    https://www.dw.com/en/identifying-online-threats-an-ngos-experience/a-55287059

    The German NGO Future Challenges and its partner “betterplace lab” are currently implementing a three-year digital human rights project in Uganda called the Digital Human Rights Lab. With guidance from DW Akademie trainer Daniel Moßbrucker, Future Challenges applied threat modeling to strengthen its security system.
    ...
    DW Akademie’s Threat Modelling Guide will be released in October 2020. The guide helps organizations to identify potential threats and provides solutions to counter them.

  • Germany′s military missing over 60,000 rounds of ammunition | News | DW | 17.07.2020
    https://www.dw.com/en/germany-military-ammunition/a-54214817


    Il semble que les fascistes allemands s’approvisionne en munitions avec l’aide de soldats d’extrême droite au sein de la Bundeswehr.

    Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, has confirmed it is missing more than 60,000 rounds of ammunition. Another 48,000 rounds from an elite special unit with links to right-wing extremism are also unaccounted for.

    Germany’s Bundeswehr is investigating after tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition were reported missing from its inventory, a Defense Ministry spokesman said Friday.

    The reason for the missing ammunition remains unclear, he told news agency DPA.

    An earlier report from newspaper Die Welt on Friday had said at least 60,000 rounds of Bundeswehr ammunition had gone missing since 2010, according to a confidential reply to a government information request filed by several parties in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag.

    Only around 36,000 of over 96,000 missing cartridges of varying caliber have been located, the government reportedly said.

    More missing from unit with far-right ties

    This figure excludes some 48,000 rounds that went missing from the army’s elite Special Forces Command (KSK) unit, which recently came under fire after right-wing extremism was uncovered among its ranks.

    Read more: Opinion: A final reprieve for Germany’s elite army force

    “We are now investigating intensively and assessing our practices — not just in the KSK,” the ministry spokesman said.

    The investigation will examine whether the missing ammunition is the result of sloppy work, rounds left abroad, or criminal activity, he said, adding that none of the possibilities could be ruled at this time.

    “Sloppiness will be stopped, every case of diversion will be reported and the public prosecutor’s office will be called in,” the spokesperson said.

    WO SIND UNSERE WAFFEN ?
    https://unsere-waffen.de

    Der MAD sucht auf Weisung der Ministerin derzeit Waffen, Munition und Sprengstoffe, die in allen Truppenteilen entwendet worden sind. Für jeden Hinweis, der zur Ergreifung der Täter oder zum Auffinden der gestohlenen Ausrüstung führt, zahlen wir 1.000 Euro.

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zentrum_f%C3%BCr_politische_Sch%C3%B6nheit#Wo_sind_unsere_Waffen ?

    https://politicalbeauty.de

    #Allemagne #extrême_droite #Bundeswehr #armée #terrorisme #WTF

  • Bulgaria blocks North Macedonia Frontex agreement

    Bulgaria is the only country blocking the signing of a border management agreement between North Macedonia and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – Frontex, EURACTIV reports.

    The reason for the dispute is that Bulgaria does not recognise the language of North Macedonia as “Macedonian”, as the authorities in Skopje call it. Bulgaria considers it as a dialect of Bulgarian.

    Also, Bulgaria conditions a change in terminology regarding Macedonian language in order to allow progress in drafting a final negotiating framework.

    “Bulgaria does not recognize the existence of a separate so-called ‘Macedonian language’ and therefore cannot agree to any reference to it in EU documents. The reference to the “official language” of this country enables the continuation of institutional work”, reads the document in which Radio Free Europe had an insight.

    An agreement on co-operation in border management would enable Frontex to conduct joint operations and send its teams to border areas to stop illegal immigration, especially in cases of sudden changes in migration flows, and cross-border crime and, if necessary, to provide technical and operational assistance to national border forces.

    Frontex has previously signed such agreements with Serbia, Montenegro and Albania. A similar agreement has been initialed with Bosnia and Herzegovina, but is awaiting finalization.

    https://europeanwesternbalkans.com/2020/10/22/bulgaria-blocks-north-macedonia-frontex-agreement

    #Bulgarie #Frontex #Macédoine_du_Nord #route_des_balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Balkans #accord

    –---

    La raison pour laquelle la Bulgarie ne signe pas est intéressante... sur une question linguistique...

    The reason for the dispute is that Bulgaria does not recognise the language of North Macedonia as “Macedonian”, as the authorities in Skopje call it. Bulgaria considers it as a dialect of Bulgarian.

    #langue #macédonien #dialecte_bulgare #bulgare #langue_bulgare

    • Bulgaria asks EU to stop ’fake’ Macedonian identity

      In another Balkan historical dispute, Sofia has asked its fellow EU members to stop North Macedonia’s accession bid. Sofia wants its neighbor to admit to sharing a common history with Bulgaria.

      A long-simmering historical dispute between two Balkan neighbors is about to enter the corridors of Brussels again as North Macedonia expects an official start to the EU accession negotiation process in December. An EU candidate country since 2005, North Macedonia hoped that solving the name dispute with Greece would end the historical quarrels with its Balkan neighbors and, after having entered NATO in March, start the country down the long road to full EU membership.

      But Bulgaria has different ideas.

      A document titled the “Explanatory Memorandum on the relationship of the Republic of Bulgaria with the Republic of North Macedonia in the context of the EU enlargement and Association and Stabilization Process” caught the attention of the media in North Macedonia last week. The six-page memorandum, sent to 26 EU capitals from Sofia in August, lays out Bulgaria’s position on several historical issues. Key among them, as Sofia claims: “the ethnic and linguistic engineering that has taken place” in North Macedonia since World War II.

      “The accession path of the Republic of North Macedonia provides a valuable opportunity for its leadership to break with the ideological legacy and practices of communist Yugoslavia,” the Bulgarian memorandum stated. “The enlargement process must not legitimize the ethnic and linguistic engineering that has taken place under former authoritarian regimes.”

      According to the official Bulgarian view of history, people of Slavic descent who live in North Macedonia are Bulgarians who speak the Bulgarian language but were brainwashed during the Josip Broz Tito’s communist regime in the former Yugoslavia and were artificially given a new “Macedonian” identity and language in the process.

      Pressing nationalistic views

      The claim is not new. It is the official position of the Bulgarian state since the 1950s and, as a result, the historical misunderstandings between the two neighbors often boiled over in the political arena. As a member of the European Union, Bulgaria sees an advantage and aims to use it.

      Ulf Brunnbauer, chair of history of Southeast and Eastern Europe at the University of Regensburg, said the memorandum is Bulgaria’s way of “pressing its own nationalistic view on the history and culture of another country and its people.”

      “It would be similar to Germany telling the Austrians that they are actually Germans, or Denmark calling the Norwegians an anomaly because they used to be part of their empire and their standard language developed later than Danish,” Brunnbauer told DW.

      The memorandum caused consternation in North Macedonia and condemnation in parts of the Bulgarian academia as well.

      Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Dimitrov said, “Language is not subject to recognition or nonrecognition because in the 21st century, especially in Europe, the right to self-determination and self-expression cannot be denied.”

      Bulgarian sociologist Ivaylo Ditchev wrote for DW that the primary “accusation” made in the Bulgarian memo is the fact that “North Macedonia exists at all.”

      “And if that new nation persistently refuses to abolish itself — Bulgaria considers that an act of aggression,” Ditchev wrote.

      Occupation or liberation?

      During the Second World War, the Kingdom of Bulgaria was part of the Axis powers and occupied the territory of what is today North Macedonia. Macedonian history considers this period “Bulgarian fascist occupation.” But Bulgaria denies that assertion and claims that its forces liberated what it considers its brethren in the west. In a declaration adopted by the parliament last year, Sofia told Skopje to stop using the term “fascist occupation” in reference to Bulgaria in its history books and to remove all such mention on the World War II monuments in the country.

      Disagreements like this were supposed to be solved by a commission formed after the signing of a bilateral friendship agreement in 2017.

      A group of historians and education experts from both countries started working on the long list of divisive issues but stopped last year. The official reason was because of the elections in North Macedonia and later the coronavirus pandemic, unofficially, there were insurmountable disagreements. Now the Bulgarian government insists that the commission continue its work and show results or North Macedonia’s path towards the EU would be stopped before it can begin in earnest.

      No place for bilateral issues

      While the EU has so far been quiet on the issue, Germany, as the current holder of the rotating European Council presidency, called on both countries to resolve outstanding problems in the history commission. German Ambassador in North Macedonia Anke Holstein rejected Bulgaria’s attempt to include the bilateral issues in the EU negotiations framework.

      “Bilateral problems should be solved bilaterally,” Holstein told Radio Free Europe.

      But, according to Dragi Gjorgiev, president of the Macedonian team of experts in the Macedonian-Bulgarian commission, that won’t be an easy task.

      “The Bulgarian memorandum, which denies the modern Macedonian language and identity, is not helpful for the commission’s success,” Gjorgiev told DW.

      While Ditchev, and other political analysts on both sides of the border think the memorandum might be a PR-stunt of Boyko Borisov’s Bulgarian government to turn the attention of the public opinion after months of anti-corruption protests in the country, others disagree.

      “Protests in Sofia have nothing to do with this,” Andrey Kovatchev member of the European Parliament from Bulgaria’s governing conservative GERB party, wrote in an op-ed for DW Macedonian on Saturday. The government in Sofia would not change its position, Kovatchev said, adding that North Macedonia will not be allowed to start the EU accession negotiations unless it accepts Bulgaria’s demands.

      “Do not hope! You will never find another traitor like Georgi Dimitrov [the first communist leader of Bulgaria 1946-1949, who recognized the existence of a separate Macedonian nation and Macedonian language] in Bulgaria to get this thing done for you.,” he said.

      German historian Brunnbauer, on the other hand, called on Brussels and “especially Berlin” to put pressure on the Bulgarian government.

      “The question of how historians or politicians in (North) Macedonia interpret the history of their nation and of their language might enrage Bulgarian nationalists (and vice versa),” he said. “But it has zero connection with the Copenhagen criteria or any other criteria an accession country needs to fulfill for membership in the EU.”

      https://www.dw.com/en/bulgaria-asks-eu-to-stop-fake-macedonian-identity/a-55020781

    • Bulgaria threatens to veto North Macedonia’s EU talks

      Bulgaria said it will veto the formal launch of EU accession talks with North Macedonia unless its concerns about language and history are taken into account, diplomats said after a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday.

      One diplomat who took part in the meeting said the Bulgarian representative gave “a very long and emotional speech” on the topic.

      The ambassadors were having their first discussion on the framework for negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia that was put forward by the European Commission last summer. Once the member states have backed the framework, the presidency of the Council of the EU, currently held by Germany, will present the so-called “agreed General EU Position” to the two countries hoping to join the bloc, marking the formal start of accession negotiations.

      It was expected that the EU’s support for the negotiating framework would be signed off at a ministerial meeting of the General Affairs Council on November 10 — but Sofia could derail those plans.

      Opening talks with the two Balkan countries has already been difficult as North Macedonia and Greece first had to resolve a near 30-year-long dispute over the former’s name. An agreement between the two was ratified last year, paving the way for Skopje’s NATO accession.

      Another obstacle appeared when France led a group of capitals pushing for a change in the way countries join the bloc. At a meeting of EU leaders last October, France blocked approval of the opening of the accession talks with both countries. Approval was granted in March after a compromise was found that included revamping the accession process.

      The discussion among ambassadors on Wednesday was mainly about this new methodology, with some member states having doubts about how negotiations could be suspended, two diplomats said.

      In recent weeks, Bulgaria distributed documents to the other member states to explain its position. In one of the documents, seen by POLITICO, Sofia stressed that Bulgaria cannot “accept that the still ongoing nation-building process in the Republic of North Macedonia be conducted through the revision of our common history, the denial of our common ethnic and linguistic roots or the unfounded claims for the existence of a ‘Macedonian minority’ in Bulgaria.”

      The two countries signed an accord in August 2017 to resolve these problems “but the implementation of the Treaty has been stagnant,” said Sofia.

      Nikola Dimitrov, North Macedonia’s deputy prime minister for European integration, said his country is committed to implementing the friendship agreement with Sofia. He noted Bulgaria had played a positive role in putting EU enlargement back on the bloc’s agenda but said that success would be at risk if a solution is not found to the impasse.

      “It is simply not right for the Macedonian language to be an obstacle to our European future if the EU is a community of values that celebrates diversity,” Dimitrov told POLITICO.

      Diplomats said that Wednesday’s session was just a first discussion and there’s still a chance to avoid the process being derailed, with more talks planned. “There’s still room for diplomacy,” said one of the diplomats involved in the discussion, pointing to preparatory meetings for the next summit as part the so-called Berlin process, that will bring together leaders from the Western Balkans and the EU, to be held in Sofia on November 10, the same day as the General Affairs Council.

      https://www.politico.eu/article/bulgaria-threatens-veto-on-north-macedonia-accession

  • Le #nouveau_camp de #Lesbos, #Grèce (#septembre_2020) :


    –-> photo : #Giorgos_Moutafis
    https://twitter.com/AneIrazabal/status/1305225485769740288
    #Kara_Tepe

    –----

    Un nouveau camp pour réfugiés sur l’île de Lesbos après les incendies

    Environ 500 demandeurs d’asile ont été installés dans un nouveau camp sur l’île grecque de Lesbos qui doit accueillir des milliers de #sans-abri après la destruction du grand centre de Moria. De nombreux migrants manifestent toutefois pour quitter l’île.

    « Dans cinq jours l’opération sera achevée. Tout le monde sera installé dans le nouveau camp », a assuré le ministre des Migrations, Notis Mitarachi, en visite à Lesbos depuis deux jours pour coordonner les travaux du nouveau camp. Situé à trois kilomètres du port de Mytilène, chef-lieu de l’île, ce camp « sera fermé pendant la nuit pour des raisons de sécurité », selon un communiqué ministériel.

    « Tout est parti en fumée à Moria. On ne peut plus rester dans la rue, dans le camp ce sera mieux », a indiqué à l’AFP une Somalienne qui attendait son tour devant l’entrée du camp pour être enregistrée.
    Migrants contaminés

    Notis Mitarachi a estimé que « 200 personnes » parmi les demandeurs d’asile pourraient être contaminées par le Covid-19 et que des restrictions strictes sont prévues pour les sorties des migrants du nouveau camp.

    Des milliers de familles vivent sur le bitume, sur les trottoirs ou dans les champs à Lesbos depuis les gigantesques incendies de mardi et mercredi qui ont détruit le centre d’enregistrement et d’identification de Moria, sans faire de victimes.

    Mis en place en 2015 pour limiter le nombre de migrants venant de la Turquie voisine à destination de l’Europe, ce centre abritait plus de 12’000 personnes dont 4000 enfants, soit quatre fois plus que sa capacité initiale.

    Refus d’entrer

    Des migrants ont à nouveau manifesté dans le calme dimanche en fin matinée, réclamant leur transfert vers la Grèce continentale, selon des journalistes de l’AFP. De nombreux demandeurs d’asile refusent d’entrer dans le nouveau camp, disant leur ras-le-bol après avoir attendu dans celui de Moria durant des mois, certains des années, d’être transférés dans des structures en Grèce continentale.

    Mais le ministre des Migrations, Notis Mitarachi, a souligné que « toute personne qui est dans la rue sera transférée dans le nouveau camp ». « Ceux qui rêvent quitter l’île, il faut qu’ils l’oublient », a-t-il affirmé.

    https://www.rts.ch/info/monde/11600300-un-nouveau-camp-pour-refugies-sur-lile-de-lesbos-apres-les-incendies.ht

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #camps_de_réfugiés #tentes #HCR #SDF

    Sur l’incendie du mois de septembre 2020 :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/875743

    #comme_en_Afrique...

    –----

    Fil de discussion sur le dernier incendie :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/875743

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • Just 800 of Greek island’s 12,500 homeless migrants rehoused

      Just over 6% of the 12,500 people left homeless last week by the fire that destroyed Greece’s biggest camp for refugees and migrants have been rehoused in a new temporary facility under construction on the island of Lesvos, authorities said Monday.

      By Monday afternoon, about 800 people had entered the new tent city, hastily set up by the sea a few kilometers from the gutted Moria camp, migration ministry officials said.

      Thousands remained camped out for a sixth day along a road leading from Moria to the island capital of Mytilene, with police blocking the way into town to prevent asylum-seekers trying to board ferries for the Greek mainland instead of entering the new camp.

      Authorities say the blazes last Tuesday and Wednesday in Moria, where thousands of people arrive every year after crossing illegally from nearby Turkey, were started by camp residents angry at quarantine orders imposed after 35 people in the facility tested positive for Covid-19.

      Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said there’s space for about 5,000 people so far in the new camp, on a former military firing range at Kara Tepe near Mytilene. He also said everyone left homeless by the Moria fire will be able to relocate to Kara Tepe within the next few days.

      Officials said the gap between available spaces and residents in the new camp is largely due to the unwillingness of many asylum-seekers to settle in. Many had hoped that with Moria destroyed they would be allowed to head for the Greek mainland, or even other European Union countries.

      Several hundred women and children held a protest march along the Moria-to-Mytilene road Monday, chanting: “No camp, freedom.”

      But government officials said the only way for former Moria camp residents to leave Lesbos would be to move to the new facility and successfully apply there for asylum.

      “Moving to the new camp is not optional, it’s obligatory,” Mitarakis said in an interview with Parapolitika Radio.

      Under EU rules, people reaching Greece’s eastern Aegean islands from Turkey must stay in camps at their points of arrival pending examination of their asylum bids. This led to overcrowding and squalid living conditions for camp residents that were repeatedly criticised by human rights organizations. It also triggered resentment among Lesbos’ Greek population.

      Asylum-seekers entering Kara Tepe are tested for Covid-19 as part of the registration process, and 15 infected people have been recorded so far. All were moved to isolation facilities.

      Greece’s minister responsible for public order, Michalis Chryssohoidis, said Monday he hoped a continued reduction in migration flows from nearby Turkey and a speedy processing of asylum applications should mean the last of the refugees and migrants currently on Lesbos would have left by spring.

      Greek authorities plan to build a new facility for future arrivals that will replace Moria.

      https://www.ekathimerini.com/256958/article/ekathimerini/news/just-800-of-greek-islands-12500-homeless-migrants-rehoused

    • 2,9 εκατομμύρια για νοίκια στον Καρά Τεπέ μέχρι το… 2025, στην κατά τα άλλα προσωρινή δομή !
      142.051 για τους τέσσερις μήνες του 2020 και από 550.000 το χρόνο, για τα έτη 2021 έως 2025, προκειμένου να νοικιαστούν οι εκτάσεις του Καρά Τεπέ από το Υπουργείο Μετανάστευσης και Ασύλου

      « Λεφτά με το τσουβάλι » αλλά και απόδειξη ότι η προσωρινή δομή του Καρά Τεπέ κάθε άλλο παρά προσωρινή είναι. Το « Ν » αποκαλύπτει σήμερα, δημοσιοποιώντας τα σχετικά έγγραφα, ότι για την περίοδο Σεπτέμβριος 2020 έως 31 Δεκεμβρίου 2025, το Υπουργείο μετανάστευσης και ασύλου δίνει το αστρονομικό ποσό των 2.9 εκατομμυρίων ευρώ μόνο για την ενοικίαση εκτάσεων ξερής και εγκαταλειμμένης γης στον Καρά Τεπέ. Προκειμένου να δημιουργήσει ένα νέο μόνιμο ΚΥΤ.

      Συγκεκριμένα με δυο χθεσινές (14.9.2020) αποφάσεις του Υπουργείου Μετανάστευσης και Ασύλου που αναρτήθηκαν στο « Διαύγεια » δεσμεύονται τα παρακάτω ποσά :

      – 142.051 ευρώ για την ενοικίαση γεωτεμαχίων για τη λειτουργία προσωρινής δομής φιλοξενίας προσφύγων και μεταναστών έως τις 31.12.2020.

      – Επίσης δεσμεύονται άλλα 2.750.000 ευρώ (550.000 ευρώ το χρόνο) για τη μίσθωση των ίδιων γεωτεμαχίων στην περιοχή Καρά Τεπέ !

      Ας σημειώσουμε ότι στις εκτάσεις αυτές που ανήκουν εξ αδιαιρέτως σε απογόνους γνωστής οικογένειας της παλιάς Μυτιλήνης, έχουν αρχίσει ήδη να πραγματοποιούνται χωματουργικές εργασίες, σε κάποια δε τμήματα στήνονται και σκηνές. Εκτείνονται δε πέραν του οικοπέδου του πεδίου βολής ιδιοκτησίας του υπουργείου Εθνικής Άμυνας και φτάνει μέχρι και πίσω από το σούπερ μάρκετ Lidl, Σε επαφή δηλαδή από τη μια μεριά με επιχειρήσεις κατά μήκος του δρόμου από την παλιά ΕΦΑΜ μέχρι και το πεδίο βολής και από την άλλη μεριά, μέχρι τη θάλασσα.

      Η ενοικίαση του συγκεκριμένου χώρου αποδεικνύει προφανώς ότι η νέα, κατ’ ευφημισμό αποκαλούμενη « προσωρινή », δομή στον Καρά Τεπέ είναι ο χώρος όπου θα αναπτυχθεί το μόνιμο ΚΥΤ που εξήγγειλε ο Πρωθυπουργός Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης από τη Θεσσαλονίκη.

      Το μέγεθος δε της όλης έκτασης, πολλές εκατοντάδες στρέμματα, συμπεριλαμβανομένης και της έκτασης του υπουργείου Εθνικής Άμυνας, δείχνει ότι θα είναι ένα τεράστιο ΚΥΤ πολύ μεγαλύτερο αυτό της Μόριας, το μεγαλύτερο στην Ελλάδα αλλά και σε όλη την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση, σε άμεση επαφή με κατοικημένες περιοχές και πολλές δεκάδες επιχειρήσεις, λίγες εκατοντάδες μέτρα από το χωριό Παναγιύδα.

      Ας σημειωθεί ότι όπως λέχθηκε από ανθρώπους της κτηματαγοράς στη Μυτιλήνη, το ύψος του ενοικίου είναι ίσως μεγαλύτερο και από το ύψος του ποσού που απαιτείτο μέχρι πρότινος για την αγορά της έκτασης.
      https://www.stonisi.gr/post/11449/29-ekatommyria-gia-noikia-ston-kara-tepe-mexri-to-2025-sthn-kata-ta-alla-pro

      –—

      Commentaire et traduction de quelques extraits par Vicky Skoumbi :

      Voici quelques extraits de l’article du média locale sto nisi qui révèle les véritables intentions du gouvernement, qui loin de programmer l’évacuation des îles d’ici Pâques, prévoit la création du plus grand hot-spot de l’Europe à Kara-Tepe à Lesbos, beaucoup plus grand que Moria !
      Si en plus, on tient compte les intentions affichés du gouvernement de créer non pas un RIC fonctionnant comme avant, mais un centre de réception et d’identification fermé sous surveillance policière 24h sur 24h, on voit que le pire est devant nous et les déclaration sur le départ de tout réfugié d’ici Päques n’est que poudre aux yeux de la population locale et de la communauté internationale

      2,9 millions prévus pour la location de terrains à Kara Tepe jusqu’en… 2025, tout ça pour une structure censément provisoire !

      142051 pour les quatre mois de 2020 et de 550000 par an, de 2021 à 2025, afin de louer les terrains de Kara Tepe par le ministère de l’Immigration et de l’Asile.

      La location de ces terrains prouve évidemment que la nouvelle structure à Kara Tepe appelée par euphémisme « temporaire » est l’endroit où sera installé le RIC (Reception Identification Center), le hot-spot permanent annoncé par le Premier ministre Kyriakos Mitsotakis à Thessalonique.

      L’étendue de l’ensemble de la zone, plusieurs centaines d’hectares, y compris la zone du ministère de la Défense nationale, montre qu’il s’agira d’un hot-spot énorme, beaucoup plus grand que celui de Moria, le plus grand de Grèce et de toute l’Union européenne, en contact direct avec des zones résidentielles et de très nombreuses d’entreprises, à quelques centaines de mètres du village de Panagouda.

      Il est à noter que comme l’ont dit les gens du marché immobilier à Mytilène, le montant du loyer est probablement supérieur du montant requis pour l’achat même du terrain.

    • Lesbos : les migrants à la rue évacués par la police vers un nouveau camp « provisoire »

      La police grecque a commencé jeudi à évacuer une partie des milliers de réfugiés jetés à la rue par l’incendie de Moria vers un nouveau camp, « provisoire » selon l’ONU et les autorités grecques. Ces dernières ont évoqué Pâques comme date butoir pour transférer les exilés de l’île de Lesbos.

      La police grecque a commencé jeudi 17 septembre à évacuer une partie des milliers de réfugiés jetés à la rue par l’incendie de Moria vers un nouveau camp.

      Vers 7h locales (4h GMT), la police faisait le tour des tentes, dans le calme. Progressivement ils ont entrepris de vider le secteur de ses sans-abri et les emmener vers le nouveau camp érigé à la hâte après l’incendie, il y a une semaine.

      https://twitter.com/rspaegean/status/1306301897368797187?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E13

      Sous un soleil déjà chaud, et sur fond de pleurs d’enfants, plusieurs réfugiés, dont des femmes et des enfants, pliaient leurs couvertures, apportaient des sacs contenant leurs affaires sauvées des flammes la semaine dernière, ou se mettaient à démonter les tentes de bric et de broc installées sur l’asphalte, selon des informations de l’AFP. Ces transferts s’ajoutent aux plusieurs centaines de migrants, déjà arrivés dans le camp mardi et mercredi, selon des humanitaires. D’après les derniers chiffres des autorités grecques, mardi, 1 200 personnes y étaient logées.

      Mercredi soir, 1 000 tentes, pouvant chacune accueillir 8 à 10 personnes, y étaient érigées. Des tentes médicales doivent encore être dressées, et deux zones de quarantaine sont prévues alors que quelque dizaines de cas de coronavirus ont été détectés - mais pour l’heure sans gravité.

      « L’objectif est de protéger la santé publique »

      Depuis l’incendie du camp de Moria, le plus grand d’Europe où vivaient près de 13 000 réfugiés dans des conditions dramatiques, les migrants se sont entassés sous des abris de fortune sur un coin de route et des parkings de supermarché fermés, dans une précarité extrême.

      Dans ce contexte, toute distanciation sociale pour se protéger du Covid-19 semble impossible et, surtout, l’urgence est ailleurs, ont observé des journalistes d’InfoMigrants sur place. « La plus grande préoccupation de ces personnes actuellement, c’est d’avoir accès à de la nourriture et de l’eau », a expliqué Dimitra Chasioti, psychologue pour Médecins sans frontières (MSF) présente sur les lieux.

      « L’objectif est de protéger la santé publique », a déclaré à l’AFP Theodoros Chronopoulos, porte-parole de la police. Il a confirmé une « opération en cours » qui « répond à des fins humanitaires ».

      MSF, qui a ouvert une clinique d’urgence dans cette zone, s’est vu interdire l’accès dans la nuit, alors que des rumeurs d’évacuation couraient, a indiqué l’ONG à l’AFP. À 7h30 (4h30 GMT), ses membres ne pouvaient toujours pas rejoindre leur clinique.

      https://twitter.com/MSF_Sea/status/1306455464071356416?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E13

      « Une opération de police est en cours pour emmener les réfugiés vers le nouveau camp. Cela ne devrait pas empêcher l’aide médicale », a twitté l’ONG. La zone a également été restreinte aux médias.

      https://twitter.com/MortazaBehboudi/status/1306468926830903296?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E13

      Objectif : « quitter l’île pour Athènes »

      Ce nouveau camp, qui crée de nombreuses réticences parmi la population migrante angoissée à l’idée de se retrouver à nouveau enfermée, sera seulement « provisoire » ont promis l’ONU et les autorités grecques.

