• More than 1,000 unmarked graves discovered along EU migration routes

    Bodies also piling up in morgues across continent as countries accused of failing to meet human rights obligations.

    Refugees and migrants are being buried in unmarked graves across the European Union at a scale that is unprecedented outside of war.

    The Guardian can reveal that at least 1,015 men, women and children who died at the borders of Europe in the past decade were buried before they were identified.

    They lie in stark, often blank graves along the borders – rough white stones overgrown with weeds in Sidiro cemetery in Greece; crude wooden crosses on Lampedusa in Italy; in northern France faceless slabs marked simply “Monsieur X”; in Poland and Croatia plaques reading “NN” for name unknown.

    On the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, one grave states: “Migrant boat number 4. 25/09/2022.”

    The European parliament passed a resolution in 2021 that called for people who die on migration routes to be identified and recognised the need for a coordinated database to collect details of the bodies.

    But across European countries the issue remains a legislative void, with no centralised data, nor any uniform process for dealing with the bodies.

    Working with forensic scientists from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other researchers, NGOs and pathologists, the Guardian and a consortium of reporters pieced together for the first time the number of migrants and refugees who died in the past decade along the EU’s borders whose names remain unknown. At least 2,162 bodies have still not been identified.

    Some of these bodies are piling up in morgues, funeral parlours and even shipping containers across the continent. Visiting 24 cemeteries and working with researchers, the team found more than 1,000 nameless graves.

    These, however, are the tip of the iceberg. More than 29,000 people died on European migration routes in this period, the majority of whom remain missing.


    What is the border graves project?

    About the investigation

    The Guardian teamed up with Süddeutsche Zeitung and eight reporters from the Border Graves Investigation who received funding from Investigative Journalism for Europe and Journalismfund Europe.

    We worked with researchers at the International Committee of the Red Cross who shared exclusively their most up-to-date findings on migrant and refugee deaths registered in Spain, Malta, Greece and Italy between 2014 and 2021.

    Other partners included Marijana Hameršak of the European Irregularized Migration Regime at the Periphery of the EU (ERIM) project in Croatia, Grupa Granica and Podlaskie Humanitarian Emergency Service (POPH) in Poland and Sienos Grupė in Lithuania. The journalist Maël Galisson provided data for France.

    Reporters and researchers also checked death registers, interviewed prosecutors and spoke to local authorities and morgue directors, as well as visiting two dozen cemeteries to track the number of unidentified migrants and refugees who have died trying to cross into the EU in the past decade and find their graves.


    The problem is “utterly neglected”, according to Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatović, who has said EU countries are failing in their obligations under international human rights law.

    “The tools are there. We have the agencies and the forensic experts, but they need to be engaged [by governments],” she said. The rise of the hard right and a lack of political will were likely to further impede the development of a proper system to address “the tragedy of missing migrants”, she added.

    Instead, pockets of work happen at a local level. Pathologists, for example, collect DNA samples and the few personal items found on the bodies. The clues to lives lost are meagre: loose change in foreign currency, prayer beads, a Manchester United souvenir badge.

    The lack of coordination leaves bewildered families struggling to navigate localised, often foreign bureaucracy in the search for lost relatives.

    Supporting them falls to aid organisations such as the ICRC, which has recorded 16,500 requests since 2013 for information to its programme for restoring family links from people looking for relatives who went missing en route to Europe. The largest number of requests have come from Afghans, Iraqis, Somalians, Guineans and people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea and Syria. Only 285 successful matches have been achieved.

    And now even some of this support is about to disappear. As governments cut their aid budgets, the ICRC has been forced to refocus its reduced resources. National Red Cross agencies will continue the family links programme but much of the ICRC’s work training police and local authorities is being cut.
    A race against time

    The mini set of scissors and comb worn on a chain were unique to 24-year-old Oussama Tayeb, a small talisman that reflected his job as a barber. For his cousin Abdallah, they were the hope that he had been found.

    Tayeb set sail last year from the north-west of Algeria just before 8pm on Christmas Day. Onboard with him were 22 neighbours who had clubbed together to pay for the boat they had hoped would take them to Spain.

    His family has been searching for him since. Abdallah, who lives in France, fears it is a race against time.

    Spanish police introduced a database in 2007 in which data and genetic samples from unidentified remains are meant to be logged. In practice, the system breaks down when it comes to families searching for missing relatives, who have no clear information about how to access it.

    The family had provided a DNA sample soon after Tayeb’s disappearance. With no news by February, they travelled to southern Spain for a second time to search for him. At the morgue in Almería, a forensic doctor reacted to Tayeb’s photo, saying he looked familiar. She recalled a necklace, but said the man she was thinking of was believed to have died in a jet ski accident.

    “It was a really intense moment because we knew that Oussama was wearing a jet ski lifejacket,” Abdallah said.

    Even with the knowledge that Tayeb’s body may have been found, his cousin was unable to see the corpse lying in the morgue without a police officer. Abdallah remembered the shocking callousness with which he was greeted at one of the many police stations he tried. “One policeman told us that if ‘they don’t want to disappear, they shouldn’t have taken a boat to Spain’.”

    Looming over Abdallah’s continuing search is a practical pressure mentioned by the Spanish pathologist: bodies in the morgue are usually kept for a year and then buried, whether identified or not. “We only want an answer. If we see the chain, this would be like a death certificate. It’s so heartbreaking. It’s like we’re leaving Oussama in the fridge and we can’t do anything about it,” he said.
    ‘Here lies a brother who lost his life’

    The local authorities that receive the most bodies are often on small islands and are increasingly saying they cannot cope.

    They warn that an already inadequate system is going backwards. Spain’s Canary Islands have reported a record 35,410 men, women and children reaching the archipelago by boat this year. In recent months, most of these vessels have sought to land on the tiny, remote island of El Hierro. In the past six weeks alone, seven unidentified people were buried on the island.

    The burial vaults of 15 unidentified people who were found dead on a rickety wooden vessel in 2020, in the town of Agüimes on Gran Canaria, bear identical plaques that read simply: “Here lies a brother who lost his life trying to reach our shores.”

    In the Muslim section of Lanzarote’s Teguise cemetery, the graves of children are marked with circles of stones. They include the grave of a baby believed to have been stillborn on a deadly crossing from Morocco in 2020. Alhassane Bangoura’s body was separated from his mother during the rescue and was buried in an unmarked grave. His name is only recorded informally, engraved on a bowl by locals moved by his plight.

    It is the same story in the other countries at the edge of the EU; unmarked graves dotted along their frontiers standing testament to the crisis. Along the land borders, in Croatia, Poland, Lithuania, the numbers of unmarked graves are fewer but still they are there, blank stones or sometimes an NN marked on plaques.

    In France, the anonymous inscription “X” stands out in cemeteries in Calais. The numbers seem low compared with those found along the southern coastal borders: 35 out of 242 migrants and refugees who died on the Franco-British border since 2014 remain unidentified. The high proportion of the dead identified reflects the fact that people spend time waiting before attempting the Channel crossing so there are often contacts still in France able to name those who die.
    Fragments of hope

    Leaked footage of Polish border guards laughing at a young man hanging upside down, trapped by his foot, stuck in the razor wire on the top of the 180km (110-mile) steel border fence separating Belarus from Poland caused a brief social media storm.

    But the moment he is caught in the searchlights, his frightened face briefly frozen, has haunted 50-year-old Kafya Rachid for the past year. She is sure the man is her missing child, Mohammed Sabah, who was 22 when she last saw him alive.

    Sabah had flown from his home in Iraqi Kurdistan in the autumn of 2021 to Belarus, for which he had a visa. He was successfully taken across the EU border by smugglers but was detained about 50km (30 miles) into Poland and deported back to Belarus.

    Waiting to cross again, his messages suddenly stopped. The family had been coming to terms with the fact he was probably dead. Then the video surfaced. With little else to go on, fragments such as this give families hope.

    Sabah’s parents, as so often happens, were unable to get visas to travel to the EU. Instead, Rekaut Rachid, an uncle of Sabah who has lived in London since 1999, has made three trips to Poland to try to find him.

    Rachid believes the Polish authorities lied to him when they told him the man in the video was Egyptian, and this keeps him searching. “They are hiding something. Five per cent of me thinks maybe he died. But 95% of me thinks he is in prison somewhere in Poland,” he said, adding: “My sister calls every day to ask if I think he is still alive. I don’t know how to answer.”
    Shipping container morgues

    In a corner of the hospital car park in the Greek city of Alexandroupolis, two battered refrigerated shipping containers stand next to some rubbish bins. Inside are the bodies of 40 people.

    The border from Turkey into Greece over the Evros River nearby is only a 10- to 20-minute crossing, but people cross at night when their small rubber boats can easily hit a tree and capsize. Corpses decompose quickly in the riverbed mud, so that facial characteristics, clothing and any documents that might help identify them are rapidly destroyed.

    Twenty of the corpses in the containers are the charred remains of migrants who died in wildfires that consumed this part of Greece during the summer’s heatwave. Identification has proved exceptionally difficult, with only four of the dead named to date.

    Prof Pavlos Pavlidis, the forensic pathologist for the area, works to determine the cause of death, to collect DNA samples and to catalogue any personal effects that might help relatives identify their loved ones at a later date.

    The temporary container morgues in Alexandroupolis are on loan from the ICRC. The humanitarian agency has loaned another container to the island of Lesbos, another migration hotspot, for the same purpose.

    Lampedusa does not have that luxury. “There are no morgues and no refrigerated units,” said Salvatore Vella, the Sicilian head prosecutor who leads investigations into shipwrecks off its coast. “Once placed in body bags, the bodies of migrants are transferred to Sicily. Burial is managed by individual towns. It has happened that migrants have sometimes been buried in sort of mass graves within cemeteries.”

    The scale of the problem was becoming so acute, said Filippo Furri, an anthropologist and an associate researcher at Mecmi, a group that examines deaths during migration, that “there have been cases of coffins abandoned in cemetery warehouses due to lack of space, or bodies that remain in hospital morgues”.
    ‘It’s not only a technical difficulty but also a political one’

    “If you count the relatives of those who are missing, hundreds of thousands of people are impacted. They don’t know where their loved ones are. Were they well treated, were they respected when they were buried? That’s what preys on families’ minds,” said Laurel Clegg, the ICRC forensic coordinator for migration in Europe. “We have an obligation to provide the dead with a dignified burial; and [to address] the other side, providing answers to families through identification of the dead.”

    She said keeping track of the dead relied on lots of parts working well together: a legal framework that protected the unidentified dead, consistent postmortems, morgues, registries, dignified transport and cemeteries.

    The systems are inadequate, however, despite the EU parliament resolution. There are still no common rules about what information should be collected, nor a centralised place to store this information. The political focus is on catching the smugglers rather than finding out who their victims are.

    A spokesperson for the European Commission said the rights and dignity of refugees and migrants had to be addressed alongside tackling people smuggling. They said each member state was responsible individually for how it dealt with those who died on its borders, but that the commission was working to improve coordination and protocols and “regrets the loss of every human life” .

    In Italy, significant efforts have been made to identify the dead from a couple of well-reported, large-scale disasters. Cristina Cattaneo, the head of the laboratory of forensic anthropology and odontology (Labanof) at the University of Milan, has spent years working to identify the dead from a shipwreck in 2015 in which more than 1,000 people lost their lives.

    Raising the wreck to retrieve the bodies has cost €9.5m (£8.1m) already. Organising the 30,000 mixed bones into identifiable remains of 528 bodies has been a herculean task. Only six victims have so far been issued official death certificates.

    As political positions on irregular migration have hardened, experts are finding official enthusiasm for their complex work has diminished. “It’s not only a technical difficulty but also a political one,” Cattaneo said.

    In Sicily, Vella has been investigating a fishing boat that sank in October 2019. It was carrying 49 people, mostly from Tunisia. Just a few miles off shore, a group onboard filmed themselves celebrating their imminent arrival in Europe before the boat ran out of fuel and capsized. The Italian coastguard rescued 22 people but 27 others lost their lives.

    Coastguard divers, using robots, captured images of bodies floating near the vessel, but were unable to recover all of them. The footage circulated around the world. A group of Tunisian women who had been searching for their sons contacted the Italian authorities and were given permits to travel to meet the prosecutor, who showed them more footage.

    One mother, Zakia Hamidi, recognised her 18-year-old son, Fheker. It was a searing experience for both her and Vella: “At that moment, I realised the difference between a mother, torn apart by grief, but who at least will return home with her child’s body, and those mothers who will not have a body to mourn. It is something heartbreaking.”
    The torture of not knowing

    The grief that people feel when they have no certainty about the fate of their missing relatives has a very particular intensity.

    Dr Pauline Boss, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota in the US, was the first to describe this “ambiguous loss”. “You are stuck, immobilised, you feel guilty if you begin again because that would mean accepting the person is dead. Grieving is frozen, your decision-making is frozen, you can’t work out the facts, can’t answer the questions,” she said.

    Not knowing often has severe practical consequences too. Spouses may not be able to exercise their parental rights, inherit assets or claim welfare support or pensions without a death certificate. Orphans cannot be adopted by extended family without one either.

    Sometimes relatives are left in the dark for years. A decade on from a shipwreck disaster in 2013, bereaved families continue to gather in Lampedusa every year, still searching for answers. Among them this year was a Syrian woman, Sabah al-Joury, whose son Abdulqader was on the boat. She said that not knowing where he ended up was like having “an open wound”.

    Sabah’s family said the torture of not being able to find out what happened to him was “like dying everyday”. Abdallah thinks he must make another trip from Paris to southern Spain before the end of the year. “What is difficult is not to have the body, not to be able to bury him,” he said.

    Rituals around death were indicative of a deep human need, said Boss. “The most important thing is for the name to be marked somewhere, so the family can visit, and the missing can be remembered. A name means you were on this Earth, not forgotten.”


    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #tombes #fosses_communes #Europe #morts_aux_frontières #enterrement #cimetières #morgues #chiffres

    • The Border Graves Investigation

      More than 1,000 migrants who died trying to enter Europe lie buried in nameless graves. EU migration policy has failed the dead and the living.

      A cross-border team of eight journalists has confirmed the existence of 1,015 unmarked graves of migrants buried in 65 cemeteries over the past decade across Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Poland, Lithuania, France, and Croatia. The reporters visited more than half of them.

      Unidentified migrants lay to rest in cemeteries in olive groves, on hilltops, in dense forests, and along remote highways. Each unmarked grave represents a person who lost their life en route to Europe, and a fate that will remain forever unknown to their loved ones.

      This months-long investigation underlines that Europe’s migration policies have failed more than a thousand people who have died in transit and the families who survive them.

      In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution recognsing the need for a “coordinated European approach” for “prompt and effective identification processes” for bodies found on EU borders. Yet in 2022, the Council of Europe called this area a “legislative void”.

      These failures mean that the responsibility of memorialising unidentified victims often ends up falling to individual municipalities, cemetery keepers and local good Samaritans, with many victims buried without any attempt at identification.


      In the absence of official data from European and national governments, the Border Graves Investigation collaborated with The Guardian and Suddeutsche Zeitung to count 2,162 unidentified deaths of migrants across eight countries in Europe between 2014 and 2023.

      The cross-border team conducted over 60 interviews in six languages. They spoke with families of the missing and deceased, whose loved ones left for Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Algeria and Sri Lanka.

      They revealed the institutional and bureaucratic hurdles of searching for bodies and burying the remains of those that are found. One mother compared her unresolved grief to an “open wound,” and an uncle said it was like “dying every day”.

      To understand the complex legal, medical and political landscape of death in each country, the journalists spoke with coroners, grave keepers, forensic doctors, international and local humanitarian groups, government officials, a European MEP and the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner.

      The in-depth investigation reveals that the European Union is violating migrants’ last rights. The stories below show how.
      The team

      The Border Graves Investigation team consists of Barbara Matejčić, Daphne Tolis, Danai Maragoudaki, Eoghan Gilmartin, Gabriela Ramirez, Gabriele Cruciata, Leah Pattem, and is coordinated by Tina Xu. The project was supported by the IJ4EU fund and JournalismFund Europe.

      Gabriele Cruciata is a Rome-based award-winning journalist specialising in podcasts and investigative and narrative journalism. He also works as a fixer, producer, journalism consultant, and trainer.

      Gabriele Cruciata IG @gab_cruciata

      Leah Pattem is a Spain-based journalist and photographer specialising in politics, migration and community stories. Leah is also the founder and editor of the popular local media platform Madrid No Frills.

      X @leahpattem
      IG @madridnofrills

      Eoghan Gilmartin is a Spain-based freelance journalist specialising in news, politics and migration. His work has appeared in Jacobin Magazine, The Guardian, Tribune and Open Democracy.

      X @EoghanGilmartin
      Muck Rack: Eoghan Gilmartin

      Gabriela Ramirez is an award-winning multimedia journalist specialising in migration, human rights, ocean conservation, and climate issues, always through a gender-focused lens. Currently serving as the Multimedia & Engagement Editor at Unbias The News.

      X @higabyramirez
      Linkedin Gabriela Ramirez
      Instagram @higabyramirez

      Barbara Matejčić is a Croatian award-winning freelance journalist, non-fiction writer and audio producer focused on social affairs and human rights

      Website: http://barbaramatejcic.com
      FB: https://www.facebook.com/barbara.matejcic.1
      Instagram: @barbaramatejcic

      Danai Maragoudaki is a Greek journalist based in Athens. She works for independent media outlet Solomon and is a member of their investigative team. Her reporting focuses on transparency, finance, and digital threats.

      FB: https://www.facebook.com/danai.maragoudaki
      X: @d_maragoudaki
      IG: @danai_maragoudaki

      Daphne Tolis is an award-winning documentary producer/filmmaker and multimedia journalist based in Athens. She has produced and hosted timely documentaries for VICE Greece and has directed TV documentaries for the EBU and documentaries for the MSF and IFRC. Since 2014 she has been working as a freelance producer and journalist in Greece for the BBC, Newsnight, VICE News Tonight, ABC News, PBS Newshour, SRF, NPR, Channel 4, The New York Times Magazine, ARTE, DW, ZDF, SVT, VPRO and others. She has reported live for DW News, BBC News, CBC News, ABC Australia, and has been a guest contributor on various BBC radio programs, Times Radio, Morning Ireland, RTE, NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’, and others.

      X: https://twitter.com/daphnetoli
      Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daphne_tolis/?hl=en
      Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/daphne-tolis

      Tina Xu is a multimedia journalist and filmmaker working at the intersection of migration, mental health, socially engaged arts, and civil society. Her stories often interrogate the three-way street between people, policy, and power. She received the Excellence in Environmental Reporting Award from Society of Publishers in Asia in 2021, was a laureate of the European Press Prize Innovation Award in 2021 and 2022, and shortlisted for the One World Media Refugee Reporting Award in 2022.

      X: @tinayingxu
      IG: @tinayingxu


    • 1000 Lives, 0 Names: The Border Graves Investigation. How the EU is failing migrants’ last rights

      What happens to those who die in their attempts to reach the European Union? How are their lives marked, how can their families honor them? How do governments recognize their existence and their basic rights as human beings?

      Our cross-border team confirmed 1,015 unmarked graves of migrants in 65 cemeteries buried over the last 10 years across Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Poland, Lithuania, France, and Croatia. We visited over half of them.

      Each unmarked grave represents a person who lost their life en route to Europe, and a fate that remains painfully unknown to their loved ones.

      In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution recognizing the need for a “coordinated European approach” for “prompt and effective identification processes” for bodies found on EU borders. Yet last year, the Council of Europe called this area a “legislative void.”

      In the absence of official data from European and national governments, the Border Graves Investigation counted 2,162 unidentified deaths of migrants across eight countries in Europe from 2014-2023.

      Our cross-border team conducted over 60 interviews in six languages. We spoke with families of the missing and deceased, whose loved ones left for Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Algeria, and Sri Lanka. They spoke about the institutional and bureaucratic hurdles of searching for, and if found, burying a body.

      One mother compared the unresolved grief to an “open wound,” and an uncle said it was like “dying every day.”
      Here is how Europe violates the “last rights” of migrants.


    • Widowed by Europe’s borders

      “No water, I think I’ll die, I love you.” This is the last text Sanooja received from her husband, who disappeared after a pushback into the dense forest that stretches between Belarus, Lithuania, and Poland. For families searching for missing loved ones, the EU inflicts a second death of identity and acknowledgment.

      Samrin and Sanooja were high school classmates. Both born in 1990, they grew up together in Kalpitiya, a town of 80,000 on the tip of a small peninsula in Sri Lanka. When Samrin first asked Sanooja out in the ninth grade, she said no. But years later, when her roommates snuck through her diary, they asked about the boy in all her stories.

      When they turned 20, Sanooja was studying to be a teacher, while Samrin left town for work. After six years of video calls and heart emoji-laden selfies, Samrin returned home in 2017 and they got married, her in a white headscarf and indigo-sleeved dress, him in a matching indigo suit. Their son Haashim was born a year later. They called each other “thangam,” or gold.

      She hoped the birth of their son meant that Samrin would stay close by from now on. They took their son to the beach, to the zoo. Then the 2019 economic crisis hit, the worst since the country’s independence in 1948. There were daily blackouts, a shortage of fuel, and runaway inflation. In 2022, protests rocked the country, and the government claimed bankruptcy.

      Samrin was a difficult person to fall in love with, says Sanooja, because he was so ambitious. Sanooja smiles bitterly over a video call from her home in Kalpitiya. The sun filters through the mango tree in the yard, where the two often sat together and made plans for their future.

      But part of loving him, she explains, meant supporting him even in his hardest decisions. One of these decisions was to take a plane to Moscow, then to travel to Europe and send money home. “He went to keep us happy, to make us good.”

      Their last day together, Sanooja surprised him with a cake: Sky blue icing, an airplane made of fondant, ascending from an earth made of chocolate sprinkles. In big letters: “Love you and will miss you. Have a safe journey, Thangam.” In their last photos together, Haashim sits laughing on Samrin’s lap as he cuts the cake. That night, Samrin squeezed his son and wept. The next day he put on a pair of blue Converse All-Stars, packed a black backpack, and set out. It was June 26, 2022. He had just turned 32 years old.

      Things did not go according to plan. He boarded a bus from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, but the fake Schengen visa they paid so much for was rejected at the Finnish border. Sanooja told him he could always come home. But in order to finance the journey, they had sold a plot of Samrin’s land and Sanooja’s jewelry, and borrowed money from friends. Samrin decided there was no turning back. He pivoted to plan B: He could go to Belarus, where he didn’t need a visa, and cross the border to Lithuania, in the Schengen zone.

      When Samrin checked into the Old Town Trio Hotel in Vilnius on August 16, 2022, the first thing he did was call home: He had survived the forest. Sanooja was relieved to hear his voice. He told her about the eight days crossing the forest between Belarus and Lithuania, the mud up to his knees. Days without food, drinking dirty water. He told her especially about the pains in his stomach as he walked in the forest, due to his recent surgery to remove kidney stones. Sometimes he would urinate blood.

      But he was in the European Union. He bought a plane ticket for a departure to Paris in four days, the city where he hoped to make his new life. What happened next is unclear. This is what Sanooja knows:

      On the third day, Samrin walked into the hotel lobby, and the manager called security. Plainclothes officers shuttled him into a car and whisked him 50 kilometers back once more to the Belarusian border. In less than 72 hours, Samrin found himself trapped again in the forest he had fought to escape.

      It was already dark when Samrin was left alone in the woods. He had no backpack, sleeping bag, or food. His phone was running out of battery. The next morning, Samrin came online briefly to send Sanooja a final message on WhatsApp: “No water, I think I’ll die. Trangam, I love you.”

      That was the beginning of a deafening silence that stretched four and a half months. When she gets to this part of the story, Sanooja, ever talkative and articulate, apologizes that she simply cannot describe it. Her eyes glaze and flit upward.

      The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović asserts that families have a “right to truth” surrounding the fates of their loved ones who disappear en route to Europe. In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for “prompt and effective identification processes” to connect the bodies of those who perished to those searching for them. Two years on, Mijatović tells us not much has been done, and the issue is a “legislative void.”

      As part of the Border Graves Investigation, conducted with a cross-border team of eight freelance journalists across Europe in collaboration with Unbias the News, The Guardian and Sueddeutche Zeitung, we followed the stories of those who have disappeared in the forest that covers the borders in Eastern Europe, between Belarus and the EU (Lithuania, Poland, Latvia).

      We spoke with their families, as well as over a dozen humanitarian workers, lawyers, and policymakers from organizations in Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus, to piece together the question of what happens after something goes fatally wrong on Europe’s eastern border—and who is responsible.
      Who counts the dead?

      The forest along the Belarussian border is a dense landscape of underbrush, moss and swamps, and encompasses one of the largest ancient forest areas left in Europe.

      Spanning hundreds of square kilometers across the borders with Lithuania and Poland, the forest became an unexpected hotspot when Belarus began issuing visas and opening direct flights to Minsk in the summer of 2021. This power play between Belarussian President Lukashenko and his EU neighbors has been called a “political game” in which migrants are the pawns.

      Since 2021, thousands of people, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, have sought to enter the EU from Belarus via its borders in Poland and Lithuania. Hundreds of people have been caught in a one-kilometer no man’s land between Belarusian territory and the EU border fence, chased back and forth by border guards on both sides under threat of violence. Belarusian guards reportedly threatened to release dogs, and photographs emerged of bite wounds.

      Since 2021, Poland and Lithuania have ramped up on “pushbacks,” in which border guards deport people immediately without the opportunity to ask for asylum, a process that is growing in popularity across Europe despite violating international law. Poland reports having conducted 78,010 pushbacks since the start of the crisis, and Lithuania 21,857. Samrin was apparently one of these cases.

      While these two countries publish precise daily statistics for pushbacks, they do not publish data for deaths at the border, nor people reported missing.

      “National states want to do this job secretly,” explains Tomas Tomilinas, a member of the Lithuanian Parliament. “We are on the margins of the law and constitution here, any government pushing people back is trying to avoid publicity on this topic.”

      Official data is an intentional void. Both the Polish and Lithuanian Border Guards declined to share any numbers with us. However, there are organizations striving to keep count: Humanitarian groups in Poland, including Grupa Granica (“Border Group” in Polish) and Podlaskie Humanitarian Emergency Service (POPH), have documented 52 deaths on the Poland-Belarus border since 2021, and are tracking 16 unidentified bodies.

      In Lithuania, the humanitarian group Sienos Grupė (“Border Group” in Lithuanian) has documented 10 deaths, including three minors who died while in detention centers, and three others who died in car accidents when chased by local authorities after crossing the border region. In Belarus, the NGO Human Constanta reports that 33 have died according to government data shared with them, but it was not recorded whether these bodies have been identified, and whether or where they are buried.

      On the borders between Poland, Lithuania and Belarus, humanitarian groups have compiled a list of more than 300 people reported missing. The organizations emphasize that their numbers are incomplete, as they have neither the access nor the capacity to monitor the full extent of the problem.

      Where to turn?

      It was already past midnight in Sri Lanka when Samrin stopped responding to messages. From 8,000 km away, Sanooja tried to call for help. She found his last known coordinates on Find My iPhone, a blue dot in Trokenikskiy, Grodno region, just across the Belarus side of the border, and tried to report him missing.

      The Lithuanian and Belarussian border guards picked up the phone. She begged them to find him, even if it meant arresting or deporting him. They responded that he had to call himself. It was baffling: How can a missing person call to report themselves?

      She called the migrant detention camps, where people are often detained without access to a phone for months. Maybe he was locked up somewhere. As soon as she said “hello,” they responded, “no English,” and hung up. She emailed them instead, no response. She emailed UNHCR and the Red Cross Society. Both institutions said they had no information about the case. She emailed the police, who responded a week later that they had no information.

      Sanooja had run into the rude reality that there is no authority responsible for nor prepared to respond to such inquiries. Even organizations dedicated to working with migrants, such as the migrant detention camp staff, would or could not respond to basic queries in English.

      International humanitarian organizations, too, are almost absent in the region. Compared to the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy, and Greece, which have had a decade to organize to respond to mass deaths on their border, the presence of formal aid in Eastern Europe is much smaller.

      Weeks passed, and in the terrible silence, every possibility behind her husband’s disappearance invaded Sanooja’s mind. Four-year-old Haashim began to cry out for his father every night, who used to wake him up with kisses. When they lost contact, Haashim often wet the bed and refused to go to school. “He must have had some intuition about his father,” said Sanooja.

      Then Sanooja began to wonder if he could be in another country in the region: Latvia? Poland? She broadened her search to all four countries. There was no Sri Lankan Embassy in Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, or Latvia, so she emailed the closest one in Sweden. Then, she went on Facebook. That’s how she found the account of Sienos Grupė, and sent them a message.

      Like many local humanitarian groups across the region, Sienos Grupė is a small team of four part-time staff and around 30 volunteers. The group banded together in 2021 to respond to calls for help through WhatsApp and Facebook and drop off vital supplies in the forest, such as food, water, power banks, and dry clothes.
      “There is a body, please go”

      Local volunteer groups were doing their best to aid the living, but it wasn’t long before they were being contacted to find the missing or the dead.

      On the Polish border, everyone has heard of Piotr Czaban. A local journalist and activist, his contact is shared among migrants attempting to cross the border. He is known as the man who can help find the bodies of people left behind in the woods, a reputation he has lived up to many times. The demands of the work have led him to leave his full-time job.

      He sits on the edge of a weathered log in a forest near Sokolka, a city near the Poland-Belarus border region where he lives. Navigating the thick undergrowth with ease in jeans and trekking boots, he recounts the first search he coordinated back in February 2022. He received a message on Facebook from a Syrian man in Belarus: “There is a body in the forest, here is the place, please go.”

      Piotr was taken off guard. He asked his friends in the police what to do, and they told him the best way was to go himself, take photos, and then call the police. However, the border guards had closed the border region to all non-residents, including journalists and humanitarian workers, so he couldn’t pass the police checkpoints for the area where the body lay.

      So Piotr made another call. This time to Rafal Kowalczyk, the 53-year-old director of the Mammal Research Institute, who has worked in the Bialowieza Forest for three decades. (“In my previous TV job, I interviewed him about bison, and thought he was a good man,” said Piotr by way of introduction).

      Rafal was up for the task. As a wildlife expert, he had access to the restricted forest area, and now he ventured into the woods not to track bison, but to follow the clues sent by a despairing Syrian man.

      In the swamp, Rafal found 26-year-old Ahmed Al-Shawafi from Yemen, barefoot and half-submerged in the water, one shoe in the mud nearby.

      It was difficult for Rafal to point his camera at the face of a dead man, but he did, and this image still haunts him. Piotr forwarded the photos Rafal had taken to the police, with a straightforward message: “We know there’s a body there. Now you have to go.”

      But what if Ahmed could have been found earlier, even alive?

      “The police have no competence”

      Until there is a photo of a dead body, police and border guards have often declined to search for missing or dead migrants.

      Ahmed’s traveling companions, including the man who contacted Piotr, had personally begged Polish border guards for emergency medical aid for Ahmed. They had left Ahmed by the river in the throes of hypothermia to ask for help. Instead of calling paramedics, or searching for Ahmed at all, the border guards pushed the group back to Belarus, leaving Ahmed to die alone in the forest.

      In our investigation, we heard of at least three other deaths that are eerily similar to Ahmed’s: Ethiopian woman Mahlet Kassa, 28; Syrian man Mohammed Yasim, 32; and Yemeni man Dr. Ibrahim Jaber Ahmed Dihiya, 33. In all three cases, traveling companions approached Polish officers for emergency medical attention, but instead got pushed back themselves. Help never arrived.

      Each time the activists receive a report of a missing or dead person, they first share this information with the police. Piotr says he has received responses from the police, including, “We’re busy,” or “Not our problem.”

      After police were provided with the photos and exact GPS location of Ahmed’s body, they called back to say they still couldn’t find him. When Rafal turned his car around to personally lead the police to his body, he found out why: The police had ventured into the swamp without waterproof boots or even a GPS to navigate in a forest where there is often no cell connection.

      “The police are unequipped,” said Rafal, full of disbelief. Two years on from the crisis, the police still do not have the proper basic equipment nor training to conduct searches for people missing or dead in the forest. He recounts that in one trip to retrieve a body with police, they could only walk 300 meters in one hour, and one officer had lost the sole of his shoes in the mud.

      The Polish police responded to our email, “The police is not a force with the competence to deal with persons illegally crossing borders.” As a result, eight of 22 bodies found this year on the Polish side of the border were discovered by volunteers like Piotr and Rafal.

      On the Lithuanian side, Sienos Grupė says there are no such searches. “We are afraid there are many bodies in Lithuanian forests and the area between the fence and Belarus, but we are not allowed there,” says Aušrinė, a 23-year-old medicine student and Sienos Grupė volunteer in Lithuania. “Nobody is looking for them.”
      “In two weeks, there is nothing there”

      Rafal sits down in a wooden lodge on the edge of the forest and orders tea for himself while his two young children play on a tablet. It was his turn with the kids, he explains in a deep voice. His wife came home at four in the morning, after spending the whole night volunteering with POPH on a search for a man with diabetes in the forest.

      He feared that time was running out. We met with Rafal on Thursday evening. The man was found on Saturday morning, already dead. He is the 51st death recorded in Poland this year.

      In the forest, each search is a race against both time and wild animals.

      The winter may preserve a body for two months, but in the summer, the time frame is much shorter. A few times, Rafal has come across mere skeletons. He explains, “When there is a smell, the scavengers go immediately. When you’ve got summer and flies, probably in two weeks, it’s done, there’s nothing there.”

      In such advanced stages of decomposition, the body is exponentially more difficult to identify. However, DNA can be collected from bone fragments, in case families come searching. If they’re lucky, there are objects found close by: glasses, clothes, or jewelry. In one case, a family portrait found near the body was the key to identification.

      However, the Suwałki Prosecutor’s Office in Poland explained to us that the Prosecutor’s Offices keep no central register of data on deceased migrants, such as DNA, personal belongings, or photographs.
      “As a wife, I know his eyes”

      Four and a half months after Samrin disappeared, Sanooja’s phone rang. It was January 5, 2023. She will never forget the voice of the man that spoke. He was calling from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka, and informed her that her husband’s DNA had been matched to a body found in the Lithuanian forest. Interpol had drawn Samrin’s biometric data from the UK.

      She considers it fate that the dots came together this way. When they were 20 years old, Samrin’s father passed away, and Samrin left for London on a student visa. Instead of studying, he washed dishes at McDonald’s and KFC, and stocked shelves at Aldi, Lidl, and Iceland. When his visa expired, he lived a clandestine existence, evading the authorities. At age 26, the Home Office arrested him, took his DNA, and deported him. This infraction turned out to be an unexpected lifeline for his identification.

      “Getting the message that my husband was no more, that was nothing compared to those four and a half months,” said Sanooja. She had begun to fear that she would have to live with “lifelong doubt” around Samrin’s fate. Now she knew that four days after Samrin sent his goodbye message, his body was pulled from a river on the Lithuanian side of the border.

      Sanooja has read the police report countless times now: On August 21, 2022, witness Saulius Zakarevičius went for a morning swim in the Neris River. After bathing, he saw something floating. Through binoculars, he was able to decipher human clothes. The river bank is covered with tall grass. At the end of the patch there was a male corpse lying face down. The surface of the skin was swollen, pale, chaotically covered with pink lines, resembling the surface of marble. The skin was peeling from the palms of the corpse…

      She was asked to identify the corpse.

      “As a wife, I know him. I know his eyes. To see them on a dead body, that was terrible.”

      In photos of his personal items, she instantly recognized Samrin’s shoes: a muddy pair of blue Converse All-Stars, with the laces looped just the way he always did.

      To be able to transport a dead body from Europe to any other part of the world, families must face the financial challenge of costs up to 10,000 euros. But the decision was not only about money for Sanooja. It was about time and dreams.

      For one, she believed that he had suffered enough. “As Muslims, we believe that even dead bodies can feel pain,” she says softly. “I felt broken that he was in the mortuary, feeling the cold for four and a half months.”

      And perhaps most of all, she recites what Samrin had told her before he left: “If I go, this time I’m not coming back.” In the end, Sanooja relied on her husband’s last will. “His dream was to be in Europe. So, at least his body will rest in Europe.”
      “Graves without a plate”

      Samrin’s death was the first border death publicly recognized by the Lithuanian government. Despite being the first, he did not receive any distinctive attention, and his resting place remained an unmarked mound of earth for more than eight months.

      On a hot summer day in July, co-founder of Sienos Grupė, Mantautas Šulskus brings a green watering can and measuring tape to our visit to the Vilnius cemetery where Samrin was buried in February. Green grass is sprouting all over Samrin’s grave. But it is not the only one.

      There are three smaller graves lined in a row. Among them, an eleven-year-old, a five-year-old, and a newborn baby rest side by side, their lives cut short in 2021. “These are three minors who died in detention centers in Lithuania,” Mantautas points out somberly.

      These cases have not been officially acknowledged by Lithuanian authorities, and none of the graves of the minors bear a name, even though their identities were also known to authorities. This lack of recognition paints a haunting picture, suggesting a second, silent death—a death of identity and acknowledgment.

      Bodies are sent to municipal or village governments to bury, and if they do not receive explicit instructions to create a plate, they often opt not to. As a result, the nameless graves of migrants are scattered across cemeteries in the region.

      Yet Mantautas is here in the scorching heat to measure a stone plate nearby in the Muslim corner of the cemetery. Sanooja saw it during a video call with Sienos Grupė volunteers, so that she could pray virtually at her husband’s grave. She asked for a plate with Samrin’s name on it—“just exactly like that one there,” she pointed.

