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  • Greece: Investigate Pushbacks, Collective Expulsions

    Greek law enforcement officers have summarily returned asylum seekers and migrants at the land and sea borders with Turkey during the Covid-19 lockdown, Human Rights Watch said today. The officers in some cases used violence against asylum seekers, including some who were deep inside Greek territory, and often confiscated and destroyed the migrants’ belongings.

    In reviewing nine cases, Human Rights Watch found no evidence that the authorities took any precautions to prevent the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to or among the migrants while in their custody. These findings add to growing evidence of abuses collected by nongovernmental groups and media, involving hundreds of people intercepted and pushed back from Greece to Turkey by Greek law enforcement officers or unidentified masked men over the last couple of months. Pushbacks violate several human rights norms, including against collective expulsion under the European Convention on Human Rights.

    “Greek authorities did not allow a nationwide lockdown to get in the way of a new wave of collective expulsions, including from deep inside Greek territory, ” said Eva Cossé, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of protecting the most vulnerable people in this time of global crisis, Greek authorities have targeted them in total breach of the right to seek asylum and in disregard for their health.”

    Human Rights Watch interviewed 13 victims and witnesses who described incidents in which the Greek police, the Greek Coast Guard, and unidentified men in black or commando-like uniforms, who appeared to be working in close coordination with uniformed authorities, violently pushed migrants back to Turkey in March and April 2020.

    Six of those interviewed said Greek police officers rounded up people in the Diavata camp for asylum seekers in Thessaloniki, 400 kilometers from the land border with Turkey. This is the first time Human Rights Watch has documented collective expulsions of asylum seekers from deep inside Greece, through the Evros river.

    Six asylum seekers, from Syria, Palestine, and Iran, including a 15-year-old unaccompanied girl from Syria, described three incidents in March and April in which Greek Coast Guard personnel, Greek police, and armed masked men in dark clothing coordinated and carried out summary returns to Turkey from the Greek islands of Rhodes, Samos, and Symi. All of them said they were picked up on the islands soon after they landed, placed on larger Coast Guard boats, and once they were back at the sea border, were forced onto small inflatable rescue rafts, with no motor, and cast adrift near Turkish territorial waters.

    Another asylum seeker described a fourth incident, in which the Greek Coast Guard and unidentified men dressed in dark uniforms wearing balaclavas used dangerous maneuvers to force a boat full of migrants back to Turkey.

    On June 10, the International Organization for Migration reported that they had received allegations of migrants being arbitrarily arrested in Greece and pushed back to Turkey and asked Greece to investigate. On June 12, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged Greece to investigate multiple reports of pushbacks by Greek authorities at the country’s sea and land borders, possibly returning migrants and asylum seekers to Turkey after they had reached Greek territory or territorial waters.

    In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Greek government instituted nationwide restrictions on public movement from March 13 until early May. Migrants and asylum seekers were locked down in some camps, mainly on the Greek islands, where restrictions on freedom of movement continue, and where the closing of government offices has left them in legal limbo.

    Human Rights Watch sent letters to the Greek police and the Greek Coast Guard on June 29, presenting authorities with a summary of findings but received no response. The Greek Coast Guard indicated they would reply but at the time of publication, we had received no communication.

    Greek judicial authorities should conduct a transparent, thorough, and impartial investigation into allegations that Greek Coast Guard and Greek police personnel are involved in acts that put the lives and safety of migrants and asylum seekers at risk, Human Rights Watch said. Any officer engaged in illegal acts, as well as their commanding officers, should be subject to disciplinary sanctions and, if applicable, criminal prosecution.

    The Greek parliament should urgently establish an inquiry into all allegations of collective expulsions, including pushbacks, and violence at the borders, and determine whether they amount to a de facto government policy.

    The Greek Ombudsman, an independent national authority, should examine the issue of summary and collective expulsions, and issue a report with recommendations to the Greek authorities, Human Rights Watch said.

    The European Commission, which provides financial support to the Greek government for migration control, including in the Evros region and the Aegean Sea, should urge Greece to end all summary returns and collective expulsions of asylum seekers to Turkey, press the authorities to investigate allegations of violence, 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.

    On July 6, during a debate at the European Parliament on fundamental rights at the Greek border, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said that incidents should be investigated and indicated that the European Commission may consider a new system to monitor and verify reports of pushbacks amid increased allegations of abuse at the EU’s external borders. The Commission should take concrete measures to set up an independent and transparent investigation in consultation with members of civil society, Human Rights Watch said.

    Everyone seeking international protection has a right to apply for asylum and should be given that opportunity.

    Returns should follow a procedure that provides access to effective remedies and safeguards against refoulement – return to a country where they are likely to face persecution – and ill-treatment, Human Rights Watch said.

    “Greece has an obligation to treat everyone humanely and not to return refugees and asylum seekers to persecution, or anyone to the real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment or worse,” said Cossé. “Putting a stop to these dangerous incidents should be a priority for the Greek government and the European Commission as well.”

    For more information and accounts from migrants and asylum seekers, please see below.

    Sea Pushbacks to Turkey

    Between May 29 and June 6, 2020, Human Rights Watch interviewed six men from Iran, Palestine, and Syria, and one 15-year-old unaccompanied girl from Syria, who were in Turkey and who described three incidents in which they said the Greek Coast Guard, Greek police officers, and unidentified men in black or commando-like uniforms coordinated summary returns from Symi, Samos, and Rhodes in March and April. In the fourth incident, the Greek Coast Guard and unidentified men in uniforms wearing balaclavas used dangerous maneuvers to force the boat full of migrants back to Turkey from the Aegean Sea.

    Marwan (a pseudonym), 33, from Syria, said that on March 8, the Greek Coast Guard engaged in life-threatening maneuvers to force the small boat carrying him and 22 other passengers, including women and children, back to Turkey:

    “[W]e saw a Greek Coast Guard boat. It was big and had the Greek flag on it…. They started pushing back our boat, by creating waves in the water making it hard for us to continue…. It was like a battle – like living in Syria, we thought we were going to die.”

    In the three cases involving summary returns of people who had reached land, Greek law enforcement officers apprehended them within hours after they landed, and summarily expelled them to Turkey. All of those interviewed said that they were forced first onto large Coast Guard boats and then onto small inflatable rescue rafts, with no motor, and cast adrift near the Turkish sea border. In all cases, they said the Greek officers stole people’s belongings, including personal identification, bags, and money.

    These findings add to growing evidence of abuses collected by nongovernmental groups, including Alarm Phone and Aegean Boat Report, and the reputable German media outlet Deutsche Welle. Human Rights Watch was able to identify 26 reported incidents published by others, that occurred between March and July, involving at least 855 people. In 2015 Human Rights Watch documented that armed masked men were disabling boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea and pushing them back to Turkish waters.

    Karim (a pseudonym), 36, from Syria, said that he arrived by boat to Symi island on March 21, along with approximately 30 other Syrians, including at least 10 children. He said that the Greek police approached the group within hours after they arrived. They explained that they wanted to claim asylum, but the officers detained them at an unofficial port site and summarily returned them to Turkey two days later, he said. They were taken on a military ship to open water, where the asylum seekers – including children and people with disabilities – were violently thrown from the ship’s deck to an inflatable boat:

    [T]hey [Greek police] put us in a military boat and pushed us [from the deck] to a small [inflatable] boat that doesn’t have an engine. They left us on this boat and took all our private stuff, our money, our IDs. We were on the boat and we were dizzy. We were vomiting. They [the Greek Coast Guard] didn’t tell us anything…. [W]e were in the middle of the sea. We called the Turkish Coast Guard. They came and took our boat.

    Karim and his extended family were detained in the Malatya Removal Center in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey, and in three other detention centers in Turkey, for seven weeks. They were released on May 7.

    In another incident at the end of March, 17 men and women and an unaccompanied girl from Iran, Palestine, and Syria were intercepted on a highway on the island of Rhodes, an hour after landing and forced back to the shore. They were detained in a tent for two days, without food and water, and then forced onto what they believe was a Greek Coast Guard boat on the third day, then dumped at sea in a small motor-less rescue raft. Human Rights Watch gathered four separate witness statements about the same incident, in which interviewees gave similar accounts. The Turkish Coast Guard rescued them.

    Leila L. (a pseudonym), 15, a Syrian girl traveling alone, said:

    On the third day, it was night, we don’t know what time, they told us to move … they looked like army commandoes and they had weapons with them. There were six of them, wearing masks … they pointed their weapons at us. We were pushed in a horrible way and they pushed our bags in the sea. Before getting on the first boat, they took everything from us – our phones, our IDs, our bags … everything, apart from the clothes we were wearing. We were very scared. Some people were vomiting. Think what you would feel if you’re in the middle of the sea and you don’t know what would happen to you. We stayed between two to three hours [in the sea]. The boat had no engine. It was a rescue boat. It was like a dinghy. After two to three hours, the Turkish Coast Guard drove us to shore.

    In another incident, Hassan (a pseudonym), 29, a Palestinian refugee from Gaza, said that the police apprehended him and his group of approximately 25 people about three hours after they arrived on the island of Samos, during the third week of March. He said the police took them to the shore, where another group of police and Greek Coast Guard officers were waiting:

    The Greek Coast Guard put us in a big boat…. We drove for three hours but then they put us in a small boat. It was like a raft. It was inflatable and had no motor. Like a rescue boat they keep on big boats in case there is an emergency. They left us in the sea alone. There was no food or water. They left us for two nights. We had children with us….

    Hassan said that a Greek Coast Guard boat came back on the third day, threw them a rope, and “drove around for two hours in the sea,” leaving them closer to Turkish waters. The Turkish Coast Guard rescued them.

    Video footage analyzed by Human Rights Watch from an incident that allegedly took place in the sea between Lesbos and Turkey on May 25, shows what appears to be women, men, and children drifting in an orange, tent-like inflatable life raft while three other rafts can be seen in the background. The rafts appear to be manufactured by the Greek company Lalizas, which according to publicly available information is a brand that the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy purchases. The person speaking in the video alleges they were placed on those rafts by the Greek Coast Guard to force them back to Turkey.

    Human Rights Watch contacted the Lalizas company through email with questions on the use of the life rafts by the Greek Coast Guard, but received no response.

    In its June 10 statement, the International Organization for Migration notes that “footage showing the use of marine rescue equipment to expel migrants across the Eastern Aegean Sea are [sic] especially disturbing.”

    Collective Expulsions Across Land Border

    In May, Human Rights Watch interviewed six men from Afghanistan who described five separate incidents in which they were summarily returned from Greece to Turkey in March and April. They gave detailed accounts of the Greek police apprehending them in the Diavata camp, a reception facility in Thessaloniki.

    They said the police took them to what they thought were police stations that they could not always identify or to an unofficial detention site that they said was like a small jail, close to the Greek-Turkish border, robbed them of their personal belongings including their ID, phone, and clothes, and beat them with wooden or metal rods – then summarily expelled them to Turkey.

    In one case, a 19-year-old man from Kapisa, in Afghanistan, gave Human Rights Watch a photo of injuries – red strip-like marks across his back – he said were caused by beatings by people he believed were police officers.

    Reporting by Human Rights Watch and other groups suggests that collective expulsions of people with documents allowing them to be in Greece, from deep inside the mainland, appear to be a new tactic by Greek law enforcement.

    Five of the men had obtained a document from police authorities in Thessaloniki granting the right to remain in Greece for up to 30 days. While the document is formally a deportation order, the person should have the chance to apply for asylum during the 30-day period if they wish to and the document may, under certain circumstances, be renewed.

    The men said they had either not understood their rights or had been unable to apply for asylum, or to renew this document, due to Covid-19 related shutdown of government institutions. They said that before they were returned to Turkey, in the weeks following the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19, they saw Greek police forces visiting the Diavata camp almost daily to identify and return to Turkey residents whose documents had expired.

    Greece suspended the right to lodge asylum applications for those who arrived irregularly between March 1 and 31, following tensions on the Greek-Turkish land borders at the end of February due to a significant and rapid increase in people trying to cross the border. The Emergency Legislative order said that these people were to be returned to their country of origin or transit “without registration.”

    Making the situation worse, the Asylum Service suspended services to the public between March 13 and May 15 to protect against the spread of the Covid-19 virus. During this period, applications for international protection were not registered, interviews were not conducted, and appeals were not registered. The Asylum Service resumed full operations on May 18 but the Greek Council of Refugees, a non-governmental group providing legal assistance to asylum seekers, said that no new asylum applications had been lodged by the end of May with the exception of people under administrative detention.

    Greek law requires authorities to provide for the reception of third-country nationals who are arrested due to unlawful entry or who stay in Greece under conditions that guarantee human rights and dignity in accordance with international standards. During the reception and identification procedure, authorities should provide socio-psychological support and information on the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, including the right to apply for asylum, and refer vulnerable people such as unaccompanied children and victims of torture to social services.

    Mostafa (a pseudonym), 19, from Afghanistan, said that in mid-April, Greek police rounded him up from Diavata camp, took him to a police station near the camp, and then transferred him to another small detention site near the border, where he was detained for a night, then forced onto a boat and expelled to Turkey:

    When they [the police] came to check my papers [at Diavata camp] I told them I couldn’t renew them because the office was closed but they didn’t listen to me…. They didn’t allow us any time. They just took us to the bus and said: “We will take you to renew the papers.” They were beating us the whole time…. [T]hey took us to the police station near the camp, there were more people, 10 people altogether…. [T]hey kept us in the rain for a few hours and then they transferred us to the border. There were two children with us – around 15 or 16 years old….When they took us to the police station, they took my coat, I was just with pants and a t-shirt and then at the border, they took these too. They took everything, my money, ID, phone.

    Mostafa gave the following description of the detention site near the border and the secret expulsion that followed:

    It was like a small police station. There were toilets. There were other migrants there. It was around four and a half hours away from the border. They carried us in a bus like a prison. We stayed in this small jail for one night, no food was given. It was at 10 or 11 o’clock at night when they took us to the border. I crossed with the boat. There were 18 people in one boat. It took six or seven minutes – then we arrived on the Turkish side. [T]he police were standing at the border [on the Greek side] and looking at us.

    Two men giving accounts about two separate incidents, said that the police took them to an unofficial detention site near the border. They described the detention locations as “small jails” and said they were detained there for a day or two.

    Four out of the six asylum seekers said that Greek security forces had abused them, throughout their summary deportation, beating them with heavy metal, plastic, or wooden sticks.

    Mohamed (a pseudonym), 24, from Afghanistan, said:

    They had a stick that all the police have with them…. The stick was made of plastic, but it was very heavy. They had black uniforms. I couldn’t see all of the uniform – I couldn’t see their faces – if I looked up they would beat us. They beat one migrant for five minutes…. There were eight of them – they asked us if we came from Thessaloniki and we said yes and then they started beating us.

    All of those interviewed said the Greek security forces stripped them of their clothes, leaving them in either just their underwear or just a basic layer, and took their possessions, including personal identification documents, money, telephones, and bags before pushing them back to Turkey.

    In a report published in March, Human Rights Watch documented that Greek security forces and unidentified armed men at the Greece-Turkey land border detained, assaulted, sexually assaulted, robbed, and stripped asylum seekers and migrants, then forced them back to Turkey. At the end of June, Greece’s Supreme Court Prosecutor opened a criminal investigation initiated by the Greek Helsinki Monitor, a nongovernmental group, into the pushbacks and violence documented by Human Rights Watch and others, as well as into the shooting and deaths of two people in Evros in March.

    Human Rights Watch documented similar situations in 2008 and 2018. In March 2019, the Public Prosecutor of Orestiada in Evros, initiated an investigation regarding the repeated allegations of systematic violence against migrants and asylum seekers at the Evros river, based on the Human Rights Watch 2018 report, and a report by three nongovernmental groups, including the Greek Council for Refugees.

    Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), a nongovernmental group, has built an extensive database of testimony of people being pushed back from Greece to Turkey over the Evros river. Between March 31 and April 28, BVMN has reported at least 7 incidents involving more than 306 people. Among these cases, at least six people had legal documents regularizing their stay in Greece when they were summarily expelled.

    #refoulements_collectifs #migrations #asile #réfugiés #life_rafts #Grèce #refoulement #push-backs #refoulements #frontières


    sur les #life_rats :
    #life_raft #liferafts

    • Press Release: New Legal Centre Lesvos report details collective expulsions in the Aegean Sea

      Greek authorities are unlawfully expelling migrants who have arrived in Greece, and abandoning them at sea on motorless, inflatable vessels. In a report released today by Legal Centre Lesvos, testimonies from 30 survivors detail the systematic, unlawful and inherently violent nature of these collective expulsions.

      Since the Greek authorities’ one month suspension of the right to seek asylum on 1 March 2020, the Greek government has adopted various unlawful practices that are openly geared towards the deterrence and violent disruption of migrant crossings, with little regard for its obligations deriving from international law and specifically from the non refoulement principle – and even less for the lives of those seeking sanctuary.

      While collective expulsions from Greece to Turkey are not new, in recent months Greek authorities have been using rescue equipment – namely inflatable, motorless life rafts – in a new type of dystopic expulsion. Migrants are violently transferred from Greek islands, or from the dinghy upon which they are travelling, to such rafts, which are then left adrift in open water.

      In addition to the well-documented practice of non-assistance to migrant dinghies, the Greek authorities have damaged the motor or gasoline tank of migrant dinghies before returning the vessel – and the people on board – to open waters, where they are subsequently abandoned.

      These collective expulsions, happening in the Aegean region, are not isolated events. Direct testimonies from survivors, collected by the Legal Centre Lesvos, demonstrate that they are part of a widespread and systematic practice, with a clear modus operandi implemented across various locations in the Aegean Sea and on the Eastern Aegean islands.
      The information shared with the Legal Centre Lesvos is from 30 survivors, and testimonies from 7 individuals who were in direct contact with survivors, or were witness to, a collective expulsion. These testimonies, related to eight separate collective expulsions, were collected between March and June 2020, directly by the Legal Centre Lesvos.

      Collective expulsions are putting peoples’ lives at risk, are contrary to Greece’ international legal obligations and violate survivors’ fundamental and human rights, including their right to life and the jus cogens prohibitions on torture and refoulement. When carried out as part of a widespread and systematic practice, as documented in our report, these amount to a crime against humanity.

      Collective expulsions should undoubtedly be condemned, in the strongest possible terms; however, this is not sufficient: it is only through the immediate cessation of such illegal practices that the protection of human rights and access to asylum will be restored at the European Union’s external borders.

      Lorraine Leete, attorney and one of the Legal Centre Lesvos’ coordinators, said that:
      “The Greek authorities are abandoning people in open water, on inflatable and motorless life rafts – that are designed for rescue – with no regard for their basic safety, let alone their right to apply for asylum. Such audacious acts show the violence at the core of the European border regime, and the disregard that it has for human life.

      Greek authorities have denied reports of collective expulsions as “fake news”, despite a plethora of undeniable evidence, from survivors and various media outlets. This is untenable: evidence shared with the Legal Centre has shown that collective expulsions are happening in the Aegean sea, with a systematic and widespread modus operandi that amounts to crimes against humanity. They are being carried out in the open, in plain view – if not with the participation – of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex. European Authorities are complicit in these crimes as they have thus far failed to act to prevent further pushbacks, or hold Greek authorities accountable.”


      Pour télécharger le #rapport:

      #Mer_Egée #Méditerranée

    • BVMN Visual Investigation: Analysis of Video Footage Showing Involvement of Hellenic Coast Guard in Maritime Pushback

      The following piece is a product of a joint-investigation by Josoor and No Name Kitchen on behalf of the Border Violence Monitoring Network.


      Since the spring, consistent and well-documented reports have shown masked men aggressively pursuing boats full of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea, before either destroying or off-loading the boats and initiating illegal return operations to Turkey.

      One investigation which Josoor contributed to, analyzed a set of materials documenting masked men operating from an inflatable boat off the island of Lesvos in early June. Testimonies recorded on the BVMN database [June 5th; June 3rd] as well as other media reports describe a series of incidents where Hellenic Coast Guard [HCG] vessels approach boats carrying men, women and children in the Aegean between Turkey and Greece and variably drove them back, intimidated them, or destroyed and removed their engines. Several of these operations have been marked by direct physical violence at the hands of the HCG. A more recent report from the New York Times referenced at least 1,072 asylum seekers being abandoned at sea by Greek officials in at least 31 separate expulsions since March.

      The consistency of these reports underscore a broader pattern of maritime pushbacks which, in many ways, mirrors the similarly illegal procedures which have become commonplace throughout Greece and along the Balkan Route.

      Despite numerous witness testimonies of this behavior, direct evidence linking specific Hellenic Coast Guard Vessels to these illegal practices remain sparse. New video evidence obtained by the association Josoor [a BVMN-member based in Turkey] from an incident on July 11th, may provide a crucial new perspective in the analysis of this behavior.

      In this investigation, we will focus on a series of four videos [Link to videos 1, 2, 3, & 4] filmed on July 11th and obtained on the same day, showing masked men on a medium-sized vessel approaching a dingy filled with women and children. The man who filmed this video sent the materials over to Josoor while still on the dinghy, after this he reported being returned to Turkey and held in detention for a period of two weeks. The purpose of this analysis is to better identify the individuals and the vessel involved in the operation which resulted in the pushback of the group.

      Given the initial lack of a witness testimony for this event [which was unable to be obtained for several weeks due to the respondent’s detention in Turkey], we had limited material to work with. In order to address these shortcomings, we utilized various open-source techniques such as geolocating the video using topographic satellite renders, stitching together the scene with compiled images, and conducting research on the origins of the vessel carrying the masked men.

      Geolocating of the 11 July Incident

      An important part of this investigation was the geolocation of the incident in order to better understand the dynamics at play, and verify the pushback element.

      A useful hint in geolocating these videos was the distinct mountain lines featured in the background in two of the clips. In order to do this, we first isolated the ridge-lines shown in the backgrounds of these two clips by using a photo-stitching technique to produce a panorama of the scene.

      Using Google Earth’s topographic satellite renders of the Aegean Sea around the coastlines of Lesvos, we were then able to geolocate these two clips. In the background of the alleged pushback operation is the shore of Lesvos; Mytilini can be seen in the center right as the populated area in the background of the videos. This indicates that the dinghy was being chased east towards Diliki, Turkey as it was intercepted by the HCG vessel.

      This geolocated area matches with information posted from Turkish Coast Guard of a rescue operation on July 11th at 10:00 am off the coast of Dikili, Turkey. This was their only reported rescue of that day.

      Identification Of HCG Vessel Involved in the July 11th Incident

      The vessel in question’s colour is light grey and features a white and blue striped symbol towards the bow on the starboard side: the symbol of the Hellenic Coast Guard.

      Slightly farther towards the bow of the boat on its starboard side, the lettering marking the vehicle’s identification within the HCG can also be seen: ΛΣ-618

      The boat in question is one of two Faiakas-class fast patrol crafts (FPCs) currently operated by the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) – this one being the ΛΣ-618 and the other being ΛΣ-617. Under a contract awarded by the HCG in April 2014, the Montmontaza-Greben shipyard, located on the island of Korcula, Croatia, was awarded a 13.3 million euro ($15.5 million) contract to supply six of these vessels which are listed as POB-24G.

      The POB-24 vessels are 24.6 meters long, and are equipped with two diesel engines that enable a maximum speed of 30 knots and a range of 400 miles. The vessels are staffed by a crew of seven but can be augmented by up to 25 additional personnel if needed.

      Importantly, the acquisition of these vessels by the HCG was majority financed via the European Commission’s External Borders Fund which provided for 75% of the cost, with the rest consisting of domestic funding. The first of POB-24G vessels, ΛΣ-617, was delivered in February 2015 whereas ΛΣ-618 was launched into service several months later in August 2015. These boats have enhanced the operational capacity of the HCG by relieving pressure from its aging Dilos-Class patrol vessels.

      Identification of the officers present in the 11 July Incident

      While the men seen approaching the dinghy on board the ΛΣ-618 took steps to conceal their identities, context clues within the videos allowed us to draw a better picture of who exactly they were and what their behavior was.

      Six men can be counted standing on board the ΛΣ-618. The men wear dark colored clothing with short-sleeved shirts marked with a logo on their upper right torsos and have either dark colored shorts or long trousers on. All six have their faces covered with either black balaclava masks or neck gaiters – an important point to keep in mind when considering that in June, the Hellenic Coast Guard’s spokesperson stated that “under no circumstances do the officers of the Coast Guard wear full face masks during the performance of their duties”.

      The men in the image above are wearing clothes which share similarities with the uniforms worn by the Hellenic Coast Guard, as the picture below shows.

      The man closest to the bow of the boat holds a weapon which appears to be an FN FAL assault rifle whereas the man second from the stern looks at the group with either a camera or a pair of binoculars. FN-FAL rifles have been carried by Greek government forces since the 1970s, thus falling in line with the scene we are shown in the videos.

      Treatment of the refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers on board the dingy

      Our investigation of the events documented in this video, and what happened next to the refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers on board the dingy, prioritized a fact-finding search within the clips themselves. On the day of the incident, a Syrian man on board the dinghy sent four videos to Josoor. He claimed to have sent them from the dinghy as they were being approached by the vessels initially and then later after they were cast afloat into Turkish waters.

      In one of the videos, at least 32 people on board the now motorless dingy can be seen floating in largely calm waters. The video shows a largely mixed passenger demographic with the men, women, and children on the boat having a varied representation of skin colors. Turkish Coast Guard records from their single intervention of the coast of Dikili on July 11th reports a group of 40 refugees assisted of which 21 were Syrian, 8 Congolese, 4 Somali,
 3 Central African, 2 Palestinian, 
1 Senegalese, and 1 Eritrean. Accounting for the boat passengers not shown within the video, these numbers correspond with the video footage inside the dinghy.

      Giving his testimony of the event several weeks later to Josoor, the man who filmed these videos described that upon its initial approach of their dinghy, the AE-618 had a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) deployed next to it which approached them. Allegedly, one of the officers spoke in English to a member of the dinghy group, who expressed their intention to claim asylum. The officer responded negatively to this request and told them that because of COVID-19, they would not be allowed to enter the island and had to return to Turkey. The respondent described that at first, the driver of the dinghy did not follow that order and subsequently the officers destroyed the engine of the dinghy and beat its driver with batons. As other group members tried to protect the driver, they were also beaten with batons.

      The officers subsequently dragged them to Turkish waters and then left the group floating there with the broken engine. After spending several more hours in the water, the Turkish Coast Guard arrived at the scene to rescue the passengers aboard the dingy. They took them to a quarantine detention center, from where they were released after 15 days.

      With closer analysis, the video footage is able to corroborate this account. In the final video sent by the Syrian dinghy passenger, the dinghy is shown to be floating quietly in the ocean. There is no indication of the ΛΣ-618 being present at this point and the group inside the dinghy appears uncertain. At one point in the video, the cameraman pans towards the stern of the boat and briefly shows its motor. When comparing a still of the motor in the final video to a still from the dinghy’s motor during its initial flight from the ΛΣ-618, it becomes clear that it was tampered with in the intervening time. Given the many substantiated reports of boat motor destruction at the hands of the HCG, it is most likely that the balaclava-clad men on the ΛΣ-618 destroyed the dinghy’s motor before setting it adrift towards Turkey

      Contextualizing the incident on 11 July

      In contextualizing the incident of 11 July in the broader practices of the HCG in the Aegean, it is important to look at the documented history of aggression of the ΛΣ-618. On March 7th, 2020 the boat ΛΣ-618 was involved in an incident with a Turkish Coast Guard boat wherein the Greek boat entered Turkish waters and was chased in close proximity at high speeds by the Turkish boat. More recently, in the early morning hours of August 15th, the boat was documented participating in an incident along with Nato and Frontex vessels [and several helicopters], blocking a boat carrying women and children from entering into Greek waters.