      Construit depuis samedi, il a pour objectif que les réfugiés « puissent progressivement, et dans le calme, quitter l’île pour Athènes » ou « être réinstallés ailleurs », a indiqué mercredi le représentant en Grèce du Haut commissariat de l’ONU aux réfugiés (HCR) en Grèce, Philippe Leclerc. « Le HCR pousse les autorités (grecques) à accélérer le processus (de demande d’asile) pour que les gens ne restent pas trop longtemps » ici, a-t-il ajouté.

      Le ministre grec de la Protection civile Michalis Chrysochoidis a pour sa part estimé que « la moitié » des exilés pourrait quitter Lesbos « d’ici Noël » et « les autres d’ici Pâques ».

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/27338/lesbos-les-migrants-a-la-rue-evacues-par-la-police-vers-un-nouveau-cam

    • "It is a terrible, inhuman situation". #Marisa_Matias visits Kara Tepe refugee camp

      Marisa Matias says that more than three thousand people have arrived in Kara Tepe and another six thousand are yet to arrive. In this refugee camp, people who test positive for Covid-6 are placed “in spaces surrounded by barbed wire where they have no water,” said the MEP.

      Presidential candidate Marisa Matias visited Kara Tepe in Greece this Friday, who is receiving refugees from the Moria camp, which suffered from a fire on the night of September XNUMX.

      “It is a terrible, inhuman situation”, guaranteed Marisa Matias in a video published on her Facebook page. “It is welcoming the people of Moria, after the fire, it is an immense extension”, said the MEP, pointing out the high number of people passing by around her.

      https://jornaleconomico.sapo.pt/en/news/It-is-a-terrible-inhumane-situation-Marisa-Matias-visits-the-re
      #paywall

    • After Moria, EU to try closed asylum camps on Greek islands

      A “closed camp” for displaced people is being set up on Samos as part of the EU’s strategy for fortifying its external borders. Neither residents of the island nor the people who will be held there want the camp.

      The site of what is to be one of the first new EU camps for displaced people is surrounded by a 6-meter (20-foot) barbed-wire fence. The heat of the day gathers in the valley, which is served so far only by a gravel road. The location of the future camp is over 5 kilometers (4 miles) from Samos, the main town on the island of the same name. When the camp is built, residents will be able to enter it through turnstiles at the gates by means of microchipped armbands. At night, the gates will remain locked.

      By the end of 2020, Samos is meant to be the first Greek island to host a “closed camp.” The announcement was made by the Greek migration minister, Notis Mitarachi, when he visited the island at the end of August. The European Commission has given Greece almost €130 million ($152 million) to build multipurpose reception-and-identification centers, which are meant to provide a higher standard of accommodation than previous camps had, with portable cabins, running water, separated areas and, above all, more security.

      The concept of the closed camps is part of a new strategy to better fortify regions at the European Union’s external borders. Overfilled camps in such regions have become a chronic problem since large numbers of displaced people began arriving in Europe from 2015 on. At the start of the year, the Greek islands near the border to Turkey were hosting more than 40,000 asylum applicants. In the town of Samos, the number of asylum applicants exceeded the number of people who lived there permanently. Almost 5,000 people are currently living in the existing camp on the island — although it was first meant to house only 650.

      Residents have built tents made from sleeping bags, sticks and tarpaulins. Water pipes stick out from the ground. The doors of the portable toilet cabins are banging open and shut with the wind. There is a smell of fried fish and urine.
      ’Send us back’

      Omar, who asked that his real name not be used, was sitting on a pallet, drinking tea with his wife and children near the tent that the family — eight members in all — shares. At night, the rats are so loud that they can’t sleep, the 58-year-old Omar said. After seven months of waiting since the family came from Idlib, Syria, he has had enough. “It’s better to send us back to our country,” he said: It would be better to be in danger in a civil war than to be provided indefinite refuge at this camp.

      Skin infections are proliferating, Omar said, and most people are without showers. Each person receives one bottle of water and two meals a day — which the members of the family take turns standing in line for up to three hours to get.

      A son, Mohammed, who had studied in university back in Syria, fanned out the meal vouchers for the following days. Whereas at the start each person had received about €90 per month, this lump sum has now been reduced to €75. Omar had heard that the money saved was being used to improve the general living conditions. But, he said, nothing has changed for him. On the contrary: Since restrictions were placed on movement, he said, the situation has become even more tense. He said the situation often got worse at night — when there is neither electricity nor light.
      Are NGOs permitted?

      After the first two cases of coronavirus infection were discovered in the camp earlier in September, the Greek authorities imposed a lockdown that is to last until the end of the month. Over the past week — including as recently as Sunday evening — fires broke out in the camp. It remains unclear what caused the fires. But Greek politicians are warning of copycat effects following fires at the Moria camp on Lesbos, and even excusing the camp residents of engaging in arson to escape the miserable conditions.

      In the future, 2,100 will be held at the camp — 900 of them in a closed-off area where they will wait for decisions on their cases, according to Jonathan Vigneron, project coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Samos. The numbers are taken from a map that the migration minister handed out during his visit. Vigneron said the whole thing reminded him of a prison.

      “It’s a very scary thing to see,” Vigneron said. He added that issues that international organizations had asked for clarity on included whether NGOs such as MSF would even be permitted to work in the new camp. The registration procedure for NGOs makes access almost impossible, he said. In an open letter, 68 organizations wrote that conditions in the camp could create “a worrying situation with regard to human dignity.”

      Displaced people might have a better standard of accommodation and more security at the closed camp, Vigneron said, but they would have nothing to do and no freedom of movement. “The camp is 5 kilometers away from any place,” Vigneron said. “It’s not marginalizing people: This is segregation by definition.”

      https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/27510/after-moria-eu-to-try-closed-asylum-camps-on-greek-islands

    • #Moria_2.0': refugees who escaped fire now living in ’worse’ conditions

      More than 7,500 people living in tents on squalid settlement, with two other camps on Lesbos set to close

      Thousands of people who fled the fire that destroyed the infamous Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, last month are living in dire and unsanitary conditions in a temporary settlement with little access to water or basic sanitation.

      Just over 7,500 people are now living in tents among the rubble and dust of a former shooting range in an informal settlement that has become known as “Moria 2.0”.

      The camp, located at the edge of the sea, is exposed to the elements. Residents are allowed to leave the camp between 8am–8pm every day apart from Sunday. People wash their clothes and bodies in the sea because there is not enough running water. In the past week more than 1,600 recognised refugees have been moved to less crowded camps and hotels on the mainland, where they have said conditions are better.

      Semin, a 23-year-old economics graduate from a Kabul university, said she cried when she found out she wouldn’t be moving to the mainland.

      “My mother tries not to eat a lot of food because she doesn’t want to go to the toilet,” she said, and explained that some people were walking to a nearby town to use toilets in cafes instead of using camp toilets.

      “This camp is not good for children or old people,” she added. She said that the electricity, which is powered by generators, didn’t always work.

      A spokesperson for the Greek ministry of migration said that there were 400 toilets in the camp and that these were cleaned every day.

      Shad Mohammed, a refugee from Afghanistan, said he was having to find ways to cook his own food using salvaged pots and pans from Moria because his children could not eat the food in the new camp.

      Two other remaining camps on the island, Pikpa and Kara Tepe, which are both for vulnerable people, are now facing closure. Kara Tepe, which has a capacity for around 1,000 people, will be closed by the end of the year. Pikpa, a small brightly-coloured camp with notably good conditions, faces closure by authorities next week.

      Carmen Dupont from Lesvos Solidarity, an NGO operating in Pikpa, said she had been shocked to hear news of the closures. “At a time when we hear from the European Union: ‘no more Moria’, a new Moria has been built and the conditions – as far as we hear from the people inside – are worse than at the previous camp.”

      Dupont said the situation for those stuck on Lesbos and other Greek islands seemed to be deteriorating. “There seems to be a very clear agenda linked to the migration pact and the European Union’s direction, which is of containment. Keeping people trapped and locked in inhumane camps in hellish conditions and at the same time, erasing and closing the dignified shelters that exist.

      “It is a very clear agenda that we are resisting because Pikpa is much more than a place. We are defending the idea and values of solidarity, equality, dignity and connection.”

      Médecins Sans Frontières have also expressed concerns about the new camp. “We know that the camp has very minimal services,” said Marco Sandrone, the MSF project coordinator on Lesbos. “[The closure of Kara Tepe and Pikpa] is extremely concerning, because the lack of appropriate accommodation for vulnerable categories has always been an issue.”

      Meanwhile, as residents at “Moria 2.0” tried to make the best of the situation, the community at Pikpa were planning to spend their final days lobbying to save the space. Last week a group of children from the camp spent the day painting a mural reading: “Save Pikpa. Love you Pikpa.”

      A spokesperson for the ministry of migration said residents of Pikpa and Kara Tepe would have their asylum claims “accelerated”. A successful asylum claim would mean they would be moved to the mainland while a rejection would result in them being detained and – pending appeal – deported.

      https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/oct/07/moria-20-refugees-who-escaped-fire-now-living-in-worse-conditions?CMP=s

    • Un mois après les incendies à Moria, le HCR lance une mise en garde contre une dégradation des conditions à l’arrivée de l’hiver

      Quatre semaines après les incendies qui ont détruit le centre d’accueil et d’identification de Moria à Lesbos, le HCR, l’Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, réitère son appel pour que des mesures et des améliorations urgentes soient prises afin d’éviter une nouvelle détérioration des conditions de vie d’environ 7800 réfugiés et demandeurs d’asile actuellement hébergés dans le site d’urgence de Kara Tepe.

      Le froid et l’arrivée de l’hiver ne feront qu’aggraver les difficultés endurées par cette population. Il existe des lacunes critiques en matière de drainage, d’eau, d’installations d’assainissement et d’hygiène, et de services de santé, auxquelles il faut remédier sans délai.

      Les fortes pluies du 8 octobre dernier ont aggravé la situation des résidents du site d’urgence. Des tentes ont été inondées. Le HCR a effectué des visites de suivi en matière de protection pour évaluer la situation sur ce site suite aux fortes pluies et a donné la priorité aux bâches pour les personnes dont les tentes ont été affectées par les fortes pluies. Les réfugiés eux-mêmes ont également trouvé d’autres solutions provisoires, comme le creusement de canaux et de tranchées pour évacuer l’eau autour de leurs tentes et éviter les inondations, car le drainage fait défaut à travers tout le site.

      Le centre d’accueil et d’identification de Moria a été dévasté par des incendies le 9 septembre dernier, forçant quelque 12 000 hommes, femmes et enfants à vivre dans la rue. Les autorités grecques avaient rapidement mobilisé l’armée grecque et les partenaires humanitaires pour ouvrir un centre d’accueil d’urgence. Des efforts importants ont été déployés par les autorités nationales et les organismes d’aide travaillant à Lesbos. Toutefois, les conditions de vie dans le site d’urgence doivent encore être améliorées de toute urgence.

      Le HCR et d’autres partenaires humanitaires ont alerté les autorités grecques sur les dangers et les risques liés à la sécurité sur le site d’urgence, exigeant une action immédiate de leur part. La zone est sujette aux inondations et le site actuel sous tente n’est pas équipé pour fournir la protection nécessaire contre les éléments et les basses températures.

      A la demande des autorités grecques et en soutien aux efforts d’aide humanitaire menés par le gouvernement, le HCR fournit du gravier pour aider à réduire le risque d’inondation dans les zones de tentes et les parties communes. Comme le temps se refroidit et devient plus humide, nous fournissons des kits d’isolation et des planchers composés de palettes et de plaques de contreplaqué pour les tentes familiales.

      Toutefois, il ne s’agit là que d’interventions à court terme qui ne peuvent être considérées comme adéquates ou suffisantes pour résister à l’hiver. Nous avons souligné auprès des autorités que des efforts à grande échelle sont nécessaires, notamment pour assurer rapidement un drainage efficace sur l’ensemble du site et garantir de meilleures solutions d’hébergement pour les personnes les plus vulnérables et leurs familles. Parallèlement, nous continuons à demander davantage de transferts vers le continent dans des logements décents.

      Avec l’arrivée de nouvelles précipitations et d’autres conditions climatiques difficiles, le HCR exhorte à une action immédiate sur toutes les îles grecques de la mer Égée. A Samos, où près de 4500 personnes continuent de séjourner dans des conditions précaires et surpeuplées, la plupart d’entre elles dorment dans des tentes d’été ou des abris de fortune dans les bois, en périphérie du centre d’accueil prévu pour accueillir seulement 650 personnes. La souffrance de ces personnes peut être évitée, grâce à des préparatifs contre les conditions hivernales et à des transferts plus nombreux vers des logements décents.

      Parallèlement, le HCR est encouragé par les efforts menés durant le dernier mois pour décongestionner les sites surpeuplés à travers les îles de la mer Égée, par le biais de transferts vers le continent des demandeurs d’asile les plus vulnérables et des personnes ayant obtenu le statut de réfugié de la part des autorités grecques. Nous continuons à apporter notre appui et à encourager l’accélération de ces efforts.

      A un moment où les besoins en termes de logements appropriés pour les demandeurs d’asile en Grèce sont accrus, le HCR est particulièrement préoccupé par la fermeture annoncée des installations sur l’île de Lesbos, qui avaient été consacrées à l’hébergement de centaines de familles, de femmes et d’enfants parmi les plus vulnérables.

      Il s’agit notamment du centre d’hébergement communautaire de Kara Tepe et de PIKPA, un espace de solidarité autogéré. L’un des fondateurs de cet espace avait reçu la distinction Nansen du HCR pour les réfugiés en 2016. L’activiste grecque Efi Latsoudi a travaillé sans relâche pour aider des milliers de réfugiés arrivant sur les côtes grecques, en offrant un refuge aux plus vulnérables après leur arrivée.

      En attendant des solutions plus complètes et plus dignes, le HCR appelle les autorités grecques à veiller à ce que de telles initiatives continuent d’exister pour assurer la protection et répondre aux besoins spécifiques des réfugiés particulièrement vulnérables.

      https://www.unhcr.org/fr/news/briefing/2020/10/5f8057a5a/mois-apres-incendies-moria-hcr-lance-mise-garde-contre-degradation-conditions

    • “No more Moria”? Rainfall floods dozens of tents in Kara Tepe camp

      Dozens of tents were flooded and large parts of Kara Tepe refugee camp on the island of Lesvos came under water after a strong rainfall on Thursday, an expected development as many people warned about from the very first moment the camp was set up.

      the European Commission slogan “No More Moria” turned into “flooded Kara Tepe” instead.

      The rainfall destroyed 80 out of 1,100 tents and left families with children and elderly again without a roof over their heads.


      https://twitter.com/InfoMigrants/status/1314500743685189632

      3 out of 15 demarcated areas in the camp stand under water.

      For the Migration and Asylum Ministry reason for the floods is the heavy rainfall and the hastily way the camp was set up due to the fire in Moria hotspot.


      https://twitter.com/Malichudis/status/1314242613675995137

      “It is obvious that a temporary structure that was built in a few days will face problems, however, the problems have been addressed immediately,” Ministry sources said according to local media.

      The sources said that the services of the Migration Ministry that operate in the field, in collaboration with Civil Society volunteers, have already proceeded to:

      Transfer of residents to flooded tents, to common areas (rub halls) , where they will remain until further notice.
      Restoration or removal of the approximately 80 tents affected, as 2,500 residents have already left the temporary structure in Kara Tepe and additional 1,300 will leave for relocation abroad.
      Distribution of waterproof covers in order to strengthen the roofs of the tents.

      Drainage works are expected to be concluded in a week.

      “After all, winterization projects are in progress from the first moment,” the sources said..

      They added “the effectiveness of the first infrastructure and protection projects is proven by the fact that the overwhelming percentage of the structure was not affected by the rainfall.”

      The Migration Ministry submitted a relevant Technical Bulletin totaling 5,580,000 euros to the Ministry of Development and Investment, which has already been approved and the projects will be implemented immediately. The projects are funded by the European Union “.

      The sources stressed that the damages in Kara Tepe demonstrate the need for the immediate implementation of the project of the new closed / controlled structure, a structure that will offer better living conditions, modern facilities and more security.”

      PS all in all the Greek Migration Ministry is satisfied with its accomplishments then “only 80 tents were flooded.” Thank goodness, the rain did not come from the other side flooding another 80.

      And it is still autumn…

      The United Nations High Commissioner for Refuges warns of worsening conditions ahead of the winter.

      https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2020/10/09/kara-tepe-camp-lesvos-flooded
      #inondations

    • UNHCR calls for action after migrant camp floods

      A month after fire razed the sprawling Moria reception center on the Aegean island of Lesvos, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, has called for “urgent action” after heavy rain flooded tents at a new facility set up to replace the camp.

      “Urgent action and improvements are needed to avoid further deterioration of living conditions for some 7,800 refugees and asylum-seekers currently sheltered in the emergency site in Kara Tepe,” the UNHCR said in a statement on Friday.

      It said some “interim solutions” were found in the wake of the flooding caused by Thursday’s rainfall but warned that, “colder weather and the onset of winter will only bring more hardship for the people there.”

      Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said that the majority of the facility had not been affected by the flooding and that those migrants whose tents were flooded were temporarily moved to “common areas.”

      https://www.ekathimerini.com/257929/article/ekathimerini/news/unhcr-calls-for-action-after-migrant-camp-floods

    • Moria 2.0: The new Lesbos refugee camp

      A month ago, on September 12, the Greek government opened a new migrant camp on Lesbos, after Moria was destroyed by fire. The new camp is home to about 10,000. InfoMigrants went to meet some of them last week.

      The last warmth of autumn is fading on Lesbos, the Greek island that will be remembered as the site of Europe’s largest migrant camp, Moria, which burned to the ground a month ago.

      After the fire, some of the most vulnerable migrants were taken to facilities on the Greek mainland or to other European countries. Those remaining, around 10,000 people including babies, the elderly and ill, moved into the new temporary tent facility on a former military site. Before moving there, they had spent up to ten days sleeping by the roadside in the open.

      Access to the camp is restricted and the Greek authorities do not welcome visitors. There is a large police presence in and around the camp to ensure that the violence of Moria is not repeated. Asylum seekers are searched for drugs and weapons every time they re-enter the facility. This also means waiting in line to receive a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 .

      The Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum promised that people would have decent living conditions, medical treatment and supplies including running water, electricity and wifi. Once a day, the residents receive a food package containing three meals, but many supplement these rations by cooking their own food over small fires along the sea shore.

      As there are no showers in the camp, people have to wash with a hose-pipe or in the sea. Many people InfoMigrants spoke to said this was causing serious problems for women who needed privacy.

      Children and adults wait in line to fill their containers with cold water from a hose. There is no physical distancing or any other protection against virus transmission.

      Camp residents who are ill with coronavirus are in a fenced-off area.

      Without insulation the tents can become too hot to stay inside even when the outside temperature is less than 28 degrees Celsius. In winter, when it drops to around six degrees, they will offer little protection against cold.

      The camp went up quickly before drains were dug, and the first rain a day after this photo was taken on October 7, flooded the tents. A number of migrants complained that they were living “worse than animals.”

      https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/27851/moria-2-0-the-new-lesbos-refugee-camp

    • Lesbos: Is another Moria in the making?

      Rains have flooded a camp set up to replace the burned-down Moria camp for displaced people and migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos. People seeking to make a new life for themselves are instead mired in mud.

      There are huge puddles in front of the tents at the Kara Tepe camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. A woman holding a newborn baby in a thick pink blanket watches children splash through the water, barefoot or in flip-flops. People are using shovels in often vain efforts to remove the murky water from inside the tents. The rainwater has even seeped underneath the plastic groundsheets, causing them to bulge in places.

      The videos and photos circulating on Twitter and other internet platforms give the world an idea of how helpless the people on Lesbos must have felt after the massive rains this week. “The water came into our tent and everything was flooded,” Ahmad Shuaib Abawi told DW. The 26-year-old Afghan and his family of nine live in one of the approximately 1,100 tents in what the Greek authorities refer to as a “temporary camp.”

      Conditions were supposed to be different there — more orderly, safer — after the controversial and completely overcrowded Moria refugee camp burned down about a month ago.

      80 tents destroyed by water

      Even before the heavy rainfalls, critics called the new camp, which is being called Moria 2 by some, “inhumane.” The rains have now destroyed about 80 of the 1,100 tents. According to the Greek Immigration Ministry, the authorities immediately started to fix the problem, arguing that it is normal for “temporary accommodation built within just a few days” to face challenges.

      The ministry said only a small part of the camp was affected by the floods and that some of the refugees had been temporarily relocated. According to the Greek government, almost 10,000 people currently live at the Kara Tepe camp.

      Waiting all day long

      “It’s really horrible,” said Marion MacGregor, who has been on the ground in Lesbos for the InfoMigrants online portal for the past few days. The refugees are not doing well and the psychological strain, in particular, is enormous, she said. “They do not want to lose years of their lives waiting around in these conditions; they just want to have their asylum application interviews and get on with it” she said. Instead, many face a long wait in the camp, knowing that winter is coming, there are no showers and there is not enough food.

      In good weather, the location of the camp could even be described as idyllic. It is situated right on the coast and the morning sun occasionally bathes the tents in soft orange light. But in reality, Kara Tepe has little of the idyll about it.

      “People wash in the ocean,” MacGregor said, adding that this is a problem in particular for the women, as they have no privacy. Portable toilets have been set up — altogether 345 of them, camp residents have told workers from the aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

      Food packages are not enough

      “Once a day, they are handed a packet of food, but that’s not enough,” MacGregor said — which is why some refugees try to sell bottles or handkerchiefs in the city to buy extra food. But thanks to solar panels, many people in the camp at least have electricity.

      Is the situation in the new camp better than in Moria, despite the many privations? Residents of the camp are divided in their opinion. MacGregor has heard that there is less violence, at least, thanks to the enormous police presence in front of and inside the camp.

      Ahmad Shuaib Abawi also had a relatively positive view — of the camp, at least. “We are not doing badly here, but we are wasting time; the children could go to school and we could study,” he said, adding that he wants to get on with his life rather than get stuck.

      Seven square meters for two families

      “The conditions in the new camp remind us a lot of Moria, while we hear from our patients that in reality, the situation is even worse,” said Marco Sandrone, director of operations for MSF on Lesbos, adding it appears that some tents have no groundsheet at all. “Before the rains, people slept on rocky or dusty ground, which has since become muddy,” he said. Many families have to share tents; they cook, eat and sleep on about 7 square meters (75 square feet), he added.

      https://twitter.com/MSF_Sea/status/1314245456189415424

      The local aid organizations agree the living conditions are not humane despite promises by the Greek Immigration Ministry to provide “decent conditions,” medical care and sufficient food. “Enough is enough!” several aid organizations, including MSF, say in a joint statement. “We reaffirm our call to move these people to safe and decent housing. Other European countries must also accept those seeking protection in order to relieve the situation on the Greek islands.”

      Appeal to EU

      About 2,500 refugees housed at the Kara Tepe camp have been transferred to other accommodation within the EU since September, and 1,300 are expected to leave the camp soon, according to the Greek Migration Ministry. Germany agreed to take in 1,500 refugees from Greece; France expects 900.

      The aid organizations argue that is not enough. They call on EU leaders and member state to stop sealing off the Greek islands and reinforcing the bloc’s external borders. For the time being, however, nothing is likely to change at the Kara Tepe camp. The waiting continues, along with hopes that the next rain will not flood everything again.

      https://www.dw.com/en/lesbos-is-another-moria-in-the-making/a-55249863

    • Deutsche Welle publie un article sur les dénonciations de la situation inhumaine au camp de Kara Tepe à Lesbos et sur l’appel dit ‘Appel de Noël’ de 240 parlementaires du Bundestag de tout bord qui demandent d’accueillir plus de réfugiés venant des îles grecques

      Γερμανική κριτική για την κατάσταση στο Καρά Τεπέ
      https://www.dw.com/el/%CE%B3%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%BC%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AE-%CE%BA%CF%81%CE%B9%CF%84%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AE-%CE%B3%CE%B9%CE%B1-%CF%84%CE%B7%CE%BD-%CE%BA%CE%B1%CF%84%CE%AC%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B1%CF%83%CE%B7-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%BF-%CE%BA%CE%B1%CF%81%CE%AC-%CF%84%CE%B5%CF%80%CE%AD/a-55973267

      17.12.2020

      La situation à Kara Tepe vivement critiquée en Allemagne

      La situation est pire que dans les camps en Afrique, dit le ministre Gerd Müller. Fin décembre, tous les mineurs isolés ou malades seront transférés des îles grecques. Appel de 240 parlementaires allemands.

      Le ministre allemand du Développement économique, Gerd Müller, a vivement critiqué la situation dans le camp de réfugiés de Kara Tepe. S’exprimant sur RTL / ntv ce matin, il a souligné que « c’est en effet un grand scandale pour l’UE que jusqu’à présent nous n’ayons pas pu, malgré l’incendie de Moria il y a quelques mois, créer une situation qui serait vraiment humaine ». M. Müller, le ministre chargé de la coopération avec les pays en développement, a déclaré que la situation à Lesbos était pire que dans les camps de réfugiés en Afrique.

      Gerd Müller : L’UE est coresponsable de la situation à Kara Tepe

      Le politicien de l’Union chrétienne-sociale (CSU) a évoqué à plusieurs reprises la situation dans les camps des îles grecques et a exhorté le gouvernement allemand à accepter des réfugiés de Grèce. Plusieurs fois il s’est opposé au ministre de l’Intérieur Horst Seehofer, qui appartient également à la CSU. Contrairement à Gerd Müller, Seehofer rejette les initiatives uniquement allemandes sur la question migratoire et insiste sur une ligne européenne unique. Mais un porte-parole du ministère allemand de l’Intérieur a déclaré ces dernières semaines que les efforts de la présidence allemande de l’UE au cours des six derniers mois pour réformer la politique d’asile européenne avaient échoué.

      L’Allemagne continue d’accepter des réfugiés de Grèce

      S’exprimant hier après-midi au parlement allemand sur la question de l’accueil des réfugiés de Grèce, le vice-ministre de l’Intérieur Volkmar Vogel a annoncé que le 3 décembre, les derniers mineurs isolés que l’Allemagne avait promis d’accepter sont arrivés des îles grecques. Quant aux 243 autres enfants réfugiés malades, ainsi que leurs familles, que le gouvernement allemand s’est également engagé à accueillir, M. Vogel a exprimé l’espoir que d’ici la fin du mois, ils seraient tous arrivés. Cependant, en raison de la pandémie de coronavirus, les procédures d’accueil des 1553 réfugiés des îles grecques, que l’Allemagne avait annoncé vouloir accueillir après l’incendie de Moria, elles vont s’étaler sur plusieurs mois.

      M. Vogel a clairement indiqué qu’à l’heure actuelle, l’Allemagne n’avait pas l’intention d’accepter d’autres réfugiés de Grèce et que la question concernait l’UE dans son ensemble. Le principal objectif du gouvernement allemand est d’améliorer la situation des réfugiés en Grèce. Evoquant les camps de réfugiés sur les îles grecques et en particulier à Lesbos, Volkmar Vogel a déclaré que le gouvernement allemand « regrette la situation » là-bas et qu’il tente « dans la mesure de ses capacités » d’aider sur le terrain.

      Appel de plus de 240 députés

      Les législateurs allemands demandent au gouvernement allemand d’accepter plus de réfugiés de Grèce

      Selon l’agence de presse epd [Evangelischer Pressedienst, epd], plus de 240 députés allemands signent un « appel de Noël », demandant au gouvernement allemand d’ accepter davantage de réfugiés de Grèce et de redoubler d’efforts pour trouver une solution au niveau de l’UE. L’appel est signé par les députés de tous des partis autres que l’AfD, Alternative nationaliste et xénophobe pour l’Allemagne. Parmi eux se trouvent les présidents des sociaux-démocrates, Saskia Esken et des Verts, Annalena Baerbock, la vice-présidente de la Chambre, le libéral, Wolfgang Kubicki, l’ancien président des chrétiens-démocrates, Volker Kauder et la parlementaire Ulla Jelpke du Die Linke.