      After some months, Sienos Grupė crowdfunded around 1,500 euros to buy and place stone plates for all four graves. The graves of Samrin and the three children now have names: Yusof Ibrahim Ali, Asma Jawadi, and Fatima Manazarova.

      Resting at the feet of the grave is a plate made of stone bearing the inscription “M.S.M.M. Samrin, 1990-2022, Sri Lanka,” precisely as Sanooja has requested. She explains that, according to Islamic beliefs, this will ensure that her husband will rise when the last days come.

      Hidden graves, unknown bodies

      The chilling thing, Mantautas explains, is nobody knows how many graves of migrants there might be, except for the government, which buries them quietly, often in remote villages.

      Organizations like Sienos Grupė find themselves grasping in the dark for leads. Last month, volunteers came across the grave of Lakshmisundar Sukumaran, an Indian man reported dead in April “quite by accident,” says Mantautas. The revelation came on the Eve of All Saint’s Day, when activists preparing for a control ran into a local returning from a visit to his mother’s grave: “There is a migrant buried in town.”

      Indeed, Sukumaran’s grave stands alone in an isolated corner of a small cemetery in Rameikos, a village of 25 people on the Lithuanian-Belarus border. Set apart from crosses of various sizes, a vertical piece of wood bears the inscription: “Lakshmisundar Sukumaran 1983.06.05 – 2023.04.04.” The border fence is visible from his grave. The earth is decorated by the colorful leaves of Lithuanian autumn.

      Sienos Grupė maintains a list of at least 40 people reported missing on the Lithuania-Belarus border, information the government does not record. When bodies are found, they strive to connect the dots: Location, gender, age, ethnicity, possessions, birthmarks, anything. But if authorities do not report when a body is found, the chances of locating anybody on this list are small.

      Emiljia Śvobaitė, a lawyer and volunteer from Sienos Grupė, explains that the Lithuanian government will only confirm whether something they already know is correct. “It seems like they are hiding these kinds of stories and information unless somebody exposes it. They would only confirm the deaths after activists have said something about it.”
      “No political will”

      The Lithuanian Parliament building, known as the Seimas Palace, is an imposing glass-and-concrete building in downtown Vilnius. It is where the Lithuanians declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. From an office with a view over the square, Member of Parliament Tomas Tomilinas wryly explains that their government has legalized pushbacks essentially because Europe has not established that it’s illegal.

      “I would say Europe has no political will to make pushbacks illegal. If there were a European law, the European Commission would put a ban on it. It would put a fine on Lithuania. But nobody’s doing that.”
      Member of Lithuanian Parliament, Tomas Tomilinas

      The Polish parliament legalized pushbacks in October 2021, and the Lithuanian parliament followed suit by legalizing pushbacks in April this year.

      Emiljia raises concerns about the violence of pushbacks her clients have seen. “The government keeps telling us they do everything really nicely. They give people food, and even wave goodbye to them, in the daytime. But when we look at specific cases, where people end up without their limbs on them, those pushbacks are performed at night.”

      She also raises concerns about legalized pushbacks in Lithuania, and whether border guards should be given the right to assess and deny asylum claims on the spot. “It’s funny because border guards should decide right away on the border whether a person is running from persecution, meaning a border guard should identify the conflict in the country of origin, and do all the work that the migration department is doing.”

      “It’s naive to believe that the system would work.”
      Fighting back in court

      With the help of Sienos Grupė’s support for legal expenses, Sanooja took the case to court. If the Lithuanian officials wouldn’t speak with her, perhaps they would speak to lawyers.

      Yet last month, Sanooja’s case was closed for the final time by the Vilnius Regional Prosecutor’s Office after seven appeals. The case never made it to trial.

      The Vilnius court claims there is no basis for a criminal investigation. Emiljia, who was on the team representing Sanooja in the case, responds that the pre-trial investigation didn’t investigate the cause of death properly, nor how the acts of the border police might have caused or contributed to the death of the applicant’s husband.

      Rytis Satkauskas, law professor, managing partner of ReLex law firm, and the lead attorney on Sanooja’s case, questions whether the Lithuanian courts are trying to hide something greater: he points to a series of inconsistencies in Samrin’s autopsy report.

      Autopsies should be conducted immediately to determine the cause of death. However, Samrin’s autopsy report claims that the cause of death cannot be established because the body was in an advanced state of decomposition of up to five months.

      Five months after Samrin’s death is the same time around which Sanooja got in touch to pursue the truth of the matter. Satkauskas does not think this is a coincidence: “I believe they left the body in the repository, then when they established the identity of the person, they had to do this autopsy.”

      The autopsy report explains the advanced state of decomposition by referencing the marshy area in which it was found, claiming the heat of the marsh had accelerated decomposition by up to five months within a matter of days.

      Satkauskas asks further: If Samrin simply drowned, then why do other measurements not add up? He references a table of measurements in the autopsy report, in which the weight and algae content of the lungs are normal. However, Satkauskas says, in cases of drowning, both weight and algae content should be much higher. “I’m convinced they have invented all those measurements,” Satkauskas puts simply.

      As Sanooja’s case has exhausted all legal avenues in Lithuania, it is now eligible for appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

      Emilija points to a promising parallel: in Alhowais v. Hungary, the European Court of Human Rights ruled this February that a Hungarian border guard’s violent pushback ending in the drowning of a Syrian man violated Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which protects the “right to life” and against “torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

      The decision came in February this year, seven years after the death of the defendant’s brother. Yet for Sanooja and her team, the case provides hope that there is a growing legal precedent for victims of pushbacks.

      A battle in court for Sanooja could be a long and expensive one. The case in Vilnius courts had cost 600 euros for each of the seven appeals, and after Sanooja ran out of funds after the first case, Sienos Grupė stepped in to shoulder the costs of the appeals.

      For the ECHR, it will cost 1500 euros to submit the proposal. Sanooja is exploring the possibility of raising money through NGOs or other means to continue the long quest for truth.

      The window of eligibility to appeal will close in February 2024.
      “Wherever I go, I have memories”

      Day by day, Sanooja’s son grows to look more like Samrin.

      She has tried not to cry in front of him. “It makes him upset. I am the only person now for my son, so I should be strong enough to face these things,” says the 32-year-old widow. “But wherever I go, I have memories. And everything my son does reminds me of him.”

      Before Samrin’s body was found, she told her son “false stories,” but with his body now interred, she has opened up to her son about her father’s death. He understands it the way a child might—he runs around telling neighbors his father is in heaven, and it’s a great place. It will be years before he can point to where Lithuania is on a map.

      Thanks to the cooperation of the Sri Lankan embassy in Sweden, Sanooja is one of the few families who have been able to receive a death certificate. She notes this will be crucial when her son enrolls for school and if they decide to sell or expand their property. However, to correct the misspelling on the document, she needs to travel to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, which takes ten hours and nearly 10,000 rupees.

      Meanwhile, Samrin’s death has ruptured the family into those who can accept the reality of his death, and those who cannot. Sanooja’s mother-in-law has ceased contact with her, unable to wrap her head around the fact that her boy is gone. When Samrin had left, he promised his mother to send money so that she would no longer have to wake up early to make pastries to sell in the morning. On the day of Samrin’s funeral, she told the family, “That is not my son.”

      “What difference does it make, finding the body and burying it?” asks Pauline Boss, the Psychology Professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota who coined the term “ambiguous loss,” which encompasses the unique stress of not knowing whether someone you love is alive or dead.

      Professor Boss states that burying someone is a distinct human need—not just for the dead, but for the living. “In all cases, a human being has to see their loved one transform from breathing to not breathing, and have the power and control to deal with the remains in their particular cultural way. It’s a human need, and it has been for eons.”

      Yet few families are able to attend the funerals of their loved ones in Europe, for the same reason their loved ones tried to travel to Europe on such a dangerous road in the first place: inability to obtain a visa, or lack of funds.

      “I hope one day I will visit, and I will show our son his father’s grave,” Sanooja declares.

      When Samrin was interred into the snow-covered February earth of Liepynės cemetery in Vilnius on Valentine’s Day this year, a volunteer present at the burial offered to video call Sanooja through FaceTime.

      In the grainy constellation of pixels of the phone screen in her palm, from 8,000 kilometers away, she watched her husband disappear forever into the cold European soil.


      #Lituanie #Biélorussie #forêt #Pologne #Bialowieza

    • Missing data, missing souls in Italy

      How Italy’s failing system makes it almost impossible for families to identify their relatives who passed away while reaching the EU.

      Before the Syrian civil war erupted, Refaat Hazima was a barber in Damascus. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had also been barbers. Thanks to his craftsmanship, flair, and a reputation built over four generations, Refaat was a wealthy man. Together with his wife – a doctor for the national service – he could afford to have his three children study instead of sending them to work at a young age.

      “They were always the top of the class,” he recalls in a nostalgic voice as he sits alone in a seaside restaurant on Lampedusa, a small Sicilian island halfway between Malta and the eastern coast of Tunisia. The rocky shores along which he now slowly enjoys eggplant served with fresh tuna were the scene of the most traumatic episode of his life.

      “President Bashar al-Assad had centralized all power in his hands, and our daily life in Syria had become complicated.” Refaat was also temporarily imprisoned for political reasons. But the point of no return for him and his wife was the outbreak of civil war in 2011. It became clear that not only their children’s educational future was in jeopardy, but even the survival of their entire family.

      So they decided to leave.

      The couple paid smugglers more than fifty thousand dollars to attempt to reach Germany, where their children could continue their education. But amid rejections, hurdles, and hesitations that forced the family into months-long stages in different countries, Refaat and his family had to wait until 2013 to finally set sail to the European shores of Lampedusa.

      Although it was autumn, the sea was calm that night. Initial concerns related to the sea conditions and the wooden boat that was all too heavily laden with humans now dissipated. In the darkness of the night sea, the shorelines and the flickering lights of street lamps and restaurants were in sight. But suddenly the boat in which they were traveling capsized.

      “Everyone was screaming as we ended up in the sea,” Rafaat recalls. “I grabbed one of my children, my wife grabbed another child. But in the commotion and screaming of the nighttime shipwreck, two of my children disappeared.”

      The couple were rescued by Italian authorities and brought to the mainland along with one of their children. The other two, however, disappeared. “One of them told me Dad, give me a kiss on the forehead, and then I never saw him ever again.”

      From 2013 to the present, Refaat has searched everywhere for their children. For 10 years he has been traveling, asking, and searching. He has even appeared on TV hoping one day to be reunited with them. But to this day he still does not know if his children were saved or if they are two of the 268 victims of the October 11, 2013 shipwreck, one of the worst Mediterranean disasters in the last three decades.

      Uncertain and partial numbers

      For more than two decades, Italy has been one of the main gateways for migrants wanting to reach the European Union. Between thirty and forty thousand people have died trying to reach Italy since 2000. But despite this strategic location, authorities have never created a comprehensive register to census the dead returned from the sea, and thus sources are confusing and approximate.

      In any case, the figure of bodies found is only a percentage of the people who lost their lives while attempting to cross over to Europe. In fact, the bodies of those who die at sea are rarely recovered. When this happens, they are even more rarely identified by Italian authorities.

      A study conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross tried to map the anonymous graves of migrants in various European countries and count the number of deaths recovered at sea. According to the report, between 2014 and 2019, 964 bodies of people – presumed migrants – were found in Italy, of which only 27 percent were identified. In most of the cases analyzed, identification occurred through immediate visual recognition by their fellow travelers, while those traveling without friends or relatives almost always remained anonymous.

      Overall, 73 percent of the bodies recovered in Italy between 2014 and 2019 remain unknown.

      A DNA test for everyone

      “The vast majority of bodies end up at the bottom of the sea and are never recovered, becoming fish food,” explains Tareke Bhrane, founder of the October 3 Committee, an NGO established to protect the rights of those who die trying to reach Europe. “The Committee was born in the aftermath of the two disastrous shipwrecks on October 3 and 11, 2013 to make Italy understand that even those who die have dignity and that respecting that dignity is important not only for those who die, but also for those who survive,” Bhrane recounts.

      On October 3, 2023, the Committee organized a large event on the island of Lampedusa to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the shipwreck. Dozens of families of people who died or disappeared gathered on the island, traveling from many European and Middle Eastern countries.

      On the island were also forensic geneticists from Labanof, a leading forensic medicine laboratory at the University of Milan that has been working with prosecutors and law enforcement agencies for decades now to solve cases and identify unnamed bodies. Relatives of missing persons were thus able to undergo a free DNA test to find out more about their loved ones.

      One of the committee’s main activities in recent years has been to lobby Sicilian municipalities for better management of anonymous graves. Thanks in part to the NGO, today almost all Sicilian provinces now house some victims of migration, often anonymous, in their cemeteries.

      “Among the essential points of our mission,” Bhrane explains, “is to create a European DNA database for the recognition of victims, so that anyone who wants to can take a DNA test anywhere in Europe and find out if a loved one has lost their life trying to get here.”
      Resigned and hopeful


      While Refaat has not yet resigned himself to the idea that his children may have died at sea, other relatives have become more aware and would like to know where Italy buried their loved ones. But this is often impossible because the graves are anonymous and there is a lack of national records that they can consult to find their loved ones.

      This is the case for Asmeret Amanuel and Desbele Asfaha, two Eritrean nationals who are respectively the nephew and brother of one of the people aboard the boat that capsized in 2013.

      “We heard from the radio that the boat he was traveling on had sunk. We never heard from him again,” Asmeret says. The two traveled all the way to Lampedusa to undergo DNA testing, hoping to match their loved one’s name for the first time with one of the many acronyms that have appeared on migrants’ anonymous graves and find out where he rests.

      “I remember as children we used to play together,” says Desbele. “And instead today I don’t even know where to mourn him. Yet it would take so little.”

      An organizational failure

      Many Italian cemeteries hold anonymous graves of people who died while migrating, especially in the South. It is difficult to map them all and provide an exact number, just as it is nearly impossible to quantify the number of anonymous graves. Again, there is no centralized, national database, and even at the municipal level information is scarce and partial.

      But thanks to an international investigation project called the “The Border Graves Investigation” and promoted by IJ4EU and Journalism Fund of which Unbias the News is one of the partners, it is now possible to shed light on what resembles a large European mass grave.

      From the Italian side of the investigation, large gaps emerge on Italy’s part in the construction of a national cemetery archive. According to protocol, data on anonymous graves are supposed to be sent every three months from individual cemeteries and work their way up a long bureaucratic chain until they reach the desk of the government’s Special Commissioner for Missing Persons, an office created by the Italian government in 2007 precisely to create a single national database.

      But sources from the Special Commissioner told the Border Graves Investigation team that unidentified bodies are not within their jurisdiction because in cases where there is an alleged crime (e.g., illegal immigration) the jurisdiction passes to the local magistrate. Thus, the source confirmed that no office systematically collects this data and that figures areeverything is scattered in individual prosecutors’ offices.

      However, the documentary traces of migrants’ anonymous graves are often already lost in the records of the cemeteries themselves or municipal records, that is, at the first step in the chain. For example, in Agrigento, it is possible to visit the graves of men and women who died at sea marked by numbers, but in the paper registers consulted by our team of journalists there is no trace of them.

      Yet the records are deposited a few meters from the graves themselves.

      In Sciacca, Agrigento province, the municipal administration moved some anonymous graves of migrants inside a mass grave to make room for new burials. However, it did not follow the prescribed regulations and did not notify the relatives of the few victims who had been identified and whose names were listed on the grave. The matter was discovered at the time when a woman went to the cemetery to pray at her sister’s grave and did not find her in her usual place.

      In other cases, anonymous graves have been moved from one cemetery to another due to the need for space, but without alerting the population.
      The bureaucratic snag

      Finding out the fate of a loved one is so complicated for several reasons. First, the identification of the body, which the Italian authorities do not generally consider a priority. Then there is the difficulty of recognition itself, especially when relatives are abroad or have difficulty contacting Italian authorities.

      In addition, there is the problem of traceability of the bodies, which often remain on the seabed and, in the few cases where they are found, enter a bureaucratic machine in which it is arduous to recover their traces. Researcher and anthropologist Giorgia Mirto explained this to our investigative team: “The corpses should be registered in the registrar’s office where the body is found. But then the body is often moved within the same cemetery, from one cemetery to another or from one municipality to another, and so there is documentation that travels along with the body. Moves that are difficult to track.”

      “Moreover,” Mirto adds, “adding to the difficulty is the absence of unified procedures. “With the Human Cost of Border Control project, we have seen that the only way to count these people and their graves is to do a blanket search of all the municipalities, all the cemetery offices, all the registrars’ offices and all the cemeteries, possibly adding the funeral homes as well.”

      Thus, there is a problem with centralization and transparency of data that is often also linked to the huge austerity cuts that have forced municipalities to work understaffed. Emblematic is the Commissioner’s Office for Missing Persons, which would be responsible for compiling a list of unidentified bodies found on Italian soil, but has been left without a portfolio.

      “As anthropologist Didier Fassin says,” the researcher concludes, “missing data is not the result of carelessness but is an administrative and political choice. It should be understood how much this choice is conscious and how much is the result of disinterest in the good work of municipal archives (an essential resource for historical memory and for the peace of victims’ families) or in understanding the cost of borders in terms of human lives.”

      EU responsibilities

      Forensic scientist Cristina Cattaneo – a professor at the University of Milan and director of the Labanof forensic laboratory – explained to our team that from a forensic point of view, the most important procedure for identifying a body is to collect both post-mortem (from tattoos to DNA, through cadaveric inspections and autopsies) and antemortem medical forensic information, that is, that which comes from family members regarding the missing person.

      However, in many countries, including Italy, no law makes this procedure mandatory. In the case of people who die while migrating, this is done only in egregious cases, such as large shipwrecks that become news. “These cases have shown that a broad and widespread effort to identify the bodies of those who die at sea is possible,” says Cattaneo. “However, most people lose their lives in very small shipwrecks that don’t make too much news. And because there is no protocol to make data collection systematic, many family members are left in doubt as to whether their loved ones are alive or dead.”

      All this happens despite the great efforts made over the years by the government’s Extraordinary Commissioner for Missing Persons, which, despite being the only national institution of its kind at the European level, has to manage a huge amount of data from all Italian municipalities. Data that are often disorganized, reported late, and collected without adhering to common and strict procedures.

      This is why Cattaneo is among the signatories of an appeal calling for the enactment of a European law that would once and for all oblige member states to identify the bodies of migrants.

      “Yet a European solution would exist and from a technical point of view it is already feasible,” Cattaneo adds. It involves data exchange systems such as Interpol, which at the European level already collects, organizes, and can share information and organically to member countries.

      “It would be enough to expand the analysis to include missing migrants and thus make it possible to search and identify them on a European scale. But this is not being done because of a lack of political will on the part of Brussels,” Cattaneo concludes.
      “The art of patience”


      Identifying the bodies of people who lose their lives coming to Europe is an important issue on several levels.

      First and foremost, international humanitarian law protects the right to identity for both those who are alive and those who have died. But identifying is also an essential issue for those who remain alive. Indeed, without a death certificate, it is almost impossible for a spouse to marry again or to access survivor’s pensions, just as it is impossible for a minor relative to leave their country with an adult without running into a blockade by the authorities, who cannot rule out the possibility of child abduction.

      Then there is the issue of suspended grief, namely the condition of those who do not know whether to search for a loved one or mourn his or her death.

      This is the case for Asmeret and Desbele, but also for many relatives interviewed by our team.

      Sabah and Ahmed, for example, are a Syrian couple. One of their sons disappeared in 2013 after a shipwreck in Italian waters. For 10 years, Ahmed retraced the same land and sea route followed by his son, hoping to find his body or at least get more information. But the efforts were in vain and to this day the family still does not know what happened to him.

      “His children are still with us and often ask, ‘where is Dad? Where is Dad?’ but without a grave and a body, we still don’t know what to answer.”

      Both Sabah and Ahmed are very religious and today rely on Allah to give them the comfort they have not found in the work of institutions. “The greatest gift from Allah,” they recount, “was the patience with which to be able to move forward in the face of such unnatural grief for a parent.”

      A similar lesson was learned by Refaat, who like Ahmed and Sabah has been living in ignorance for ten years. Today he has opened a barber store in Hamburg and realized his dream of having his surviving son study in Germany.

      “I have been searching for my children for ten years, and Allah knows I will search for them until the end of my days, should I find their dead bodies, or should I find them alive who knows where in the world. But I want to die knowing that I did everything I could to find them.”
      Refaat Hazima

      Sometimes his voice trembles. “I often talk to them in my sleep, I feel that they are still alive. But even if I were to find out they are dead, in all these years I would still have learned how to deal with frustration and pain, how to live with emptiness. And most importantly,” he concludes, “I would have learned the art of patience.”


      #Italie #Tareke_Brhane #comitato_3_ottobre #3_octobre_2013 #Lampedusa

    • Unmarked monuments of EU’s shame in Croatia and Bosnia

      Amid pushbacks and torture, many of the victims of the treacherous Balkan route are laid to an anonymous final resting place in Croatian and Bosnian cemetaries.

      In the village of Siče in eastern Croatia, there are more inhabitants in the cemetery than among the living. The village has 230 living residents, and 250 dead. To be more precise, the cemetery is home to 247 locals and three unknown persons. There would be more people six feet under if Siče hadn’t gotten its own cemetery only in the 1970s. There would also be even more of the living if they hadn’t, like many from that region, gone to bigger cities in search of a better life. Abroad as well, mainly to Germany.

      The graves of Siče’s inhabitants briefly tell the visitor who these people were, where they belong, and whether their loved ones care for them. That’s the thing with graves, they summarise the basic information of our life.

      If the grave bears only the inscription “NN”, that summarises a tragedy.

      Who are these three people whose names are unknown? How come their last resting place is a plain grave in Siče?

      Even if you didn’t know, it’s clear that those three people don’t belong there.

      They have been buried completely separated from the rest of the cemetery. Three wooden crosses with NN inscriptions, stuck in the ground at the edge of the cemetery. NN, an abbreviation of the Latin nomen nescio, literally means, “I do not know the name.” The official explanation from the public burial ground operator is that space has been left for more possible burials of those whose names are not known. However, the explanation that springs to mind when you get there is that they were buried separately so they wouldn’t mix with the locals. Or as the mayor of another town, where NN migrants have also been buried at the edge of the cemetery, let slip in a telephone conversation, “So that they’re not in the way.”

      At the cemetery in Siče, these are the only three graves that no one takes care of. In about five years, all trace of them could disappear. The public burial ground operator is obliged to bury unidentified bodies, but not to maintain graves unless the grave belongs to a person of “special historical and social significance.”

      NN1, NN2 and NN3 are of special significance only to their loved ones, who probably don’t even know where they are. Maybe they are waiting to finally hear from them from Western Europe. Maybe they’re looking for them. Maybe they mourn them.

      Identities known but buried as unknown

      If you do dig a little deeper, you will learn a thing or two about those who rest here nameless.

      In the early, cold morning of December 23, 2022, the police found two bodies on the banks of the Sava, the river that separates Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina. It separates the European Union from the rest of Europe. According to the police report, they also found a group of twenty foreign citizens who illegally entered Croatia via the river. The group was missing one more person. After an extensive search, a third body was found in the afternoon. The pathologist of the General Hospital in the town of Nova Gradiška established the time of death for all three people as 2:45 A.M. Two died of hypothermia, one drowned.

      Identity cards from a refugee camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina were found on them. We learned that, according to their IDs, all three were from Afghanistan: Ahmedi Abozari was 17 years old, Basir Naseri was 21 years old and Shakir Atoin was 25 years old. NN1, NN2 and NN3.

      Other migrants from the group also confirmed the identity of two of them, as the Brodsko-Posavska County police administration told us. Then why were they buried as NN? If it was known that they were from Afghanistan, why were they buried under crosses? If families are looking for them, how will they find them?

      The cemetery management was kind and said that they perform burials according to what is written in the burial permit signed by the pathologist – and it said NN.

      The pathologist said that he enters the data based on the information he receives from the police.

      The competent police department told us that the person is buried according to the rules of the local municipality.

      Siče cemetery belongs to the municipality of Nova Kapela, whose mayor, Ivan Šmit, discontentedly listed all the costs that his municipality incurred for those burials and said that whoever is willing to pay for it can change the NN inscription into names.

      We came across a series of similar administrative ambiguities while investigating how authorities deal with the deceased people they recover at EU borders as a part of the Border Graves Investigation carried out by a team of eight freelancers from across Europe together with Unbias the News, The Guardian and Süddeutsche Zeitung.

      There is no centralised European database on the number of migrants’ graves in Europe.

      But the team managed to confirm the existence of at least 1,931 migrants’ graves in Greece, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Malta, Poland and France, dating from 2014 to 2023. Of these, 1,015 were unidentified. More than half of the unidentified graves are in Greece, 551, in Italy 248, and in Spain 109. The data were obtained based on the databases of international organizations, non-governmental organizations, scientists, local authorities and cemeteries, and field visits.

      The team visited 24 cemeteries in Greece, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland and Lithuania, where there are a total of 555 graves of unidentified migrants in the last decade, from 2014 to 2023.

      These are only those whose bodies have been found. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimates that more than 93% of those who go missing on Europe’s borders are never found.
      Families lost in bureaucracy

      December 2022, when the three young Afghans died, was rainier than usual and the Sava River swelled. It is big and fast to begin with.

      In that area, just three days earlier, five Turkish citizens went missing after their boat overturned on the Sava. Among them were a two-year-old girl, a twelve-year-old boy and their parents. The brother of the missing father came from Germany to Croatia to find out what happened to the family. From the documentation, which we have in our possession, it is evident that with the help of translator Nina Rajković, he tried to get information about his missing relatives from several police stations. Even months later, he hasn’t received any updates.

      The two had wanted to file a missing person’s report, but the police told them that there was no point in doing so if the person had not previously been registered in the territory of Croatia or Bosnia and Herzegovina.

      We encountered a number of similar examples. A young man had come to Croatia and reported to the police in both Croatia and Slovenia that his brother had drowned in the Kupa River that separates the two countries. However, his brother’s disappearance was not recorded in the Croatian national database of missing persons, which is publicly available. The police did not contact him after several unidentified bodies were found in the Kupa in the following days.

      In another example, an Afghan man waited six months for the body of his brother, who drowned when they tried to cross the Sava together, also in December 2022, to be transferred from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina so that he could bury him. Although he had confirmed that it was his brother, the identification process was lengthy and complicated.

      There are numerous families who tried from afar to track down their loved ones who had disappeared in the territory of Croatia, only to finally give up in discouragement.

      There are many questions and few clear answers when it comes to the issue of missing and dead migrants on the so-called Balkan Route, of which Croatia is a part. There are no clear protocols and procedures defining to whom and how to report a missing person. It is not known whether missing migrants are actively searched for, as tourists are when they disappear in the summer. It is not clear how much and which information is needed for identification.

      “The circulation of information between institutions and individual departments seems almost non-existent to me."

      “In one case, it took me more than two months and dozens of phone calls and emails to different addresses, police stations, police departments, hospitals, and the state attorney’s office, just to prompt the initiation of identification, which to this day, more than a year later, has not been completed,” says Marijana Hameršak, activist and head of the project “European Regime of Irregular Migration on the Periphery of the EU” of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research in Zagreb, which collects knowledge and data on missing and dead migrants.

      Searches for missing migrants and attempts to identify the dead in Croatia, as well as in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, most often rely on the efforts of volunteers and activists, who, like Marijana, untiringly search for information in the chaotic administration because families who do not know the language find this task practically insurmountable.
      “Die or make your dream come true”

      The Facebook group “Dead and Missing in the Balkans” became the central place to exchange photos and information about the missing and the dead between families and activists.

      The competent Ministry of the Interior does not have a website in English with an address where one can write from Afghanistan or Syria and inquire about the fate of loved ones, leave information about them, and report them missing. There is also no regional database on missing and dead migrants on which the police administrations would cooperate, not even the ones from the countries where the most crossings are recorded – from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia.

      In an interview with our team, Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasised that the creation of a centralised European database of missing and dead migrants is extremely important. If such a database combined ante-mortem and post-mortem data on the deceased, the chances of identification would greatly increase.

      “Families have a right to know the truth about the fate of their loved ones.”
      Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

      Yet, police cooperation in keeping the EU’s external border impervious is effective.

      Previously, people attempting to migrate did not try to cross the Sava so often. They knew it was too dangerous. They share information with each other and do not venture across such a river in children’s inflatable boats or inner tubes. Unless they are utterly desperate. With pushbacks and the use of force, which many organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been warning about for years, the Croatian police made it difficult to cross at other, less dangerous points along the Croatian border, which is the longest external land border in the European Union. As a young Moroccan in Bosnia and Herzegovina who tried to cross the border to Croatia 11 times but was pushed back by the Croatian police each time told us, “You have two choices: die or make your dream come true.”

      It is difficult to determine how many died on the Balkan Route in an attempt to fulfil their dream. The most comprehensive data for ex-Yugoslav countries is collected by the researchers of the “European Regime of Irregular Migration on the Periphery of the EU (ERIM)” project. It records 346 victims from 2014 to 2023 in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, North Macedonia and Kosovo. Each entry in ERIM’s database is individual and contains as much data as the researchers managed to collect, and they use all available sources – media reports, witnesses, official statistics, activist channels. But the figure is certainly significantly higher. Some who went missing were never even registered anywhere.

      Many bodies were never found. For example, another common border crossing, the Stara Planina mountain range between Bulgaria and Serbia, is a rough and inaccessible terrain. Only those who have been driven to this route by the same fate will come across the bodies, and they will not risk encountering authorities to report it.

      If people die in the minefields remaining from the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, there will not be much left of their bodies. Most bodies were found drowned in rivers, but there is no estimate of how many who drowned were never reported missing, or were never found.

      The Croatian Ministry of the Interior provided us with data on migrants who have died in Croatia since 2015, when records began to be kept, until the end of November 2023: according to the data, a total of 87 migrants died on the territory of the Republic of Croatia. To put it more precisely: that’s how many bodies were found in Croatia. Not a single official body in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia keeps records of migrants buried in that territory.

      However, we managed to obtain data for Croatia, thanks to inquiries sent to over 500 addresses of cities, municipalities and municipal companies that manage cemeteries. According to the data obtained, there are 59 graves of migrants in 32 cemeteries in Croatia who were buried in the last decade, namely from 2014 until September 2023. Of these, 45 have not been identified. The Ministry of the Interior says that since 2001, DNA samples have been taken from all unidentified bodies. We asked the Ministry to allow us to talk with experts who work on the identification of migrants, but we were not approved.

      Some of the buried were exhumed and returned to their families in their country of origin, although this is a demanding and extremely expensive process for the families.
      The burden of not knowing

      Among the NN graves is a stillborn baby from Syria buried in 2015 in the town of Slavonski Brod. A five-year-old girl who drowned in the Danube was buried in Dalje in 2021. Last summer, a young man died of exhaustion in the highlands in the Dubrovnik area. Some were hit by a train. Many died of hypothermia. Some die because they were not provided medical help early enough. Some don’t believe anything can help them, so they committed suicide.

      According to the law, they are buried closest to the place of death, which are mostly small cemeteries, such as the one in Siče. Often, just like in that village, their graves are separated from the rest of the cemetery. In some places, like in Otok, one of the tender-hearted local women has given herself the task of taking care of the NN grave. In others, like the cemetery in Prilišće, the NN wooden cross from 2019 has already rotted.

      Each of these NN graves leaves behind loved ones who bear the burden of not knowing what happened. In psychology, this is called ambiguous loss, which means that as long as relatives do not have confirmation that their loved ones are dead, and as long as they do not know where their bodies are, they cannot mourn them.

      If they go on with their lives, they feel guilty. And so they remain frozen in a state between despair and hope. American psychologist Dr. Pauline Boss is the author of the concept and theory of “ambiguous loss.”

      “A grave is so important because it helps to say goodbye,“ she said in an interview for our investigation.

      There are also practical consequences of this frozen state: succession rights cannot be carried out, bank accounts cannot be accessed, family pensions cannot be obtained, the partner cannot remarry, and custody of children is complicated.

      Many families in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina know ambiguous loss very well. Both countries went through war in the 1990s that left thousands of people missing.

      Both countries have special laws on the missing in those wars and well-developed mechanisms of search, identification, data storage and mutual cooperation. But this does not apply to migrants who vanish and die among the thousands who are on the move along the Balkan Route.
      Croatia responsible for death of a child

      Croatia became an important point of entry into the European Union after Hungary closed its borders in September 2015. From then until March 2016, it is estimated that around 660,000 refugees passed through the Croatian section of the Balkan corridor – the interstate, organised route. This corridor allowed them to get from Greece to Western Europe in two or three days. Most importantly, their journey was safe.

      Of these hundreds of thousands of people on the move, the Croatian Ministry of the Interior did not record a single death in 2015 and 2016.

      The corridor was established to prevent casualties after a large number of refugees died on the railway in Macedonia in the spring of 2015. However, with the conclusion of the EU-Turkey refugee agreement in March 2016, the corridor closed. The EU committed to generously funding Turkey to keep refugees on its territory, so that they do not come to the European Union. And so the perilous, informal Balkan Route remained the only option. Many take it. In the first ten months of 2023 alone, the Croatian police recorded 62,452 actions related to illegal border crossings.

      Both the Croatian Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter and Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović warn of the same thing: border and migration policies have a clear impact on the risk of migrants going missing or die. It is necessary to establish legal and safe migration routes in the EU.

      However, the EU expects Croatia to protect its external border, and Croatia is doing so wholeheartedly. Croatian Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović calls such practices “techniques of discouragement” and says they are fully in line with the EU Schengen Border Code.

      The result of such practices is, for example, the death of Madina Hussiny. The six-year-old girl from Afghanistan was struck by a train and killed after Croatian police “discouraged” her and her family away from the Croatian border and told them to follow train tracks back to Serbia in the middle of the night in 2017. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in November 2021 that Croatia was responsible for Madina’s death.

      In a typical “discouragement,” Croatian police transport people to points along the border and order them to cross. In the testimonies we heard, as well as in many reports of non-governmental organisations, people described having to wade or swim across rivers, climb over rocks or make their way through dense forest. They often cross at night, sometimes stripped naked, and without knowing the way because the police usually take away their mobile phones.

      Up to 80% of all pushbacks by Croatian police may be impacted by one or more forms of torture, indicates data collected by Border Violence Monitoring Network in 2019. That means that thousands were victims of border torture.

      According to data collected by the Danish Refugee Council, in the two-year period from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2022, at least 30,000 people were pushed back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
      “While trying to reach Europe”


      Among them is Arat Semiullah from Afghanistan. In November 2022, he intended to cross the Sava River and enter Croatia from Bosnia. He was 20 years old. He drowned and was buried at the Orthodox cemetery in Banja Luka. His family in Afghanistan did not know what happened to him. He had sent his mom a selfie with a fresh haircut for entering the European Union and then he stopped answering.

      The mother begged her nephew Payman Sediqi, who lives in Germany, to try to find him. Payman got in touch with the activist Nihad Suljić, who voluntarily helps families find out what happened to their loved ones in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They spent weeks trying to get information. Payman travelled to Bosnia and managed to find his relative thanks to the helpfulness of a policewoman who showed him forensic photographs. Arat’s mom confirmed by phone that it was her son.

      Arat’s obituary published in Bosnia and Herzegovina said that “Croatian police sank the boat using firearms, and he tragically drowned.” With the help of the Muslim community, and at the request of the family, his body was transferred to the Muslim cemetery in the village of Kamičani. The family wanted to bury him in Afghanistan, but it was too expensive and bureaucratically complicated.

      In September 2023, we met with Nihad and Payman when a large tombstone was erected for Arat. It says, “Drowned in the Sava River while trying to reach Europe.” Payman told us that Arat was crossing the Sava with a group of others trying to enter Europe. Some of them managed to cross over to the Croatian side, but then the Croatian police shot at the rubber boat Arat was in. The boat sank and Arat drowned. That’s what a survivor who crossed over to the Croatian bank of the Sava told Payman. Payman says that Arat’s family is in great pain, but at least they know where their son is and that he was buried according to their religious customs. It is important to Payman that his relative’s grave says he died as a migrant.

      “People die every day in Europe, fleeing countries where there is no life for them. Their dreams are buried in Europe. No one cares about them, not even when European policemen shoot at them,” Payman says.

      Payman knows what kind of dreams he’s talking about. He himself came to Germany illegally at the age of 16. He says he was lucky.

      Nihad advocates that other graves of migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina also be permanently marked as such. He takes us to the cemetery in the town of Zvornik, where 17 NN migrants are buried. Nihad says he was informed that some of them had their passport on them when they were found. From the cemetery, you can see the river Drina, which separates Serbia from Bosnia and where many lives have been lost during crossing attempts. About 30 bodies were found in the Drina this year alone. Nihad says that they are lucky if they wash up on the Bosnian riverbanks, because in Serbia the authorities often do not perform autopsies nor take DNA samples. This was confirmed to us by activists from Serbia. In those cases, they are forever and completely lost to their families.

      The earthen NN graves in Zvornik are overgrown and not demarcated, so you wouldn’t know if you are stepping on them. Nihad managed to convince the Town of Zvornik to replace the wooden signs with black stone. It is important to him that they are buried with dignity, but he also finds it important that they stand there as a memorial.

      “My wish is that even 100 years from now these graves stand as monuments of the EU’s shame. Because it was not the river that killed these people, but the EU border regime,” Nihad says.