      Pushbacks in the Aegean Sea have been reported on a daily basis these past few months. Given the persistence of pushbacks in the area as well as the strong presence of Frontex vessels on the Aegean Sea, the tacit support that the European Union lends to the Hellenic Coastguard in these illegal practices must be considered. The EU-funded acquisition of the ΛΣ-618 represents just a portion of the close to 40 million euros which the EU has afforded the HCG to procure new vessels within the last five years. These boats, as it has been shown in this investigation, are being used to illegally push vulnerable people back to Turkish waters – a gross misuse of power.


      This investigation began by analysing a series of four videos showing masked men in a vessel approaching a small dinghy filled with refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers on the Aegean Sea who later claimed to be pushed back to Turkey from Greek waters. Using Earth Studio and photo-stitching techniques, we were first able to geolocate the video to somewhere on the Aegean between Mytilini, Greece and Diliki, Turkey. We were then able to identify the vessel as the Hellenic Coast Guard’s ΛΣ-618 Faiakas-class fast patrol craft by highlighting the clear HCG emblem visible on its side and it’s ship identification number. This allowed us to make a strong conclusion that the masked men on this boat, who wore uniforms identical to those previously worn by the vessel’s crew-members, were acting in an official capacity. Finally, we were also able to contextualize the ΛΣ-618 documented history of aggressive pursuits of boats carrying refugees and asylum seekers in Greek waters and also highlighted the vessel’s EU-linked acquisition from a Croatian boatbuilder.

      When put together, this analysis clearly links the materials shown in the videos to the well documented trend of maritime push-backs by the HCG in the last months. To be clear, the findings of this investigation directly contradicts the claims of the Hellenic Coast Guard’s spokesperson who recently stated that “under no circumstances do the officers of the Coast Guard wear full face masks during the performance of their duties”. Going even further, this investigation disproves the statement of Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas who told the New York Times in August that “Greek authorities do not engage in clandestine activities.” This investigation also further confirms the conclusion of previous investigations that the Hellenic Coastguard is engaging in pushbacks, casting strong doubt on Prime Minister Mitsotakis statement from August 19 that “it has not happened.”Pushbacks, whether they be on land or on sea, are illegal procedures, emboldened and made more efficient by EU funding mechanisms.
      #analyse_visuelle #architecture_forensiques

    • Small Children Left Drifting In Life Rafts In The Aegean Sea!

      In yet another shocking breach of international law, men, women and children have been beaten, robbed and forced onto a life raft by Greek authorities, despite repeated government claims that it does not undertake ‘pushbacks’ of refugees into Turkey. Thirteen men, women and children were forcibly removed from a refugee camp in Lesvos on Wednesday night by uniformed operatives, who claimed the refugees were being taken to be tested for COVID-19. Instead, they were forced into an isobox, repeatedly beaten with batons, stripped of their possessions and forced into the sea on an inflatable life raft.

      On Wednesday night (17th February 2021) at around 19.00 EET, a boat carrying 13 people – 5 children, 3 women and 5 men – landed east of Eftalou, in northern Lesvos. They came ashore and walked into the woods to avoid being seen by people, because they were afraid of being found and pushed back to Turkey by the Hellenic coast guard.

      At 20.00, they contacted Aegean Boat Report on Whatsapp for help. It was a cold night and the children were freezing so the group needed to find shelter. At 20.10 they sent both their live location and regular location on Whatsapp, which showed they were just 300 meters from the quarantine camp in Megala Therma, Lesvos.

      At 20.18 the new arrivals were sent the camp’s location, and directions to it from their position. At first, they were scared of the police, but they decided to listen to the advice they were given, and walked to the camp. Infuriatingly and unforgivably, in light of what happened next, the refugees were proven correct to mistrust the Greek port police to accept and protect their rights as human beings.

      At 21.15, the 13 people arrived outside the Megala Therma camp, where they were met by that night’s port police duty officers, were told to wait inside the camp, while one officer made a phone call on his mobile phone. While the officer made this call, camp residents gave the new arrivals blankets and raisins, because the 13 were freezing and no support was provided by the police. At this point, the new arrivals were inside the camp, and the women and children used the toilets. This detail is important, because what happened next means these people were removed by force from a camp managed by the Greek Ministry of Migration, and illegally deported.

      When the officer returned, he told the new arrivals they were going to be taken to be tested for COVID-19, which camp residents who overheard found odd, because this is not usually done at night. On Wednesday evening there where 29 residents in the quarantine camp, so there are many witnesses of their arrival and later removal by police. There is no doubt that the 13 people later deported were inside Megala Therma camp.

      Aegean Boat Report has obtained a detailed description of the two officers on duty that night, and in coordination with a shift protocol from the port police, it would be fairly easy to determine the identity of these two officers in any official investigation.

      Police told the new arrivals to hand over their phones. They had eight phones between them, but at this stage they only handed three to the police. The officers then demanded that they walk west on the dirt track, but the people refused. They didn’t trust the police, because residents in the camp had told them that testing was not performed at night. The police insisted and the 13 people, five of them children, did not feel they could resist officer carrying guns.

      They walked for about 15 minutes, and arrived at a small white container. They were told to wait outside the container, and about 30 minutes later an officer arrived with a key and locked them inside. When they had calmed down enough, they wrapped the children in blankets, helped them to sleep, and at 22.36 EET, made a video which they sent, along with their location, to Aegean Boat Report.

      Local residents in the area confirm that police have placed a white container/Isobox next to the dirt track in this exact location, and the video sent by the new arrivals from inside the container, combined with the location sent at the same time, confirm that this was where they were locked up.

      After about one hour, a black or dark blue van arrived, and four men wearing unmarked dark blue or black, seemingly military, uniforms and balaclavas, and carrying batons entered the container shouting. The refugees, particularly the children, were very frightened, and the uniformed men screamed “Get up! Get up!” and hit people with batons to force them to stand. They immediately frisked them one by one, even the children, and stole their belongings, bags, money and three of the remaining mobile phones. The refugees report that the men paid particular attention to the women, putting their hands in private areas by force, which was especially humiliating, a violation which they were powerless to prevent. The officers next forced the men, women and children one by one into the back of the van like cattle. Those who resisted were again beaten with batons.

      The refugees said it felt like they had travelled for hours in the van, but it was difficult to get a real feeling of time in their situation. When they eventually arrived, they were taken out of the van, each struck 2-3 times with batons and ordered to look at the ground. Those who didn’t were beaten again. They had arrived in a port, made of concrete, which had floodlights, a fence, and a flat roofed square building. But as they were beaten every time they tried to look around, it was hard for them to be certain about their surroundings. From their description, travel time from the container, and the travel time in the boat to the point they were abandoned in a life raft, it’s fairly certain that the port is the Schengen port in Petra, north-east Lesvos, which has been used frequently in the last months for illegal deportations by the Hellenic coast guard. (Another Proven Pushback!)

      In similar previous cases, people have been taken from the port in large vessels, but this time they were put on a small boat, described by the refugees as a grey rubber speedboat with two engines and a four-man crew. They were placed in the front of the boat, which was piloted by one crew member in its centre. The boat described is almost certainly a Lambro coastal patrol RIB used by the Hellenic coast guard, usually to help people in distress. The five children, three women and five men were forced onto this RIB by four men in the same dark military uniforms and balaclavas as those who had robbed, beaten and forced them into a van. The refugees could not say if they were the same four men who had picked them up and beaten them at the container, but they, too, beat the men, women and children as they forced them into the RIB, ordering them to “look down”.

      They were travelling in the boat for less than 30 minutes, including a short stop close to a large grey vessel, after only 10 minutes. One of the officers spoke on the radio with the large vessel in a language the refugees thought was Greek, and was certainly not English. They described the vessel as grey with blue and white stripes on the front – a description which matches the appearance of the Hellenic Coast Guard vessels which patrol the border area.

      The boat stopped after approximately 30 minutes, and then an orange tent shaped inflatable life raft was cast over the side. One of the officers went into the raft and put up a small light inside, then the officers pushed the people into the raft one by one. This took only a few minutes, and as soon as all 13 people had been forced into the raft, the boat with the Greek officers left the men, women and children alone, in the dark, helplessly drifting in the sea. Not one of the people – even the children – in the life raft were given life jackets, and sea water had already found its way into the life raft.

      At 01.29, they a video was sent to Aegean Boat Report, showing the people inside the life raft. Soon after, alone, cold, tired, powerless, and vulnerable, the refugees began to panic. Using one of the phones they had managed to hide when they were robbed by the uniformed officers, they called the Turkish coast guard.

      At 04.10 the Turkish coast guard reported they had found and rescued 13 people from a life raft drifting outside Behram, Turkey.

      Aegean Boat Report received a third video the following day, this time from inside a bus, and a location that showed they were heading towards Ayvacik, Turkey.

      This video is of the same people in the video from the container on Lesvos, and from the life raft helplessly drifting in the Aegean Sea.

      And there is absolutely no doubt who is responsible for their illegal deportation. Despite the fact that the Greek government continues to claim to follow all international laws and regulations.

      Last week, the minister of asylum and immigration, Notis Mitarachis, once again denied claims that Greece is pushing refugees back to Turkey, calling the allegations “fake news,” and claiming they are part of a strategy promoted by Turkey. For some reason he has not chosen to explain this strategy. (Greek migration minister calls allegations of migrant pushbacks ‘fake news’)

      And yet, even as Mitarachis and his government continues to make these claims, more and more people are illegally set adrift in the Aegean Sea, having been forcibly removed from refugee camps, beaten, stripped of their possessions, and forced onto inflatable rafts by uniformed people operating in Greece.

    • Uno-Flüchtlingshilfswerk zählt Hunderte mutmaßliche Pushbacks

      Das Uno-Flüchtlingshilfswerk (UNHCR) erhöht wegen der Rechtsverletzungen in der Ägäis den Druck auf die griechische Regierung. Seit Beginn des vergangenen Jahres habe man »mehrere Hundert Fälle« von mutmaßlichen Pushbacks registriert, sagte die UNHCR-Repräsentantin in Griechenland, Mireille Girard, dem SPIEGEL.

      Das UNHCR habe den Behörden die entsprechenden Hinweise übergeben. In allen Fällen lägen der Organisation eigene Informationen vor, die auf illegale Pushbacks an Land oder auf See hindeuten. »Wir erwarten, dass die griechischen Behörden diese Vorfälle untersuchen«, sagte Girard. »Das Recht auf Asyl wird in Europa angegriffen.«
      Pushbacks verstoßen gegen internationales Recht

      Der SPIEGEL hat seit Juni 2020 in gemeinsamen Recherchen mit »Report Mainz« und Lighthouse Reports gezeigt, dass die griechische Küstenwache Flüchtlingsboote in der Ägäis stoppt, den Motor der Schlauchboote kaputt macht und die Menschen wieder in türkische Gewässer zieht. Anschließend setzen die griechischen Beamten die Migrantinnen und Migranten auf manövrierunfähigen Schlauchbooten auf dem Meer aus. Manchmal benutzen sie auch aufblasbare orange Rettungsflöße. Am griechisch-türkischen Grenzfluss Evros kommt es zu ähnlichen Aktionen.


      Diese sogenannten Pushbacks verstoßen gegen internationales und europäisches Recht – unter anderem, weil den Schutzsuchenden kein Zugang zu einem Asylverfahren gewährt wird. Griechenland bestreitet die Anschuldigungen pauschal, bei den Augenzeugenberichten und geolokalisierten Videos handele es sich um »Fake News«.

      Auch die europäische Grenzschutzagentur Frontex ist in die Pushbacks verwickelt, sie führt in der Ägäis gemeinsame Operationen mit der griechischen Küstenwache durch. In mindestens sieben Fällen befanden sich Frontex-Einheiten in der Nähe von Pushbacks, in einigen Fällen übergaben die europäischen Grenzschützer den Griechen die Flüchtlinge sogar, diese übernahmen dann den Pushback. Ein deutscher Bundespolizist im Frontex-Einsatz verweigerte deswegen den Dienst.

      Die EU-Antibetrugsbehörde Olaf, das EU-Parlament und die Ombudsfrau der EU untersuchen derzeit die Pushbacks. Eine interne Frontex-Untersuchung konnte nicht alle Vorfälle aufklären.

      Die griechischen Behörden schleppen selbst Geflüchtete zurück aufs Meer, die bereits europäischen Boden erreichen konnten. Der SPIEGEL konnte zwei dieser Fälle zweifelsfrei nachweisen. Im April 2020 war eine Gruppe Asylsuchender auf Samos angekommen, im November eine auf Lesbos.
      UNHCR dokumentierte Pushback von Lesbos

      Das UNHCR hat nun ebenfalls einen solchen Fall aufgezeichnet. Am 17. Februar 2021 seien 13 Asylsuchende auf Lesbos angelandet, sagte Girard. Griechische Inselbewohner hätten das UNHCR alarmiert, die Organisation habe dann den lokalen Behörden Bescheid gegeben.

      Die griechische Polizei habe die Geflüchteten in einen Container in einem Quarantänecamp im Norden der Insel geführt. Dann seien vermummte Männer gekommen, hätten die Migrantinnen und Migranten, darunter Frauen und Kinder, zum Hafen gefahren und die Menschen in einem aufblasbaren Rettungsfloß antriebslos auf dem Meer zurückgelassen. Später wurden sie von der türkischen Küstenwache gerettet.

      Das UNHCR habe den Fall detailliert rekonstruiert sowie Zeugen und die Überlebenden interviewt. Es bestehe kein Zweifel, dass die Menschen auf Lesbos angekommen und illegal in die Türkei zurückgeführt worden seien, sagt Girard. Solche Aktionen seien illegal. »Der Vorfall muss untersucht werden und Konsequenzen haben.«

      Die teilweise gewalttätigen Aktionen führten dazu, dass Geflüchtete sich inzwischen oft vor den Behörden versteckten, so Girard weiter. »Die Asylsuchenden sind ohnehin schon traumatisiert, wenn ihnen nun in Europa wieder Gewalt angetan wird, retraumatisiert sie das«, sagt Girard. »Besonders die Kinder haben damit noch jahrelang zu kämpfen.«


  • A Look at the Refugee Crisis Five Years Later

    In 2015, as almost a million asylum seekers poured into Germany, Chancellor #Angela_Merkel said: “We can do this.” Was she right? Five years later, we take a closer look in the most average of average German towns.

    With its population of around 20,000, the town of #Hassloch is essentially the largest village in the Palatinate region of Germany. Still, it is well known in the country for being a special place - in that there is nothing special about it. Decades ago, the realization was made that from a demographic perspective, Hassloch is a microcosm of the country at large, with its age, gender and economic breakdown roughly reflecting that of Germany as a whole. Indeed, its demography is so normal that it was chosen in the 1980s by the Society for Consumer Research as the place where new products would be tested. After all, if people in Hassloch like it, you can be relatively sure that people in the rest of Germany will too. If Germany is a tree, Hassloch is its bonsai.

    What, though, can the place tell us about Germany’s handling of the huge influx of refugees five years ago? On Aug. 31, 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel held a press conference in which she discussed the challenges that the wave of migration presented for the country. Hundreds of thousands of people were making their way into Europe at the time across the Mediterranean and along the Balkan Route – and many of them had set their sights on Germany. It marked the beginning of years of political discord, pitting EU countries, political parties and individuals against one another. In that press conference, Merkel said: “Germany is a strong country. We have done so much. We can do this!” It is a sentence that would become a trademark of her tenure.

    Now, five years later, we know that almost exactly 890,000 asylum seekers came to Germany in 2015. But have we “done this”? It’s hard to say, just as it is difficult to define exactly what “this” means, or even who “we” are. It all depends on your perspective. In Hassloch, the question as to who managed to “do this,” and when and what that means, leads to a number of places — to a city administrator, to an expert on parrots, and to extremely German families with colorful collections of passports. This story, though, begins in city hall.

    On the list of the most common German last names, Meyer is in sixth place. And Tobias Meyer, the town’s deputy mayor, looks so similar to his center-left predecessor that the two are often mistaken for one another. Meyer is a cheerful sort with expressive eyebrows and average height. In his office, he says that he joined the center-right Christian Democratic Union, Merkel’s party, on his 18th birthday out of admiration for Helmut Kohl. He sees himself “as a centrist” politically. “I find it astonishing,” says Meyer, “that not even the fall of the Berlin Wall changed our status as an average town.” It almost sounds as though normality in Germany is unchanging, no matter what happens and no matter who comes into the country.

    Since 2015, Hassloch has been home to between 500 and 600 refugees. The precise total is unknown, since many either returned home or quickly moved onwards. Currently, the town is home to 152 refugees, including 72 whose asylum applications are currently being processed. Back in 2015, after that summer of migration, the total was 211, which represents 1.1 percent of Hassloch’s population.

    And what about the 890,000 who showed up in Germany with its 82 million people? “You see?” says Meyer. Exactly 1.1 percent.

    Meyer is happy to talk about refugees at length, and isn’t shy about saying that some of them came expecting a rosy future without wanting to do much in return. Or about the fact that, from his perspective, the town hasn’t changed much as a result. Perhaps more instructive, however, is a visit to the administrative expert in city hall, a certain Ms. Behret.

    First, though, a final question for Tobias Meyer. Has Hassloch “done this?” Meyer’s response: “Hmmmm.”

    The office is little more than the physical manifestation of the rules it is there to enforce, furnished with myriad filing cabinets with fake beech veneer. There are a few signs of life pinned to them, such as vacation pictures or funny Dilbert-esque cartoons about office life from the local paper. There are rows and rows of “meeting minutes” and “official correspondence,” along with a few stoic office plants doing their best to provide atmosphere. And in the middle of it all sits Christine Behret.

    “I love my job” it says on her keychain. She is the only woman in a leadership position in Hassloch city hall and she says she has been carrying around the keychain since her first day there. “I fought for this job,” Behret says. She describes herself as “a bit tough.”

    “We at the regulatory authority have a slightly different view of certain problems,” she says. “When a Sikh man shows up in your office, sits down on the floor and says he’s not going anywhere until he is allowed to cook in the hostel” – which isn’t allowed due to fire regulations – “then friendliness doesn’t get you very far. You have to pull out your English and affably throw him out. But you can never forget that you are dealing with a human being.”

    In her accounts, the phrase “we can do this” sounds mostly like a ton of work. Back in 2015, Behret says, she and her colleagues worked seven days a week. No public office, she continues, was prepared for the onslaught: They needed beds, food and doctors, despite the shortage of family practitioners in many rural areas of Germany. The first question to answer: centralized or decentralized accommodations? Hassloch chose a mixture of the two, which included a large hostel. Most of the refugees, though, were put up in 51 apartments that had been rented for the purpose. The asylum seekers were housed together according to complicated parameters, for which Christine Behret received additional training in “intercultural competence.” She said they learned such things as “women have no power in the places they come from, but here, women tell them what to do.” It is a sentence that has been part of the German migration debate for decades.

    Behret can provide a precise description of the asylum seekers in Hassloch using just a few sentences. She says they have “the entire spectrum” in the town, from a mathematics professor from Syria to others who can’t even write their own names. “The typical cases come by once a month to pick up their checks. For some of them, it’s enough. Others start working at McDonald’s at some point, or deliver packages for Amazon.”

    There was the alcoholic from Nigeria who shoplifted every day. “He was sent to us with no warning whatsoever. And no file,” Behret says. “How can something like that happen?” In that case, Tobias Meyer drove to the central reception center in the nearby town of Kusel to see what had happened. They then came by and picked the man up, she says.

    She tells the story of the man who died, yet couldn’t be buried because he had no birth certificate. “And if you haven’t been born, you can’t die.” In this room, focused on the administration of people, where everything is perfectly arranged, it is clear that she derives a certain amount of pleasure from such moments of turmoil.

    Behret’s main problem, though, is a different one: “We get the people faster than the files arrive. I don’t know if the person might have hepatitis, or tuberculosis, or scabies. We don’t have anything except their names, nationalities and dates of birth.”
    In the Bird Park

    There is a birdcage standing on a small blanket in Wilhelm Weidenbach’s living room. The bottom of the cage is lined with newspaper, with the brass-colored lattice rising above it. The door usually stands open. Weidenbach says that he taught his last parrot to sing German folk songs.

    Weidenbach, a 64-year-old retiree, has been in a wheelchair since suffering an accident and is the chairman of the Hassloch Club for the Protection and Care of Domestic and Foreign Birds. Every morning at 9 a.m., he heads over to the Hassloch Bird Park, one of the area’s places of interest.

    Last year, Hassloch was hit by a major storm that left the park in disarray. Together with a local group that helps asylum seekers, Weidenbach organized a day for volunteers to come and help out — and not long later, the municipality got in touch to ask if the asylum applicants would be willing to come by more regularly. The first of them came to the park just over two weeks ago, and they now work there three days a week for four hours at a time. On a recent Friday morning, they were busy with rakes and hoes at the duck enclosure: Ranj Suleiman, a Kurdish man from Iraq; Mohammad Ali Mozaffri from Afghanistan; and Aria Rahimzade from Iran — three of the 72 asylum applicants in Hassloch currently awaiting a ruling on their status.

    Suleiman was a computer technician, Mozaffri wanted to work in old-age care and Rahimzade had his sights set on becoming a hairdresser. All of those professions are in need, but because the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) hasn’t yet decided on whether they can stay or not, it is difficult for them to find real work. So the three of them rake detritus out of the enclosures for 80 cents an hour.

    Weidenbach says they’re doing a good job. Iran? Iraq? People are people, he says. All they have to do is follow the rules and show up on time. And it’s important for them to learn the language and speak German among themselves, he says, though they sometimes have trouble understanding the local dialect he speaks. In the courses they attend, they are learning high German.

    Mozaffri talks about how he got to Germany from Afghanistan three years ago: “Walking. Bicycle. Boat.”

    “Yes, necessity is the mother of invention,” Weidenbach jokes. The men likely would have laughed if they had understood him, but they didn’t. So Weidenbach repeats himself, slower and louder: “Ne-cess-i-ty is the MOTHER of in-ven-tion!”

    Now, the three start laughing, though they still haven’t understood him. No matter, they continue on to the emu enclosure, pushing their wheelbarrows past the parrots. Suleiman makes a face and jokes: “They speak better German than we do.”

    The municipality has bought a flat-roofed structure at the edge of town. Plastic chairs have been set up in the grass outside and there is hardly any natural light inside, with the only window being a skylight. A bit of carpeting hangs over the fence and it is quiet.

    This is where the levity from the aviary comes to an end. Suleiman, Mozaffri and Rahimzade live here, and there is a sign on every door inside covered in pictograms to illustrate all that is forbidden in the hostel: wall clocks, coffee machines, irons, hairdryers, washing machines, vacuums, cameras, telephones and computer monitors.

    The structure is home to around 30 asylum seekers. The metal bed belonging to Mozaffri can be found in the corner of Room 3, where the wall is covered with bits of paper bearing the German words he is currently learning. On the other side of a metal locker is another bed, belonging to a young Iraqi, whose asylum application has been rejected. He says that he grows afraid at night when he hears doors close and that he can’t bear living in the hostel for much longer. Indeed, it seems to be part of the concept to make it as uncomfortable as possible.

    At the end of June, decisions were pending on 43,617 asylum applications. BAMF works through the files, specialized lawyers file grievances, papers are intentionally hidden and replacement documents must be requested from Eritrea, Morocco and the many other countries from which the applicants come.

    The asylum applicants, such as the three that work in the Bird Park, are stuck in limbo. They have made it; they have arrived in Germany. But at the same time, they haven’t yet made it. They haven’t yet “done this.”

    In a survey conducted by BAMF, 44 percent of asylum seekers who participated reported having good or very good knowledge of the German language. Three-quarters of them felt welcome in Germany. But the phrase “we can do this” was primarily focused on the other side. Merkel was referring to the Germans.

    Andreas Rohr is a man knee-deep in statistics. There are no plants in his office and there is likewise little in the way of decoration. Rohr used to work as a treasurer in the town administration and has a business degree. He is a family man with a strong physique and a gray shirt that matches the textured walls around him. In 2015, he was the Hassloch bureaucrat responsible for the refugees, though today his portfolio includes daycare centers, leases and cultural activities. He is able to distill Hassloch’s ability to “do this” into columns of numbers.

    From an administrative point of view, Rohr says, Hassloch has indeed been successful. “In 2016, we spent around 550,000 euros ($630,000) on shelter costs and about 870,000 euros on benefits for the asylum applicants. We were reimbursed for all those costs by the administrative district. But the town was responsible for personnel costs and materials. We only had two part-time positions back then, but now we have four working in that division, and it was five at the peak. A full-time position costs 50,000 euros, so we’re talking about a quarter million per year at that time.”
    #5_ans_après #2020 #crise_des_réfugiés #Allemagne #réfugiés #asile #migrations #in_retrospect #Merkel #we_can_do_it #wir_schaffen_das #économie

    ping @_kg_ @karine4 @isskein

  • One in 10 people infected with the coronavirus suffers from fatigue...

    One in 10 people infected with the coronavirus suffers from fatigue, muscle aches or neurological disorders for weeks after surviving an infection. What long-term damage does the virus do to the body? Many Stay Sick After Recovering From Coronavirus - DER SPIEGEL - International #International #World #Coronavirus #Health #Medicine

  • Asylum Outsourced : McKinsey’s Secret Role in Europe’s Refugee Crisis

    In 2016 and 2017, US management consultancy giant #McKinsey was at the heart of efforts in Europe to accelerate the processing of asylum applications on over-crowded Greek islands and salvage a controversial deal with Turkey, raising concerns over the outsourcing of public policy on refugees.

    The language was more corporate boardroom than humanitarian crisis – promises of ‘targeted strategies’, ‘maximising productivity’ and a ‘streamlined end-to-end asylum process.’

    But in 2016 this was precisely what the men and women of McKinsey&Company, the elite US management consultancy, were offering the European Union bureaucrats struggling to set in motion a pact with Turkey to stem the flow of asylum seekers to the continent’s shores.

    In March of that year, the EU had agreed to pay Turkey six billion euros if it would take back asylum seekers who had reached Greece – many of them fleeing fighting in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – and prevent others from trying to cross its borders.

    The pact – which human rights groups said put at risk the very right to seek refuge – was deeply controversial, but so too is the previously unknown extent of McKinsey’s influence over its implementation, and the lengths some EU bodies went to conceal that role.

    According to the findings of this investigation, months of ‘pro bono’ fieldwork by McKinsey fed, sometimes verbatim, into the highest levels of EU policy-making regarding how to make the pact work on the ground, and earned the consultancy a contract – awarded directly, without competition – worth almost one million euros to help enact that very same policy.