      Panagiotis Kouparanis, Berlin

      –—

      Voir l’article de SDZ (en allemand)

      Migration und Asyl:Abgeordnete verlangen mehr Hilfe für Flüchtlinge
      https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/migration-und-asyl-abgeordnete-verlangen-mehr-hilfe-fuer-fluechtlinge-1

      17. Dezember 2020, 18:50 Uhr

      In einem « Weihnachtsappell » fordern 240 Parlamentarier fast aller Fraktionen fordern die Bundesregierung auf, mehr für Schutzsuchende in Griechenland zu tun.

      Von Constanze von Bullion, Berlin, dit le ministre Gerd Müller. Fin décembre, tous les mineurs isolés ou malades seront transférés des îles grecques. Appel de 240 membres allemands.

      Le ministre allemand du Développement économique, Gerd Müller, a vivement critiqué la situation dans le camp de réfugiés de Kara Tepe. S’exprimant sur RTL / ntv ce matin, il a souligné que « c’est en effet un grand scandale pour l’UE que jusqu’à présent nous n’ayons pas pu, malgré l’incendie de Moria il y a quelques mois, créer une situation qui serait vraiment humaine ». M. Müller, le ministre chargé de la coopération avec les pays en développement, a déclaré que la situation à Lesbos était pire que dans les camps de réfugiés en Afrique.

      Gerd Müller : L’UE est coresponsable de la situation à Kara Tepe

      Le politicien de l’Union chrétienne-sociale (CSU) a évoqué à plusieurs reprises la situation dans les camps des îles grecques et a exhorté le gouvernement allemand à accepter des réfugiés de Grèce. Plusieurs fois il s’est opposé au ministre de l’Intérieur Horst Seehofer, qui appartient également à la CSU. Contrairement à Gerd Müller, Seehofer rejette les initiatives uniquement allemandes sur la question migratoire et insiste sur une ligne européenne unique. Mais un porte-parole du ministère allemand de l’Intérieur a déclaré ces dernières semaines que les efforts de la présidence allemande de l’UE au cours des six derniers mois pour réformer la politique d’asile européenne avaient échoué.

      L’Allemagne continue d’accepter des réfugiés de Grèce

      S’exprimant hier après-midi au parlement allemand sur la question de l’accueil des réfugiés de Grèce, le vice-ministre de l’Intérieur Volkmar Vogel a annoncé que le 3 décembre, les derniers mineurs isolés que l’Allemagne avait promis d’accepter sont arrivés des îles grecques. Quant aux 243 autres enfants réfugiés malades, ainsi que leurs familles, que le gouvernement allemand s’est également engagé à accueillir, M. Vogel a exprimé l’espoir que d’ici la fin du mois, ils seraient tous arrivés. Cependant, en raison de la pandémie de coronavirus, les procédures d’accueil des 1553 réfugiés des îles grecques, que l’Allemagne avait annoncé vouloir accueillir après l’incendie de Moria, elles vont s’étaler sur plusieurs mois.

      M. Vogel a clairement indiqué qu’à l’heure actuelle, l’Allemagne n’avait pas l’intention d’accepter d’autres réfugiés de Grèce et que la question concernait l’UE dans son ensemble. Le principal objectif du gouvernement allemand est d’améliorer la situation des réfugiés en Grèce. Evoquant les camps de réfugiés sur les îles grecques et en particulier à Lesbos, Volkmar Vogel a déclaré que le gouvernement allemand « regrette la situation » là-bas et qu’il tente « dans la mesure de ses capacités » d’aider sur le terrain.

      Appel de plus de 240 députés

      Les législateurs allemands demandent au gouvernement allemand d’accepter plus de réfugiés de Grèce

      Selon l’agence de presse epd [Evangelischer Pressedienst, epd], plus de 240 députés allemands signent un « appel de Noël », appelant le gouvernement allemand à accepter davantage de réfugiés de Grèce et à redoubler d’efforts pour trouver une solution au niveau de l’UE. L’appel est signé par les députés de tous des partis autres que l’AfD, Alternative nationaliste et xénophobe pour l’Allemagne. Parmi eux se trouvent les présidents des sociaux-démocrates, Saskia Esken et des Verts, Annalena Baerbock, la vice-présidente de la Chambre, le libéral, Wolfgang Kubicki, l’ancien président des chrétiens-démocrates, Volker Kauder et la parlementaire Ulla Jelpke du Die Linke.

      Panagiotis Kouparanis, Berlin

      Voir l’article de SDZ (en allemand)

      https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/migration-und-asyl-abgeordnete-verlangen-mehr-hilfe-fuer-fluechtlinge-1

      17. Dezember 2020, 18:50 Uhr

      Migration und Asyl:Abgeordnete verlangen mehr Hilfe für Flüchtlinge

      In einem « Weihnachtsappell » fordern 240 Parlamentarier fast aller Fraktionen fordern die Bundesregierung auf, mehr für Schutzsuchende in Griechenland zu tun.

      Von Constanze von Bullion, Berlin dit le ministre Gerd Müller. Fin décembre, tous les mineurs isolés ou malades seront transférés des îles grecques. Appel de 240 membres allemands.

      Le ministre allemand du Développement économique, Gerd Müller, a vivement critiqué la situation dans le camp de réfugiés de Kara Tepe. S’exprimant sur RTL / ntv ce matin, il a souligné que « c’est en effet un grand scandale pour l’UE que jusqu’à présent nous n’ayons pas pu, malgré l’incendie de Moria il y a quelques mois, créer une situation qui serait vraiment humaine ». M. Müller, le ministre chargé de la coopération avec les pays en développement, a déclaré que la situation à Lesbos était pire que dans les camps de réfugiés en Afrique.

      Gerd Müller : L’UE est coresponsable de la situation à Kara Tepe

      Le politicien de l’Union chrétienne-sociale (CSU) a évoqué à plusieurs reprises la situation dans les camps des îles grecques et a exhorté le gouvernement allemand à accepter des réfugiés de Grèce. Plusieurs fois il s’est opposé au ministre de l’Intérieur Horst Seehofer, qui appartient également à la CSU. Contrairement à Gerd Müller, Seehofer rejette les initiatives uniquement allemandes sur la question migratoire et insiste sur une ligne européenne unique. Mais un porte-parole du ministère allemand de l’Intérieur a déclaré ces dernières semaines que les efforts de la présidence allemande de l’UE au cours des six derniers mois pour réformer la politique d’asile européenne avaient échoué.

      L’Allemagne continue d’accepter des réfugiés de Grèce

      S’exprimant hier après-midi au parlement allemand sur la question de l’accueil des réfugiés de Grèce, le vice-ministre de l’Intérieur Volkmar Vogel a annoncé que le 3 décembre, les derniers mineurs isolés que l’Allemagne avait promis d’accepter sont arrivés des îles grecques. Quant aux 243 autres enfants réfugiés malades, ainsi que leurs familles, que le gouvernement allemand s’est également engagé à accueillir, M. Vogel a exprimé l’espoir que d’ici la fin du mois, ils seraient tous arrivés. Cependant, en raison de la pandémie de coronavirus, les procédures d’accueil des 1553 réfugiés des îles grecques, que l’Allemagne avait annoncé vouloir accueillir après l’incendie de Moria, elles vont s’étaler sur plusieurs mois.

      M. Vogel a clairement indiqué qu’à l’heure actuelle, l’Allemagne n’avait pas l’intention d’accepter d’autres réfugiés de Grèce et que la question concernait l’UE dans son ensemble. Le principal objectif du gouvernement allemand est d’améliorer la situation des réfugiés en Grèce. Evoquant les camps de réfugiés sur les îles grecques et en particulier à Lesbos, Volkmar Vogel a déclaré que le gouvernement allemand « regrette la situation » là-bas et qu’il tente « dans la mesure de ses capacités » d’aider sur le terrain.

      Appel de plus de 240 députés

      Les législateurs allemands demandent au gouvernement allemand d’accepter plus de réfugiés de Grèce

      Selon l’agence de presse epd [Evangelischer Pressedienst, epd], plus de 240 députés allemands signent un « appel de Noël », appelant le gouvernement allemand à accepter davantage de réfugiés de Grèce et à redoubler d’efforts pour trouver une solution au niveau de l’UE. L’appel est signé par les députés de tous des partis autres que l’AfD, Alternative nationaliste et xénophobe pour l’Allemagne. Parmi eux se trouvent les présidents des sociaux-démocrates, Saskia Esken et des Verts, Annalena Baerbock, la vice-présidente de la Chambre, le libéral, Wolfgang Kubicki, l’ancien président des chrétiens-démocrates, Volker Kauder et la parlementaire Ulla Jelpke du Die Linke.

      Panagiotis Kouparanis, Berlin

      Voir l’article de SDZ (en allemand)

      https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/migration-und-asyl-abgeordnete-verlangen-mehr-hilfe-fuer-fluechtlinge-1

      17. Dezember 2020, 18:50 Uhr

      Migration und Asyl:Abgeordnete verlangen mehr Hilfe für Flüchtlinge

      In einem « Weihnachtsappell » fordern 240 Parlamentarier fast aller Fraktionen fordern die Bundesregierung auf, mehr für Schutzsuchende in Griechenland zu tun.

      Von Constanze von Bullion, Berlin

    • Après le froid glacial le camp de Kara Tepe sous la neige
      Μετά το τσουχτερό κρύο ήρθε και το χιόνι στο καταυλισμό του Καρά Τεπέ

      Σήμερα το πρωί και αργότερα το μεσημέρι, ο χιονιάς έφτασε και στη πόλη της Μυτιλήνης καλύπτοντας τα πάντα και ασφαλώς τον καταυλισμό με τους 7.500 ανθρώπους που εξακολουθούν να διαμένουν σε σκηνές, πολλές από αυτές χωρίς να διαθέτουν πάτωμα.

      Επιπλέον, ο καταυλισμός εξακολουθεί να λειτουργεί με ανεπαρκή ρευματοδότηση με αποτέλεσμα πλέον εκεί να κινδυνεύουν ζωές.
      Συγκεκριμένα, η παροχή ρεύματος γίνεται ανά πτέρυγα και μόνο για μισή ώρα προκειμένου σταδιακά να πάρουν ολες οι σκηνές. Αποτέλεσμα όμως είναι υπό αυτές τις συνθήκες οι πρόσφυγες να περνούν δραματικές ώρες και άνθρωποι που είναι σε θέση να γνωρίζουν εκφράζουν φόβους για μεγάλο αριθμό ασθενών που θα χρειαστούν νοσηλεία το επόμενο διάστημα.

      Αντί όμως οι υπεύθυνοι όλο το προηγούμενο διάστημα να προετοιμαστούν κατάλληλα, άφησαν τον καταυλισμό με την ελάχιστη δυνατότητα ρευματοδότησης.
      Χαρακτηριστικό είναι ότι και ορισμένες γεννήτριες που είχε δωρίσει γνωστή ΜΚΟ και γλίτωσαν από την καταστροφή της Μόριας, σταμάτησαν να λειτουργούν το προηγούμενο διάστημα, αφού καταστράφηκαν από τις πλημμύρες που είχαν προηγηθεί.

      Από την πλευρά του ο διοικητής του καμπ Νίκος Μπαμπάκος, σε τηλεφωνική επικοινωνία με την ΕΦ.ΣΥΝ., δήλωσε ότι « οι γεννήτριες που υπάρχουν τώρα μπορούν να καλύψουν τις ανάγκες του καταυλισμού για 16 ώρες την ημέρα. Είμαστε όμως υποχρεωμένοι να τις κλείνουμε το πρωί, ενώ μία από αυτές δυστυχώς έπαθε βλάβη.

      Προχωράμε στη διαδικασία της αντικατάστασης της και αναμένουμε μία εφεδρική από την Αθήνα » σημείωσε.

      Όπως μάλιστα τόνισε το πρόβλημα ξεκινά από το γεγονός ότι ο καταυλισμός δεν έχει ακόμη σύνδεση με το κεντρικό δίκτυο της ΔΕΗ, παρά το γεγονός ότι βρίσκεται πολύ κοντά στο εργοστάσιο.

      « Δυστυχώς η γραφειοκρατία ακόμα δεν μας έχει επιτρέψει τη σύνδεση » είπε, χαρακτηριζοντας την κατάσταση δύσκολη αλλά αντιμετωπίσημη.

      https://www.efsyn.gr/node/277445

      #neige #froid

  • Incendie dans le hotspot de Lesbos (septembre 2020)

    12.500 demandeurs d’asile fuient les flammes et errent dans la nuit tandis que le feu pourrait réduire le camp entier en cendres, voir les vidéos sur le site d’efsyn :

    Πύρινη κόλαση στο ΚΥΤ της Μόριας - Εκκενώθηκε ο καταυλισμός

    Στις φλόγες για ακόμα μια φορά ο προσφυγικός καταυλισμός. Επεισόδια μετά την ανακοίνωση των 35 θετικών κρουσμάτων κορονοϊού. Χιλιάδες πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες σε αναζήτηση στέγης.

    Μεγάλες φωτιές καίνε από τα μεσάνυχτα όλο τον προσφυγικό καταυλισμό της Μόριας. Χιλιάδες πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες βρίσκονται αυτή την ώρα άστεγοι, κυριολεκτικά μέσα στους δρόμους.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc-mFZTobB0&feature=emb_logo

    Περίπου 12.500 κόσμος που διέμεναν στη Μόρια εγκατέλειψαν τη δομή και αρχικά κινήθηκαν προς τον οικισμό της Παναγιούδας, ενώ μέρος τους κινήθηκε και προς άλλες κατευθύνσεις. Την ίδια ώρα διμοιρίες ΜΑΤ με κλούβες δημιούργησαν φραγμό στο ύψος του Καρά Τεπέ αποτρέποντας τους από το να μπουν στην πόλη.

    Η Πυροσβεστική Υπηρεσία προς ώρας επιβεβαιώνει ότι δεν υπάρχουν αναφορές για θύματα.

    Πώς ξεκίνησε η φωτιά
    Σύμφωνα με τις πρώτες πληροφορίες, της φωτιάς προηγήθηκαν επεισόδια που ξεκίνησαν γύρω στις έντεκα το βράδυ. Η ένταση προκλήθηκε μετά την ανακοίνωση των 35 θετικών κρουσμάτων κορονοϊού στον καταυλισμό και την άρνηση κάποιων εξ αυτών να μπουν σε καραντίνα.


    https://twitter.com/Eva_Cosse/status/1303471253802582024

    Γρήγορα οι αρνητές της καραντίνας ήρθαν σε σύγκρουση με άλλους που επεσήμαναν το κίνδυνο για όλο το καμπ ενώ ομάδες προσφύγων προσπάθησαν να διαφύγουν μέσα από το ΚΥΤ φοβούμενοι την μετάδοση του ιού.

    Γύρω στις 11.00 έκαναν την εμφάνιση τους οι πρώτες φλόγες περιμετρικά του ΚΥΤ και προς τη πλευρά του Ελαιώνα.

    Γρήγορα η φωτιά πέρασε μέσα στο ΚΥΤ και εκεί ομάδα αιτούντων παρεμπόδισε την Πυροσβεστική Υπηρεσία να εισέλθει. Τότε επενέβησαν τα ΜΑΤ που με τη χρήση δακρυγόνων και κρότου-λάμψης διέλυσαν το συγκεντρωμένο πλήθος, αλλά η φωτιά είχε αρχίσει να καίει όλες τις κρίσιμες εγκαταστάσεις όπως τα γραφεία της Ευρωπαϊκής Υπηρεσίας Ασύλου κ.α

    Φόβοι εκφράζονται και για την νέα δομή υγείας που δώρισε η Ολλανδική κυβέρνηση μιας και οι φλόγες βγήκαν έξω από το ΚΥΤ και κινήθηκαν προς όλες τις κατευθύνσεις.

    Αξίζει να σημειωθεί ότι την ώρα που ξέσπασε η πυρκαγιά, όλες οι πυροσβεστικές δυνάμεις της Λέσβου ήταν σε απόσταση 70 χιλιομέτρων προσπαθώντας να ελέγξουν το διπλό πύρινο μέτωπο που είχε ξεσπάσει νωρίτερα στην Άντισσα και την Βατούσσα αφήνοντας περί τα δέκα οχήματα στο ΚΥΤ που ήταν αδύνατον να ανταπεξέλθουν.

    https://www.efsyn.gr/ellada/koinonia/258965_pyrini-kolasi-sto-kyt-tis-morias-ekkenothike-o-kataylismos

    #Moria #feu #incendie #hotspot #asile #migrations #réfugiés #camps_de_réfugiés #Lesbos #Grèce

    (incendie qui a eu lieu le 9 septembre 2020, je suis en retard sur cet événement, j’essaie de mettre les nouvelles arrivées ensuite, notamment sur la mailing-list Migreurop, dans les prochains jours sur ce fil de discussion)

    –—

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur les incendies qui ont eu lieu en Grèce dans des camps de réfugiés :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/851143

    ping @karine4 @isskein

    • Moria 09/09/20

      OFFICIEL : Lesbos est en état d’urgence depuis 4 mois
      09/09/2020 12:24:00 Société, Lesbos, Immigrants, Incendie, EKTAKTO

      Par arrêté du vice-ministre de la Protection civile et de la gestion des crises, Nikos Hardalia et décision du secrétaire général de la protection civile, Vassilios Papageorgiou, l’unité régionale de Lesbos est déclarée en état d’urgence de la protection civile, pour des raisons de santé publique.

      Cette déclaration est valable à partir d’aujourd’hui 09-09-2020 et pendant quatre (4) mois.

      Les ministres de l’Intérieur T. Theodorikakos, de l’Immigration et de l’Asile N. Mitarakis et le président d’EODY Pan. Arkoumaneas se rend à Lesbos, afin d’être informé de la situation à Moria, comme l’a déclaré le porte-parole du gouvernement St. Petsas, après la fin de la réunion gouvernementale au Palais Maximos.

      Pendant ce temps, des renforts d’Athènes ont été envoyés par la police à Lesbos, afin de faire face au problème qui s’est créé depuis la nuit après les incendies qui se sont déclarés à Moria et ont détruit une très grande partie du KYT. En particulier, trois escouades MAT ont quitté Elefsina à 7 heures du matin sur un avion militaire C-130 et devraient arriver sur l’île à 9 heures.

      Comme il est devenu connu du siège de EL.AS. Il y a déjà des forces fortes sur l’île, cependant tous les étrangers qui étaient dans le KYT après les incendies sont concentrés à l’extérieur de la structure, où ils sont gardés et cherchent des solutions pour leur logement.

      La lumière du jour montre l’ampleur de la destruction du camp - « ville » de 13 000 réfugiés et migrants à Moria. La totalité de la partie extérieure du KYT a été complètement détruite, tandis qu’une grande partie à l’intérieur du camp KYT qui continue de brûler a également été détruite. Les informations indiquent que les infrastructures d’administration et d’identification n’ont pas été incendiées, mais que le service d’asile et son équipement ont été complètement incendiés. En outre, des dommages ont été causés dans la zone de l’unité de soins intensifs et de l’unité de soins intensifs et dans la climatisation de l’unité de santé qui a été faite grâce à un don du gouvernement néerlandais.

      Une grande partie de la population de Moria a fui vers les domaines environnants, tandis qu’une autre partie s’est déplacée vers la ville de Mytilène où à la hauteur de Kara Tepe, juste avant l’usine PPC, une force de police forte a été alignée qui ne leur permet pas d’entrer dans la ville.

      L’incendie s’est déclaré vers minuit, lorsque les réfugiés et les migrants qui avaient été testés positifs pour le coronavirus ou avaient été détectés comme cas de contact ont refusé d’être isolés. Des affrontements se sont ensuivis avec d’autres réfugiés et migrants qui les ont poussés hors du camp. Ce conflit a pris à un moment donné un caractère tribal avec le résultat que des incendies ont éclaté, qui bientôt, en raison du vent fort, ont pris des dimensions.

      Il est à noter que, comme indiqué, les forces des pompiers, arrivées au camp pour tenter, ont été attaquées par des groupes de demandeurs d’asile qui ont entravé leur travail. En ce moment, les pompiers opèrent dans le camp avec le renforcement des moyens aériens, afin d’éteindre complètement le feu puis de contrôler la zone.

      Source : skai.gr

      https://www.lesvospost.com/2020/09/blog-post_50.html

      On craint une propagation du coronavirus dans tout Mytilène si les quelque 12000 réfugiés et immigrants ne sont pas expulsés immédiatement et dans une zone éloignée du tissu urbain après l’incendie qui s’est déclaré peu avant minuit mardi à Moria, exprime le maire de Mytilene S.

      « Les quelque 12 000 réfugiés ne peuvent pas rester un deuxième jour à ce moment-là. Dix ans nous ont laissés seuls sur la question des réfugiés. Les immigrants doivent être expulsés ici et maintenant. "Sinon, il y aura une propagation du virus dans toute la région", a déclaré le maire de Mytilène, Stratis Kytelis, à ethnos.gr.

      12000 réfugiés et migrants restent sur la route nationale

      Les réfugiés et les migrants restent sur la route nationale à la hauteur de Panagouda et se trouve à seulement six kilomètres de Mytilène tandis que les forces de police ont créé un barrage pour les empêcher de s’y déplacer. Trois escouades MAT avec une force totale de 60 personnes sont déjà parties du Pirée à Lesbos les forces de l’île. Il est à noter qu’à partir du contrôle des échantillons de liquide pharyngien reçus les trois jours de jeudi, vendredi et samedi par les équipes d’EODY parmi 1900 résidents de l’hôpital de Moria et 100 employés, un total de 35 cas positifs pour le virus ont été trouvés, au total des réfugiés et autres demandeurs d’asile. . Il est à noter qu’en plus des 35 réfugiés en quarantaine, 100 autres personnes étaient entrées en contact avec eux.

      Reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop, le 09.09.2020

    • Moria : “Time bomb” exploded, burned down Hotspot & “European values”


      It was short before Tuesday midnight when fires broke out in several parts in- and outside the Moria camp. The powerful winds quickly spread the flames around, through containers and tents. Total destruction. 13,000 people on the streets. The island of Lesvos has declared in “state of emergency.” Authorities investigate arson. Alarm for the 35 confirmed coronavirus cases that authorities do not know their whereabouts. No reports of fatalities or injuries.

      https://twitter.com/f_grillmeier/status/1303478067348803584

      The worst scenario happened – and while there was a scenario, plans to deal with it equaled to zero.

      https://twitter.com/th1an1/status/1303452650663370752

      A large part of the refugees and asylum seekers fled to the surrounding areas, while another part has moved to the city of Mytilene. However, strong police forces have been lined up in the area of Kara Tepe and do not allow them to enter the city.

      https://twitter.com/veramagalik/status/1303571532992712704

      Others entered the camp in the morning apparently seeking to save some of their belongings.

      https://twitter.com/KallergisK/status/1303554698083995650

      The entire camp outside the camp including thousands of olive trees have been destroyed, also a large part inside the hotspot.

      According to information the administration and identification infrastructures were not burned, but the Asylum Service and its equipment were completely burned.

      Damaged are also the area of ​​the Intensive Care Unit as wells as the new health Care unit recently donated by the Dutch Government.

      According to local media stonisi, that speaks of “uprising and fire“, clashes erupted in the camp after 35 people were confirmed positive to coronavirus on Tuesday. They, their families and their contacts refused to go in isolation in a warehouse just outside the camp. Others started to leave out of fear to contract the virus.

      The clashes “soon led to fires initially around the camp that burned all the tents outside and around the KYT and containers inside,” notes the local news website.

      https://twitter.com/SEENOTRETTUNG/status/1303445925524910086

      Three squads of riot police have been reportedly deployed from Athens to Moria.

      Authorities seek accommodation solutions for the thousands of people.

      Residents of overcrowded Moria camp have been in lockdown for several months due to the coronavirus.

      Chief of Fire Service, Konstantinos Theofilopoulos, told state broadcaster ERT on Wednesday morning, that several fires started around 10:30 at night and that they were initially hindered with thrown stones.

      He added that the fire has been largely extinguished except from the containers that are still burning inside.

      Citing sources of the National Intelligence Service, ERT reported that initially the tents outside the camp were set on fire.

      Quick are the far-right conspiracy theorists who see in the blaze “act of asymmetric warfare” against Greece and blame “Erdogan’s soldiers” for the fire.

      Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakisis currently chair an emergency meeting with the ministers of Citizen Protection, Migration Policy and Asylum and Interior, the chiefs of National Intelligence and the General Staff of Armed Forces, and the head of the Civil Protection.

      The vice president of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Promotion of the European way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, expressed the Commission’s intention to assist Greece at all levels.

      EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said that she had agreed to fund the immediate transfer and accommodation on the Greek mainland of the 400 unaccompanied migrant children and teenagers.

      PS The fire in Moria burned down not only the camp but also the “European values”…

      https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2020/09/09/moria-fire-camp-burned-down-pictures-videos

    • Grèce : un important incendie ravage le camp de Moria, des milliers de personnes à évacuer

      Un énorme incendie a ravagé dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi le camp de Moria sur l’île grecque de Lesbos. Le site, qui héberge plus de 12 000 personnes, a été « détruit à 99% » selon les pompiers. La tension est à son comble sur l’île : des migrants ont empêché les pompiers de rentrer dans le camp et des membres de l’extrême droite ont « attaqué » les ONG qui tentaient de venir en aide aux exilés.

      Le camp de Moria où s’entassent plus de 12 000 migrants a pris feu dans la nuit du mardi 8 au mercredi 9 septembre. Selon les pompiers, le site a été presque entièrement détruit. « La quasi-totalité du camp est en feu, aussi bien à l’intérieur que les tentes qui se trouvent à l’extérieur dans l’oliveraie », a observé un photographe de l’AFP présent sur place. « Tout brûle », a déclaré sur Twitter une association d’aide aux migrants, Stand by me Lesvos.

      Plusieurs heures après le début de l’incendie, une fumée noire continuait à s’élever au dessus du camp. Le président du syndicat des pompiers de Lesbos, Yorgos Ntinos, a indiqué mercredi matin que le camp « a brûlé à 99% et le feu continue ».

      https://twitter.com/iwatnew/status/1303488090716205056

      Des centaines de demandeurs d’asile fuyaient à pied dans la nuit vers le port de Mytilène mais ont été bloqués par les véhicules des forces de l’ordre, raconte à InfoMigrants Alpha*, un migrant vivant dans un conteneur du camp de Moria. « On n’a pas dormi de la nuit et personne ne nous a donné à manger ou à boire. Il y a beaucoup de femmes et d’enfants », précise-t-il.

      D’autres personnes se sont abritées dans les collines environnant le camp. « Certains témoignages rapportent que des locaux bloquent le passage (des migrants) dans le village voisin », rapporte encore Stand by me Lesvos.

      Le site d’information locale Lesvospost explique que plus de 3 000 tentes, des milliers de conteneurs, des bureaux de l’administration et une clinique au sein du camp ont également été brûlés.

      https://twitter.com/dfherman/status/1303491672685318149

      Pour l’heure, les pompiers précisent qu’"il n’y a pas de victimes, mais quelques blessés légers avec des problèmes respiratoires dus à la fumée". Des rumeurs annonçaient mercredi matin le décès d’au moins cinq personnes - une information que n’a pas pu vérifier InfoMigrants."Je pense que d’autres morts seront à déplorer car Moria est à terre", souffle Alpha.
      État d’urgence déclaré

      La tension est à son comble sur l’île. Les pompiers affirment dans leur communiqué avoir « été empêchés d’entrer dans le camp pour intervenir » par certains groupes de réfugiés, et avoir fait appel aux forces de l’ordre pour pouvoir poursuivre l’opération de secours. Plusieurs associations racontent avoir été « attaquées » par des membres de l’extrême droite alors qu’elles tentaient de venir en aide aux migrants.