      #Bosnie #Croatie #Zvornik #Madina_Hussiny

    • Counting the invisible victims of Spain’s EU borders

      Investigation finds hundreds of victims of migration to the EU lie in unmarked graves along Spain’s borders, with government taking no coordinated action to guarantee “last rights.”

      In January 2020, Alhassane Bangoura was buried in an unmarked grave in the Muslim area of Teguise municipal cemetery in Lanzarote as city officials and members of the local Muslim community watched on. He had been born only a couple of weeks earlier onboard a cramped patera migrant boat on which his mother, who is from Guinea, and 42 others were trying to reach the Spanish Canary Islands. Their boat was adrift on the Atlantic ocean after its motor had failed two days earlier, and Alhassane’s mother had gone into labour at sea. Her child only lived for a few hours before dying just off the coast of Lanzarote.

      Alhassane’s case shocked the island and made national news. Yet as mourners paid their respects, his mother was 200 kilometres away in a migrant reception centre on the neighbouring island of Gran Canaria, having been unable to get permission from authorities to remain on Lanzarote for the funeral.

      “She’d been allowed to see the body of her son one more time before being transferred, and I accompanied her to the funeral home,” says Mamadou Sy, a representative of the local Muslim community. “It was very emotional as she was leaving. All we could do was promise her that her son would not be alone; that like any Muslim, he’d be brought to the Mosque where his body would be washed by other mothers; that we would pray for him and that afterwards we’d send her a video of the burial.”

      Nearly four years later, Alhassane’s final resting place remains without a formal headstone. It lies next to more than three dozen graves of unidentified migrants – whose names are completely unknown but who, like Alhassane, are also victims of Europe’s brutal border regime.

      Border Graves

      Such a scene is no anomaly along Spain’s vast coastline. Border graves like these can be found in cemeteries stretching from Alicante on the country’s eastern Mediterranean coast to Cádiz on the Atlantic seaboard and south to the Canaries. Some have names but, more often than not, the inscription reads some variation of “unidentified migrant,” “unknown Moroccan,” or “victim of the Strait [of Gibraltar],” or there is simply a hand-painted cross.

      In Barbate cemetery in Cádiz, where the deceased are sealed into niches in traditional brick-walled stacks around two metres in height, groundskeeper Germán points out over 30 different migrant graves, the earliest of which date from 2002 and the most recent are from a shipwreck in 2019.

      "No one ever comes to visit, but on days when there are funerals here and flowers are about to be thrown out, I place them on the tombs containing the unknown migrants,” he explains. “In some of the older graves, you have the remains of up to five or six migrants together, each placed in separate sacks within the same niche to save space.”

      Along the coast, in Tarifa, Spain’s earliest mass grave of unidentified migrants, containing 11 victims from a 1988 shipwreck, overlooks the northern reaches of the African continent, which can be seen on a clear day. Meanwhile, around 400 kilometres west of the African coast, on the remote Canarian island of El Hierro, seven unidentified migrants have been buried in the last two months, along with the remains of 30-year old Mamadou Marea. “Locals joined us to accompany the remains of each of these people to their last resting place,” explains Amado Carballo, a councillor on El Hierro. “What upset all of us was not being able to put a name on the tombstone and simply having to leave the person identified by a police code.”

      Such concern was less evident in Arrecife, Lanzarote where two unidentified graves from February this year have been left sealed with a covering that still bears a corporate logo.

      There is no comprehensive data on how many identified and unidentified migrant graves exist in Spain, and the country’s Interior Ministry has never released figures for the total number of bodies recovered across the various maritime migration routes. But in exclusive data from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Unbias The News can reveal that the bodies of an estimated 530 people who died at Spain’s borders were recovered between 2014 and 2021 – of which 292 remain unidentified.

      In the six month Europe-wide Border Graves Investigation, undertaken in conjunction with Unbias the News, The Guardian and Süddeutsche Zeitung, 109 unidentified migrant graves from 2014-21 were confirmed in Spain across 18 locations. According to a study by the University of Amsterdam, a further 434 unidentified graves stem from 2000-2013 in at least 65 cemeteries.

      These graves are symbols of a much wider humanitarian tragedy. The ICRC estimates that just 6.89% of those who go missing on Europe’s borders are found, while the Spanish NGO Walking Borders gives an even lower figure for the West African Atlantic route to the Canaries, estimating that only 4.2 percent of the bodies of those who die are ever recovered.

      Guaranteeing “last rights”

      The unvisited and anonymous graves are also a reflection of the fact that the rights to both identification and a dignified burial for those who have died on migration routes have been consistently neglected by national authorities in Spain. As in other European countries, successive Spanish governments have failed to develop legal mechanisms and state protocols to guarantee these “last rights” of victims, as well as their families’ corresponding “right to know” and to mourn their loved ones.

      The problem is “utterly neglected,” says Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, who insists that EU countries are failing in their obligations under international human rights law to secure families’ “right to truth”. In 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for “prompt and effective identification processes” to inform families about the fate of their loved ones. Yet last year, the Council of Europe called the area a “legislative void.”

      “People are always calling the office and asking us how to search for a family member, but you have to be honest and say there’s no clear official channel they can turn to,” explains Juan Carlos Lorenzo, director of the Spanish Refugee Council (CEAR) on the Canary Islands. “You can put them in touch with the Red Cross, but there’s no government-led programme of identification. Nor is there the type of dedicated office needed to coordinate with families and centralise information and data on missing migrants.”

      This year alone we are working with over 600 families whose loved ones have disappeared. These families, who are from Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Guinea and as far afield as Sri Lanka are very much alone and are poorly protected by public administrations. In turn, this means that there are criminal networks and fraudsters seeking to extract money from them.”
      Helena Maleno, director of Walking Borders

      Even in the case of a victim’s identification, a recent report from the Human Rights Association of Andalucia lays out the legal and financial barriers families face in terms of repatriating their loved ones. In 2020/21, ICRC figures show that 284 bodies were recovered but that, of the 116 identified, only 53 were repatriated. The Andalusian Association for Human Rights (APDHA) report also notes, with respect to border graves, that “many people end up buried in a manner contrary to their beliefs.” Just half of Spain’s 50 provinces have Muslim cemeteries, not all of which are on the Spanish coast.

      For Maleno, these state failures are no accident: “Spain and other European states have a policy of making the victims, as well as the border itself, invisible. You have policies of denying the number of dead and of concealing data, but for the families this means obstacles in terms of accessing information and burial rights, as well as endless bureaucratic hurdles.”
      “I dream of Oussama”

      Abdallah Tayeb has gained first-hand experience of the dysfunctionality of the Spanish system in his attempts to confirm whether a body recovered almost a year ago is that of his cousin Oussama, a young barber from Algeria who dreamed of joining Tayeb in France.

      The unnamed corpse, which Tayeb strongly believes is his cousin, is currently in a morgue in Almería and looks set to be buried in an unmarked grave in the new year – unless he can achieve a last minute breakthrough.

      “The feeling is one of powerlessness,” he admits. “Nothing is transparent.”

      Abdallah Tayeb was born in Paris to Algerian parents but spends every summer in Algeria with his family. “As Oussama and I were pretty much the same age, we were really close. He was obsessed with the idea of coming to Europe, as two of his brothers were already living in France. But I didn’t know he had actually arranged to leave on a patera last December.”

      Oussama was among 23 people (including seven children) who vanished after setting out from Mostaganem, Algeria, on a motor boat on Christmas Day 2022. Soon after the patera went missing, his brother Sofiane travelled from France to Cartagena in southern Spain – the destination the vessel had hoped to reach. With the help of the Red Cross, Sofiane was able to file a missing persons report with the Spanish authorities and submit a DNA sample, which he hopes will result in a match with a body held in a morgue. However, so far, he has been unable to piece together any concrete information regarding his brother’s fate.

      A second trip to Spain in February did lead to a breakthrough, however. After driving down the Mediterranean coast together, Tayeb and his cousin Sofiane managed to speak to a forensic pathologist working in the Almería morgue, who seemed to recognise a photo of Oussama. “She kept saying ‘This face looks familiar’ and also mentioned a necklace – something he’d been wearing when he left.” According to the pathologist, there was a potential match with an unidentified body recovered by the coastguard on 27 December 2022.

      Feeling that they were finally close to getting some answers, they were informed at the police headquarters in Almería that, in order to view the body for a visual identification, they would need permission from the police station where the corpse had initially been registered. “This was when the real nightmare began,” Tayeb remembers. Handed a list of five police stations from across the wider region where the corpse could have been registered, they spent the next two days driving from station to station along the Murcian coast.

      “The first police station we visited wouldn’t even let us in the door when we told them we were asking about a missing migrant, and after that it was always the same script: this is not the right place; we don’t have a body; you have to go there instead.” When the pair returned to the first station in Huércal de Almeria after being repeatedly told it was the right place to ask, impatient officers refused to engage, citing privacy laws, and even told them to warn other families searching for missing migrants not to keep coming to inquire.

      “In the end,” Tayeb explains, “we came to the reality that they will never let us have any information. It was very heartbreaking, especially going back to France. It felt like we were leaving him [there] in the fridge.”

      As the subsequent months passed, the frustration and anxiety built for the family. “In May we were told that the DNA sample we gave five months earlier had only just arrived in Madrid and had still not been processed and sent to the database.” No further information has been forthcoming, and Spanish authorities have a policy of only getting in touch with families when there is a positive match and not if the test comes back negative.

      Tayeb is contemplating one final visit to Spain to try and retrieve his cousin Oussama, partly to be certain for his own sake that he’s done everything in his power to find him, but he’s worried that the journey could reopen his trauma of ambiguous loss. “The effort of going is not painful, but what is painful is coming back with nothing,” he says. “This lack of information is the worst thing.”

      “All the people on board were from the same neighbourhood in Mostaganem. I have had a chance to talk to many of their families, and they are destroyed. There is such grief but also no answers. There are only rumours, and some of the mothers believe their sons are in prisons in Morocco and Spain. We all have dreams [about the missing]. In the end, you trust what you will see in your dreams, like cosmic reality telling you he is coming. I dream of Oussama.”

      Dr Pauline Boss, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota, USA, explains the concept of ambiguous loss: “It looks like complicated grief, intrusive thoughts,” she says. “There’s nothing else on your mind but the fact that your loved one is missing. You can’t grieve because that would mean the person is dead, and you don’t know for sure.”
      A defective system

      Of all the families of those who went missing on Oussama’s patera, only Tayeb and four other families have been able to file a missing persons report with the Spanish authorities, and only two have been able to give a DNA sample. According to a 2021 study from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), one of the major complications families face in their searches is that in order to register someone as a missing person in Spain, you have to file a report with police in the country itself, which for many families is “a virtually impossible feat” as there are no visas to travel for this purpose.

      The IOM report also notes that, while many families file missing person reports in their home countries, they are “aware of the almost symbolic nature of their efforts” and that “it will never result in any kind of investigation being launched in Spain.”

      Along with the IOM, there have been efforts by domestic NGOs, including APDHA and more than a hundred grassroots organisations, to call out Spain’s failure to adapt existing missing person procedures to the transnational challenges of cases of people who disappeared while migrating. These organisations have repeatedly argued that the country’s legal framework regarding missing persons must be adapted to ensure families can file missing person cases from abroad.

      They have also pushed for the development of specific protocols for police handling cases of disappeared migrants, as well as the creation of a missing-migrant database so as to centralise information and allow it to be exchanged with authorities in other countries. The latter would include a full range of both post-mortem data (from tattoos to DNA, through cadaveric inspections and autopsies) and antemortem medical forensic information, that is, that which comes from family members regarding the missing person.

      “The reality is that the situation across Europe is consistently poor,” explains Julia Black, an analyst with IOM’s Missing Migrant Project. “Despite our research showing these pressing needs of families, neither Spain nor any other European country has significantly changed policy or practice to help this neglected group [in recent years]. Support for families is available only on a very ad hoc basis, mostly in response to mass casualty events that are in the public eye, which leaves many thousands of people without meaningful support.”

      Non-state actors such as the Red Cross and Walking Borders, as well as a network of independent activists, try to fill this void. “It’s a terrible job that we shouldn’t be doing, because states should be responding to families and guaranteeing the rights of victims across borders,” Maleno explains. In the case of the Mostaganem patera, Walking Borders is now planning to visit Algeria next year to take DNA samples from family members and bring them back to Spain. But Maleno also acknowledges that her NGO often has to then “apply a lot of pressure” to get authorities to accept these samples.

      This is something left-wing MP Jon Iñarritu from the Basque EH Bildu party also confirms: “As I sit on the Spanish parliament’s Interior Committee, I’ve had to intervene on a number of occasions to help families seeking to register DNA samples, talking with the foreign ministry or the interior ministry to get them to accept the samples. But it shouldn’t require action from an MP to get this to happen. The whole process needs to be standardised with clear and automatic protocols [for submission]. Right now, there’s no one clear way to do it.”

      Even when IOM recommendations have become the subject of parliamentary debate in Spain, they have tended not to translate into government action. In 2021, for example, a resolution was passed by the Spanish Congress calling on the government to establish a dedicated state office for the families of disappeared migrants. “It’s clear we need to ease the administrative and bureaucratic ordeal for families by offering them a single point of contact [with state authorities],” explains Iñarritu, who sponsored the motion.

      Yet while even government parties voted in favour of the resolution, the countries’ current centre-left administration has failed to act on it in the 18 months since. “From my point of view, the government has no intention of implementing the proposal,” Iñarritu argues. “They were only offering symbolic support.”

      When the above points were put to Spain’s Interior ministry, the reply was that: “The treatment of unidentified corpses arriving on the Spanish coast is identical to that of any other corpse. In Spain, for the identification of corpses, the law enforcement agencies apply the INTERPOL Disaster Victim Identification Guide. Although this guide is especially indicated for events with multiple victims, it is also used as a reference for the identification of an isolated corpse.”

      NGOs and campaigners insist, however, that the application of the INTERPOL guide is no substitute for a specific protocol tailored to the demands of missing migrant cases or for the creation of particular mechanisms to allow for the exchange of information with families and authorities in other jurisdictions.

      Close connections with the people they have helped compensate for strained social interactions and online hate. “They call me brother, sister, and even father,” Rybak shares.
      Burial rights

      APDHA migration director Carlos Arce argues that, within a European framework that views irregular migration predominantly “through the prism of serious crime and border security, […] not even death or disappearance puts an end to the repeated assault on the dignity of migrant people.” Iñarritu also points to the EU’s wider border regime: “Many issues that don’t fit into this dominant policy framework, such as the right to identification, are simply left unmanaged on a day-to-day basis. They are simply not a priority.”

      This is also clear with respect to the Spanish government’s inaction on guaranteeing a dignified burial to those whose bodies are recovered. As noted by a 2023 report from APDHA, “while repatriation is the most desired option for families […,] the cost is very high (thousands of euros) and very few of their [home countries’] embassies help [to cover it].” The NGO recommends that Spain establish repatriation agreements with the countries where migrants come from so as to create “mortuary safe passages” guaranteeing their return at a reduced cost.

      Furthermore, Spain’s central government has also failed to put in place mechanisms to ensure the right of unidentified migrants to a dignified burial within the country, instead maintaining that local councils are responsible for all charitable burials. This has meant that very specific municipalities where coastguard rescue boats are stationed are left legally responsible for the bulk of the interments – and most of these municipalities lack local cemeteries able to cater for traditional Muslim burials.

      The potential for this issue to become a flashpoint for anti-immigration sentiment was made clear this September when the mayor of Mogán in Gran Canaria, Onalia Bueno, insisted that her municipality would no longer pay for such burials, as she did not want to “detract the costs from the taxes of my neighbours.”

      CEAR’s Juan Carlos Lorenzo condemns such “divisive language, which frames the issue in terms of wasting my ‘neighbours’ money’ on someone who is not a neighbour,” and points instead to the actions of municipalities in El Hierro as a positive counterexample.

      Carballo notes that “over 10,000 people have arrived in El Hierro since September, the same as the island’s population. These are quite long trips, between six and nine days at sea, and right now people are arriving in a terrible state of health. With those who have died in recent months, we’ve tried to offer them a dignified burial within the means at our disposal. We’ve had an imam present, with Islamic prayers said before the remains were laid to rest.”

      Currently, the responsibility of memorialising unidentified victims comes down to individual municipalities and even cemetery keepers. Like Gérman at the cemetery in Barbate, who tries to dignify the unmarked tombs by placing flowers on top of them, the cemetery of Motril has adorned tombs with poems. In Teguise, the council has an initiative encouraging locals to leave flowers on the migrant graves when they come to visit the remains of their own families.

      In another memorial, a collection of around 50 discarded fishing boats has become a distinctive feature of Barbate port. These small wooden boats with Arabic script on their hulls were used by migrants attempting to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. Instead of the boats’ being scrapped, APDHA was able to convert the scrapyard into a memorial site and to place plaques on boats stating how many migrants were travelling on them and where and when they were found.

      In the case of little Alhassane Bangoura, residents routinely come to leave fresh flowers and tokens of affection, among which is a small granite bowl with his first name inscribed on it. But many victims are buried without any attempt at identification – and as countless NGOs, politicians and activists demand, it should not be simply left to good-willed residents, grave keepers or local councillors to ensure the last rights of the victims of Fortress Europe.


      #Espagne #Lanzarote #îles_Canaries #route_Atlantique #Teguise #Barbate #Cádiz #Tarifa #Arrecife

    • The unidentified: Unmarked refugee graves on the Greek borders

      Graves marked only with a stick, graves covered with weeds: a cross-border investigation documents official indifference surrounding the dignified burial of refugees who lose their lives at the Greek border.

      The phone rang on a morning in October 2022 at work, in Finland, where 35-year-old Mohamed Samim has been living for the last ten years or so.

      His nephew did not have good news: his brother Samim, Tarin Mohamad, along with his son and two daughters, was on a boat that sank near a Greek island, having sailed from the Turkish coast to Italy.

      When Samim arrived in Kythera the next day, he learned that – although weak after not eating for three days – his brother had managed to save his family before a wave took him away. He immediately went to the site of the wreck. In the water he saw bodies floating – he couldn’t see his brother’s face, but he recognized his back.

      The Coast Guard said that the bad weather had to pass before they could pull the dead from the sea. The first day passed, the second day passed, until on the third day it was finally possible. The coastguard confirmed that 8 Beaufort winds and the morphology of the area made it impossible to retrieve the bodies. Samim will never forget the sight of his brother at sea.

      In Kalamata, it took four days of shifting responsibility between the hospital and the Coast Guard, and the help of a local lawyer who “came and yelled at them” to allow him to follow the identification process of his brother.

      He was warned that it would be a soul-crushing procedure, and that he would have to wear a triple mask because of the smell. Samim says that due to a lack of space in the morgue’s refrigerators, some of the wreck victims were kept in the chamber outside the refrigerator.

      “The stress and the smell. Our knees were shaking”, recalls Samim when we meet him in Kythera a year later.

      They started showing him decomposing bodies. First the ones outside the refrigerator. He didn’t recognize him among them. They went out and changed the masks they wore, returned, opened the refrigerators in turn, reaching the last one.

      “He was lying there, calm. The man you love. We were kind of happy that, after days, we could see him,” Samim said.

      Unclaimed dead

      The number of people dying at Europe’s borders is growing. In addition to the difficulty of recording the deaths, there is also the challenge of identifying the bodies, a traumatic process for the relatives. In some cases, however, there are bodies that remain unidentified, hundreds of men, women and children buried in unidentified graves.

      In July 2023, the European Parliament adopted a resolution recognising the right to identification of people who lose their lives trying to reach Europe, but to date there is no centralised registration system at a pan-European level. Nor is there a single procedure for the handling of bodies that end up in mortuaries, funeral homes – even refrigerated containers.

      The problem is “utterly neglected”, European Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic told Solomon, and added that EU countries are failing in their obligations under international human rights law”. The tragedy of the missing migrants has reached horrifying proportions. The issue requires immediate action,” she added.

      The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants platform, which acknowledges that its data is not a comprehensive record, reports more than 1,090 missing refugees and migrants in Europe since 2014.

      As part of the Border Graves investigation, eight European journalists, together with Unbias the News, the Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Solomon, have spent seven months investigating what happens to the thousands of unidentified bodies of those who die at European borders, and for the first time they have recorded almost double that number: according to the data collected, more than 2,162 people died between 2014 and 2023.

      We studied documents and interviewed state coroners, prosecutors and funeral home workers; residents and relatives of the deceased and missing; and gained exclusive access to unpublished data from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

      In 65 cemeteries along the European border - Greece, Spain, Italy, Malta, Poland, Lithuania, France, Spain, Italy, Malta, Lithuania, France and Croatia - we have recorded more than 1,000 unidentified graves from the last decade.

      The investigation documents how state indifference to the dignified burial of people who die at the border is pervasive in European countries.

      In Greece, we recorded more than 540 unidentified refugee graves, 54% of the total recorded by the European survey. We travelled to the Aegean islands and Evros, and found graves in fields sometimes covered by weeds, and marble slabs with dates of death erased, while in other cases a piece of wood with a number is the only marking.

      The data from our survey, combined with the data from the International Committee of the Red Cross, is not an exhaustive account of the issue. However, they do capture for the first time the gaps and difficulties of a system that leads to thousands of families not knowing where their relatives are buried.

      Lesvos: 167 unidentified refugee graves

      A long dirt road surrounded by olive trees leads to the gate of the cemetery of Kato Tritos, which is usually locked with a padlock.

      The “graveyard of refugees,” as they call it on the island, is located about 15 kilometers west of Mytilene. It is the only burial site exclusively for refugees and migrants in Greece.

      During one of our visits, the funeral of four children was taking place. They lost their lives on August 28, 2023, when the boat they were on with 18 other people sank southeast of Lesvos.

      The grieving mother and several women, including family members, sat under a tree, while the men prayed near the shed used for the burial process, according to Islamic tradition.

      In Kato Tritos and Agios Panteleimonas, the cemetery on Mytilene where people who died while migrating had been buried until then, we counted a total of 167 unidentified graves from between 2014-2023.

      Local journalist and former member of the North Aegean Regional Council Nikos Manavis explains that the cemetery was created in 2015 in an olive grove belonging to the municipality of Mytilene due to an emergency: a deadly shipwreck in the north of the island on October 28 of that year resulted in at least 60 dead, for whom the island’s cemeteries were not sufficient.

      Many shipwreck victims remain buried in unidentified graves. Gravestones are marked with the estimated age of the deceased and the date of burial, sometimes only a number. Other times, a piece of wood and surrounding stones mark the grave.

      “What we see is a field, not a graveyard. It shows no respect for the people who were buried here.”
      Nikos Manavis

      This lack of respect for the Lower Third Cemetery mobilized the Earth Medicine organization. As Dimitris Patounis, a member of the NGO, explains, in January 2022 they made a proposal to the municipality of Mytilene for the restoration of the cemetery. Their plan is to create a place of rest with respect and dignity, where refugees and asylum seekers can satisfy the most sacred human need, mourning for their loved ones.

      Although the city council approved the proposal in the spring of 2023, the October municipal elections delayed the project. Patounis says he is positive that the graves will soon be inventoried and the area fenced.

      Christos Mavrachilis, an undertaker at the Agios Panteleimon cemetery, recalls that in 2015 Muslim refugees were buried in a specific area of the cemetery.

      “If someone was unidentified, I would write ‘Unknown’ on their grave,” he says. If there were no relatives who could cover the cost, Mavrachilis would cut a marble himself and write as much information as he could on the death certificate. “They were people too,” he says, “I did what I could.”

      For his part, Thomas Vanavakis, a former owner of a funeral parlour that offered services in Lesvos until 2020, also says that they often had to cover burials without receiving payment. “Do you know how many times we went into the sea and paid workers out of our own pockets to pull out the bodies and didn’t get a penny?” he says.

      Efi Latsoudi, who lives in Lesvos and works for Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), says that in 2015 there were burials that the municipality of Mytilene could not cover, and sometimes “the people who participated in the ceremony paid for them. We were trying to give a dignity to the process. But it was not enough,” she says.

      Latsoudi recalls something a refugee had mentioned to her in 2015: ’The worst thing that can happen to us is to die somewhere far away and have no one at our funeral’.

      The municipality of Mytilene did not answer our questions regarding the dignified burial of refugees in the cemeteries under its responsibility.

      Chios and Samos: graves covered by weeds

      According to Greek legislation, the local government (and in case of its inability, the region) covers the cost of the burial of both unidentified people who die at the border and those who are in financial difficulty.

      For its part, the Municipal Authority of Chios stated that funding is provided for the relevant costs, and that “within the framework of its responsibilities for the cemeteries, it maintains and cares for all the sites, without discrimination and with the required respect for all the dead.”

      But during our visit in August to the cemetery in Mersinidi, a few kilometers north of Chios town, where refugees are buried next to the graves of the locals, it was not difficult to spot the separation: the five unidentified graves of refugees were marked simply by a marble, usually covered by vegetation.

      Natasha Strachini, an RSA lawyer living in Chios, has taken part in several funerals of refugees both in Chios and Lesvos. For her, the importance of the local community and presence at such a difficult human moment is very important.

      Regarding burials, he explains that “only a good registration system could help relatives to locate the grave of a person they have lost, as usually in cemeteries after three to five years exhumations take place.” He says that sometimes a grave remains unidentified even though the body has been identified, either because the identification process was delayed or because the relatives could not afford to change the grave.

      In Heraion of Samos, next to the municipal cemetery, on a plot of land owned by the Metropolis and used as a burial site for refugees, we recorded dozens of graves dating between 2014-2023. The plaques – some broken – placed on the ground, hidden by branches, pine needles and pine cones, simply inscribe a number and the date of burial.

      Lawyer Dimitris Choulis, who lives in Samos and handles cases related to the refugee issue, commented: ‘It is a shameful image to see such graves. It is unjustifiable for a modern society like Greece.”
      Searching for data

      The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of the few international organisations working to identify the dead refugees. Among other things, they have conducted several training sessions in Greece for members of the Coast Guard and the Greek Police.

      “We have an obligation to provide the dead with a dignified burial; and the other side, providing answers to families through identification of the dead. If you count the relatives of those who are missing, hundreds of thousands of people are impacted. They don’t know where their loved ones are. Were they well treated, were they respected when they were buried? That’s what preys on families’ minds,” says Laurel Clegg, ICRC forensic Coordinator for Migration to Europe.

      She explains that keeping track of the dead “consists of lots of parts working well together – a legal framework that protects the unidentified dead, consistent post-mortems, morgues, registries, dignified transport, cemeteries”

      However, countries’ “medical and legal systems are proving inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem,” she says.

      Since 2013, as part of its programme to restore family links, the Red Cross has registered 16,500 requests in Europe from people looking for their missing relatives. According to the international organisation, only 285 successful matches (1.7%) have been made.

      These matches are made by the local forensic experts.

      “We always collect DNA samples from unidentified bodies. It is standard practice and may be the only feasible means of identification,” says Panagiotis Kotretsos, a forensic pathologist in Rhodes. The samples are sent to the DNA laboratory of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Greek Police, according to an INTERPOL protocol.

      According to the Red Cross, difficulties usually arise when families are outside the EU, and are due to a number of factors, such as differences in the legal framework or medical systems of the countries. For example, some EU countries cannot ‘open’ a case and take DNA samples from families without a mandate from the authorities of the country where the body of the relative being sought has been recovered.

      The most difficult part of the DNA identification process is that there needs to be a second sample to be compared with the one collected by the forensic experts, which has to be sent by the families of the missing persons. “For a refugee who started his journey from a country in central Africa, travelled for months, and died in Greece, there will be genetic material in the morgue. But it will remain unmatched until a first-degree relative sends a DNA sample,” says Kotretsos.

      He explains that this is not always possible. “We have received calls from relatives who were in Syria, looking for missing family members, and could not send samples precisely because they were in Syria.”

      Outside the university hospital of Alexandroupolis, two refrigerated containers provided by the Red Cross as temporary mortuaries house the bodies of 40 refugees.

      Pavlos Pavlidis, Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Democritus University of Thrace, has since 2000 performed autopsies on at least 800 bodies of people on the move, with the main causes of death being drowning in the waters of Evros and hypothermia.

      The forensic scientist goes beyond the necessary DNA collection: he or she records data such as birthmarks or tattoos and objects (like wallets, rings, glasses), which could be the missing link for a relative looking for a loved one.

      He says a total of 313 bodies found in Evros since 2014 remain unidentified. Those that cannot be identified are buried in a special cemetery in Sidiro, which is managed by the municipality of Soufli, while 15-20 unidentified bodies were buried in Orestiada while the Sidiro cemetery was being expanded.

      The bodies of Muslim refugees who are identified are buried in the Muslim cemetery in Messouni Komotini or repatriated when relatives can cover the cost of repatriation.

      “This is not decent”

      In response to questions, the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum said that the issue of identification and burial procedures for refugees does not fall within its competence. A Commission spokesman said that no funds were foreseen for Greece, but that such expenditure “could be supported under the National Programme of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund”, which is managed by the Migration Ministry.

      Theodoros Nousias is the chief forensic pathologist of the North Aegean Forensic Service, responsible for the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Lemnos. According to the coroner, the DNA identification procedure has improved a lot compared to a few years ago.

      Nusias says he was always available when asked to identify someone. “You have to serve people, that’s why you’re there. To serve people so they can find their family,” he adds.

      The coroner lives in Lesvos, but says he has never been to the cemetery in Kato Tritos. “I don’t want to go. It will be difficult for me because most of these people have passed through my hands.”

      In October 2022, 32-year-old Suja Ahmadi and his sister Marina also travelled to Kythera and then to Kalamata to identify the body of their father, Abdul Ghasi.

      The 65-year-old had started the journey to Italy with his wife Hatige – she survived. The two brothers visited the hospital, where they were shown all eight bodies, male and female, although they had explained from the start that the man they were looking for was a man.

      Their father’s body was among those outside the freezer.

      “My sister was crying and screaming at them to get our father out of the refrigerator container because he smelled,” Suja recalls. “It was not a decent place for a man.”


      #Grèce #Chios #Evros #Samos #Alexandroupolis #Lesbos #Kato_Tritos #Sidiro #Mersinidi #Mersinidi #Pavlos_Pavlidis

    • Enterrar a más de mil personas sin nombre: las trabas de la UE y España para identificar los cuerpos de migrantes

      Cientos de personas fallecidas en la última década yacen en tumbas sin nombre en España, sin que el Gobierno tome medidas coordinadas para garantizar su identificación

      En enero de 2020, Alhassane Bangoura fue enterrado en una tumba sin nombre en la zona musulmana del cementerio municipal de Teguise, en Lanzarote, ante la presencia de funcionarios municipales y miembros de la comunidad musulmana local. El pequeño había nacido apenas un par de semanas antes a bordo de una patera abarrotada en la que su madre, originaria de Guinea, y otras 42 personas intentaban llegar a las Islas Canarias. La embarcación llevaba dos días a la deriva en el océano Atlántico, tras averiarse el motor, y la madre de Alhassane se puso de parto en el mar. Su hijo sólo alcanzó a vivir unas pocas horas antes de morir frente a la costa de Lanzarote.

      El caso de Alhassane conmocionó a la isla y saltó a las noticias de todo el país. Sin embargo, mientras los asistentes al entierro ofrecían sus condolencias, la madre del bebé fallecido se encontraba a 200 kilómetros de distancia, en un centro de acogida de migrantes de la vecina isla de Gran Canaria, al no haber podido obtener permiso de las autoridades para permanecer en Lanzarote durante el funeral.

      “Le habían permitido ver el cuerpo de su hijo una vez más antes de ser trasladada, y yo la acompañé a la funeraria”, cuenta Mamadou Sy, representante de la comunidad musulmana local. “Fue muy emotivo cuando se tuvo que marchar. Lo único que pudimos hacer fue prometerle que su hijo no estaría solo; que, como cualquier musulmán, sería llevado a la mezquita, donde su cuerpo sería lavado por otras madres; que rezaríamos por él y que después le enviaríamos un vídeo del entierro”.

      Casi cuatro años después, el lugar donde reposan los restos de Alhassane sigue sin tener una lápida formal. La tumba se encuentra junto a los restos de más de tres docenas de personas migrantes no identificadas, cuyos nombres se desconocen por completo pero que, como Alhassane, también son víctimas del brutal régimen fronterizo de Europa.
      Las tumbas de la frontera

      A lo largo de las fronteras de la Unión Europea, miles de personas están siendo enterradas de forma precipitada en tumbas sin nombre. El equipo de investigación de Border Graves (Las Tumbas de la Frontera) ha contabilizado que, en los últimos 10 años, al menos 2.162 cadáveres de migrantes han sido encontrados en las fronteras europeas sin identificar.

      El equipo de investigación también ha confirmado la existencia de 1.015 tumbas de inmigrantes sin identificar entre 2014 y 2021 en 103 cementerios, todas ellas pertenecientes a personas que intentaban emigrar a Europa.

      El problema está “absolutamente abandonado”, afirma Dunja Mijatović, Comisaria de Derechos Humanos del Consejo de Europa, que insiste en que los países de la UE incumplen sus obligaciones en virtud de la legislación internacional sobre derechos humanos. “La tragedia de los migrantes desaparecidos ha alcanzado una magnitud espantosa. El asunto exige una actuación inmediata”.

      Las condiciones de sepultura de estos migrantes varían en todo el continente. En la última década, en la isla griega de Lesbos, un olivar se ha convertido en un cementerio informal para refugiados. Al menos 147 tumbas sin identificar se pueden encontrar en el pequeño pueblo de Kato Tritos, que según explica el periodista Nikos Manavis brotaron tras la gran oleada de refugiados de 2015. “Los otros cementerios de la isla eran inapropiados y no podían cubrir el número de muertos que había que enterrar en Lesbos”, afirma. “Pero no es un cementerio. Es sólo un campo. No se muestra ningún respeto por la gente enterrada aquí”.

      En Siče, una población al este de Croacia, se hallan las tumbas de tres refugiados afganos al borde del cementerio del pueblo, separadas de las de los residentes locales. Los tres hombres no identificados, que se ahogaron intentando cruzar el río Sava desde Bosnia a Croacia, están enterrados bajo sencillas cruces de madera en las que se lee “NN” (desconocido).

      En la frontera entre Lituania y Bielorrusia, un pequeño cementerio de la tranquila localidad de Rameikos alberga la tumba de un emigrante indio. El lugar está marcado por un trozo de madera vertical, a pocos metros de la valla fronteriza. En el cementerio de Piano Gatta, en Agrigento (Sicilia), están enterrados decenas de cadáveres sin identificar del naufragio de Lampedusa en 2013, en el que perdieron la vida 368 personas de Eritrea y Somalia al hundirse el pesquero en el que viajaban.

      En cuanto a la extensa costa española, pueden encontrarse tumbas de inmigrantes desde Alicante hasta Cádiz, y hacia el sur hasta las Canarias. Algunas tienen nombre, pero lo más frecuente es que las inscripciones sean del estilo de “inmigrante no identificado”, “marroquí desconocido” o “víctima del Estrecho [de Gibraltar]”. O, simplemente, una cruz pintada a mano.

      En el cementerio de Barbate, en Cádiz, donde los difuntos están sepultados en nichos, el jardinero Germán señala más de 30 tumbas de inmigrantes: las más antiguas datan de 2002 y las más recientes son de un naufragio de 2019. “Nunca viene nadie a visitarlos, pero los días que hay funerales aquí y se van a tirar las flores antiguas, las coloco en las tumbas de los migrantes desconocidos”, explica. “En algunas de las más antiguas hay restos de hasta cinco o seis emigrantes juntos, cada uno colocado en bolsas separadas dentro del mismo nicho para ahorrar espacio”.

      Tal preocupación era menos evidente en Arrecife, Lanzarote, donde dos tumbas no identificadas de febrero de este año se han dejado selladas con una cubierta que aún lleva el logotipo de una empresa.

      No existen datos exhaustivos sobre cuántas fosas de inmigrantes identificadas y no identificadas existen en España, y el Ministerio del Interior nunca ha dado a conocer cifras sobre el número total de cadáveres recuperados en las distintas rutas migratorias marítimas. Pero los datos del Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja (CICR) revelan que entre 2014 y 2021 se recuperaron los cuerpos de alrededor de 530 personas fallecidas en las fronteras españolas, de las cuales 292 permanecen sin identificar.

      En los diez meses que ha durado la investigación europea Border Graves, llevada a cabo de manera conjunta entre un grupo de periodistas independientes y los medios Unbias the News, The Guardian y Süddeutsche Zeitung y publicada en exclusiva en España por elDiario.es, se ha confirmado la existencia de 109 tumbas de migrantes no identificados entre 2014 y 2021 en 18 lugares de España. Según un estudio de la Universidad de Ámsterdam, otras 434 tumbas sin identificar se remontan al periodo 2000-2013 en al menos 65 cementerios del territorio nacional.

      Estas tumbas son símbolos de una tragedia humanitaria mucho mayor. El CICR calcula que sólo el 6,89% de los restos mortales de las personas que desaparecen a lo largo de las fronteras europeas son recuperados, mientras que la ONG española Caminando Fronteras da una cifra aún más baja para la ruta atlántica de África Occidental a Canarias, estimando que sólo se recupera el 4,2% de los cuerpos de los fallecidos.
      Garantizar los “últimos derechos”

      Las tumbas anónimas y sin visitar reflejan también el hecho de que el derecho a la identificación y a un entierro digno de los fallecidos en las rutas migratorias ha sido sistemáticamente desatendido por las autoridades nacionales españolas. En 2021, el Parlamento Europeo aprobó una resolución que reconoce el derecho a la identificación de los fallecidos en las rutas migratorias, y la necesidad de una base de datos coordinada que recoja los datos de la frontera. Pero, al igual que en otros países europeos, los sucesivos gobiernos han sido incapaces de desarrollar mecanismos legales y protocolos estatales para garantizar estos “últimos derechos” de las víctimas, así como el “derecho a saber” y a llorar a sus seres queridos que corresponde a las familias.