    The bloc’s own internal procurement watchdog later deemed the contract “irregular”.

    Questions have already been asked about McKinsey’s input in 2015 into German efforts to speed up its own turnover of asylum applications, with concerns expressed about rights being denied to those applying.

    This investigation, based on documents sought since November 2017, sheds new light on the extent to which private management consultants shaped Europe’s handling of the crisis on the ground, and how bureaucrats tried to keep that role under wraps.

    “If some companies develop programs which then turn into political decisions, this is a political issue of concern that should be examined carefully,” said German MEP Daniel Freund, a member of the European Parliament’s budget committee and a former Head of Advocacy for EU Integrity at Transparency International.

    “Especially if the same companies have afterwards been awarded with follow-up contracts not following due procedures.”

    Deal too important to fail

    The March 2016 deal was the culmination of an epic geopolitical thriller played out in Brussels, Ankara and a host of European capitals after more than 850,000 people – mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans – took to the Aegean by boat and dinghy from Turkey to Greece the previous year.

    Turkey, which hosts some 3.5 million refugees from the nine-year-old war in neighbouring Syria, committed to take back all irregular asylum seekers who travelled across its territory in return for billions of euros in aid, EU visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens and revived negotiations on Turkish accession to the bloc. It also provided for the resettlement in Europe of one Syrian refugee from Turkey for each Syrian returned to Turkey from Greece.

    The EU hailed it as a blueprint, but rights groups said it set a dangerous precedent, resting on the premise that Turkey is a ‘safe third country’ to which asylum seekers can be returned, despite a host of rights that it denies foreigners seeking protection.

    The deal helped cut crossings over the Aegean, but it soon became clear that other parts were not delivering; the centrepiece was an accelerated border procedure for handling asylum applications within 15 days, including appeal. This wasn’t working, while new movement restrictions meant asylum seekers were stuck on Greek islands.

    But for the EU, the deal was too important to be derailed.

    “The directions from the European Commission, and those behind it, was that Greece had to implement the EU-Turkey deal full-stop, no matter the legal arguments or procedural issue you might raise,” said Marianna Tzeferakou, a lawyer who was part of a legal challenge to the notion that Turkey is a safe place to seek refuge.

    “Someone gave an order that this deal will start being implemented. Ambiguity and regulatory arbitrage led to a collapse of procedural guarantees. It was a political decision and could not be allowed to fail.”

    Enter McKinsey.

    Action plans emerge simultaneously

    Fresh from advising Germany on how to speed up the processing of asylum applications, the firm’s consultants were already on the ground doing research in Greece in the summer of 2016, according to two sources working with the Greek asylum service, GAS, at the time but who did not wish to be named.

    Documents seen by BIRN show that the consultancy was already in “initial discussions” with an EU body called the ‘Structural Reform Support Service’, SRSS, which aids member states in designing and implementing structural reforms and was at the time headed by Dutchman Maarten Verwey. Verwey was simultaneously EU coordinator for the EU-Turkey deal and is now the EU’s director general of economic and financial affairs, though he also remains acting head of SRSS.

    Asked for details of these ‘discussions’, Verwey responded that the European Commission – the EU’s executive arm – “does not hold any other documents” concerning the matter.

    Nevertheless, by September 2016, McKinsey had a pro bono proposal on the table for how it could help out, entitled ‘Supporting the European Commission through integrated refugee management.’ Verwey signed off on it in October.

    Minutes of management board meetings of the European Asylum Support Office, EASO – the EU’s asylum agency – show McKinsey was tasked by the Commission to “analyse the situation on the Greek islands and come up with an action plan that would result in an elimination of the backlog” of asylum cases by April 2017.

    A spokesperson for the Commission told BIRN: “McKinsey volunteered to work free of charge to improve the functioning of the Greek asylum and reception system.”

    Over the next 12 weeks, according to other redacted documents, McKinsey worked with all the major actors involved – the SRSS, EASO, the EU border agency Frontex as well as Greek authorities.

    At bi-weekly stakeholder meetings, McKinsey identified “bottlenecks” in the asylum process and began to outline a series of measures to reduce the backlog, some of which were already being tested in a “mini-pilot” on the Greek island of Chios.

    At a first meeting in mid-October, McKinsey consultants told those present that “processing rates” of asylum cases by the EASO and the Greek asylum service, as well as appeals bodies, would need to significantly increase.

    By December, McKinsey’s “action plan” was ready, involving “targeted strategies and recommendations” for each actor involved.

    The same month, on December 8, Verwey released the EU’s own Joint Action Plan for implementing the EU-Turkey deal, which was endorsed by the EU’s heads of government on December 15.

    There was no mention of any McKinsey involvement and when asked about the company’s role the Commission told BIRN the plan was “a document elaborated together between the Commission and the Greek authorities.”

    However, buried in the EASO’s 2017 Annual Report is a reference to European Council endorsement of “the consultancy action plan” to clear the asylum backlog.

    Indeed, the similarities between McKinsey’s plan and the EU’s Joint Action Plan are uncanny, particularly in terms of increasing detention capacity on the islands, “segmentation” of cases, ramping up numbers of EASO and GAS caseworkers and interpreters and Frontex escort officers, limiting the number of appeal steps in the asylum process and changing the way appeals are processed and opinions drafted.

    In several instances, they are almost identical: where McKinsey recommends introducing “overarching segmentation by case types to increase speed and quality”, for example, the EU’s Joint Action Plan calls for “segmentation by case categories to increase speed and quality”.

    Much of what McKinsey did for the SRSS remains redacted.

    In June 2019, the Commission justified the non-disclosure on the basis that the information would pose a “risk” to “public security” as it could allegedly “be exploited by third parties (for example smuggling networks)”.

    Full disclosure, it argued, would risk “seriously undermining the commercial interests” of McKinsey.

    “While I understand that there could indeed be a private and public interest in the subject matter covered by the documents requested, I consider that such a public interest in transparency would not, in this case, outweigh the need to protect the commercial interests of the company concerned,” Martin Selmayr, then secretary-general of the European Commission, wrote.

    SRSS rejected the suggestion that the fact that Verwey refused to fully disclose the McKinsey proposal he had signed off on in October 2016 represented a possible conflict of interest, according to internal documents obtained during this investigation.

    Once Europe’s leaders had endorsed the Joint Action Plan, EASO was asked to “conclude a direct contract with McKinsey” to assist in its implementation, according to EASO management board minutes.

    ‘Political pressure’

    The contract, worth 992,000 euros, came with an attached ‘exception note’ signed on January 20, 2017, by EASO’s Executive Director at the time, Jose Carreira, and Joanna Darmanin, the agency’s then head of operations. The note stated that “due to the time constraints and the political pressure it was deemed necessary to proceed with the contract to be signed without following the necessary procurement procedure”.

    The following year, an audit of EASO yearly accounts by the European Court of Auditors, ECA, which audits EU finances, found that “a single pre-selected economic operator” had been awarded work without the application of “any of the procurement procedures” laid down under EU regulations, designed to encourage transparency and competition.

    “Therefore, the public procurement procedure and all related payments (992,000 euros) were irregular,” it said.

    The auditor’s report does not name McKinsey. But it does specify that the “irregular” contract concerned the EASO’s hiring of a consultancy for implementation of the action plan in Greece; the amount cited by the auditor exactly matches the one in the McKinsey contract, while a spokesman for the EASO indirectly confirmed the contracts concerned were one and the same.

    When asked about the McKinsey contract, the spokesman, Anis Cassar, said: “EASO does not comment on specifics relating to individual contracts, particularly where the ECA is concerned. However, as you note, ECA found that the particular procurement procedure was irregular (not illegal).”

    “The procurement was carried under [sic] exceptional procurement rules in the context of the pressing requests by the relevant EU Institutions and Member States,” said EASO spokesman Anis Cassar.

    McKinsey’s deputy head of Global Media Relations, Graham Ackerman, said the company was unable to provide any further details.

    “In line with our firm’s values and confidentiality policy, we do not publicly discuss our clients or details of our client service,” Ackerman told BIRN.

    ‘Evaluation, feedback, goal-setting’

    It was not the first time questions had been asked of the EASO’s procurement record.

    In October 2017, the EU’s fraud watchdog, OLAF, launched a probe into the agency (, chiefly concerning irregularities identified in 2016. It contributed to the resignation in June 2018 of Carreira (, who co-signed the ‘exception note’ on the McKinsey contract. The investigation eventually uncovered wrongdoings ranging from breaches of procurement rules to staff harassment (, Politico reported in November 2018.

    According to the EASO, the McKinsey contract was not part of OLAF’s investigation. OLAF said it could not comment.

    McKinsey’s work went ahead, running from January until April 2017, the point by which the EU wanted the backlog of asylum cases “eliminated” and the burden on overcrowded Greek islands lifted.

    Overseeing the project was a steering committee comprised of Verwey, Carreira, McKinsey staff and senior Greek and European Commission officials.

    The details of McKinsey’s operation are contained in a report it submitted in May 2017.

    The EASO initially refused to release the report, citing its “sensitive and restrictive nature”. Its disclosure, the agency said, would “undermine the protection of public security and international relations, as well as the commercial interests and intellectual property of McKinsey & Company.”

    The response was signed by Carreira.

    Only after a reporter on this story complained to the EU Ombudsman, did the EASO agree to disclose several sections of the report.

    Running to over 1,500 pages, the disclosed material provides a unique insight into the role of a major private consultancy in what has traditionally been the realm of public policy – the right to asylum.

    In the jargon of management consultancy, the driving logic of McKinsey’s intervention was “maximising productivity” – getting as many asylum cases processed as quickly as possible, whether they result in transfers to the Greek mainland, in the case of approved applications, or the deportation of “returnable migrants” to Turkey.

    “Performance management systems” were introduced to encourage speed, while mechanisms were created to “monitor” the weekly “output” of committees hearing the appeals of rejected asylum seekers.

    Time spent training caseworkers and interviewers before they were deployed was to be reduced, IT support for the Greek bureaucracy was stepped up and police were instructed to “detain migrants immediately after they are notified of returnable status,” i.e. as soon as their asylum applications were rejected.

    Four employees of the Greek asylum agency at the time told BIRN that McKinsey had access to agency staff, but said the consultancy’s approach jarred with the reality of the situation on the ground.

    Taking part in a “leadership training” course held by McKinsey, one former employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told BIRN: “It felt so incompatible with the mentality of a public service operating in a camp for asylum seekers.”

    The official said much of what McKinsey was proposing had already been considered and either implemented or rejected by GAS.

    “The main ideas of how to organise our work had already been initiated by the HQ of GAS,” the official said. “The only thing McKinsey added were corporate methods of evaluation, feedback, setting goals, and initiatives that didn’t add anything meaningful.”

    Indeed, the backlog was proving hard to budge.

    Throughout successive “progress updates”, McKinsey repeatedly warned the steering committee that productivity “levels are insufficient to reach target”. By its own admission, deportations never surpassed 50 a week during the period of its contract. The target was 340.

    In its final May 2017 report, McKinsey touted its success in “reducing total process duration” of the asylum procedure to a mere 11 days, down from an average of 170 days in February 2017.

    Yet thousands of asylum seekers remained trapped in overcrowded island camps for months on end.

    While McKinsey claimed that the population of asylum seekers on the island was cut to 6,000 by April 2017, pending “data verification” by Greek authorities, Greek government figures put the number at 12,822, just around 1,500 fewer than in January when McKinsey got its contract.

    The winter was harsh; organisations working with asylum seekers documented a series of accidents in which a number of people were harmed or killed, with insufficient or no investigation undertaken by Greek authorities (

    McKinsey’s final report tallied 40 field visits and more than 200 meetings and workshops on the islands. It also, interestingly, counted 21 weekly steering committee meetings “since October 2016” – connecting McKinsey’s 2016 pro bono work and the 2017 period it worked under contract with the EASO. Indeed, in its “project summary”, McKinsey states it was “invited” to work on both the “development” and “implementation” of the action plan in Greece.

    The Commission, however, in its response to this investigation, insisted it did not “pre-select” McKinsey for the 2017 work or ask EASO to sign a contract with the firm.

    Smarting from military losses in Syria and political setbacks at home, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tore up the deal with the EU in late February this year, accusing Brussels of failing to fulfil its side of the bargain. But even before the deal’s collapse, 7,000 refugees and migrants reached Greek shores in the first two months of 2020, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

    German link

    This was not the first time that the famed consultancy firm had left its mark on Europe’s handling of the crisis.

    In what became a political scandal (, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, according to reports, paid McKinsey more than €45 million ( to help clear a backlog of more than 270,000 asylum applications and to shorten the asylum process.

    German media reports said the sum included 3.9 million euros for “Integrated Refugee Management”, the same phrase McKinsey pitched to the EU in September 2016.

    The parallels don’t end there.

    Much like the contract McKinsey clinched with the EASO in January 2017, German media reports have revealed that more than half of the sum paid to the consultancy for its work in Germany was awarded outside of normal public procurement procedures on the grounds of “urgency”. Der Spiegel ( reported that the firm also did hundreds of hours of pro bono work prior to clinching the contract. McKinsey denied that it worked for free in order to win future federal contracts.

    Again, the details were classified as confidential.

    Arne Semsrott, director of the German transparency NGO FragdenStaat, which investigated McKinsey’s work in Germany, said the lack of transparency in such cases was costing European taxpayers money and control.

    Asked about German and EU efforts to keep the details of such outsourcing secret, Semsrott told BIRN: “The lack of transparency means the public spending more money on McKinsey and other consulting firms. And this lack of transparency also means that we have a lack of public control over what is actually happening.”

    Sources familiar with the decision-making in Athens identified Solveigh Hieronimus, a McKinsey partner based in Munich, as the coordinator of the company’s team on the EASO contract in Greece. Hieronimus was central in pitching the company’s services to the German government, according to German media reports (

    Hieronimus did not respond to BIRN questions submitted by email.

    Freund, the German MEP formerly of Transparency International, said McKinsey’s role in Greece was a cause for concern.

    “It is not ideal if positions adopted by the [European] Council are in any way affected by outside businesses,” he told BIRN. “These decisions should be made by politicians based on legal analysis and competent independent advice.”

    A reporter on this story again complained to the EU Ombudsman in July 2019 regarding the Commission’s refusal to disclose further details of its dealings with McKinsey.

    In November, the Ombudsman told the Commission that “the substance of the funded project, especially the work packages and deliverable of the project[…] should be fully disclosed”, citing the principle that “the public has a right to be informed about the content of projects that are financed by public money.” The Ombudsman rejected the Commission’s argument that partial disclosure would undermine the commercial interests of McKinsey.

    Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen responded that the Commission “respectfully disagrees” with the Ombudsman. The material concerned, she wrote, “contains sensitive information on the business strategies and the commercial relations of the company concerned.”

    The president of the Commission has had dealings with McKinsey before; in February, von der Leyen testified before a special Bundestag committee concerning contracts worth tens of millions of euros that were awarded to external consultants, including McKinsey, during her time as German defence minister in 2013-2019.

    In 2018, Germany’s Federal Audit Office said procedures for the award of some contracts had not been strictly lawful or cost-effective. Von der Leyen acknowledged irregularities had occurred but said that much had been done to fix the shortcomings (

    She was also questioned about her 2014 appointment of Katrin Suder, a McKinsey executive, as state secretary tasked with reforming the Bundeswehr’s system of procurement. Asked if Suder, who left the ministry in 2018, had influenced the process of awarding contracts, von der Leyen said she assumed not. Decisions like that were taken “way below my pay level,” she said.

    In its report, Germany’s governing parties absolved von der Leyen of blame, Politico reported on June 9 (

    The EU Ombudsman is yet to respond to the Commission’s refusal to grant further access to the McKinsey documents.
    #accord_UE-Turquie #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #privatisation #sous-traitance #Turquie #EU #UE #Union_européenne #Grèce #frontières #Allemagne #EASO #Structural_Reform_Support_Service (#SRSS) #Maarten_Verwey #Frontex #Chios #consultancy #Joint_Action_Plan #Martin_Selmayr #chronologie #Jose_Carreira #Joanna_Darmanin #privatisation #management #productivité #leadership_training #îles #Mer_Egée #Integrated_Refugee_Management #pro_bono #transparence #Solveigh_Hieronimus #Katrin_Suder

    ping @_kg_ @karine4 @isskein @rhoumour @reka

  • Deuxième vague en Israël. 40% des nouveaux cas seraient des enfants contaminés dans les écoles, qui sont rapidement devenues des clusters.

    Corona in Israel : Die zweite Welle rollt an

    Als Infektionsherde erwiesen sich außerdem Schulen, die zusammen mit der Wirtschaft wieder aufmachten. „Sie wurden schnell zu Clustern“, sagt Cohen. Mehr als vierzig Prozent der neuen Corona-Fälle seien Kinder, die sich im Unterricht angesteckt hätten. Inzwischen sind etwa 200 von 5000 Schulen im Land wieder geschlossen, weil sich dort Hotspots gebildet hatten.

  • König Abdullah II. von Jordanien über Coronavirus: „Wir haben das Virus schnell unter Kontrolle gebracht“
    Ein Interview von Susanne Koelbl und Maximilian Popp
    15.05.2020, 12.33 Uhr - DER SPIEGEL

    (...) SPIEGEL: Machtpolitiker wie Israels Premier Benjamin Netanyahu wollen die Chance nutzen, die sich ihnen durch Trump bietet und sich weite Teile Palästinas aneignen.

    Abdullah II.: Führungspersönlichkeiten, die für eine Ein-Staaten-Lösung eintreten, verstehen nicht, was das heißen würde. Was würde geschehen, wenn die palästinensische Autonomiebehörde zusammenbricht? Es gäbe noch mehr Chaos und Extremismus in der Region. Falls Israel im Juli wirklich das Westjordantal annektiert, würde dies zu einem massiven Konflikt mit dem Haschemitischen Königreich Jordanien führen.

    SPIEGEL: Sie würden den Friedensvertrag mit Israel aufkündigen?

    Abdullah II.: Ich will keine Drohungen ausstoßen und eine Atmosphäre des Streits provozieren, aber wir ziehen sämtliche Optionen in Betracht. Wir sind uns mit vielen Ländern in Europa und der internationalen Gemeinschaft einig, dass im Nahen Osten nicht das Recht des Stärkeren gelten sollte. (...)

  • Birkenfeld : Mehr als 200 rumänische Arbeiter in Schlachthof mit Coronavirus infiziert - DER SPIEGEL

    Mehr als 200 rumänische Arbeiter eines Schlachthofs im baden-württembergischen Birkenfeld haben sich nach Angaben der Regierung in Bukarest mit dem Coronavirus infiziert. Bei ihnen handle es sich nicht um Saisonarbeiter, sondern um Beschäftigte von Subunternehmen des deutschen Fleischbetriebs, teilte das Außenministerium mit. Insgesamt seien in dem Schlachthof 500 Rumänen beschäftigt.

    Des nouvelles des travailleurs saisonniers en Allemagne : des contaminations mais pas de suivi en allemagne... c’est l’état roumain qui en informe l’allemgne....


  • The American Patient: How Trump Is Fueling a Corona Disaster - DER SPIEGEL

    ... the pandemic is also exposing weaknesses that existed before Trump’s election: a health-care system that fails the very moment when it is most needed, and a capitalist system that is unrestrained during boom times, and unimpeded when it crashes.


    The U.S. actually ought to be very well prepared for a pandemic. In 2018, almost 18 percent of the country’s gross domestic product flowed into the health sector, a total of $3.6 trillion (3.3 trillion euros). But the American health-care system is enormously expensive and highly inefficient. The wealthy and people with good jobs often receive excellent medical care. But a lot of that money goes into the coffers of pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

    That is now being exacerbated by political ineptitude.

    #système #santé #etats-unis #assurances #pharma

  • Homepage - GHS Index

    Index de préparation en face d’un problème sanitaire de 195 pays publié en Octobre 2019 : les #états-unis venaient en tête avec un excellent score,

    Or d’après la co-directrice même du site, dans l’épidémie actuelle de #covid-19 plusieurs pays dépassent les Etats-Unis en matière de préparation,

    Clearly, just given current experiences, there is no evidence that the United States is the most prepared. We are way behind other countries on a number of fronts. And even though the president held up our index at a press conference and said, “Look, you know, Johns Hopkins found that the U.S. is prepared,” that’s actually not what we found. What we found was that no country is fully prepared, and many countries have deficit in their health systems. That is very much playing out across the globe right now.


    • merci ! ce qui est remarquable aussi c’est que les pays « most prepared » sont parmi les premiers touchés et ceux qui merdent le plus : outre les USA, on a les Pays-Bas, la Suède, le Royaume-Uni, la France.


    • According to a survey of its members by an association representing 42,000 New York nurses, around 85 percent have already come into contact with COVID patients, but almost three-quarters do not have access to sufficient protective clothing.

      Trump [...] claimed on Jan. 26 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, "We have it under control, it’s going to be just fine.”

      Nothing could have been further from the truth. At the time, the CDC decided to develop its own test for the coronavirus rather than using a functioning one from the WHO. The test quickly turned out to be faulty, and as a result, weeks went by without anyone being able to determine how widely the disease had already spread in the U.S.

      In early February, some state governors began requesting help from Washington, mainly in the form of protective clothing and ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile. The national reserve was set up in 1999, overseen by some 200 employees at several secret locations. But the reserve has never been properly replenished since the H1N1 pandemic, the swine flu of 2009.

      In one particularly disastrous move, [Trump] abolished the pandemic task force in the National Security Council that President Barack Obama set up after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

      Both have tried to sign up for the Cares unemployment program relaunched by Congress to help people make ends meet over the next few months, “but the website keeps crashing,” says Karlin, "everything is totally overloaded.” They’ve also been trying to get through on the telephone hotline, but they’ve had no luck there either. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are going through similar experiences right now. They’re sitting at home in front of their computers trying to figure out what to do with their lives now that they are unemployed.

    • COVID-19 gives the lie to global health expertise - The Lancet

      Et non seulement l’épidémie est la plus forte chez eux du fait de leur incurie criminelle, mais ils maintiennent leur embargo criminel contre les pays récalcitrants les empêchant de recevoir le matériel médical qui leur permettrait de mieux faire face à l’épidémie de covid-19,

      As the #coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak began spreading in Europe and the USA, a chart started circulating online showing ratings from the 2019 Global Health Security Index, an assessment of 195 countries’ capacity to face infectious disease outbreaks, compiled by the US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health’s Center for Health Security. The USA was ranked first, and the UK second; South Korea was ranked ninth, and China 51st; most African countries were at the bottom of the ranking.

      Things look different now. The US and UK Governments have provided among the world’s worst responses to the pandemic, with sheer lies and incompetence from the former, and near-criminal delays and obfuscation from the latter. Neither country has widespread testing available, as strongly recommended by WHO, alongside treatment and robust contact tracing.1 In neither country do health workers have adequate access to personal protective equipment; nor are there nearly enough hospital beds to accommodate the onslaught of patients. Even worse, by refusing to ease #sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba, the US has crippled the ability of other countries to respond, continuing to block medical supplies and other humanitarian aid. 2

  • Επαναπροωθούν πρόσφυγες στα νησιά με ειδικές θαλάσσιες σκηνές

    Η « Εφ.Συν. » φέρνει στη δημοσιότητα βέβαιες, καταγεγραμμένες περιπτώσεις παράνομων επαναπροωθήσεων προσφύγων από θαλάσσης προς την Τουρκία από το Λιμενικό, με ειδική μάλιστα διαδικασία : αφού εντοπίζονται στη στεριά, τοποθετούνται σε σχεδίες που μοιάζουν με πλωτές σκηνές και αφήνονται μεσοπέλαγα στα τουρκικά ύδατα για να τους « ξεβράσει » το κύμα προς την ακτή.

    Πυκνώνουν τα περιστατικά παράνομων επαναπροωθήσεων προσφύγων και μεταναστών από τα νησιά στην Τουρκία, την ώρα που καταγράφεται μια διαστροφική ποιοτική αναβάθμιση των μεθόδων που χρησιμοποιούνται και οι οποίες εκθέτουν σε κίνδυνο για τη ζωή τους δεκάδες ανθρώπους.

    Η « Εφ.Συν. » κατάφερε να ταυτοποιήσει συγκεκριμένα πρόσωπα προσφύγων και φέρνει σήμερα για πρώτη φορά στη δημοσιότητα αποκαλυπτικά ντοκουμέντα, που όχι μόνο αποδεικνύουν τις επαναπροωθήσεις, αλλά δείχνουν ότι αυτές υλοποιούνται πλέον με ειδικές ναυαγοσωστικές σχεδίες, οι οποίες μοιάζουν με σκηνές πάνω στη θάλασσα.

    Οπως διαπιστώνεται, οι αρχές και κυρίως το Λιμενικό, αφού εντοπίσουν τους πρόσφυγες είτε στη στεριά σε κάποια απόκρημνη ακτή είτε μεσοπέλαγα, τους επιβιβάζουν σε αυτές τις ναυαγοσωστικές σχεδίες, τα επονομαζόμενα liferafts, και στη συνέχεια τους αφήνουν εντός τουρκικών χωρικών υδάτων, ώστε να παρασυρθούν από τα κύματα μέχρι να εντοπιστούν από σκάφη της τουρκικής ακτοφυλακής.

    Από τη Σάμο, πίσω

    Στη Σάμο, την 1η Απριλίου αυτόπτες μάρτυρες στις οχτώ το πρωί διαπίστωσαν την αποβίβαση μιας βάρκας με αρκετά άτομα στην παραλία Μουρτιά στην ανατολική πλευρά του νησιού. Το περιστατικό κάλυψε ο διαχειριστής της τοπικής ιστοσελίδας Ιωάννης Νέγρης, ενώ ένας ακόμη κάτοικος της περιοχής ήταν παρών. Οι μετανάστες βγήκαν στην ακτή, έσκισαν τη βάρκα τους, έβγαλαν μερικές φωτογραφίες « και άρχισαν να κινούνται προς την πόλη, αφού καμία αρχή δεν ήταν στο συμβάν », σημειώνει ο κ. Νέγρης, που διαθέτει και το ανάλογο φωτογραφικό υλικό.

    Οπως περιγράφει, ο ίδιος επικοινώνησε με το λιμεναρχείο και έμαθε ότι ήδη είχε ξεκινήσει ένα πλωτό για να τους παραλάβει.

    « Από εδώ και πέρα ξεκινούν τα περίεργα », σημειώνει και περιγράφει το πώς στη συνέχεια οι άνθρωποι αυτοί « εξαφανίστηκαν » ! « Γύρω στις 12 το μεσημέρι, δέχομαι τηλέφωνο από αστυνομικό που μου λέει « μάθαμε ότι βγήκαν μετανάστες, μας ενημέρωσε η Υπατη Αρμοστεία, αλλά δεν τους βρίσκουμε.

    Μήπως επειδή είναι Ψευταπριλιά μάς κάνουν πλάκα ; ». Του απαντώ αρνητικά και κλείνει το τηλέφωνο », υποστηρίζει ο κ. Νέγρης. Στη συνέχεια γύρω στις 2.10 το μεσημέρι της ίδιας ημέρας, έμαθε τελικά ότι οι πρόσφυγες, τον αριθμό των οποίων υπολογίζει σε περίπου 25, παρελήφθησαν από ένα φουσκωτό που έφυγε προς άγνωστη κατεύθυνση.