      « L’île de Lesbos est déclarée en état d’urgence » a affirmé sur la chaîne de télévision publique ERT, le porte-parole du gouvernement grec, Stelios Petsas. Une réunion gouvernementale, avec le Premier ministre et le chef de l’état-major, doit se tenir mercredi matin « pour examiner la situation à Moria et les mesures qui vont être prises ».

      https://twitter.com/f_grillmeier/status/1303446446734274565

      D’après l’agence de presse grecque ANA, les feux auraient été déclenchés à la suite de la révolte de certains demandeurs d’asile qui devaient être placés en isolement, ayant été testés positifs au coronavirus ou proches d’une personne détectée positive. « Il y a 35 cas positifs et ils doivent être isolés (...) pour empêcher la propagation » du virus, a déclaré Selios Petsas à la chaîne publique TV ERT. Tous les réfugiés du camp ont l’interdiction de quitter l’île, a-t-il ajouté.

      Selon Alpha, « des Afghans ont refusé que des agents procèdent à des tests de coronavirus ». La situation a rapidement dégénéré et « les forces de l’ordre ont lancé des gaz lacrymogènes ». « J’étais dans mon conteneur quand j’ai entendu du bruit à l’extérieur. Je n’ai pas voulu sortir. Mais des flammes ont commencé à entrer dans mon habitation alors je me suis enfui en courant. Le feu était juste à côté de moi, j’ai eu très peur », continue le jeune homme.

      « La zone paie le prix de l’indifférence et de l’abandon », estime sur Facebook Facebook l’association des habitants de Moria et des autres villages environnants qui appelle les autorités à agir rapidement pour trouver une solution pour les demandeurs d’asile qui se retrouvent sans abri.

      La semaine dernière, les autorités ont détecté un premier cas de coronavirus à Moria et ont mis le camp en quarantaine pour quinze jours. Après la réalisation de 2 000 tests de dépistage, 35 personnes ont été détectées positives au Covid-19 à Moria et mises à l’isolement.

      De strictes mesures de circulation ont été imposées dans les camps de migrants depuis la mi-mars. Le gouvernement n’a jamais levé ces restrictions malgré les critiques des ONG de droits de l’homme jugeant ces mesures « discriminatoires » alors que la décision a été prise de déconfiner le pays début mai. « Depuis des mois, on est bloqués à l’intérieur du camp, on ne peut pas en sortir. Cela fait un moment que la tension est palpable, les gens ont en marre d’être privés de leur liberté », dit encore Alpha.

      *Le prénom a été modifié

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/27131/grece-un-important-incendie-ravage-le-camp-de-moria-des-milliers-de-pe

    • Après l’incendie de Moria, la Commissaire appelle les autorités grecques à venir en aide à tous les sinistrés

      « Dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi, le feu a détruit en grande partie le centre d’enregistrement et d’identification de Moria et les campements informels qui l’entourent, sur l’île grecque de Lesbos. Cet incendie a considérablement dégradé les conditions de vie des plus de 12 000 demandeurs d’asile et migrants, dont plus de 4 000 enfants, qui sont retenus dans un centre d’une capacité inférieure à 2 800 places », a déclaré la Commissaire.

      « L’intervention rapide des autorités locales et des pompiers a permis d’éviter une tragédie. Toutefois, la situation reste tendue, en ce qui concerne à la fois les migrants et la population locale qui vit à proximité du camp.

      J’appelle les autorités grecques à fournir d’urgence un hébergement à toutes les personnes privées d’#abri à la suite de l’incendie, en veillant à ce qu’elles aient accès à des soins, à des installations sanitaires, à un soutien psychologique et à de la nourriture. Il faudrait accorder une attention particulière aux personnes contaminées par le coronavirus et leur dispenser les soins nécessaires.

      Il importe également que les autorités grecques de tous niveaux protègent les demandeurs d’asile et les migrants contre les agressions et s’abstiennent de tenir des propos qui pourraient attiser les tensions.

      La situation sur les autres îles grecques où sont hébergés des réfugiés, des demandeurs d’asile et des migrants n’est guère différente de celle qui prévaut à Lesbos ; sur ces autres îles aussi, les difficultés pourraient s’aggraver. Comme beaucoup, je ne cesse de répéter qu’une aggravation de la situation semble inévitable si la Grèce et les autres États membres du Conseil de l’Europe ne changent pas de stratégie. Certes, la priorité est actuellement de répondre aux besoins humanitaires des sinistrés, mais l’incendie de Moria montre l’urgence de repenser entièrement la stratégie appliquée ces dernières années, qui a conduit à la création de camps surpeuplés, caractérisés par des conditions de vie inhumaines et intenables, à Moria et sur d’autres îles de la mer Égée. Il n’est tout simplement pas possible d’héberger les demandeurs d’asile et les migrants sur des bateaux, ou de recourir à d’autres formes d’hébergement d’urgence, en attendant que le camp de Moria soit remis en état, puis de continuer comme avant.

      Les autorités grecques n’ont toujours pas réglé une série de problèmes majeurs, comme le cantonnement des demandeurs d’asile et des migrants sur les îles de la mer Égée, le manque de structures d’accueil, sur les îles et sur le continent, et les insuffisances des politiques d’intégration et d’asile. La situation catastrophique dénoncée depuis des années par de nombreuses instances nationales et internationales est cependant aussi imputable à l’attitude des autres États membres, qui n’aident guère la Grèce en matière de relocalisation, et plus largement au manque de solidarité européenne. Ce n’est pas seulement un problème grec, c’est aussi un problème européen.

      Il n’y a plus de temps à perdre. La Grèce a besoin d’une aide concrète et de grande ampleur de la part des autres États membres du Conseil de l’Europe. Si de nombreuses collectivités locales se sont déclarées prêtes à apporter leur contribution, les autorités nationales, en revanche, se montrent trop frileuses. Je me réjouis que certains États membres semblent vouloir intensifier leurs efforts de relocalisation, mais il est urgent qu’ils agissent et que d’autres gouvernements européens suivent cette voie.

      La Grèce et ses partenaires doivent enfin se décider à régler les problèmes structurels d’une politique migratoire qui a déjà causé tant de souffrances inutiles. Attendre encore, c’est prendre le risque que d’autres drames se produisent. »

      https://www.coe.int/fr/web/commissioner/-/commissioner-calls-on-the-greek-authorities-to-provide-adequate-support-to-all-

      #sans-abri #SDF

    • ’Catastrophe’ warning as thousands left homeless by Lesbos refugee camp fire

      NGOs accuse police of blocking access to hospital for families and vulnerable migrants injured in Moria blaze.

      NGOs in Lesbos have warned that a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding on the roads around the still burning Moria camp, where thousands of migrants are allegedly being held by police without shelter or adequate medical help.

      Annie Petros, head coordinator of of the charity Becky’s Bathhouse, said she was blocked by police from taking injured people to hospital as she drove them away from the fire.

      “When we saw there was a fire we drove as fast as we could with water to the camp, intending to take sick people to hospital. I can’t describe properly the scene we saw. There were streams of people, thousands of them, walking away from the camp. They were totally silent, terrified and traumatised, walking through thick smoke and the awful smell of burning plastic,” she said.

      “We picked up some pregnant women who needed urgent help and a teenage boy with a broken leg. When we neared the town of Mytilene there were riot police blocking the way to stop anyone reaching the town. I begged the police but their commander wouldn’t let us through. We called an ambulance and it refused to come to the roadblock.”

      Petros said she was sent along back roads, that brought them into contact with a group of anti-migrant protesters.

      She learned later that some people were attacked.

      She said the people she took to the hospital were the only ones who managed to make it through. “There are many people who need help with burns, with smoke inhalation.”

      Other aid organisations in the area said urgent work was needed to get people shelter before night fell.

      Omar Alshakal, a former refugee and founder of Refugees4Refugees, said: “The situation is out of control. We were looking after minors here and the safe place for them was lost in the fire. We lost 30 children. We are looking for them now.”

      Alshakal said the Greek government was making some effort, but the situation was severe. “We now have 12,000 people with no shelter, homeless on the main road. I have been called just now by the army, they want to get food to people and masks, sanitisation.”

      He said he was concerned that the isolation unit for Covid-19 patients was now abandoned. “We had 19 positive cases all in isolation, now they have left the camp. We have the fear they will spread the virus further.”

      The cause of the fire is unclear. Alshakal believes it was started by refugees in protest at conditions.

      The overcrowded camp is known to be a dangerous space, with small fires being lit to cook and no safe distancing between ramshackle tarpaulins used as tents.

      Moira was opened at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015. It was originally intended to hold 3,000 people. The charity MSF has been pushing the Greek authorities to improve conditions at the camp for years.

      Amir, a 19-year-old migrant from Afghanistan who teaches English in the School of Peace in the camp, said: “At about 11 last night I saw people starting fires deliberately. It was refugees who were very, very angry about the situation in this camp. We have been a long time in quarantine, you know we are under a lockdown while there are no such rules or laws for Greek people. It is racist, they are treating people like we are animals. We have needs, but we can’t leave this camp to get medicine or food.”

      He added: “The situation will now be worse for refugees. Our school is completely burned down. We had started to have hope that we could continue our learning but all that is gone now.”

      Aid groups are meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss an urgent response. They want people moved from the roadside immediately.

      Philippa Kempson of the Hope Project, said a government-ordered 3.5-mile (6km) cordon around the camp meant she couldn’t get to her supplies.

      “We have a building full of aid, nappies, water, very near Moria,” she said. “People can’t reach the city, they are out on an exposed road in 32C with children and babies. These people left the camp with what they had. We are 10km away and I had an asthma attack this morning due to the toxic smoke. Everything in there is plastic: the tents, the temporary housing blocks. And fires are still breaking out, the fire helicopter is still overhead.”

      She said the only light in the dark situation was that in two months the camp was due to be completely locked down. “Can you imagine if the fire had started in a couple of months when they had fenced it in with razor wire as they were planning to do? You would have had 12,000 people trapped in an inferno.”

      The UNHCR is working with the authorities to move people to safety. The agency said the authorities have blocked the road to stop uncontrolled movement but that vulnerable groups were being prioritised for shelter across the island and in accommodation in Mytilene, the island’s capital.

      Ylva Johansson, EU commissioner for home affairs, tweeted she had “agreed to finance the immediate transfer and accommodation on the mainland of the remaining 400 unaccompanied children and teenagers. The safety and shelter of all people in Moria is the priority.”

      The police have been approached for comment.


      https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/sep/09/catastrophe-warning-as-thousands-left-homeless-by-lesbos-refugee-camp-f

    • FIRE DESTROYS MUCH OF MORIA CAMP, FOLLOWING FOUR YEARS’ EUROPEAN TOLERANCE OF FATAL RISKS TO MIGRANTS

      In the early hours of this morning, a large fire broke out in Moria Refugee Camp, which has left much of the camp destroyed, and many of the approximately 13, 000 residents displaced.

      This comes a week after the first person tested positive for COVID-19 in the camp, which was immediately followed by the government’s official initiation of works to transform Moria refugee camp to a closed controlled centre. In the days that followed, at least 30 other people have tested positive for COVID-19 – in a camp that is currently at four times’ its stated capacity, where basic preventative measures are a practical impossibility and where there was no functioning COVID-19 isolation clinic.

      The dehumanisation of migrants at the European border and apparent indifference to the impact of this protracted, unsustainable situation on the local population have had repeatedly devastating consequences. Migrants have been consistently confined to overcrowded, insecure and fundamentally inhuman conditions, where fires – often fatal – are a regular occurrence. This was not the first fire in Moria camp; it was not even the first fire in the camp this year. Such fatal risks to – and loss of – migrant lives are instead tolerated as part of the European border regime.

      Following the near destruction of Moria Camp, this morning the Greek government placed the island of Lesvos under a four month state of emergency. The police and army have been on the streets around Moria camp since the fire broke out, and three riot police squads (known as the Units for the Reinstatement of Order) were flown in from Athens this morning. As far as we know, no additional medical capacity or humanitarian aid has been mobilised or provided. The government’s immediate dispatch of security forces, before or without humanitarian assistance, continues their policy of framing migrants as a question of public order – and prioritising their securitisation as opposed to the provision of urgent assistance.

      The Greek authorities’ main priority so far seems to be the prevention of migrants’ access to Mytiline: a police blockade was established next to Kara Tepe camp in the early hours of this morning, to prevent migrants who had fled the fire from reaching the city, and it remains there to this point. Police units have also blocked the main access road to Moria camp. People who had been living in the camp are spread out on the roads around Moria camp, in the surrounding forests, and in the car park of a nearby supermarket. From what migrants have told us, there have been no state provisions – whether of essentials such as food or water, or other necessities such as hygiene facilities – in those locations.

      There has never been an evacuation plan for Moria Camp residents, and when the fire broke out last night, people were left to flee on their own – including those who had been held in the pre-removal detention centre inside Moria Camp (PRO.KE.KA.). Some of those living in the sections for vulnerable people (including unaccompanied children and single women) were woken up by police, but given no instruction of where they could or should go. At present, there remains a profound lack of information regarding the safeguarding or protection response for such groups. When we spoke with vulnerable individuals supported by Legal Centre Lesvos in the early hours of this morning, they were scattered in the forests and roads surrounding the camp, without any state support.

      There is still no official confirmation of casualties, or even hospitalisations.

      Those who have returned to Moria camp this morning have sent photos of the destroyed camp, including the remains of their tents and shelters. Residents have emphasised that the many of the facilities – including toilets and sanitation spaces – have been burnt. The already-inadequate provisions to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19 among the camp’s population have now been destroyed, and given that over thirty residents of the camp have tested positive for the virus in recent days, a failure to implement a rapid and health-oriented response for displaced residents will no doubt increase the number of cases – and will likely overwhelm the stretched public healthcare system.

      “This fire is a visceral manifestation of European policies, which have for years tolerated the containment of migrants in dangerous, overcrowded and insecure conditions,” said Amelia Cooper, of the Legal Centre Lesvos. “Repeated fatal incidents – including the death of a seven-year-old child in a fire in Moria camp, just six months ago – have not been enough to prompt the evacuation of Moria refugee camp; neither has been the outbreak of a global pandemic, nor the detection of positive cases, nor the Greek government’s instrumentalisation of these facts to impose mass detention on camp residents. Residents of Moria camp, and migrants in hotspots across Europe, are in situations of manufactured and state-sanctioned vulnerability. This fire was not an accident, it was an inevitability.”

      https://legalcentrelesvos.org/2020/09/09/fire-destroys-much-of-moria-camp-following-four-years-european-to

    • Joint statement of 31 NGOs regarding the fire at the Registration and Identification Centre at Moria

      Greece: Transfer Refugees and Asylum seekers to Safety on Mainland

      Respect for Human Rights should Prevail over Use of Force

      Following yesterday’s fire in Moria, on Lesvos, which destroyed the Reception and Identification Centre, 31 civil society organizations call on the Greek Government to immediately provide assistance to people who lost their shelter. Those affected, among them many children and at-risk groups, must be carefully transferred to safety on the mainland.

      The transfer of at-risk groups, including unaccompanied children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, people with medical and mental health conditions, and older people should be prioritized. People who tested positive for Covid-19 should be given safe housing for the quarantine period, healthcare, and hospitalization if necessary.

      Moving people from Lesvos to mainland Greece requires finding urgent solutions to address the fact that many current housing facilities for refugees and asylum seekers are at full capacity. We urge the Greek authorities to work on a coherent plan that maximises all available resources including those from the EU and we renew our call to European leaders to share the responsibility for the reception and support of asylum seekers now more than ever.

      In these difficult times, it is of outmost importance that respect for human rights is at the centre of the response to the fire at Moria, and that authorities do not resort to use of force or inflammatory language, but take appropriate steps to de-escalate any risk of violence.

      ActionAid Hellas

      Amnesty International

      Boat Refugee Foundation

      CRWI Diotima

      ECHO100PLUS

      ELIX

      Equal Rights Beyond Borders

      Fenix - Humanitarian Legal Aid

      Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)

      Hellenic League for Human Rights

      Hellenic Platform for Development (Ελληνική Πλατφόρμα για την Ανάπτυξη)

      Help Refugees

      Hias Greece

      HumanRights360

      Humanitarian Legal Aid

      Human Rights Watch

      International Rescue Committee (IRC)

      INTERSOS Hellas

      Legal Centre Lesvos

      Médecins Sans Frontières

      Melissa

      Network for Children’s Rights

      Omnes

      Refugee Legal Support (RLS)

      Refugee Rights Europe (RRE)

      Refugee Support Aegean (RSA)

      Refugee Trauma Initiative

      Solidarity Now

      Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece

      Terre des hommes Hellas

      The HOME Project

      https://www.gcr.gr/en/news/press-releases-announcements/item/1499-joint-statement-of-31-ngos-regarding-moria-refugee-camp-fire

    • New fire breaks out in Moria camp on Wed evening

      A new large fire broke out at the Reception and Identification Center in Moria early Wednesday evening, just hours after the overcrowded hotspot on the island of Lesvos was largely destroyed by the fire the previous night.

      The fire is reportedly burning in the area of ​​Eleonas, the olive grove, outside the camp, where thousands of people of who do fit in live in tents.

      https://twitter.com/g_christides/status/1303744178053165056

      Media report that the fire started in some of the 200 tents that were not burned down on Tuesday night. Explosion sounds were heard, and they probably came form the cooking devices the refugees used.

      https://twitter.com/th_voulgarakis/status/1303738169729441795

      Hundreds of people among them many families with children, were leaving the area.

      https://twitter.com/g_christides/status/1303737094704070657

      Firefighters have rushed to the scene but the blaze went out of control due to the strong winds.

      https://twitter.com/News247gr/status/1303739366179835906

      STAR TV reported from the spot that the firefighters are now trying to protect the nearby forest.

      Thousands left the camp that hosted 12,800 people.

      It remains unclear whether it is a new fire or a resurgence of the one that already destroyed much of the Moria hotspot the other night.

      https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2020/09/09/moria-new-fire-wednesday-evening

    • All people in Moria camp must be evacuated to safety in wake of destructive fire

      Nearly 12,000 men, women and children have been forced to evacuate Moria refugee camp, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, after a fire tore through the camp during the night of 8 September. While the fire is not believed to have caused any deaths, the camp was almost completely burned down, and people are now on the streets, with nowhere to stay. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges Greek and EU authorities to immediately evacuate people off the island to safety.

      “Our teams saw the fire spread across Moria and rage all night long. The whole place was engulfed in flames, we saw an exodus of people from a burning hell with no direction,” says Marco Sandrone, MSF field coordinator in Lesbos. “Children were scared, and parents are in shock. We are relieved that there seem to be no victims and we are working now to address the immediate needs of the people.”

      All medical services available for the refugees and asylum seekers have been interrupted, including services at the MSF paediatric clinic.

      Almost five years of trapping people in dire conditions has led to tensions and despair. This has only increased over the last five months due to restricted movements in the camp, hastily justified as a public health measure amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the recent confirmation of positive cases of COVID-19 among the camp’s residents, the increasing restrictions on people have made the situation unbearable.

      MSF has been pushing the Greek health and migration authorities to set up an adequate COVID-19 response plan for Moria, that counts on people’s collaboration and which offers dignity to the sick and to those who are infectious.

      “The Greek authorities have failed to put such a response in place, and the EU and other EU member states have disclaimed responsibility and have done close to nothing to resolve this situation,” says Aurelie Ponthieu, MSF Humanitarian Advisor on Displacement. “The years-long orchestration of human suffering and violence produced by European and Greek migration policies are to blame for the fire, and we can only hope that the same system of inhumane containment will not be reborn from the ashes in Moria.”

      MSF calls on the Greek authorities to immediately adopt an emergency response plan and to evacuate all these people to a safe place on the mainland or to other European countries. We are ready to provide the support that is needed during the emergency response.

      https://www.msf.org/refugees-moria-must-be-evacuated-wake-destructive-fire

      #MSF

    • Incendie à Moria - Evacuer MAINTENANT !

      Incendie à Moria - Evacuer MAINTENANT !

      La nuit dernière, un incendie a détruit le camp de réfugié.e.s surpeuplé de Moria. Près de 13 000 personnes vivaient dans le camp dont la capacité officielle n’est que de 2 757 personnes. Suite à ces incendies, aucune évacuation n’a été organisée. Par ailleurs, il n’y a jamais eu de plan d’évacuation pour l’ensemble du camp malgré les dangers et les conditions inhumaines. Au printemps 2020, l’Europe et la Suisse n’ont pas réussi à réaliser l’évacuation des camps et la redistribution des personnes entre les différents États européens, alors que la situation l’exigeait et malgré les mobilisations.

      Le 2 septembre, une première personne a été testée positive au Covid-19 à Moria. Au lieu d’identifier de manière systématique les possibilités d’infection, le camp entier a été mis en quarantaine. Toutes les personnes ont donc été fortement exposées au risque d’infection. La seule réponse a été leur enfermement aux frontières de l’Europe.

      Le 23 juin 2020, plus de 50 000 personnes ont demandé au Conseil fédéral de participer à des opérations d’accueil humanitaire pour évacuer les camps des îles grecques. Le 16 juin 2020, le Conseil national a approuvé la motion visant à accepter des réfugiés de Grèce et les huit plus grandes villes de Suisse ont accepté d’accueillir des réfugié.e.s directement de Grèce. Nous demandons une nouvelle fois au Conseil fédéral, à Karin Keller-Sutter en tant que cheffe du département du DFJP et au SEM d’accueillir les réfugié.e.s de Grèce et de fournir une aide d’urgence immédiate sur le terrain.

      https://www.sosf.ch/fr/sujets/schengen-europe/informations-articles/incendie-a-moria.html?zur=41

    • Thousands Moria refugees on the streets, locals set blockades, new fires

      The situation on the island of Lesvos remain tense on Thursday, with thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers to have spent the night on roadsides, fields and even cemeteries, waiting for aid and a provisional shelter. Led by the Mayor of Mytilene, locals have set blockades to hinder the government from repairing fire damages in the Moria camp or embark the vulnerable among the homeless on a ferry.

      “People that lost their shelters in #MoriaCamp due to the fires are finding shade and temporary resting ground between graves in a Greek orthodox cemetery.” via @daphnetolis.

      At the same time, new fires broke out in the camp also early Thursday afternoon to burn down what was not damage din the last two days.

      While signs hind to an “arson plan,” so far, no perpetrators have been captured, no report by the Fire Service has been issued.

      The government desperate tries to find solutions to the crisis that has emerged on the island but it is extremely difficult without the support by the local authorities and the people.

      Refugees and locals seem to agree on one point: This is “hell on earth” for both sides.

      The island has been declared a state of emergency for four months.

      New fires show “arson plan”

      Fires broke out again inside the camp early Thursday afternoon. According to state news agency amna, the fire broke οut simultaneously in three different points of the hotspot.

      The fires broke in a camp section that was not damaged by the fires on Tuesday and Wednesday, and where refugees were still living.

      The latest fire shows that despite the fact that the government has deployed several squads of police there, there is not policing in the area, which is an arson crime scene, after all, as the government says.

      According to local media stonisi, “the new fires today now prove the existence of an organized arson plan by unknown centers and for reasons currently unknown. A plan that the Police seems to not be able to deal with.”

      Refugees for a second time

      Over 12,000 people spend the second night on the streets, slept next to garbage bins and police buses. Some found no other place to spend the night other than between graves of a cemetery.

      Helpless without shelter and food, after the fire damage, they grabbed their children, helped their elderly, packed whatever they could save and left again for the Unknown and a new nightmare.

      Tear gas against children

      Riot police does not allow the refugees to reach the island capital Mytiline and set blockades at the road to Kara Tepe, where another camp operates.

      In the early morning hours of Thursday, the crowd threw stones at the police forces that responded with tear gas.

      Among the tear gas target are also children that scream in fear.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYUwNV-0oJw&feature=emb_logo

      Locals set up blockades

      At the same time, residents and members of local authorities are opposing the government’s attempt to repair the damage in the camp and make it available again for the refugees and asylum seekers.

      Local authorities of East Lesvos had repeatedly called for de-congestion of the camp. They belive that the new situation that emerged after the fire will have them relocate to the mainland.

      They reject any government proposals to have the refugees accommodated in two military camps or in the area surrounding the Moria camp.

      Trucks and other machinery deployed by the municipality hinders the cleaning of Moria by the Armed forces, while the mayor reportedly keeps calling on locals to strengthen the blockades.

      Mayor of Mytilene, Stratis Kytelis has been reiterating that he does not accept the reopening of Moria, the establishment creation of any other accommodation structure, even a temporary one.

      He demands “the immediate refugees’ and migrants’ departure from the island in any way.”

      “We have been insisting for a long time that there should be an immediate and massive de-congestion of the camp. It is not possible for a structure designed for 2,800 people to accommodate 12,000 people,” he repeated.

      406 minors relocated to northern Greece

      With three separate flights, 406 unaccompanied refugee children were transferred from the destroyed Moria center to Thessaloniki over night.

      The children are temporary accommodated in hotels. Some of them will be transferred to other structures and some will be relocated to European countries in accordance with the relevant program.

      Before their departure form Lesvos, all minors were tested for Covid-19. For precautionary reasons, they ill stay in quarantine for 10 days. facilities in which they will be housed will be quarantined for 10 days.

      The flights were organized by the International Organization for Migration, funded by the European Commission and coordinated by the Special Secretariat for Unaccompanied Minors at the Ministry of Migration.

      Gov’t housing plan about to fail

      The ferry donated by the shipping company Blue Star Ferries for the accommodation of some 1,000 vulnerable groups docked at the port of Sigri and not at the port of Mytilene on Thursday morning. Immediately locals called for a blockade of the road.

      The two Navy landing ships for the temporary accommodation of another 1,000 vulnerable people may never come. The Defense ministry has allegedly refused to deploy them amid a Greek standoff with Turkey.

      The government is in an extreme difficult situation and is looking for other solutions.

      The Migration Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that “all the necessary actions for the immediate housing of vulnerable people and families of the Moria hotspot in specially designed areas will be carried out within the day.”, a migration and asylum ministry announcement said on Thursday.

      “The primary concern of the government is the safety of all concerned,” the announcement added, and concluded that “Behavior aiming to blackmail will not be tolerated.”

      https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2020/09/10/moria-greece-refugees-locals-new-fires-housing

    • Incendies à Lesbos : « Nous créons une zone de guerre au milieu de l’Europe »

      #Efi_Latsoudi s’insurge contre le gouvernement grec, la situation dans le camp de Moria étant prévisible selon elle. L’humanitaire appelle à une réaction de la communauté internationale.

      Le camp de Moria, à Lesbos, a été en grande partie détruit par un incendie dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi. Efi Latsoudi, figure de proue de l’aide humanitaire sur l’île et lauréate du prix humanitaire Nansen Refugee Award 2016 du Haut-Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR), craint que la situation des 13 000 candidats à l’asile qui y vivaient se dégrade.
      L’incendie qui ravage Moria était-il prévisible ?

      Il fallait s’y attendre. Politiquement, on se dirigeait vers ça. On opérait sans plan d’action depuis des mois. Le gouvernement grec présente la situation migratoire dans les camps comme une réussite depuis que les chiffres d’arrivées sur les îles sont en baisse. Mais les conditions de vie des migrants sont toujours aussi désastreuses. Elles ne sont que les conséquences des politiques mises en place par Athènes.
      Vous êtes actuellement à Lesbos. Que s’est-il passé hier soir ?

      C’était la guerre. Il y a eu des manifestations de migrants dans le camp en réaction au confinement total, la police a usé de gaz lacrymogène. On s’attendait à de tels mouvements de contestation : voilà six mois que les forces de l’ordre ont enfermé ces gens dans ce camp. C’est de la discrimination ! Pour essayer de protéger les mineurs face aux manifestations, ils ont été placés dans une partie isolée du camp. Et quand le feu s’est déclaré [les causes de l’incendie ne sont pas encore clairement connues, ndlr], personne n’arrivait à les sortir de là. La porte a dû être défoncée pour les évacuer.
      Comment se présente la situation au lendemain du drame ?

      Les migrants sont encerclés par les policiers sur la route qui va de Moria à la ville. Ils sont dehors, sans rien. Les autorités sont en train d’acheminer trois troupes de policiers antiémeutes d’Athènes en bateau. Le ministre a parlé des émeutes, on craint que ces événements le poussent à créer des camps totalement fermés. Il y a aussi beaucoup de réactions de la part des groupes fascistes, qui pensent que Moria est une « bombe sanitaire » [35 cas de Covid-19 ont officiellement été déclarés à Moria, ndlr] alors qu’il y a plus de contaminations au sein de la population locale que chez les migrants. Certains médias enveniment la situation. Nous sommes en train de créer une zone de guerre au milieu de l’Europe.
      Comment imaginez-vous les prochains jours ?