      “La gente siempre llama a la oficina y nos pregunta cómo buscar a un familiar, pero hay que ser sincero y decir que no hay un canal oficial claro al que puedan dirigirse”, explica Juan Carlos Lorenzo, coordinador del Consejo Español para los Refugiados (CEAR) en Canarias. “Se les puede poner en contacto con la Cruz Roja, pero no hay un programa de identificación liderado por el Gobierno. Tampoco existe el tipo de recurso especializado necesario para coordinarse con las familias y centralizar la información y los datos sobre los migrantes desaparecidos”.

      Helena Maleno, directora de Caminando Fronteras, afirma: “Sólo este año estamos trabajando con más de 600 familias cuyos seres queridos han desaparecido. Estas familias, procedentes de Marruecos, Argelia, Senegal, Guinea y países tan lejanos como Sri Lanka, están muy solas y poco protegidas por las administraciones públicas. A su vez, esto significa que hay redes criminales y estafadores que buscan sacarles dinero”.

      Incluso en el caso de la identificación de una víctima, un reciente informe de la Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA) expone las barreras legales y financieras a las que se enfrentan las familias para repatriar a sus seres queridos. En 2020/21, las cifras del CICR muestran que se recuperaron 284 cuerpos pero que, de los 116 identificados, sólo 53 fueron repatriados. El informe de la APDHA también señala, respecto a las tumbas fronterizas, que “muchas personas acaban enterradas de manera contraria a sus creencias”. Apenas la mitad de las 50 provincias españolas cuentan con cementerios musulmanes, y no todos están en la costa española.

      Para Maleno, estos fallos del Estado no son casualidad: “España y otros Estados europeos mantienen una política de invisibilización de las víctimas y de la propia frontera. Tienen políticas de negación del número de muertos y de ocultación de datos, pero para las familias esto significa obstáculos en cuanto al acceso a la información y a los derechos de sepultura, así como interminables trabas burocráticas”.
      “Sueño con Oussama”

      Abdallah Tayeb ha sufrido en primera persona las deficiencias del sistema español en sus intentos por confirmar si un cadáver recuperado en diciembre de 2022 es el de su primo Oussama, un joven barbero argelino que soñaba con reunirse con Tayeb en Francia.

      Tayeb está convencido de que el cuerpo sin identificar, que se cree que está en un depósito de cadáveres de Almería, es el de su primo. Está previsto que los restos sean enterrados a comienzos del próximo año en una tumba sin nombre, a menos que se consiga algún avance de última hora. “La sensación es de impotencia”, admite. “No hay nada de transparencia”.

      Tayeb nació en París, de padres argelinos, pero pasa todos los veranos en Argelia con su familia. “Como Oussama y yo teníamos más o menos la misma edad, estábamos muy unidos. Le obsesionaba la idea de venir a Europa, pues dos de sus hermanos ya vivían en Francia. Pero yo no sabía que en realidad ya había organizado su viaje en una patera a finales del año pasado”.

      Oussama formaba parte de un grupo de 23 personas (entre ellas siete niños) que desaparecieron tras zarpar de Mostaganem, Argelia, en una lancha motora el día de Navidad de 2022. Poco después de la desaparición de la patera, su hermano Sofiane viajó de Francia a Cartagena, el destino al que esperaba llegar la embarcación. Con la ayuda de la Cruz Roja, Sofiane pudo presentar una denuncia por desaparición y dar una muestra de ADN, pero no pudo reunir ninguna información concreta sobre la suerte de su hermano.

      Sin embargo, un segundo viaje a España en febrero condujo a un gran avance. Tras recorrer juntos la costa mediterránea, Tayeb y su primo Sofiane consiguieron hablar con una patóloga forense que trabaja en la morgue de Almería, quien pareció reconocer una foto de Oussama. “No paraba de decir ’esta cara me suena’ y también mencionó un collar, algo que llevaba cuando se fue”. Según la forense, había una posible coincidencia con un cuerpo sin identificar recuperado por los guardacostas el 27 de diciembre de 2022.
      El laberinto burocrático

      Con la sensación de que por fin estaban cerca de obtener alguna respuesta, en la comisaría de Almería les informaron de que, para poder ver el cadáver –o incluso las pertenencias– y proceder a su identificación visual, necesitarían el permiso de la comisaría donde se había registrado inicialmente el cadáver. “Fue entonces cuando empezó la verdadera pesadilla”, recuerda Tayeb. Les entregaron una lista de cinco comisarías de toda la región en las que se podría haber registrado el cadáver, y se pasaron los dos días siguientes conduciendo de comisaría en comisaría a lo largo de la costa murciana.

      “En la primera comisaría que visitamos ni siquiera nos dejaron entrar cuando les dijimos que estábamos buscando a un inmigrante desaparecido, y después siempre fue la misma consigna: éste no es el lugar adecuado; no tenemos ningún cadáver; tenéis que ir a este otro lugar…”, continúa. Cuando ambos regresaron a la primera comisaría de Huércal de Almería, después de que les dijeran repetidamente que era el lugar adecuado para preguntar, los agentes, impacientes, se negaron a atenderlos, alegando leyes de protección de la intimidad, e incluso les dijeron que advirtieran a otras familias que buscaban a migrantes desaparecidos que no siguieran viniendo a preguntar.

      “Al final”, explica Tayeb, “nos dimos cuenta de que nunca nos darían ninguna información. Fue muy desgarrador, sobre todo volver a Francia. Fue como si le dejáramos [allí] en la nevera”.

      A medida que pasaban los meses, la frustración y la ansiedad aumentaban para la familia. “En mayo nos dijeron que la muestra de ADN que habíamos dado cinco meses antes acababa de llegar a Madrid y aún no había sido procesada ni enviada a la base de datos”. No se les ha facilitado más información, y las autoridades españolas tienen la política de ponerse en contacto con las familias sólo cuando hay una coincidencia positiva, pero no si la prueba da negativo.

      Tayeb se plantea una última visita a España para intentar recuperar a su primo Oussama, en parte para estar seguro de que ha hecho todo lo posible por encontrarlo, pero le preocupa que el viaje pueda reabrir su trauma de “pérdida ambigua”. “El esfuerzo de ir no es doloroso, lo doloroso es volver sin nada”, dice. “Esta falta de información es lo peor”.

      La Dra. Pauline Boss, catedrática emérita de Psicología de la Universidad de Minnesota (EE.UU.), explica el concepto de pérdida ambigua: “Se parece a un duelo complejo, con pensamientos intrusivos”, dice. “No tienes otra cosa en la cabeza más que el hecho de que tu ser querido ha desaparecido. No puedes afrontar el duelo, porque eso significaría que la persona está muerta, y no lo sabes con certeza”.

      Tayeb lo explica con sus propias palabras: “Todas las personas que iban a bordo eran del mismo barrio de Mostaganem. He podido hablar con muchas de sus familias y están destrozadas. Hay mucho dolor, pero tampoco hay respuestas. Sólo hay rumores, y algunas de las madres creen que sus hijos están en cárceles de Marruecos y España. Todos tenemos sueños [sobre los desaparecidos]. Al final, confías en lo que ves en tus sueños, como si la realidad cósmica te dijera que va a venir. Sueño con Oussama”.
      Un sistema defectuoso

      De todas las familias de los desaparecidos en la patera de Oussama, sólo Tayeb y otras tres familias han podido presentar denuncias de desaparición ante las autoridades españolas, y únicamente en dos casos se han podido entregar muestras de ADN. Según un informe de 2021 de la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM), una de las mayores complicaciones a las que se enfrentan las familias en sus búsquedas es que, para registrar a alguien como desaparecido en España, hay que presentar una denuncia ante la policía del propio país, lo que para muchas familias es “una hazaña prácticamente imposible”, ya que no existen visados para viajar con este fin.

      El informe de la OIM también señala que, aunque muchas familias presentan denuncias de personas desaparecidas en sus países de origen, son “conscientes del carácter casi simbólico de sus esfuerzos” y de que “nunca darán lugar a que se inicie ningún tipo de investigación en España.”

      Junto con la OIM, algunas ONG nacionales, como la APDHA y más de un centenar de organizaciones comunitarias, han denunciado la incapacidad de España para adaptar los procedimientos vigentes en materia de personas desaparecidas a los retos transnacionales que plantean los casos de migrantes desaparecidos. Estas organizaciones han defendido en repetidas ocasiones que el marco jurídico del país en materia de personas desaparecidas debe adaptarse para garantizar que las familias puedan presentar denuncias desde el extranjero por casos de personas desaparecidas.

      También han presionado para que se elaboren protocolos específicos para la policía al tratar casos de migrantes desaparecidos, así como para que se cree una base de datos de migrantes desaparecidos que permita centralizar la información y haga posible el intercambio con autoridades de otros países. Esta incluiría todos los datos disponibles post mortem (desde tatuajes hasta ADN, pasando por inspecciones de cadáveres y autopsias) como de información médica forense ante mortem, es decir, la que procede de los familiares en relación con la persona desaparecida.

      “La realidad es que la situación en toda Europa es sistemáticamente deficiente”, explica Julia Black, analista del Proyecto Migrantes Desaparecidos de la OIM. “A pesar de que nuestras investigaciones muestran estas necesidades acuciantes de las familias, ni España ni ningún otro país europeo ha cambiado [en los últimos años] de forma significativa sus políticas, ni tampoco han mejorado las prácticas para ayudar a este grupo desatendido. El apoyo a las familias sólo está disponible de forma muy puntual, sobre todo en respuesta a sucesos con víctimas masivas que están en el punto de mira de la opinión pública, lo que deja a muchos miles de personas sin un apoyo adecuado”.

      Actores no estatales como la Cruz Roja y Caminando Fronteras, así como una red de activistas independientes, intentan llenar este vacío. “Es un trabajo terrible que no deberíamos estar haciendo, porque los Estados deberían responder a las familias y garantizar los derechos de las víctimas más allá de las fronteras”, explica Maleno. En el caso de la patera de Mostaganem, Caminando Fronteras tiene previsto viajar a Argelia el año que viene para tomar muestras de ADN de los familiares y traerlas a España. Pero Maleno también reconoce que su ONG a menudo tiene que “ejercer mucha presión” para que las autoridades acepten estas muestras.

      Es algo que también confirma Jon Iñarritu, diputado de EH Bildu: “Como miembro de la Comisión de Interior del Congreso de los Diputados, he tenido que intervenir en varias ocasiones para ayudar a las familias que querían registrar muestras de ADN, hablando con el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores o con el Ministerio del Interior para que aceptaran las muestras. Pero no debería ser necesaria la intervención de un diputado para conseguirlo. Es necesario normalizar todo el proceso con protocolos claros y automáticos [para la presentación de las muestras]. Ahora mismo, no hay una forma clara de hacerlo”.

      Incluso cuando las recomendaciones de la OIM han sido objeto de debate parlamentario en España, no han tendido a traducirse en medidas gubernamentales. En 2021, por ejemplo, el Congreso de los Diputados aprobó una Proposición no de Ley en la que se instaba al Gobierno a crear una oficina estatal específica para las familias de migrantes desaparecidos. “Está claro que necesitamos aliviar el calvario administrativo y burocrático para las familias ofreciéndoles un único punto de contacto [con las autoridades estatales]”, explica Iñárritu, impulsor de la moción.

      Sin embargo, aunque los partidos en el gobierno votaron a favor de la resolución, no se ha tomado ninguna medida al respecto en los 18 meses transcurridos desde la aprobación de la resolución. “Desde mi punto de vista, el Gobierno no tiene ninguna intención de aplicar la propuesta”, argumenta Iñárritu. “Sólo ofrecían un apoyo simbólico”.

      Cuando se expusieron las cuestiones anteriores al Ministerio del Interior, la respuesta fue la siguiente: “El tratamiento de los cadáveres sin identificar que llegan a las costas de España es idéntico al hallazgo de cualquier otro cadáver. En España, para la identificación de cadáveres, las Fuerzas y Cuerpos de Seguridad del Estado aplican la Guía de INTERPOL para la Identificación de Víctimas de Catástrofes. Esta Guía, aunque está especialmente indicada para los sucesos con víctimas múltiples, también es aplicada como referencia para la identificación de un cadáver aislado”.
      Derechos de sepultura

      El director de migraciones de APDHA, Carlos Arce, escribe que, en un marco europeo que contempla la migración irregular predominantemente a través del prisma de la criminalidad grave y la seguridad fronteriza, “ni siquiera la muerte o desaparición de las personas migrantes pone freno a la concatenación de ataques a su dignidad”. Por su parte, Iñárritu también apunta al régimen fronterizo más amplio de la UE: “Muchas cuestiones que no encajan en este marco político dominante, como el derecho de identificación, simplemente se dejan sin gestionar en el día a día. Sencillamente, no son una prioridad”.

      Esto también queda claro en lo que respecta a la inacción del gobierno español a la hora de garantizar un entierro digno a las personas cuyos cuerpos son recuperados. Como señala un informe de 2023 de APDHA, “aunque la repatriación es la opción más deseada por las familias [...] el coste es muy elevado (miles de euros) y muy pocas de sus embajadas ayudan [a sufragarlo]”. La ONG recomienda a España que establezca acuerdos de repatriación con los países de procedencia de los inmigrantes para crear “salvoconductos mortuorios” que garanticen su retorno a un coste reducido.

      A esto se suma que el gobierno central tampoco ha establecido mecanismos para garantizar el derecho de los inmigrantes no identificados a un entierro digno dentro del territorio español, sino que sostiene que los ayuntamientos son responsables de todos los entierros de carácter benéfico. Esto ha supuesto que municipios muy concretos, en los que están estacionadas las embarcaciones de salvamento marítimo, sean legalmente responsables de la mayor parte de los entierros, y la mayoría de estos municipios carecen de cementerios locales capaces de acoger entierros musulmanes tradicionales.

      La posibilidad de que este asunto se convierta en un caldo de cultivo para el rechazo a la inmigración quedó patente el pasado mes de septiembre, cuando la alcaldesa de Mogán (Gran Canaria), Onalia Bueno, insistió en que su municipio dejaría de sufragar estos entierros, ya que no quería “detraer los costes de los impuestos de mis vecinos”. Juan Carlos Lorenzo, de CEAR, condena ese “lenguaje divisivo, que enmarca la cuestión en términos de malgastar el dinero de mis ’vecinos’ en alguien que no es un vecino”, y señala en cambio la actuación de los municipios de El Hierro como contraejemplo positivo.

      En esta isla poco poblada, en los últimos dos meses han sido enterrados siete inmigrantes no identificados, junto con los restos de Mamadou Marea, de 30 años. “Los habitantes de la isla se unieron a nosotros para acompañar los restos de cada una de estas personas hasta su lugar de descanso”, explica Amado Carballo, concejal de El Hierro. “Lo que nos entristeció a todos fue no poder poner un nombre en la lápida y simplemente tener que dejar a las personas identificadas con un código policial”.

      Carballo señala que “más de 10.000 personas han llegado a El Hierro desde septiembre, lo mismo que la población de la isla. Son viajes muy largos, de entre seis y nueve días en el mar, y ahora mismo la gente llega en un pésimo estado de salud. A los que han muerto en los últimos meses hemos intentado ofrecerles un entierro digno dentro de los medios de que disponemos. Hemos contado con la presencia de un imán, que ha rezado oraciones del Islam antes de depositar los restos”.

      En la actualidad, la responsabilidad de conmemorar a las víctimas no identificadas recae en los municipios e incluso en los responsables de los cementerios. Al igual que Germán en el cementerio de Barbate, que intenta dignificar las tumbas sin nombre colocando flores sobre ellas, el cementerio de Motril ha adornado las tumbas con poemas. En Teguise, el Ayuntamiento ha puesto en marcha una iniciativa que anima a los vecinos a dejar flores en las tumbas de los inmigrantes cuando vienen a visitar los restos de sus familiares.

      En otro gesto conmemorativo, una colección de unas 50 barcas de pesca desechadas se ha convertido en un rasgo distintivo del puerto de Barbate. Estas pequeñas embarcaciones de madera con escritura árabe en el casco eran utilizadas por los emigrantes que intentaban cruzar el Estrecho de Gibraltar. En lugar de ser desguazadas, APDHA pudo convertir el astillero en un lugar conmemorativo y colocar placas en las embarcaciones en las que se indicaba cuántas personas viajaban en ellas y dónde y cuándo fueron encontradas.

      En el caso del pequeño Alhassane Bangoura, los vecinos acuden habitualmente a dejar flores frescas y otras muestras de afecto, entre ellas un pequeño cuenco de granito con su nombre de pila inscrito. Pero muchas víctimas son enterradas sin ningún intento de identificación y, tal y como exigen innumerables ONG, políticos y activistas, no debería dejarse en manos de la buena voluntad de residentes, trabajadores de cementerios o concejales el garantizar los últimos derechos de las víctimas de la Fortaleza Europa.


    • « Αγνώστων στοιχείων » : Πάνω από 1.000 αταυτοποίητοι τάφοι στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα

      Τάφοι με μόνη σήμανση ένα ξύλο, μνήματα που καλύπτονται από αγριόχορτα : μια διασυνοριακή έρευνα οκτώ δημοσιογράφων σε συνεργασία με Solomon, Guardian και Süddeutsche Zeitung καταγράφει την αδιαφορία γύρω από την αξιοπρεπή ταφή των προσφύγων που χάνουν τη ζωή τους στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα.

      Το τηλέφωνο χτύπησε ένα πρωινό του Οκτωβρίου 2022 στη δουλειά, στη Φινλανδία όπου ο 35χρονος Μοχάμεντ Σαμίμ ζει τα τελευταία δέκα περίπου χρόνια.

      Ο ανιψιός του δεν είχε καλά νέα : ο αδερφός του Σαμίμ, Ταρίν Μοχαμάντ, μαζί με τον γιο και τις δύο κόρες του, βρισκόταν σε ένα σκάφος που βυθίστηκε κοντά σε ένα ελληνικό νησί, έχοντας αποπλεύσει από τα τουρκικά παράλια για την Ιταλία.

      Όταν ο Σαμίμ έφτασε την επομένη στα Κύθηρα, έμαθε πως —παρότι αδύναμος αφού δεν είχε φάει επί τρεις μέρες— ο αδερφός του είχε καταφέρει να σώσει την οικογένειά του πριν ένα κύμα τον πάρει μακριά. Πήγε αμέσως στο σημείο του ναυαγίου. Μέσα στο νερό είδε σώματα να επιπλέουν — δεν μπορούσε να δει το πρόσωπο του αδερφού του, αλλά αναγνώρισε την πλάτη του.

      Το Λιμενικό είπε πως έπρεπε να περάσει η κακοκαιρία για να μπορέσουν να βγάλουν τους νεκρούς από τη θάλασσα. Πέρασε η πρώτη μέρα, πέρασε και δεύτερη, ώσπου την τρίτη ημέρα κατέστη τελικά δυνατό. Το Λιμενικό επιβεβαίωσε στο Solomon πως άνεμοι έντασης 8 μποφόρ και η μορφολογία της περιοχής καθιστούσαν την ανάσυρση των σορών αδύνατη. Ο Σαμίμ δεν θα ξεχάσει ποτέ την εικόνα του αδερφού του στη θάλασσα.

      Στην Καλαμάτα, χρειάστηκε να περάσουν τέσσερις ημέρες μετακύλισης της ευθύνης μεταξύ νοσοκομείου και Λιμενικού, και η βοήθεια μιας ντόπιας δικηγόρου που « ήρθε και τους έβαλε τις φωνές », προκειμένου να του επιτραπεί να ακολουθήσει τη διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης του αδερφού του.

      Τον προειδοποίησαν πως θα ήταν μια ψυχοφθόρα διαδικασία, και πως θα έπρεπε να φορέσει τριπλή μάσκα λόγω της μυρωδιάς. Ο Σαμίμ λέει πως, λόγω έλλειψης χώρου στα ψυγεία του νεκροτομείου, ορισμένα από τα θύματα του ναυαγίου βρίσκονταν στον θάλαμο εκτός ψυγείου.

      « Το άγχος και η μυρωδιά. Τα γόνατά μας έτρεμαν », θυμάται ο Σαμίμ όταν τον συναντάμε στα Κύθηρα ένα χρόνο μετά.

      Ξεκίνησαν να του δείχνουν σώματα σε αποσύνθεση. Πρώτα αυτά εκτός ψυγείου. Δεν τον αναγνώρισε ανάμεσά τους. Βγήκαν έξω και άλλαξαν τις μάσκες που φορούσαν, επέστρεψαν, άνοιξαν με τη σειρά τα ψυγεία φτάνοντας στο τελευταίο.

      « Βρισκόταν εκεί, ήρεμος. Ο άνθρωπος που αγαπάς. Ήμασταν κάπως χαρούμενοι που, μετά από μέρες, μπορούσαμε να τον δούμε », είπε ο Σαμίμ.
      Νεκροί πρόσφυγες στα αζήτητα

      Ο αριθμός των προσφύγων που πεθαίνουν στα σύνορα της Ευρώπης ολοένα και μεγαλώνει. Πέρα από τη δυσκολία καταγραφής των θανάτων, υπάρχει και η πρόκληση της ταυτοποίησης των σορών, μια διαδικασία ψυχοφθόρα για τους συγγενείς. Σε κάποιες περιπτώσεις, ωστόσο, υπάρχουν σοροί που μένουν αταυτοποίητες, εκατοντάδες άνδρες, γυναίκες και παιδιά που θάβονται σε τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων.

      Τον Ιούλιο του 2023, το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο υιοθέτησε ψήφισμα που αναγνωρίζει το δικαίωμα στην ταυτοποίηση των ανθρώπων που χάνουν τη ζωή τους στην προσπάθεια να φτάσουν στην Ευρώπη, έως σήμερα ωστόσο δεν υπάρχει κεντρικό σύστημα καταγραφής σε πανευρωπαϊκό επίπεδο. Ούτε ενιαία διαδικασία για τη διαχείριση των σορών που καταλήγουν σε νεκροτομεία, γραφεία κηδειών — ακόμη και κοντέινερ ψύξης.

      Το πρόβλημα είναι « εντελώς παραμελημένο », είπε στο Solomon η Ευρωπαία Επίτροπος Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων, Dunja Mijatović, η οποία αναφέρει ότι οι χώρες της ΕΕ δεν εκπληρώνουν τις υποχρεώσεις τους βάσει του διεθνούς δικαίου των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων. « Η τραγωδία των αγνοούμενων μεταναστών έχει λάβει τρομακτικές διαστάσεις. Το ζήτημα απαιτεί άμεση δράση », πρόσθεσε.

      Η πλατφόρμα Missing Migrants του Διεθνούς Οργανισμού Μετανάστευσης (ΔΟΜ), που αναγνωρίζει πως τα στοιχεία της δεν αποτελούν ολοκληρωμένη καταγραφή, κάνει λόγο για πάνω από 1.090 αγνοούμενους πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες στην Ευρώπη από το 2014.

      Στο πλαίσιο της έρευνας Border Graves, οκτώ Ευρωπαίοι δημοσιογράφοι, από κοινού με την βρετανική εφημερίδα Guardian, την γερμανική εφημερίδα Süddeutsche Zeitung, και το Solomon για την Ελλάδα, ερεύνησαν επί επτά μήνες τι συμβαίνει με τις χιλιάδες αταυτοποίητες σορούς όσων χάνουν τη ζωή τους στα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα, και καταγράφουν για πρώτη φορά έναν σχεδόν διπλάσιο αριθμό : σύμφωνα με τα στοιχεία που συγκεντρώθηκαν, περισσότεροι από 2.162 άνθρωποι πέθαναν την περίοδο 2014-2023.

      Μελετήσαμε έγγραφα και πήραμε συνεντεύξεις από κρατικούς ιατροδικαστές, εισαγγελείς και εργαζομένους σε γραφεία τελετών· από κατοίκους και συγγενείς θανόντων και αγνοουμένων· και αποκτήσαμε αποκλειστική πρόσβαση σε αδημοσίευτα στοιχεία της Διεθνούς Επιτροπής του Ερυθρού Σταυρού.

      Σε 65 νεκροταφεία κατά μήκος των ευρωπαϊκών συνόρων –Ελλάδα, Ισπανία, Ιταλία, Μάλτα, Πολωνία, Λιθουανία, Γαλλία και Κροατία– καταγράψαμε περισσότερους από 1.000 τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων κατά την τελευταία δεκαετία.

      Η έρευνα καταγράφει τον τρόπο με τον οποίο η κρατική αδιαφορία γύρω από την αξιοπρεπή ταφή των ανθρώπων που χάνουν τη ζωή τους στα σύνορα διαπερνά τις ευρωπαϊκές χώρες. Στην Ιταλία, συναντήσαμε ξύλινους σταυρούς. Στην Κροατία και τη Βοσνία, συναντήσαμε δεκάδες τάφους με την ένδειξη « ΝΝ » (αγνώστων στοιχείων), στη Γαλλία απλώς με ένα « Χ ».

      Στα ισπανικά Γκραν Κανάρια, εντοπίσαμε πλάκες που δεν αναφέρουν την ταυτότητα των θανόντων, αλλά σε ποιο ναυάγιο πέθαναν : « Βάρκα μεταναστών νούμερο 4. 25/09/2022 ».

      Στην Ελλάδα, καταγράψαμε περισσότερους από 540 αταυτοποίητους τάφους προσφύγων, το 54% όσων συνολικά κατέγραψε η ευρωπαϊκή έρευνα. Ταξιδέψαμε στα νησιά του Αιγαίου και τον Έβρο, και εντοπίσαμε τάφους σε χωράφια που ενίοτε καλύπτονται από αγριόχορτα, και μαρμάρινες πλάκες με ημερομηνίες θανάτου που έχουν σβηστεί, ενώ σε άλλες περιπτώσεις ένα κομμάτι ξύλο μαζί με έναν αριθμό αποτελεί τη μόνη σήμανσή τους.

      Τα στοιχεία της έρευνάς μας, σε συνδυασμό με τα στοιχεία της Διεθνούς Επιτροπής του Ερυθρού Σταυρού, δεν αποτελούν εξαντλητική καταγραφή του ζητήματος. Ωστόσο, αποτυπώνουν για πρώτη φορά τα κενά και τις δυσκολίες ενός συστήματος, που οδηγεί χιλιάδες οικογένειες να μην γνωρίζουν πού είναι θαμμένοι οι συγγενείς τους.

      Λέσβος : 167 αταυτοποίητοι τάφοι προσφύγων

      Ένας μακρύς χωματόδρομος, που τριγυρίζεται από ελαιόδεντρα, οδηγεί στην πύλη του νεκροταφείου του Κάτω Τρίτου, που συνήθως παραμένει κλειδωμένη με λουκέτο.

      Το « νεκροταφείο των προσφύγων », όπως το αποκαλούν στο νησί, βρίσκεται περίπου 15χλμ δυτικά της Μυτιλήνης. Αποτελεί τον μοναδικό χώρο ταφής αποκλειστικά για πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες στην Ελλάδα.

      Κατά τη διάρκεια μίας από τις επισκέψεις μας, λάμβανε χώρα η κηδεία τεσσάρων παιδιών. Έχασαν τη ζωή τους στις 28 Αυγούστου 2023, όταν η βάρκα στην οποία επέβαιναν μαζί με 18 ακόμη ανθρώπους βυθίστηκε νοτιοανατολικά της Λέσβου.

      Η πενθούσα μητέρα και αρκετές γυναίκες, μεταξύ των οποίων μέλη της οικογένειας, κάθονταν κάτω από ένα δέντρο, ενώ οι άνδρες προσεύχονταν κοντά στο υπόστεγο που χρησιμοποιείται για τη διαδικασία της ταφής σύμφωνα με την ισλαμική παράδοση.

      Στον Κάτω Τρίτο και τον Άγιο Παντελεήμονα, το νεκροταφείο της Μυτιλήνης όπου θάβονταν οι πρόσφυγες έως τότε, μετρήσαμε συνολικά 167 τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων μεταξύ 2014-2023.

      Ο τοπικός δημοσιογράφος, και πρώην μέλος του Περιφερειακού Συμβουλίου Βορείου Αιγαίου Νίκος Μανάβης, εξηγεί πως το νεκροταφείο δημιουργήθηκε το 2015 σε έναν ελαιώνα που ανήκει στο δήμο Μυτιλήνης λόγω ανάγκης : ένα πολύνεκρο ναυάγιο στα βόρεια του νησιού, στις 28 Οκτωβρίου του έτους, είχε ως αποτέλεσμα τουλάχιστον 60 νεκρούς, για τους οποίους τα νεκροταφεία του νησιού δεν επαρκούσαν.

      Πολλά θύματα ναυαγίων παραμένουν θαμμένα σε τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων. Στις ταφόπλακες αναγράφεται η εκτιμώμενη ηλικία των θανόντων και η ημερομηνία ταφής, ενίοτε μόνο ένας αριθμός. Άλλες φορές, ένα κομμάτι ξύλο και περιμετρικά τοποθετημένες πέτρες σηματοδοτούν τον τάφο.

      « Αυτό που βλέπουμε είναι ένα χωράφι, όχι ένα νεκροταφείο. Δεν δείχνει σεβασμό στους ανθρώπους που τάφηκαν εδώ », λέει ο Μανάβης.

      Αυτή η έλλειψη σεβασμού στο νεκροταφείο του Κάτω Τρίτου κινητοποίησε την οργάνωση Earth Medicine. Όπως εξηγεί ο Δημήτρης Πατούνης, μέλος της ΜΚΟ, τον Ιανουάριο του 2022 έκαναν πρόταση στο δήμο Μυτιλήνης για την αποκατάσταση του νεκροταφείου. Το σχέδιό τους είναι να δημιουργήσουν ένα χώρο ανάπαυσης με σεβασμό και αξιοπρέπεια, όπου οι πρόσφυγες και οι αιτούντες άσυλο θα μπορούν να ικανοποιήσουν την πιο ιερή ανθρώπινη ανάγκη, το πένθος για τους αγαπημένους τους.

      Παρόλο που το δημοτικό συμβούλιο ενέκρινε την πρόταση την άνοιξη του 2023, οι δημοτικές εκλογές του Οκτωβρίου καθυστέρησαν το έργο. Ο Πατούνης δηλώνει θετικός ότι σύντομα θα γίνει καταγραφή των τάφων και περίφραξη της περιοχής.

      Ο Χρήστος Μαυραχείλης, νεκροθάφτης στο νεκροταφείο του Αγίου Παντελεήμονα, θυμάται ότι το 2015 οι μουσουλμάνοι πρόσφυγες θάβονταν σε συγκεκριμένη περιοχή του νεκροταφείου.

      « Αν κάποιος ήταν αγνώστου ταυτότητας έγραφα στον τάφο του “Άγνωστος” », λέει. Εάν δεν υπήρχαν συγγενείς, που θα μπορούσαν να καλύψουν το κόστος, ο Μαυραχείλης έκοβε ο ίδιος ένα μάρμαρο και έγραφε όσα στοιχεία μπορούσε από το πιστοποιητικό θανάτου. « Άνθρωποι ήταν κι αυτοί », λέει, « έκανα ό,τι μπορούσα ».

      Από την πλευρά του, ο Θωμάς Βαναβάκης, πρώην ιδιοκτήτης γραφείου τελετών που πρόσφερε υπηρεσίες στη Λέσβο έως το 2020, λέει επίσης πως συχνά χρειάστηκε να καλύψουν ταφές δίχως να λάβουν αμοιβή. « Ξέρετε πόσες φορές μπήκαμε στη θάλασσα και πληρώσαμε εργάτες από την τσέπη μας για να τραβήξουμε τα πτώματα και δεν παίρναμε φράγκο ; », λέει.

      « Το να βλέπεις τόσα μωρά, να τα μαζεύεις και να τα πετάς σε ένα κουτί… Πώς μπορείς να πας σπίτι και να κοιμηθείς μετά από αυτό ; », λέει ο Βαναβάκης.

      Η Έφη Λατσούδη, που ζει στη Λέσβο και εργάζεται στην οργάνωση Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), λέει πως το 2015 υπήρχαν ταφές που δεν μπορούσε να καλύψει ο δήμος Μυτιλήνης, και ορισμένες φορές τις « πληρώναν οι άνθρωποι που συμμετείχαν στην τελετή. Προσπαθούσαμε να δώσουμε μια αξιοπρέπεια στη διαδικασία. Αλλά δεν ήταν αρκετό », λέει.

      Η Λατσούδη θυμάται κάτι που της είχε αναφέρει μια προσφύγισσα το 2015 : « Το χειρότερο που μπορεί να μας συμβεί είναι να πεθάνουμε κάπου μακριά και να μην είναι κανείς στην κηδεία μας ».

      Ο δήμος Μυτιλήνης δεν απάντησε στα ερωτήματά μας σχετικά με την αξιοπρεπή ταφή των προσφύγων στα νεκροταφεία ευθύνης του.
      Χίος και Σάμος : τάφοι καλύπτονται από αγριόχορτα

      Σύμφωνα με την ελληνική νομοθεσία, η τοπική αυτοδιοίκηση (και σε περίπτωση αδυναμίας της η περιφέρεια) καλύπτει το κόστος για την ταφή τόσο των αταυτοποίητων προσφύγων που πεθαίνουν στα σύνορα, όσο και εκείνων που βρίσκονται σε οικονομική αδυναμία.

      Από πλευράς της, η δημοτική Αρχή Χίου δήλωσε πως προβλέπεται χρηματοδότηση για τις σχετικές δαπάνες, καθώς και ότι « στο πλαίσιο των αρμοδιοτήτων της για τα νεκροταφεία, συντηρεί και φροντίζει όλους τους χώρους, χωρίς διακρίσεις και με τον απαιτούμενο σεβασμό, για όλους τους νεκρούς ».

      Αλλά κατά την επίσκεψή μας τον Αύγουστο στο νεκροταφείο του Μερσινιδίου, λίγα χιλιόμετρα βόρεια της πόλης της Χίου, όπου πρόσφυγες βρίσκονται θαμμένοι πλάι στα μνήματα των ντόπιων, δεν ήταν δύσκολο να εντοπίσει κανείς τον διαχωρισμό : οι πέντε τάφοι αταυτοποίητων προσφύγων σηματοδοτούνταν απλώς από ένα μάρμαρο, το οποίο έτεινε να υπερκαλύψει η βλάστηση.

      Η Νατάσα Στραχίνη, δικηγόρος του RSA που ζει στη Χίο, έχει λάβει μέρος σε αρκετές κηδείες προσφύγων τόσο στη Χίο όσο και στη Λέσβο. Για εκείνη, είναι πολύ μεγάλη η σημασία της τοπικής κοινότητας και η παρουσία σε μια τόσο δύσκολη ανθρώπινη στιγμή.

      Σχετικά με τις ταφές, εξηγεί πως « μόνο ένα καλό σύστημα καταγραφής θα μπορούσε να βοηθήσει τους συγγενείς να εντοπίσουν τον τάφο ενός ανθρώπου που έχασαν, καθώς συνήθως στα νεκροταφεία μετά από 3-5 χρόνια γίνονται εκταφές ». Αναφέρει πως ενίοτε ένας τάφος παραμένει αγνώστων στοιχείων παρότι η σορός έχει ταυτοποιηθεί, είτε γιατί καθυστέρησε η διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης, είτε γιατί οι συγγενείς δεν είχαν την οικονομική δυνατότητα να αλλάξουν το μνήμα.

      Στο Ηραίο Σάμου, δίπλα στο δημοτικό νεκροταφείο, σε ένα οικόπεδο που ανήκει στη Μητρόπολη και χρησιμοποιείται ως χώρος ταφής προσφύγων, καταγράψαμε δεκάδες μνήματα που χρονολογούνται μεταξύ 2014-2023. Οι πλάκες –ορισμένες σπασμένες– που έχουν τοποθετηθεί στο έδαφος, « κρυμμένες » από κλαδιά, πευκοβελόνες και κουκουνάρια, αναγράφουν απλώς έναν αριθμό και τη χρονολογία της ταφής.

      Ο δικηγόρος Δημήτρης Χούλης, που ζει στη Σάμο και χειρίζεται υποθέσεις γύρω από το προσφυγικό, σχολίασε σχετικά : « Είναι ντροπιαστική εικόνα να βλέπεις τέτοιους τάφους. Είναι αδικαιολόγητο για μια σύγχρονη κοινωνία όπως η Ελλάδα ».

      Αναζητώντας στοιχεία

      Η Διεθνής Επιτροπή του Ερυθρού Σταυρού είναι από τις λίγες διεθνείς οργανώσεις που εργάζονται για την ταυτοποίηση των νεκρών πρσοφύγων. Μεταξύ άλλων, και στην Ελλάδα έχουν πραγματοποιήσει αρκετές σχετικές εκπαιδεύσεις σε στελέχη του Λιμενικού και της Ελληνικής Αστυνομίας.

      « Είναι υποχρέωσή μας να παρέχουμε στους νεκρούς μια αξιοπρεπή ταφή. Παράλληλα, οφείλουμε να δίνουμε απαντήσεις στις οικογένειες μέσω της ταυτοποίησης των νεκρών. Αν υπολογίσουμε τους συγγενείς των αγνοουμένων, αυτή η διαδικασία επηρεάζει εκατοντάδες χιλιάδες ανθρώπους. Δεν γνωρίζουν πού βρίσκονται οι αγαπημένοι τους. Τους φέρθηκαν καλά ; Τους σεβάστηκαν όταν τους έθαψαν ; », αναφέρει η Laurel Clegg, συντονίστρια ιατροδικαστής για τη μετανάστευση στην Ευρώπη.