    Σύμφωνα με αυτόπτη μάρτυρα που εντόπισε ο κ. Νέγρης, το φουσκωτό κατευθύνθηκε πίσω από ένα βουνό στην άκρη του κόλπου και μετά χάθηκε. Στη συνέχεια, ο ίδιος επικοινώνησε με το νοσοκομείο και συγκεκριμένα με τον διοικητή του, ο οποίος δήλωσε ενήμερος για το περιστατικό. Ωστόσο από το λιμεναρχείο τον διαβεβαίωσαν ότι αυτοί οι μετανάστες δεν υπάρχουν και ότι κανένα τέτοιο περιστατικό δεν έχει καταγραφεί !

    Το φωτογραφικό υλικό όμως που έδωσε στη δημοσιότητα ο κ. Νέγρης, όπως και ακόμα μία κάτοικος, πιστοποιεί όχι μόνο την άφιξη αλλά και την ταυτοπροσωπία ορισμένων εξ αυτών, που διακρίνονται σε ανάλογο υλικό το οποίο δημοσιοποίησε την επόμενη ημέρα η ακτοφυλακή της Τουρκίας. Φωτογραφίες τόσο από την περισυλλογή των προσφύγων μέσα από τη θάλασσα, επιβαινόντων πλέον σε liferaft, όσο και μέσα από την ακταιωρό που μετέφερε τους ναυαγούς !

    Συγκεκριμένα παρατηρούμε και στις δύο φωτογραφίες πρόσφυγες να κρατούν τα ίδια αντικείμενα (χαρακτηριστική η κόκκινη βαλίτσα της φωτογραφίας), να φορούν τα ίδια ρούχα, όπως η κόκκινη φόρμα παντελόνι που φοράει ο ένας, το τζιν μήκους ⅔ που διακρίνεται να φορά μια κοπέλα αφρικανικής καταγωγής και πολλά ακόμη στοιχεία, όπως παπούτσια κ.ά.! Στοιχεία που οδηγούν στο ασφαλές συμπέρασμα ότι οι ίδιοι άνθρωποι, που αποβιβάστηκαν το πρωί της 1ης Απριλίου στη Μουρτιά της Σάμου, φωτογραφήθηκαν σε σκάφος του λιμενικού της Τουρκίας την επόμενη ημέρα. Οπως αποδεικνύεται, η περίπτωση της Σάμου δεν είναι και η μοναδική, ούτε κάτι που συνέβη ευκαιριακά με πρωτοβουλία κάποιου χαμηλόβαθμου αξιωματικού που ενδεχομένως εκμεταλλεύτηκε τη συγκυρία.
    Μαρτυρίες και για Χίο

    Ενδεικτική είναι η μαρτυρία για ένα ύποπτο περιστατικό που σημειώθηκε στη Χίο στις 23 Μαρτίου. Εκεί αρχικά έγινε γνωστό ότι στην περιοχή των Καρδαμύλων κατέφτασε βάρκα με 40 πρόσφυγες, γεγονός που κατέγραψε ο τοπικός Τύπος και επιβεβαίωσε το λιμεναρχείο. Στη συνέχεια όμως από το λιμεναρχείο υποστήριζαν ότι οι συγκεκριμένοι είχαν φύγει από τη ΒΙΑΛ και πήγαν στα Καρδάμυλα, σκηνοθετώντας -υποτίθεται- την αποβίβασή τους με σκοπό να ξεγελάσουν τις αρχές και να ενταχθούν στους νεοεισερχόμενους μετά την 1η Μαρτίου, ώστε να καταφέρουν να αποχωρήσουν αμέσως για κάποια κλειστή δομή στην ηπειρωτική χώρα.

    Σύμφωνα όμως με μαρτυρία ενός πρόσφυγα που διαμένει στη ΒΙΑΛ, ανάμεσα σε αυτούς στα Καρδάμυλα ήταν και ο αδελφός του, ο οποίος ενημέρωσε για την άφιξή του στέλνοντας φωτογραφίες. Ο τελευταίος αμέσως ειδοποίησε τουλάχιστον δύο αλληλέγγυους, στους οποίους προώθησε και τη φωτογραφία με την παραλία. Η μία εκ των αλληλέγγυων στη συνέχεια μαζί με τον πρόσφυγα από τη ΒΙΑΛ έφτασε στα Καρδάμυλα, εκεί όπου η αστυνομία τούς απαγόρευσε την προσέγγιση στην παραλία.

    « Στη συνέχεια δεν υπήρξε καμία επικοινωνία και την επόμενη ημέρα ο νεοεισερχόμενος έστειλε από κινητό τρίτου ατόμου μήνυμα ότι είχε μεταφερθεί στο Τσεσμέ και από τότε αγνοούνται τα ίχνη του », δήλωσε στην « Εφ.Συν. » μέλος της ομάδας αλληλεγγύης. Οπως έγινε γνωστό, ο πρόσφυγας κατέληξε σε φυλακή της Τουρκίας, ενώ το κινητό του έχει κατασχεθεί από το Λιμεναρχείο Χίου. Ανάλογο περιστατικό σημειώθηκε και στα Γρίδια κοντά στον οικισμό των Νενήτων στη Χίο, όπου ομάδα προσφύγων κατέφτασε στην ακτή και ντόπιοι φωτογράφισαν την άφιξή της.

    Πάλι όμως το λιμεναρχείο ισχυρίστηκε ότι επρόκειτο για προσπάθεια σκηνοθετημένης άφιξης. Ωστόσο η ακτοφυλακή της Τουρκίας την επομένη, 26/3, έδωσε στη δημοσιότητα φωτογραφίες από τη διάσωση 21 ανθρώπων έξω από το Τσεσμέ, πάλι σε liferaft, μεταξύ τους 12 παιδιά και πέντε γυναίκες. Οπως μάλιστα έγινε γνωστό, στο liferaft όπου είχαν στριμωχτεί, υπήρχε δεμένο και ένα μικρό φουσκωτό σκάφος όπου είχαν στοιβάξει τις αποσκευές τους.
    Εν κρυπτώ

    Αξίζει να αναφερθεί ότι το Λιμεναρχείο Χίου ουδέποτε έδωσε στη δημοσιότητα κάποια σύλληψη για την υποτιθέμενη μεταφορά των προσφύγων από τη ΒΙΑΛ στα Καρδάμυλα (απόσταση 40 και πλέον χιλιομέτρων), ενώ και στο δεύτερο περιστατικό που συνέβη την πρώτη μέρα περιορισμού της κυκλοφορίας, θεωρείται απίθανο να μην τους αντιλήφθηκε κάποιος κατά τη διαφυγή τους από τη ΒΙΑΛ και την πορεία τους περίπου 10 χιλιόμετρα μέχρι την ακτή, όπου εντοπίστηκαν από ντόπιους. Να σημειωθεί ότι υπάρχουν και άλλες παραλίες σαφώς πιο κοντά στη ΒΙΑΛ που θα μπορούσαν να επιλέξουν οι πρόσφυγες, αν όντως ήθελαν να σκηνοθετήσουν την άφιξή τους.

    Συνολικά εννέα περιπτώσεις διάσωσης προσφύγων σε liferaft έχει δώσει στη δημοσιότητα το λιμενικό της γειτονικής χώρας, με πρόσφυγες που βρέθηκαν να πλέουν χωρίς καμία δυνατότητα ελέγχου της πορείας τους, μια και αυτές οι φουσκωτές σχεδίες στερούνται μηχανή ή όποιο άλλο προωθητικό μέσο ή και πηδάλιο.

    Πρόκειται για περιπτώσεις όπου σκάφη της ακτοφυλακής της Τουρκίας μαζεύουν ναυαγούς από liferaft σε ακτογραμμή μήκους 170 ν.μ. Και συγκεκριμένα από το Δικελί ανατολικά της Λέσβου έως και την πόλη Ντάτσα (Datça) βόρεια της Σύμης, εκεί όπου τα περιστατικά διάσωσης προσφύγων σε liferaft είναι πυκνά. Το πρώτο καταγράφηκε στις 23 Μαρτίου, όταν η τουρκική ακτοφυλακή στις 5.25 μ.μ. μάζεψε από liferaft συνολικά 31 άτομα, που δήλωσαν ότι το πρωί της ίδιας ημέρας είχαν αποβιβαστεί στη Σύμη. Το δεύτερο στη Σύμη και τρίτο χρονικά σημειώθηκε στις 27/3, σχεδόν μία ώρα μετά τα μεσάνυχτα, με τον ίδιο τρόπο, με 10 διασωθέντες.

    Επαναλήφθηκε τέταρτη φορά στις 29/3 και ώρα 23.40 πάλι στην Datça με 18 άτομα. Το πέμπτο καταγεγραμμένο περιστατικό σημειώθηκε στην πόλη Didim της δυτικής Τουρκίας απέναντι από το Φαρμακονήσι, με την τουρκική ακτοφυλακή να διασώζει από liferaft εννέα πρόσφυγες.

    Το έκτο και το έβδομο περιστατικό σημειώθηκαν έξω από το Δικελί, απέναντι από τη Λέσβο, στις 31 Μαρτίου όπου μέσα σε λίγα λεπτά στις 01.21 και 01.38 περισυνελέγησαν συνολικά 39 άνθρωποι. Το όγδοο ήταν αυτό της Σάμου την 1η Απριλίου, όπου οι πρόσφυγες μεταφέρθηκαν στο Αϊδίνι της Τουρκίας, ενώ το ένατο και πιο πρόσφατο σημειώθηκε στις 4 Απριλίου με τον εντοπισμό ενός liferaft με 15 άτομα έξω από το Αϊβαλί. Τα στοιχεία για τους αριθμούς των διασωθέντων, για την τοποθεσία και την ώρα προέρχονται από τη ΜΚΟ Aegean Boat Report, ενώ οι φωτογραφίες από το τουρκικό λιμενικό.


    –-> Commentaire de Vicky Skoumbi, reçu via mail, le 08.04.2020 :

    Absolument terrifiant : une nouvelle méthode de refoulement maritime extrêmement dangereuse est pratiquée au moins depuis le 23 mars par les garde-côtes grecs

    Plusieurs cas de refoulement maritime de réfugiés par une méthode extrêmement dangereuse : ils sont renvoyés vers la Turquie sur des canots de sauvetage gonflables dits #liferaft.

    Le Journal de Rédacteurs révèle des refoulements maritimes illégaux de réfugiés vers la Turquie par les garde-côtes, avec une procédure spéciale : une fois repérés à l’endroit où ils ont débarqués, les réfugiés sont placés sur des radeaux de survie qui ressemblent à des tentes flottantes et sont laissés à la dérive dans les eaux turques afin de le courant les emporte vers la côte turque.

    Cette méthode employée déjà pour repousser des dizaines de personnes est non seulement illégal mais extrêmement dangereuse : dans la mesure où ces radeaux de sauvetage n’ont ni machine ni gouvernail ils dérivent hors contrôle et mettent en danger la vie de ceux qui s’y trouvent.

    Le reportage photographique de Efimerida tôn Syntaktôn permet identifier des visages spécifiques des réfugiés en train de débarquer ; les mêmes visages se retrouvent sur les radeaux de sauvetage spéciaux, qui ressemblent à des tentes, ces liferafts à la dérive.

    Il s’avère que les autorités, et en particulier les garde-côtes, après avoir localisé les réfugiés sur terre, soit sur une ligne côtière escarpée soit au milieu de la mer, les obligent de monter à bord de ces radeaux de sauvetage, ces soi-disant radeaux de sauvetage, puis les laissent dans les eaux territoriales turques, afin qu’ils soient emportés par les vagues jusqu’à ce que les navires des garde-côtes turcs les repèrent.

    Les mêmes personnes, avec des vêtements et des objets caractéristiques, apparaissent sur des photos prises le 1er avril à Samos et le lendemain sur un bateau de la garde côte turque.

    Au total, neuf cas de sauvetage de réfugiés sur des liferafts ont été rendus publics par les garde-côtes turques, les réfugiés naviguant sans aucune possibilité de contrôler leur trajectoire, car ces radeaux gonflables ne sont dotés ni de machine, ni d’autre moyen de propulsion, ni de gouvernail.

    Les données sur le nombre de personnes secourues, l’emplacement et l’heure proviennent de l’ONG Aegean Boat Report, tandis que les photos de garde-côtes turcs. Pour voir le reportage photo Efimerida tôn Syntaktôn (

    Voir aussi la page FB de Aegean Boat Report :

    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #refoulement #push-back #refoulements #push-backs #Mer_Egée #Grèce #Turquie #frontières #life_raft #liferafts #life_rafts #orange

    ping @luciebacon @isskein @karine4

    • More images published by @ABoatReport
      this morning: a floating deportation camp.


      Tents at Sea: How Greek Officials Use Rescue Equipment for Illegal Deportations

      Back in 2013, Australia introduced strange new machinery in its campaign against unauthorized migration: a dozen bright-orange and windowless life vessels, shaped like missiles. These were equipped with navigational systems, air conditioning, and an engine. Each vessel, asylum seekers said, was given “just enough fuel” to reach Indonesia. When they washed ashore in February 2014, Indonesian locals were initially unsure what they were looking at. It was a piece of new deportation infrastructure, designed to launch migrants intercepted at sea back to where they had come from.

      In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, Greek authorities have put in place comparable deportation machinery. In at least 11 incidents since March 23, migrants have been found drifting in orange, tent-like inflatable life rafts without motors or propellants and that cannot be steered. Members of the Turkish Coast Guard reported these apparitions, but Greek authorities neither explained nor documented them. Images of these life rafts, fluorescent triangular structures afloat between black sea and dark sky, looked strange enough to seem superimposed. Relying on testimony and footage we obtained from multiple sources, including asylum seekers in the area, our investigation verifies this latest show of violence at the Greek-Turkish maritime border.

      Far from Australia’s flashier orange vessels from five years back, these are more modest structures. Importantly, the Greek life rafts have appeared in a very different maritime environment: compared to the oceans surrounding Australia, the Aegean Sea is a relatively placid and narrow body of water. Yet like the Australian vessels, these too have been put in place by State authorities, in an organized way, violating fundamental rules of international law. The two sets of deportation craft share visible similarities and are each used in dangerous ways, shedding light on the legal and moral risks that states are now willing to take, just to keep out unwanted populations.

      Maximum Deterrence

      On Nov. 27, Greek Member of Parliament Kyriakos Velopoulos, leader of the right-wing Greek Solution party, appeared on a popular TV talk show on ERT, a Greek state-owned public broadcaster. He advanced a policy first adopted by the United States in Guantanamo Bay, where Haitian asylum-seekers were detained long before 9/11, and later expanded upon by Australia: open-air detention of asylum seekers on “uninhabited” islands. For those whose applications are rejected, Velopoulos suggested unilateral pushbacks to Turkey: Greek authorities should simply remove arriving migrants from the country and send them back to where they came from. Holding photos of the oblong orange vessels Australia had used, he explained: “This here … is a raft made by the Australian government … with food, actual food, and it never sinks.” An interviewer gasped: “There’s a humanitarian aspect to it!”

      The relevant background to Velopoulos’s suggestions goes back to 1990, when the Dublin Convention introduced a system whereby asylum seekers must remain in the first European Union member State they access and have their requests processed there. This created an enormous and unjust burden on states at the “external borders” of the EU, such as Greece.

      The latest version of this arrangement, the Dublin III Regulation, was adopted in 2013. In June 2015, the EU further exacerbated the disproportionate role given to Greece in “migration management”: with the announcement of the “hotspot” approach, several Aegean islands became locations for asylum-seeker screening, with departures to the mainland prohibited. By August, the flow of refugees from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, particularly the Syrian civil war, began to surge, generating a crisis within the EU as Member States argued over how to handle the arrivals.

      The influx of migrants generated a legal challenge to the Dublin rules, but the Court of Justice of the European Union upheld them in a 2017 ruling. In the meantime, in 2016, the EU and Turkey issued a joint statement saying Turkey would prevent unauthorized migrants from leaving its territory, in return for as much as 6 billion euros from the EU. Refugees and migrants thus became a bargaining chip that Ankara continuously used in its diplomatic wrangles with Brussels.

      Earlier this year, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressed for Western approval of his military operation against Syrian and Russian forces in northern Syria, he intensified his exploitative bargaining. On Feb. 29, he declared that the country would no longer prevent migrants from reaching Europe.

      As thousands of migrants gathered at the Turkish-Greek border, seeking to enter, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned in a tweet, “Once more, do not attempt to enter Greece illegally – you will be turned back.” On March 1, the Greek government issued an emergency decree suspending asylum applications. According to Human Rights Watch, the Greek National Security Council announced that unauthorized migrants would be immediately returned, without registration, “where possible, to their countries of origin or transit,” such as Turkey. As in other countries in the Mediterranean basin, which also resorted to emergency measures, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has provided a convenient pretext for cracking down on migrants.

      Adrift on the Aegean

      According to a report from the Turkish Coast Guard, the first of at least 11 alleged pushback incidents involving life rafts occurred on March 23. One of the Turkish Coast Guard’s March 23 reports on “irregular migration” stated that the Guard had rescued 31 Syrian asylum seekers found floating in a life raft off the coast of Muğla’s Datça district in the Aegean Sea. The raft in question can clearly be seen in a press release photograph published by the Coast Guard about the incident.

      The refugees contacted the Consolidated Rescue Group, a grassroots organization run by Arabic-speaking volunteers who operate an emergency hotline for migrants in distress. In a statement obtained by the group and forwarded to us, the asylum seekers rescued on March 23 said they landed on the Greek island of Symi on March 22, at approximately 6 am. At certain points, the island is less than 8 km (or 5 miles) from the Turkish shore. The next day, the Greek authorities forced them onto “a small raft that looked like a tent and was orange in color” and left them to drift.

      “Up until then, we had no idea that this was what they are going to do,” one of those on board, a construction worker (name withheld for security reasons) from the southeastern outskirts of Damascus, told us in a follow-up interview over WhatsApp.

      The Greek Coast Guard had brought them to the main port of Symi and boarded them onto a ship: “They told us they would take us for a Corona test, and then we would be given our belongings back and transferred to Athens,” he said. Instead, after two hours onboard the Greek Coast Guard vessel, the authorities forced them down into a small raft: “They put everyone in … children, women, elderly, and young people. They didn’t leave anyone in the ship,” he said, telling us that they were left to drift “for over three hours,” until they were eventually rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.

      He provided us with video footage that he recorded of the group’s arrival on the island of Symi, as well as footage recorded from inside the raft, while awaiting rescue (see below).

      The Greek government’s daily public statistics of arrivals contains no record of their arrival on the Greek island or their deportation to Turkey.

      A series of similar incidents were reported by the Turkish Coast Guard in the following days. On March 27, the Coast Guard reported rescuing 10 migrants (eight Palestinian, two Egyptian, consisting of 3 men, 2 women and 5 children) in a “life raft” off the coast of Muğla’s Datça district (the Turkish version is written as “Can Salı”). Again, photographs accompanying the Coast Guard’s official press release show people being rescued from a tent-like raft. According to the Turkish Coast Guard’s statements, the migrants had been “pushed back towards Turkish territorial waters by Greek Coast Guard.”

      The next day, on March 28, nine Syrians (4 men, 2 women and 3 children) rescued were reported found in a “life boat” off the coast of Aydın’s Didim district, again with clear photographs of the distinctive tent-like raft accompanying the Guard’s report.

      We interviewed a Kurdish couple from Hasaka, Syria, who were among the group. According to the couple, on the morning of March 27, “around 7 or 8 a.m.,” they arrived on the Greek island of Farmakonisi. Unlike the larger Aegean islands of Chios, Lesvos, Samos, and Kos, where refugees most commonly arrive, Farmakonisi is an uninhabited island and a military base. There are no camps or reception facilities for asylum seekers.

      The couple told us they were held by the army in terrible conditions. They described being “treated like animals, … [t]he army took our phones, money, clothes, and documents then threw them into the sea. Around 3 a.m., they took us toward the sea border. Then they made us take a boat shaped like a square tent, 2 meters wide. Then we were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.”

      Again, on March 29, the Turkish Coast Guard reported rescuing 18 migrants (7 men, 4 women and 7 children) at 11:40 p.m. The Coast Guard issued a press release, complete with clear photos of the migrants being rescued from a life raft.

      This is consistent with statements from migrants claiming to have been among those rescued. We interviewed a Syrian man who provided us with photographs of his arrival on Rhodes on March 27. The man told us he arrived with a group of 18 people: seven Palestinians, six Syrians and five Iranians, including children and a pregnant woman. After arriving on Rhodes, the man and the rest of the group were held by the Greek police on the roadside from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.

      “The weather was really cold and they did not let us light a fire to warm the women and children who were with us,” he said. The group was then transferred to the port by bus: “They gave us two tents, without anything in them. We were under full surveillance,” he added.

      “They [Greek authorities] were suspicious that we had corona, so we wrote a sign that none of us has corona so that we could reassure them, hoping they would treat us in a humane way,” he said. “But this changed nothing.”

      The group stayed in the makeshift camp for 2 1/2 days, until the night of March 29. He said that was when “a military van with army officers transferred us to the port and handed us over to the Greek Coast Guard.”

      They were on board the Greek Coast Guard boat for about one hour: “Then they switched off the engine of the boat and made us go down, in the middle of the sea, in a rubber boat shaped like a tent.” They were left to drift for what he describes as approximately two hours, when they were intercepted by the Turkish Coast Guard:

      When the Turkish Coast Guard found us and took us to the Turkish land, they registered our information and transferred us to the police station. They split us in half. One half was Syrians and Palestinians and the other half is the other nationalities. For us, we were detained for like 15 days and after that we were released without any rights as refugees, such as having a Kimlik [Temporary Protection Identification Document].

      Without the proper registration, he explains, he is now hiding from the Turkish authorities as he fears being forcibly returned to Syria, where he fled.

      Contravening International Rules

      “Shaped like a tent,” as migrants repeatedly describe them, the life rafts the Greek Coast Guard appears to be employing to expel migrants are, in fact, designed for emergency evacuation in the case of shipwreck. They are manufactured not for transportation, but for rescue in case of a boat or ship sinking, to keep survivors afloat and alive until assistance arrives. They are not equipped with an engine or other propellant, cannot be steered, and provide minimal protection from the elements.

      As Paul Crowley, a former captain for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Ireland, explained to us, such life rafts are never to be deployed “for any other reason other than to preserve life if no other option is available. It would contravene any internationally recognized standard to take people from a non-life-threatening location, either land or vessel, and place them in a raft.”

      As far as the law goes, these returns risk violating the international standard of non-refoulement. This principle is at the centerpiece of international refugee protection, and prohibits returns of asylum seekers to any place where they may suffer persecution, torture, or inhuman and degrading treatment. The returns also violate Greece’s obligations under human rights law, including the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, and the right to life (see Articles 3 and 2, respectively, of the European Convention on Human Rights). Inasmuch as these violations constitute a “widespread or systematic attack” directed against a “civilian population,” they may raise concerns under international criminal law. Evidence continues to surface that these days, when it comes to the treatment of migrants, the Greek authorities violate fundamental edicts of international law unabated.

      While the use of rescue equipment for deportations appears to be a new development, pushbacks on the Aegean are not. On March 23, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants Felipe González Morales stated that he is “very concerned about the reported pushbacks of asylum seekers and migrants” by Greek authorities at both land and maritime borders. He also referenced recent violence committed by Greek authorities against those seeking to aid migrants in the Aegean Sea area. The Germany-based human-rights monitoring organization Mare Liberum (“The Free Sea”) told us that a more common tactic of the Greek Coast Guard is to remove the engines of migrants’ boats and leave them to drift. Likewise, reports of the Turkish Coast Guard resorting to violence have arisen since Turkey’s implementation of the 2016 deal with the EU. Examples reported to the authors by migrants and NGO workers include driving rings around boats and throwing stones to stop boats from leaving Turkish waters.

      Clearly both countries have geostrategic motives for their treatment of migrants related to their fraught relationships with the EU – including aid money and various benefits for their own citizens. Often, it seems like the two countries are playing a violent game of ping-pong across the Aegean with migrant bodies.

      An Iraqi refugee whom we interviewed over WhatsApp — we will refer to as “Hatim” for safety reasons — told us that he has been pushed back to Turkey by Greek authorities on three occasions since July 2019. Hatim and his family fled to Turkey in 2014, when ISIS took over their home city of Mosul. They were selected for resettlement in the United States, and had just finished their first interview when Trump’s January 2017 Executive Order interrupted the program. On the night of April 1, 2020, he and his family made four separate attempts to reach the Greek island of Chios. On the last attempt, their rubber dinghy, carrying approximately 40 people, entered Greek territorial waters and was intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard. The Coast Guard confiscated the fuel from their boat and returned them to Turkish waters, leaving them to drift.

      The systemic nature of such violations by the Greek authorities was recently highlighted by whistleblowers working under Frontex, the European border enforcement agency. In early March, the crew of a Danish patrol boat participating in “Operation Poseidon,” an EU maritime border patrol mission coordinated by Frontex, revealed that the Hellenic Coast Guard has explicit orders to stop migrant boats from crossing the sea border between Turkey to Greece. The Danish unit had refused to obey a pushback order from Operation Poseidon headquarters. Since then, NGOs Alarmphone and Mare Liberum have documented a series of pushbacks by Greek authorities along the Greece-Turkey border, including in the Aegean, that have become increasingly visible and severe.

      Most notably, Greek newspaper EFSYN reported an incident involving 26 migrants whose arrival on Mourtia Beach on the Greek island of Samos April 1 was documented by a resident. The arrival was not reported by the Greek authorities. In fact, government statistics recorded no new arrivals to Samos on that date.

      However, photographs taken by the Samos resident (and reproduced in EFSYN’s reporting) show the deflated dinghy and newly arrived migrants heading away from the shore. One member of the group is distinguished by bright red trousers while another carries a red duffle bag. EFSYN published photographs obtained from the Turkish Coast Guard of the same group who had arrived on Mourtia Beach aboard a Turkish Coast Guard boat after their rescue later that day, noting the marked similarities in the appearance, clothing and baggage of the migrants in the two sets of photographs. On the same day, the Turkish Coast Guard reported rescuing 26 migrants (found with a life raft) on the shore near Kuşadası national park, in a location that cannot be reached by land. According to the Turkish Coast Guard, the migrants said they had landed on Samos, were rounded up by the Greek Coast Guard and left to drift in the raft.

      On May 12, EFSYN published a video of a life raft like the ones pictured above (but without the cover) being dragged by a Greek Coast Guard boat off the southeast coast of Samos. The video was originally published by the Turkish Coast Guard on April 29, at which time it announced rescuing 22 people found drifting off the coast of Aydin province, bordering the Greek island of Samos. According to Bellingcat’s recent investigation into the incident, the group of 22 migrants rescued on April 29 (pictured in the video) had, in fact, arrived on Samos the previous day, on April 28.