      Tout le monde va envoyer de l’argent et des ressources sans aucune organisation. La situation ne va pas s’améliorer et tout cela ira alimenter la rhétorique des fascistes. Nous ferons au mieux pour aider les migrants. S’il n’y a pas de réaction de la part de la communauté internationale, la population locale et les groupes xénophobes vont nous tomber dessus.

      A lire aussiLesbos, le confinement sans fin

      Le gouvernement ne considère à aucun instant que la situation puisse être le résultat de sa politique. Il a pointé du doigt les ONG internationales : c’est hypocrite. Toute l’organisation des camps comme celui de Moria ne tient que grâce aux humanitaires. Les vrais victimes de ces drames à répétition, ce sont les migrants psychologiquement traumatisés et qui ne se sentent plus humains.

      https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2020/09/09/incendies-a-lesbos-nous-creons-une-zone-de-guerre-au-milieu-de-l-europe_1

    • Four face criminal charges over Moria blaze, two minors to return to Lesvos

      Four Afghan migrants linked to the catastrophic fires that razed the Moria reception center on Lesvos last week were charged on Wednesday with arson and membership of a criminal organization and given until Saturday to prepare their defense before an investigating magistrate.

      Another two Afghans implicated in the same incident, both unaccompanied minors who were transferred to the mainland the day after the first blaze, are to return to Lesvos where they are to face a magistrate on Monday.

      The six suspects were identified on video footage of the fires that circulated on social media.

      Meanwhile most of the 13 suspects detained in connection with a fire that broke out late on Tuesday near a migrant reception center on Samos have been released due to a lack of evidence linking them to the blaze, which was extinguished before it could affect the camp.

      On Wednesday, 20 officers who are to form part of a special police service on Lesvos for a temporary camp that has been set up there arrived on the island. Although the new camp has the capacity to host up to 8,000 people, only around 1,200 had moved in by Wednesday night.

      Thousands of former Moria residents continued to sleep on the streets and in olive groves on Wednesday.

      https://www.ekathimerini.com/257058/article/ekathimerini/news/four-face-criminal-charges-over-moria-blaze-two-minors-to-return-to-le

    • Communique from the Working Group mobilisation on 45th Session of the PPT

      MORIA burns, again. This documented horror in the heart of Europe, has been denounced from its beginning (2015) by dozens of reports from human rights, humanitarian and other non-governmental organisations. Almost 20,000 (at peak last February) and at the time of the fire, 13,000 human beings were parked in a prison of mud, rubbish and violence, behind barbed wire. MORIA is a planned limbo, where refugees are being denied their right to asylum, freedom and dignity, unable to perform even the most basic daily activities, such as sleeping, eating or communicating. It was a place where health care and education were denied to 4,000 children – left without dreams; adolescents whom the abnormal rates of suicide attempts should have been an alert of the level of despair in the camp (MSF); women terrorized by daily rapes, lack of hygiene and rampant violence. Hundreds of testimonies revealing the levels of unbearable “non-life” in MORIA, were kept unheard for years.

      Now the fenced camp, which was about to be closed, has burned to the ground. But how could this construction – the abandonment of human beings reduced to “numbers and bodies” – re-emerge as an island-lager in the heart of 20th Century Europe? How has this apartheid andsuffering as planned management of the “other”, of the “migrant” been accepted and tolerated in the long silence of 5 years? This inhumane “containment” had been erected as a model for migration policies by the European Commission and the EU Member States. MORIA has been the essence of the deterrence model aimed at discouraging the flight of potential asylum seekers from countries at war and to push them back to the ruins, sealed by the EU-Turkey agreement in 2016. It is documented that on Greek islands, the Geneva Convention was being constantly violated on a daily basis. Has it been buried in Lesbos?

      The most disturbing reality of all is that MORIA is not exceptional – but part of a chain of Camps and Hotspots across Europe constructed as sites “without rights” and a systematic planned annihilation of the “other”, psychically destroyed in camps, where they could have even burned alive. The EU borders, as well as the maritime routes have also become sites of death where thousands have drowned. This situation is indicative of the overall policy of necropolitics practiced by the European Union and its member states towards migrant and refugee peoples and is combined with the policy of militarised externalisation of borders. And inside the Fortress Europe – as is graphically shown in this time of COVID-19 – the migrant workers who make up a big part of the “essential workers’ in agriculture, care and domestic work – are also denied fundamental rights, subjected to daily racism and deprived of the conditions to live a decent human life.

      As part of that Europe that still recognizes itself first of all as “human”, and joining all the movements that in these hours are making their voice heard, we, the signatories, who have been witnessing for years the tragic fate of the migrant and refugee peoples, denounce even more the fire of MORIA as a symbolic and highly visible expression of the silent, permanent, planned crime against humanity for which the European Commission the European States are responsible, as highlighted by the Permanent People’s Tribunal sentence (Hearings 2017-2019). The humanitarian interventions of these hours – already minimal in itself – can only appear as a saving face operation. Once again these pronouncements refer to a time without deadlines, and therefore confirm the existing genocidal policy – as the European Commission, and the EU governments, opt for an identity that declares itself exempt from the obligations of the civilization of law. These obligations were meant to be consistent with the ‘never again’ commitment against the extermination camps and had made Europe a place of welcome and an indicator of its own development project.

      We therefore call on the EC and all the European States:

      To urgently evacuate the island and re-locate to safety and dignity the MORIA migrant and refugee peoples.
      To end the criminalisation of migrants and refugees and the criminalisation of solidarity.

      It is Not a Crime to Migrate or to seek Asylum! It is a Human Right!

      September 14, 2020
      The movements & oganisations convening the 45th PPT Migrant & Refugee Session

      https://transnationalmigrantplatform.net/campaigns-advocacy

    • Questions arise as Greece vows to “empty Lesvos of all refugees by Easter”

      Questions arise as Greece’s Citizens Protection Minister has vowed to empty the island of Lesvos of all refugees by Easter.One main question is, of course, that if all 12,000 refugees leave in the next 6 months, why does Greece build a permanent camp on the island, expected to be in operation until 2025 and it looks as if it is going to be “the largest in Greece” if not in the whole European Union? Where will these 12,000 people stay when they leave Lesvos? How about the refugees and asylum-seekers in overcrowded camps on other islands? At the same time, it looks as if the hastily set up temporary camp in Kara Tepe, hastily due to the Moria fires, is violating rules of constructions and other issues.

      In an exclusive interview with UK’s daily The Guardian, Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said following the fires that destroyed the overcrowded Moria camp last week, that plans would be accelerated to decongest the outpost.
      Minister: Lesvos will be empty of all refugees by Easter”

      “They will all leave,” Citizens protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis told UK’s daily the Guardian on Tuesday. “Of the roughly 12,000 refugees here currently, I foresee 6,000 being transferred to the mainland by Christmas and the rest by Easter. The people of this island have gone through a lot. They’ve been very patient.”

      About 70% of asylum seekers on the island were Afghans who would be awarded refugee status and given travel papers, he said. Recognised refugees can move to another EU member state for up to three months using the documents.

      Chrysochoidis, who flew into Lesbos to help oversee relief efforts, welcomed reports that Germany was prepared to take in as many as 1,500 people from Moria.

      “It’s very generous, very brave,” Chrysochoidis said of the goodwill gesture. “All over Europe, countries have their own internal political problems around this issue but I also think they [EU states] can see we are protecting the bloc’s borders, we have greatly minimised flows.”

      On the problem that stranded refugees and asylum-seekers refuse to settle in the new temporary tents camp in Kara Tepe, Chrysochoidis blamed Afghan asylum-seekers and even some NGOs.

      “There are groups of Afghans and I am afraid even some human rights organisations who are encouraging thousands of people not to go in,” said Chrysochoidis.

      “It’s non-negotiable. They will leave the island but they have to go through this new facility and get the requisite legal documents first,” the minister stressed speaking to the Guardian.

      If refugees go, why a permanent refugee camp?

      Of course, in order to have 6,000 refugees relocated to the mainland by Christmas, that is in 3 months, you have to have structures to host them. Where are they? Where are the government plans for them? And where will the remaining 6,000 people go “by Easter”? Most likely, they will also found themselves on the mainland – because so far, the famous “EU solidarity” was never strong enough to take some burden from Greece’s shoulders – and neither will it be, I’m afraid.

      And how about the refugees and asylum-seekers in the overcrowded camps on the islands like Samos and Chios and Kos? Will they be transferred to the new camp on the island where “the people have gone through a lot and have be very patient,” as the Minister said?

      Minister Chrysochoidis and the government is general is proud to have minimized the refugees flows – even though often with questionable means such as “pushbacks” that are illegal.

      So the question that arises is near: If the plan is to have all 12,000 refugees relocated away from Lesvos within the next six months, then why does Greece build a new permanent camp –the largest in the EU! – on the island of Lesvos and thus with the assistance of the European Commission?

      Will the new camp host refugees currently on the other islands and also display Greece’s readiness should an influx turn into a problem again?

      President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday during her speech at the European Palriament speech that “the Commission is now working on a plan, for a joint plan with the Greek authorities for a new camp in Lesvos. We can help with asylum and return procedures and significantly improve conditions for refugees.”

      Permanent camp until 2025

      With two decisions on September 14, the Ministry for Migration and Asylum has secured the amount for the lease of land plots on Lesvos for the permanent camp until 2025.

      According to an exclusive report by local media stonisi, the Ministry uploaded on state website for public expenditures Diavgeia, the amounts needed to be paid for the lease from September 2020 until 31. December 2025. The total price to be paid is 2.9 million euros.

      €142,051 for the lease of the land plots for the operation of the temporary camp in Kara Tepe until 31. December 2020.

      €2,750,000 (550,000 euros per year) for the lease of the same land plots in Kara Tepe from 2021 until 2025.

      According to the exclusive story, the size of the whole area, extending over several hundreds of acres and including the area of ​​the Ministry of National Defense [the firing range where the temporary camp is], shows the new refugee center will be much larger than that of Moria, the largest in Greece and in the whole European Union.”

      The camp will be in direct contact with residential areas and many dozens of businesses, a few hundred meters from the village of Panagiouda, the news website notes.

      Camp set up without necessary approvals

      At he same time, regarding the temporary camp, the Technical Chamber of Northern Aegean region (TEE) denounces “massive arbitrariness” and violations of construction and others laws.

      The Mavrovouni Firing Range (Kara Tepe) for the temporary settlement of refugees and immigrants belong to the Ministry of Defense but not the coastline and the shore lines, the TEE says among others..

      In an announcement, the TEE says that the concession of the area for a camp needed approval by Environmental services, by the Marine Antiquities Authority, the Forest Service and General Staff of the Navy as well as some other departments of the state.

      The TEE raises the issue of the “highest National Security” and of the “defense of the island” that is closed to the Turkish coast.

      https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2020/09/16/greece-refugees-lesvos-permanent-camp

    • Greece vows to empty Lesbos of all refugees by Easter after fire

      Exclusive: minister says island ‘has been through a lot’ as he welcomes new German offer.

      The island of Lesbos will be emptied of refugees by next Easter, the Greek government has vowed, as it welcomed Germany’s offer to take in 1,500 people left without shelter.

      Following the devastating fires that destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria facility last week, Greece’s top public order official said plans would be accelerated to decongest the outpost.

      “They will all leave,” the civil protection minister, Michalis Chrysochoidis, told the Guardian. “Of the roughly 12,000 refugees here currently, I foresee 6,000 being transferred to the mainland by Christmas and the rest by Easter. The people of this island have gone through a lot. They’ve been very patient.”

      About 70% of asylum seekers on Lesbos were Afghans who would be awarded refugee status and given travel papers, he said. Recognised refugees can move to another EU member state for up to three months using the documents.

      Greek police detained five people on Tuesday in connection with the blazes at the camp, and are searching for one other. No more details were given but from the outset officials have attributed the fires to camp residents pressuring authorities to leave.

      Chrysochoidis, who flew into Lesbos to help oversee relief efforts, welcomed reports that Germany was prepared to take in as many as 1,500 people from Moria.

      The German coalition government on Tuesday agreed to take in a total of 1,553 people from 408 families whose protected status has been confirmed by Greek authorities, Angela Merkel’s spokesperson said.

      Last Friday, Germany said it would take up to 150 out of approximately 400 unaccompanied minors from the camp, where more than 12,000 people were left homeless by the fire in the early hours of 9 September.

      “It’s very generous, very brave,” Chrysochoidis said of the goodwill gesture. “All over Europe, countries have their own internal political problems around this issue but I also think they [EU states] can see we are protecting the bloc’s borders, we have greatly minimised flows.”

      Merkel insisted on Monday any transfer of migrants to Germany would need to go hand-in-hand with a broader European initiative, emphasising her support for Greek plans for a new reception centre on Lesbos.

      Apart from Luxembourg, no other country has so far showed a willingness to partake in a pan-European solution to the crisis in Moria.

      Some countries, such as Austria, have categorically rejected taking in people from the destroyed camp. “If we give in to this pressure now, then we risk making the same mistake we made in 2015,” said chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, referring to Merkel’s decision to take in large numbers of refugees five years ago.

      Germany’s leader faces domestic pressure from two sides on the issue. Members of her own party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), have warned that any resettlement programme must be carried out in a way as to avoid chaotic scenes akin to those at the height of the 2015 refugee crisis. “We must not go alone,” said CDU delegate Mathias Middelberg.

      From the other side, Merkel faces calls from her coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democratic party (SPD), and a number of federal states and city mayors across Germany for Europe’s largest economy to step up its humanitarian efforts.

      The leadership of the SPD, which will need to approve Merkel and Seehofer’s decision, has pressured its senior coalition to take in more than 5,000 people to alleviate the situation in Greece.

      German calls for resettlement schemes have until now also faced resistance from Greece, where prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accused some residents of Moria for trying to blackmail his government by deliberately setting the fires that destroyed their camp.

      Chrysochoidis insisted it was crucial Moria’s erstwhile occupants move into a temporary camp, close to Mytilene, the island’s port capital, that the government, with the aid of the army had rushed to build. Opposition is such that seven days after the first blaze, only 1,000 had so far agreed to enter the new facility.

      Athens’ centre-right government has enlisted NGOs and distributed multi-lingual notices in a bid to encourage relocation, saying the new site provides a safe place for asylum seekers to complete applications. Many have denounced the facility as “a new Moria, another prison.”

      As tensions mounted, the Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi alluded to the possible use of force if the displaced migrants refused to go voluntarily.

      Nine riot police units and water cannon have been dispatched to the island. “If this is not possible through discussion, then the police will have to be used,” he told Mega TV. “It is their obligation to move to the new site,” he said acknowledging for the first time that families would likely spend the winter in tents.

      The Greek government has pledged to build a new structure on the island that will be co-managed by EU agencies but says construction of the camp in a place that has yet to be decided will require at least six months.

      Concerns over Covid-19 – more than 21 asylum seekers since the fires have tested positive for the virus in addition to 35 who were diagnosed with it before – have made resettlement even more pressing.

      Close to 12,500 men, women and children have been living out in the open, often in makeshift tents of tarps and bamboo reeds. Some 406 lone migrant children, also in the camp, were flown to the mainland immediately before continuing on to European states that have agreed to accept them.

      “There are groups of Afghans and I am afraid even some human rights organisations who are encouraging thousands of people not to go in,” said Chrysochoidis, who is seen as the face of the centre-right government’s tough public order policies. “It’s non-negotiable. They will leave the island but they have to go through this new facility and get the requisite legal documents first.”

      Efforts will be launched in the coming days to clear the charred remains of what had once been Europe’s largest refugee camp. Designed to host no more than 3,000, Moria accommodated almost 10 times that number at its height and was regularly condemned by aid groups for its deplorable conditions.

      “It was a camp of shame,” the politician admitted, denying that the government was also forcibly pushing back other refugees who were trying to get to Greece . “Now it belongs to history. It will be cleared up and replaced by olive groves.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/15/after-fire-greece-vows-to-empty-lesbos-of-all-refugees-by-easter

    • Six arrested over Lesvos camp blaze

      Greek police have detained six migrants over a fire that razed the Moria refugee camp to the ground, the government said on Tuesday, as thousands of displaced people refused to move to a new facility and demanded to leave Lesbos island.

      More than 12,000 people, mostly refugees from Afghanistan, Africa and Syria, were left without shelter, proper sanitation or access to food and water after a fire tore through the overcrowded Moria migrant camp last Wednesday.

      Greek authorities believe the fire was deliberately lit by camp occupants after quarantine measures were imposed following the discovery of COVID cases on the site, but the incident has put the migrant issue firmly back on the European agenda.

      Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis repeated a call for more help from the European Union, which has struggled to find a unified approach to the migrant crisis at its borders, saying it was time for “tangible solidarity” from Europe.

      European Council President Charles Michel who visited Lesbos said the challenge was European not just Greek and urged for more commitment by EU members for a new migration policy to be effective.

      “This is difficult, a very complex situation, but on behalf of the European Union, I would want to say that I refuse to paper over this migration challenge. This is a common European challenge,” Michel said.

      Government officials in Berlin said Germany could take in up to 1,500 people stranded by the fire, in addition to 100-150 Berlin has already agreed to take in. But a wider solution has remained elusive.

      Mitsotakis said a permanent new reception facility would be built on Lesbos with EU support and that the notoriously overcrowded and squalid Moria camp “belongs to the past”.

      On the ground in Lesbos, however, thousands, including children, were still sleeping rough a week after the blaze.

      Officials were struggling to overcome resistance from migrants hoping to be allowed to leave the island who fear that life in temporary shelters being erected would be no better than the conditions they endured in Moria.

      Migrants wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus queued outside the camp gates to receive water, food and blankets from aid workers. The task was complicated by the need for COVID-19 tests, with at least 25 positive cases found among the displaced.

      “The big concern is that even though many thousands of places are available and will continue to be expanded, there are still less than 1,000 that have been occupied,” said Luciano Calestini, head of the Greece office of the United Nations childrens organisation UNICEF.

      Only a few hundred migrants, mainly unaccompanied minors, have been moved off Lesbos. Greek officials have said there will be no mass transfers and all asylum seekers will have to go into the new shelter.

      https://www.ekathimerini.com/257005/article/ekathimerini/news/six-arrested-over-lesvos-camp-blaze

      #arrestation

    • Reportage : une semaine après l’incendie de Moria, les migrants vivent toujours dans l’enfer de la rue

      Depuis une semaine, les quelque 13 000 personnes qui ont fui les incendies du camp de Moria, sur l’île de Lesbos, dorment à la rue. Au bord de la route de Mytilène, elles n’ont ni eau, ni nourriture, ni couverture.

      Il est environ 15h, le soleil écrase de toutes ses forces le camp qui s’est formé le long de la route qui mène de Moria à Mytilène, sur l’île grecque de Lesbos. Soudainement, des centaines de personnes cessent leurs activités, quittent leur abri et forment, en l’espace de quelques secondes, une queue qui s’étend à perte de vue. Au bout de la file, des bénévoles d’un collectif d’ONG débutent une distribution de nourriture.

      Treize mille repas vont être servis. Il risque de ne pas y en avoir pour tout le monde. « Les distributions n’ont lieu qu’une fois par jour et pour avoir à manger, il faut être costaud. Il y a un problème d’organisation », déplore Michaël, originaire de République démocratique du Congo (RDC).

      Lundi 14 septembre, sur la route de Mytilène, les migrants ont faim depuis près d’une semaine. Lorsque les résidents de Moria ont fui les flammes qui ont dévoré le camp dans la nuit du 8 au 9 septembre et qu’ils ont été bloqués par la police sur cette route, certains ont pu acheter de quoi manger au grand magasin Lidl, en bord de mer.

      Mais les policiers ont rapidement exigé du gérant qu’il tire le rideau. Les stations services ont fermé, elles aussi, ainsi que tous les autres commerces le long de cette route qui mène au centre-ville de Mytilène.

      Pour se nourrir, certains rescapés de Moria demandent à d’autres migrants qui vivent dans Mytilène de leur acheter de la nourriture et de la leur apporter au camp informel qui a vu le jour. D’autres ont réussi à sauver des flammes quelques aliments qu’ils avaient achetés à Moria, souvent des paquets de pâtes.

      Gertrude et Naomi préparent un plat de légumes dans une grande marmite posée sur un feu. Ces deux Congolaises ont tenté quelques fois de récupérer de la nourriture lors des distributions mais être servi relève du combat. « Pour avoir de la nourriture, il faut se bagarrer », affirme Naomi.
      « Aidez-nous ! »

      Assises sur une grande couverture grise flanquée du logo du HCR, deux jeunes Afghanes qui s’appellent toutes les deux Zahra donnent le biberon à leurs bébés de 5 et 7 mois. « On a ramené le lait de Moria », explique l’une d’elles, en brandissant un petit sac en plastique à moitié rempli de lait en poudre.

      Les deux jeunes mères manquent de nourriture et d’eau ainsi que de vêtements pour leurs enfants. C’est ce que dit aussi une autre jeune Afghane en montrant le foulard dans lequel elle a dû emmailloter sa fille de quelques mois. « Aidez-nous ! », supplie-t-elle.

      Le seul point d’eau du camp improvisé se trouve à quelques dizaines de mètres de là et n’a rien d’officiel. Dans une rue qui remonte vers les oliveraies, les tuyaux destinés à l’irrigation ont été percés. Autour de chaque trou, plusieurs personnes se pressent pour remplir des bouteilles vides, laver un vêtement ou se rincer le visage. L’eau ruisselle en permanence dans la petite rue en pente et charrie des ordures.

      Couvertures et sacs de couchage sont également très recherchés sur le camp car les nuits sont déjà fraîches. Michaël n’a que son sweat-shirt bleu pour dormir. Le Congolais guette la route car il a entendu dire que des bénévoles distribuaient quelques sacs de couchage dans le camp. Mais tellement de personnes en manquent qu’il n’y en a sûrement déjà plus. Cependant, « ce qui nous préoccupe le plus c’est de ne pas pouvoir se doucher et aller aux toilettes », explique Michaël.

      Le seul moyen de se laver, c’est d’aller dans la mer. La plage n’est qu’à quelques minutes de marche du parking Lidl. Michaël aimerait aller se laver mais il n’a pas de savon.
      Un tiers d’enfants

      Cet après-midi, des dizaines d’enfants jouent dans la mer. La chaleur étouffante a aussi poussé quelques adultes à se mettre à l’eau.

      Azim shampouine énergiquement la tête de son fils Moustapha, 3 ans, pendant que sa fille Rokhoya rayonne de bonheur en barbotant autour de lui. Après cinq mois de confinement dans le camp de Moria, c’est la première fois qu’ils peuvent approcher la mer.

      Le camp compte plus de 4 000 enfants, selon l’Unicef, soit un tiers des migrants de Lesbos. À la nuit tombée, quand les bruits des machines de chantier qui construisent le camp provisoire sur un terrain militaire en bord de mer se taisent, on n’entend plus que les cris des enfants qui jouent. Le parking du Lidl prend des airs de cour de récréation.

      Les parents s’inquiètent de voir leurs enfants ne pas aller à l’école. La vie dans les conditions indignes du camp de Moria, puis au bord de cette route, pourrait aussi avoir des conséquences psychologiques à long terme sur ces enfants, met en garde Dimitra Chasioti, psychologue pour Médecins sans frontières (MSF).

      L’environnement dans lequel ils ont grandi pourrait affecter « la manière dont ils gèrent les difficultés mais aussi leurs interactions avec les autres », décrit-elle devant la clinique mobile installée par l’ONG à deux pas des tentes.

      Parmi les adultes, c’est l’angoisse de ne pas avoir d’information sur leur avenir – et notamment sur le nouveau camp provisoire en construction - qui est le plus difficile à gérer.

      Dimanche matin, Notis Mitarachi, le ministre grec de la Migration a déclaré que « tous les demandeurs d’asile y seraient transférés ». Selon son ministère, quelque 800 exilés sont désormais logés dans ce camp temporaire, fermé à la presse. L’AFP a recueilli des témoignages de personnes à l’intérieur qui ont affirmé n’avoir ni douche, ni matelas.

      Naomi semble aussi terrifiée à l’idée d’aller dans ce nouveau camp que de rester à la rue. Cette mère d’une fille de 5 ans et d’un garçon de 7 mois interroge : « Comment est le camp là-bas ? Est-ce que nous devrions y aller ? »

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/27269/reportage-une-semaine-apres-l-incendie-de-moria-les-migrants-vivent-to

    • Une intervention intéressante sur Lesbos de la présidente de la Commission européenne ainsi que de la chancelière allemande en réponse aux journalistes lors d’une conférence de presse portant initialement sur un sommet UE-Chine...il faut vraiment faire du suivi sur tout pour avoir les informations ! 😉

      La chancelière a eu une parole que je trouve politiquement extrêmement forte en disant la chose suivante : « la #concentration des nombres n’est pas la bonne approche ». Ce qui est remarquable c’est qu’elle a parlé en allemand, et qu’elle a utilisé le mot « #Konzentration » ("Ich glaube, dass die Konzentration auf einer Zahl der falsche Ansatz ist"). Cette phrase porte en elle quelque chose de très fort que Migreurop dénonce depuis sa fondation, l’#encampement, la stratégie des #nasses. Ce genre de #terminologie reste, en allemand, évidemment très délicat vu l’usage du terme par le régime nazi, et je doute fort que l’on puisse imaginer la chancelière d’avoir omis cet élément l’espace d’un instant. Je pencherais plutôt pour une remarque volontaire, appelant les choses par leur nom. Nos ami.es allemand.es sur cette liste auront peut-être une autre lecture, je serais heureuse de les lire à ce sujet.

      Cela n’empêchera, en suite de cette intervention, ni la chancelière, ni la présidente de la Commission européenne, de justifier de la création à venir d’un « #centre_d'accueil_européen » géré par les agences européennes et les autorités grecques en lieu et place des #hotspots actuels en Grèce (un « projet pilote » selon Van der Layen)...Ce qui finalement correspondait au plan initial comme le dénonce Migreurop depuis le départ.

      Vidéo à partir de la minute 25 et 50 secondes (question du journaliste) : prise de parole #Merkel puis #Van_der_Layen. tout est doublé en anglais
      https://www.euronews.com/2020/09/14/watch-live-eu-chiefs-update-on-summit-with-china

      Message de Marie Martin reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop, le 15.09.2020

      #Angela_Merkel

    • For many migrants, the dream of freedom ends in Lesbos

      After the devastating fires in the Moria migrant camp on Lesbos, Muhammad spent days on a sealed-off section of road with thousands of others. His most fervent wish is to leave the island, as DW’s Max Zander reports.

      “We had some hope, but we have lost it. We thought the government would take us to Athens now,” says Muhammad Sator Massi. Muhammad, who is 19, is sitting alone on a curb in the blazing sun, looking down at the ground in resignation.

      Near him, Greek garbage collectors are at work, loading one blue garbage bag after the other onto their truck with a crane. Today, they have started getting rid of the traces left by the past week. The road leading from Lesbos’ capital, Mytilene, past the Moria migrant camp is littered with plastic bottles, packaging and the remnants of temporary shelters. The bushes at the side are full of rubbish. Even though the sea is just a few steps away, there is a terrible stench.

      Muhammad has fled from Afghanistan with his aunt and uncle and their six children. They have already been on Lesbos for nine months. He says that it has been a terrible time that has left deep marks on him. After the fires last week, he set off for the capital with the other camp residents. Police stopped them and sealed off the section of road they were on. Muhammad and his family were among those forced to sleep in the open air, some on cardboard cartons on the bare ground.

      They spent more than a week under these conditions, then the police began clearing the improvised camp bit by bit. This morning, they arrived at Muhammad’s tent. The family was eating at the time, he says. A police officer threw their belongings all over the place and yelled at them, then began demolishing their shelter, Muhammad says.