      Εξηγεί πως η καταγραφή των νεκρών αποτελεί διαδικασία που « απαιτεί την καλή συνεργασία μεταξύ πολλών μερών : ένα νομικό πλαίσιο που να προστατεύει τους αταυτοποίητους νεκρούς, συστηματικές νεκροψίες (consistent post-mortems), νεκροτομεία, ληξιαρχεία, αξιοπρεπή μεταφορά, νεκροταφεία ».

      Ωστόσο, τα ιατρικά και νομικά συστήματα των χωρών αποδεικνύονται ανεπαρκή για να αντιμετωπίσουν τη διάσταση του προβλήματος, προσθέτει.

      Από το 2013, στο πλαίσιο του προγράμματος για την αποκατάσταση οικογενειακών δεσμών, ο Ερυθρός Σταυρός έχει καταγράψει στην Ευρώπη 16.500 αιτήματα από ανθρώπους που αναζητούν αγνοούμενους συγγενείς τους. Σύμφωνα με τον διεθνή οργανισμό έχουν επιτευχθεί μόλις 285 επιτυχείς αντιστοιχίσεις (1,7%).

      Τις αντιστοιχίσεις αυτές αναλαμβάνουν οι κατά τόπους ιατροδικαστές.

      « Συλλέγουμε πάντα δείγματα DNA από τις σορούς αγνώστων στοιχείων. Είναι συνήθης πρακτική και μπορεί να είναι το μόνο εφικτό μέσο ταυτοποίησης », αναφέρει ο Παναγιώτης Κοτρέτσος, ιατροδικαστής στη Ρόδο. Τα δείγματα αποστέλλονται στο εργαστήριο DNA της Διεύθυνσης Εγκληματολογικών Ερευνών της Ελληνικής Αστυνομίας, σύμφωνα με πρωτόκολλο της INTERPOL.

      Σύμφωνα με τον Ερυθρό Σταυρό, οι δυσκολίες συνήθως προκύπτουν όταν οι οικογένειες βρίσκονται εκτός ΕΕ, και οφείλονται σε διάφορους παράγοντες, όπως τυχόν διαφορές στο νομικό πλαίσιο ή στα ιατρικά συστήματα των χωρών. Για παράδειγμα, ορισμένες χώρες της ΕΕ δεν μπορούν να « ανοίξουν » υπόθεση και να πάρουν δείγματα DNA από οικογένειες, χωρίς εντολή από τις Aρχές της χώρας στην οποία έχει ανασυρθεί η σορός του συγγενή που αναζητάται.

      Το πιο δύσκολο μέρος στη διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης μέσω DNA είναι ότι χρειάζεται να υπάρχει κι ένα δεύτερο δείγμα που θα συγκριθεί με εκείνο που συνέλεξαν οι ιατροδικαστές, το οποίο πρέπει να σταλεί από τις οικογένειες των αγνοουμένων. « Για έναν πρόσφυγα που ξεκίνησε το ταξίδι του από μια χώρα της κεντρικής Αφρικής, ταξίδεψε για μήνες, και πέθανε στην Ελλάδα, θα υπάρχει το γενετικό υλικό στο νεκροτομείο. Αλλά θα παραμείνει αταίριαστο μέχρι κάποιος συγγενής πρώτου βαθμού να στείλει δείγμα DNA », λέει ο Κοτρέτσος.

      Εξηγεί πως αυτό δεν είναι πάντα εφικτό. « Έχουμε δεχτεί τηλεφωνήματα από συγγενείς που βρίσκονταν στη στη Συρία, και αναζητούσαν αγνοούμενα μέλη της οικογένειάς τους, και δεν μπορούσαν να στείλουν δείγματα ακριβώς επειδή βρίσκονταν στη Συρία ».

      Έξω από το πανεπιστημιακό νοσοκομείο της Αλεξανδρούπολης, δύο κοντέινερ ψυγεία που έχουν παραχωρηθεί από τον Ερυθρό Σταυρό ως προσωρινοί νεκροθάλαμοι φιλοξενούν τα σώματα 40 προσφύγων.

      Ο καθηγητής Ιατροδικαστικής στο Δημοκρίτειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θράκης, Παύλος Παυλίδης, έχει από το 2000 πραγματοποιήσει αυτοψίες σε τουλάχιστον 800 σώματα ανθρώπων σε κίνηση, με βασικές αιτίες θανάτου τον πνιγμό στα νερά του Έβρου και την υποθερμία.

      Ο ιατροδικαστής δεν αρκείται στην απαραίτητη συλλογή DNA : καταγράφει δεδομένα όπως σημάδια γέννησης ή τατουάζ και αντικείμενα (π.χ. πορτοφόλια, δαχτυλίδια, γυαλιά), τα οποία θα μπορούσαν να αποτελέσουν τον συνδετικό κρίκο για έναν συγγενή που αναζητά το αγαπημένο του πρόσωπο.

      Λέει πως συνολικά 313 σοροί που βρέθηκαν στον Έβρο από το 2014 παραμένουν αγνώστων στοιχείων. Όσες δεν μπορούν να ταυτοποιηθούν θάβονται σε ειδικό νεκροταφείο στο Σιδηρώ, το οποίο διαχειρίζεται ο δήμος Σουφλίου, ενώ 15-20 αταυτοποίητες σοροί τάφηκαν στην Ορεστιάδα όσο γινόταν η επέκταση του νεκροταφείου Σιδηρού.

      Οι σοροί των μουσουλμάνων προσφύγων που ταυτοποιούνται ενταφιάζονται στο μουσουλμανικό νεκροταφείο στη Μεσσούνη Κομοτηνής ή επαναπατρίζονται, όταν οι συγγενείς μπορούν να καλύψουν το κόστος επαναπατρισμού.

      « Αυτό δεν είναι αξιοπρεπές »

      Απαντώντας σε σχετικά ερωτήματα, το υπουργείο Μετανάστευσης και Ασύλου είπε πως το ζήτημα των διαδικασιών ταυτοποίησης και ταφής προσφύγων δεν εμπίπτει στις αρμοδιότητές του. Εκπρόσωπος της Κομισιόν δήλωσε πως σχετικά κονδύλια προς την Ελλάδα δεν προβλέπονται, ωστόσο εν λόγω δαπάνες « θα μπορούσαν να υποστηριχθούν στο πλαίσιο του Εθνικού Προγράμματος του Ταμείου Ασύλου, Μετανάστευσης και Ένταξης », το οποίο διαχειρίζεται το υπουργείο Μετανάστευσης.

      Ο Θεόδωρος Νούσιας είναι επικεφαλής ιατροδικαστής της Ιατροδικαστικής Υπηρεσίας Βορείου Αιγαίου, δηλαδή υπεύθυνος για τα νησιά Λέσβο, Σάμο, Χίο, και Λήμνο. Σύμφωνα με τον ιατροδικαστή, η διαδικασία ταυτοποίησης μέσω DNA έχει βελτιωθεί πολύ σε σχέση με πριν από μερικά χρόνια.

      Ο Νούσιας λέει ότι πάντα ήταν διαθέσιμος, όταν του ζητήθηκε να αναγνωρίσει κάποιον. « Πρέπει να εξυπηρετείς τους ανθρώπους, γι’ αυτό βρίσκεσαι εκεί. Να εξυπηρετείς τους ανθρώπους για να μπορούν να βρουν την οικογένειά τους », προσθέτει.

      Ο ιατροδικαστής ζει στη Λέσβο, αλλά λέει πως δεν έχει πάει ποτέ στο νεκροταφείο στον Κάτω Τρίτο. « Δεν θέλω να πάω. Θα είναι δύσκολο για μένα γιατί οι περισσότεροι από αυτούς τους ανθρώπους έχουν περάσει από τα χέρια μου ».

      Τον Οκτώβριο του 2022, ο 32χρονος Σουτζά Αχμαντί και η αδελφή του Μαρίνα ταξίδεψαν επίσης στα Κύθηρα και, στη συνέχεια, στην Καλαμάτα προκειμένου να αναγνωρίσουν τη σορό του πατέρα τους, Αμπντούλ Γασί.

      Ο 65χρονος είχε ξεκινήσει το ταξίδι για την Ιταλία μαζί με τη γυναίκα του Χατίτζε — εκείνη επέζησε. Τα δύο αδέλφια επισκέφθηκαν το νοσοκομείο, όπου τους έδειξαν και τα οκτώ πτώματα, άνδρες και γυναίκες, παρότι είχαν εξαρχής εξηγήσει πως ο άνθρωπος που αναζητούσαν ήταν άνδρας.

      Το σώμα του πατέρα τους ήταν μεταξύ εκείνων που βρίσκονταν εκτός ψυγείου.

      « Η αδελφή μου έκλαιγε και τους φώναζε να πάρουν τον πατέρα μας από το κοντέινερ ψυγείο γιατί μύριζε », θυμάται ο Σουτζά. « Δεν ήταν αξιοπρεπές μέρος για έναν άνθρωπο ».

      Για την έρευνα συνεργάστηκαν οι : Gabriele Cruciata, Eoghan Gilmartin, Danai Maragoudaki, Barbara Matejčić, Leah Pattem, Gabriela Ramírez, Daphne Tolis and Tina Xu (συντονίστρια).

      Η έρευνα υποστηρίχθηκε από το Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) και Journalismfund Europe.


    • U Hrvatskoj pronađeno 45 neimenovanih grobova migranata, među njima je bila i 5-godišnja curica: ‘Policija ih često tjera u rijeku’

      Telegram ekskluzivno donosi veliku priču Barbare Matejčić koja je, kao jedina novinarka iz Hrvatske, sudjelovala u međunarodnoj novinarskoj istrazi s kolegama iz uglednih medija poput britanskog Guardiana i njemačkog Süddeutsche Zeitunga. Otkrili su kako završavaju tijela onih koji su stradali pokušavajući ući u Europsku uniju

      U selu Siče u istočnoj Hrvatskoj više je Sičana na groblju nego među živima: živih je 230, a umrlih 250. Točnije, na groblju je 247 Sičana i tri nepoznate osobe. Bilo bi ih još više pod zemljom da Siče svoje groblje nema tek od 1970-ih. Bilo bi još više i živih da nisu, kao mnogi iz tog kraja, odlazili u veće gradove ili u inozemstvo u potrazi za boljim životom. Grobovi Sičana, ukratko, posjetitelju kažu tko su ti ljudi bili, gdje pripadaju i posjećuju li ih bližnji. Tako to biva s grobovima, sažimaju osnovne informacije naših života. Ako na grobu stoji samo NN, to sažima tragediju.

      Tko su te tri osobe kojima se ne zna ime? Kako im je posljednja adresa skromni humak u Siču? Migranti, utopili su se u obližnjoj rijeci, reći će vam mještani. Malo je mjesto, malo je groblje, sve se zna. I da ne znate ništa, jasno vam je da te tri osobe tu ne pripadaju. Ukopani su sasvim izdvojeno od ostatka groblja. Tri drvena križa s NN natpisima, zabodena u zemlju na rubu groblja. NN, kao skraćenica od latinskog nomen nescio, doslovno znači: ne znam ime.


      Službeno objašnjenje komunalnog poduzeća koje upravlja grobljem je da je ostavljeno mjesta za još mogućih ukopa onih kojima se ne zna ime. A objašnjenje na koje pomislite kad tamo dođete jest da su ukopani izdvojeno kako se ne bi miješali s mještanima. Ili, kako nam se u telefonskom razgovoru izlanuo načelnik jednog drugog mjesta gdje su također na margini groblja NN migrantski grobovi: “Da nam ne smetaju.”

      Afganistanci pod križem

      Na groblju u Sičama to su jedina tri groba o kojima nitko ne vodi računa. Za nekih pet godina mogao bi im nestati svaki trag. Komunalna poduzeća su dužna ukopati neidentificirana tijela, ali ne i održavati grobove osim ako grob nije od “osobe od posebnog povijesnog i društvenog značaja”, kako zakon nalaže. NN1, NN2 i NN3 su od posebnog značaja samo svojim bližnjima, koji vjerojatno ni ne znaju gdje su. Možda čekaju da im se konačno jave iz zapadne Europe. Možda ih traže. Možda ih oplakuju. No, ako zakopate malo dublje, saznat ćete ponešto o onima koji tu počivaju bez imena.

      U rano i hladno jutro 23. prosinca 2022. policija je pronašla dva tijela na obali Save, koja je u tom području odvaja Hrvatsku od Bosne i Hercegovine. Odvaja Europsku uniju od ostatka Europe. Prema policijskom izvještaju, pronašli su i skupinu od dvadeset stranih državljana koji su tim putem nezakonito ušli u Hrvatsku. Skupini je nedostajala još jedna osoba. Nakon opsežne potrage u popodnevnim satima je pronađeno i treće tijelo. Patolog Opće bolnice u Novoj Gradiški ustanovio je da je smrt za sve troje nastupila u 2.45 u noći. Dvojica su umrla od pothlađenosti, jedan se utopio.

      Kod njih su pronađene iskaznice iz izbjegličkog kampa u Bosni i Hercegovini. Saznali smo da su, prema iskaznicama, sva trojica bila iz Afganistana: Ahmedi Abozari imao je 17 godina, Basir Naseri imao je 21 godinu i Shakir Atoin je imao 25 godina. NN1, NN2 i NN3. Za dvojicu od njih su i drugi iz skupine migranata potvrdili identitet, rekli su nam iz Policijske uprave brodsko-posavske. Zašto su onda pokopani kao NN? Ako se znalo da su iz Afganistana, zašto su pokopani pod križem? Ako ih traže obitelji, kako će ih naći?
      ‘Neka plate za ime na grobu’

      U upravi groblja su bili ljubazni i rekli da pokapaju prema tome kako stoji u dozvoli za ukop koju potpisuje patolog. A stajalo je NN. Patolog je rekao da podatke ispisuje na temelju informacija dobivenih od policije i mrtvozornika. Iz nadležne policije su nam rekli da se osoba sahranjuje po pravilima lokalne uprave. Groblje Siče pripada Općini Nova Kapela, čiji nam je načelnik Ivan Šmit nezadovoljno nabrojao sve troškove koje je njegova općina snosila za te ukope i poručio da ako će netko za to platiti, onda može promijeniti oznaku NN u imena.

      Na niz smo takvih administrativnih nejasnoća naišli istražujući kako nadležna tijela postupaju s tijelima onih koji su stradali pokušavajući ući u Europsku uniju, kao dio Border Graves Investigation koje je proveo tim od osam slobodnih novinara u zemljama na migrantskim rutama, zajedno s britanskim Guardianom i njemačkim Süddeutsche Zeitungom.

      Nema jedinstvene europske baze podataka o broju migranata koji su pokopani u Europi. No tim je uspio potvrditi najmanje 1.931 takav grob u Grčkoj, Italiji, Španjolskoj, Hrvatskoj, Malti, Poljskoj i Francuskoj u zadnjem desetljeću, dakle od 2014. do 2023. Od toga je 1.015 NN grobova. Više od polovice neidentificiranih grobova je, očekivano, u Grčkoj – 551, u Italiji 248 i u Španjolskoj 109. U Hrvatskoj smo utvrdili 59 grobova migranata koji su ukopani posljednjeg desetljeća, od čega ih 45 nije identificirano. Podaci su temeljeni na različitim bazama podataka koje u pojedinačnim zemljama prikupljaju međunarodne organizacije, nevladine udruge, znanstvenici i istraživači, kao i od lokalnih vlasti te terenskim radom.

      Tim novinara je posjetio 24 groblja u Grčkoj, Italiji, Španjolskoj, Hrvatskoj, Poljskoj i Litvi, gdje je ukupno 555 grobova neidentificiranih migranata od 2014. do 2023. To su oni čija su tijela pronađena i pokopana. Međunarodni odbor Crvenog križa procjenjuje da se 87 posto onih koji nestanu na europskim južnim granicama nikad ne pronađe. Za kopnene migrantske rute nema procjena.
      Traže li migrante kao što traže turiste?

      Prosinac 2022. kad su umrla trojica mladih Afganistanaca je bio kišniji nego inače i Sava je nabujala. No ionako je velika i brza. Na tom je području samo tri dana ranije nestalo petero turskih državljana nakon što im se na Savi prevrnuo čamac. Među njima su bili dvogodišnja curica, dvanaestogodišnji dečko i njihovi roditelji. Brat nestalog oca je došao iz Njemačke u Hrvatsku kako bi saznao što se dogodilo s obitelji. Iz dokumentacije koju posjedujemo, vidljivo je da je uz pomoć turkologinje Nine Rajković pokušavao od više policijskih postaja doći do informacija u vezi nestalih. Nije ih dobio ni mjesecima kasnije. Htjeli su prijaviti nestanak, no u policiji im je rečeno da prijavu nema smisla pisati ako osobe nisu prethodno registrirane na području Hrvatske ili Bosne i Hercegovine.

      Na niz smo sličnih primjera naišli baveći se ovom temom. Mladić je došao u Hrvatsku i prijavio policiji i u Hrvatskoj i u Sloveniji da mu se brat utopio u Kupi. No njegov nestanak nije evidentiran u hrvatskoj nacionalnoj bazi nestalih osoba koja je javno dostupna. Policija brata nije kontaktirala nakon što je u narednim danima u Kupi nađeno više neidentificiranih tijela. Afganistanac je šest mjeseci čekao da se tijelo njegova brata, koji se utopio kad su zajedno pokušali prijeći Savu također u prosincu 2022., prebaci iz Hrvatske u Bosnu i Hercegovinu da ga može pokopati. Iako je potvrdio da je riječ o njegovu bratu, proces identifikacije je bio spor i kompliciran.

      Naišli smo i na primjere obitelji koje nemaju nekoga u Europi tko može doputovati i uporno tragati za informacijama, već izdaleka pokušavaju ući u trag bližnjima koji se gube na području Hrvatske i na kraju su obeshrabreno odustali. Puno je pitanja i malo jasnih odgovora na temu nestalih i umrlih migranata na tzv. Balkanskoj ruti, čiji je Hrvatska dio. Ne postoje jasni protokoli i procedure oko toga kome i kako se prijavljuje nestanak. Ne zna se traži li se nestale migrante aktivno, kao što se ljeti traži nestale turiste. Nije jasno koliko je informacija, i kojih, potrebno za identifikaciju.
      Obitelji se nemaju kome javiti

      “Kruženje informacije između institucija i pojedinih odjela mi se čini gotovo nepostojeća. U jednom slučaju mi je trebalo više od dva mjeseca i deseci telefonskih poziva i mailova upućenih na različite adrese, policijske postaje, policijske uprave, bolnice, državno odvjetništvo, samo da potaknem pokretanje identifikacije koja do danas, više od godinu dana kasnije, još nije završena”, kaže Marijana Hameršak s Instituta za etnologiju i folkloristiku u Zagrebu. Ona vodi znanstveni projekt “Europski režim iregulariziranih migracija na periferiji EU” u kojem se prikuplja znanje i podaci o nestalim i umrlim migrantima. Na kraju sve ovisi o susretljivim i posvećenim pojedincima u institucijama, kaže Hamrešak, no oni ne mogu nositi cijeli teret disfunkcionalnog sustava.

      Potrage za nestalim i pokušaji identifikacije umrlih migranata u Hrvatskoj, kao i susjednoj Bosni i Hercegovini, najčešće počivaju na trudu volontera i aktivista, koji poput Marijane tragaju za informacijama u kaotičnoj administraciji jer je obiteljima koje ne poznaju jezik taj zadatak praktički nesavladiv. Tako je Facebook grupa Dead and Missing in the Balkans postala glavno mjesto razmjene fotografija i podataka o nestalima i umrlima između obitelji i aktivista. Ne postoj internetska stranica na engleskom nadležnog Ministarstva unutarnjih poslova na koju se mogu javiti iz Afganistana ili Sirije i raspitati se za sudbinu svojih bližnjih, ostaviti podatke o njima i prijaviti nestanak.


      Nema ni regionalne baze podataka o nestalim i umrlim migrantima na kojoj bi surađivale policije makar iz zemalja među kojima se bilježi najviše prelazaka – iz Bosne i Hercegovine u Hrvatsku. Povjerenica Vijeća Europe za ljudska prava Dunja Mijatović je u razgovoru s našim timom naglasila da je iznimno važno uspostaviti centraliziranu europsku bazu podataka o nestalim i umrlim migrantima. Kad bi takva baza podataka objedinjavala ante-mortem (podaci o osobi koji se prikupljaju od rodbine i poznanika, poput fizičkih karakteristika i opisa odjeće koju je nosila posljednji put, koje je predmete imala uz sebe itd.) i post-mortem (kao DNK uzorak i fotografije) podatke o umrlima, uvelike bi se povećale šanse za identifikaciju.
      Poginuti ili ostvariti san

      “Obitelji imaju pravo znati istinu o tome što se dogodilo njihovim najbližima”, kaže Mijatović. No suradnja policija susjednih zemalja u održavanju vanjske granice EU nepropusnom je učinkovita. Ranije migranti nisu tako često pokušavali prijeći Savu. Znali su da je previše opasna. Dijele informacije jedni s drugima i ne upuštaju se u prelazak takve rijeke u dječjim čamcima na napuhavanje ili u zračnicama kotača. Ako nisu sasvim očajni.

      Hrvatska policija je push-backovima i upotrebom sile – na što već godinama upozoravaju Amnesty International i Human Rights Watch – otežala prelazak drugim, manje opasnim prijelazima duž zelene granice s Bosnom i Hercegovinom. Kako nam je rekao mladi Marokanac u Bosni i Hercegovini, koji je 11 puta pokušao preći u Hrvatsku ali ga je hrvatska policija svaki put vratila: “Imaš dva izbora: poginuti ili ostvariti san.” Koliko ih je poginulo na Balkanskoj ruti u pokušaju ostvarenja sna, teško je utvrditi. Najsveobuhvatniji podaci za zemlje bivše Jugoslavije su oni koje prikupljaju istraživači projekta “Europski režim iregulariziranih migracija na periferiji EU”, i broje 346 stradalih od 2014. do 2023. u Hrvatskoj, Bosni i Hercegovini, Srbiji, Sloveniji, Sjevernoj Makedoniji i na Kosovu.

      ERIM-ova baza pojedinačno navodi svakog stradalog i sadrži onoliko podataka koliko su istraživači mogli prikupiti iz raznih izvora – medija, svjedoka stradanja, od institucija, iz aktivističkih kanala. No brojka je zasigurno bitno veća. Nestanak nekih nije ni evidentiran. Tijela mnogih nikad nisu pronađena. Stara planina između Bugarske i Srbije težak je i nedostupan teren. Tu će na preminule naići samo oni koji su istom sudbinom nagnani na taj put i neće riskirati prijavu. Ako stradaju u minskim poljima zaostalim iza ratova u Hrvatskoj i Bosni i Hercegovini, od tijela im neće ostati mnogo. Najviše je pronađeno tijela utopljenih u rijekama, no nema procjena koliko utopljenih nije nikad pronađeno.
      U Hrvatskoj 45 neidentificiranih

      Hrvatsko Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova nam je dostavilo podatke o stradalim migrantima od 2015., otkad vode evidenciju, do kraja studenog 2023.: ukupno 87 stradalih migranata na području Republike Hrvatske. Ni jedno službeno tijelo u Hrvatskoj, Bosni i Hercegovini i Srbiji ne vodi evidenciju o pokopanim migrantima na tom teritoriju. No za Hrvatsku smo uspjeli doći do podataka, zahvaljujući upitima poslanima na preko 500 adresa gradova, općina i komunalnih poduzeća koja upravljaju grobljima. Prema dobivenim podacima, u Hrvatskoj se na 32 groblja nalazi 59 grobova migranata, koji su ukopani posljednjeg desetljeća, dakle od 2014. do danas. Od toga ih 45 nije identificirano.

      Neki pokopani migranti su ekshumirani i vraćeni obiteljima u zemlju porijekla, premda je to za obitelji zahtjevan i iznimno skup proces. U MUP-u navode da se od 2001. DNK uzorci uzimaju od svih neidentificiranih tijela, a obradu provodi Centar za forenzična ispitivanja, istraživanja i vještačenja Ivan Vučetić. Tražili smo od MUP-a razgovor sa stručnjacima koji rade na identifikaciji migranata, ali nam nije udovoljeno.

      Među NN grobovima u Hrvatskoj je mrtvorođena beba iz Sirije pokopana 2015. u Slavonskom Brodu. Petogodišnja djevojčica koja se utopila u Dunavu i pokopana je 2021. u Dalju. Prošlo ljeto je mladić u brdovitom predjelu na dubrovačkom području umro od iscrpljenosti. Neke je udario vlak. Mnogi su umrli od pothlađenosti. Neki umru jer im nije na vrijeme pružena pomoć. Neki ne vjeruju da im išta više može pomoći pa se ubiju.
      Nerazriješeni gubitak

      Prema zakonu, sahranjuju se najbliže mjestu stradavanja tako da su uglavnom na malim grobljima poput onog u Sičama. Često su, baš kao tamo, njihovi grobovi izdvojeni od ostatka groblja. Ponegdje je, kao u Otoku, netko od mještanki mekog srca dao sebi u zadatak da brine o NN grobu. Negdje je, kao na groblju u Prilišću, NN drveni križ iz 2019. već istrunuo.

      Iza svakog tog NN groba ostaju bližnji koji se nose s teretom neznanja što se dogodilo. Psiholozi to zovu nerazriješenim gubitkom, jer toliko dugo koliko bližnji nemaju potvrdu da su njihovi voljeni mrtvi i ne znaju gdje su im tijela, ne mogu žalovati za njima. Ako nastave sa životom, osjećaju krivnju. I tako su zamrznuti u stanju između očaja i nade. Američka psihologinja dr. Pauline Boss autorica je termina i teorije o nerazriješenom gubitku. “Znati gdje je grob bližnje osobe je jako važno jer pomaže da se oprostite”, rekla je dr. Boss u razgovoru za naš tim.

      Postoji i praktična strana te zamrznutosti: ako osoba nije proglašena mrtvom, ne može se provesti nasljeđivanje, ne može se pristupiti bankovnom računu, ne može se dobiti obiteljska mirovina, partner ili partnerica se ne mogu ponovno vjenčati, komplicira se skrbništvo nad djecom. Mnoge obitelj i u Hrvatskoj i u Bosni i Hercegovini dobro poznaju nerazriješeni gubitak; ratovi u devedesetima ostavili su tisuće nestalih. Obje zemlje imaju posebne zakone o nestalima u tim ratovima i dobro razrađene mehanizme potrage, identifikacije, pohranjivanja podataka i međusobne suradnje. No to se ne primjenjuje na migrante koji se gube i pogibaju među tisućama koji se kreću Balkanskom rutom.
      Uređeni koridor – nula mrtvih

      Hrvatska je postala važna točka ulaska u Europsku uniju nakon što je Mađarska zatvorila granice u rujnu 2015. Od tada pa do ožujka 2016. preko hrvatske dionice Balkanskog koridora – dakle, međudržavnog, organiziranog puta – prema procjenama, prošlo je oko 660.000 izbjeglica. Taj koridor im je omogućio da od Grčke pa do zapadne Europe dođu u dva ili tri dana. I dolazili su sigurno. Od tih stotina tisuća ljudi u pokretu, hrvatski MUP ne bilježi niti jednu smrt 2015. i 2016. Koridor je i uspostavljen da bi se spriječila stradavanja nakon što je veći broj izbjeglica u proljeće 2015. poginuo na željezničkoj pruzi u Makedoniji.

      No sa sklapanjem europsko-turskog sporazuma o izbjeglicama u ožujku 2016. godine, koridor je zatvoren. EU se obavezala izdašno financirati Tursku da izbjeglice drži na svom teritoriju kako ne bi dolazili u Europsku uniju. I tako je migrantima ostala pogibeljna Balkanska ruta. Mnogi njom idu. Samo u deset mjeseci 2023. hrvatska je policija evidentirala 62.452 postupanja vezano za nezakonite prelaske granice.

      I Ured pučke pravobraniteljice u Hrvatskoj i povjerenica Vijeća Europe za ljudska prava upozoravaju na isto: granične i migracijske politike utječu na povećanje rizika od nestajanja migranata. I da je potrebno da se u EU uspostave legalni i sigurni putevi migracija. No, EU očekuje od Hrvatske da štiti zajedničku vanjsku granicu. I Hrvatska to zdušno radi. Takvu praksu ministar Davor Božinović naziva “obeshrabrivanjem” migranata da uđu u Hrvatsku.
      ‘Obeshrabreni’ pod vlak

      Rezultat takve prakse je, primjerice, smrt Madine Hussiny. Šestogodišnju afganistansku djevojčicu je ubio vlak nakon što je njenu obitelj hrvatska policija “obeshrabrila” i usred noći 2017. potjerala nazad u Srbiju uz uputu da prate tračnice. Europski sud za ljudska prava u studenom 2021. je presudio da je Hrvatska odgovorna za Madininu smrt. U svjedočanstvima koja smo čuli, kao i u mnogim izvještajima nevladinih organizacija, migranti opisuju da im je hrvatska policija na granici naredila da pregaze ili preplivaju rijeku kako bi se vratili u Bosnu ili Srbiju, da se penju preko stijena, idu kroz šumu, nekad i svučeni dogola i ne znajući put jer im policija u pravilu oduzme mobitele.

      Prema podacima koje prikuplja Dansko vijeće za izbjeglice, od početka 2020. do kraja 2022. najmanje je 30.000 ljudi prisilno vraćeno iz Hrvatske u Bosnu i Hercegovinu. Među njima je bio i Afganistanac Arat Semiullah. U studenom 2022. je namjeravao prijeći Savu i ući iz Bosne u Hrvatsku. Utopio se. Imao je 20 godina. Pokopan je na pravoslavnom groblju u Banja Luci. Njegova obitelj u Afganistanu nije znala što mu se dogodilo. Dan ranije je poslao mami fotografiju na kojoj je svježe ošišan za ulazak u Europsku uniju. I onda se prestao javljati.


      Majka je molila nećaka Paymana Sediqija, koji živi u Njemačkoj, da ga pokuša pronaći. Payman je stupio u kontakt s aktivistom Nihadom Suljićem, koji u Bosni i Hercegovini samostalno pomaže obiteljima da doznaju što je s njihovim bližnjima. Tjednima su pokušavali doći do informacija. Payman je otputovao u Bosnu i uspio pronaći tijelo rođaka zahvaljujući susretljivosti policajke koja mu je pokazala forenzičke fotografije. Aratova mama je telefonski potvrdila da je to njezin sin.
      U Europi sahranili snove

      Na Aratovoj osmrtnici objavljenoj u Bosni i Hercegovini piše da je “hrvatska policija vatrenim oružjem potopila čamac te se on tragično utopio”. Uz pomoć muslimanske zajednice, a na želju obitelji, uspjeli su tijelo prebaciti iz Banja Luke na muslimansko groblje u Kamičanima. Htjeli su ga pokopati u Afganistanu, ali im je bilo previše skupo i birokratski komplicirano. U rujnu 2023. susreli smo se s Nihadom i Paymanom kad je Aratu postavljen velik kameni nadgrobni spomenik. Na njemu piše: “U pokušaju dolaska do Europe utopio se u rijeci Savi.”

      Payman nam je ispričao da je Arat prelazio Savu u skupini migranata. Dio njih je uspio doći do hrvatske obale, no onda je hrvatska policija pucala u gumeni čamac u kojem je bio Arat. Čamac se potopio i Arat se utopio. Tako je Paymanu ispričao preživjeli koji je prešao na hrvatsku obalu Save. Payman kaže da je Aratova obitelj u velikoj boli, ali da makar znaju gdje im je sin i da je pokopan po religijskim običajima. Paymanu je važno da na grobu piše da je Arat stradao kao migrant.

      “Svakodnevno u Europi umiru ljudi koji bježe iz zemalja u kojima im nema života. U Europi se sahranjuju njihovi snovi. Nikoga nije briga za njih, čak ni kad europski policajci pucaju na njih”, kaže Payman. Zna o kakvim snovima govori; i sam je ilegalno došao u Njemačku sa 16 godina. Kaže da je imao sreće. Nihad se zalaže da se i drugi grobovi migranata u Bosni i Hercegovini trajno obilježe. Vodi nas na groblje u Zvorniku gdje je pokopano 17 NN migranata. Kaže kako za neke od njih ima informaciju da su imali pasoš sa sobom kad su pronađeni.
      ‘Ove ljude nije ubila rijeka’

      S groblja se vidi Drina, koja dijeli Srbiju od Bosne i u kojoj mnogi izgube život pokušavajući je preći. Samo je ove godine u Drini pronađeno tridesetak tijela. Nihad kaže da imaju sreće ako ih rijeka izbaci na bosansku stranu jer se u Srbiji često ne radi ni obdukcija niti uzimaju DNK uzorci. To su nam potvrdili i aktivisti iz Srbije. U tom slučaju su i u smrti sasvim izgubljeni za svoje obitelji. Zemljani NN grobovi u Zvorniku su zarasli i nisu omeđeni, tako da ne znate gazite li po njima.

      Nihad je uspio uvjeriti Grad Zvornik da drvena obilježja zamijene crnim kamenom. Važno mu je da su pokopani dostojanstveno, ali mu je još važnije da ostanu svjedočiti. “Želja mi je da i za sto godina ovi grobovi budu spomenici srama EU. Jer, nije ove ljude ubila rijeka, nego granični režim EU”, kaže Nihad.



    • An obscure island grave: fate of deadly EU migration route’s youngest victim

      Case of #Alhassane_Bangoura in #Lanzarote highlights Europe-wide failure as authorities struggle to cope with scale of deaths

      Stretching less than a metre in length and covered in the ochre-coloured soil that dots the Canary island of Lanzarote, large stones encircle the tiny mound. There is no tombstone or plaque; nothing official to signal that this is the final resting site of the infant believed to be the youngest victim of one of the world’s deadliest migration routes.

      Instead, two bouquets of plastic daisies adorn the grave, along with a granite bowl engraved with his name, Alhassane Bangoura, hinting at the impact his story had on many across the island.

      His mother, originally from Guinea, was among three pregnant women who joined 40 others in an inflatable raft that left Morocco in early January 2020. After running out of fuel, the flimsy raft was left to the mercy of Atlantic currents for three days.

      “They were driven by desperation,” said Mamadou Sy, a municipal councillor for the Socialist party in Lanzarote. “Nobody would get into one of these vessels if they had even a little bit of hope in their own country. Nobody would do it.”

      So far this year, a record 35,410 migrants and refugees have arrived on the shores of the Canary Islands – a 135% increase over last year. More than 11,000 of them landed at the tiny island of El Hierro, home to just 9,000 people.

      The surge in those risking the perilous route has transformed the archipelago into a microcosm of the wider strain playing out across the EU as authorities struggle to deal with the bodies of those that die on their way. A Guardian investigation in collaboration with a consortium of reporters has found that refugees and migrants are being buried in unmarked graves across the EU at a scale that is unprecedented outside of war.

      In September, the mayor of Mogán, a municipality on the island of Gran Canaria, gave voice to the tensions that have at times surfaced as officials across the EU confront this issue, announcing she would no longer use her budget to cover the cost of burying refugees and migrants who are found along the shores that buttress the municipality.

      “When they die on the high seas, it is the responsibility of the state,” Onalia Bueno told reporters, in rejection of a Spanish law that requires municipalities to foot the bills for people who die within their jurisdiction and who are either unidentified or whose families cannot cover the costs.

      At the Teguise municipal cemetery on the island of Lanzarote, more than 25 unmarked graves sit among a plot containing about 60 graves in total. It was here that baby Alhassane was buried. His mother had delivered him as the rickety vessel pitched against the fierce Atlantic swells; those onboard later told media they never heard the baby cry.

      His body was cold when the vessel was rescued, an emergency services spokesperson said. He was taken to the nearest hospital but was declared dead on arrival. His body was taken to judicial authorities as is the standard practice in Spain for migrants and refugees who perish at sea or on arrival.

      Alhassane’s mother, who was unconscious when she was rescued, was later sent to Gran Canaria, about 200km (125 miles) away, where an NGO had agreed to take her into its care. But the Spanish judicial system had yet to release her son’s body – a process that can take up to eight months in Lanzarote.

      The funeral took place on 25 January. “She wasn’t able to attend the funeral,” said Laetitia Marthe, who was among those who unsuccessfully battled for Alhassane’s mother to be allowed to attend. “Basically they’re treated like numbers.”

      Instead, Marthe was among the handful of people who attended the funeral in her name.

      Judicial officials had liaised with the mother to check the baby’s name, said Eugenio Robayna Díaz, the municipal councillor responsible for cemeteries in the city of Teguise. But he did not know why the name had not made it on to the grave.

      Julie Campagne, an anthropologist based in Lanzarote, called for the baby’s grave to be marked with a plaque. “We’re witnessing the process of forgetting in real time. And this loss of memory comes with a shirking of our responsibility for what is happening.”

      Generally speaking, all over the world, there is always a small fraction of people who die and are never identified, she added. “But that is not what is happening here. This is happening for specific reasons. This is happening because of the policy decisions of our governments.”

      While Alhassane’s mother was not able to attend the funeral, what did eventually make it to his gravesite was a smooth stone, painted by her in yellow and red and brought there by those travelling from Gran Canaria shortly after the burial. Written on the stone was a message for her son.