      Most recently, a video surfaced on YouTube appearing to show the Turkish Coast Guard rescuing a group of 30 migrants aboard two life rafts. According to Turkish records and reports, including photographs, the Coast Guard rescued 30 migrants in two life rafts on May 13, consisting of 13 Congolese, eight Syrians, five Bangladeshis and three Palestinian nationals, along with a Lebanese national. The rescue occurred off the coast of the district of Menderes in Turkey’s İzmir province.

      On May 15, yet another group of migrants were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard after being found in these distinctive life rafts. This group of 25 migrants also reported having been repelled by Greek authorities, again with photographic evidence.

      The Tent and the Missile

      Australians eventually replaced their orange lifeboats with fishing boats, although the intention was the same – pushing migrants away from Australian shores. But there was something chillingly memorable about that episode. It embodied the often-hypocritical moral stance of liberal democracies regarding strangers in need: a willingness to engage in extreme measures, even violence, to enforce borders, coupled with an emphasis on efficiency and a pretense of safety.

      While the Australian deportation vessels appear to have been custom-made and reportedly were purchased for $40,000 AUD each (about $25,000 USD), the Greek life raft “tents” are considerably more modest. They are the kind of equipment a yacht owner might purchase online for around $2,000. Under the 1974 Safety of Life as Sea Convention, maritime vessels are required to have such protective gear available. The Hellenic Coast Guard has now repurposed them for the opposite ends – putting people in danger.

      The Greek orange rafts seen in pictures appear to be a model manufactured by a Greek company called LALIZAS, which specialize in rescue equipment. A November 2019 LALIZAS newsletter includes an article entitled “24 hours in a LALIZAS Liferaft: Mission accomplished!” It describes a training in which members of Greece’s Hellenic Rescue Team and Hellenic Air Force carried out a simulated “‘actual’ case of emergency” by relying on a LALIZAS life raft and its food and survival equipment for a full 24 hours (see the story on the LALIZAS website here, and official video of the simulation, here). The life raft in question, code named “MEDUSSA” for the simulation, appears identical to those in many of the images of the tent-like rafts migrants have been rescued from while adrift in the Aegean.

      According to the Greek government’s procurement records available online, it purchased the life rafts for the Greek Navy in 2017. Several government ministries appear to have contracts with this company.

      The Australian life raft most closely resembles a missile. Its very image conveys the omnipotence of a regional superpower. By using such a machine, Australia effectively said to those attempting unauthorized maritime entry, “We will shoot you away.” To be sure, this missile is not fired at the migrants. It’s as if they become part of its ammunition; shot back at Indonesia’s shores, they are expected to crawl out of the shell once the missile crashes on one of the country’s countless atolls.

      Compared to the grandeur of the Australian missile-like object, and its mechanical cruelty, the Greek tent-like raft is a poignant symbol of inhumanity. Set adrift on the Aegean, its disquieting quality emerges from the fact that it becomes a kind of metaphor for the refugee’s condition. Asylum seekers describing it had often used the Arabic word ḵēma (خيمة), which is the tent one would use in a camp (and typically not a home, even if that too is a tent). It echoes the word mūẖym, which means refugee camp. No fuel is rationed to reach a destination, and the expectation appears to be that the life raft will simply drift across the relatively narrow waterway.

      The act of putting migrants to sea in inflatable tents is in line with the broader EU contemporary response to the “refugee crisis” – rejection and abandonment. This is, at least, how asylum seekers protesting at Moria camp, on the Greek island of Lesvos, see it: “We have been abandoned here,” said one asylum seeker on April 22.

      Like the Australian example, the tent too is an instrument of deterrence: “We will shoot you away” is replaced with a threat of an even more perilous exile on water. This aspect, however, does not make the Greek use of the life rafts any better than the Australian display of technological might. Both are utilized to perform what is almost an act of murder, but ultimately not quite there.

      –-> #camps_flottants #camp_flottant

    • A terrifying video of a push-back in the Aegean sea; men, women –two of them pregnant- and children abandoned at sea on a liferaft by the greek coast-guards


      Le reportage complet du quotidien grec Efimerida tôn Syntaktôn:

      Επαναπροώθηση με ελληνική σφραγίδα

      Ένα ακόμα περιστατικό παράνομης επαναπροώθησης που σημειώθηκε στις 25 Μαΐου στο Αιγαίο, στη θαλάσσια περιοχή ανοιχτά της Λέσβου, έρχεται στη δημοσιότητα για να επιβεβαιώσει την σύνδεση της χρήσης σχεδιών τύπου liferafts, με τις ελληνικές λιμενικές αρχές.

      Όπως είχε αποκαλύψει πρόσφατη έρευνα που δημοσιεύτηκε στον ιστότοπο από τους δρ. Itamar Mann και Niamh Keady Tabal, και παραθέτει στοιχεία και για παράνομες επαναπροωθήσεις, το Ελληνικό Δημόσιο συνεργάζεται στενά με την ελληνική εταιρεία LALIZAS, σωστικές συσκευές της οποίας προμηθεύτηκε και το Πολεμικό Ναυτικό, σύμφωνα με αρχεία αναρτημένα στη Διαύγεια, το 2017.

      Η έρευνα συζητήθηκε διεθνώς και ανάγκασε τον επικεφαλής της Frontex Φαμπρίς Λεγκέρι να παραδεχτεί τις ελληνικές παράνομες επιχειρήσεις επαναπροώθησης.

      Το βίντεο που δημοσιοποιεί σήμερα η « Εφ.Συν. » εξετάστηκε από την ερευνητική ομάδα Disinfaux, η οποία συμμετείχε στην έρευνα του Στο βίντεο διακρίνεται καθαρά πάνω στη σχεδία η επιγραφή LALIZAS ISO-RAFT. Διακρίνεται επίσης ο σειριακός αριθμός και η ημερομηνία κατασκευής της σχεδίας, βάσει της διαθέσιμης ανάλυσης (ISO 96-50-1, LALIZAS ISO-RAFT, Date of Manufacture 10/2016 Serial Number 161012174). Το προϊόν με αυτά τα χαρακτηριστικά διαφημίζεται στην ιστοσελίδα της εταιρείας.

      Σε άλλο απόσπασμα του βίντεο φαίνονται σε κοντινή απόσταση οι άλλες 3 παρόμοιες πλωτές σχεδίες, γεγονός που συνάδει με τα διαθέσιμα στοιχεία για το περιστατικό της 25ης Μαΐου, όπως είχε δημοσιευτεί το ίδιο πρωί, από τη Τουρκική Ακτοφυλακή.

      Ελληνικές σχεδίες

      Ανήκε η συγκεκριμένη σχεδία στον επίσημο εξοπλισμό του Πολεμικού Ναυτικού ή άλλων ελληνικών δυνάμεων ; Πώς βρέθηκε καταμεσής του Αιγαίου ως μέσο επαναπροώθησης προς την Τουρκία προσφύγων που είχαν βρεθεί σε κίνδυνο ; Τι αναφέρουν τα πρωτόκολλα διάσωσης για όσους βρίσκονται σε κίνδυνο στη θάλασσα ;

      Τα βίντεο τραβήχτηκαν από πρόσφυγα πάνω στη σχεδία την ώρα της επαναπροώθησης. Σε ανάρτησή του στα μέσα κοινωνικής δικτύωσης περιγράφει τις δραματικές στιγμές που έζησε αυτός και άλλοι περίπου 70 πρόσφυγες στις 25 Μαΐου, από τη στιγμή που έπεσαν στα χέρια του Λιμενικού μέχρι που τους εγκατέλειψε, και βρέθηκαν να πλέουν αβοήθητοι πάνω σε τέσσερις σχεδίες στη μέση του Αιγαίου. Παρέμειναν εκεί, ανάμεσά τους πέντε παιδιά και δύο έγκυες. Ένας τους είχε καταφέρει να κρύψει το κινητό του τηλέφωνο και κατάφεραν να καλέσουν το τουρκικό Λιμενικό, το οποίο τους εντόπισε.

      Η « Εφ.Συν. » επικοινώνησε με τον πρόσφυγα που ανάρτησε το βίντεο. Όπως αναφέρει, σκάφος της ελληνικής ακτοφυλακής έκανε μανούβρες γύρω από τη βάρκα στην οποία αρχικά επέβαιναν οι πρόσφυγες. « Όλοι οι φίλοι μου έκλαιγαν, ούρλιαζαν, ζητούσαν βοήθεια από το λιμενικό. Άντρες που φορούσαν στρατιωτικές στολές, και είχαν όπλα, πήραν τη μηχανή της βάρκας και μας είπαν : "Είμαστε εδώ για να σας βοηθήσουμε, θέλουμε να σας μεταφέρουμε στο καμπ της Μόριας" », λέει χαρακτηριστικά.

      Τους επιβίβασαν στο σκάφος του λιμενικού και αφού έλεγξαν τη θερμοκρασία τους με θερμόμετρα, τους χτύπησαν και τους αφαίρεσαν τα προσωπικά τους αντικείμενα. « Μας πήραν τα πάντα : χρήματα, τσάντες, τηλέφωνα », λέει. Αφαίρεσαν από το σκάφος του λιμενικού την ελληνική σημαία, τους οδήγησαν μεσοπέλαγα και τους επιβίβασαν σε τέσσερα liferaft. Τους ανάγκασαν να ανέβουν είκοσι άτομα σε κάθε σχεδία, ενώ η -βάσει προδιαγραφών- χωρητικότητά της είναι για 12 άτομα. Η εταιρεία LALIZAS δεν έχει στον κατάλογο της παρόμοιου τύπου liferaft με χωρητικότητα άνω των 12 ατόμων. Επισημαίνει επίσης πως οι τέσσερις τσάντες από τις οποίες έβγαλαν τα πλωτά ήταν χρώματος πορτοκαλί, όπως διαφημίζεται και το προϊόν στο site της LALIZAS.

      « Δεν έδωσαν σωσίβια στους ανθρώπους που δεν είχαν, και όταν εγώ ζήτησα από έναν λιμενικό να μου δώσει το τηλέφωνό μου για να επικοινωνήσω τουλάχιστον με την τουρκική ακτοφυλακή μου απάντησε "έλα και πάρ’ το", δείχνοντάς μου τα γεννητικά του όργανα », αναφέρει ο πρόσφυγας, ο οποίος θέλει να κρατήσει την ανωνυμία του.

      Τους περικύκλωσαν για 15 περίπου λεπτά και μετά τους εγκατέλειψαν. Ένας από τους επιβαίνοντες κατάφερε να κρύψει το κινητό του τηλέφωνο και έτσι κατάφεραν να καλέσουν την τουρκική ακτοφυλακή η οποία τους μετέφερε σώους στην Φότσα της Σμύρνης.

      « Δημοσιοποιώ αυτό το βίντεο για να δείξω στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση, την Ύπατη Αρμοστεία και το Ευρωκοινοβούλιο, τα αποτελέσματα των αποφάσεων τους για το προσφυγικό », καταλήγει στην ανάρτησή του. Την ίδια στιγμή, ο Διεθνής Οργανισμός Μετανάστευσης (ΔΟΜ), η Ύπατη Αρμοστεία, και αρκετοί φορείς ζητούν απαντήσεις και τη διεξαγωγή έρευνας για τις καταγγελλόμενες επαναπροωθήσεις και μαζικές απελάσεις προσφύγων και μεταναστών στην Τουρκία.


    • Greece Suspected of Abandoning Refugees at Sea

      An investigation by DER SPIEGEL and partners has revealed that the Greek Coast Guard intercepts refugee boats, puts the migrants in life rafts, tows them toward Turkey and then abandons them to their fate. What do German troops in the area know about the practice?

      Europe is just a few kilometers away, recalls Amjad Naim, when the men in masks show up. It’s the morning of May 13 and the Palestinian is sitting in an inflatable boat, having paid migrant smugglers in Turkey for the trip. Naim can already see the Greek coast, and with every second, he is getting closer and closer.

      Naim wasn’t alone in the boat. They were a group of at least 26 people and they had almost reached the island of Samos. Naim remembers hearing a helicopter, and then all hell broke loose. For the next several hours, those on board would be afraid for their lives.

      The men in the masks approached in a large vessel, says Naim, adding that he remembers seeing the Greek flag and several dinghies. And then, he says, the masked men went on the attack.

      They fired shots into the water, he says, snagged the migrants’ inflatable raft with a grappling hook and destroyed the motor, thus stopping the boat. The men then took the migrants on board their vessel, Naim says, adding that he started crying and hid his mobile phone in his underwear.

      There are videos that prove that Naim really was on his way to Samos. The images show a young man with closely cropped hair and a smooth-shaven face. The motor of the small inflatable boat hums in the background as Naim smiles into the camera. He is originally from the Gaza Strip in the Palestinian Territories, where he studied law and got married. His wife is waiting for him in the Netherlands. Naim blows a kiss into the camera.

      The next images of Naim are shaky — a 55-second clip made by Naim that clearly documents a crime. The footage shows him and the other refugees on two inflatable life rafts. The Greek Coast Guard had put them off of the ship and onto the rafts. The square-shaped platforms are little more than wobbly rubber rafts.

      In the video, a Greek Coast Guard ship, 18 meters (59 feet) long, is dragging the rafts back toward Turkey. An additional ship stands by. Water can be seen pouring into Naim’s raft.

      Then, as can be seen in the video, the Greek Coast Guard unties the tow rope, leaving the refugees to their fate in the middle of the sea. Sitting in a rubber raft that has no ability to maneuver on its own.

      It is possible that Naim’s experience could be an isolated incident. It is conceivable that the Greek sailors simply lost their patience or that that particular ship was crewed by an especially nasty group. But that is not the case. Naim is apparently just one victim among many. There is a system behind the tactics he was exposed to. In a joint investigation with Lighthouse Reports and Report Mainz, DER SPIEGEL has forensically analyzed dozens of videos and compared them with geodata in addition to speaking with numerous eyewitnesses.

      The material shows beyond doubt: In the eastern Aegean, European values are being sacrificed in the name of protecting its external borders.

      Masked men, almost certainly Greek border control officials, regularly attack refugee boats in the area. In one case on June 4, the inflatable boat belonging to the masked men can be clearly identified as a Greek patrol boat. It belongs to Greek Coast Guard ship ΛΣ-080.

      After the refugee boats are intercepted, the Greeks, apparently, frequently put the migrants in inflatable life rafts, tow them toward Turkey and then leave them to their fates. In most cases, they are dragged ashore after several hours by the Turkish Coast Guard.

      The actions taken by the Greeks are a clear breach. It has long been known that Greek Coast Guard personnel delay rescue attempts and perform aggressive maneuvers. Now, though, they are actively putting the lives of migrants at risk and they are using life-saving equipment to put people in danger.

      Images of migrants on orange life rafts have been appearing for weeks on Facebook and Instagram. NGOs like Aegean Boat Report, Josoor and Alarm Phone have also spoken with refugees and reported their experiences - and since March 23, activists have documented a number of incidents. The Turkish Coast Guard has also published images of the orange life rafts. But Naim’s video is the first to document beyond doubt a Greek Coast Guard vessel towing life rafts toward Turkey and then abandoning the refugees on the open sea.

      These so-called pushbacks represent both a violation of international law and of the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. Asylum seekers have a right to have their cases heard on an individual basis and countries are not permitted to bring them back against their will to a place where their safety is not guaranteed.

      Itamar Mann, a lawyer at the University of Haifa and member of the Global Legal Action Network, believes pushbacks could also have criminal consequences. From a legal perspective, such operations, he says, are a kind of torture, with refugees experiencing inhumane treatment and humiliation.

      When contacted, the Greek Coast Guard denied the accusations and claimed that its personnel does not wear masks. They also said they obey all applicable laws. Delays in rescuing the refugees, they said, were due to the Turkish Coast Guard because they only accompany refugee boats if they are traveling in the direction of Greece. The Greek officials, they said, only locate the refugee boats and then inform the Turkish Coast Guard as quickly as possible.

      They claimed that they cooperated with the Turkish Coast Guard in the May 13 incident. In their statement, the Greek Coast Guard did not specifically address the video showing the pushback.
      Caught in the Middle

      Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been in office since last July, and since then, he has taken several steps to ensure that fewer refugees arrive in Greece. He had temporarily suspended the right to asylum and shortened the deadline for appeal in asylum cases. Furthermore, during his tenure, border guards on the Maritsa River between Turkey and Greece have apparently used live ammunition against refugees, likely killing at least one. His government has considered blocking refugee boats with barriers at sea.

      His government refers to the practices as “active surveillance.” In fact, though, they are abandoning refugees on the high seas.

      There is a reason for this new degree of brutality: Since the end of February, Turkish border guards are no longer stopping refugees on their way to Europe. Indeed, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has even arranged for refugees to be bused to the Greek border, where they were pushed back by Greek border guards. Erdogan’s intention is to ratchet up the pressure on the European Union, with Brussels and Ankara currently trying to hammer out a new refugee deal.

      The cynical game seen on the banks of the Maritsa River is now being repeated in the Aegean. The Turkish and Greek Coast Guards are pushing refugee boats into the territorial waters of the other, with the migrants themselves getting caught in the middle. In such a situation, those wanting to cross the Aegean need quite a bit of luck.

      Omar, a young man from Afghanistan, had lost almost all hope for such luck on the morning of June 4, floating in a boat between the Greek island of Lesbos and the Turkish coast. Omar, whose name has been changed for this story, wasn’t alone: A total of 31 men, women and children were on board.

      Turkish and Greek vessels had repeatedly pushed the migrants back. In one video, a dinghy can be seen that doubtlessly belongs to the Greek Coast Guard. Masked men, says Omar, had pushed their motor into the water, which is why to refugees were hanging off the back of the refugee boat and kicking, doing all they can to propel the boat to European soil. The scene was captured on video.

      Omar is desperate. He makes a final video, posting it to a refugee group on Facebook. In the video, he speaks into the camera for a good six minutes. “Please help us,” he pleads. “We have a right to live.”

      Perhaps it was this video that saved Omar’s life. Activists shared it on Facebook and just a short time later, a Turkish liaison officer on the supply ship Berlin told German soldiers of the vessel in distress. The ship is part of a NATO mission and was located off Lesbos. Using a tender, the Germans took the refugees ashore.

      A subsequent press release from the Bundeswehr, as the German military is called, noted that the refugees’ lives had been in danger, which is why the commander intervened. A small boat unable to maneuver on its own: It must have seemed rather strange to the soldiers. The press release made no mention of an attack on the refugee boat.
      German Officials Pulled Into the Chaos

      The episode shows, though, just how deeply German officials have been pulled into the chaos on the Aegean. It also raises the question as to whether the Germans know of the assaults and of the lifeboats - and whether they tolerate the pushbacks or are perhaps even involved.

      Around 600 border guards are helping the Greeks monitor activity on the Aegean, all part of the Frontex operation Poseidon. And the mission hasn’t always been free of conflict. In March, a Danish Frontex crew refused to carry out an illegal pushback.

      Behind closed doors, Frontex may already have admitted that it is aware of the brutal tactics involving the lifeboats. European Parliamentarian Dietmar Köster, a member of European Parliament from the German Social Democrats (SPD), says that Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri confirmed the incidents in a meeting with him. Though Köster is certain of his understanding of that meeting, Frontex says there was a misunderstanding, adding that Frontex headquarters has received no reports about pushbacks.

      Luise Amtsberg, a Green Party spokesperson on migration policy, doesn’t believe it. The waters around Samos are not endless, she told Report Mainz and DER SPIEGEL. “Pushbacks cannot take place completely without the knowledge of the other units in the area.”

      And there are indications that German officials might know of the pushbacks. In the port of Samos, the German Coast Guard ship Uckermark is anchored. On May 13, on the day that Amjad Naim was on his way to Samos, the Germans identified a refugee boat on their radar, according to information provided by the German Federal Police when contacted.

      In all probability, it was Naim’s boat. There is no evidence that there were any other refugee boats heading for Samos on that day. The Greek Coast Guard also confirmed that a ship and a helicopter belonging to the Germans had spotted a boat that day. They say it was in Turkish waters when first seen.

      The Germans alerted the Greek Coast Guard by radio, and the Greeks then took charge of the situation, according to a written statement. The statement notes that the Germans were “not involved” in any other measures related to the incident and insists that the Germans have no knowledge of the lifeboat episode.

      The German Coast Guard has provided no comment as to why no refugees arrived on Samos that day or what happened to the refugee boat that was spotted. And they apparently aren’t particularly interested, either.

      Even if Frontex was not actively involved in the operation, they bear some of the responsibility, says the lawyer Itamar Mann. Frontex, he believes, must draw a line and even withdraw from the mission if need be.

      After the Germans apparently saw his boat and after the Greeks abandoned him to his fate on the high seas on May 13, Amjad Naim floated around for several hours. The sky was almost cloudless, and the sun was beating down, as can be seen in the videos. The refugees had nothing to eat or drink.

      The lifeboat soon began to spin in circles, Naim says, with some of the passengers becoming nauseous and others fainting. Turkish and Greek ships, he says, simply ignored them. “It was awful,” Naim says.

      It was only after several hours that a Turkish Coast Guard vessel arrived to collect them. Men in white protective equipment helped the refugees off the lifeboat and took their temperatures. Naim then had to remain in quarantine for more than two weeks - in a nasty camp full of filth and mosquitoes, he says.

      Naim is now allowed to move freely in Turkey, but still feels trapped. He says: “I can’t go forward and I can’t go back.”

    • ‘Catastrophe for human rights’ as Greece steps up refugee ‘pushbacks’

      Human rights groups condemn practice as evidence reviewed by the Guardian reveals systemic denial of entry to asylum seekers.

      At about 1am on 24 August, Ahmed (not his real name) climbed into a rubber dinghy with 29 others and left Turkey’s north-western Çanakkale province. After 30 minutes, he said, they reached Greek waters near Lesbos and a panther boat from the Hellenic coastguard approached.

      Eight officers in blue shorts and shirts, some wearing black masks and armed with rifles, forced the group – more than half women and including several minors and six small children – to come aboard at gunpoint. They punctured the dinghy with knives and it sank. “They said they would take us to a camp,” said Ahmed. “The children were happy and started laughing, but I knew they were lying.”

      Through the course of the night, Ahmed, a 17-year-old refugee from Eritrea, alleges that Greek officers detained the group, confiscating possessions and denying them access to toilets and drinking water. By morning, they were dispatched into a liferaft in Turkish waters. It was too small, and videos taken by Ahmed, who hid his phone, show some people were forced to swim. The Turkish coastguard confirmed it intercepted the raft at 1:20pm.

      The event described by Ahmed, who fled conflict in Eritrea after his father died, was one of seven times that he says he has been pushed back by the Hellenic coastguard. The use of these “pushbacks” has surged since March according to an investigation by the Guardian, and experts say it has become an overt policy of Greece’s rightwing New Democracy government, which came to power last year.

      Interviews with five victims of pushbacks, 10 NGOs working across the Aegean Sea including Human Rights Watch, Josoor and the Aegean Boat Report, and a tranche of videos reviewed by the Guardian reveal an organised and systemic practice of denying entry to asylum seekers.

      Next week a coalition of charities including Human Rights Watch and the Border Violence Monitoring Network will publish an open letter condemning the practice of pushbacks and calling for the Greek government and the European Commission to take action against those involved. A draft of the letter seen by the Guardian calls for “disciplinary and criminal sanctions” to be brought against those “found to have engaged in such illegal acts”.

      International law experts say these activities are in breach of international law including the convention relating to the status of refugees and the European convention on human rights. “What you are seeing is the illegal collective expulsion of refugees from Greek territory,” said Satvinder Juss, a professor of human rights and international refugee law at King’s College London. “It’s a catastrophe for human rights.”

      Often pushbacks involve teams of unidentified men in black uniforms who intercept boats of refugees that have arrived in Greek waters and forcibly return them to Turkish waters, either leaving them to drift after engines have been destroyed or in separate liferafts. In some cases, victims have arrived on Greek land before being returned by authorities to the open seas, after actively threatening them with beatings, gunshots and by creating large waves with fast boats. In one case, refugees were left on a tiny island between Greece and Turkey for two days without food before being rescued.

      AlarmPhone, an NGO that operates a telephone line and social media network for refugees in distress, said it observed a substantial increase in reports of pushbacks since the pandemic, recording 55 cases between March and August. The Greek Helsinki Monitor said it submitted a report to the supreme court, naval court and military appeals court of Greece claiming nearly 1,400 people were pushed back between March and July, though the true number is believed to be far higher.

      Minos Mouzourakis, legal officer at Refugee Support Aegean, is currently working on landmark legal cases at the European court of human rights that date back to 2014, when eight Afghan children and three women died after their vessel sank near the island of Farmakonisi during a reported pushback. “This is a regrettable resurgence of those older tactics,” said Mouzourakis.

      In December 2019, Greece said it was predicting up to 100,000 asylum seekers to arrive on its islands from Turkey in 2020. But as of 31 August, there have been 8,860 sea arrivals, according to UNHCR. Stella Nanou, the agency’s Greek representative, acknowledged the “credible accounts” of pushbacks and called on Greece to “guarantee and safeguard the rights of those seeking international protection”.

      Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, has taken several official steps to ensure fewer refugees arrive, temporarily suspending the right to asylum, shortening the deadline for appeal in asylum cases, extending fences along the land border with Turkey and is considering installing floating barriers at sea. But the government has described accusations of illegal pushbacks as “fake news” from unreliable sources.

      “Pushbacks are inherently violent, not only physically but mentally,” said Amelia Cooper, advocacy and communications officer for Lesbos Legal Centre, which is documenting pushbacks and providing legal support to survivors. “Survivors are aware that these expulsions, and the abuses that they entail, are constitutive of both the European border and the EU’s political context with Turkey.”

      When contacted, the ministry of maritime affairs and insular policy said its operations were in accordance with international law and that the agency has been subject to “systematic targeting by a portion of the mainstream media, NGOs and other social networking platforms, which tend to promote the relevant actions in a single dimensional and fragmentary way”.

      But documents seen by the Guardian reveal a German navy supply vessel called the Berlin, which heads Nato’s Standing Maritime Group 2 in the Aegean region, observed a boat with refugees being forced into Turkish sea territory by Greek authorities on 19 June and 15 August. The findings came in response to parliamentary questions by Left party MP Andrej Hunko.

      After being detained in Turkey, Ahmed was released and has since slept in a park in the city of İzmir. “I don’t care if I die,” he said. “I don’t have a choice to go back. But I am losing hope.”

    • Migrants accuse Greece of pushing them back out to sea

      Shortly after reaching the Greek island of Lesbos, a group of Afghan migrants say, their hopes for a new life in Europe were cut short when Greek authorities rounded them up, mistreated them, shoved them into life rafts and abandoned them at sea.

      Associated Press journalists on a Turkish government-organized coast guard ride-along were aboard the patrol boat that picked up the 37 migrants, including 18 children, from two orange life rafts in the Aegean Sea on Sept. 12. Two other media organizations on similar government-organized trips in the same week witnessed similar scenes.

      “They took our phones and said a bus will come and take you to the camp,” Omid Hussain Nabizada said in Turkish. “But they took us and put us on a ship. They left us on the water in a very bad way on these boats.”

      Turkey, which hosts about 4 million refugees, accuses Greece of large-scale pushbacks — summary deportations without access to asylum procedures, in violation of international law. It also accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to what it says is a blatant abuse of human rights.