      Doubtful about conditions in the new camp

      Now there is a new camp, called Kara Tepe. “They are forcing us to go there. We don’t have a choice. I don’t think it will be better than Moria; it will just be a repeat,” says Muhammad.

      Like most people here, he is afraid that the conditions there will be just as unbearable or even more so than in Moria: thousands of people in a confined space without enough toilets and showers, too little to eat, barely any medical care and violence every night.

      A spokesman for the Greek Migration Ministry insists that the conditions in the new camp are good, with toilets, running water and electricity. And he says its capacities are being expanded.

      But people who are already in the camp have reported the opposite, saying that there are far too few toilets, meals just once a day and no mattresses or blankets in the big white tents provided by the UNHCR and the Red Cross. Many are also worried because the camp, set up in haste on a former army drill ground, is likely to be situated on soil full of toxic substances and munitions. While it was being constructed, soldiers with metal detectors could be seen searching the area around the tents. But the Migration Ministry spokesman declares that “everything is safe.”

      For refugees like Muhammad, the biggest problem is the uncertainty about whether they will be allowed to leave the camp later. Greek officials have announced that it is initially to be put under quarantine, after more than 200 cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in the past few days. After two weeks, residents will be allowed to leave the camp during the day, they say. But that is not certain, and Muhammad and others are worried.

      “We came here looking for protection. We aren’t prisoners. I have been on Lesbos, in Moria, for a year. I can’t bear it any longer,” he says.

      Lost time

      Muhammad slowly gets up, because he wants to go down the road to his aunt’s family and register in the new camp with them. He seems tired and worn out. The road around him is almost deserted. Apart from the Greek garbage collectors, only a few people occasionally come by: a family from Afghanistan laden with plastic bags, a young man from Congo carrying an old, dirty tent. Muhammad sets off in the same direction and walks slowly toward the new camp.

      He is smoking a cigarette. “I never used to do that; I was sporty and kept away from people who smoke. But now it calms me down,” he says.

      He says he has changed a lot in the time here and that he is mentally exhausted. “We are losing a part of our lives here. It doesn’t feel as if we are alive,” he says while going past a police bus.

      In Afghanistan, he was well-off financially, he says. His father is a member of the provincial council in Wardak province and owns a water company. His family had money but no security. One day, Muhammad recounts, he was on his way home from school when he was stopped by some men in a car. They said they were friends of his father and asked him to get in. When he refused, they tried to drag him into the car, but he was able to pull free and run away. “When you go to school, you don’t know if you will come home alive,” he says.

      He decided to flee to Europe with his aunt. But he has given up hopes of starting a new life here, perhaps in Germany. He wanted to learn the language, study medicine and play football, his great passion.

      Rather be deported than be a prisoner

      By now, Muhammad has arrived at the new camp. Next to the road, there are groups, mostly of men, sitting and waiting in the shade of low bushes. For the moment, only families are being allowed to join the queue before the entrance. They are standing tightly packed. The police, equipped with protective clothing and masks, keep at a distance. Each person is registered and given a coronavirus test.

      Muhammad said earlier on that he would rather be deported back to Afghanistan and die there than go to this prison. But now he has no choice. He sees his aunt standing at the front of the queue. Slowly, his head bowed, Muhammad pushes his way past the other families and disappears in the crowd.

      https://www.dw.com/en/for-many-migrants-the-dream-of-freedom-ends-in-lesbos/a-54989158?maca=en-rss_top_news-13961-xml-mrss

  • Europe’s largest refugee camp braces for COVID-19 outbreak

    NGOs warn that coronavirus may soon spread at Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, where some 13,000 people live in cramped conditions. Such an outbreak, experts say, would see the island struggle to cope.

    Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos is the biggest in Europe. Originally conceived to hold 3,000 people, there are now 13,000 people living in extremely cramped conditions in makeshift tents and containers.

    So far, there has not been an outbreak of coronavirus — but NGOs are warning that it’s just a matter of time before an outbreak hits the island that is ill-equipped to cope.

    Caroline Willemen, a field coordinator with Doctors Without Borders, is concerned about the situation. “I know that this is not a scientific comparison, but in a time when all major events have been canceled because there is too much risk of infection, this place is simply unthinkable,” she tells DW.

    In Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos, just 10 kilometers away, the virus is already spreading.

    Generally, Greece has seen an increase in cases over recent days and weeks. Authorities have called on people to wear masks, socially distance, wash their hands, disinfect, and self-isolate if they feel unwell.

    “This is totally unrealistic in Moria,” says Willemen. “Even if people spend as much time as possible in their tents, they still eat three times a day with thousands of other people. The same goes for the restrooms and showers. It is impossible to avoid the masses.”

    It is also impossible to wash one’s hands regularly at the camp, she says, adding that because there are so many people in such a small space — with sub-standard hygienic standards — the conditions pave way for a rapid spread of the virus.

    Symbolic measures

    So far, the Greek authorities have only implemented symbolic measures. In March, the government called on refugees and asylum seekers in Moria to follow hygiene and safety regulations, in addition to restricting their movement. Since then, only 150 people per hour have been allowed to leave the camp.

    The rest of the population on Lesbos was also subject to a strict lockdown in spring but they have been allowed to move freely for almost two months. The people in Moria camp have seen restrictions on their freedom of movement extended seven times.

    The number of boats arriving with refugees and asylum seekers from Turkey has increased significantly this summer. On arrival, they are questioned about possible COVID-19 symptoms and their temperatures are taken.

    There are also two quarantine stations on the island where new arrivals have to spend a week, but the conditions are rather opaque, according to the freelance journalist Franziska Grillmeier, who has lived on the island for years.

    She says the media has not been allowed to access the camps and that there are no medical or legal provisions. “Nobody knows exactly what happens there,” she tells DW.

    “I understand that some people who are infected, but the problem is that for those who came to Lesbos before these new arrivals, the clock has been put back and they have to start their isolation from scratch if someone tests positive,” she adds.

    Grillmeier says the government was using the COVID-19 pandemic to push through its own agenda. “To lock people up more. And to widen the divide between the Greek population and the refugees.”

    NGO threatened with legal action

    The freedom of NGOs is also being restricted, says Grillmeier. “The fewer independent actors there are, the freer the government is.”

    Willemen, with Doctors without Borders, has also seen a shift. “We had rented a warehouse and set up a COVID-19 clinic for refugees,” she explains, adding that the hospital in Mytilene had welcomed the move because there are only six intensive beds for a population of 100,000 on the island.

    The plan had been to equip the makeshift clinic as soon as possible. But then the authorities sent a letter, telling the NGO that some of the island residents had complained. Doctors Without Borders was fined €35,000 and threatened with criminal charges related to urban planning regulations.

    Willemen says she does not understand what happened, since Doctors Without Borders had informed the local authorities and national authorities of its plans — and had even invited officials to visit the clinic. Nonetheless, the clinic is now closed and the 50 members of staff who had been trained up to work there have lost their jobs.

    “The fine is one thing but legal action is a risk that we cannot take,” Willemen says.

    She adds that it will soon become clear that it was a mistake to forbid the clinic from opening.

    “It is sheer luck that there has not been an outbreak yet,” she says, especially as there were 300 or 400 people who belonged to the high-risk category in the camp, and at least 48 people have tested positive on the island so far.

    “It is possible that there are some positive asymptomatic cases. But we think that it is unlikely that the virus has spread widely because the chances of not seeing any symptomatic cases in a population of 13,000 are very slim.”

    But, she says, it is only a matter of time until this all changes.

    https://www.dw.com/en/europes-largest-refugee-camp-braces-for-covid-19-outbreak/a-54640747
    #covid-19 #Moria #Lesbos #asile #migrations #réfugiés #coronavirus #camps_de_réfugiés #Grèce

    ping @luciebacon @veronique_petit

    • EU: Frontex splashes out: millions of euros for new technology and equipment (19.06.2020)

      The approval of the new #Frontex_Regulation in November 2019 implied an increase of competences, budget and capabilities for the EU’s border agency, which is now equipping itself with increased means to monitor events and developments at the borders and beyond, as well as renewing its IT systems to improve the management of the reams of data to which it will have access.

      In 2020 Frontex’s #budget grew to €420.6 million, an increase of over 34% compared to 2019. The European Commission has proposed that in the next EU budget (formally known as the Multiannual Financial Framework or MFF, covering 2021-27) €11 billion will be made available to the agency, although legal negotiations are ongoing and have hit significant stumbling blocks due to Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and political disagreements.

      Nevertheless, the increase for this year has clearly provided a number of opportunities for Frontex. For instance, it has already agreed contracts worth €28 million for the acquisition of dozens of vehicles equipped with thermal and day cameras, surveillance radar and sensors.

      According to the contract for the provision of Mobile Surveillance Systems, these new tools will be used “for detection, identification and recognising of objects of interest e.g. human beings and/or groups of people, vehicles moving across the border (land and sea), as well as vessels sailing within the coastal areas, and other objects identified as objects of interest”. [1]

      Frontex has also published a call for tenders for Maritime Analysis Tools, worth a total of up to €2.6 million. With this, Frontex seeks to improve access to “big data” for maritime analysis. [2] The objective of deploying these tools is to enhance Frontex’s operational support to EU border, coast guard and law enforcement authorities in “suppressing and preventing, among others, illegal migration and cross-border crime in the maritime domain”.

      Moreover, the system should be capable of delivering analysis and identification of high-risk threats following the collection and storage of “big data”. It is not clear how much human input and monitoring there will be of the identification of risks. The call for tenders says the winning bidder should have been announced in May, but there is no public information on the chosen company so far.

      As part of a 12-month pilot project to examine how maritime analysis tools could “support multipurpose operational response,” Frontex previously engaged the services of the Tel Aviv-based company Windward Ltd, which claims to fuse “maritime data and artificial intelligence… to provide the right insights, with the right context, at the right time.” [3] Windward, whose current chairman is John Browne, the former CEO of the multinational oil company BP, received €783,000 for its work. [4]

      As the agency’s gathering and processing of data increases, it also aims to improve and develop its own internal IT systems, through a two-year project worth €34 million. This will establish a set of “framework contracts”. Through these, each time the agency seeks a new IT service or system, companies selected to participate in the framework contracts will submit bids for the work. [5]

      The agency is also seeking a ’Software Solution for EBCG [European Border and Coast Guard] Team Members to Access to Schengen Information System’, through a contract worth up to €5 million. [6] The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the EU’s largest database, enabling cooperation between authorities working in the fields of police, border control and customs of all the Schengen states (26 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and its legal bases were recently reformed to include new types of alert and categories of data. [7]

      This software will give Frontex officials direct access to certain data within the SIS. Currently, they have to request access via national border guards in the country in which they are operating. This would give complete autonomy to Frontex officials to consult the SIS whilst undertaking operations, shortening the length of the procedure. [8]

      With the legal basis for increasing Frontex’s powers in place, the process to build up its personnel, material and surveillance capacities continues, with significant financial implications.

      https://www.statewatch.org/news/2020/june/eu-frontex-splashes-out-millions-of-euros-for-new-technology-and-equipme

      #technologie #équipement #Multiannual_Financial_Framework #MFF #surveillance #Mobile_Surveillance_Systems #Maritime_Analysis_Tools #données #big_data #mer #Windward_Ltd #Israël #John_Browne #BP #complexe_militaro-industriel #Software_Solution_for_EBCG_Team_Members_to_Access_to_Schengen_Information_System #SIS #Schengen_Information_System

    • EU : Guns, guards and guidelines : reinforcement of Frontex runs into problems (26.05.2020)

      An internal report circulated by Frontex to EU government delegations highlights a series of issues in implementing the agency’s new legislation. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency is urging swift action to implement the mandate and is pressing ahead with the recruitment of its new ‘standing corps’. However, there are legal problems with the acquisition, registration, storage and transport of weapons. The agency is also calling for derogations from EU rules on staff disciplinary measures in relation to the use of force; and wants an extended set of privileges and immunities. Furthermore, it is assisting with “voluntary return” despite this activity appearing to fall outside of its legal mandate.

      State-of-play report

      At the end of April 2020, Frontex circulated a report to EU government delegations in the Council outlining the state of play of the implementation of its new Regulation (“EBCG 2.0 Regulation”, in the agency and Commission’s words), especially relating to “current challenges”.[1] Presumably, this refers to the outbreak of a pandemic, though the report also acknowledges challenges created by the legal ambiguities contained in the Regulation itself, in particular with regard to the acquisition of weapons, supervisory and disciplinary mechanisms, legal privileges and immunities and involvement in “voluntary return” operations.

      The path set out in the report is that the “operational autonomy of the agency will gradually increase towards 2027” until it is a “fully-fledged and reliable partner” to EU and Schengen states. It acknowledges the impacts of unforeseen world events on the EU’s forthcoming budget (Multi-annual Financial Framework, MFF) for 2021-27, and hints at the impact this will have on Frontex’s own budget and objectives. Nevertheless, the agency is still determined to “continue increasing the capabilities” of the agency, including its acquisition of new equipment and employment of new staff for its standing corps.

      The main issues covered by the report are: Frontex’s new standing corps of staff, executive powers and the use of force, fundamental rights and data protection, and the integration into Frontex of EUROSUR, the European Border Surveillance System.

      The new standing corps

      Recruitment

      A new standing corps of 10,000 Frontex staff by 2024 is to be, in the words of the agency, its “biggest game changer”.[2] The report notes that the establishment of the standing corps has been heavily affected by the outbreak of Covid-19. According to the report, 7,238 individuals had applied to join the standing corps before the outbreak of the pandemic. 5,482 of these – over 75% – were assessed by the agency as eligible, with a final 304 passing the entire selection process to be on the “reserve lists”.[3]

      Despite interruptions to the recruitment procedure following worldwide lockdown measures, interviews for Category 1 staff – permanent Frontex staff members to be deployed on operations – were resumed via video by the end of April. 80 candidates were shortlisted for the first week, and Frontex aims to interview 1,000 people in total. Despite this adaptation, successful candidates will have to wait for Frontex’s contractor to re-open in order to carry out medical tests, an obligatory requirement for the standing corps.[4]

      In 2020, Frontex joined the European Defence Agency’s Satellite Communications (SatCom) and Communications and Information System (CIS) services in order to ensure ICT support for the standing corps in operation as of 2021.[5] The EDA describes SatCom and CIS as “fundamental for Communication, Command and Control in military operations… [enabling] EU Commanders to connect forces in remote areas with HQs and capitals and to manage the forces missions and tasks”.[6]

      Training

      The basic training programme, endorsed by the management board in October 2019, is designed for Category 1 staff. It includes specific training in interoperability and “harmonisation with member states”. The actual syllabus, content and materials for this basic training were developed by March 2020; Statewatch has made a request for access to these documents, which is currently pending with the Frontex Transparency Office. This process has also been affected by the novel coronavirus, though the report insists that “no delay is foreseen in the availability of the specialised profile related training of the standing corps”.

      Use of force

      The state-of-play-report acknowledges a number of legal ambiguities surrounding some of the more controversial powers outlined in Frontex’s 2019 Regulation, highlighting perhaps that political ambition, rather than serious consideration and assessment, propelled the legislation, overtaking adequate procedure and oversight. The incentive to enact the legislation within a short timeframe is cited as a reason that no impact assessment was carried out on the proposed recast to the agency’s mandate. This draft was rushed through negotiations and approved in an unprecedented six-month period, and the details lost in its wake are now coming to light.

      Article 82 of the 2019 Regulation refers to the use of force and carriage of weapons by Frontex staff, while a supervisory mechanism for the use of force by statutory staff is established by Article 55. This says:

      “On the basis of a proposal from the executive director, the management board shall: (a) establish an appropriate supervisory mechanism to monitor the application of the provisions on use of force by statutory staff, including rules on reporting and specific measures, such as those of a disciplinary nature, with regard to the use of force during deployments”[7]

      The agency’s management board is expected to make a decision about this supervisory mechanism, including specific measures and reporting, by the end of June 2020.

      The state-of-play report posits that the legal terms of Article 55 are inconsistent with the standard rules on administrative enquiries and disciplinary measures concerning EU staff.[8] These outline, inter alia, that a dedicated disciplinary board will be established in each institution including at least one member from outside the institution, that this board must be independent and its proceedings secret. Frontex insists that its staff will be a special case as the “first uniformed service of the EU”, and will therefore require “special arrangements or derogations to the Staff Regulations” to comply with the “totally different nature of tasks and risks associated with their deployments”.[9]

      What is particularly astounding about Frontex demanding special treatment for oversight, particularly on use of force and weapons is that, as the report acknowledges, the agency cannot yet legally store or transport any weapons it acquires.

      Regarding service weapons and “non-lethal equipment”,[10] legal analysis by “external experts and a regulatory law firm” concluded that the 2019 Regulation does not provide a legal basis for acquiring, registering, storing or transporting weapons in Poland, where the agency’s headquarters is located. Frontex has applied to the Commission for clarity on how to proceed, says the report. Frontex declined to comment on the status of this consultation and any indications of the next steps the agency will take. A Commission spokesperson stated only that it had recently received the agency’s enquiry and “is analysing the request and the applicable legal framework in the view of replying to the EBCGA”, without expanding further.

      Until Frontex has the legal basis to do so, it cannot launch a tender for firearms and “non-lethal equipment” (which includes batons, pepper spray and handcuffs). However, the report implies the agency is ready to do so as soon as it receives the green light. Technical specifications are currently being finalised for “non-lethal equipment” and Frontex still plans to complete acquisition by the end of the year.

      Privileges and immunities

      The agency is also seeking special treatment with regard to the legal privileges and immunities it and its officials enjoy. Article 96 of the 2019 Regulation outlines the privileges and immunities of Frontex officers, stating:

      “Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union annexed to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to the TFEU shall apply to the Agency and its statutory staff.” [11]

      However, Frontex notes that the Protocol does not apply to non-EU states, nor does it “offer a full protection, or take into account a need for the inviolability of assets owned by Frontex (service vehicles, vessels, aircraft)”.[12] Frontex is increasingly involved in operations taking place on non-EU territory. For instance, the Council of the EU has signed or initialled a number of Status Agreements with non-EU states, primarily in the Western Balkans, concerning Frontex activities in those countries. To launch operations under these agreements, Frontex will (or, in the case of Albania, already has) agree on operational plans with each state, under which Frontex staff can use executive powers.[13] The agency therefore seeks an “EU-level status of forces agreement… to account for the partial absence of rules”.

      Law enforcement

      To implement its enhanced functions regarding cross-border crime, Frontex will continue to participate in Europol’s four-year policy cycle addressing “serious international and organised crime”.[14] The agency is also developing a pilot project, “Investigation Support Activities- Cross Border Crime” (ISA-CBC), addressing drug trafficking and terrorism.

      Fundamental rights and data protection

      The ‘EBCG 2.0 Regulation’ requires several changes to fundamental rights measures by the agency, which, aside from some vague “legal analyses” seem to be undergoing development with only internal oversight.

      Firstly, to facilitate adequate independence of the Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO), special rules have to be established. The FRO was introduced under Frontex’s 2016 Regulation, but has since then been understaffed and underfunded by the agency.[15] The 2019 Regulation obliges the agency to ensure “sufficient and adequate human and financial resources” for the office, as well as 40 fundamental rights monitors.[16] These standing corps staff members will be responsible for monitoring compliance with fundamental rights standards, providing advice and assistance on the agency’s plans and activities, and will visit and evaluate operations, including acting as forced return monitors.[17]

      During negotiations over the proposed Regulation 2.0, MEPs introduced extended powers for the Fundamental Rights Officer themselves. The FRO was previously responsible for contributing to Frontex’s fundamental rights strategy and monitoring its compliance with and promotion of fundamental rights. Now, they will be able to monitor compliance by conducting investigations; offering advice where deemed necessary or upon request of the agency; providing opinions on operational plans, pilot projects and technical assistance; and carrying out on-the-spot visits. The executive director is now obliged to respond “as to how concerns regarding possible violations of fundamental rights… have been addressed,” and the management board “shall ensure that action is taken with regard to recommendations of the fundamental rights officer.” [18] The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in the Regulation.

      The state-of-play report says that “legal analyses and exchanges” are ongoing, and will inform an eventual management board decision, but no timeline for this is offered. [19] The agency will also need to adapt its much criticised individual complaints mechanism to fit the requirements of the 2019 Regulation; executive director Fabrice Leggeri’s first-draft decision on this process is currently undergoing internal consultations. Even the explicit requirement set out in the 2019 Regulation for an “independent and effective” complaints mechanism,[20] does not meet minimum standards to qualify as an effective remedy, which include institutional independence, accessibility in practice, and capacity to carry out thorough and prompt investigations.[21]

      Frontex has entered into a service level agreement (SLA) with the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) for support in establishing and training the team of fundamental rights monitors introduced by the 2019 Regulation. These monitors are to be statutory staff of the agency and will assess fundamental rights compliance of operational activities, advising, assisting and contributing to “the promotion of fundamental rights”.[22] The scope and objectives for this team were finalised at the end of March this year, and the agency will establish the team by the end of the year. Statewatch has requested clarification as to what is to be included in the team’s scope and objectives, pending with the Frontex Transparency Office.

      Regarding data protection, the agency plans a package of implementing rules (covering issues ranging from the position of data protection officer to the restriction of rights for returnees and restrictions under administrative data processing) to be implemented throughout 2020.[23] The management board will review a first draft of the implementing rules on the data protection officer in the second quarter of 2020.

      Returns

      The European Return and Reintegration Network (ERRIN) – a network of 15 European states and the Commission facilitating cooperation over return operations “as part of the EU efforts to manage migration” – is to be handed over to Frontex. [24] A handover plan is currently under the final stage of review; it reportedly outlines the scoping of activities and details of “which groups of returnees will be eligible for Frontex assistance in the future”.[25] A request from Statewatch to Frontex for comment on what assistance will be provided by the agency to such returnees was unanswered at the time of publication.

      Since the entry into force of its new mandate, Frontex has also been providing technical assistance for so-called voluntary returns, with the first two such operations carried out on scheduled flights (as opposed to charter flights) in February 2020. A total of 28 people were returned by mid-April, despite the fact that there is no legal clarity over what the definition “voluntary return” actually refers to, as the state-of-play report also explains:

      “The terminology of voluntary return was introduced in the Regulation without providing any definition thereof. This terminology (voluntary departure vs voluntary return) is moreover not in line with the terminology used in the Return Directive (EBCG 2.0 refers to the definition of returns provided for in the Return Directive. The Return Directive, however, does not cover voluntary returns; a voluntary return is not a return within the meaning of the Return Directive). Further elaboration is needed.”[26]

      On top of requiring “further clarification”, if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it is acting outside of its legal mandate. Statewatch has launched an investigation into the agency’s activities relating to voluntary returns, to outline the number of such operations to date, their country of return and country of destination.

      Frontex is currently developing a module dedicated to voluntary returns by charter flight for its FAR (Frontex Application for Returns) platform (part of its return case management system). On top of the technical support delivered by the agency, Frontex also foresees the provision of on-the-ground support from Frontex representatives or a “return counsellor”, who will form part of the dedicated return teams planned for the standing corps from 2021.[27]

      Frontex has updated its return case management system (RECAMAS), an online platform for member state authorities and Frontex to communicate and plan return operations, to manage an increased scope. The state-of-play report implies that this includes detail on post-return activities in a new “post-return module”, indicating that Frontex is acting on commitments to expand its activity in this area. According to the agency’s roadmap on implementing the 2019 Regulation, an action plan on how the agency will provide post-return support to people (Article 48(1), 2019 Regulation) will be written by the third quarter of 2020.[28]

      In its closing paragraph, related to the budgetary impact of COVID-19 regarding return operations, the agency notes that although activities will resume once aerial transportation restrictions are eased, “the agency will not be able to provide what has been initially intended, undermining the concept of the EBCG as a whole”.[29]

      EUROSUR

      The Commission is leading progress on adopting the implementing act for the integration of EUROSUR into Frontex, which will define the implementation of new aerial surveillance,[30] expected by the end of the year.[31] Frontex is discussing new working arrangements with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL). The development by Frontex of the surveillance project’s communications network will require significant budgetary investment, as the agency plans to maintain the current system ahead of its planned replacement in 2025.[32] This investment is projected despite the agency’s recognition of the economic impact of Covid-19 on member states, and the consequent adjustments to the MFF 2021-27.

      Summary

      Drafted and published as the world responds to an unprecedented pandemic, the “current challenges” referred to in the report appear, on first read, to refer to the budgetary and staffing implications of global shut down. However, the report maintains throughout that the agency’s determination to expand, in terms of powers as well as staffing, will not be stalled despite delays and budgeting adjustments. Indeed, it is implied more than once that the “current challenges” necessitate more than ever that these powers be assumed. The true challenges, from the agency’s point of view, stem from the fact that its current mandate was rushed through negotiations in six months, leading to legal ambiguities that leave it unable to acquire or transport weapons and in a tricky relationship with the EU protocol on privileges and immunities when operating in third countries. Given the violence that so frequently accompanies border control operations in the EU, it will come as a relief to many that Frontex is having difficulties acquiring its own weaponry. However, it is far from reassuring that the introduction of new measures on fundamental rights and accountability are being carried out internally and remain unavailable for public scrutiny.

      Jane Kilpatrick

      Note: this article was updated on 26 May 2020 to include the European Commission’s response to Statewatch’s enquiries.

      It was updated on 1 July with some minor corrections:

      “the Council of the EU has signed or initialled a number of Status Agreements with non-EU states... under which” replaces “the agency has entered into working agreements with Balkan states, under which”
      “The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in any detail in the Regulation beyond monitoring the agency’s ’compliance with fundamental rights, including by conducting investigations’” replaces “The investigatory powers of the FRO are not, however, set out in the Regulation”
      “if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it further exposes the haste with which legislation written to deny entry into the EU and facilitate expulsions was drafted” replaces “if Frontex is assisting with “voluntary returns” that are not governed by the Returns Directive, it is acting outside of its legal mandate”

      Endnotes

      [1] Frontex, ‘State of play of the implementation of the EBCG 2.0 Regulation in view of current challenges’, 27 April 2020, contained in Council document 7607/20, LIMITE, 20 April 2020, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/may/eu-council-frontex-ECBG-state-of-play-7607-20.pdf

      [2] Frontex, ‘Programming Document 2018-20’, 10 December 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-programming-document-2018-20.pdf

      [3] Section 1.1, state of play report

      [4] Jane Kilpatrick, ‘Frontex launches “game-changing” recruitment drive for standing corps of border guards’, Statewatch Analysis, March 2020, http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-355-frontex-recruitment-standing-corps.pdf

      [5] Section 7.1, state of play report

      [6] EDA, ‘EU SatCom Market’, https://www.eda.europa.eu/what-we-do/activities/activities-search/eu-satcom-market

      [7] Article 55(5)(a), Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard (Frontex 2019 Regulation), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [8] Pursuant to Annex IX of the EU Staff Regulations, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:01962R0031-20140501

      [9] Chapter III, state of play report

      [10] Section 2.5, state of play report

      [11] Protocol (No 7), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2016.202.01.0001.01.ENG#d1e3363-201-1

      [12] Chapter III, state of play report

      [13] ‘Border externalisation: Agreements on Frontex operations in Serbia and Montenegro heading for parliamentary approval’, Statewatch News, 11 March 2020, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/frontex-status-agreements.htm

      [14] Europol, ‘EU policy cycle – EMPACT’, https://www.europol.europa.eu/empact

      [15] ‘NGOs, EU and international agencies sound the alarm over Frontex’s respect for fundamental rights’, Statewatch News, 5 March 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/mar/fx-consultative-forum-rep.htm; ‘Frontex condemned by its own fundamental rights body for failing to live up to obligations’, Statewatch News, 21 May 2018, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/may/eu-frontex-fr-rep.htm

      [16] Article 110(6), Article 109, 2019 Regulation

      [17] Article 110, 2019 Regulation

      [18] Article 109, 2019 Regulation

      [19] Section 8, state of play report

      [20] Article 111(1), 2019 Regulation

      [21] Sergio Carrera and Marco Stefan, ‘Complaint Mechanisms in Border Management and Expulsion Operations in Europe: Effective Remedies for Victims of Human Rights Violations?’, CEPS, 2018, https://www.ceps.eu/system/files/Complaint%20Mechanisms_A4.pdf

      [22] Article 110(1), 2019 Regulation

      [23] Section 9, state of play report

      [24] ERRIN, https://returnnetwork.eu

      [25] Section 3.2, state of play report

      [26] Chapter III, state of play report

      [27] Section 3.2, state of play report

      [28] ‘’Roadmap’ for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead’, Statewatch News, 25 November 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/nov/eu-frontex-roadmap.htm

      [29] State of play report, p. 19

      [30] Matthias Monroy, ‘Drones for Frontex: unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders’, Statewatch Analysis, February 2020, http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-354-frontex-drones.pdf

      [31] Section 4, state of play report

      [32] Section 7.2, state of play report
      Next article >

      Mediterranean: As the fiction of a Libyan search and rescue zone begins to crumble, EU states use the coronavirus pandemic to declare themselves unsafe

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/eu-guns-guards-and-guidelines-reinforcement-of-frontex-runs-into-problem

      #EBCG_2.0_Regulation #European_Defence_Agency’s_Satellite_Communications (#SatCom) #Communications_and_Information_System (#CIS) #immunité #droits_fondamentaux #droits_humains #Fundamental_Rights_Officer (#FRO) #European_Return_and_Reintegration_Network (#ERRIN) #renvois #expulsions #réintégration #Directive_Retour #FAR (#Frontex_Application_for_Returns) #RECAMAS #EUROSUR #European_Aviation_Safety_Agency (#EASA) #European_Organisation_for_the_Safety_of_Air_Navigation (#EUROCONTROL)

    • Frontex launches “game-changing” recruitment drive for standing corps of border guards

      On 4 January 2020 the Management Board of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) adopted a decision on the profiles of the staff required for the new “standing corps”, which is ultimately supposed to be staffed by 10,000 officials. [1] The decision ushers in a new wave of recruitment for the agency. Applicants will be put through six months of training before deployment, after rigorous medical testing.