      More than three years of rain has washed away much of what was there but Marthe copied down the message, hoping to one day add it to a formal marker of the site. “I will miss you a lot my baby,” it reads. “I love you.”



  • Rohingya child challenges Croatia and Slovenia over violent pushbacks. Unaccompanied minor files complaints at UN Child Rights Committee

    A Rohingya child refugee faced repeated beatings by Croatian border officers, had his belongings burnt and his shoes confiscated before numerous forced expulsions, including a “chain” pushback from Slovenia. U.F. submitted complaints against Croatia and Slovenia at the UN Child Rights Committee for multiple violations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). These are the first complaints of their kind against these two states.


    U.F. was 8 years old when he fled a military attack on his village and became separated from his family. After many years searching for protection, he spent over a year in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) from 2020 to 2021 having to survive without state support or medical care, sleeping rough in forests and squatting in abandoned buildings. During this time, he was pushed back five times from Croatia to BiH and subjected to consistent, choreographed violence. In Slovenia he was subjected to a “chain” pushback, by which he was forcibly returned first to Croatia by Slovenian authorities and then onwards by Croatian authorities to BiH in a coordinated operation.

    National, EU, and international law oblige Croatia and Slovenia to act in a child’s best interests and prioritize the identification of their age during their handling by border officers. The applicant’s complaints argue violations of the CRC, in relation to his expulsions and ill-treatment, and states’ failure to assess his age or apply any of the relevant safeguards under articles 3, 8, 20(1), and 37 CRC. U.F. corroborated his accounts with a range of digital evidence. The complaints were filed against Croatia and Slovenia with the support of ECCHR and Blindspots. The litigation forms part of the Advancing Child Rights Strategic Litigation project (ACRiSL). ACRiSL comes under the auspices of the Global Campus of Human Rights – Right Livelihood cooperation.


    In Croatia, pushbacks form part of a designed and systematic state policy, which has been fully documented by human rights institutions, NGOs and the media. Slovenia’s pushbacks have been implemented since 2018 through a readmission agreement which authorizes hasty expulsions with complete disregard for a person’s protection needs, a child’s identity or their best interests. In 2020 and 2021 alone, 13.700 people were pushed back from Slovenia in this manner.

    The applicant is represented by ECCHR partner lawyer, Carsten Gericke. These complaints are the latest in a series of legal steps to address systematic human rights violation at the EU’s external borders.



    #vidéo #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Croatie #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #frontières #violence #MNA #mineurs_non_accompagnés #violence #vidéo #film_d'animation #frontière_sud-alpine #push-backs #refoulements #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #pattern #vol #Myanmar #enfants #enfance #réfugiés_rohingya #enfermement #refoulements_en_chaîne #the_game #frontière_sud-alpine

  • Au Royaume-Uni, bras de fer sur l’immigration entre Rishi Sunak et l’aile droite des tories

    Au Royaume-Uni, bras de fer sur l’immigration entre Rishi Sunak et l’aile droite des tories
    Par Cécile Ducourtieux(Londres, correspondante)
    L’un des quelques succès de Rishi Sunak a été, jusqu’à présent, d’avoir réussi à apaiser les dissensions au sein du Parti conservateur britannique, qui ont conduit à l’éviction de trois premiers ministres en trois ans : Theresa May, Boris Johnson et Liz Truss. Mais cette fragile unité est de nouveau menacée, alors que le dirigeant tente de relancer sa stratégie migratoire. Cette dernière est contestée par la droite du parti, qui ne la trouve pas assez radicale, certains avançant des raisons de fond, d’autres semblant mus par d’évidentes ambitions personnelles.
    Jeudi 7 décembre, M. Sunak a défendu un nouveau projet de loi d’urgence. Baptisé « sûreté du Rwanda », il vise à remettre sur les rails l’accord de transfert de demandeurs d’asile arrivés au Royaume-Uni en « small boats » à travers la Manche, vers le Rwanda. Cet accord a été déclaré illégal le 15 novembre par la Cour suprême britannique.La plus haute juridiction du pays a considéré que ce partenariat, signé au printemps 2022 entre Londres et Kigali mais encore jamais mis en œuvre à cause de multiples recours juridiques, présentait un risque « réel » de refoulement des demandeurs d’asile vers leur pays d’origine par les autorités rwandaises, même si leur demande de protection était justifiée. Or, le Royaume-Uni adhère au principe du non-refoulement, qui est inscrit dans sa loi nationale et dans des traités internationaux dont le pays est signataire : la convention des Nations unies sur les réfugiés et la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme.
    Le projet de loi d’urgence dispose que pour le Parlement britannique, le Rwanda est sûr au regard de l’asile, c’est-à-dire que les demandeurs d’asile et réfugiés y sont traités dans le respect des conventions internationales. Selon le texte, personne n’est en droit de contester ce caractère « sûr » du pays de l’Afrique des Grands Lacs : ni les politiques, ni les fonctionnaires, ni les juges britanniques… Il contredit donc un fait pourtant établi par la Cour suprême – le risque de refoulement – afin de neutraliser les recours en justice pour éviter les déportations. Le texte complète un traité signé mardi 5 décembre entre James Cleverly, le ministre de l’intérieur britannique, et le chef de la diplomatie rwandaise, Vincent Biruta, dans lequel le Rwanda s’engage à ne refouler aucun des demandeurs d’asile arrivés depuis le Royaume-Uni. Soit ils recevront un statut de réfugiés au Rwanda, soit ils obtiendront un droit de séjour dans le pays. Ce traité et le projet de loi Rwanda « répondent point par point à la décision de la Cour suprême », a assuré Rishi Sunak, lors d’une conférence de presse, jeudi. « J’ai confiance dans le fait que le texte de loi sera efficace et qu’il est la seule approche possible », a ajouté le premier ministre.
    Ces arguments n’ont pas convaincu les élus de l’aile droite des Tories, qui dénoncent encore les possibles recours de migrants auprès de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH) et craignent que le partenariat Rwanda ne puisse toujours pas être mis en œuvre, malgré la promesse répétée des conservateurs de « stopper » les arrivées en small boats. Menés par l’ex-ministre de l’intérieur Suella Braverman, ces élus plaident depuis des mois pour un abandon de la CEDH par le Royaume-Uni, une option que M. Sunak a, jusqu’à présent, écartée. De fait, elle ferait probablement beaucoup de mal à la réputation du pays, le plaçant à côté d’Etats « parias », comme la Russie.
    Mercredi, Robert Jenrick, le secrétaire d’Etat à la migration, jusqu’à présent un allié de M. Sunak, a démissionné au motif que le projet de loi « Rwanda » ne serait pas assez radical, aggravant la crise interne au sein des Tories. Jeudi matin, son ex-collègue, Suella Braverman, a attisé les dissensions en mettant en garde M. Sunak contre un « effondrement » du parti aux prochaines élections générales si son projet de loi n’est pas efficace. Depuis plusieurs semaines, elle défie ouvertement l’autorité du premier ministre, après l’avoir qualifié de « faible » et l’avoir accusé de « trahison » sur les sujets migratoires. Beaucoup la soupçonnent de convoiter la tête du parti et de comploter pour le mettre en échec.
    Le premier ministre voudrait que le projet soit adopté le plus vite possible à Westminster, l’espoir étant de pouvoir envoyer des demandeurs d’asile vers le Rwanda au printemps, avant les élections générales. Mais les prochains votes sur le texte Rwanda à la Chambre des communes risquent de tourner aux votes de confiance sur sa capacité de M. Sunak à contrôler son parti. Le moment pour lui est d’autant plus dangereux que les élus tories n’ont plus grand-chose à perdre : le Parti conservateur accuse un retard d’au moins 20 points dans les sondages sur les travaillistes et aucune des tentatives de M. Sunak pour relancer son mandat - la conférence annuelle des Tories en octobre, un nouveau programme législatif et un nouveau budget en novembre…- n’a permis de renverser la tendance.


  • #Derman_Tamimou , décédé le 06.02.2019

    Cadavere di un migrante trovato sulla strada del Monginevro : voleva andare in Francia

    Un uomo di 29 anni proveniente dal Togo sepolto dalla neve.

    ll cadavere di un migrante di 29 anni, proveniente dal Togo, è stato ritrovato questa mattina in mezzo alla strada nazionale 94 del colle del Monginevro. Da quanto si apprende da fonti italiane, sul posto è presente la polizia francese. Le abbondanti nevicate degli scorsi giorni e il freddo intenso hanno complicato ulteriormente l’attraversamento della frontiera per i migranti. Si tratta del primo cadavere trovato quest’anno sul confine italo-francese dell’alta Val Susa dopo che l’anno scorso erano stati rinvenuti tre corpi (https://torino.repubblica.it/cronaca/2018/05/25/news/bardonecchia_il_corpo_di_un_migrante_affiora_tra_neve_e_detriti_su).

    #décès #mort #mourir_aux_frontières #Tamimou
    #frontière_sud-alpine #asile #migrations #réfugiés #morts_aux_frontières #Hautes-Alpes #mourir_aux_frontières #frontières #Italie #France #Briançonnais #Montgenèvre #La_Vachette


    ajouté au fil de discussion sur les morts à la frontière des Hautes-Alpes :

    lui-même ajouté à la métaliste sur les morts aux frontières alpines :

    • Retrouvé inanimé le long de la RN 94, le jeune migrant décède

      Un homme d’une vingtaine d’années a été découvert en arrêt cardio-respiratoire, cette nuit peu avant 3 heures du matin, sur la #RN_94, à #Val-des-Près. La police aux frontières, qui patrouillait à proximité, a vu un chauffeur routier arrêté en pleine voie, près de l’aire de chaînage. Celui-ci tentait de porter secours au jeune migrant, inanimé et en hypothermie. La victime a été prise en charge par les sapeurs-pompiers et un médecin du Samu. L’homme a ensuite été transporté à l’hôpital de Briançon, où il a été déclaré mort.

      Une enquête a été ouverte pour « homicide involontaire et mise en danger de la vie d’autrui ».


    • Hautes-Alpes : un jeune migrant retrouvé mort au bord d’une route

      Il a été découvert près d’une aire de chaînage en #hypothermie et en arrêt cardio-respiratoire.

      Un migrant âgé d’une vingtaine d’années a été retrouvé mort dans la nuit de mercredi à ce jeudi dans les Hautes-Alpes au bord d’une route nationale reliant la frontière italienne à Briançon, a-t-on appris ce jeudi de source proche du dossier.

      Le jeune homme a été découvert inconscient jeudi vers 3h du matin par un chauffeur routier à Val-des-Près, une petite commune située à la sortie de Briançon. Il gisait près d’une aire de chaînage nichée en bordure de la RN94 qui mène à Montgenèvre, près de la frontière italienne.

      « Il n’a pas été renversé par un véhicule », a précisé une source proche du dossier, confirmant une information du Dauphiné Libéré.

      C’est une patrouille de la Police aux frontières (PAF) qui a prévenu les pompiers en découvrant le chauffeur routier tentant de porter secours à la victime.

      Souffrant d’hypothermie et en arrêt cardio-respiratoire, le jeune homme a été pris en charge par les pompiers et un médecin du Samu, mais leurs tentatives pour le réanimer ont été vaines. Il a été déclaré mort à son arrivée à l’hôpital de Briançon.

      Une enquête pour « homicide involontaire et mise en danger de la vie d’autrui » a été ouverte par le parquet de Gap. Elle a été confiée à la brigade de recherches de Briançon et à la gendarmerie de Saint Chaffrey. L’identité et la nationalité du jeune migrant n’ont pas été communiquées.
      « Nous craignons d’autres disparitions »

      En mai 2018, le parquet de Gap avait également ouvert une enquête pour identifier et connaître les circonstances du décès d’un jeune homme noir dont le corps avait été découvert par des promeneurs près de Montgenèvre.

      En décembre, plusieurs associations caritatives, qui dénoncent « l’insuffisance de prise en charge » des migrants qui tentent de franchir la frontière franco-italienne vers Briançon, avaient dit leur crainte de nouveaux morts cet hiver.

      « Plus de trente personnes ont dû être secourues depuis l’arrivée du froid, il y a un mois, et nous craignons des disparitions », avait affirmé l’association briançonnaise Tous Migrants dans un communiqué commun avec Amnesty, la Cimade, Médecins du monde, Médecins sans frontières, le Secours catholique et l’Anafé.


      Commentaire sur twitter :

      Le corps d’un jeune migrant mort de froid sur un bord de route retrouvé par la police aux frontières – celle-là même à laquelle il essayait d’échapper. Celle-là même dont la traque aux grands voyageurs accule ces derniers à risquer leur vie.


      Deux des compagnons d’infortune de #Derman_Tamimou, décédé jeudi, se sont vu délivrer des OQTF après avoir témoigné à la BRI sur la difficulté à obtenir du secours cette nuit là.
      Ils nous ont raconté les secours qui n’arrivent pas, les tentatives pour arrêter les voitures , les appels à l’aide le temps qui passe une heure deux heures à attendre.


    • Hautes-Alpes : l’autopsie du migrant découvert jeudi conclut à une probable mort par hypothermie

      L’autopsie du jeune migrant togolais, découvert inanimé dans la nuit de mercredi à jeudi sur le bord de la RN 94 à Val-des-Prés (Hautes-Alpes), a conclut "à l’absence de lésion traumatique externe et à une probable mort par hypothermie", selon le parquet de Gap. Le jeune homme âgé de 28 ans n’a pu atteindre Briançon, après avoir traversé la frontière entre la France et l’Italie à pied.

      Le procureur de la République de Gap a communiqué les conclusions de l’autopsie du jeune migrant de 28 ans, découvert ce jeudi 7 février le long de la route nationale 94 à Val-des-Prés, entre Montgenèvre et Briançon.
      Absence de lésion traumatique externe et à une probable mort par hypothermie

      "Dans le cadre de l’enquête recherchant les causes et les circonstances du décès du migrant décédé le 7 février 2019, une autopsie a été pratiquée ce jour par l’institut médico légal de Grenoble qui conclut à l’absence de lésion traumatique externe et à une probable mort par hypothermie", détaille Raphaël Balland, dans son communiqué.

      "Le parquet de Gap a levé l’obstacle médico légal et le corps a été rapatrié à Briançon, le temps de confirmer l’identité du défunt et de tenter de contacter des membres de sa famille", poursuit le magistrat de Gap.
      Découvert par un chauffeur routier vers 2 h 30 du matin

      Le corps du ressortissant togolais de 28 ans avait été repéré, jeudi, vers 2 h 30 du matin par un chauffeur routier italien qui circulait sur la RN94. Le jeune homme gisait inanimé sur un chemin forestier qui longe le torrent des Vallons, juste à côté de l’aire de chaînage de La Vachette, sur la commune de Val-des-Prés.

      “A compter de 2 h 10, les secours et les forces de l’ordre étaient informés de la présence d’un groupe de présumés migrants qui était en difficulté entre Clavière (Italie) et Briançon. Des policiers de la police aux frontières (PAF) partaient alors en patrouille pour tenter de les localiser et retrouvaient vers 3 heures à Val-des-Prés, au bord de la RN94, un homme de type africain inconscient auprès duquel s’était arrêté un chauffeur routier italien”, relatait hier Raphaël Balland.

      En arrêt cardio-respiratoire, inanimée, en hypothermie, la victime a été massée sur place. Mais les soins prodigués par le médecin du Samu et les sapeurs-pompiers n’ont pas permis de la ranimer. Le décès du jeune migrant a été officiellement constaté à 4 heures du matin ce jeudi au centre hospitalier des Escartons de Briançon, où il avait été transporté en ambulance.
      Parti avec un groupe de Clavière, en Italie

      "Les premiers éléments d’identification du jeune homme décédé permettent de s’orienter vers un Togolais âgé de 28 ans ayant précédemment résidé en Italie, détaillait encore Raphaël Balland hier soir. Selon des témoignages recueillis auprès d’autres migrants, il serait parti à pied de Clavière avec un groupe d’une dizaine d’hommes pour traverser la frontière pendant la nuit. Présentant des signes de grande fatigue, il était déposé auprès de la N94 par certains de ses compagnons de route qui semblent avoir été à l’origine de l’appel des secours."

      Une enquête a été ouverte pour "homicide involontaire et non-assistance à personne en péril" et confiée à la brigade de recherche de gendarmerie de Briançon, qui "poursuit ses investigations" selon le procureur.


      Commentaire de Nos montagnes ne deviendront pas un cimetière :

      Derman Tamimou n’est pas mort de froid il est mort de cette barbarie qui dresse des frontières , des murs infranchissables #ouvronslesfrontières l’autopsie du migrant découvert jeudi conclut à une probable mort par hypothermie


    • Briançon : ils ont rendu hommage au jeune migrant décédé

      Il a été retrouvé mort au bord d’une route nationale, entre Montgenèvre et Briançon, dans la nuit de mercredi à jeudi. Pour que personne n’oublie le jeune migrant togolais, et afin de dénoncer la politique d’immigration, plusieurs associations et collectifs ont appelé à se réunir, ce samedi après-midi, au Champ de Mars, à Briançon.

      Plusieurs ONG nationales, Amnesty International, la Cimade, Médecins sans frontières, Médecins du monde, le Secours catholique, l’Association nationale d’assistance aux frontières pour les étrangers, ont voulu attirer l’attention sur ce nouveau drame.

      Avec des associations et collectifs locaux, Tous Migrants, Refuges solidaires, la paroisse de Briançon, la Mappemonde et la MJC, l’Association nationale des villes et territoires accueillants... tous se sont réunis au Champ de Mars ce samedi après-midi pour rappeler « qu’il est inacceptable qu’un jeune homme meure au bord de la route dans ces conditions », explique l’un des soutiens de Tous migrants.

      « Ce ne sont pas des pro ou anti-migrants, juste des personnes qui ont envie de protéger d’autres êtres humains »

      Dans la nuit de mercredi à jeudi, vers 2h30, un ressortissant togolais de 28 ans a été repéré par un chauffeur routier italien qui circulait sur la RN 94. La victime gisait inanimée, à côté de l’aire de chaînage de La Vachette, sur la commune de Val-des-Prés. Le décès a été officiellement constaté à 4 heures du matin au centre hospitalier des Escartons où il avait été transporté.


      #hommage #commémoration

    • Cerca di varcare confine: giovane migrante muore assiderato tra l’Italia e la Francia

      L’immigrato, originario del Togo, aveva 29 anni: è morto assiderato sul colle Monginevro
      Il cadavere di un migrante di 29 anni è stato ritrovato questa mattina in mezzo alla strada nazionale N94 del colle del Monginevro (che collega Piemonte e Alta Savoia), mentre cercava di varcare il confine tra l’Italia e la Francia.

      L’extracomunitario, originario del Togo, è morto assiderato per la neve e le bassissime temperature.

      A notarlo, sepolto dalla neve ai margini della strada, intorno alle tre di note, sarebbe stato un camionista. La Procura ha aperto un fascicolo per «omicidio involontario».

      Le abbondanti nevicate dei giorni scorsi e il freddo rendono ancora più inaccessibili sentieri e stradine della zona e hanno complicato ulteriormente l’attraversamento della frontiera per i migranti.

      Da quanto si apprende da fonti italiane, sul posto è presente la polizia francese: si tratta del primo cadavere trovato quest’anno sul confine italo-francese dell’alta Val Susa dopo che l’anno scorso erano stati rinvenuti tre corpi nelle medesima località di frontiera, un passaggio molto battuto dai migranti.


    • Man trying to enter France from Italy dies of hypothermia

      Death of Derman Tamimou from Togo comes as Matteo Salvini ramps up border row.

      French magistrates have opened an inquiry into “involuntary manslaughter” after a man trying to cross into France from Italy died of hypothermia.

      A lorry driver found Derman Tamimou on Thursday morning unconscious on the side of a highway that links Hautes-Alpes with the northern Italian region of Piedmont. Tamimou, 29, from Togo, was taken to hospital in Briançon, but it is unclear whether he died there or was already dead at the scene.

      “The second hypothesis is the most likely,” said Paolo Narcisi, president of the charity Rainbow for Africa. “He was probably among a group of 21 who left the evening before, despite all the warnings given to them by us and Red Cross volunteers about how dangerous the crossing is.”

      Tamimou was found between Briançon and Montgenèvre, an Alpine village about 6 miles from the border.

      Narcisi said his charity was working with colleagues in France to try and establish whether the rest of the group arrived safely. He said they most likely took a train to Oulx, one stop before the town of Bardonecchia, before travelling by bus to Claviere, the last Italian town before the border. From there, they began the mountain crossing into France.

      “Every night is the same … we warn people not to go as it’s very dangerous, especially in winter, the snow is high and it’s extremely cold,” Narcisi said.

      Tamimou is the first person known to have died while attempting the journey this winter. Three people died last year as they tried to reach France via the Col de l’Échelle mountain pass.

      The movement of people across the border has been causing conflict between Italy and France since early 2011.

      Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister, on Thursday accused France of sending more than 60,000 people, including women and children, back to Italy. He also accused French border police of holding up Italian trains with lengthy onboard immigration checks.

      Last year, seven Italian charities accused French border police of falsifying the birth dates of children travelling alone in an attempt to pass them off as adults and return them to Italy.

      While it is illegal to send back minors, France is not breaking the law by returning people whose first EU landing point was Italy.

      “Some of the returns are illegal, such as children or people who hold Italian permits,” said Narcisi. “But there are also those who are legally sent back due to the Dublin agreement. So there is little to protest about – we need to work to change the Dublin agreement instead of arguing.”


    • Message posté sur la page Facebook de Chez Jésus, 10.02.2019 :

      Un altro morto.
      Un’altra persona uccisa dalla frontiera e dai suoi sorvegliatori.
      Un altro cadavere, che va ad aggiungersi a quelli delle migliaia di persone che hanno perso la vita al largo delle coste italiane, sui treni tra Ventimiglia e Menton, sui sentieri fra le Alpi che conducono in Francia.

      Tamimou Derman, 28 anni, originario del Togo. Questo è tutto quello che sappiamo per ora del giovanissimo corpo trovato steso al lato della strada tra Claviere e Briancon. Tra Italia e Francia. È il quarto cadavere ritrovato tra queste montagne da quando la Francia ha chiuso le frontiere con l’Italia, nel 2015. Da quando la polizia passa al setaccio ogni pullman, ogni treno e ogni macchina alla ricerca sfrenata di stranieri. E quelli con una carnagione un po’ più scura, quelli con un accento un po’ diverso o uno zaino che sembra da viaggiatore, vengono fatti scendere, e controllati. Se non hai quel pezzo di carta considerato «valido», vieni rimandato in Italia. Spesso dopo minacce, maltrattamenti o furti da parte della polizia di frontiera.

      Giovedì è stato trovato un altro morto. Un’altra persona uccisa dal controllo frontaliero, un’altra vita spezzata da quelle divise che pattugliano questa linea tracciata su una mappa chiamata frontiera, e dai politicanti schifosi che la vogliono protetta.
      Un omicidio di stato, l’ennesimo.
      Perché non è la neve, il freddo o la fatica a uccidere le persone tra queste montagne. I colpevoli sono ben altri. Sono gli sbirri, che ogni giorno cercano di impedire a decine di persone di perseguire il viaggio per autodeterminarsi la loro vita. Sono gli stati, e i loro governi, che di fatto sono i veri mandanti e i reali motivi dell’esistenza stessa dei confini.

      Un altro cadavere. Il quarto, dopo blessing, mamadu e un altro ragazzo mai identificato.
      Rabbia e dolore si mischiano all’odio. Dolore per un altro morto, per un’altra fine ingiusta. Rabbia e odio per coloro che sono le vere cause di questa morte: le frontiere, le varie polizie nazionali che le proteggono, e gli stati e i politici che le creano.
      Contro tutti gli stati, contro tutti i confini, per la libertà di tutti e tutte di scegliere su che pezzo di terra vivere!

      Abbattiamo le frontiere, organizziamoci insieme!

      Un autre mort. Une autre personne tuée par la frontière et ses gardes. Un autre cadavre, qui s’ajoute aux milliers de personnes mortes au large des côtes italiennes, sous des trains entre Vintimille et Menton, sur les chemins alpins qui mènent en France.
      Derman Tamimou, 28 ans, originaire du Togo. C’est tout ce qu’on sait pour le moment du très jeune corps retrouvé allongé sur le bord de la route vers Briançon entre l’Italie et la France. C’est le 4e corps trouvé dans cette vallée depuis que la France a fermé ses frontières avec l’Italie en 2015. Depuis que la police contrôle chaque bus, chaque train, chaque voiture, à la recherche acharnée d’étrangers. Et celleux qui ont la peau plus foncée, celleux qui ont un accent un peu différent, ou se trimballent un sac à dos de voyage, on les fait descendre et on les contrôle. Si tu n’as pas les papiers qu’ils considèrent valides, tu es ramené directement en Italie. Souvent, tu es victime de menaces et de vols de la part de la PAF (police aux frontières).
      Le 7 février 2019, un corps a été retrouvé. Une autre personne tuée par le contrôle frontalier. Une autre vie brisée par ces uniformes qui patrouillent autour d’une ligne tracée sur une carte, appelée frontière. Tuée par des politiciens dégueulasses qui veulent protéger cette frontière. Encore un homicide d’État. Parce que ce n’est pas la neige, ni le froid, ni la fatigue qui a tué des personnes dans ces montagnes. Les coupables sont tout autres. Ce sont les flics, qui essaient tous les jours d’empêcher des dizaines de personnes de poursuivre leur voyage pour l’autodétermination de leur vie.
      Ce sont les États et leurs gouvernements qui sont les vrais responsables et les vraies raisons de l’existence même des frontières. Un autre corps, le quatrième après Blessing, Mamadou, et Ibrahim. Rage et douleur se mêlent à la haine. Douleur pour une autre mort, pour une autre fin injuste. Rage et haine envers les véritables coupables de cette mort : les frontières, les différentes polices nationales qui les protègent, les États et les politiques qui les créent.
      Contre tous les États, contre toutes les frontières, pour la liberté de toutes et tous de choisir sur quel bout de terre vivre.
      Abattons les frontières, organisons-nous ensemble !


    • Immigration. Dans les Hautes-Alpes, la chasse aux étrangers fait un mort

      Une enquête a été ouverte après le décès, jeudi, à proximité de Briançon, d’un jeune exilé qui venait de franchir la frontière franco-italienne. Les associations accusent les politiques ultrarépressives de l’État.

      « C ’est la parfaite illustration d’une politique qu’on dénonce depuis deux ans ! » Michel Rousseau, membre du collectif Tous migrants dans les Hautes-Alpes, ne décolère pas depuis l’annonce, jeudi matin, de la mort de Taminou, un exilé africain, à moins de 10 kilomètres de la frontière franco-italienne. Le quatrième en moins de neuf mois... Découvert vers 3 heures du matin, sur une zone de chaînage de la route nationale reliant Briançon à Montgenèvre, le jeune homme aurait succombé au froid, après avoir tenté de passer la frontière. Évitant les patrouilles de police, il aurait pendant plusieurs heures arpenté les montagnes enneigées, avant d’y perdre ses bottes et de continuer en chaussettes.

      « Les premiers éléments d’identification (...) permettent de s’orienter vers un Togolais âgé de 28 ans ayant précédemment résidé en Italie, indique la préfecture dans un communiqué. Il serait parti à pied de Clavières avec un groupe de plus d’une dizaine d’hommes pour traverser la frontière nuitamment. Présentant des signes de grande fatigue, il aurait été déposé auprès de la RN94 par certains de ses compagnons de route qui semblent avoir été à l’origine de l’appel des secours. »

      Une politique ultrarépressive à l’égard des citoyens solidaires

      Postés au milieu de la route, les amis de Taminou auraient tenté de stopper plusieurs voitures, sans qu’aucune s’arrête. Une patrouille de la police aux frontières serait arrivée sur le lieu du drame, deux heures après le premier appel au secours, y trouvant un camionneur en train de venir en aide au malheureux frappé d’hypothermie et en arrêt cardio-respiratoire. Pris en charge par le Samu, le jeune homme a finalement été déclaré mort à son arrivée à l’hôpital de Briançon.

      Une enquête pour non-assistance à personne en danger et pour homicide involontaire a été ouverte par le parquet de Gap. « Les conducteurs des véhicules qui ne se sont pas arrêtés ne doivent pas dormir tranquille », acquiesce Michel, s’inquiétant cependant de savoir qui sera réellement visé par les investigations de la police. « La préfecture pointe régulièrement les maraudeurs solidaires qui tentent de venir en aide aux exilés égarés dans nos montagnes, explique-t-il. À l’image des accusations portées contre les bateaux de sauveteurs en mer, en Méditerranée, on les rend responsables d’un soi-disant appel d’air. »

      En réalité, c’est suite au bouclage de la frontière à Menton et dans la vallée de la Roya que, depuis deux ans, cette route migratoire est de plus en plus empruntée. L’État y mène aujourd’hui une politique ultrarépressive à l’égard des citoyens solidaires et des exilés. En moins d’un an, dans le Briançonnais, 11 personnes ont été condamnées pour délit de solidarité, dont 9 à des peines de prison, et des violations régulières des droits des étrangers y sont régulièrement dénoncées par les associations. Plusieurs d’entre elles, dont Amnesty International, Médecins du monde et la Cimade, ont réuni, samedi, près de 200 personnes sur le champ de Mars de Briançon pour rendre hommage à Taminou, malgré l’interdiction de manifester émise par la préfecture au prétexte de l’ouverture de la saison hivernale.

      Pour elles, c’est au contraire la chasse aux exilés et à leurs soutiens qu’il faut pointer, « les renvois systématiques en Italie au mépris du droit, les courses-poursuites, les refus de prise en charge, y compris des plus vulnérables : ces pratiques qui poussent les personnes migrantes à prendre toujours plus de risques, comme celui de traverser des sentiers enneigés, de nuit, en altitude, par des températures négatives, sans matériel adéquat », accusent les associations.

      Ce mercredi soir, justement, la présence policière était particulièrement importante dans la zone. « Ce drame aurait pu être évité, s’indigne un habitant, qui préfère conserver l’anonymat. Les maraudeurs solidaires étaient sur le terrain. Ils ont vu passer toutes ces personnes et, s’ils ne les ont pas récupérées, c’est soit parce qu’ils se savaient surveillés par la PAF, qui les aurait interpellés, soit parce que les exilés eux-mêmes en ont eu peur, les prenant pour des policiers en civil. » Espérons que l’enquête pointera les véritables responsables de la mort de Taminou.


    • Derman Tamimou e il tema di una bambina di nove anni

      “Le persone che ho visto, tra i migranti, mi sembravano persone uguali a noi, non capisco perchè tutti pensano che siano diverse da noi. Secondo me aiutare le persone, in questo caso i migranti, è una cosa bella”.

      Derman Tamimou aveva 29 anni, era arrivato in Italia dal Togo e, nella notte tra il 6 e il 7 febbraio, ha intrapreso il suo ultimo viaggio nel tentativo di varcare il confine. Un camionista ne ha scorto il corpo semiassiderato e rannicchiato tra la neve ai bordi della statale del colle di Monginevro. Nonostante l’immediato trasporto all’ospedale di Briancon, Derman è morto poco dopo.

      E’ difficile immaginare cosa abbia pensato e provato Derman negli ultimi istanti della sua vita, prima di perdere conoscenza per il gelo invernale. Quali sogni, speranze, ricordi, … quanta fatica, rabbia, paura …

      Potrebbe essere tranquillizzante pensare a questa morte come tragica fatalità e derubricarla a freddo numero da aggiungere alla lista di migranti morti nella ricerca di un futuro migliore in Europa. Eppure quell’interminabile lista parla a ognuno di noi. Racconta di vite interrotte che, anche quando non se ne conosce il nome, ci richiamano a una comune umanità da cui non possiamo prescindere per non smarrire noi stessi. A volte lo ricordiamo quando scopriamo, cucita nel giubbotto di un quattordicenne partito dal Mali e affogato in un tragico naufragio nel 2015, una pagella, un bene prezioso con cui presentarsi ai nuovi compagni di classe e di vita. Altre volte lo ricordano i versi di una poesia “Non ti allarmare fratello mio”, ritrovata nelle tasche di Tesfalidet Tesfon, un giovane migrante eritreo, morto subito dopo il suo sbarco a Pozzallo, nel 2018, a seguito delle sofferenze patite nelle carceri libiche e delle fatiche del viaggio: “È davvero così bello vivere da soli, se dimentichi tuo fratello al momento del bisogno?”. È davvero così bello?

      L’estate scorsa, lungo la strada in cui ha perso la vita Derman Tamimou, si poteva ancora trovare un ultimo luogo di soccorso e sostegno per chi cercava di attraversare il confine. Un rifugio autogestito che è stato sgomberato in autunno, con l’approssimarsi dell’inverno, senza alcuna alternativa di soccorso locale per i migranti. Per chiunque fosse passato da quei luoghi non era difficile prevedere i rischi che questa chiusura avrebbe comportato. Bastava fermarsi, incontrare e ascoltare i migranti, i volontari e tutte le persone che cercavano di portare aiuto e solidarietà, nella convinzione che non voltare lo sguardo di fronte a sofferenze, rischi e fatiche altrui sia l’unica strada per restare umani.

      Incontri che una bambina di nove anni, in quelle che avrebbe voluto fossero le sue “Montagne solidali”, ha voluto raccontare così: “Oggi da Bardonecchia, dove in stazione c’è un posto in cui aiutano i migranti che cercano di andare in Francia, siamo andati in altri due posti dove ci sono i migranti che si fermano e ricevono aiuto nel loro viaggio, uno a Claviere e uno a Briancon. In questi posti ci sono persone che li accolgono, gli danno da mangiare, un posto dove dormire, dei vestiti per ripararsi dal freddo, danno loro dei consigli su come evitare pericoli e non rischiare la loro vita nel difficile percorso di attraversamento del confine tra Italia e Francia tra i boschi e le montagne. I migranti, infatti, di notte cercano di attraversare i boschi e questo è difficile e pericoloso, perchè possono farsi male o rischiare la loro vita cadendo da un dirupo. I migranti scelgono di affrontare il loro viaggio di notte perchè è più difficile che la polizia li veda e li faccia tornare indietro. A volte, per sfuggire alla polizia si feriscono per nascondersi o scappare. Nel centro dove sono stata a Claviere, alcuni migranti avevano delle ferite, al volto e sulle gambe, causate durante i tentativi di traversata. Infatti i migranti provano tante volte ad attraversare le montagne, di solito solo dopo la quarta o quinta volta riescono a passare. La traversata è sempre molto pericolosa, perchè non conoscono le montagne e le strade da percorrere, ma soprattutto in inverno le cose sono più difficili perchè con la neve, il freddo, senza i giusti vestiti e scarpe, del cibo caldo e non conoscendo la strada tutto è più rischioso. Lo scorso inverno, sul Colle della Scala, sono morte diverse persone provando a fare questo viaggio. Anche le persone che li aiutano sono a rischio, perchè solo per aver dato loro da mangiare, da dormire e dei vestiti possono essere denunciate e arrestate. Oggi sette ragazzi sono in carcere per questo. Io penso che non è giusto essere arrestati quando si aiutano le persone. A Briancon, dove aiutano i migranti che hanno appena attraversato il confine, ho visto alcuni bambini e questa cosa mi ha colpito molto perchè vuol dire che sono riusciti a fare un viaggio così lungo e faticoso attraverso i boschi e le montagne. Qui ho conosciuto la signora Annie, una volontaria che aiuta i migranti appena arrivati in Francia, una signora gentile e molto forte, che è stata chiamata 8 volte ad andare dalla polizia per l’aiuto che sta dando ai migranti, ma lei sorride e continua a farlo, perchè pensa che non aiutarli sia un’ingiustizia. Le persone che ho visto, tra i migranti, mi sembravano persone uguali a noi, non capisco perchè tutti pensano che siano diverse da noi. Secondo me aiutare le persone, in questo caso i migranti, è una cosa bella”.


    • Reportage. In Togo a casa di #Tamimou, il migrante morto di freddo sulle Alpi

      Da Agadez alla Libia, poi l’attesa in Italia. Il papà: «Non aveva i soldi per far curare la madre». Le ultime parole su Whatsapp: «Ho comprato il biglietto del treno e partirò domani per la Francia»

      Il villaggio di #Madjaton si trova tra le verdi colline di Kpalimé, una tranquilla città nel sud-ovest del Togo. Un luogo dalla natura lussureggiante e il terreno fertile. È qui che è cresciuto Tamimou Derman, il migrante deceduto per il freddo il 7 febbraio mentre cercava di superare a piedi il confine tra l’Italia e la Francia. La sua famiglia è composta da padre, madre, tre fratelli, e una sorella. Sono tutti seduti all’ombra di un grande albero in attesa di visite e notizie.

      «Salam aleikum, la pace sia con voi» dicono con un sorriso all’arrivo di ogni persona che passa a trovarli per le condoglianze. L’accoglienza è calorosa nonostante la triste atmosfera. «È stato un nostro parente che vive in Libia a darci per primo la notizia», dice Samoudini, il fratello maggiore di 35 anni. «All’inizio non potevamo crederci, ci aveva spedito un messaggio vocale due giorni prima della partenza per la Francia. Poi le voci si sono fatte sempre più insistenti – continua Samoudini – e le speranze sono piano piano svanite. Ora il nostro problema principale è trovare i soldi per far ritornare la salma».