      The Turkish coast guard says it rescued over 300 migrants “pushed back by Greek elements to Turkish waters” this month alone. Citing what they say are credible reports, international rights groups have called repeatedly for investigations.

      Greece, which lies on the EU’s southeastern border and has borne the brunt of migration flows from Turkey, denies the allegations and in turn accuses Ankara of weaponizing migrants.

      In March, Turkey made good on threats to send migrants to Europe, declaring its borders with the EU open. In what appeared to be a government-organized campaign, thousands headed to the Greek border, leading to scenes of chaos and violence. Turkey’s border with EU member Bulgaria was largely unaffected. Greece shut its frontier and controversially suspended asylum applications for a month.

      Greece’s coast guard says Turkey’s coast guard frequently escorts migrant smuggling boats toward Greece, and has provided videos to back its claims. It says under a 2016 EU-Turkey deal to stem migration flows, Turkey has an obligation to stop people clandestinely entering Greece.

      Greek coast guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nikolaos Kokkalas said its patrols regularly detect boats and dinghies carrying migrants trying to enter Greece illegally, and “among them many times there are also inflatable rafts such as those described” by the AP.

      The life rafts are standard safety equipment on recreational boats, designed to keep passengers safe if they must abandon ship. They generally have no means of propulsion or steering.

      “It must be underlined that in most of the cases, the presence of the Turkish coast guard has been observed-ascertained near the dinghies incoming from the Turkish coast, but without it intervening, while in some cases the dinghies are clearly being accompanied by (Turkish coast guard) vessels,” Kokkalas said in a written response to an AP query.

      Uneasy neighbors Greece and Turkey have been at loggerheads for decades over several territorial issues, and asylum-seekers have found themselves caught up in the geopolitical conflict.

      Tension between the two countries rose dramatically this summer over eastern Mediterranean maritime boundaries, leading to fears of war.

      Both sides deployed warships as Turkish survey ships prospected for gas in waters where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic rights. EU leaders are to discuss imposing sanctions on Turkey for its actions, in an Oct. 1-2 summit. Turkey has repeated its threat to send migrants into the EU if sanctions are imposed.

      The persistent allegations of pushbacks of migrants are the latest manifestations of these tensions.

      Human Rights Watch has accused Greece of summarily returning migrants across land and sea borders with Turkey, citing interviews with asylum-seekers.

      Other rights groups and refugee organizations, including the U.N. refugee agency, have repeatedly called on Greece to investigate what they say are credible reports and testimony of such expulsions occurring.

      “UNHCR is particularly concerned about the increasing reports, since March 2020, of alleged informal returns by sea of persons who, according to their own attestations or those of third persons, have disembarked on Greek shores and have thereafter been towed back to sea,” the agency said in August.

      UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Gillian Triggs, reiterating the call for an investigation, said that “with our own eyes on Lesbos, it was quite clear no boats were coming through” recently.

      Earlier this month, Greece’s Shipping Minister Giannis Plakiotakis said Greek authorities prevented more than 10,000 people from entering Greece by sea this year. He would not elaborate on how.

      Former Migration Minister Ioannis Mouzalas pressed for details from the current minister, Notis Mitarachi, in parliament Sept. 21, saying this appeared to violate Greek and international law. He asked directly whether the government carries out pushbacks.

      The four Afghans on the life rafts seen by AP said they reached Lesbos from Turkey’s western Canakkale province on the night of Sept. 11-12, and were caught by Greek law enforcement during daylight.

      One of them, Nabizada, said police hit him while forcing him into the raft.

      “They didn’t say, ‘there are children, there are families, there are women.’ … People don’t do this to animals. The Greek police did it to us,” said the 22-year-old. He said he left Kabul in 2017 and crossed to Turkey via Iran, aiming for Europe.

      Zohra Alizada, 14, said police took their phones and money, put them in the rafts and left. She was traveling with her parents and two siblings after living in Kars, in eastern Turkey, for over four years. She said the migrants called the Turkish coast guard for help.

      Her father, Mohammad Reza Alizada, said Greek authorities inflated the rafts “and they threw us like animals inside.”

      The AP was not able to independently verify their accounts.

      The Turkish coast guard, clad in protective equipment against COVID-19, took them aboard after checking them for fever. Another Turkish coast guard vessel was already in the area when the patrol boat carrying the AP crew arrived.

      Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu raised the allegations against Greece in an August news conference with his German counterpart.

      He said Turkey has shown through government and media reports that Greece is pushing back refugees at sea, adding that “there have been numerous articles published.”

      “How do sinking boats in the middle of the Aegean Sea or sending them to Turkey by pushbacks fit international rights and universal values?” Cavusoglu said.

      Greece denies sinking smuggling boats. Kokkalas noted the Greek coast guard had rescued 3,150 migrants in about 100 incidents this year.

      An independent Norway-based watchdog says it has documented at least 50 cases since March of migrants being put into life rafts and left adrift.

      “They are not going into these life rafts willingly. They are forced,” said Tommy Olsen of the Aegean Boat Report, which monitors arrivals and rights abuses in the Aegean.

      He said his group had no information about the rafts the AP saw, but that it was consistent with similar reports.

      “Usually you save people from life rafts,” Olsen said. “You don’t put them on life rafts and leave them.”

    • Les vrais crimes, ce sont les refoulements et les violations des droits humains par le gouvernement grec

      Lundi, la police grecque a publié un communiqué de presse concernant l’enquête criminelle menée à l’encontre de 33 personnes appartenant à quatre ONG différentes et deux “ressortissants de pays tiers”. A la suite de cette enquête, une procédure pénale a été engagée pour délit de constitution et participation à une organisation criminelle, espionnage, violation des secrets d’Etat et facilitation de l’entrée sur le
      territoire (1). Bien que le communiqué de presse ne nomme pas les ONG ou les individus, plusieurs médias ont déclaré qu’Alarm Phone faisait partie des groupes visés (2). Pour l’instant, nous nous abstenons de commenter publiquement l’enquête en cours. Nous voulons plutôt mettre en évidence les véritables crimes qui ont lieu en ce moment-même !

      Les refoulements, les violences graves comme les coups, les vols et les coups de feu, la non-assistance, le fait de forcer les réfugié.e.s à monter dans des radeaux de sauvetage et de les laisser dériver en pleine mer. Ces crimes sont perpétrés par des corps qui appartiennent de manière manifeste à l’État grec. Nous ne sommes pas les seul.e.s témoins de cette évolution alarmante. Plusieurs acteurs ont publiquement fait état de ces actions illégales menées par les garde-côtes grecs en mer et les gardes-frontières sur terre : le HCR, le Conseil grec pour les réfugiés, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch et d’autres organisations de défense des droits humains, des ONG et des médias. (3)

      Il en va de même pour la situation à Moria, qui est également mentionnée comme étant l’un des secrets d’État dans le communiqué de presse de la police grecque. Ce n’est pas un secret mais un fait public que, avec les fonds et le soutien européens, Moria est devenu le symbole de la politique migratoire de l’UE dont le but est la dissuasion, foulant aux pieds la dignité et les droits humains.

      Les violations des droits humains ont atteint un niveau inédit en mer Égée depuis le début du mois de mars. Cette escalade en termes de violations s’est accompagnée d’actes de répression contre les ONG et
      toutes sortes de structures de solidarité pour les réfugié.e.s et les migrant.e.s. Il est évident que l’État grec veut éliminer les témoins des crimes contre l’humanité qu’il commet quotidiennement. Il est évident qu’il est gêné par notre activité : rien que cette année, Alarm Phone a été témoin et a documenté de nombreux cas de refoulements et de graves violations des droits humains. (4)

      Il faut noter que depuis la création d’Alarm Phone il y a six ans, notre relation avec les garde-côtes helléniques n’a jamais été aussi compliquée qu’elle ne l’est aujourd’hui. Depuis octobre 2014, nous avons
      transmis environ 1 975 cas de personnes en détresse aux garde-côtes grecs et à d’autres autorités grecques. À plusieurs reprises, nous avions constaté que les garde-côtes faisaient de leur mieux pour porter secours le plus rapidement possible. Nous avions établi une communication rapide et efficace qui avait conduit à des opérations de sauvetage, ce qui était crucial à une époque où nous recevions jusqu’à
      23 appels par jour de bateaux en détresse dans la mer Égée, et ce qui est toujours aussi crucial aujourd’hui.

      Au tout début de notre projet, nous nous étions ouvertement adressé.e.s à tous les garde-côtes, leur expliquant le rôle et l’objectif d’Alarm Phone. Dans cette lettre d’octobre 2014, nous avions déclaré “Nous espérons que grâce à notre travail, nous pourrons vous soutenir dans votre tâche quotidienne qui consiste à sauver la vie des migrant.e.s. Dans le même temps, nous dénoncerons vigoureusement tout échec à mener à bien cette mission. Nous espérons que vos institutions accepteront à la fois notre contribution et la responsabilité que nous exigeons, qui est demandée à toutes les institutions publiques”. C’est ce que nous avons fait et continuerons à faire avec détermination.

      L’augmentation des violations des humains et des refoulements n’est pas un phénomène isolé, concernant uniquement la route entre la Grèce et la Turquie. A Alarm Phone, nous constatons également une tendance à la multiplication des refoulements illégaux de Malte et de l’Italie vers la Libye et la Tunisie en Méditerranée centrale, ainsi que de l’Espagne vers le Maroc en Méditerranée occidentale.

      Nous appelons celles et ceux qui sont solidaires avec les personnes en migration à sensibiliser et à protester contre les crimes contre l’humanité qui sont perpétrés quotidiennement en mer Égée. Chaque
      réfugié.e qui est repoussé.e, chaque personne qui est laissée dans un bateau en mauvais état, chaque enfant qui n’est pas secouru dans une situation de détresse est une raison suffisante pour se lever et élever la voix. Nous ne nous laisserons pas réduire au silence !


      (2) par exemple

      (3) Rapport sur les refoulements :
      UNHCR :

      Greek Council of Refugees :

      Amnesty International :

      Human Rights Watch :

      New York Times :

      The Guardian :

      CNN :

      (4) Alarm Phone sur les refoulements en mer Egée en 2020 :

    • Migrants : Athènes lance une guerre en eaux troubles contre les ONG

      Après une enquête policière grecque menée avec de faux exilés infiltrés, des humanitaires opérant à Lesbos sont menacés de graves poursuites pénales. A l’aide d’accusations les assimilant à des passeurs, les autorités tentent de contrer la dénonciation des refoulements secrets de réfugiés vers les côtes turques.

      « Ne vous méprenez pas, ils veulent juste nous faire peur, pour nous forcer à nous taire », martèle Aegean Boat Report dans un long post publié en tête de sa page Facebook. Spécialisée dans les sauvetages en mer, l’ONG norvégienne n’a pas tardé à réagir aux accusations formulées la semaine dernière par la police grecque et confirmées ce week-end. Au moins 33 humanitaires (parmi lesquels figurerait une Française), tous membres de quatre ONG internationales opérant sur l’île de Lesbos, seraient menacés de poursuites pénales après une enquête menée pendant trois mois, non seulement par la police, mais aussi par les services de renseignement et le contre-terrorisme grec.Les noms des organisations et des humanitaires concernés n’ont pas été divulgués pour l’instant. Mais de nombreux indices, notamment une perquisition réalisée début septembre sur un bateau amarré à Lesbos, indiquent que les quatre ONG concernées ont toutes en commun de se consacrer au sauvetage en mer des migrants ou réfugiés qui tentent la traversée depuis les côtes turques.
      Mère d’Hercule

      Ce n’est pas la première fois que le gouvernement grec s’attaque à ceux qui tentent de secourir les naufragés, en les assimilant à des passeurs. Mais cette fois-ci les accusations sont particulièrement graves : les humanitaires ciblés sont non seulement accusés de « violation du code de l’immigration », mais également de « constitution d’organisation criminelle », d’« espionnage » et de « violation de secrets d’Etat ».

      Bien plus, ils auraient été piégés, selon les révélations du ministre grec des Migrations, Notis Mitarakis, dimanche, sur la chaîne de télévision Skai. Les charges contre eux auraient ainsi été recueillies lors d’une opération secrète baptisée « Alcmène » (du nom de la mère du héros antique Hercule), qui aurait notamment permis aux services grecs d’envoyer deux faux migrants à Izmir en Turquie puis sur une plage d’où ils auraient contacté par la suite les lanceurs d’alerte des ONG vouées au sauvetage des embarcations en détresse.

      En l’absence d’autres éléments concrets, l’ampleur de l’opération qui a monopolisé tant de services, passant même par une infiltration en Turquie alors que les relations entre les deux pays sont actuellement très tendues, révèle surtout combien les autorités grecques sont déterminées à faire la guerre aux humanitaires déployés sur les îles.

      A la télévision, le ministre grec l’a d’ailleurs confirmé, accusant le gouvernement précédent d’avoir laissé « les lieux d’accueil des réfugiés sous le contrôle des ONG », alors que la droite conservatrice revenue au pouvoir en juillet 2019, s’est, elle, aussitôt employée à « surveiller le rôle des ONG dans les flux d’immigration clandestine ».

      Depuis son élection, le gouvernement du Premier ministre, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, n’a eu de cesse de stigmatiser les ONG régulièrement accusées de profiter de la situation explosive créée sur les îles grecques où les flux de réfugiés venus des côtes turques n’ont jamais réellement cessé, malgré le deal conclu entre l’Europe et la Turquie en mars 2016. Seule différence notable : les candidats à l’asile sont désormais contraints d’attendre sur place l’examen de leurs dossiers, créant un goulot d’étranglement dans des camps insalubres et surpeuplés. Sans les ONG qui remédient aux carences de l’Etat grec et à l’indifférence de l’Europe, la situation serait bien pire. Mais elles sont une cible facile sur laquelle se défoulent mécontents et aigris, alimentés par un discours populiste. Il fait mouche auprès des populations locales des îles de plus en plus exaspérées par ces abcès de misère qui sont venus se greffer durablement dans leur voisinage.
      Acteurs dubitatifs

      A Lesbos, depuis un an, les humanitaires ont ainsi vu régulièrement leurs voitures vandalisées, des inscriptions hostiles peintes en rouge sur les murs des maisons où ils résident. Les révélations sur « l’opération Alcmène » n’ont fait qu’attiser ce climat d’hostilité notamment sur les réseaux sociaux. Mais à Lesbos, les humanitaires ont également entendu un autre message : la police n’a-t-elle pas affirmé avoir, dans le cadre de son enquête, piraté des conversations sur les applis régulièrement utilisées par les ONG ?

      Il n’en fallait pas plus pour déclencher une certaine méfiance, le sentiment d’être surveillé en permanence. Sous couvert d’anonymat, nombreux sont pourtant les acteurs locaux qui restent dubitatifs face aux accusations de l’enquête policière. « On ne peut jamais exclure qu’un humanitaire ait fait une bêtise, en marge de la légalité mais toutes ces révélations ne tombent pas par hasard », estime ainsi l’un d’eux, pointant la coïncidence entre la divulgation de ces accusations et celles qui se multiplient contre le gouvernement lui-même. Et dont les humanitaires impliqués dans le sauvetage en mer seraient devenus les témoins gênants.

      Depuis plusieurs mois, Athènes se contente en effet de qualifier de « fake news » l’inquiétante multiplication des refoulements (« push back ») observés notamment par les ONG qui scrutent les eaux séparant la Grèce et la Turquie et dénoncent régulièrement ces refoulements forcés, et secrets, vers les côtes turques. Des pratiques totalement illégales puisqu’elles concernent des candidats à l’asile repérés alors qu’ils se trouvent déjà dans les eaux grecques, voire après avoir accosté sur les îles.
      Bateau perquisitionné

      « Depuis mars, 7 300 réfugiés ont été victimes de push back orchestrés par les autorités grecques en mer Egée », tweetait jeudi le compte du navire Mare Liberum. Dédié aux sauvetages en mer et affrété par l’ONG allemande Sea-Watch, le Mare Liberum est justement ce bateau perquisitionné le 5 septembre par la police grecque. Laquelle affirme y avoir notamment trouvé des cartes avec des indications topographiques précises et des data concernant le profil et l’origine des candidats à l’exil. A priori, rien de très choquant s’agissant d’une ONG qui se donne pour mission de secourir des naufragés. Mais ces « preuves » seraient venues conforter les accusations selon lesquelles les humanitaires concernés auraient « au moins depuis début juin » contribué à faire passer « près de 3 000 personnes » en Grèce avec la complicité de « réseaux d’immigration clandestine ».

      Pourtant, la plupart des ONG impliquées estiment n’avoir rien à se reprocher et refusent de se laisser intimider. « Nous ne resterons pas silencieux », souligne ainsi Alarm Phone dans un communiqué publié jeudi sur son site. L’ONG, qui serait elle aussi visée par l’enquête policière, rappelle également que depuis six ans, son central d’appels a toujours cherché à collaborer avec les gardes-côtes en leur indiquant la position des embarcations à la dérive. Mais ces derniers mois, cette collaboration est devenue « plus compliquée », constate également Alarm Phone qui s’inquiète de la « recrudescence des violations des droits de l’homme en mer Egée ». Face à ces dérives, l’Europe a pour l’instant réagi plutôt mollement. « La présidente de la Commission européenne, Ursula von der Leyen, affirme qu’elle n’a pas les moyens d’enquêter. Pourtant, l’équipage d’un navire allemand qui fait partie des forces de l’Otan a admis avoir assisté à trois push back en mer Egée », observe-t-on au Legal Center de Lesbos, une association qui apporte un appui juridique aux réfugiés, et a également publié en juillet un rapport sur ces refoulements forcés.

      Dans l’immédiat, le silence de Bruxelles semble encourager Athènes à renforcer sur tous les fronts son offensive contre les humanitaires. La semaine dernière, les autorités locales annonçaient ainsi la fermeture du centre d’accueil de Pikpa, l’un des rares lieux décents pour les réfugiés à Lesbos, géré depuis 2012 par des bénévoles.
      Ancien camp militaire

      Sur les réseaux sociaux, un mouvement de solidarité s’est aussitôt créé autour du hashtag #SavePikpa. Mais si les autorités persistent, que deviendront la centaine de réfugiés accueillis à Pikpa, souvent des familles considérées comme vulnérables ? Iront-elles rejoindre les sinistrés du camp de Moria, entièrement réduit en cendres dans la nuit du 8 au 9 septembre, et qui tentent désormais de survivre dans un ancien camp militaire, où quelques milliers de tentes ont été installées à la va-vite ? « Trois semaines après l’ouverture de ce nouveau site, il n’y a toujours pas de douche », s’insurge un humanitaire, conscient qu’il faudra de plus en plus d’énergie pour résister à l’hostilité des autorités.

      Les tentatives de blocage ne se limitent pas hélas à la Grèce. En mars, le navire Mare Liberum s’était vu privé de son pavillon de navigation par le ministère allemand de la Marine. Une façon un peu radicale de limiter ses opérations de sauvetage. Mais vendredi, l’équipage exultait sur Twitter : la justice allemande venait de lui donner raison contre le ministère, considérant que le retrait du pavillon « était contraire à la réglementation européenne ». Une première victoire, en attendant d’autres batailles.


      Members of Greece’s parliament should urgently establish an inquiry into all allegations of unlawful returns of migrants to Turkey by law enforcement officers and others, 29 human rights and humanitarian aid organizations said in an open letter released today. These returns are carried out mainly through pushbacks and collective expulsions and are often accompanied by violence.

      Parliament should exercise its oversight authority to investigate the allegations of these illegal acts by state agents and proxies on Greece’s sea and land borders with Turkey. The parliament’s inquiry should examine whether any illegal acts identified are part of a de facto government policy at odds with international, European, and Greek law.

      Over the years, nongovernmental groups and media outlets have consistently reported the unlawful return, including through pushbacks, of groups and individuals from Greece to Turkey by Greek law enforcement officers or unidentified masked men, who appear to be working in tandem with border enforcement officials.

      Reports from 2020 recorded multiple incidents in which Greek Coast Guard personnel, sometimes accompanied by armed masked men in dark clothing, unlawfully abandoned migrants – including those who had reached Greek territory. They abandoned the migrants at sea, on inflatable vessels without motors; towed migrant boats to Turkish waters; or intercepted, attacked, and disabled boats carrying migrants.

      Nongovernmental organizations and the media have also reported persistent allegations that Greek border guards have engaged in collective expulsions and pushbacks of asylum seekers through the Evros land border with Turkey.

      On June 10, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it was “closely monitoring” the situation at the Greek border and reported receiving “persistent reports” of migrants being arbitrarily arrested in Greece and pushed back to Turkey. The IOM said that Greece should investigate.

      On August 21, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it was “deeply concerned by an increasing number of credible reports indicating that men, women, and children may have been informally returned to Turkey immediately after reaching Greek soil or territorial waters in recent months,” and urged Greece to refrain from such practices and to seriously investigate these reports. The agency had released a statement making similar calls on June 12.

      On July 6, during a debate at the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on fundamental rights at the Greek border, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said those incidents should be investigated. In its new Pact on Migration and Asylum, presented on September 23, the European Commission recommended to member states to set up an independent monitoring mechanism, amid increased allegations of abuse at the EU’s external borders. But no such system has been instituted.

      Confronted during a CNN interview with an August 14 New York Times article documenting pushbacks, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “It has not happened. We’ve been the victims of a significant misinformation campaign,” suggesting instead that Turkey was responsible.

      Greek lawmakers should conduct a prompt, effective, transparent, and impartial investigation into allegations that Greek Coast Guard, Greek police, and Greek army personnel, sometimes in close coordination with uniformed masked men, have been involved in acts that not only violate the law but put the lives and safety of displaced people at risk.

      Any officer found to have engaged in such illegal acts, as well as their commanding officers and officials who have command responsibility over such forces, should be subject to disciplinary and criminal sanctions, as applicable. The investigation should seek to establish the identity and relationship of the masked men and other unidentified officers to law enforcement and take steps to hold them to account. The investigation should cover events surfaced in 2019 and 2020, the groups said.

      The following quotes may be attributed to members of the groups involved:

      “Despite government denials, over the years many witnesses and victims have told us about pushbacks from land and sea that put migrants’ lives at risk,” said Eva Cossé, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Parliament should step up now and do all it can to put an end to this life-threatening practice.”

      “The continued failure to address the serious allegations of pushbacks and violence against people on the move at Greece’s borders can no longer be tolerated,” said Adriana Tidona, migration researcher at Amnesty International. “We call on the Greek parliament to exercise its powers in the interest of all those who have been harmed by these actions and to ensure that there is no repetition.”

      “Over the years, we have filed a score of complaints about or related to pushbacks at Greece’s borders, including deaths, that Greek prosecutors seem to ignore,” said Panayote Dimitras, spokesperson for the Greek Helsinki Monitor. “Greece needs to act quickly to set up an independent border monitoring mechanism to investigate violations, as proposed by the European Commission, and end these abuses once and for all.”

      “The right to seek asylum must be upheld at all times,” said Josie Naughton, chief executive officer of Help Refugees. “The Greek parliament should urgently conduct an inquiry to examine the well-documented and illegal practices of pushbacks and mass expulsion, which endanger the lives of men, women, and children seeking asylum in Greece.”

      “We have documented the pushback of more than 1,150 asylum seekers from Greek territory in the past three months alone,” said Natalie Gruber, spokesperson for Josoor. “These are not isolated incidents but systematic violations of national, EU, and international law that the parliament cannot shrug off as fake news anymore.”

      “Greek authorities are systematically expelling migrants, including those who have reached Greek territory, and abandoning them in open water,” said Amelia Cooper from Legal Centre Lesvos. “The Greek parliament should not only open an investigation of these events, but must also decree and enforce – immediately – the cessation of illegal collective expulsions at all Greek borders.”

      “In order to break with the current failures to hold member states like Greece accountable for their pushbacks and rights violations at borders, the European Commission must step up its efforts and quickly put in place an appropriate monitoring mechanism,” said Marta Welander, executive director at Refugee Rights Europe. “Such efforts must also involve civil society, NGOs, and national human rights institutions to ensure that available evidence is taken seriously and leads to timely investigation and redress.”

      “The protection of the borders, of vital importance in itself, can be in compliance with international law and human rights standards,” said Antigone Lyberaki, SolidarityNow’s general manager. “The Greek parliament has both the means and a constitutional obligation to oversee and investigate the alleged infringement of international human rights obligations by the Greek state.”

      “As a child protection organization, Tdh Hellas is particularly worried about the fact that among those reported to have been violently expelled across EU borders are children, including babies,” said Melina Spathari of Terre des hommes Hellas. “The Greek government should stop such acts and try instead to address the chronic gaps in the reception and protection system for families and unaccompanied children.”

    • On reparle des life rats dans cet article du Monde :
      Refoulements en mer Egée : les recensements erronés ou mensongers de #Frontex

      En croisant les données de JORA avec des rapports d’associations ou encore des comptes rendus des gardes-côtes turcs, il apparaît que, dans 22 cas au moins, qui représentent 957 migrants, ceux-ci ont été retrouvés dérivant en mer dans des canots de survie gonflables, sans moteur. D’après des photos que Le Monde et ses partenaires ont pu authentifier, ces canots, de couleur orange, correspondraient à des modèles achetés par le ministère de la marine grec, via un financement de la Commission européenne. Ce qui tendrait à prouver que les migrants ont accédé aux eaux grecques avant d’être refoulés illégalement.

  • Evakuiert die griechischen Inseln - jetzt !

    Es ist nur eine Frage der Zeit, bis das Coronavirus die Flüchtlingslager in der Ägäis erreicht. Die Politikberater Gerald Knaus und John Dalhuisen erklären, wie sich die Katastrophe jetzt noch verhindern lässt.

    Krisen lösen Krisen aus. Nicht alle sind vorhersehbar. Einige sind es. Dazu zählt die Krise auf den griechischen Inseln, wo derzeit mehr als 40.000 Flüchtlinge und Migranten in überfüllten Aufnahmeeinrichtungen dicht gedrängt ausharren. Es fehlt an Wasser, Ärzten, Versorgung.

    Es ist nur eine Frage der Zeit, bis das Coronavirus auch diese Inseln erreicht. Es wird unter diesen Bedingungen unmöglich einzudämmen sein und auf den Inseln Panik und Tod verbreiten. Bereits vor Wochen gab es gewalttätige Ausschreitungen auf den Inseln.
    Die griechische Regierung muss den ersten Schritt machen

    Das alles ist vorhersehbar. Unvermeidlich ist es nicht. Die griechische Regierung muss den ersten Schritt machen und das Ziel ausgeben, die Inseln zu evakuieren, um eine Katastrophe abwenden. Doch andere Europäer, auch Deutschland, sollten dabei helfen.

    Drei Dinge müssen geschehen.

    Erstens muss die Zahl der Asylsuchenden auf den Inseln sofort reduziert werden. Offiziell können Aufnahmeeinrichtungen dort 9.000 Migranten beherbergen. Tatsächlich sind es noch weniger, die im Moment dort untergebracht werden können.

    Da das griechische Asylsystem bereits aufgehört hat zu funktionieren, da eine Rückführung in die Türkei aufgrund von Grenzschließungen auf absehbare Zeit unmöglich ist, gibt es nur zwei Orte, wohin diese Menschen gebracht werden könnten: das griechische Festland und andere europäische Länder.