      What is the standing corps?

      The European Border and Coast Guard standing corps is the new, and according to Frontex, first ever, EU uniformed service, available “at any time…to support Member States facing challenges at their external borders”.[2] Frontex’s Programming Document for the 2018-2020 period describes the standing corps as the agency’s “biggest game changer”, requiring “an unprecedented scale of staff recruitment”.[3]

      The standing corps will be made up of four categories of Frontex operational staff:

      Frontex statutory staff deployed in operational areas and staff responsible for the functioning of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) Central Unit[4];
      Long-term staff seconded from member states;
      Staff from member states who can be immediately deployed on short-term secondment to Frontex; and

      A reserve of staff from member states for rapid border interventions.

      These border guards will be “trained by the best and equipped with the latest technology has to offer”.[5] As well as wearing EU uniforms, they will be authorised to carry weapons and will have executive powers: they will be able to verify individuals’ identity and nationality and permit or refuse entry into the EU.

      The decision made this January is limited to the definition of profiles and requirements for the operational staff that are to be recruited. The Management Board (MB) will have to adopt a new decision by March this year to set out the numbers of staff needed per profile, the requirements for individuals holding those positions, and the number of staff needed for the following year based on expected operational needs. This process will be repeated annually.[6] The MB can then further specify how many staff each member state should contribute to these profiles, and establish multi-annual plans for member state contributions and recruitment for Frontex statutory staff. Projections for these contributions are made in Annexes II – IV of the 2019 Regulation, though a September Mission Statement by new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urges the recruitment of 10,000 border guards by 2024, indicating that member states might be meeting their contribution commitments much sooner than 2027.[7]

      The standing corps of Frontex staff will have an array of executive powers and responsibilities. As well as being able to verify identity and nationality and refuse or permit entry into the EU, they will be able to consult various EU databases to fulfil operational aims, and may also be authorised by host states to consult national databases. According to the MB Decision, “all members of the Standing Corps are to be able to identify persons in need of international protection and persons in a vulnerable situation, including unaccompanied minors, and refer them to the competent authorities”. Training on international and EU law on fundamental rights and international protection, as well as guidelines on the identification and referral of persons in need of international protection, will be mandatory for all standing corps staff members.

      The size of the standing corps

      The following table, taken from the 2019 Regulation, outlines the ambitions for growth of Frontex’s standing corps. However, as noted, the political ambition is to reach the 10,000 total by 2024.

      –-> voir le tableau sur le site de statewatch!

      Category 2 staff – those on long term secondment from member states – will join Frontex from 2021, according to the 2019 Regulation.[8] It is foreseen that Germany will contribute the most staff, with 61 expected in 2021, increasing year-by-year to 225 by 2027. Other high contributors are France and Italy (170 and 125 by 2027, respectively).

      The lowest contributors will be Iceland (expected to contribute between one and two people a year from 2021 to 2027), Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg. Liechtenstein is not contributing personnel but will contribute “through proportional financial support”.

      For short-term secondments from member states, projections follow a very similar pattern. Germany will contribute 540 staff in 2021, increasing to 827 in 2027; Italy’s contribution will increase from 300 in 2021 to 458 in 2027; and France’s from 408 in 2021 to 624 in 2027. Most states will be making less than 100 staff available for short-term secondment in 2021.

      What are the profiles?

      The MB Decision outlines 12 profiles to be made available to Frontex, ranging from Border Guard Officer and Crew Member, to Cross Border Crime Detection Officer and Return Specialist. A full list is contained in the Decision.[9] All profiles will be fulfilled by an official of the competent authority of a member state (MS) or Schengen Associated Country (SAC), or by a member of Frontex’s own statutory staff.

      Tasks to be carried out by these officials include:

      border checks and surveillance;
      interviewing, debriefing* and screening arrivals and registering fingerprints;
      supporting the collection, assessment, analysis and distribution of information with EU member and non-member states;
      verifying travel documents;
      escorting individuals being deported on Frontex return operations;
      operating data systems and platforms; and
      offering cultural mediation

      *Debriefing consists of informal interviews with migrants to collect information for risk analyses on irregular migration and other cross-border crime and the profiling of irregular migrants to identify “modus operandi and migration trends used by irregular migrants and facilitators/criminal networks”. Guidelines written by Frontex in 2012 instructed border guards to target vulnerable individuals for “debriefing”, not in order to streamline safeguarding or protection measures, but for intelligence-gathering - “such people are often more willing to talk about their experiences,” said an internal document.[10] It is unknown whether those instructions are still in place.

      Recruitment for the profiles

      Certain profiles are expected to “apply self-safety and security practice”, and to have “the capacity to work under pressure and face emotional events with composure”. Relevant profiles (e.g. crew member) are required to be able to perform search and rescue activities in distress situations at sea borders.

      Frontex published a call for tender on 27 December for the provision of medical services for pre-recruitment examinations, in line with the plan to start recruiting operational staff in early 2020. The documents accompanying the tender reveal additional criteria for officials that will be granted executive powers (Frontex category “A2”) compared to those staff stationed primarily at the agency’s Warsaw headquarters (“A1”). Those criteria come in the form of more stringent medical testing.

      The differences in medical screening for category A1 and A2 staff lie primarily in additional toxicology screening and psychiatric and psychological consultations. [11] The additional psychiatric attention allotted for operational staff “is performed to check the predisposition for people to work in arduous, hazardous conditions, exposed to stress, conflict situations, changing rapidly environment, coping with people being in dramatic, injure or death exposed situations”.[12]

      Both A1 and A2 category provisional recruits will be asked to disclose if they have ever suffered from a sexually transmitted disease or “genital organ disease”, as well as depression, nervous or mental disorders, among a long list of other ailments. As well as disclosing any medication they take, recruits must also state if they are taking oral contraceptives (though there is no question about hormonal contraceptives that are not taken orally). Women are also asked to give the date of their last period on the pre-appointment questionnaire.

      “Never touch yourself with gloves”

      Frontex training materials on forced return operations obtained by Statewatch in 2019 acknowledge the likelihood of psychological stress among staff, among other health risks. (One recommendation contained in the documents is to “never touch yourself with gloves”). Citing “dissonance within the team, long hours with no rest, group dynamic, improvisation and different languages” among factors behind psychological stress, the training materials on medical precautionary measures for deportation escort officers also refer to post-traumatic stress disorder, the lack of an area to retreat to and body clock disruption as exacerbating risks. The document suggests a high likelihood that Frontex return escorts will witness poverty, “agony”, “chaos”, violence, boredom, and will have to deal with vulnerable persons.[13]

      For fundamental rights monitors (officials deployed to monitor fundamental rights compliance during deportations, who can be either Frontex staff or national officials), the training materials obtained by Statewatch focus on the self-control of emotions, rather than emotional care. Strategies recommended include talking to somebody, seeking professional help, and “informing yourself of any other option offered”. The documents suggest that it is an individual’s responsibility to prevent emotional responses to stressful situations having an impact on operations, and to organise their own supervision and professional help. There is no obvious focus on how traumatic responses of Frontex staff could affect those coming into contact with them at an external border or during a deportation. [14]

      The materials obtained by Statewatch also give some indication of the fundamental rights training imparted to those acting as deportation ‘escorts’ and fundamental rights monitors. The intended outcomes for a training session in Athens that took place in March 2019 included “adapt FR [fundamental rights] in a readmission operation (explain it with examples)” and “should be able to describe Non Refoulement principle” (in the document, ‘Session Fundamental rights’ is followed by ‘Session Velcro handcuffs’).[15] The content of the fundamental rights training that will be offered to Frontex’s new recruits is currently unknown.

      Fit for service?

      The agency anticipates that most staff will be recruited from March to June 2020, involving the medical examination of up to 700 applicants in this period. According to Frontex’s website, the agency has already received over 7,000 applications for the 700 new European Border Guard Officer positions.[16] Successful candidates will undergo six months of training before deployment in 2021. Apparently then, the posts are a popular career option, despite the seemingly invasive medical tests (especially for sexually active women). Why, for instance, is it important to Frontex to know about oral hormonal contraception, or about sexually transmitted infections?

      When asked by Statewatch if Frontex provides in-house psychological and emotional support, an agency press officer stated: “When it comes to psychological and emotional support, Frontex is increasing awareness and personal resilience of the officers taking part in our operations through education and training activities.” A ‘Frontex Mental Health Strategy’ from 2018 proposed the establishment of “a network of experts-psychologists” to act as an advisory body, as well as creating “online self-care tools”, a “psychological hot-line”, and a space for peer support with participation of psychologists (according to risk assessment) during operations.[17]

      One year later, Frontex, EASO and Europol jointly produced a brochure for staff deployed on operations, entitled ‘Occupational Health and Safety – Deployment Information’, which offers a series of recommendations to staff, placing the responsibility to “come to the deployment in good mental shape” and “learn how to manage stress and how to deal with anger” more firmly on the individual than the agency.[18] According to this document, officers who need additional support must disclose this by requesting it from their supervisor, while “a helpline or psychologist on-site may be available, depending on location”.

      Frontex anticipates this recruitment drive to be “game changing”. Indeed, the Commission is relying upon it to reach its ambitions for the agency’s independence and efficiency. The inclusion of mandatory training in fundamental rights in the six-month introductory education is obviously a welcome step. Whether lessons learned in a classroom will be the first thing that comes to the minds of officials deployed on border control or deportation operations remains to be seen.

      Unmanaged responses to emotional stress can include burnout, compassion-fatigue and indirect trauma, which can in turn decrease a person’s ability to cope with adverse circumstance, and increase the risk of violence.[19] Therefore, aside from the agency’s responsibility as an employer to safeguard the health of its staff, its approach to internal psychological care will affect not only the border guards themselves, but the people that they routinely come into contact with at borders and during return operations, many of whom themselves will have experienced trauma.

      Jane Kilpatrick

      Endnotes

      [1] Management Board Decision 1/2020 of 4 January 2020 on adopting the profiles to be made available to the European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps, https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Key_Documents/MB_Decision/2020/MB_Decision_1_2020_adopting_the_profiles_to_be_made_available_to_the_

      [2] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [3] Frontex, ‘Programming Document 2018-20’, 10 December 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/feb/frontex-programming-document-2018-20.pdf

      [4] The ETIAS Central Unit will be responsible for processing the majority of applications for ‘travel authorisations’ received when the European Travel Information and Authorisation System comes into use, in theory in late 2022. Citizens who do not require a visa to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply for authorisation to travel to the Schengen area.

      [5] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [6] Article 54(4), Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [7] ‘European Commission 2020 Work Programme: An ambitious roadmap for a Union that strives for more’, 29 January 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_124; “Mission letter” from Ursula von der Leyen to Ylva Johnsson, 10 September 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/mission-letter-ylva-johansson_en.pdf

      [8] Annex II, 2019 Regulation

      [9] Management Board Decision 1/2020 of 4 January 2020 on adopting the profiles to be made available to the European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps, https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Key_Documents/MB_Decision/2020/MB_Decision_1_2020_adopting_the_profiles_to_be_made_available_to_the_

      [10] ‘Press release: EU border agency targeted “isolated or mistreated” individuals for questioning’, Statewatch News, 16 February 2017, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/feb/eu-frontex-op-hera-debriefing-pr.htm

      [11] ‘Provision of Medical Services – Pre-Recruitment Examination’, https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-documents.html?cftId=5841

      [12] ‘Provision of medical services – pre-recruitment examination, Terms of Reference - Annex II to invitation to tender no Frontex/OP/1491/2019/KM’, https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-document.html?docId=65398

      [13] Frontex training presentation, ‘Medical precautionary measures for escort officers’, undated, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/eu-frontex-presentation-medical-precautionary-measures-deportation-escor

      [14] Ibid.

      [15] Frontex, document listing course learning outcomes from deportation escorts’ training, http://statewatch.org/news/2020/mar/eu-frontex-deportation-escorts-training-course-learning-outcomes.pdf

      [16] Frontex, ‘Careers’, https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/careers/frontex-border-guard-recruitment

      [17] Frontex, ‘Frontex mental health strategy’, 20 February 2018, https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/89c168fe-e14b-11e7-9749-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

      [18] EASO, Europol and Frontex, ‘Occupational health and safety’, 12 August 2019, https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/17cc07e0-bd88-11e9-9d01-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source-103142015

      [19] Trauma Treatment International, ‘A different approach for victims of trauma’, https://www.tt-intl.org/#our-work-section

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/frontex-launches-game-changing-recruitment-drive-for-standing-corps-of-b
      #gardes_frontières #staff #corps_des_gardes-frontières

    • Drones for Frontex: unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders (27.02.2020)

      Instead of providing sea rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean, the EU is expanding air surveillance. Refugees are observed with drones developed for the military. In addition to numerous EU states, countries such as Libya could also use the information obtained.

      It is not easy to obtain majorities for legislation in the European Union in the area of migration - unless it is a matter of upgrading the EU’s external borders. While the reform of a common EU asylum system has been on hold for years, the European Commission, Parliament and Council agreed to reshape the border agency Frontex with unusual haste shortly before last year’s parliamentary elections. A new Regulation has been in force since December 2019,[1] under which Frontex intends to build up a “standing corps” of 10,000 uniformed officials by 2027. They can be deployed not just at the EU’s external borders, but in ‘third countries’ as well.

      In this way, Frontex will become a “European border police force” with powers that were previously reserved for the member states alone. The core of the new Regulation includes the procurement of the agency’s own equipment. The Multiannual Financial Framework, in which the EU determines the distribution of its financial resources from 2021 until 2027, has not yet been decided. According to current plans, however, at least €6 billion are reserved for Frontex in the seven-year budget. The intention is for Frontex to spend a large part of the money, over €2 billion, on aircraft, ships and vehicles.[2]

      Frontex seeks company for drone flights

      The upgrade plans include the stationing of large drones in the central and eastern Mediterranean. For this purpose, Frontex is looking for a private partner to operate flights off Malta, Italy or Greece. A corresponding tender ended in December[3] and the selection process is currently underway. The unmanned missions could then begin already in spring. Frontex estimates the total cost of these missions at €50 million. The contract has a term of two years and can be extended twice for one year at a time.

      Frontex wants drones of the so-called MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) class. Their flight duration should be at least 20 hours. The requirements include the ability to fly in all weather conditions and at day and night. It is also planned to operate in airspace where civil aircraft are in service. For surveillance missions, the drones should carry electro-optical cameras, thermal imaging cameras and so-called “daylight spotter” systems that independently detect moving targets and keep them in focus. Other equipment includes systems for locating mobile and satellite telephones. The drones will also be able to receive signals from emergency call transmitters sewn into modern life jackets.

      However, the Frontex drones will not be used primarily for sea rescue operations, but to improve capacities against unwanted migration. This assumption is also confirmed by the German non-governmental organisation Sea-Watch, which has been providing assistance in the central Mediterranean with various ships since 2015. “Frontex is not concerned with saving lives,” says Ruben Neugebauer of Sea-Watch. “While air surveillance is being expanded with aircraft and drones, ships urgently needed for rescue operations have been withdrawn”. Sea-Watch demands that situation pictures of EU drones are also made available to private organisations for sea rescue.

      Aircraft from arms companies

      Frontex has very specific ideas for its own drones, which is why there are only a few suppliers worldwide that can be called into question. The Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1, which Frontex tested for several months on the Greek island of Crete[4] and which is also flown by the German Bundeswehr, is one of them. As set out by Frontex in its invitation to tender, the Heron 1, with a payload of around 250 kilograms, can carry all the surveillance equipment that the agency intends to deploy over the Mediterranean. Also amongst those likely to be interested in the Frontex contract is the US company General Atomics, which has been building drones of the Predator series for 20 years. Recently, it presented a new Predator model in Greece under the name SeaGuardian, for maritime observation.[5] It is equipped with a maritime surveillance radar and a system for receiving position data from larger ships, thus fulfilling one of Frontex’s essential requirements.

      General Atomics may have a competitive advantage, as its Predator drones have several years’ operational experience in the Mediterranean. In addition to Frontex, the European Union has been active in the central Mediterranean with EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. In March 2019, Italy’s then-interior minister Matteo Salvini pushed through the decision to operate the EU mission from the air alone. Since then, two unarmed Predator drones operated by the Italian military have been flying for EUNAVFOR MED for 60 hours per month. Officially, the drones are to observe from the air whether the training of the Libyan coast guard has been successful and whether these navy personnel use their knowledge accordingly. Presumably, however, the Predators are primarily pursuing the mission’s goal to “combat human smuggling” by spying on the Libyan coast. It is likely that the new Operation EU Active Surveillance, which will use military assets from EU member states to try to enforce the UN arms embargo placed on Libya,[6] will continue to patrol with Italian drones off the coast in North Africa.

      Three EU maritime surveillance agencies

      In addition to Frontex, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) are also investing in maritime surveillance using drones. Together, the three agencies coordinate some 300 civil and military authorities in EU member states.[7] Their tasks include border, fisheries and customs control, law enforcement and environmental protection.

      In 2017, Frontex and EMSA signed an agreement to benefit from joint reconnaissance capabilities, with EFCA also involved.[8] At the time, EMSA conducted tests with drones of various sizes, but now the drones’ flights are part of its regular services. The offer is not only open to EU Member States, as Iceland was the first to take advantage of it. Since summer 2019, a long-range Hermes 900 drone built by the Israeli company Elbit Systems has been flying from Iceland’s Egilsstaðir airport. The flights are intended to cover more than half of the island state’s exclusive economic zone and to detect “suspicious activities and potential hazards”.[9]

      The Hermes 900 was also developed for the military; the Israeli army first deployed it in the Gaza Strip in 2014. The Times of Israel puts the cost of the operating contract with EMSA at €59 million,[10] with a term of two years, which can be extended for another two years. The agency did not conclude the contract directly with the Israeli arms company, but through the Portuguese firm CeiiA. The contract covers the stationing, control and mission control of the drones.

      New interested parties for drone flights

      At the request of the German MEP Özlem Demirel (from the party Die Linke), the European Commission has published a list of countries that also want to use EMSA drones.[11] According to this list, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and also Greece have requested unmanned flights for pollution monitoring this year, while Bulgaria and Spain want to use them for general maritime surveillance. Until Frontex has its own drones, EMSA is flying its drones for the border agency on Crete. As in Iceland, this is the long-range drone Hermes 900, but according to Greek media reports it crashed on 8 January during take-off.[12] Possible causes are a malfunction of the propulsion system or human error. The aircraft is said to have been considerably damaged.

      Authorities from France and Great Britain have also ordered unmanned maritime surveillance from EMSA. Nothing is yet known about the exact intended location, but it is presumably the English Channel. There, the British coast guard is already observing border traffic with larger drones built by the Tekever arms company from Portugal.[13] The government in London wants to prevent migrants from crossing the Channel. The drones take off from the airport in the small town of Lydd and monitor the approximately 50-kilometre-long and 30-kilometre-wide Strait of Dover. Great Britain has also delivered several quadcopters to France to try to detect potential migrants in French territorial waters. According to the prefecture of Pas-de-Calais, eight gendarmes have been trained to control the small drones[14].

      Information to non-EU countries

      The images taken by EMSA drones are evaluated by the competent national coastguards. A livestream also sends them to Frontex headquarters in Warsaw.[15] There they are fed into the EUROSUR border surveillance system. This is operated by Frontex and networks the surveillance installations of all EU member states that have an external border. The data from EUROSUR and the national border control centres form the ‘Common Pre-frontier Intelligence Picture’,[16] referring to the area of interest of Frontex, which extends far into the African continent. Surveillance data is used to detect and prevent migration movements at an early stage.

      Once the providing company has been selected, the new Frontex drones are also to fly for EUROSUR. According to the invitation to tender, they are to operate in the eastern and central Mediterranean within a radius of up to 250 nautical miles (463 kilometres). This would enable them to carry out reconnaissance in the “pre-frontier” area off Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Within the framework of EUROSUR, Frontex shares the recorded data with other European users via a ‘Remote Information Portal’, as the call for tender explains. The border agency has long been able to cooperate with third countries and the information collected can therefore also be made available to authorities in North Africa. However, in order to share general information on surveillance of the Mediterranean Sea with a non-EU state, Frontex must first conclude a working agreement with the corresponding government.[17]

      It is already possible, however, to provide countries such as Libya with the coordinates of refugee boats. For example, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that the nearest Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) must be informed of actual or suspected emergencies. With EU funding, Italy has been building such a centre in Tripoli for the last two years.[18] It is operated by the military coast guard, but so far has no significant equipment of its own.

      The EU military mission “EUNAVFOR MED” was cooperating more extensively with the Libyan coast guard. For communication with European naval authorities, Libya is the first third country to be connected to European surveillance systems via the “Seahorse Mediterranean” network[19]. Information handed over to the Libyan authorities might also include information that was collected with the Italian military ‘Predator’ drones.

      Reconnaissance generated with unmanned aerial surveillance is also given to the MRCC in Turkey. This was seen in a pilot project last summer, when the border agency tested an unmanned aerostat with the Greek coast guard off the island of Samos.[20] Attached to a 1,000 metre-long cable, the airship was used in the Frontex operation ‘Poseidon’ in the eastern Mediterranean. The 35-meter-long zeppelin comes from the French manufacturer A-NSE.[21] The company specializes in civil and military aerial observation. According to the Greek Marine Ministry, the equipment included a radar, a thermal imaging camera and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) for the tracking of larger ships. The recorded videos were received and evaluated by a situation centre supplied by the Portuguese National Guard. If a detected refugee boat was still in Turkish territorial waters, the Greek coast guard informed the Turkish authorities. This pilot project in the Aegean Sea was the first use of an airship by Frontex. The participants deployed comparatively large numbers of personnel for the short mission. Pictures taken by the Greek coastguard show more than 40 people.

      Drones enable ‘pull-backs’

      Human rights organisations accuse EUNAVFOR MED and Frontex of passing on information to neighbouring countries leading to rejections (so-called ‘push-backs’) in violation of international law. People must not be returned to states where they are at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations. Frontex does not itself return refugees in distress who were discovered at sea via aerial surveillance, but leaves the task to the Libyan or Turkish authorities. Regarding Libya, the Agency since 2017 provided notice of at least 42 vessels in distress to Libyan authorities.[22]

      Private rescue organisations therefore speak of so-called ‘pull-backs’, but these are also prohibited, as the Israeli human rights lawyer Omer Shatz argues: “Communicating the location of civilians fleeing war to a consortium of militias and instructing them to intercept and forcibly transfer them back to the place they fled from, trigger both state responsibility of all EU members and individual criminal liability of hundreds involved.” Together with his colleague Juan Branco, Shatz is suing those responsible for the European Union and its agencies before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Soon they intend to publish individual cases and the names of the people accused.

      Matthias Monroy

      An earlier version of this article first appeared in the German edition of Le Monde Diplomatique: ‘Drohnen für Frontex Statt sich auf die Rettung von Bootsflüchtlingen im Mittelmeer zu konzentrieren, baut die EU die Luftüberwachung’.

      Note: this article was corrected on 6 March to clarify a point regarding cooperation between Frontex and non-EU states.

      Endnotes

      [1] Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard, https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/PE-33-2019-INIT/en/pdf

      [2] European Commission, ‘A strengthened and fully equipped European Border and Coast Guard’, 12 September 2018, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/soteu2018-factsheet-coast-guard_en.pdf

      [3] ‘Poland-Warsaw: Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for Medium Altitude Long Endurance Maritime Aerial Surveillance’, https://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:490010-2019:TEXT:EN:HTML&tabId=1

      [4] IAI, ‘IAI AND AIRBUS MARITIME HERON UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEM (UAS) SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED 200 FLIGHT HOURS IN CIVILIAN EUROPEAN AIRSPACE FOR FRONTEX’, 24 October 2018, https://www.iai.co.il/iai-and-airbus-maritime-heron-unmanned-aerial-system-uas-successfully-complet

      [5] ‘ European Maritime Flight Demonstrations’, General Atomics, http://www.ga-asi.com/european-maritime-demo

      [6] ‘EU agrees to deploy warships to enforce Libya arms embargo’, The Guardian, 17 February 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/17/eu-agrees-deploy-warships-enforce-libya-arms-embargo

      [7] EMSA, ‘Heads of EMSA and Frontex meet to discuss cooperation on European coast guard functions’, 3 April 2019, http://www.emsa.europa.eu/news-a-press-centre/external-news/item/3499-heads-of-emsa-and-frontex-meet-to-discuss-cooperation-on-european-c

      [8] Frontex, ‘Frontex, EMSA and EFCA strengthen cooperation on coast guard functions’, 23 March 2017, https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-emsa-and-efca-strengthen-cooperation-on-coast-guard-functions

      [9] Elbit Systems, ‘Elbit Systems Commenced the Operation of the Maritime UAS Patrol Service to European Union Countries’, 18 June 2019, https://elbitsystems.com/pr-new/elbit-systems-commenced-the-operation-of-the-maritime-uas-patrol-servi

      [10] ‘Elbit wins drone contract for up to $68m to help monitor Europe coast’, The Times of Israel, 1 November 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/elbit-wins-drone-contract-for-up-to-68m-to-help-monitor-europe-coast

      [11] ‘Answer given by Ms Bulc on behalf of the European Commission’, https://netzpolitik.org/wp-upload/2019/12/E-2946_191_Finalised_reply_Annex1_EN_V1.pdf

      [12] ‘Το drone της FRONTEX έπεσε, οι μετανάστες έρχονται’, Proto Thema, 27 January 2020, https://www.protothema.gr/greece/article/968869/to-drone-tis-frontex-epese-oi-metanastes-erhodai

      [13] Morgan Meaker, ‘Here’s proof the UK is using drones to patrol the English Channel’, Wired, 10 January 2020, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/uk-drones-migrants-english-channel

      [14] ‘Littoral: Les drones pour lutter contre les traversées de migrants sont opérationnels’, La Voix du Nord, 26 March 2019, https://www.lavoixdunord.fr/557951/article/2019-03-26/les-drones-pour-lutter-contre-les-traversees-de-migrants-sont-operation

      [15] ‘Frontex report on the functioning of Eurosur – Part I’, Council document 6215/18, 15 February 2018, http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6215-2018-INIT/en/pdf

      [16] European Commission, ‘Eurosur’, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/border-crossing/eurosur_en

      [17] Legal reforms have also given Frontex the power to operate on the territory of non-EU states, subject to the conclusion of a status agreement between the EU and the country in question. The 2016 Frontex Regulation allowed such cooperation with states that share a border with the EU; the 2019 Frontex Regulation extends this to any non-EU state.