      Tamimou è la prima vittima dell’anno tra chi, come molti altri migranti africani, ha tentato di raggiungere la Francia dall’Italia attraverso le Alpi. Il giovane togolese era partito con un gruppo di altri venti ragazzi. Speravano di eludere gli agenti di polizia che pattugliano una zona sempre più militarizzata. «Diciamo a tutti i migranti di non incamminarsi per quei valichi in questa stagione – ha spiegato alla stampa Paolo Narcisi, medico e presidente della Onlus torinese, Rainbow for Africa – . È un passaggio troppo rischioso».

      Prima di avventurarsi tra la neve e il gelo, Tamimou aveva appunto lasciato un messaggio alla famiglia. «Ho comprato il biglietto del treno e partirò domani per la Francia – si sente in un audio whatsapp di circa un minuto –. Pregate per me e se Dio vorrà ci parleremo dal territorio francese». Il padre e un amico, uno accanto all’altro, scoppiano a piangere. La mamma, seduta tra il gruppo delle donne, resta immobile con gli occhi rossi. La sorella pone invece il capo tra le ginocchia ed emette un leggero singhiozzo. Per alcuni secondi restiamo in un silenzio profondo, interrotto solamente dalle voci dei bambini del villaggio che rincorrono cani e galline. Ascoltare la voce di Tamimou riporta la famiglia al momento in cui è giunta la notizia del suo decesso, l’8 febbraio.

      «Non volevamo che partisse per l’Europa», riprende Inoussa Derman, il papà, cercando di trattenere le lacrime. «Lui però era determinato. Si sentiva responsabile per le condizioni di salute di mia moglie che, tuttora – racconta il genitore – soffre di ipertensione e per diverso tempo è stata ricoverata in ospedale. Non avevamo i soldi per pagare le cure». La madre, Issaka, fissa il terreno senza parlare. Sembra avvertire il peso di una responsabilità legata alla partenza del figlio. Tamimou si era dato da fare subito dopo la scuola. Aveva lavorato a Kpalimé come muratore prima di trasferirsi in Ghana per due anni e continuare il mestiere. Non riuscendo a guadagnare abbastanza, aveva deciso di partire per l’Europa nel 2015. Con i suoi risparmi e un po’ di soldi chiesti a diversi conoscenti, ha raggiunto la città nigerina di Agadez, da decenni importante crocevia della rotta migratoria proveniente da tutta l’Africa occidentale e centrale. Dopo qualche mese il ragazzo ha contattato la famiglia dalla Libia. «Ci diceva quanto era pericoloso a causa dei continui spari e degli arresti indiscriminati – aggiunge Moussara, la sorella di 33 anni –. Gli abbiamo detto più volte di tornare, ma non ci ha voluto ascoltare».

      Tamimou ha trascorso almeno 18 mesi in Libia in attesa di trovare i soldi per continuare il viaggio.

      «Ci sentivamo spesso anche quando ha oltrepassato il ’grande fiume’ per arrivare in Italia – racconta Satade, un amico d’infanzia, in riferimento al Mar Mediterraneo –. Con i nostri ex compagni di scuola avevamo infatti creato un gruppo su whatsapp per rimanere in contatto con lui».

      Dopo più di 16 mesi in Italia, il migrante togolese raccontava alla famiglia di essere ancora disoccupato. «Non ho trovato niente – spiegava in un altro messaggio vocale –. In Italia ci vogliono i documenti per lavorare e io non riesco a ottenerli». La decisione di partire per la Francia era stata presa con grande sofferenza. Diversi amici avevano assicurato al migrante togolese che al di là del confine sarebbe stato molto più facile trovare un impiego. Ma di Tamimou, in Francia, è arrivato solo il cadavere. Da giorni è ospitato all’obitorio dell’ospedale di Briançon. La famiglia è in contatto con un cugino che vive da diversi anni in Italia e sta seguendo le pratiche. Parenti e amici vogliono riportare il corpo di Tamimou nel caldo di Madjaton, a casa, per seppellirlo secondo le usanze tradizionali. «Gli avevamo detto di non partire – insiste il padre –. Ma non si può fermare la determinazione di un giovane sognatore».


    • Notre frontière tue : Tamimou Derman n’est plus — Récit d’une #maraude solidaire

      Chaque nuit, des exilé·e·s tentent d’arriver en France par le col de Montgenèvre malgré le froid, la neige et l’omniprésence de la Police. En dépit des maraudes spontanées des habitant·e·s, certain·e·s y perdent la vie. Comme Tamimou Derman, retrouvé mort d’hypothermie la nuit du 6 au 7 février 2019. Cette semaine-là, une vingtaine de membres de la FSGT ont maraudé avec les locaux. Récit.

      D’un mélèze à l’autre, quatre ombres noires glissent sur la neige blanche. Au cœur de la nuit, les ombres sont discrètes, elles marchent sans bruit. Elles traversent les pistes de ski et s’enfoncent vers les profondeurs de la forêt, malgré les pieds glacés, les mains froides et les nuages de leurs souffles courts.

      Les ombres sont craintives comme des proies qui se savent épiées : elles nous fuient.

      Nous les poursuivons sans courir, pour ne pas les effrayer davantage. Nous lançons plusieurs cris sur leur trace, et nous réussissons finalement à les rattraper. Leurs mains sont de glace : nous les serrons et nous disons aux ombres qu’elles ne craignent rien, que nous voulons les sortir du froid et de la neige, que nous sommes là pour les aider.

      Les quatre ombres deviennent des hommes encore pétris de crainte. Leurs yeux hagards demandent : "Êtes-vous la Police ?". Malgré la peur, les ombres devenues hommes montent dans notre voiture. Nous dévalons la route qui serpente entre les montagnes. Les quatre hommes sont saufs.

      Je me réveille en sursaut : ce n’était qu’un rêve.

      Parce qu’hier soir, les quatre ombres se sont enfoncées dans la forêt. Parce qu’hier soir, nous n’avons pas pu les rattraper. Parce qu’hier soir, nous n’avons pas su les rattraper. Parce qu’hier soir, les quatre ombres ont cru voir en nous des officiers de Police venus pour les arrêter.

      Quelques heures après ce réveil agité, la nouvelle tombe.

      Cette nuit, une ombre est morte.

      De la neige jusqu’aux hanches, l’ombre a senti ses frêles bottes se faire aspirer par l’eau glacée. Ses chaussures noyées au fond de la poudreuse, disparues. En chaussettes, l’ombre a continué à marcher entre les mélèzes. L’ombre n’avait pas le luxe de choisir. Épuisée, gelée jusqu’aux os, l’ombre a perdu connaissance. Ses frères de l’ombre l’ont portée jusqu’à la route pour tenter de la sauver, quitte à se faire attraper par la Police. Ils ont appelé les secours.

      L’ambulance est arrivée près de deux heures plus tard.

      L’ombre a été retrouvée sur un chemin forestier, au bord de la route nationale 94, reliant la frontière italienne et la ville de Briançon. L’autopsie confirmera ce que ses frères savaient déjà : décès par hypothermie.

      L’ombre avait dit au revoir à sa famille, puis elle avait peut-être traversé le désert. Elle avait peut-être échappé aux geôles libyennes, aux tortures et aux trafics en tout genre. L’ombre s’était peut-être fait voler ses maigres économies par des passeurs. L’ombre avait peut-être bravé les tempêtes de la Méditerranée entassée avec cent autres ombres sur un canot pneumatique. Et tant d’autres mésaventures.

      L’ombre avait jusque-là échappé aux polices européennes qui la traquaient uniquement parce que ce que l’ombre voulait, c’était arrêter d’être une ombre.

      L’ombre avait traversé la moitié du globe mais son chemin s’est arrêté en France, à quelques kilomètres de la frontière, parce que l’ombre a eu peur de la Police française.

      L’ombre, c’était Tamimou Derman. Tamimou Derman avait notre âge. Tamimou Derman n’était qu’un homme qui rêvait d’une vie meilleure.


      -- Contexte —

      Dans la nuit du mercredi 6 au jeudi 7 février 2019, j’ai participé à une maraude solidaire dans la station de ski de Montgenèvre avec des amis de la FSGT (Fédération Sportive et Gymnique du Travail), dans le cadre d’un séjour organisé et patronné par cette fédération.

      Ce séjour annuel se concentre habituellement sur les seules activités de loisir de montagne. Cette année, il a été décidé d’organiser cette sortie dans la région de Briançon, à quelques kilomètres de la frontière franco-italienne, afin de montrer notre solidarité envers les locaux qui portent assistance aux personnes qui arrivent en France, au niveau du col de Montgenèvre, situé à 1800m d’altitude.

      Chaque soir, quelques uns et quelques unes de la vingtaine de participants à ce séjour partaient en maraude pour accompagner les gens de la vallée qui eux, toute l’année, sauvent des vies là-haut. La loi ne peut nous considérer comme des passeurs : nous n’avons fait passer la frontière à personne. Nous étions uniquement là pour porter assistance aux personnes en danger de mort sur le territoire français. S’il fallait encore une preuve, Tamimou Derman est mort d’hypothermie, la nuit où j’ai maraudé.

      Bien que légales, ces maraudes semblent être considérées de facto comme illégale par les forces de l’ordre : elles tentent de les entraver par tous les moyens, surtout par l’intimidation. C’est aussi pour cela que j’ai voulu partager ce récit.

      -- #Chasse_à_l'homme

      Dès que les pistes de ski de Montgenèvre ferment, que le soleil se couche et que les vacanciers se reposent, un obscur jeu du chat et de la souris se noue sous les fenêtres de leurs résidences. Une véritable chasse à l’homme.

      Tous les soirs ou presque, des hommes et des femmes tentent de gagner notre pays depuis le village italien de Clavière. À 500 mètres à peine de ce village, de l’autre côté de la frontière, la rutilante station de ski de Montgenèvre. Pour parcourir cette distance ridicule, ils mettent plus de trois heures. Parce qu’ils passent par la forêt, traversent des torrents glacés, parce qu’ils marchent dans le froid et la neige. Enfin, ils tentent enfin de se fondre dans les ombres de Montgenèvre avant d’entamer les 10 kilomètres de chemins enneigés qui les séparent de Briançon.

      « Des témoignages parlent de poursuites en motoneige, en pleine nuit »

      Côté français, par tous les moyens ou presque, la police et la gendarmerie les guettent pour les arrêter : des témoignages parlent de poursuites en motoneige, en pleine nuit, forçant ces hommes et ces femmes à fuir pour tenter se cacher par tous les moyens au risque de tomber dans des réserves d’eau glacées ou des précipices. Des récits parlent de séquestration dans des containers sans eau, ni nourriture, ni chauffage, ni toilettes, ni rien ; tout ça pour les renvoyer quelques heures plus tard en Italie, encore congelés. D’autres attestent que la police et la gendarmerie bafouent les droits élémentaires de la demande d’asile. Toujours d’après des témoignages, la police et la gendarmerie se déguiseraient en civils pour mieux amadouer et alpaguer celles et ceux qui tentent la traversée. À plusieurs reprises, la police et la gendarmerie auraient été aidées par les nazillons du groupuscule fachiste "Génération Identitaire" qui patrouillent eux aussi dans les montagnes. Certains de ceux qui tenteraient le passage se seraient vus déchirer leurs papiers d’identité attestant leur minorité par la police et la gendarmerie, et donc se voir déchirer le devoir qu’a la France de les protéger. Et bien d’autres infamies.

      Tous les soirs ou presque, enfin, des habitants de la région de Briançon sont là pour essayer de secourir ces personnes qui tentent de passer la frontière, même quand il fait -20°c, même quand il neige, même quand la police est en ébullition, partout dans la ville.

      Sur place, impossible de ne pas entendre l’écho de l’histoire des Justes dans le vent glacial.

      -- Ce que j’ai vu —

      Dans la nuit du mercredi 6 au jeudi 7 février, il faisait environ -10°c à Montgenèvre. Plus d’un mètre de neige fraiche recouvrait la forêt. Une vingtaine de personne étaient a priori descendues d’un bus, côté Italien de la frontière. Supposément pour tenter la traversée. Mes compagnons maraudeurs et moi-même attendions dans Montgenèvre, pour essayer d’aller à la rencontre d’un maximum d’entre eux.

      À l’aide de jumelles, des maraudeurs ont alors vu une quinzaine d’ombres se faufiler entre les arbres qui bordent les pistes de ski. Quatre d’entre eux ont été accueillis de justesse par deux maraudeurs.

      Cela faisait vraisemblablement trois heures qu’ils marchaient dans la neige. Ils n’étaient clairement pas équipés pour ces conditions. L’un des quatre avait un centimètre de glace sur chaque main et les pieds congelés. Il était tombé dans un torrent qui avait emporté le reste de ses affaires.
      Les deux maraudeurs lui ont donné des chaussettes de rechange, des gants, du thé chaud et à manger.

      Les maraudeurs racontent qu’à ce moment-là, alors qu’ils les avaient hydraté, réchauffé, nourri et donné des vêtements chauds, les quatre hommes pensaient encore s’être fait attrapés par la police. La peur irradiait le fond de leurs yeux.

      « Nous leur avons crié que nous n’étions pas la Police, que nous étions là pour les aider »

      Précisément à cet instant-là, j’étais ailleurs dans Montgenèvre, avec d’autres maraudeurs. Avec nos jumelles, nous avons vu quatre autres ombres se faufiler entre les mélèzes et traverser les pistes de ski discrètement. Nous savions qu’ils craignaient de se faire attraper par la Police. La nuit, ici, n’importe quel groupe de personnes ressemble à une patrouille de policiers.

      Nous avons décidé de les attendre, un peu dans la lumière, en espérant qu’ils nous voient et qu’ils ne prennent pas peur. Derrière nous, à travers les fenêtres éclairées des résidences, nous voyions les vacanciers regarder la télévision, manger leur repas. C’était surréaliste. Nous avions peur, sans doute moins qu’eux qui marchaient depuis des heures, mais nous aussi nous avions peur de la Police.

      Nous avons choisi de ne pas les aborder de loin, pour éviter qu’ils ne nous prenne pour des flics et qu’ils s’enfuient. Est-ce la bonne solution ? Qu’est-ce qui est le mieux à faire ? Vont-ils courir ? Une dizaine de questions d’angoisse nous frappaient.

      Nous avons attendu qu’ils arrivent non loin de nous. Ils ne nous avaient pas vu. Nous avons attendu trop longtemps.

      Nous avons finalement avancé en leur criant (mais pas trop fort, pour ne pas alerter tout le voisinage — et les forces de l’ordre) que nous n’étions pas la Police, que nous étions là pour les aider, que nous avions du thé chaud et de quoi manger. Les trois premiers n’ont même pas tourné la tête, ils ont accéléré. Nous leur avons crié les mêmes choses. Le dernier de la file s’est retourné, tout en continuant de marcher très vite, et il nous a semblé l’entendre demander : "Quoi ? Qu’est-ce que vous dites ?" Nous avons répété ce qu’on leur avait déjà dit. Mais il était tiraillé entre ses amis qui ne se retournaient pas et notre proposition. Si tant est qu’il l’ait entendue, notre proposition, avec le bruit de la neige qui couvrait très probablement nos voix. Il a préféré suivre ses amis, ils se sont enfoncés dans la forêt en direction de Briançon et nous n’avons pas pu ni su les rattraper.

      Un sentiment d’horreur nous prend. Nous imaginons déjà la suite. Je me sens pire qu’inutile, méprisable.

      Malgré mes deux paires de chaussettes, mes collants, pantalon de ski, t-shirt technique, polaire, doudoune, énorme manteau, gants, bonnet, grosses chaussures, un frisson glacial m’a parcouru le corps. Eux marchaient depuis plus de trois heures.

      « J’étais là pour éviter qu’ils crèvent de froid »

      Nous ne pouvions plus les rejoindre : nous devions rapidement descendre les quatre que les autres maraudeurs avaient commencé réconforter. Nous sommes retournés à notre voiture, le cœur prêt à exploser, des "putain", des "c’est horrible" et d’autres jurons incompréhensibles qui sortait en torrents continus de notre bouche. Mais il fallait agir vite.

      B. et C. sont montés dans la voiture que nous conduisions et nous les avons amenés à Briançon via la seule et unique route qui serpente entre les montagnes. Je n’ai jamais autant souhaité ne pas croiser la Police.

      B. et C. n’ont pas beaucoup parlé, je ne leur ai pas non plus posé beaucoup de question. Que dire, que demander ?

      Quand j’ai raconté cette histoire à d’autres, on m’a demandé : "Ils venaient d’où ?" "Pourquoi ils voulaient venir en France ?" Dans cette situation, ces questions me semblaient plus qu’absurdes : elles étaient obscènes. J’étais là pour éviter qu’ils crèvent de froid et je n’avais pas à leur demander quoi que ce soit, à part s’ils voulaient que je monte le chauffage et les rassurer en leur disant qu’on arrivait en lieu sûr d’ici peu.

      Sur cette même route, un autre soir de la semaine, d’autres maraudeurs ont eux aussi transporté des personnes qui avaient traversé la frontière. Persuadés de s’être fait attraper par la Police, résignés, ces hommes d’une vingtaine d’années ont pleuré durant les 25 minutes du trajet.

      « Les ombres avaient toutes été avalées par la noirceur de la montagne blanche »

      Nous avons déposé les quatre au Refuge Solidaire, dans Briançon. Un lieu géré par des locaux et des gens de passage qui permet aux personnes qui ont traversé de se reposer quelques jours avant de continuer leur route. En arrivant, C. a cru faire un infarctus : c’était finalement une violente crise d’angoisse, une décompensation.

      À peine quelques minutes plus tard, nous sommes repartis vers Montgenèvre pour essayer de retrouver la dizaine d’autres ombres qui étaient encore dans la montagne et que nous n’avions pas vu passer. Alors qu’avant, nous n’avions pas vu un seul signe de la Police, une ou deux voitures tournait constamment dans la station. Vers minuit ou une heure du matin, nous nous sommes rendus à l’évidence : nous n’en verrons plus, cette nuit-là. Les ombres avaient toutes été avalées par la noirceur de la montagne blanche. Frustration indicible. Sentiment de ne pas avoir fait tout ce qu’on pouvait.

      Nous sommes repartis vers Briançon. Nous sommes passés juste à côté de l’endroit où Tamimou Derman était en train d’agoniser, mais nous ne le savions alors pas. À quelques minutes près, nous aurions pu le voir, l’amener aux urgences et peut-être le sauver.

      « La nuit du mercredi 6 au jeudi 7 février 2019, une vingtaine de personnes auraient tenté de traverser la frontière franco-italienne »

      En partant de Montgenèvre, une voiture était arrêtée avec les pleins phares allumés, en plein milieu de la petite route de montagne. Nous avons presque dû nous arrêter pour passer à côté. C’était la Police qui surveillait les voitures qui descendaient vers Briançon. Nous sommes passés, notre voiture s’est faite ausculter à la recherche de "migrants".

      Les "migrants", ils étaient dans la montagne, de la neige jusqu’aux hanches et en chaussettes, en train de mourir pour éviter précisément ce contrôle.

      La nuit du mercredi 6 au jeudi 7 février 2019, une vingtaine de personnes auraient tenté de traverser la frontière franco-italienne. Nous en avons accompagné quatre à Briançon. Quatre autres ont eu peur de nous, pensant que nous étions la Police. Ils seraient a priori bel bien arrivé au Refuge Solidaire, à pied. D’autres ont été interceptés par la police et renvoyés en Italie, à l’exception de deux jeunes mineurs confiés au Département. Tamimou Derman, lui, a été retrouvé sur le bord de la route, mort d’hypothermie.

      Le 15 mars prochain, une maraude géante est organisé à Montgenèvre. Pour médiatiser ce qui se passe là-bas. Pour que les chasses à l’homme cessent. Pour que les droits des personnes exilées soient enfin respectés. Et pour que plus personne ne meurt dans nos montagnes.

      Avec d’autres membres de la FSGT, nous y serons.


    • Hautes-Alpes : un nouveau décès, conséquence tragique des politiques migratoires [Alerte inter-associative]

      Dans la nuit du 6 au 7 février, un jeune homme est mort entre Montgenèvre et Briançon. Il avait rejoint la France depuis l’Italie après avoir passé plusieurs heures dans la montagne.

      Un drame qui alerte nos associations (Anafé, Amnesty International France, La Cimade, Médecins du Monde, Médecins sans Monde, Secours Catholique-Caritas France, Tous Migrants) qui, depuis plus de deux ans, ne cessent de constater et de dénoncer les violations des droits de la part des autorités françaises à la frontière : renvois systématiques en Italie au mépris du droit, courses-poursuites, refus de prise en charge y compris des plus vulnérables. Ces pratiques poussent les personnes migrantes à prendre toujours plus de risques, comme celui de traverser par des sentiers enneigés, de nuit, en altitude, par des températures négatives, sans matériel adéquat.

      En dépit d’alertes répétées, ces violations perdurent. Dans le même temps, les personnes leur portant assistance sont de plus en plus inquiétées et poursuivies en justice.

      Alors que les ministres de l’intérieur de l’Union européenne se sont réunis à Bucarest pour définir une réforme du régime de l’asile et des politiques migratoires, nos associations demandent le respect des droits fondamentaux des personnes réfugiés et migrantes pour que cessent, entre autres, les drames aux frontières.

      Un rassemblement citoyen à Briançon est prévu
      Ce samedi 9 février 2019 à 15h
      Au Champ de Mars
      Des représentants des associations locales seront disponibles pour témoigner


    • REPORTAGE - Hautes-Alpes : une frontière au-dessus des lois

      Humiliés et pourchassés, des migrants voient leurs droits bafoués dans les Hautes-Alpes.

      Un mort de froid, une bavure et des maraudeurs : le reportage d’Anna Ravix à la frontière avec l’Italie.

      #vidéo #mourir_aux_frontières

      Témoignage d’un migrant qui a fait la route avec #Tamimou, trouvé mort en février 2019 :

      « Au milieu des montagnes, on était perdus, totalement. On s’est dit : On ne va pas s’en sortir, on va mourir là. Tamimou, il ne pouvait plus avancer, il avait perdu ses deux bottes. En chaussettes, il marchait dans la neige. Ses pieds étaient congelés, ils sont devenus durs, même le sang ne passait plus. Et puis je l’ai porté, il me remerciait, il me remerciait... Il disait : ’Dieu va te bénir, Dieu va te bénir, aide-moi. En descendant, on a vu une voiture, un monsieur qui quittait la ville. On lui a expliqué le problème. Il a pris son téléphone et il a appelé le 112. Il a dit : ’Si vous ne venez pas vite, il va perdre la vie.’ C’est là qu’ils ont dit qu’ils seraient là dans 30 minutes. Il était 1 heure du matin, ils ne sont pas arrivés avant 3 heures du matin. »

      Tamimou est mort à l’hôpital à 4 heures du matin.

      « La mort du jeune », continue le témoin, « sincèrement, je peux dire que c’est le problème de la police. Le fait qu’on a appelé la police. Si ils étaient arrivés à temps, le jeune serait encore en vie ».

      –-> Le témoin a été interrogé par la police. Et ils ont reçu un OQTF.


      Témoignage d’un maraudeur :

      Il n’y a pas de RV, on est là. Peut-être il n’y a personne aujourd’hui, je ne sais pas...
      Ce qui n’est pas évident, parce que quand ils nous voient, ils ont tendance à nous prendre pour les forces de l’ordre. ça, c’est quelque chose qu’ils ont mis en place l’été dernier. On a commencé à voir descendre des fourgons de la gendarmerie des personnes en shorts et en baskets. Les migrants, quand ils croisent ces personnes, ils les prenaient pour des randonneurs, ils demandaient des renseignements, et ils tombaient dans le panneau, quoi.


      Témoignage d’un migrant (mineur au moment des faits), il revient sur des événements ayant eu lieu une année auparavant :

      « On est parti dans la forêt et c’est là que la police nous a attrapés. Ils nous ont obligés à retourner à la frontière de Clavière.
      Après, j’ai fouillé tous mes bagages et je trouvais plus mon argent, plus de 700 EUR. »

      Du coup, il va à la police et il enregistre la conversation. C’était le 04.08.2018
      –> cette conversation avec la police a été recensée ailleurs (sur seenthis aussi). Un policier avait dit :

      « Tu accuses la police de vol, ce soir tu es en garde à vue ici, demain t’es dans un avion »

    • Voir aussi le témoignage de #Marie_Dorléans de Tous Migrants :

      Au-delà de ces personnes qui ont survécu et échappé au pire, on voulait absolument rappeler aussi aujourd’hui celles qui n’ont pas eu cette chance et notamment parce qu’il faut pas s’habituer, parce qu’il ne faut pas que ces gens tombent dans l’anonymat. Le 7 février 2019, Tamimou, un jeune togolais de 28 ans, est mort d’épuisement et de froid au bord de la route nationale que la plupart d’entre vous viennent de monter. »

      Et de #Pâquerette_Forest de SOS Alpes solidaires :

      « Ils marchent quelques fois avec google maps sur le portable, si le portable fonctionne, parce que si il fait trop froid ils n’ont plus de batterie, et au bout d’un moment ça marche plus. Après il y a un peu des traces de gens qui se promènent et du passage quand il y a des gens qui passent tous les jours, donc ça peut aussi les aider. Après ils se repèrent aux lumières des villages. #Tamimou qui est décédé, il a perdu ses bottes au-dessus de La Vachette. Ils ont coupé, et on a bien compris qu’au début ils étaient sur une espèce de piste et puis à un moment ils ont coupé la piste et ils avaient de la neige jusque là [elle montre la hauteur de la neige avec ses mains sur les jambes, on ne voit pas sur la vidéo]. Lui il a perdu ses bottes, après ils ont essayé de le porter, et puis il était épuisé et puis il est mort »


    • Extrait du livre de Maurzio Pagliassotti,

      Ancora dodici chilometri


      « Trovato da una camionista lungo la statale, come un cane abbandonato. Si muore così, lungo la rotta apina : si muore sempre così, solo che, a volte,capita che il cadavere finisca come una pietra d’inciampo nel cammino di qualcuno che non può evitarlo, che non può non vederlo. Noi, non vediamo cosa succede in questi boschi la notte, e la natura provvede a nascondere le nostre vergogne, a far sparire le prove della nostra miseria.
      Morto. Nella buia e gelida notte di questo febbraio, mentre l’Italia gioca a far la guerra alla Francia e questa richiama l’ambasciatore a Parigi. Si muore così, lungo la rotta alpina, nel tentativo di una fuga sempre più assurda, e disperata.
      Ventinove anni, dal Togo, si chiamava #Derman_Teminou. Aveva superato il campo da golf, la frontiera presidiata dalla gendarmeria, il paese del Monginevro silenzioso, le piste da sci e gli ultimi nottambuli che uscivano dalle discoteche. Ma non è riuscito a superare il freddo polare che piano piano lo ha stroncato, portandolo ad accucciarsi come un animale ferito in un cantuccio. Chissà cosa ha pensato in quelle ore di marcia da solo, forse da solo, se ha visto lontano il fondovalle da raggiungere, le luci delle città sempre più fioche negli occhi che si spengono, stroncati dal sonno.
      Molta neve è caduta questi giorni, e le montagne si sono trasformate in un mare bianco in cui nuotare. Una distesa farinosa in cui i migranti affondano passo dopo passo, con la coltre bianca che carpisce fino alle ascelle. Si vedono così, in questi giorni : come se fossero caduti nel Mediterraneo, annaspare con le braccia larghe e il collo teso, le bocche spalancate, naufraghi a 2000 metri di quota. I volontari tentano di recuperarli, di avvertirli, le raccomandazioni minacciose di questi bianchi sconosciuti devono suonare vagamente ridicole per chi arriva dai campi di sterminio della Libia.
      La procura di Gap apre un fascicolo per omicidio involontario : chissà cosa vuole dire. Chi sarebbe l’omicida involontario da trovare ? Qualcuno che lo ha abbandonato ? Un militare ? Un governo ? Sui quotidiani esce qualche sparuto articoletto che parla di ‘migrante morto’. Ma l’uomo trovato, ridotto ad essere un pezzo di ghiaccio, non è un ‘migrante’. L’uomo morto questa note, e tutti gli altri che non vengono nemmeno trovati perché dispersi in qualche dirupo o divorati dagli animali di queste foreste, sono fuggiaschi. Uomini, donne e bambini che scappano dall’Italia, che percepiscono, e vivono , come un paese pericoloso e ostile, da attraversare il più velocemente possibile o da abbandonare dopo anni di vita.
      Lo hanno portato all’ospedale di Briançon ancora in vita : ma il freddo gli aveva ormai ghiacciato il sangue e il cuore. Si muore così, lungo la rotta alpina. Lontani da ogni pietà, con i gendarmi che danno la caccia ai fuggiaschi e volontari : gli mancavano nove chilometri di strata lungo la statale. Non poteva farcela, in quelle condizioni, da solo, senza un amico, qualcuno a cui dire l’ultima parola della sua vita.
      Passa qualche giorno, finisco in una cena dove mi raccontano cosa è accaduto realmente la note in cui quell’uomo di ventinove anni è caduto. Uno dei tanti, delle decine di cui non sappiamo nulla dato che valgono solo qualche trafiletto nelle ultime pagine dei settimanali locali.
      Derman Tamimou arriva a Claviere insieme ad altri ‘migranti’ come sempre accade: con l’autobus serale che parte da Oulx e li scarica di fronte alla chiesetta. Sono ventuno : un gruppo imponente. Ma l’ordine di grandezza di questi plotoni che quotidianamente si arrendono e scappano è stabile. Partono e seguono la pista da sci di fondo : dopo circa mezz’ora vengono intercettati dai gendarmi, che ne prendono tredici. Otto riescono a fuggire nei boschi. Superano il piccolo villaggio del Monginevro e si dividono ulteriormente : cinque si gettano lungo la statale, tre rimangono lungo i sentieri che attraversano il ripido pendio che conduce a Monginevro.
      Tra questi tre c’è Darman che, a circa quattro chilometri dalla sua meta, si arrende e si sveste. E’ completamente bagnato, perché la neve da subito si è fatta strada nelle scarpe e nei vestiti. La neve nei piedi che dà un delirio e provoca l’illusione di un senso di calore che uccide passo dopo passo la percezione stessa della morte, che sale dai piedi fino al cuore.
      Si fermano e accendono un fuoco con i pochi legni secchi che trovano nei boschi. Impresa non semplice. Derman si spoglia ed espone al calore delle fiamme i suoi vestiti e il suo corpo. I suoi compagni intanto si gettano lungo la statale alla ricerca di aiuto : e qui accade qualcosa di incredibile. Qualcuno si ferma, ma dato che si tratta di due africani che chiedono aiuto per un loro amico che sta per morire, tutti decidono di proseguire.
      Una letale miscellanea di paura, buio, uominii neri e morte spinge in avanti il tempo senza che nulla accada. Le ore della notte diventano ore dell’alba, e i primi raggi di sole altro non sono che mezze illusioni. Derman si attorciglia su se stesso, ormai lasciato solo a morire nel suo buco. Le fiamme spente, i vestiti ghiacciati e rigidi che pendono da una croce di rami come un Cristo senza dignità. Lo trova un camionista, la corsa all’ospedale, la morte.
      Passano i giorni, si scopre che i suoi compagni vengono intercettati dai gendarmi che mostrano loro le foto di alcuni italiani : ‘Diteci chi vi ha aiutato a passare il confine’, questa la richiesta, che spiega la singlare accusa di ‘omicidio involntario’. Scorrono le foto dei volontari che sul fronte italiano di questa guerra ‘aiutano’ : colpa suprema, peccato totale da cui redenzione non può esistere ».
      (Pagliassotti, 2019 : 172-175)

    • Migranti. L’ultimo viaggio di Tamimou

      Il corpo del giovane morto di freddo sulle Alpi è tornato in Togo. L’articolo che «Avvenire» gli aveva dedicato, facendo visita alla sua famiglia, è stato ripubblicato da un giornale togolese

      Sono le 2:07 di giovedì mattina all’aeroporto internazionale Gnassingbé Eyadema di Lomé. L’aereo della Royal Air Maroc è appena atterrato. All’interno c’è la bara di Tamimou Derman, il migrante togolese morto assiderato tra le Alpi mentre cercava di attraversare a piedi il confine dall’Italia verso la Francia: https://www.avvenire.it/attualita/pagine/migrante-morte-assiderato-tra-italia-e-francia.

      Da oltre tre ore, un gruppo formato da una decina di familiari e amici attende paziente ai bordi della strada. Le guardie dell’aeroporto gli hanno detto di aspettare fuori dalla struttura. Sono solo uomini: padre, fratelli, cugini, zii e qualche amico d’infanzia. Hanno percorso tre ore di strada da Madjaton, il villaggio dove è cresciuto Tamimou. Il furgone bianco noleggiato per il viaggio avrà il compito di riportare indietro il corpo del ragazzo morto a 29 anni. Dopo essersi seduti al tavolo dell’unico bar ancora aperto, il gruppo spiega cosa è successo in queste settimane. «Un nostro cugino che vive in Italia ci ha dato la notizia settimana scorsa», racconta ad Avvenire Samoudine Derman, il fratello maggiore. «Ha raccolto i soldi per rimpatriare Tamimou. Siamo molto contenti – continua Samoudine –, finalmente potremo seppellirlo».

      Il migrante togolese era ancora vivo quando è stato trovato da un camionista lo scorso 7 febbraio sul ciglio della strada statale 94 del Colle del Monginevro. Come altri suoi compagni, Tamimou ha rischiato la vita per raggiungere clandestinamente la Francia dall’Italia. L’ambulanza l’ha trasportato nell’ospedale di Briançon dove il giovane ha però esalato il suo ultimo respiro. «Ringraziamo molto la stampa italiana per aver parlato di Tamimou – afferma Sadate Boutcho, un amico d’infanzia –. Dopo aver recuperato la bara torneremo subito al villaggio per il funerale». La cerimonia è stata annunciata su una radio locale. «Siamo musulmani, abituati a interrare il corpo il prima possibile e a ricevere per giorni le persone che vogliono dare l’ultimo saluto – afferma con un tiepido sorriso Isak, un altro amico e coetaneo della vittima –. Nel caso di Tamimou abbiamo però aspettato quasi due mesi».

      Il 19 febbraio Avvenire aveva pubblicato la storia del migrante intitolata ’Il sogno spezzato di mio figlio’: https://www.avvenire.it/attualita/pagine/in-togo-a-casa-di-tamimou-migrante-morto-freddo-alpi. Lo stesso articolo è stato ripubblicato sul giornale togolese L’Alternative il 22 febbraio. «È preoccupante che a parlare della morte di un nostro fratello sia stata prima la stampa italiana rispetto a quella togolese», ha ammesso Ferdinand Mensah Ayite, direttore della rivista. Nei giorni seguenti, per volere della famiglia Derman, due buste con dentro entrambi gli articoli e una lettera di richiesta di aiuto per il rimpatrio del cadavere sono state consegnate alla presidenza e al ministero degli Affari esteri togolesi. Nel mentre, Ganiou, il cugino di Tamimou residente in Italia, si è occupato delle formalità in Francia. «Abbiamo raccolto almeno 3.500 euro per le spese del trasporto – spiega Ganiou, arrivato a Lomé in anticipo per assicurarsi che tutto andasse a buon fine –. Ho ricevuto sostegno da un’organizzazione francese di cui preferisco non rivelare il nome». Il bar chiude e ci ritroviamo in strada. Ganiou è andato a seguire le ultime formalità. Il tempo continua a passare.

      Nessuno sa cosa stia succedendo con esattezza. Alle 4 e mezza di mattina, il padre di Tamimou, Inoussa Derman, si siede sul marciapiede vicino a un parente. Samoudine e gli altri si addormentano. Solo verso le 10 di mattina viene spedito ad Avvenire un messaggio con la foto della bara nel furgone. «Finalmente abbiamo recuperato il corpo – scrive Sadate –, il funerale è stato spostato quindi alle 3 del pomeriggio». La folla osserva la bara mentre viene calata in una buca scavata nella terra rossa di Madjaton. Il villaggio sprofonda nel silenzio. Potrà la morte di Tamimou arrestare la migrazione dei togolesi verso l’Europa? «Qui non c’è lavoro – aveva spiegato Isak durante l’attesa fuori dall’aeroporto –. Ho studiato da meccanico e, nonostante la drammatica fine di Tamimou, sono pronto a partire verso l’Italia o la Francia».


    • Derman Tamimou e il tema di una bambina di nove anni

      “Le persone che ho visto, tra i migranti, mi sembravano persone uguali a noi, non capisco perchè tutti pensano che siano diverse da noi. Secondo me aiutare le persone, in questo caso i migranti, è una cosa bella”

      Derman Tamimou aveva 29 anni, era arrivato in Italia dal Togo e, nella notte tra il 6 e il 7 febbraio, ha intrapreso il suo ultimo viaggio nel tentativo di varcare il confine. Un camionista ne ha scorto il corpo semiassiderato e rannicchiato tra la neve ai bordi della statale del colle di Monginevro. Nonostante l’immediato trasporto all’ospedale di Briancon, Derman è morto poco dopo.