    Vor Kurzem veröffentlichte die Europäische Stabilitätsinitiative einen konkreten Plan dazu. 35.000 Migranten müssten jetzt von den Inseln auf das Festland gebracht werden. Die Internationale Organisation für Migration (IOM) baut dort derzeit drei Lager für einige Tausend Migranten. Fünf weitere provisorische Lager könnten weitere 10.000 Migranten beherbergen. Laut IOM wären diese innerhalb von weniger als zwei Wochen fertigstellbar.

    Weiter 10.000 Menschen könnten in leeren Hotels auf dem Festland untergebracht werden. Auch das ist angesichts des Zusammenbruchs des Tourismus eine praktikable Übergangslösung. Europäische Gelder dafür gibt es. Bereits jetzt sind etwa 7.000 Menschen in Griechenland in Hotels untergebracht.

    Zweitens sollten einige EU-Staaten sofort anbieten, 10.000 bereits anerkannte Flüchtlinge vom griechischen Festland aufzunehmen. 4.000 anerkannte Flüchtlinge leben derzeit in Lagern auf dem Festland, weitere 6.000 in UNHCR-Mietwohnungen. Diese Plätze könnten so innerhalb weniger Tage frei werden und Platz schaffen für Familien von den Inseln.

    #îles #Grèce #asile #migrations #réfugiés #évacuation #coronavirus

    –-> commentaire de Vicky Skoumi via la mailing-list Migreurop : Dans un article du Spiegel, même celui qui a conçu la déclaration commune UE-Turquie du mars 2016, #Gerald_Knaus, appelle à l’évacuation immédiate des îles grecques.

    ping @luciebacon

    • Traduction (deepl avec correction de coquilles de Vicky Skoumbi) :

      Ce n’est qu’une question de temps avant que le coronavirus n’atteigne les camps de réfugiés en mer Égée. Les conseillers politiques Gerald Knaus et John Dalhuisen expliquent comment prévenir la catastrophe dès maintenant.

      26.03.2020, Les crises déclenchent des crises Tous ne sont pas prévisibles. Certains le sont. Il s’agit notamment de la crise dans les îles grecques, où plus de 40 000 réfugiés et migrants sont actuellement entassés dans des infrastructures d’accueil surpeuplées. Il y a un manque d’eau, de médecins et de fournitures.

      Ce n’est qu’une question de temps avant que le coronavirus n’atteigne également ces îles. Il sera impossible de l contenir l’épidémie dans ces conditions et elle répandra la panique et la mort sur les îles. Il y a quelques semaines déjà, de violentes émeutes ont éclaté sur les îles.

      Le gouvernement grec doit faire le premier pas

      Tout est prévisible. Ce n’est pas inévitable. Le gouvernement grec doit faire le premier pas et se donner pour objectif d’évacuer les îles pour éviter la catastrophe. Mais d’autres pays européens, dont l’Allemagne, devraient apporter leur aide.

      Trois choses doivent se produire.

      Premièrement, le nombre de demandeurs d’asile sur les îles doit être réduit immédiatement. Officiellement, les structures d’accueil peuvent y accueillir 9 000 migrants. En réalité, c’est encore moins de personnes qui peuvent y être hébergées pour le moment.

      Le système d’asile grec ayant déjà cessé de fonctionner, le rapatriement vers la Turquie étant impossible dans un avenir prévisible en raison de la fermeture des frontières, il n’y a que deux endroits où ces personnes pourraient être emmenées : la Grèce continentale et d’autres pays européens.

      Récemment, l’Initiative européenne pour la stabilité a publié un plan concret à cet effet. 35 000 migrants devraient maintenant être amenés des îles vers le continent. L’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) y construit actuellement trois camps pour plusieurs milliers de migrants. Cinq autres camps temporaires pourraient accueillir 10 000 migrants supplémentaires. Selon l’OIM, ces travaux pourraient être achevés en moins de deux semaines.

      10 000 autres personnes pourraient être hébergées dans des #hôtels vides sur le continent. Il s’agit également d’une solution provisoire viable compte tenu de l’effondrement du tourisme. Des fonds européens sont disponibles pour cela. En Grèce, quelque 7 000 personnes sont déjà hébergées dans des hôtels.

      Deuxièmement, certains pays de l’UE devraient immédiatement proposer d’accueillir 10 000 réfugiés déjà reconnus comme tels, en provenance de Grèce continentale. 4 000 réfugiés reconnus vivent actuellement dans des camps sur le continent et 6 000 autres dans des logements loués par le HCR. Ces places pourraient ainsi se libérer en quelques jours et faire place aux familles des îles.

      Il s’agit de personnes dont le besoin de protection a déjà été reconnu. Leur identité est connue. L’OIM pourrait aider l’Allemagne à aller de l’avant. Si trois États allemands se montraient disposés à accueillir chacun 1 000 réfugiés reconnus dans les installations existantes, il serait possible d’en faire venir 5 000 en Allemagne.

      Sur le plan logistique, c’est possible : ces derniers jours, le gouvernement allemand a rapatrié 140 000 Allemands du monde entier. Et si d’autres pays étaient prêts à participer, la Grèce serait encouragée. Les virus ne sont pas les seuls à être contagieux, la solidarité peut aussi l’être.

      A propos des auteurs

      John Dalhuisen a été directeur européen d’Amnesty International. Aujourd’hui, il est Senior Fellow au sein du groupe de réflexion sur l’Initiative européenne de stabilité.

      #Gerald_Knaus, né en 1970 à Bramberg, en Autriche, est le président de l’Initiative européenne pour la stabilité. Il est considéré comme l’instigateur de l’accord sur les réfugiés entre l’UE et la Turquie.

      Troisièmement, un nouvel accord avec la Turquie est nécessaire de toute urgence. L’UE n’a pas réussi à fournir à la Turquie une aide financière supplémentaire en temps voulu, en plus des 6 milliards d’euros prévus pour les réfugiés syriens jusqu’à la fin de 2019. Elle devrait le faire maintenant et offrir à la Turquie une nouvelle enveloppe de six milliards d’euros pour les prochaines années.

      L’UE et la Grèce ne peuvent réduire l’immigration clandestine à travers la mer Égée qu’en coopération avec la Turquie. Le soutien européen aux millions de réfugiés dans le pays est également dans l’intérêt de l’UE. Il s’agit de l’éducation, de l’accès aux soins de santé et de l’aide sociale. Et le soutien aux régions où ils sont logés.

      « Non seulement les virus sont contagieux, mais la solidarité peut l’être »

      L’UE pourrait également ouvrir ces programmes à d’autres personnes vulnérables, dont les Turcs, dans ces communautés. L’intégration réussie des réfugiés syriens, dont 99,5 % sont restés en Turquie l’année dernière, est également dans l’intérêt de l’Europe.

      En même temps, il ne doit plus jamais y avoir de scènes dans les îles comme ces derniers mois, ni de conditions comme celles qui prévalent à Lesbos depuis des années.

      Après la fin de la crise de Corona, les États membres devraient enfin aider la Grèce à mettre en place des procédures d’asile rapides et équitables sur les îles, ce qui permettra de faire en sorte que celles-ci arrivent à leur terme en quelques semaines.

      La Grèce devrait rapidement reconduire ceux qui viennent de Turquie après la conclusion d’une nouvelle déclaration et qui n’ont pas besoin de protection dans l’UE. À cette fin, le droit fondamental de demander l’asile doit être rétabli.

      En même temps, dès que la crise actuelle sera terminée, l’UE devrait remplir l’obligation qui lui incombe en vertu de la déclaration UE-Turquie de 2016 d’accepter chaque année un plus grand nombre de réfugiés en provenance de Turquie dans le cadre d’une procédure régulière.

      Ces mesures visent à éviter une catastrophe imminente en matière de santé et d’ordre publics. Il s’agit également d’une question d’humanité, ainsi que de protection des citoyens européens, de solidarité concrète avec la Grèce et de préservation de la Convention sur les réfugiés en période de pression énorme.

      Trop d’Européens ont échoué dans les deux décennies précédant 1951 à protéger ceux qui avaient besoin de protection - ceux qui ont fui le Troisième Reich ou plus tard l’Union soviétique. C’est pourquoi ils ont adopté une convention après la guerre. Il ne faut pas que celle-ci se noie dans les eaux de la mer Égée en 2020.

      Les crises déclenchent des crises. Mais ils font aussi naître des Justes et des histoires qui sont transmises.

      En 1943, les Danois et les Suédois ont mis 7 000 Juifs danois en sécurité dans des bateaux qui traversaient la mer Baltique. Ils ont agi juste à temps face à une catastrophe imminente. Cette fois, l’ennemi n’est pas une armée d’occupation, mais un virus invisible. Mais la façon dont les Européens, les Grecs et les Allemands réagissent aujourd’hui face au danger de la mer Égée en dira long aux générations futures : Non seulement qui nous voulons être. Mais qui nous sommes vraiment.

  • German Ventilator Manufacturer: «Absolutely Mission Impossible» - DER SPIEGEL

    DER SPIEGEL: Why aren’t there enough masks out there?

    Dräger: When the crisis started, speculators quickly stepped in. They bought masks by the container, and are now selling them at extortionate prices. [...]

    #spéculation #masques #covid-19 #coronavirus #sars-cov2

  • Comment ont fait l’#Allemagne et la #Corée_du_Sud pour éviter le cadenassage de la population et par conséquent l’effondrement productif ?

    D’abord ce sont deux pays où le nombre de #lits de soin intensif est très élevé.

    Probablement parce que les élites françaises (les hauts fonctionnaires, les corps) n’ont aucune #formation_scientifique (merci les Grandes Ecoles), l’#urgence de produire des #tests en masse n’est pas apparue ici. En Allemagne oui :

    Pendant que la France lisait dans les entrailles de poulet, l’Allemagne pariait sur des tests en grand nombre permettant de conserver l’activité sociale du pays…

    Elle pariait aussi sur la #réquisition d’un palais des congrès pour isoler les malades :

    A nouveau, on ne peut que constater la pertinence de la politique de prévention opérée et la capacité de production qui va avec, et une recherche qui tourne. Or leur système idéologique est identique.

    La médiocrité du personnel politique et de la haute fonction publique ?

    « L’école, la caste, la tradition, avaient bâti autour d’eux un mur d’ignorance et d’erreur. » (L’Etrange Défaite, Marc Bloch).

    La France paye le vieil héritage technocratique napoléonien qui tient les #élites éloignées de la #science et du #raisonnement.
    #soins_intensifs #système_de_santé #hôpitaux #France #dépistage

    ping @reka @fil @simplicissimus

    • En gardant l’esprit :

      – l’évolution en Allemagne suit apparemment une courbe exponentielle comme ailleurs, mais peut-être avec plusieurs jours de retard. Comme il est difficile de comparer le nombre de cas positifs entre un pays qui teste et un pays qui ne teste presque pas, au moins on peut regarder le nombre de décès :

      I y a eu 68 morts en Allemagne hier, contre 78 en France (et, certes, 108 le jour précédent).

      – aujourd’hui même un article avertissant que le système hospitalier allemand risquait d’être submergé d’ici 10 à 15 jours :

      Germany : The Big Wave of Corona Cases Will Hit Hospitals in 10 to 14 Days

      The bad news is that large parts of this system are already overwhelmed. Depending on how fast the number of infections increases in the days and weeks to come, we could experience a collapse and failure of the system. And it will be deemed to have failed if people have to die because of a shortage in staff, beds and equipment — and not because this illness is incurable.


      In recent days, a chief physician from the Rhineland had to admit to a colleague that he only has seven ventilators at his hospital. He said he needs 13 in order to get through a major wave of serious infections.

      And that wave will come - that much is certain. “We expect that things will really heat up in the next two weeks, also here in Germany,” says Axel Fischer, managing director of the München Klinik, a Munich-based chain of hospitals. His hospital treated the first patients infected with the coronavirus in January. He fears the crisis will have a "massive impact.”

      The coronavirus is mercilessly exposing the problems that have been burdening the German health-care system for years: the pitfalls of profit-driven hospital financing. The pressure to cut spending. The chronic shortage of nursing staff. The often poor equipping of public health departments. The lag in digitalization.

      "We are preparing for imminent catastrophe,” says Rudolf Mintrop, head of the Dortmund Klinikum, the city’s main hospital. He calculates that the wave of sick will hit hospitals at full force in 10 to 14 days. The chancellor has warned that German hospitals will be “completely overwhelmed” if too many patients with serious coronavirus infections have to be admitted within a very short period.

    • #Coronavirus : en #Allemagne, le faible taux de mortalité interroge

      Dans un premier temps, il est possible que le grand nombre de tests pratiqués ait introduit un biais statistique. Par rapport à l’Italie, où la plupart des personnes détectées positives sont âgées et présentent déjà des problèmes de santé, l’Allemagne compte davantage d’individus plus jeunes et moins vulnérables parmi ceux qui se sont fait tester. En Italie, l’âge moyen des malades est de 63 ans. En Allemagne, il est de 47 ans. Le virus tuant très majoritairement les personnes âgées, le fait qu’il ait été détecté chez nombre de personnes assez jeunes explique pourquoi le taux de létalité enregistré jusqu’à présent outre-Rhin est si faible.


    • Le Financial Times évoque « une anomalie du coronavirus » en Allemagne - Sputnik France

      « C’est difficile à démêler (...) Nous n’avons pas de vraie réponse et c’est probablement une combinaison de différents facteurs », a indiqué Richard Pebody, responsable à l’OMS.

    • En Allemagne, le faible taux de mortalité interroge

      Outre-Rhin, un grand nombre de tests a été pratiqué de manière précoce par rapport au degré d’avancement de l’épidémie.

      Chaque matin, quand l’institut de santé publique Robert-Koch publie les chiffres de l’épidémie de Covid-19 en Allemagne, le constat est à la fois alarmant, rassurant et intrigant. Alarmant car le nombre de malades augmente tous les jours un peu plus vite outre-Rhin. Rassurant car celui des morts y est toujours particulièrement bas. Intrigant car l’écart considérable entre les deux courbes pose la question d’une singularité allemande qui reste en partie énigmatique.

      Avec 13 957 cas de coronavirus répertoriés par l’institut Robert-Koch, l’Allemagne était, vendredi 20 mars, le cinquième pays le plus touché après la Chine, l’Italie, l’Espagne et l’Iran. Avec 31 décès, en revanche, elle restait loin derrière plusieurs autres comptant pourtant moins de personnes détectées, comme la Corée du Sud (8 652 cas, 94 morts) ou le Royaume-Uni (4 014 cas, 177 décès). Le taux de létalité au Covid-19, calculé en divisant le nombre de morts par celui des malades repérés, est actuellement de 0,3 % en Allemagne, contre 3,6 % en France, 4 % en Chine et 8,5 % en Italie.

      Pourquoi un taux si faible ? L’explication tiendrait au grand nombre de tests ainsi qu’à leur précocité par rapport au degré d’avancement de l’épidémie. Selon la Fédération allemande des médecins conventionnés, 35 000 personnes ont été testées dans la semaine du 2 mars, alors qu’aucun mort n’avait encore été répertorié outre-Rhin, et 100 000 pendant la suivante, lors de laquelle ont été enregistrés les premiers décès. A ces chiffres s’ajoutent ceux des tests réalisés dans les hôpitaux et cliniques, qui ne sont pas connus.

      Lors de son point-presse quotidien, mercredi, le président de l’institut Robert-Koch, Lothar Wieler, a annoncé que l’Allemagne pouvait dépister désormais 160 000 personnes par semaine, soit presque autant que celles testées en Italie jusqu’à présent. « Depuis le début, nous avons encouragé les médecins à tester les personnes présentant des symptômes, ce qui nous a permis d’intervenir alors que l’épidémie était encore dans une phase peu avancée en Allemagne », avait expliqué M. Wieler, le 11 mars. Seuls trois décès liés au Covid-19 avaient alors été répertoriés en Allemagne.

      Dans un premier temps, il est possible que le grand nombre de tests pratiqués ait introduit un biais statistique. Par rapport à l’Italie, où la plupart des personnes détectées positives sont âgées et présentent déjà des problèmes de santé, l’Allemagne compte davantage d’individus plus jeunes et moins vulnérables parmi ceux qui se sont fait tester. En Italie, l’âge moyen des malades est de 63 ans. En Allemagne, il est de 47 ans. Le virus tuant très majoritairement les personnes âgées, le fait qu’il ait été détecté chez nombre de personnes assez jeunes explique pourquoi le taux de létalité enregistré jusqu’à présent outre-Rhin est si faible.

      Même s’ils espèrent que cette détection à grande échelle a incité ceux qui se savaient porteurs du virus de s’isoler pour éviter d’en contaminer d’autres, les spécialistes ne se font guère d’illusion dans un pays où les écoles et la plupart des commerces ont été fermés cette semaine mais où la population n’est pas encore confinée, sauf en Bavière et dans la Sarre depuis samedi 21 mars. Or, la vitesse de progression de l’épidémie s’accélère rapidement en Allemagne, où le nombre de cas double tous les deux jours, une croissance qualifiée d’ « exponentielle » par le président de l’institut Robert-Koch.

      « Nous n’allons pas pouvoir augmenter notre capacité en tests aussi vite que l’épidémie progresse, explique Christian Drosten, chef du département de virologie à l’hôpital de la Charité, à Berlin, dans entretien à Die Zeit, paru vendredi. Une partie de ceux qui sont déjà malades vont mourir du Covid-19. Ensuite, puisque nous ne pourrons plus tester tout le monde, nous n’aurons plus tout le monde dans les statistiques. Le taux de létalité va alors augmenter. On aura l’impression que le virus est devenu plus dangereux (...). Cela va seulement refléter ce qui se passe déjà, à savoir que nous passons à côté de plus en plus de cas d’infections. »

      Respirateurs artificiels

      Si les spécialistes s’accordent pour dire que le très faible taux de létalité au Covid-19 va bientôt augmenter en Allemagne, nul ne sait, en revanche, jusqu’où il augmentera. La réponse dépendra de la capacité du système de santé à résister à la vague de nouveaux cas qui s’annonce. Pour cela, l’Allemagne mise d’abord sur ses 28 000 lits de soins intensifs, soit 6 pour 1 000 habitants, ce qui la classe au 3e rang mondial derrière le Japon et la Corée du Sud, très loin devant la France (3,1 pour 1 000, 19e rang) ou l’Italie (2,6 pour 1 000, 24e).

      Le deuxième facteur-clé est le nombre de respirateurs artificiels. Le gouvernement allemand vient d’en commander 10 000 à l’entreprise Dräger, mais ce n’est qu’à la fin de l’année que la plupart seront livrés. Sur ce point, le virologue Christian Drosten, qui s’est imposé comme l’expert de référence sur le Covid-19 grâce à son podcast vidéo quotidien, est plus sceptique.

      S’il salue le plan d’urgence annoncé, mercredi, par le gouvernement, qui prévoit notamment l’installation d’unités de soins intensifs dans des hôtels et des centres de congrès, il craint qu’il n’arrive bien tard alors que l’Allemagne, selon lui, « devra au moins doubler ses capacités pour pouvoir ventiler tous ceux qui en auront besoin .

      @kassem : j’ai trouvé ce texte dans la base de données mise à disposition par mon université... le titre est le même, mais le contenu un peu différent...

    • l’Allemagne mise d’abord sur ses 28 000 lits de soins intensifs, soit 6 pour 1 000 habitants,

      6 pour mille pour 83 millions d’habitants ça fait 498000 lits de soins intensifs.

      « Le Monde » confond lits de soins intensifs (6 pour 1 000 habitants ) et lits de réanimation (28000 lits).

    • L’Allemagne frappe par le nombre plutôt faible de décès liés au Covid-19

      Depuis le début de la crise du nouveau coronavirus, une chose est frappante en Allemagne : le nombre de décès dus à la pandémie est extrêmement bas. Plusieurs explications sont avancées, dont le nombre de tests réalisés.

      Le nombre de cas confirmés de contamination atteint 36’508 jeudi en Allemagne, selon les chiffres annoncés par l’institut Robert-Koch (autorité fédérale de la Santé). Le nombre de morts s’élève désormais à 198 pour une population d’environ 83 millions d’habitants.

      La pandémie progresse donc dans le pays, mais moins qu’ailleurs. Le ministère allemand de la Santé dit qu’il ne faut pas surinterpréter cette situation, mais le phénomène peut s’expliquer par plusieurs facteurs.
      Politique de tests précoce

      En premier lieu, l’Allemagne teste beaucoup de monde. Avec désormais 500’000 tests par semaine, c’est le deuxième pays derrière la Corée du Sud à pratiquer cette politique. Et Berlin l’a fait très tôt dans l’épidémie, ce qui a permis d’imposer plus de quarantaines, donc de barrières au virus.

      Une deuxième explication avancée est liée aux capacités d’accueil dans les hôpitaux : il y a plus de lits en soins intensifs avec assistance respiratoire qu’en France ou en Italie, et le système sanitaire n’est pas encore débordé. Tous les patients peuvent donc être correctement soignés.

      Troisième facteur qui semble jouer un rôle : les personnes atteintes sont en majorité des jeunes entre 20 et 50 ans. Il y a eu un nombre important de contaminations en février dans les régions de ski, en Autriche et dans le nord de l’Italie où vont beaucoup d’Allemands. Cela concernait donc des gens plutôt jeunes et en bonne santé, qui ont sans doute mieux résisté au virus.
      Juste un calendrier décalé ?

      Mais tout cela ne fait pas pour autant de l’Allemagne une exception. Le calendrier de l’épidémie a quelques jours de retard par rapport à la Suisse, l’Italie, l’Espagne et même la France. La vague se prépare ici aussi. Il y a également beaucoup de personnes âgées en Allemagne qui risquent d’être touchées dans les semaines qui viennent. Donc la situation pourrait bien s’aggraver.

    • A German Exception? Why the Country’s Coronavirus Death Rate Is Low

      The pandemic has hit Germany hard, with more than 92,000 people infected. But the percentage of fatal cases has been remarkably low compared to those in many neighboring countries.

      They call them corona taxis: Medics outfitted in protective gear, driving around the empty streets of Heidelberg to check on patients who are at home, five or six days into being sick with the coronavirus.

      They take a blood test, looking for signs that a patient is about to go into a steep decline. They might suggest hospitalization, even to a patient who has only mild symptoms; the chances of surviving that decline are vastly improved by being in a hospital when it begins.

      “There is this tipping point at the end of the first week,” said Prof. Hans-Georg Kräusslich, the head of virology at University Hospital in Heidelberg, one of Germany’s leading research hospitals. “If you are a person whose lungs might fail, that’s when you will start deteriorating.”

      Heidelberg’s corona taxis are only one initiative in one city. But they illustrate a level of engagement and a commitment of public resources in fighting the epidemic that help explain one of the most intriguing puzzles of the pandemic: Why is Germany’s death rate so low?

      The virus and the resulting disease, Covid-19, have hit Germany with force: According to Johns Hopkins University, the country had more than 92,000 laboratory-confirmed infections as of midday Saturday, more than any other country except the United States, Italy and Spain.

      But with 1,295 deaths, Germany’s fatality rate stood at 1.4 percent, compared with 12 percent in Italy, around 10 percent in Spain, France and Britain, 4 percent in China and 2.5 percent in the United States. Even South Korea, a model of flattening the curve, has a higher fatality rate, 1.7 percent.

      “There has been talk of a German anomaly,” said Hendrik Streeck, director of the Institute of virology at the University Hospital Bonn. Professor Streeck has been getting calls from colleagues in the United States and elsewhere.

      “‘What are you doing differently?’ they ask me,” he said. “‘Why is your death rate so low?’”

      There are several answers experts say, a mix of statistical distortions and very real differences in how the country has taken on the epidemic.

      The average age of those infected is lower in Germany than in many other countries. Many of the early patients caught the virus in Austrian and Italian ski resorts and were relatively young and healthy, Professor Kräusslich said.

      “It started as an epidemic of skiers,” he said.

      As infections have spread, more older people have been hit and the death rate, only 0.2 percent two weeks ago, has risen, too. But the average age of contracting the disease remains relatively low, at 49. In France, it is 62.5 and in Italy 62, according to their latest national reports.

      Another explanation for the low fatality rate is that Germany has been testing far more people than most nations. That means it catches more people with few or no symptoms, increasing the number of known cases, but not the number of fatalities.

      “That automatically lowers the death rate on paper,” said Professor Kräusslich.

      But there are also significant medical factors that have kept the number of deaths in Germany relatively low, epidemiologists and virologists say, chief among them early and widespread testing and treatment, plenty of intensive care beds and a trusted government whose social distancing guidelines are widely observed.


      In mid-January, long before most Germans had given the virus much thought, Charité hospital in Berlin had already developed a test and posted the formula online.

      By the time Germany recorded its first case of Covid-19 in February, laboratories across the country had built up a stock of test kits.

      “The reason why we in Germany have so few deaths at the moment compared to the number of infected can be largely explained by the fact that we are doing an extremely large number of lab diagnoses,” said Dr. Christian Drosten, chief virologist at Charité, whose team developed the first test.

      By now, Germany is conducting around 350,000 coronavirus tests a week, far more than any other European country. Early and widespread testing has allowed the authorities to slow the spread of the pandemic by isolating known cases while they are infectious. It has also enabled lifesaving treatment to be administered in a more timely way.

      “When I have an early diagnosis and can treat patients early — for example put them on a ventilator before they deteriorate — the chance of survival is much higher,” Professor Kräusslich said.

      Medical staff, at particular risk of contracting and spreading the virus, are regularly tested. To streamline the procedure, some hospitals have started doing block tests, using the swabs of 10 employees, and following up with individual tests only if there is a positive result.

      At the end of April, health authorities also plan to roll out a large-scale antibody study, testing random samples of 100,000 people across Germany every week to gauge where immunity is building up.

      One key to ensuring broad-based testing is that patients pay nothing for it, said Professor Streeck. This, he said, was one notable difference with the United States in the first several weeks of the outbreak. The coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress last month does provide for free testing.

      “A young person with no health insurance and an itchy throat is unlikely to go to the doctor and therefore risks infecting more people,” he said.


      On a Friday in late February, Professor Streeck received news that for the first time, a patient at his hospital in Bonn had tested positive for the coronavirus: A 22-year-old man who had no symptoms but whose employer — a school — had asked him to take a test after learning that he had taken part in a carnival event where someone else had tested positive.

      In most countries, including the United States, testing is largely limited to the sickest patients, so the man probably would have been refused a test.

      Not in Germany. As soon as the test results were in, the school was shut, and all children and staff were ordered to stay at home with their families for two weeks. Some 235 people were tested.

      “Testing and tracking is the strategy that was successful in South Korea and we have tried to learn from that,” Professor Streeck said.

      Germany also learned from getting it wrong early on: The strategy of contact tracing should have been used even more aggressively, he said.

      All those who had returned to Germany from Ischgl, an Austrian ski resort that had an outbreak, for example, should have been tracked down and tested, Professor Streeck said.

      A Robust Public Health Care System

      Before the coronavirus pandemic swept across Germany, University Hospital in Giessen had 173 intensive care beds equipped with ventilators. In recent weeks, the hospital scrambled to create an additional 40 beds and increased the staff that was on standby to work in intensive care by as much as 50 percent.