      [18] ‘Helping the Libyan Coast Guard to establish a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre’, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-8-2018-000547_EN.html

      [19] Matthias Monroy, ‘EU funds the sacking of rescue ships in the Mediterranean’, 7 July 2018, https://digit.site36.net/2018/07/03/eu-funds-the-sacking-of-rescue-ships-in-the-mediterranean

      [20] Frontex, ‘Frontex begins testing use of aerostat for border surveillance’, 31 July 2019, https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/news-release/frontex-begins-testing-use-of-aerostat-for-border-surveillance-ur33N8

      [21] ‘Answer given by Ms Johansson on behalf of the European Commission’, 7 January 2020, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2019-002529-ASW_EN.html

      [22] ‘Answer given by Vice-President Borrell on behalf of the European Commission’, 8 January 2020, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2019-002654-ASW_EN.html

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2020/drones-for-frontex-unmanned-migration-control-at-europe-s-borders

      #drones

    • Monitoring “secondary movements” and “hotspots”: Frontex is now an internal surveillance agency (16.12.2019)

      The EU’s border agency, Frontex, now has powers to gather data on “secondary movements” and the “hotspots” within the EU. The intention is to ensure “situational awareness” and produce risk analyses on the migratory situation within the EU, in order to inform possible operational action by national authorities. This brings with it increased risks for the fundamental rights of both non-EU nationals and ethnic minority EU citizens.

      The establishment of a new ’standing corps’ of 10,000 border guards to be commanded by EU border agency Frontex has generated significant public and press attention in recent months. However, the new rules governing Frontex[1] include a number of other significant developments - including a mandate for the surveillance of migratory movements and migration “hotspots” within the EU.

      Previously, the agency’s surveillance role has been restricted to the external borders and the “pre-frontier area” – for example, the high seas or “selected third-country ports.”[2] New legal provisions mean it will now be able to gather data on the movement of people within the EU. While this is only supposed to deal with “trends, volumes and routes,” rather than personal data, it is intended to inform operational activity within the EU.

      This may mean an increase in operations against ‘unauthorised’ migrants, bringing with it risks for fundamental rights such as the possibility of racial profiling, detention, violence and the denial of access to asylum procedures. At the same time, in a context where internal borders have been reintroduced by numerous Schengen states over the last five years due to increased migration, it may be that he agency’s new role contributes to a further prolongation of internal border controls.

      From external to internal surveillance

      Frontex was initially established with the primary goals of assisting in the surveillance and control of the external borders of the EU. Over the years it has obtained increasing powers to conduct surveillance of those borders in order to identify potential ’threats’.

      The European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) has a key role in this task, taking data from a variety of sources, including satellites, sensors, drones, ships, vehicles and other means operated both by national authorities and the agency itself. EUROSUR was formally established by legislation approved in 2013, although the system was developed and in use long before it was subject to a legal framework.[3]

      The new Frontex Regulation incorporates and updates the provisions of the 2013 EUROSUR Regulation. It maintains existing requirements for the agency to establish a “situational picture” of the EU’s external borders and the “pre-frontier area” – for example, the high seas or the ports of non-EU states – which is then distributed to the EU’s member states in order to inform operational activities.[4]

      The new rules also provide a mandate for reporting on “unauthorised secondary movements” and goings-on in the “hotspots”. The Commission’s proposal for the new Frontex Regulation was not accompanied by an impact assessment, which would have set out the reasoning and justifications for these new powers. The proposal merely pointed out that the new rules would “evolve” the scope of EUROSUR, to make it possible to “prevent secondary movements”.[5] As the European Data Protection Supervisor remarked, the lack of an impact assessment made it impossible: “to fully assess and verify its attended benefits and impact, notably on fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to privacy and to the protection of personal data.”[6]

      The term “secondary movements” is not defined in the Regulation, but is generally used to refer to journeys between EU member states undertaken without permission, in particular by undocumented migrants and applicants for internal protection. Regarding the “hotspots” – established and operated by EU and national authorities in Italy and Greece – the Regulation provides a definition,[7] but little clarity on precisely what information will be gathered.

      Legal provisions

      A quick glance at Section 3 of the new Regulation, dealing with EUROSUR, gives little indication that the system will now be used for internal surveillance. The formal scope of EUROSUR is concerned with the external borders and border crossing points:

      “EUROSUR shall be used for border checks at authorised border crossing points and for external land, sea and air border surveillance, including the monitoring, detection, identification, tracking, prevention and interception of unauthorised border crossings for the purpose of detecting, preventing and combating illegal immigration and cross-border crime and contributing to ensuring the protection and saving the lives of migrants.”

      However, the subsequent section of the Regulation (on ‘situational awareness’) makes clear the agency’s new internal role. Article 24 sets out the components of the “situational pictures” that will be visible in EUROSUR. There are three types – national situational pictures, the European situational picture and specific situational pictures. All of these should consist of an events layer, an operational layer and an analysis layer. The first of these layers should contain (emphasis added in all quotes):

      “…events and incidents related to unauthorised border crossings and cross-border crime and, where available, information on unauthorised secondary movements, for the purpose of understanding migratory trends, volume and routes.”

      Article 26, dealing with the European situational picture, states:

      “The Agency shall establish and maintain a European situational picture in order to provide the national coordination centres and the Commission with effective, accurate and timely information and analysis, covering the external borders, the pre-frontier area and unauthorised secondary movements.”

      The events layer of that picture should include “information relating to… incidents in the operational area of a joint operation or rapid intervention coordinated by the Agency, or in a hotspot.”[8] In a similar vein:

      “The operational layer of the European situational picture shall contain information on the joint operations and rapid interventions coordinated by the Agency and on hotspots, and shall include the mission statements, locations, status, duration, information on the Member States and other actors involved, daily and weekly situational reports, statistical data and information packages for the media.”[9]

      Article 28, dealing with ‘EUROSUR Fusion Services’, says that Frontex will provide national authorities with information on the external borders and pre-frontier area that may be derived from, amongst other things, the monitoring of “migratory flows towards and within the Union in terms of trends, volume and routes.”

      Sources of data

      The “situational pictures” compiled by Frontex and distributed via EUROSUR are made up of data gathered from a host of different sources. For the national situational picture, these are:

      national border surveillance systems;
      stationary and mobile sensors operated by national border agencies;
      border surveillance patrols and “other monitoring missions”;
      local, regional and other coordination centres;
      other national authorities and systems, such as immigration liaison officers, operational centres and contact points;
      border checks;
      Frontex;
      other member states’ national coordination centres;
      third countries’ authorities;
      ship reporting systems;
      other relevant European and international organisations; and
      other sources.[10]

      For the European situational picture, the sources of data are:

      national coordination centres;
      national situational pictures;
      immigration liaison officers;
      Frontex, including reports form its liaison officers;
      Union delegations and EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions;
      other relevant Union bodies, offices and agencies and international organisations; and
      third countries’ authorities.[11]

      The EUROSUR handbook – which will presumably be redrafted to take into account the new legislation – provides more detail about what each of these categories may include.[12]

      Exactly how this melange of different data will be used to report on secondary movements is currently unknown. However, in accordance with Article 24 of the new Regulation:

      “The Commission shall adopt an implementing act laying down the details of the information layers of the situational pictures and the rules for the establishment of specific situational pictures. The implementing act shall specify the type of information to be provided, the entities responsible for collecting, processing, archiving and transmitting specific information, the maximum time limits for reporting, the data security and data protection rules and related quality control mechanisms.” [13]

      This implementing act will specify precisely how EUROSUR will report on “secondary movements”.[14] According to a ‘roadmap’ setting out plans for the implementation of the new Regulation, this implementing act should have been drawn up in the last quarter of 2020 by a newly-established European Border and Coast Guard Committee sitting within the Commission. However, that Committee does not yet appear to have held any meetings.[15]

      Operational activities at the internal borders

      Boosting Frontex’s operational role is one of the major purposes of the new Regulation, although it makes clear that the internal surveillance role “should not lead to operational activities of the Agency at the internal borders of the Member States.” Rather, internal surveillance should “contribute to the monitoring by the Agency of migratory flows towards and within the Union for the purpose of risk analysis and situational awareness.” The purpose is to inform operational activity by national authorities.

      In recent years Schengen member states have reintroduced border controls for significant periods in the name of ensuring internal security and combating irregular migration. An article in Deutsche Welle recently highlighted:

      “When increasing numbers of refugees started arriving in the European Union in 2015, Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Hungary quickly reintroduced controls, citing a “continuous big influx of persons seeking international protection.” This was the first time that migration had been mentioned as a reason for reintroducing border controls.

      Soon after, six Schengen members reintroduced controls for extended periods. Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway cited migration as a reason. France, as the sixth country, first introduced border checks after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, citing terrorist threats. Now, four years later, all six countries still have controls in place. On November 12, they are scheduled to extend them for another six months.”[16]

      These long-term extensions of internal border controls are illegal (the upper limit is supposed to be two years; discussions on changes to the rules governing the reintroduction of internal border controls in the Schengen area are ongoing).[17] A European Parliament resolution from May 2018 stated that “many of the prolongations are not in line with the existing rules as to their extensions, necessity or proportionality and are therefore unlawful.”[18] Yves Pascou, a researcher for the European Policy Centre, told Deutsche Welle that: “"We are in an entirely political situation now, not a legal one, and not one grounded in facts.”

      A European Parliament study published in 2016 highlighted that:

      “there has been a noticeable lack of detail and evidence given by the concerned EU Member States [those which reintroduced internal border controls]. For example, there have been no statistics on the numbers of people crossing borders and seeking asylum, or assessment of the extent to which reintroducing border checks complies with the principles of proportionality and necessity.”[19]

      One purpose of Frontex’s new internal surveillance powers is to provide such evidence (albeit in the ideologically-skewed form of ‘risk analysis’) on the situation within the EU. Whether the information provided will be of interest to national authorities is another question. Nevertheless, it would be a significant irony if the provision of that information were to contribute to the further maintenance of internal borders in the Schengen area.

      At the same time, there is a more pressing concern related to these new powers. Many discussions on the reintroduction of internal borders revolve around the fact that it is contrary to the idea, spirit (and in these cases, the law) of the Schengen area. What appears to have been totally overlooked is the effect the reintroduction of internal borders may have on non-EU nationals or ethnic minority citizens of the EU. One does not have to cross an internal Schengen frontier too many times to notice patterns in the appearance of the people who are hauled off trains and buses by border guards, but personal anecdotes are not the same thing as empirical investigation. If Frontex’s new powers are intended to inform operational activity by the member states at the internal borders of the EU, then the potential effects on fundamental rights must be taken into consideration and should be the subject of investigation by journalists, officials, politicians and researchers.

      Chris Jones

      Endnotes

      [1] The new Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the EU in mid-November: Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1052/2013 and (EU) 2016/1624, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1896

      [2] Article 12, ‘Common application of surveillance tools’, Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 establishing the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32013R1052

      [3] According to Frontex, the Eurosur Network first came into use in December 2011 and in March 2012 was first used to “exchange operational information”. The Regulation governing the system came into force in October 2013 (see footnote 2). See: Charles Heller and Chris Jones, ‘Eurosur: saving lives or reinforcing deadly borders?’, Statewatch Journal, vol. 23 no. 3/4, February 2014, http://database.statewatch.org/article.asp?aid=33156

      [4] Recital 34, 2019 Regulation: “EUROSUR should provide an exhaustive situational picture not only at the external borders but also within the Schengen area and in the pre-frontier area. It should cover land, sea and air border surveillance and border checks.”

      [5] European Commission, ‘Proposal for a Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Council Joint Action no 98/700/JHA, Regulation (EU) no 1052/2013 and Regulation (EU) no 2016/1624’, COM(2018) 631 final, 12 September 2018, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2018/sep/eu-com-frontex-proposal-regulation-com-18-631.pdf

      [6] EDPS, ‘Formal comments on the Proposal for a Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard’, 30 November 2018, p. p.2, https://edps.europa.eu/sites/edp/files/publication/18-11-30_comments_proposal_regulation_european_border_coast_guard_en.pdf

      [7] Article 2(23): “‘hotspot area’ means an area created at the request of the host Member State in which the host Member State, the Commission, relevant Union agencies and participating Member States cooperate, with the aim of managing an existing or potential disproportionate migratory challenge characterised by a significant increase in the number of migrants arriving at the external borders”

      [8] Article 26(3)(c), 2019 Regulation

      [9] Article 26(4), 2019 Regulation

      [10] Article 25, 2019 Regulation

      [11] Article 26, 2019 Regulation

      [12] European Commission, ‘Commission Recommendation adopting the Practical Handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR)’, C(2015) 9206 final, 15 December 2015, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/securing-eu-borders/legal-documents/docs/eurosur_handbook_annex_en.pdf

      [13] Article 24(3), 2019 Regulation

      [14] ‘’Roadmap’ for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead’, Statewatch News, 25 November 2019, http://www.statewatch.org/news/2019/nov/eu-frontex-roadmap.htm

      [15] Documents related to meetings of committees operating under the auspices of the European Commission can be found in the Comitology Register: https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regcomitology/index.cfm?do=Search.Search&NewSearch=1

      [16] Kira Schacht, ‘Border checks in EU countries challenge Schengen Agreement’, DW, 12 November 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/border-checks-in-eu-countries-challenge-schengen-agreement/a-51033603

      [17] European Parliament, ‘Temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders’, https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2017/0245(COD)&l=en

      [18] ‘Report on the annual report on the functioning of the Schengen area’, 3 May 2018, para.9, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-8-2018-0160_EN.html

      [19] Elpseth Guild et al, ‘Internal border controls in the Schengen area: is Schengen crisis-proof?’, European Parliament, June 2016, p.9, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/571356/IPOL_STU(2016)571356_EN.pdf

      https://www.statewatch.org/analyses/2019/monitoring-secondary-movements-and-hotspots-frontex-is-now-an-internal-s

      #mouvements_secondaires #hotspot #hotspots

  • Mystery pneumonia outbreak in Kazakhstan likely to be coronavirus: WHO | News | DW | 11.07.2020
    https://www.dw.com/en/kazakhstan-pneumonia-coronavirus/a-54135982

    An unexplained pneumonia outbreak in Kazakhstan is likely to be the novel coronavirus, a World Health Organization (WHO) top official said late on Friday.

    The executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, Michael Ryan, said in an online briefing from Geneva that he.thinks the cases “just have not been diagnosed correctly.”

    The upward trajectory of COVID-19 in the country would support this, Ryan added.

    Read more: WHO experts head to China for prelude to coronavirus probe

    On Thursday, the Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan warned its citizens of a deadly unidentified strain of pneumonia, after a “significant” rise in cases in June.

    Initially, the statement released through its social media WeChat channel referred to “Kazakhstan pneumonia,” before changing the wording to “non-COVID pneumonia.”

    Kazakhstan dismissed the claims as “fake news.”

    The central Asian country has logged over 56,000 cases with 264 deaths. Its government imposed a second lockdown this week to try to stop the virus from spreading.

  • Migrant crossings into Europe spiked in May: report | News | DW | 14.06.2020
    #Covid-19#migrant#migration#Mediterranee#traversee

    https://www.dw.com/en/migrant-crossings-into-europe-spiked-in-may-report/a-53800515

    The number of migrants seeking to enter the EU tripled in May compared to the previous month. It’s a sign traffic along Europe’s migration routes is picking up again after a lull brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Collective Expulsion from Greek Centres

    The Border Violence Monitoring Network are releasing new case material presenting evidence of removals from Greek centres and the subsequent pushback of at least 194 people to Turkey. The incidents, occurring from the camp in #Diavata and the #Drama_Paranesti Pre-removal Centre, show the extension of collective expulsion during the COVID-19 period. These are brazen acts which situate institutional accommodation sites and detention spaces firmly within the illegal pushback regime. Find out more in the full briefing attached below:

    https://www.borderviolence.eu/wp-content/uploads/Press-Release_Greek-Pushbacks.pdf
    #push-backs #push-back #renvois #refoulements #refoulement #Grèce #Turquie #Grèce #covid-19 #coronavirus #apport #Evros

    ping @luciebacon

    • Migrants accuse Greece of forced deportations

      New findings suggest Greek authorities are illegally deporting refugees across the Turkish border. As part of an international research team, DW identified and met some of the victims who were forced back. 

      “Come with us and we will issue you new papers,” a Greek police officer told Bakhtyar on a Wednesday morning in late April. The 22-year-old Afghan man believed the offer was the key to realizing his dream of starting a new life in Europe.

      Two months earlier Bakhtyar had crossed the Evros River, a border between Turkey and Greece, and a key route for refugees seeking to reach the European Union. He continued onward to Diavata, the official refugee camp set up on the outskirts of Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki. Upon arrival he was careful to register with the Greek police, the precursor to seeking international protection — and a first step in the asylum process. A photograph of his document shows the date to be February 12, 2020.

      The coronavirus lockdown had closed most public services, and Bakhtyar says he had been anxious for the office to reopen so he could make an official asylum claim. He would not get the chance to do so.

      Recalling his encounter with police in April, Bakhtyar says he was put in a white van and taken to a police station in the center of Thessaloniki. Instead of getting the crucial papers as he was promised, Bakhtyar says the police confiscated all his belongings, including his phone. He was later relocated to another police station where, he says, officers slapped and kicked him before putting him onto the back of a truck. Bakhtyar remembers a sheet being pulled down to prevent anyone seeing who was inside the truck. He did not realize it at the time, but the truck was heading east — retracing his arduous journey back towards Turkey.

      When the truck stopped, Bakhtyar realized he was not alone. Other asylum-seekers like him were lined up along the banks of the Evros River. He recalls seeing young men loaded onto dinghies, 10 at a time. The boatman, Bakhtyar says, spoke in Greek to people he assumed were police, and to the asylum-seekers in their native Dari. DW could not independently verify that the men were Greek police officers. For Bakhtyar, he says it was clear it was not the boatman’s first such crosing to Turkey.

      Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the border between Greece and Turkey is closed. All official deportation procedures have been put on hold. When Bakhtyar and other asylum-seekers reached the far bank on the Turkish side, there was nothing and no-one waiting for them.  

      DW meets pushback victims 

      When DW met with Bakhtyar for this report, he was staying in Istanbul’s Esenler district, home to a substantial Afghan population. The city was under lockdown at the time and it was hard to move around. Wearing a red T-shirt with “New York” written across the front, Bakhtyar appeared sad and upset. He wants to get back to Greece as soon as possible to pursue his dream of living in Europe.

      Bakhtyar’s experience is not an isolated story. In a joint investigation between DW, the Dutch news publication Trouw, media nonprofit Lighthouse Reports, and the independent verification collective Bellingcat, we were able to locate Bakhtyar and other young men in Turkey and verify that they had been forcibly returned after previously being in Greece. Their accounts, all given separately, establish a clear pattern: male, under 30 and traveling by themselves. Most of them are from Afghanistan, some of them are from Pakistan and North Africa. They were either arrested in the Greek camp of Diavata or picked up seemingly at random by local police near the camp.

      Together with our news partners, we met with and interviewed multiple eyewitnesses in Greece and Turkey, collected Greek police documents and established a chain of evidence, from the refugee camp in Diavata to the streets of Istanbul. Using publicly available data, including refugees’ social media posts, which were time-stamped and featured photographs of landmarks in Greece that were geolocated, we were able to corroborate key elements of witness testimony.

      In total we contacted six people in Istanbul who recounted their experiences with “pushbacks” — the forceful return of refugees and migrants across a border — and located another four elsewhere in Turkey, all of whom could prove their previous stays in Greece.

      Pushbacks are deportations carried out without consideration of individual circumstances and without any possibility to apply for asylum or to put forward arguments against the measures taken, according to the European Convention on Human Rights.

      ’Modern slavery’

      One of the other men we met in Istanbul is Rashid, who fled his native Afghanistan three years ago and made his way to Turkey. He worked as a packer and mover in Ankara, the Turkish capital, before heading to Istanbul where he found work as a welder. He has temporary protection status in Turkey but is not provided with medical assistance or housing.

      “In Turkey, life is full of uncertainties for young Afghan men who lack access to basic healthcare and social services,” Zakira Hekmat, co-founder of the Afghan Refugees Solidarity Association in Turkey, told DW. “They are precariously employed in low-paid jobs without permits. It is modern slavery.” Afghan men in Turkey mostly toil in the underground economy working tough, physical jobs in construction, transportation or textiles.

      Hoping for a better future, Rashid left Turkey for Greece at the beginning of 2020. He recalls crossing the Evros River with about 20 other people on a boat. He says he stayed in a tent for roughly two months next to the refugee camp at Diavata. But everything changed for him in late March when he was returning from Friday prayers.

      Rashid says he was stopped by Greek police who told him to wait. He then describes to DW how a white van pulled up and armed men without uniforms appeared. They told him to get in. Rashid says he did not even know who the men were and that he only found out later that they were working with Greek police after he was taken to a police station. DW could not verify the connection between the men and the police.

      His Greek documents, originally valid for one month, had expired but renewal during the coronavirus outbreak had not been possible as immigration offices were closed. At the station, Rashid says, the police confiscated all his belongings.

      “They didn’t even give me a glass of water at the police station,” he recalls. Rashid was not asked to sign any papers by the Greek authorities. He says he was later driven for hours in a van across Greece and then forced onto a small boat to cross the Evros River back into Turkey.

      Recognizing a pattern

      Reports on alleged pushbacks, especially at the Evros border, are numerous. The witness accounts we have gathered with our news partners corroborate reports from human rights organizations working with the Border Violence Monitoring Network, an independent database. They indicate that there were at least five police raids carried out in Diavata camp between March 31 and May 5, resulting in the seemingly illegal deportation of dozens of migrants. In almost all cases, police appear to have targeted young, single men from Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Africa.

      Vassilis Papadopoulos, president of the Greek Council of Refugees and a migration official in a previous administration, sees a clear pattern in the pushbacks.

      “Police vans come to the camp and the officers carry out a brief check of the people who are not yet registered. They ask for their papers  [...] they detain them and tell them that they will be taken to the station, to either check their papers or to provide them with new papers and instead of that, according to the complaints, [these people] are returned to Turkey,” he says. 

      “What is important and unprecedented in these allegations, if proven valid, is that we are talking about pushbacks from [deep] inside the country and even so from a camp without any formal deportation procedure being followed.”

      When DW confronted the Ministry of Migration and Asylum with the reports of illegal pushbacks, Alternate Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos denied them. “The allegations about human rights violations by Greek law enforcement personnel are fabricated, false and uncorroborated,” he said.

      Sealing the borders

      Greece has been under intense pressure at its borders since the end of February when Turkey signaled the end of its 2016 agreement with the EU over restricting refugee and migrant flows. Ankara had encouraged migrants to head towards the land and maritime borders with Greece. Athens responded by sealing its borders and suspended access to asylum during March. While the asylum system officially resumed in April, the number of arrivals is 97% below levels for the previous April, according to statistics from the Ministry of Migration and Asylum.

      In early May, Greek media reported that the government was said to be pursuing “aggressive surveillance” aimed at preventing refugees from arriving. The government has not specified what this entails.

      DW approached the Ministry of Migration and Asylum for further details on the extent of the government’s activities. Alternate Minister Koumoutsakos said, “measures taken so far have been proportionate to the gravity of the situation and pursued legitimate aims, such as, in particular, the protection of national security, public order and public health.”

      Notis Mitarakis, the Greek Minister on Migration and Asylum, has defended the government’s harder line on asylum and migration. Speaking to state television during a visit to Samos on April 28, he said: “There have been zero arrivals to our country in April 2020 thanks to the very big efforts made by our security forces.”

      On the same day, however, residents of the Aegean island reported on local media and Facebook that they had seen newly arrived migrants in the village of Drakei. Lighthouse Reports and Bellingcat analyzed video footage from the Turkish coast guardand refugees that indicated a boat carrying 22 asylum-seekers arrived at a cove on Samos at around 7:30 a.m. that day.
      Pushed back from Samos island

      Jouma was among the refugees who climbed the steep path up from the remote cove on Samos to the village. This was the fourth time the young man from Damascus, Syria had tried to reach Greece. For a few hours on the morning of April 28 he believed he had finally made it.

      In a detailed account, Jouma recalls what he experienced after the refugees reached Samos. He says that a girl from the group who spoke a little English asked a local to notify Greek police that they had arrived. The new arrivals expected that they would be taken to the Samos’ refugee camp. Instead, the police who came detained them and took their phones. They were driven to a port where they were transferred between boats before being loaded onto a black-orange life raft without an engine or paddles. Jouma says they were towed towards Turkish waters. The raft was set adrift in the open sea with the waves pushing them back towards Greece and a Greek vessel pushing them towards Turkey.

      The worst thing, Jouma says, was a Greek power boat maneuvering around them trying to push them into Turkish waters, while the Turkish coast guard was just observing. “The Greek coast guard would retreat to make room for their Turkish counterparts to come and take us, but they wouldn’t come, and it went on all night,” Jouma says.

      The group was eventually picked up at noon the next day by the Turks. The port authorities on Samos told DW that there were no arrivals of asylum seekers to the island on April 28. The apparent use of orange life rafts in previous pushback operations was reported by Greek national newspaper Efimerida Ton Syntakton on April 7.

      Are pushbacks in compliance with EU law?

      Greece, like other EU border states such as Croatia, has long been dogged by accusations of pushbacks. Dimitris Christopoulos, who was until recently the president of the International Federation for Human Rights, says that the new intensity of incidents and the number of witnesses raises questions to what extent Greek authorities have been authorizing these pushbacks and how much the EU is aware of what is happening on the Greek border.

      “Obviously, these tactics are violating the Greek Constitution and customary international law, yet they seem to be tolerated by the EU since they serve the purpose of preventing further people from crossing the Aegean or the River Evros into Europe,” says Christopoulos.

      When DW again questioned the Ministry of Migration and Asylum about the legality of the government’s tactics, Alternate Minister Koumoutsakos categorically denied that such operations were taking place. “Greece has been complying, and will continue to do so, with its obligations under international law, including all relevant human rights treaties to which it is a party, also mindful of its obligations under the borders, migration and asylum EU legal framework, as enshrined in the EU Treaties.”

      Jürgen Bast, Professor of European Law at the University of Giessen in Germany, calls such a pushback strategy a clear violation of the law “This goes against everything European law stipulates.” The pushbacks, as described by the refugees, break all the rules of the official return directive, Bast says, referring to the orderly procedure that an asylum request entails, including a personal interview and the right of the individual to stay in Greece until a decision is made. The destination country, Bast continues, must also be informed and may have the right to refuse rejected asylum-seekers from third countries.

      None of the young men DW met said they had been notified ahead of time that they would have to leave Greece; nor did they give the impression that they had been informed of their legal rights. Instead, the experiences recounted by Bakhtyar, Jouma, Rashid, and the others interviewed suggest that forceful pushbacks across the Greek-Turkish border have become an increasingly common pattern.

      Desperate to get to Europe

      Rashid now lives in a cramped Istanbul flat with 10 other young Afghans. As an undocumented migrant in Turkey, he faces the threat of being deported back to Afghanistan. According to official statistics, 302,278 Afghans have been apprehended by security forces in Turkey in the last two years. Since 2018 it has become extremely difficult for Afghans to register for asylum in Turkey.

      Surrounded by what appear to be dead ends for him in Turkey, Rashid is desperately searching for a way to once again reach Europe. “I do not know what I will do here. We are not guilty. Of course, I want to cross the border again,” he says. “I have to.”

      https://www.dw.com/en/migrants-accuse-greece-of-forced-deportations/a-53520642