      “We have so much capacity now we are accepting patients from Italy, Spain and France,” said Prof. Susanne Herold, the head of infectiology and a lung specialist at the hospital who has overseen the restructuring. “We are very strong in the intensive care area.”

      All across Germany, hospitals have expanded their intensive care capacities. And they started from a high level. In January, Germany had some 28,000 intensive care beds equipped with ventilators, or 34 per 100,000 people. By comparison, that rate is 12 in Italy and 7 in the Netherlands.

      By now, there are 40,000 intensive care beds available in Germany.

      Some experts are cautiously optimistic that social distancing measures might be flattening the curve enough for Germany’s health care system to weather the pandemic without producing a scarcity of lifesaving equipment like ventilators.

      “It is important that we have guidelines for doctors on how to practice triage between patients if they have to,” Professor Streeck said. “But I hope we will never need to use them.”

      The time it takes for the number of infections to double has slowed to about eight days. If it slows a little more, to between 12 and 14 days, Professor Herold said, the models suggest that triage could be avoided.

      “The curve is beginning to flatten,” she said.

      Trust in Government

      Beyond mass testing and the preparedness of the health care system, many also see Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership as one reason the fatality rate has been kept low.

      Ms. Merkel has communicated clearly, calmly and regularly throughout the crisis, as she imposed ever-stricter social distancing measures on the country. The restrictions, which have been crucial to slowing the spread of the pandemic, met with little political opposition and are broadly followed.

      The chancellor’s approval ratings have soared.

      “Maybe our biggest strength in Germany,” said Professor Kräusslich, “is the rational decision-making at the highest level of government combined with the trust the government enjoys in the population.”

      via @fil

  • #Muhamad_Gulzar (ou #Mohamad_Goulzhar), mort aux portes de l’Europe... dans la région de l’#Evros, à la #frontière_terrestre entre la #Grèce et la #Turquie...

    Κι άλλη σφαίρα στην καρδιά μετανάστη

    Δύο σφαίρες, πραγματικά πυρά, μία στην καρδιά και μία στο δεξί μέρος του σώματος, δέχτηκε ο Μουχάμαντ Γκουλζάρ, ενώ προσπαθούσε να περάσει το συρματόπλεγμα κοντά στις Καστανιές στον Εβρο, το πρωί της Τετάρτης, μεταξύ 10.30 και 11.00, σύμφωνα με το Κέντρο Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων του Δικηγορικού Συλλόγου Κωνσταντινούπολης, το οποίο καταγράφει συστηματικά τα τεκταινόμενα στα ελληνοτουρκικά σύνορα.

    Πρόκειται για τον δεύτερο γνωστό νεκρό πρόσφυγα ή μετανάστη στα σύνορα την περασμένη εβδομάδα, που έχει καταγραφεί σε βίντεο διεθνών μέσων ενημέρωσης. Τα βίντεο και οι πληροφορίες που δημοσιεύει σήμερα η « Εφ.Συν. » έρχονται σε πλήρη αντίθεση με τους ισχυρισμούς του κυβερνητικού εκπροσώπου Στέλιου Πέτσα, ο οποίος αποδίδει τις ειδήσεις για ύπαρξη νεκρών στα σύνορα σε προπαγάνδα της τουρκικής κυβέρνησης. Ερευνα για τις καταγγελίες δεν έχει γίνει γνωστή από τις ελληνικές αρχές, ενώ πληθαίνουν οι καταγγελίες και οι μαρτυρίες για τη βίαιη δράση ελληνικών ένοπλων ομάδων, που χτυπούν πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες που καταφέρνουν να διασχίσουν τα σύνορα και για την προκλητική παρουσία εκεί ακροδεξιών από την Ευρώπη (Αυστρία και Γερμανία), ακόμα και του γνωστού επικεφαλής ταγμάτων εφόδου Γιάννη Λαγού. Τη δράση όλων αυτών ο κυβερνητικός εκπρόσωπος Στέλιος Πέτσας αρχικά δεν την έβλεπε, αλλά μετά και το πρωτοσέλιδο της « Εφ.Συν. » το Σάββατο (« Κύριε Μητσοτάκη ιδού οι... εθνοφύλακές σας », 7-8 Μαρτίου 2020), τελικά την είδε, δηλώνοντας (Open) ότι « καταδικάζονται και απομονώνονται ».

    Σύμφωνα με το Κέντρο, στο σημείο εκείνο της γραμμής των συνόρων δεν υπάρχουν ένοπλοι Τούρκοι στρατιωτικοί ή αστυνομικοί. Σύμφωνα με πληροφορίες στην στην « Εφ.Συν. » οι σφαίρες τραυμάτισαν άλλους δύο πρόσφυγες ή μετανάστες που βρίσκονταν μαζί με τον Μουχάμαντ, έναν στο κεφάλι και έναν στο πόδι.

    Συνολικά οι τραυματίες του τραγικού περιστατικού, που νοσηλεύτηκαν, εισήχθησαν στο νοσοκομείο της Αδριανούπολης ήταν πέντε. Πληροφορίες αναφέρουν ότι έχουν εμφανιστεί χιλιάδες τραυματίες από βίαιες επιχειρήσεις επαναπροώθησης στα σύνορα, χτυπημένοι με ρόπαλα ή κλομπ, συχνά χωρίς τα ρούχα τους και χωρίς τα υπάρχοντά τους, ενώ υπάρχουν καταγγελίες για βιασμούς γυναικών και ανδρών.

    Από την ελληνική πλευρά

    Όπως έγραφε η « Εφ.Συν. » (« Ο κ. Πέτσας δεν βλέπει νεκρούς, τραυματίες και τάγματα εφόδου. Βλέπει μόνο προβοκάτσιες », 6 Μαρτίου 2020), την ύπαρξη δεύτερου νεκρού είχε δημοσιοποιήσει ο βρετανικός τηλεοπτικός σταθμός Channel 4, δημοσιοποιώντας συνεντεύξεις με πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες που νοσηλεύονταν στο νοσοκομείο της Αδριανούπολης, τραυματισμένοι στο ίδιο περιστατικό, ενώ δημοσιοποιούσε και βίντεο από τη μεταφορά των τραυματιών.

    Το βράδυ του Σαββάτου, έγινε γνωστό το όνομα του νεκρού από ανάρτηση στο Facebook της πρώην κατάληψης φιλοξενίας προσφύγων City Plaza. Για τους ανθρώπους της κατάληψης, που αναγνώρισαν το όνομα και τη φωτογραφία του νεκρού από το ρεπορτάζ του τηλεοπτικού σταθμού SKY News, ήταν ο Μουχάμαντ από το 611, το νούμερο του δωματίου του κατειλημμένου ξενοδοχείου, στο οποίο έμενε πριν από περίπου τρία χρόνια. « Πυροβολήθηκε, απλά και μόνο επειδή είναι μετανάστης. Ενας αθώος άνθρωπος που πάλευε να ζήσει σαν άνθρωπος και που τον ονόμασαν “εχθρό” και “εισβολέα” της Ευρώπης. Ενας άμαχος πολίτης που του έριξαν σαν να ’ταν ζώο. Η σφαίρα που τον σκότωσε βγήκε απ’ την κάννη στην ελληνική πλευρά. Από ένα όπλο που σημάδευε μια στον ουρανό και μια σ’ αυτούς που περνούσαν τα σύνορα –ήταν συνοροφύλακας ; μια “πολιτοφυλακή εθελοντών” ; κάποιος Ελληνας ή Ευρωπαίος φασίστας ; ’Η ήταν ένας νεαρός φαντάρος που πήρε εντολή χρήσης πραγματικών πυρών ; », σημειώνουν στην ανάρτηση.

    Στο ρεπορτάζ του Sky News απεικονίζεται μια σφαίρα, που μένει να φανεί από τη βαλλιστική εξέταση από τι όπλο προήλθε, όπως και η μεταφορά του χτυπημένου Μουχάμαντ από άλλους πρόσφυγες μέσα σε κουβέρτα –αυτοσχέδιο φορείο, λίγο μετά το τραγικό περιστατικό, και η γυναίκα του Μουχάμαντ, η οποία κλαίει απαρηγόρητη έξω από το νοσοκομείο της Αδριανούπολης. Ήταν μπροστά την ώρα που έπεφτε χτυπημένος ο σύζυγός της από σφαίρες, που τραυμάτισαν άλλους πέντε και που πέρασαν ξυστά και από την ίδια, όπως σημειώνει το Κέντρο. Η γυναίκα του Μουχάμαντ περιμένει τα αποτελέσματα της αυτοψίας και της ιατροδικαστικής εξέτασης.

    Οι πληροφορίες αναφέρουν ότι ο Μουχάμαντ πήγε από την Ελλάδα στο Πακιστάν για να παντρευτεί. Το νιόπαντρο ζεύγος ταξίδεψε στο Ιράν και από κει στην Κωνσταντινούπολη, όπου την περασμένη εβδομάδα άκουσαν ότι έχουν ανοίξει τα ελληνοτουρκικά σύνορα και κατευθύνθηκαν εκεί για να περάσουν.


    Et un message de l’ancien squat City Plaza, reçu par email le 10.03.2020 :

    Un adieu à notre ami Muhamad Gulzar, tué à la frontière d’Evros

    La rumeur d’un deuxième réfugié tué aux frontières, s’est répandue il y a trois jours. Comment imaginer qu’il puisse s’agir de notre ami ? Comment cela a-t-il pu se produire ? Et hier les premiers messages. Sa femme, apparaissant dans un reportage de Sky News. Une prise lointaine, à l’extérieur de l’hôpital, en pleurs et en deuil. C’est par elle que nous avons appris que Muhamad a franchi une nouvelle fois les frontières, cette fois-ci de la Grèce à la Turquie et de nouveau au Pakistan. Pour l’emmener et être ensemble.

    Mercredi dernier, dans la matinée, notre ami Muhamad, notre Muhamad de la chambre 611, a été abattu simplement parce qu’il était un migrant. Un homme en lutte, un innocent, déclaré « ennemi » et « envahisseur » de l’Europe. Un civil abattu comme un animal sauvage.

    La balle est sortie d’un pistolet du côté grec, ... était-ce la police des frontières, une milice, un volontaire fasciste grec ou étranger ou était-ce un jeune soldat à qui le gouvernement avait ordonné d’utiliser des « balles réelles » ?

    Le gouvernement a dit que c’était des fausses nouvelles et de la propagande turque. La veille, le commissaire européen a déclaré que le gouvernement grec faisait ce qu’il fallait, il agit comme un « bouclier de l’Europe ».

    Nous, amis de #Muhamad_Gulzar, qui l’avons rencontré dans l’hôtel squatté City Plaza à Athènes il y a trois ans, nous disons que notre frère a été assassiné. Nous ne pouvons pas trouver le véritable meurtrier, mais nous savons qui est responsable. Nous ne pouvons pas savoir qui portait l’arme, mais nous savons que Mohammed a été tué par une balle tirée d’un fusil, qui pointait une fois en l’air et une autre fois vers les gens qui couraient, dans une chasse à l’homme honteuse aux frontières de l’Europe en 2020.

    Muhamad, pour toi, pour ta femme et ta famille, pour nous tous et pour les enfants qui vont naître. Pour tous les peuples, quelles que soient leur nationalité, leur couleur de peau et leur religion, nous disons que nous allons lutter davantage et que nous allons nous battre plus durement. Nous vaincrons la barbarie qui se répand si vite dans le monde. Et nous nous souviendrons de vous en train de courir librement au-delà des frontières sanglantes. En Grèce, en Turquie, en Europe et partout dans le monde, partout où les gens luttent pour une vie meilleure, sans guerre et sans racisme, sans oppression et sans humiliation des peuples.

    Vos amis et camarades de l’ancien squat City Plaza, à Athènes !

    #morts #décès #mourir_aux_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés

    Ajouté à cette métaliste des morts dans l’Evros :

    • The Killing of a Migrant at the Greek-Turkish Border

      On March 4, Pakistan national #Muhammad_Gulzar was shot and killed at the Greek-Turkish border. Evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the bullet came from a Greek firearm. An investigation into the tragedy at the edge of Europe.

      The land border between Greece and Turkey is 212 kilometers long, with most of it running along the Maritsa River. There’s just one segment in the north where an 11-kilometer stretch of border fence runs between the two countries near Karaağaç.

      In early March, just before the coronavirus took over the news cycle, this fence was the focus of headlines around the world.

      On that early spring day, thousands of migrants were crowding the Turkish side of the border, while on the Greek side, security forces had taken up their positions. The acrid odor of tear gas filled the air and helicopters circled the area. People were shouting back and forth.

      Muhammad Gulzar, 42, hadn’t slept well the night before, his wife Saba Khan, 38, would later recall, and he woke up hungry on March 4. Khan would have preferred, that morning, to return to Istanbul, from where the couple had started their journey in the hopes of making it to Europe. But Gulzar had talked his wife into making one final attempt to get across the fence. A short time later, Gulzar was dead, struck by a bullet in the chest.

      Muhammad Gulzar and Saba Khan, both from Pakistan, had only recently got married, on Jan. 21. Just a few days after the shooting, Khan was sitting in a restaurant in Istanbul, her face buried in her hands. On her wrist was the watch that her husband had given her. Khan was in a state of deep desperation, wondering if Muhammad might still be alive if she had insisted on turning around and going back.

      The deadly incident that unfolded in the first week of March along the border between Turkey and Greece has long since dropped out of the international headlines. Khan, though, can’t put it behind her - nor can the other families who lost relatives in those chaotic March days. At least two people died trying to cross the border into Greece, and dozens were injured, some seriously. And to this day, it still isn’t entirely clear who bears responsibility.

      A propaganda war over the incident has broken out between Turkey and Greece. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan alleges that Greek security forces deliberately fired on the migrants, while the Greek government denies all such claims.


      DER SPIEGEL reporters spent weeks reporting on both sides of the border, together with the research teams Forensic Architecture, Lighthouse Reports and Bellingcat. The reporters interviewed two dozen witnesses, including refugees, border guards, politicians and doctors. They also reviewed official documents, including Muhammad Gulzar’s autopsy report, and evaluated more than 100 videos and photos taken by migrants at the border.

      The findings of the reporting contradict the official versions, especially – on decisive points – the Greek account. Muhammad Gulzar’s death may well have been an accident, but it was a predictable accident. A reconstruction of the events surrounding his March 4 death reads as though both sides were eager to escalate the situation.

      On Feb. 27, Russian fighter jets are believed to have killed at least 33 Turkish soldiers in an attack on military posts in the Syrian province of Idlib. The Turkish authorities blocked both Facebook and Twitter, but they were unable to suppress news about the deaths for long. In response to the incident, Erdoğan convened a crisis meeting, which ended with a surprising decision: Turkey would be opening its border to Europe.

      That border had been closed ever since the EU and Turkey had agreed to a pact years earlier that would sharply reduce the number of refugees making their way north to Europe. And by publicly breaching that deal, Erdoğan was likely seeking to distract from the problems his military was having in Syria, while at the same time blackmailing the Europeans for more money to care for the large numbers of refugees in Turkey. And the gambit seemed to have had the desired effect: Over the course of the next few days, there was little talk about the Turkish losses in Idlib.

      At the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, the bus station in Istanbul’s Aksaray neighborhood served as a hub for migrants making their way to Europe, and now, refugees were once again boarding buses at the site. The news had spread on Facebook and WhatsApp that the gates to Europe had reopened, and more than 10,000 migrants had decided to see for themselves. In some instances, the Turkish authorities even chartered buses to transport migrants to the border.

      Pakistan national Gulzar and his wife were among those who took a bus from Istanbul to the border. It wasn’t the first time that Gulzar had traveled to Europe. In 2007, he had made his way to Greece, where he ended up working for years – most of the time with a "tolerated” status from the immigration authorities. He was initially on his own, but was later joined by his oldest son. His wife at the time and four children remained in Pakistan. Gulzar repaired fireplaces in Greek homes, with his last boss, Nikolaos Tzokanis, describing him as honest and hard-working.

      Things were going well professionally for Gulzar, but privately, something was amiss. He was married, but his true love, Saba Khan, lived in Pakistan, so he decided to separate from his wife and move back to Pakistan to marry Khan. Tzokanis says he asked Gulzar to wait until Khan received an official entry permit before returning to Greece. But that would have taken months and they didn’t want to wait that long. He says Gulzar told him: "I’ve made it to Europe before. I can do it again.”

      Gulzar flew from Greece to Pakistan, where he and Khan married on Jan. 21, and a few days later, the newlyweds traveled to Turkey via Iran. They had big plans for their future in Greece: Khan wanted to work as a hairdresser and maybe even open up her own beauty salon. The only thing standing in their way were the Greek border guards.

      Kyriakos Mitsotakis had only been prime minister of Greece for nine months, but the refugee crisis was already overshadowing his tenure. Migrants were living in overcrowded camps on the Greek islands and there had been repeated instances of violence against them. Mitsotakis was well aware that the asylum system would collapse for good if the number of refugees was to rise sharply. But that’s exactly what was in store now that Erdoğan had reopened the border.

      Facing this dilemma, Mitsotakis suspended the right of asylum on March 1 for one month, a move lawyers would later deem illegal. He also dispatched 1,000 soldiers and 1,000 police officers to the north.

      Gulzar and Khan believed Erdoğan’s claim that the border had been opened. But when they arrived at Pazarkule, it was like a battlefield. Thousands of people were camping outdoors while Greek security forces were firing tear gas and water cannons.

      Khan says they never would have boarded the bus had they known what was awaiting them at the border, adding that they would have tried to get to a Greek island by boat instead. But now they were stuck at the border area. To keep pressure on the Europeans, Turkish gendarmes even prevented refugees from returning to Istanbul from Pazarkule.

      The migrants grew increasingly desperate as a result, with some throwing rocks at Greek border guards. The BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, believes that Turkish agents mixed in with the crowds to exacerbate the situation. The Greeks clearly sought to keep the onslaught at bay – and not just with water cannons and tear gas. Several refugees told DER SPIEGEL that they had been shot at by Greek security forces.

      One Syrian said his wife has been missing since Greek border guards stopped the family from crossing the Maritsa River. He claims that Greek officers fired at him several times and forcibly separated him from his wife. Another Syrian man, Mohammad al-Arab, died on March 2 along the Maritsa, more than 80 kilometers south of the Pazarkule border post. The research agency Forensic Architecture has determined through video analysis that al-Arab was shot. Two witnesses claim it was Greek soldiers who opened fire on him.

      European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen traveled to the crisis area on March 3. For the first time in four years, the EU could no longer rely on Erdoğan to stop the refugees, and Greece, in the words of von der Leyen had become Europe’s "shield.” She made no mention of the accusations of violence against Greek security forces.

      Elias Tzimitras always gets called in when there’s danger. He’s part of a Greek armed forces special unit that the military leadership had deployed at the Greek-Turkish border. The Greek security forces were organized in two lines: On the front line were the police officers with shields, batons and pistols, while behind them were soldiers with semi-automatic rifles. Tzimitras and his men.

      As an officer, Tzimitras is forbidden from speaking to the media. As such, we have decided to keep secret his real name, rank and the name of his unit. Tzimitras reports that the situation at the border was extremely tense. He and his colleagues feared they might get kidnapped and said that some of the migrants were also armed. Tzimitras and his comrades worked in day shifts and night shifts, and they were constantly subjected to provocations by Turkish soldiers, Tzimitras says.

      The government in Athens has denied that Greek security forces used live ammunition. Tzimitras, however, disputes such claims. "We fired both blanks and live ammunition,” he says. But he claims they were only warning shots into the air or the ground. Authorization to do so, he says, came from the military leadership.

      Videos that have been evaluated by the forensics experts also prove that shots were fired with live ammunition on March 4. One video filmed on the Turkish side of the border and shown by Turkish state broadcaster TRT shows a fire at the border fence. Then shots ring out and a young man collapses.

      The man filming the blurred images shouts in English: "Gunfire from the Greece army … I have seen someone who is shot.” Migrants can be seen fleeing from the fence, and a little later, men appear behind the fire at the fence – apparently Greek soldiers.

      In a video from the Greek side, the same sequence of shots can be found. Two Greeks can be heard talking to each other off camera. “They aimed”, the first person says in it. “They aimed,” the second person confirms. "That’s the only way …”

      In the video, the characteristic sounds of live ammunition can be heard: first a crack produced by the shock wave of the projectile followed by the sound of the muzzle blast. With blanks, you would only hear the muzzle blast. Steven Beck, an American weapons expert who reviewed the footage, is certain that the shots that can be heard in the video are live ammunition. According to his analysis, the intervals between the shots indicate it was a semi-automatic weapon. He believes the shooter was standing around 40 to 60 meters away from the camera. In all the available videos, it is only on the Greek side that individuals can be seen standing within a radius of 60 meters and carrying such weapons.
      THE SHOT

      When Gulzar and Khan woke up after a restless night, the first altercations had already broken out at the border post and the air was full of tear gas. Khan could barely breathe.

      That day, Gulzar wore a black jacket, a pair of blue jeans with holes and black, ankle-high boots with a zipper. He took his wife’s hand and they marched toward the fence together. "Do not attempt to cross the border,” Greek border guards warned over a loudspeaker. Khan watched as a man cut a hole in the fence just a few meters away from them. Some of the migrants used bolt cutters, which the Turkish gendarmes likely supplied.

      The Greek soldiers stood parallel to the fence, with a few meters between them. They wore face masks and carried semi-automatic rifles. Shots could be heard every few minutes, including from semi-automatic weapons. But the men continue trying to break through the fence. A group of migrants carried the first injured person away, the man holding the left side of his face with his arm. The migrants placed his legs in a blanket to make it easier to carry him. When they reached the road, they put the injured man in a Turkish ambulance.

      Gulzar and Khan weren’t far from the border fence. Gulzar spoke to the security forces in Greek and had just turned away, Khan says, when the fatal shot was fired. Her husband collapsed with his hand on his chest. "Get up,” she screamed at him, "get up!”

      "The shot definitely came from the Greek side,” Khan says. She says she barely missed getting shot in the foot.

      In the video, you can see people rushing to the injured Gulzar. His face is covered, but the zippered boots, the pattern of the torn blue jeans and the black jacket leave no doubt that it is Gulzar who is lying there on the ground.

      “They killed him, lift him up!” the migrants shouted in Arabic. They pulled him up by his shirt and jacket, running as they carried Gulzar toward the street to the ambulance.

      DER SPIEGEL spoke with two of the migrants who filmed the events that day. Both claim that Gulzar was shot and killed by the Greeks. One of the men, named Sobhi, says that a soldier shot Gulzar with an assault rifle. He can be seen in a video shortly after the incident. He says: "There’s a Pakistani who’s been shot in the shoulder with live ammunition. At the fence. The ambulance just took him away.”

      Images from the Greek television station Skai TV show Greek soldiers along the fence near the place where Gulzar was shot and killed. They are carrying FN Minimi, M4 and M16 semi-automatic weapons, which fire 5.56-millimeter caliber bullets. According to the autopsy report of the Istanbul Institute of Forensic Medicine, which DER SPIEGEL has obtained, it is precisely one of these bullets that was found inside Gulzar’s body.

      The rattle of automatic weapons never seemed to stop on that day. Mobile phone cameras captured the sound, and more migrants started filming. Some fled the fence area in panic. Within four minutes, four injured men were carried away. Fourteen minutes later, a fifth was taken away. Some suffered from gunfire wounds.

      One of the injured can be identified beyond any doubt. His name is Mohammad Hantou. Videos show him stumbling across the field, holding his head with one hand. When he falls down, other men help him up and support him.

      DER SPIEGEL met with Hantou at the hospital at Edirne one day later. His brother Riad was with him, and Hantou had a bandage on his right ear. Two pieces of shot from a shotgun struck him there, one of them destroying a bone behind his ear, he says. That’s what the doctors told him. Hantou is certain that Greek security forces fired on him that day.

      The university hospital in Edirne is located only 14 kilometers from the border post. Gulzar arrived at the hospital’s emergency room a half hour after he was shot and the doctors tried in vain to reanimate him. They declared him dead 45 minutes later.

      When Saba Khan received the news, she collapsed on the sidewalk next to the hospital, as can be seen in a video shot by a CNN camera team. It shows Khan sobbing, screaming and banging her head against a car repeatedly. She will say later that she believed right to the very end that Gulzar would survive.

      When contacted by DER SPIEGEL for a statement, the Greek government rejected all the accusations, dismissing them as "Turkish propaganda.” Greece has the "right to protect its borders,” the government said in a written statement.

      The European Union member states have been tightening their migration policies since 2015 and they have ceased conducting rescue missions in the Mediterranean, but Gulzar’s death nonetheless marks a turning point. In his case, border guards not only failed to help – in all likelihood, they themselves were the ones who killed him.

      It’s quite possible that Gulzar was shot accidentally, that he was hit by a ricochet. But it is also the responsibility of the authorities to determine exactly what happened. By dismissing all reports on the attacks against migrants as fake news, however, the Greek government is making it impossible to uncover all the facts.

    • Migrante morto al confine con la Turchia, hanno sparato i militari greci?

      Dopo un’indagine giornalistica, cento europarlamentari hanno chiesto alla Commissione europea di investigare sulla morte di Muhammad Gulzar, migrante morto lo scorso 4 marzo mentre tentava di attraversare il confine greco-turco. Francesco Martino (OBCT) per il GR di Radio Capodistria [17 maggio 2020]

      I militari greci sono “probabilmente” responsabili della morte del pakistano Muhammad Gulzar, morto a inizio marzo mentre insieme ad altre migliaia di persone tentava di attraversare il confine greco dalla vicina Turchia. E’ questo il risultato di un’articolata indagine collettiva che vede tra i suoi protagonisti il settimanale tedesco Spiegel e il sito di giornalismo investigativo Bellingcat.

      I giornalisti, attraverso lo studio di materiale video e il confronto con testimoni diretti, sono arrivati alla conclusione che il ferimento di almeno sette persone, tra cui Gulzar, che poi è deceduto, è con tutta probabilità conseguenza dell’esplosione di proiettili veri da parte dei militari greci a guardia della frontiera, ed hanno chiesto l’apertura di un’inchiesta giudiziaria per accertare la verità.

      Una richiesta fatta propria anche da cento eurodeputati, che con una lettera alla presidente della Commissione europea, hanno domandato indagini approfondite, anche se le autorità greche continuano a rigettare ogni accusa, e hanno più volte parlato di “fake news” gestite dal governo turco.

      La morte di Gulzar è avvenuta dopo che Ankara ha fine febbraio ha aperto le sue frontiere verso l’UE, denunciando gli accordi sulla gestione delle migrazioni firmati con Bruxelles nel 2016: dopo l’annuncio, migliaia di migranti si sono ammassati alla frontiera greca per tentare di attraversarla con il supporto attivo delle autorità turche, mentre Atene ha schierato anche l’esercito per bloccare ogni ingresso.

      La crisi è rientrata solo dopo lo scoppiare dell’epidemia di COVID19, che ha convinto la Turchia a riaccompagnare i migranti verso i centri d’accoglienza sul proprio territorio.