      E’ difficile immaginare cosa abbia pensato e provato Derman negli ultimi istanti della sua vita, prima di perdere conoscenza per il gelo invernale. Quali sogni, speranze, ricordi, … quanta fatica, rabbia, paura …

      Potrebbe essere tranquillizzante pensare a questa morte come tragica fatalità e derubricarla a freddo numero da aggiungere alla lista di migranti morti nella ricerca di un futuro migliore in Europa. Eppure quell’interminabile lista parla a ognuno di noi. Racconta di vite interrotte che, anche quando non se ne conosce il nome, ci richiamano a una comune umanità da cui non possiamo prescindere per non smarrire noi stessi. A volte lo ricordiamo quando scopriamo, cucita nel giubbotto di un quattordicenne partito dal Mali e affogato in un tragico naufragio nel 2015, una pagella, un bene prezioso con cui presentarsi ai nuovi compagni di classe e di vita. Altre volte lo ricordano i versi di una poesia “Non ti allarmare fratello mio”, ritrovata nelle tasche di Tesfalidet Tesfon, un giovane migrante eritreo, morto subito dopo il suo sbarco a Pozzallo, nel 2018, a seguito delle sofferenze patite nelle carceri libiche e delle fatiche del viaggio: “È davvero così bello vivere da soli, se dimentichi tuo fratello al momento del bisogno?”. È davvero così bello?

      L’estate scorsa, lungo la strada in cui ha perso la vita Derman Tamimou, si poteva ancora trovare un ultimo luogo di soccorso e sostegno per chi cercava di attraversare il confine. Un rifugio autogestito che è stato sgomberato in autunno, con l’approssimarsi dell’inverno, senza alcuna alternativa di soccorso locale per i migranti. Per chiunque fosse passato da quei luoghi non era difficile prevedere i rischi che questa chiusura avrebbe comportato. Bastava fermarsi, incontrare e ascoltare i migranti, i volontari e tutte le persone che cercavano di portare aiuto e solidarietà, nella convinzione che non voltare lo sguardo di fronte a sofferenze, rischi e fatiche altrui sia l’unica strada per restare umani.

      Incontri che una bambina di nove anni, in quelle che avrebbe voluto fossero le sue “Montagne solidali”, ha voluto raccontare così: “Oggi da Bardonecchia, dove in stazione c’è un posto in cui aiutano i migranti che cercano di andare in Francia, siamo andati in altri due posti dove ci sono i migranti che si fermano e ricevono aiuto nel loro viaggio, uno a Claviere e uno a Briancon. In questi posti ci sono persone che li accolgono, gli danno da mangiare, un posto dove dormire, dei vestiti per ripararsi dal freddo, danno loro dei consigli su come evitare pericoli e non rischiare la loro vita nel difficile percorso di attraversamento del confine tra Italia e Francia tra i boschi e le montagne. I migranti, infatti, di notte cercano di attraversare i boschi e questo è difficile e pericoloso, perchè possono farsi male o rischiare la loro vita cadendo da un dirupo. I migranti scelgono di affrontare il loro viaggio di notte perchè è più difficile che la polizia li veda e li faccia tornare indietro. A volte, per sfuggire alla polizia si feriscono per nascondersi o scappare. Nel centro dove sono stata a Claviere, alcuni migranti avevano delle ferite, al volto e sulle gambe, causate durante i tentativi di traversata. Infatti i migranti provano tante volte ad attraversare le montagne, di solito solo dopo la quarta o quinta volta riescono a passare. La traversata è sempre molto pericolosa, perchè non conoscono le montagne e le strade da percorrere, ma soprattutto in inverno le cose sono più difficili perchè con la neve, il freddo, senza i giusti vestiti e scarpe, del cibo caldo e non conoscendo la strada tutto è più rischioso. Lo scorso inverno, sul Colle della Scala, sono morte diverse persone provando a fare questo viaggio. Anche le persone che li aiutano sono a rischio, perchè solo per aver dato loro da mangiare, da dormire e dei vestiti possono essere denunciate e arrestate. Oggi sette ragazzi sono in carcere per questo. Io penso che non è giusto essere arrestati quando si aiutano le persone. A Briancon, dove aiutano i migranti che hanno appena attraversato il confine, ho visto alcuni bambini e questa cosa mi ha colpito molto perchè vuol dire che sono riusciti a fare un viaggio così lungo e faticoso attraverso i boschi e le montagne. Qui ho conosciuto la signora Annie, una volontaria che aiuta i migranti appena arrivati in Francia, una signora gentile e molto forte, che è stata chiamata 8 volte ad andare dalla polizia per l’aiuto che sta dando ai migranti, ma lei sorride e continua a farlo, perchè pensa che non aiutarli sia un’ingiustizia. Le persone che ho visto, tra i migranti, mi sembravano persone uguali a noi, non capisco perchè tutti pensano che siano diverse da noi. Secondo me aiutare le persone, in questo caso i migranti, è una cosa bella”.


  • Beyond borders, beyond boundaries. A Critical Analysis of EU Financial Support for Border Control in Tunisia and Libya

    In recent years, the European Union (EU) and its Member States have intensified their effort to prevent migrants and asylum seekers from reaching their borders. One strategy to reach this goal consists of funding programs for third countries’ coast guards and border police, as currently happens in Libya and Tunisia.

    These programs - funded by the #EUTF_for_Africa and the #NDICI-Global_Europe - allocate funding to train and equip authorities, including the delivery and maintenance of assets. NGOs, activists, and International Organizations have amassed substantial evidence implicating Libyan and Tunisian authorities in severe human rights violations.

    The Greens/EFA in the European Parliament commissioned a study carried out by Profundo, ARCI, EuroMed Rights and Action Aid, on how EU funding is linked to human rights violations in neighbouring countries, such as Tunisia and Libya.

    The study answers the following questions:

    - What is the state of EU funding for programs aimed at enhancing border control capacities in Libya and Tunisia?
    - What is the human rights impact of these initiatives?
    - What is the framework for human rights compliance?
    - How do the NDICI-Global Europe decision-making processes work?

    The report highlights that the shortcomings in human rights compliance within border control programs, coupled with the lack of proper transparency clearly contradicts EU and international law. Moreover, this results in the insufficient consideration of the risk of human rights violations when allocating funding for both ongoing and new programs.

    This is particularly concerning in the cases of Tunisia and Libya, where this report collects evidence that the ongoing strategies, regardless of achieving or not the questionable goals of reducing migration flows, have a very severe human rights impact on migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

    Pour télécharger l’étude:


    #Libye #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Tunisie #aide_financières #contrôles_frontaliers #frontières #rapport #trust_fund #profundo #Neighbourhood_Development_and_International_Cooperation_Instrument #droits_humains #gestion_des_frontières #EU #UE #Union_européenne #fonds_fiduciaire #IVCDCI #IVCDCI-EM #gardes-côtes #gardes-côtes_libyens #gardes-côtes_tunisiens #EUTFA #coût #violence #crimes_contre_l'humanité #impunité #Méditerranée #mer_Méditerranée #naufrages

  • Il campo di #Nea_Kavala nel nord della Grecia

    Dove «le persone non hanno spazio per esistere»

    Il Nord della Grecia è spesso dimenticato ma, non meno delle isole, è un luogo in cui si consuma l’ipocrisia europea dei campi come strumento di gestione del fenomeno migratorio. Un esempio è ciò che accade nel campo di Nea Kavala, vicino a Polykastro, a nord di Salonicco, nonostante la situazione sia critica ovunque.

    Durante l’estate 2023, come in altri stati europei, gli arrivi di persone in movimento si sono moltiplicati. Ad ora, secondo l’UNHCR 2, la popolazione migrante ufficialmente in ingresso in Grecia è stata di 42.343 persone, quando l’anno scorso gli arrivi ufficiali registrati sono stati di poco meno di 20.000 in tutto l’anno. Inoltre la Grecia, sotto pressione per le alluvioni avvenute a inizio Settembre, ha dovuto svuotare campi inizialmente pensati per richiedenti asilo per poter far stare la popolazione greca senza più un’abitazione, come ad esempio è avvenuto nel campo di Klidi Sintiki.

    Di conseguenza, da inizio Luglio 2023 la popolazione del campo di Nea Kavala 3 è aumenta drasticamente, raggiungendo quasi la massima capacità di più di 1.500 persone distribuite in 280 container. Nonostante il governo greco stia affrontando il fenomeno migratorio da diversi anni, viene sempre considerato come un’emergenza e le soluzioni governative adottate sono precarie e non rispettose dei diritti umani. Non solo vengono messi fino a otto persone, incuranti delle nazionalità, negli stessi container di 24 mq pensati per massimo 6 persone, ma vengono anche mischiate persone sane con malate, famiglie con uomini singoli… ovviamente alimentando tensioni che si potrebbero evitare.

    Vivere in un campo in Grecia non è una questione temporanea di qualche giorno, ma possono volerci mesi e anni in base a quante decisioni negative si ricevono, e in base alla propria nazionalità e un po’ a fortuna, dato che la modalità di esaminare le richieste di asilo in Grecia presenta molte carenze e incongruenze. Le persone vedono la Grecia come passaggio, il loro obiettivo finale non è quello di rimanere, ma di ottenere i documenti di viaggio per poter chiedere asilo in un altro paese europeo, evitando così di percorrere la rotta balcanica. Nonostante gli accordi di Dublino, le persone spesso riescono a essere poi accolte in altri paesi europei in quanto riescono a dimostrare che le condizioni di vita nei campi greci sono inumane e degradanti.

    Per descrivere com’è il campo di Nea Kavala mi risuonano le parole di Shahram Khosravi in Io sono confine:

    «E’ il campo stesso a produrre il profugo, o la sua condizione (…) Nessuna delle mie esperienze passate- la fustigazione, il carcere, un anno di vagabondaggi illegali- era riuscita a privarmi della mia dignità. E’ stato il campo a togliermela. Fino ad allora avevo perso uno stato di riferimento con i suoi diritti di cittadinanza, ma non avevo perso la voglia di vivere, la forza di volontà e il coraggio. ll campo mi ha tolto tutto questo».

    Tra i vari effetti collaterali del sovraffollamento c’è stato anche il mancato inizio della scuola. Mentre a Settembre i bambini greci hanno iniziato a frequentarla, per chi vive nel campo di Nea Kavala si è dovuto aspettare fino a fine Ottobre. Oltre ad essere una discriminazione, i bambini nel campo non fanno nulla. Le ONG presenti sul territorio cercano di offrire lezioni e spazi gioco, ma non è abbastanza per coprire il bisogno e per poter garantire continuità educativa.

    Il campo è comunque pensato per non essere visto dalla popolazione, per essere lontano. 6 km lo separano dal centro di Polykastro in cui si trovano tutti i servizi (guardia medica, supermercato, fermata del bus, scuole…) e non c’è un servizio di trasporto pubblico disponibile. L’unica possibilità è utilizzare un taxi o una bicicletta, ma nel primo caso è costoso, nel secondo, la domanda è così alta che non ce ne sono abbastanza per tutti, nonostante l’ONG Open Cultural Center offra un servizio di noleggio 4.

    Il campo è circondato da un muro di cemento alto 3 metri (intervallato da porte di metallo), telecamere e sicurezza che controlla in entrata e in uscita e sembra più simile ad una prigione che ad un rifugio. Ma il problema non è solo questo, è la stessa esistenza e la funzione dei campi.

    Da Settembre il governo greco ha iniziato a impedire l’entrata al campo a chi avesse ottenuto i documenti o a chi, dopo 3 decisioni negative, avrebbe dovuto lasciare la Grecia. In Grecia, quando la richiesta di asilo viene accolta in modo positivo, si ottengono documenti che permettono di viaggiare in Europa e si finisce di ricevere alcuni benefici riservati ai richiedenti asilo, come ad esempio il pocket money o il cibo.

    I programmi che aiutano l’inclusione sono pochi o inesistenti, quindi le persone si ritrovano spaesate e senza sapere cosa fare. Fino a prima di Settembre, alle persone veniva almeno lasciata la possibilità di rimanere nel campo per qualche settimana in più, in modo da potersi organizzare per muoversi in un altro paese o per cercare un’ altra soluzione abitativa in Grecia.

    Attualmente invece, non solo si nega la possibilità di restare nel campo per qualche tempo, ma l’impossibilità di rientrare nel campo è comunicata senza preavviso, e senza dare l’opportunità di entrare per prendere i propri beni personali. Sono appena tornata da qualche mese lì, e nonostante diverse volte ho assistito a scene di totale disrispetto dei diritti umani fuori dal campo, ne ho una stampata in testa. Perché si tratta di persone.

    Quel pomeriggio avevamo organizzato una caccia al tesoro con i bambini che vengono al centro dell’ONG, era stato molto bello e divertente per tutti. Come ogni giorno, a fine giornata, i bambini risalgono sul pullman che Open Cultural Center mette loro a disposizione per tornare al campo di Nea Kavala. Appena arrivati tutti scendono di corsa, i più grandi si mettono in autonomia in fila per i controlli mentre i più piccoli corrono in braccio ai genitori che li aspettano e si preparano a rientrare insieme. Mi fermo a scambiare due chiacchiere con Said, perchè è il primo giorno che la piccola Nura è venuta al centro, e discutiamo di come sia andata. Lo saluto, lui si gira, fa per rientrare e la security controlla il documento ma dice no, non siete più nella lista, non potete entrare. Ma come, ci deve essere un errore, sono uscito 10 minuti fa per prendere la bambina. No, avete ottenuto i documenti e non avete più diritto a star qui.

    In realtà Said e Sana, sua moglie, hanno i documenti, ma non hanno ancora lasciato la Grecia perchè la piccola Roya, appena nata, non li ha. E’ quindi impossibile per loro andarsene. Said cerca di spiegarlo alla security ma niente da fare. Gli viene anche detto che potrebbero lasciarlo entrare, ma ci sono telecamere e se qualcuno dovesse vedere poi l’operatore della security perderebbe il posto di lavoro.

    Nel frattempo Nura intuisce qualcosa e inizia a piangere, perché la mamma e la sorella son dentro, ma niente da fare li han lasciati fuori dal campo. Fra l’altro Said è in infradito e maniche corte, nonostante faccia freddo, perchè pensava di essere uscito per soli 5 minuti, non per sempre. In tutto ciò io guardo la scena, cerco di supportare Said ma sono abbastanza scioccata, non ci credo che quello che vedo sta succedendo davvero.

    Alla fine Said, impotente, decide di passare la notte in un Hotel a Polykastro, nonostante sia costoso, perchè fa già tanto freddo per dormire all’aperto nei prati vicino al campo, soprattutto con una bambina di 4 anni. Prima di salutarci, lui che per tutto il tempo era stato fermo e deciso e sorridente per non far preoccupare la piccola, inizia a piangere e mi dice, ma lo sai che in Afghanistan facevo il traduttore per l’esercito greco? È per questo che me ne sono dovuto andare quando sono arrivati i Talebani.

    Lascio Said, Sana e Nura quando ormai si è fatto buio. Io, con il mio carico di privilegio bianco ed europeo e il passaporto in tasca, torno a casa, sono disgustata.

    Mi chiedo per quanto ancora le politiche EU e i governi continueranno a violare sistematicamente i diritti e la dignità delle persone in movimento. Mi chiedo fino a che punto sapranno spingersi, fino a quando sarà così buio.


    #Grèce #camps_de_réfugiés #réfugiés #asile #migrations #Polykastro #containers

  • Europe’s (digital) borders must fall: End the expansion of the EU’s #EURODAC database

    110 civil society organisations, including Statewatch, are calling for an end to the expansion of EURODAC, the EU database for the registration of asylum-seekers. EURODAC, designed to collect and store migrants’ data, is being transformed into an expansive, violent surveillance tool that will treat people seeking protection as crime suspects This will include children as young as 6 whose fingerprints and facial images will be integrated into the database.

    Europe’s (digital) borders must fall: End the expansion of the EU’s EURODAC database

    EURODAC is being expanded to enforce the EU’s discriminatory and hostile asylum and migration policies: increasing deportations, detention and a broader climate of racialised criminalisation.

    The endless expansion of EURODAC must be stopped: https://edri.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/EURODAC-open-letter.pdf.

    What is EURODAC?

    Since its inception in 2003, the EU has repeatedly expanded the scope, size and function of EURODAC.

    Created to implement the Dublin system and record the country responsible for processing asylum claims, it originally stored only limited information, mostly fingerprints, on few categories of people: asylum-seekers and people apprehended irregularly crossing the EU’s borders. From the start, this system has been a means to enforce a discriminatory and harmful deportation regime, premised on a false framework of ‘illegality’ in migration.

    After a first reform in 2013 allowing police to access the database, the EU continues to detach EURODAC from its asylum framework to re-package it as a system pursuing ‘wider immigration purposes’. The changes were announced in 2020 in the EU Migration Pact, the EU’s so-called ‘fresh start on migration’. Rather than a fresh start, the proposals contain the harshest proposals in the history of the EU’s migration policy: more detention, more violence, and a wider, evolved tool of surveillance in the EURODAC database to track, push back and deport ‘irregular’ migrants.
    How is the EURODAC expansion endangering people’s human rights?

    More people included into the database: Concretely EURODAC would collect a vast swathe of personal data (photographs, copies of travel and identity documents, etc.) on a wider range of people: those resettled, relocated, disembarked following search and rescue operations and arrested at borders or within national territories.

    Data collection on children: The reform would also lower the threshold for storing data in the system to the age of six, extend the data retention periods and weaken the conditions for law enforcement consultation of the database.

    Including facial images into the database: The reform also proposes the expansion to include facial images. Comparisons and searches run in the database can be based on facial recognition – a technology notoriously error-prone and unreliable that threatens the essence of dignity, non- discrimination and privacy rights. The database functions as a genuine tool of violence as it authorises the use of coercion against asylum-seekers who refuse to give up their data, such as detention and forced collection. Not only do these changes contradict European data protection standards, they demonstrate how the EU’s institutional racism creates differential standards between migrants and non-migrants.

    Access by law enforcement: EURODAC’s revamp also facilitates its connection to other existing EU migration and police databases as part of the so-called ‘interoperability’ initiative - the creation of an overarching EU information system designed to increase police identity checks of non-EU nationals, leading to increased racial profiling. These measures also unjustly equate asylum seekers with criminals. Lastly, the production of statistics from EURODAC data and other databases is supposed to inform future policymaking on migration movement trends. In reality, it is expected that they will facilitate illegal pushbacks and overpolicing of humanitarian assistance.
    End the expansion of EURODAC

    The EURODAC reform is a gross violation of the right to seek international protection, a chilling conflation of migration and criminality and an out-of-control surveillance instrument. The far- right is already anticipating the next step, calling for the collection of DNA.

    The EURODAC reform is one of many examples of the digitalisation of Fortress Europe. It is inconsistent with fundamental rights and will undermine frameworks of protection and rights of people on the move.

    We demand:

    – That the EU institutions immediately reject the expansion of EURODAC.
    - For legislators to prevent further violence and ensure protection at and within borders when rethinking the EURODAC system.
    - For legislators and EU Member States to establish safe and regular pathways for migrants and protective reception conditions.

    #base_de_données #surveillance #frontières #frontières_digitales #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Dublin #règlement_Dublin #données_personnelles #reconnaissance_faciale #technologie

  • « #Oltre_La_Valle », un #film di #Virginia_Bellizzi

    Il film, che è stato presentato in anteprima al 41° Torino Film Festival il 26 novembre nella sezione Concorso documentari italiani, è ambientato tra Oulx e Claviere, terra da sempre di transito dove le storie dei migranti si intrecciano a quelle dei volontari che operano nei luoghi di accoglienza.


    #documentaire #film_documentaire #frontière_sud-alpine #Clavière #Briançon #Val_de_Suse #Italie #Alpes #montagne #France #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #Oulx

    • Oltre la valle

      In una valle al confine fra Italia e Francia, da sempre terra di transito, si incrociano le vite dei migranti e quelle degli operatori di un centro di accoglienza.
      I migranti cercano di attraversare il confine e di arrivare in Francia, consapevoli di poter essere respinti alla frontiera. Le stagioni si susseguono, il presente e il passato si sovrappongono, le traiettorie umane si snodano, sospese nell’atto irreversibile di cercare uno spazio migliore in cui esistere.

      Note di regia

      Il mio prozio emigrò in Argentina durante gli anni Quaranta. Non l’ho mai conosciuto, ma le telefonate che arrivavano dall’altro lato del mondo, da parte dei suoi figli e spesso nel periodo delle feste, hanno sempre avuto un suono prezioso.
      Quando loro ne ricordavano la memoria emergeva sempre una componente di lotta, il desiderio di trovare una strada che potesse portare a un futuro sognato, nonostante le loro parole non lo dichiarassero mai apertamente. Avvertivo anche il suono di quella sofferenza ereditata e un po’ nascosta, di chi ha sbattuto molte volte contro un muro prima di poter andare oltre. Di chi si è sentito un po’ bistrattato, solo per il fatto di essersi immaginato altrove, e di averne inseguito l’atto più definitivo, quasi fosse una scelleratezza. È strano come la storia, pur ripetendosi, si dimentichi. Per questo, molti anni dopo quelle telefonate, in tempi in cui le barriere del Mediterraneo e i margini dell’Europa diventano sempre più alti, abbiamo sentito l’esigenza di fermarci, per fotografare un luogo e le storie che lo attraversano. Ma non per cristallizzarlo, al contrario, per coglierne il transito. Il periodo di osservazione si è svolto alla frontiera italo-francese, precisamente nell’Alta Val di Susa fra Oulx e Claviere, cittadina sul versante italiano del Colle del Monginevro fino agli anni Settanta tagliata a metà dal confine. È incredibile come da qui, la Francia sembri vicinissima e lontanissima allo stesso tempo. La sua geografia cambia a seconda del tipo di documento: dista solo pochi minuti per chi ha una macchina e una targa europea, oppure cinque ore di cammino per chi viene dalla rotta balcanica. Ma è stata solo la prima di una serie di dicotomie che continuavano a ripetersi, che condividevano quella terra di confine scandendone il tempo e lo spazio: col passare delle stagioni, ogni anno, le distese di neve lasciano il posto a immensi prati, turisti e attivisti gravitano intorno alle stesse seggiovie e campi da golf, il nostro passato ritorna nel presente di chi attraversa. La frontiera, si muove su un meccanismo ben oliato, una giostra drammatica vissuta dagli stessi migranti come un gioco dell’assurdo, tanta è la loro abitudine a essere respinti e a riattraversare il giorno successivo, rischiando ogni volta la vita. È stato molto difficile ottenere qualsiasi tipo di permesso, e incontro umano dopo incontro umano, anche l’atto di filmare si è inserito negli argini di inevitabili contrappunti: "sono un solidale, sto aiutando e rischiando, il confine fra ciò che si può fare e non si può fare è molto sottile”.
      “Sono un migrante, eppure non posso attraversare il confine. Ma il confine qui... dov’é precisamente?”
      Forse il confine si trova dove c’è il cippo di pietra con le lettere F e I, anche se a volte è nascosto nel bosco, ed è difficile da intravedere. Forse è un po’ prima, là dove cammina il gendarme. Forse non c’è mai stato, oppure non è una linea retta. Rispettare le mille anime di questa Valle, e voler allo stesso tempo raccontare con oggettività ciò che stava accadendo, ha implicato una continua ricerca di equilibri e un’incessante reinterpretazione della realtà. Uno stare in bilico, come su una linea sottile. La pandemia e la guerra in Ucraina, hanno mutato nuovamente gli equilibri, mettendoci davanti altre realtà delicate e irreversibili.
      “Oltre la Valle” è una storia vista con un caleidoscopio, in cui i frammenti, o i pezzi del puzzle, vogliono ritrarre un mondo reale che sembra astratto e inverosimile, dove le montagne sono ancora sovrastate da fortezze, e i confini di un regno sono contesi nella rievocazione di un’antica battaglia. Dove i tunnel possono essere il tramite verso la meta o possono riportare al punto di partenza. Dove esiste un rifugio in cui gli ospiti provengono da un’altra Europa, dall’Africa e dall’Asia, e un operatore sogna di diventare qualcos’altro, perché in fondo, tutto, nella nostra vita, può essere di passaggio.


  • L’augmentation du #chiffre_d’affaires issu des ventes d’#armes du Top 100 du #SIPRI impactée par des défis de production et des carnets de commandes remplis

    Le chiffre d’affaires issu des #ventes_d’armes et de services à caractère militaire par les 100 plus grandes entreprises d’#armement s’élève à 597 milliards de dollars en 2022, soit 3,5 % de moins qu’en 2021 en termes réels, alors même que la demande a fortement augmenté. C’est ce que révèlent les nouvelles données publiées aujourd’hui par le Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

    Cette diminution s’explique principalement par la baisse du chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes des plus grandes entreprises américaines. Le chiffre d’affaires a augmenté de manière significative en Asie, Océanie et au Moyen-Orient. Les commandes en cours et la multiplication de nouveaux contrats laissent présager que le chiffre d’affaires mondial issu des ventes d’armes pourrait augmenter de manière significative au cours des prochaines années.

    La demande en armement augmente mais la #production reste à la traîne

    L’invasion à grande échelle de l’Ukraine par la Russie et les tensions géopolitiques dans le monde ont provoqué une forte augmentation de la demande d’armes et d’équipements militaires en 2022. Cependant, malgré de nouvelles commandes, de nombreuses entreprises d’armement américaines et européennes n’ont pas pu augmenter de manière significative leur capacité de production en raison de difficultés de recrutement, de flambée des coûts et de perturbations dans les chaînes d’approvisionnement exacerbées par la #guerre_en_Ukraine. En outre, les pays ont passé de nouvelles commandes en fin d’année et en raison du décalage entre les commandes et la production, l’augmentation de la demande ne s’est pas reflétée dans le chiffre d’affaires de ces entreprises en 2022.

    « De nombreuses entreprises d’armement ont été confrontées à des obstacles pour adapter leur production en vue d’une guerre de haute intensité », souligne Dr Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, directrice du programme Dépenses militaires et Production d’armes du SIPRI. « Toutefois, de nouveaux contrats ont été signés notamment pour des #munitions, ce qui devrait se traduire par une hausse du chiffre d’affaires en 2023 et au-delà. » Contrairement aux plus grands fournisseurs américains et européens, les entreprises d’Asie, d’Océanie et du Moyen-Orient ont vu leur chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes augmenter de manière significative en 2022, démontrant ainsi leur capacité à répondre à une demande accrue dans des délais plus courts. Cela est particulièrement vrai dans les pays où les entreprises disposent de capacités de fabrication réactives et compétitives, comme #Israël et la #Corée_du_Sud, et dans ceux où les entreprises ont tendance à s’appuyer sur des chaînes d’approvisionnement courtes.

    Aux États-Unis, le chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes chute en raison de problèmes de production

    Le chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes des 42 entreprises américaines du Top 100 a chuté de 7,9 % pour atteindre 302 milliards de dollars en 2022. Il représente 51 % du chiffre d’affaires total issu des ventes d’armes du Top 100. Sur les 42 entreprises américaines, 32 ont enregistré une baisse de leur chiffre d’affaires sur un an, citant le plus souvent des problèmes persistants dans la chaîne d’approvisionnement et des pénuries de main-d’œuvre résultant de la pandémie de Covid-19.

    « On constate un afflux de nouvelles commandes liées à la guerre en Ukraine et certaines grandes entreprises américaines, dont #Lockheed_Martin et #Raytheon_Technologies, ont reçu de nouvelles commandes en conséquence », précise Dr Nan Tian, chercheur principal au SIPRI. « Cependant, en raison des carnets de commandes déjà existants de ces entreprises et des difficultés à augmenter leur capacité de production, les revenus générés par ces nouvelles commandes ne se refléteront dans les comptes de l’entreprise probablement que d’ici deux à trois ans. »

    L’#Asie surpasse l’#Europe tirée par un phénomène de #modernisation_militaire

    Le chiffre d’affaire issu des ventes d’armes des 22 entreprises d’Asie et d’Océanie répertoriées dans le classement a augmenté de 3,1 % pour atteindre 134 milliards de dollars en 2022. Il s’agit de la deuxième année consécutive où le chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes des entreprises du Top 100 situées en Asie et en Océanie est supérieur à celui des entreprises situées en Europe.

    « La demande intérieure et l’appui sur des fournisseurs locaux ont protégé les entreprises d’armement asiatiques des perturbations dans la chaîne d’approvisionnement en 2022 », explique Xiao Liang, chercheur au programme Dépenses militaires et Production d’armes du SIPRI. « Les entreprises en #Chine, en #Inde, au #Japon et à Taïwan ont toutes bénéficié d’investissements gouvernementaux soutenus dans le cadre des programmes de modernisation militaire. »

    Le #chiffre_d’affaires combiné des quatre entreprises sud-coréennes du Top 100 a chuté de 0,9 %, principalement en raison d’une baisse de 8,5 % enregistrée par le plus grand producteur d’armes du pays, #Hanwha_Aerospace. Deux entreprises sud-coréennes ont enregistré une augmentation de leur chiffre d’affaires, notamment #LIG_Nex1. Les entreprises sud-coréennes devraient connaître un accroissement de leur chiffre d’affaires dans les années à venir en raison d’une augmentation des commandes enregistrées après la signature d’importants contrats d’armement avec la Pologne et les Émirats arabes unis.

    Augmentation modeste du chiffre d’affaires en Europe alors que la demande liée à l’Ukraine commence à affluer

    Le chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes des 26 entreprises du Top 100 basées en Europe a augmenté de 0,9 % pour atteindre 121 milliards de dollars en 2022.

    « La guerre en Ukraine a entraîné une demande de matériel adapté à une guerre d’usure, comme les munitions et les véhicules blindés. De nombreux producteurs européens ont vu leur chiffre d’affaires augmenter », souligne Lorenzo Scarazzato, chercheur au programme Dépenses militaires et Production d’armes du SIPRI. « Il s’agit notamment d’entreprises basées en #Allemagne, en #Norvège et en #Pologne. Par exemple, la société polonaise #PGZ a augmenté son chiffre d’affaires de 14 %, bénéficiant du programme accéléré de modernisation militaire que le pays poursuit. »

    Les sociétés transeuropéennes #Airbus et #KNDS comptent parmi les principales sources d’augmentation du chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes en Europe, en grande partie grâce aux livraisons effectuées sur des commandes de longue date.

    Les entreprises turques mènent une augmentation significative du chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes au Moyen-Orient

    Le Moyen-Orient a connu la plus forte augmentation en pourcentage du chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes de toutes les régions en 2022. Les sept entreprises basées au Moyen-Orient figurant dans le Top 100 ont enregistré une augmentation substantielle. Leur chiffre d’affaires combiné de 17,9 milliards de dollars représente une augmentation de 11 % sur un an. Le chiffre d’affaires combiné des quatre entreprises turques a atteint 5,5 milliards de dollars, soit 22 % de plus qu’en 2021. Le chiffre d’affaires combiné des trois entreprises israéliennes du Top 100 a atteint 12,4 milliards de dollars en 2022, soit une augmentation de 6,5 % par rapport à 2021.

    « Les entreprises du Moyen-Orient spécialisées dans des produits moins sophistiqués sur le plan technologique ont pu augmenter leur production plus rapidement afin de répondre à l’augmentation de la demande », précise Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, chercheur principal au SIPRI. « L’exemple le plus frappant est celui de #Baykar, en Turquie, producteur du #drone #Bayraktar_TB-2. Baykar est entré dans le Top 100 pour la première fois en raison de l’augmentation de son chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes de 94 %, soit le taux d’augmentation le plus rapide de toutes les entreprises du classement. »

    Autres développements notables

    - En 2022, la Chine représente la deuxième plus grande part du chiffre d’affaires par pays du Top 100, soit 18 %. Le chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes combiné des huit entreprises d’armement chinoises du Top 100 a augmenté de 2,7 % pour atteindre 108 milliards de dollars.
    - Le chiffre d’affaires issus des ventes d’armes des sept entreprises britanniques dans le Top 100 ont augmenté de 2,6 % pour atteindre 41,8 milliards de dollars, soit 7,0 % du total.
    - En raison du manque de données, seules deux entreprises russes ont été incluses dans le Top 100 pour 2022. Leur chiffre d’affaires combiné a chuté de 12 %, à 20,8 milliards de dollars. La transparence des entreprises russes continue de régresser. Bien qu’il s’agisse d’une holding, sans capacité de production directe, #Rostec est incluse dans le Top 100 de 2022 en tant que mandataire des entreprises qu’elle contrôle.
    - La seule entreprise ukrainienne figurant dans le Top 100, #UkrOboronProm, a vu son chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes chuter de 10 % en termes réels, à 1,3 milliard de dollars. Bien que son chiffre d’affaires ait augmenté en termes nominaux, cela a été compensé par la forte inflation du pays.

    À l’attention des rédacteurs

    À propos de la base de données du SIPRI sur l’industrie de l’armement

    La base de données du SIPRI sur l’industrie de l’armement a été créée en 1989. À cette époque, elle excluait les données des entreprises installées en Chine, en Union soviétique et en Europe de l’Est. La version actuelle contient des données pour 2002-2022, y compris des données sur les entreprises russes. Les entreprises chinoises sont incluses à partir de 2015.
    Le « chiffre d’affaires issu des ventes d’armes » fait référence au chiffre d’affaires généré par la vente de biens et de services à caractère militaire à des clients militaires nationaux et étrangers. Sauf indication contraire, tous les changements sont exprimés en termes réels et tous les chiffres sont donnés en dollars américains constants de 2022. Les comparaisons entre 2021 et 2022 sont basées sur la liste des entreprises du classement 2022 (c’est-à-dire que la comparaison annuelle s’effectue entre le même ensemble d’entreprises). Les comparaisons à plus long terme sont basées sur des ensembles d’entreprises listées au cours de l’année respective (c’est-à-dire que la comparaison porte sur des listes différentes d’entreprises).

    La base de données du SIPRI sur l’industrie de l’armement, qui présente un ensemble de données plus détaillées pour les années 2002 à 2022, est disponible sur le site Web du SIPRI : https://www.sipri.org/databases/armsindustry


    #industrie_de_l'armement #rapport #chiffres #statistiques #USA #Etats-Unis #business #Turquie

    voir aussi :

  • Témoignage : pourquoi je ne retournerai pas vivre aux États Unis.

    Cette jeune mère de quatre enfants nous explique les acquis sociaux pour lesquels il faut se battre.

    En écoutant sa déscription de la manière de vivre des classes moyennes états-uniennes j’ai l’impression que les gouvernements des states sont en train de mener une guerre contre le peuple. Pas étonnant que les gens votent pour n"importe qui leur promet d’être très méchant avec les autres

    #USA #immobilier #insécurité #armes #assurance_maladie #massacres #crocdiles #tornades #zombies ;-)

  • Border justice

    Instead of forging safe, legal pathways to protection, European states and the EU are fostering strategies of deterrence, exclusion and externalization. Most people on the move are left with no alternative but to cross borders irregularly. When they do, state actors routinely detain, beat and expel them – mostly in secret, with no assessment of their situation, and denying them access to legal safeguards.

    These multiple human rights violations are all part of the pushback experience. Often reliant on racial profiling, pushbacks have become a normalized practice at European borders. ECCHR challenges this state of rightlessness through legal interventions and supports affected people to document and tell their stories. Together we hold states accountable and push for changes in border practice and policies.

    Our team brings together a diverse group of lawyers and interdisciplinary researchers, working transnationally with partners to develop legal strategies and tackle rights violations at borders. We meticulously reconstruct and verify the experiences of those subjected to pushbacks. Confronted with states’ denial of the reality at Europe’s borders, we collect, analyze and publicise in-depth knowledge. Our aim is to enforce the most basic of legal principles: the right to have rights.


    #frontières #justice #refoulements #push-backs #violence #migrations #réfugiés #asile #justice_frontalière #justice_migratoire #Espagne #rapport #Ceuta #Grèce #Macédoine_du_Nord #Libye #Italie #hotspots #Allemagne #Croatie #Slovénie #frontière_sud-alpine #droit_d'asile #ECCHR

  •  »Vor Mauern und hinter Gittern« 

    Kinderrechte werden an den Außengrenzen der Europäischen Union mit Füßen getreten

    Kinder und Jugendliche werden an den Außengrenzen der EU gewaltsam zurückgeschoben (»Pushbacks«) und nach Ankunft in der EU inhaftiert – eine systematisch angewandte Praxis in mehreren Außengrenzstaaten der EU. Anlässlich des Treffens der EU-Innenminister*innen nächste Woche zeigt terre des hommes mit dem aktuellen Bericht »Vor Mauern und hinter Gittern« am Beispiel von Ungarn, Griechenland, Bulgarien und Polen die kinderrechtswidrigen Praktiken genauer auf. Der Bericht bezieht sich vor allem auf die Erfahrungen und Hinweise zivilgesellschaftlicher Projektpartnerorganisationen und verweist auch auf die Mitverantwortung der EU, deren Institutionen das Verhalten der Mitgliedsstaaten billigen und stützen.

    »Migrationshaft bei Kindern und Jugendlichen ist trotz ihrer Unvereinbarkeit mit der UN-Kinderrechtskonvention Realität in drei der vier untersuchten Mitgliedstaaten« sagt Teresa Wilmes, Programmreferentin für Deutschland und Europa bei terre des hommes. »In Ungarn, dem vierten untersuchten Mitgliedsstaat, wurde die Inhaftierung von geflüchteten Minderjährigen nur deswegen beendet, weil Pushbacks den Zugang zu einem Asylverfahren bereits nahezu vollständig verhindern.«

    Die Folgen für Betroffene sind gravierend: Infolge einer Inhaftierung leiden Kinder und Jugendliche häufig an Depressionen, posttraumatischen Belastungsstörungen und Angstzu­ständen. Auch die Erfahrung von Gewalt gegen sie selbst oder Verwandte und Freunde ist für Kinder und Jugendliche traumatisierend und begleitet sie oft ein Leben lang.

    Rückendeckung erhalten die Mitgliedsstaaten dabei von der EU und ihren Institutionen: »Die Europäische Union, allen voran die EU-Kommission, macht sich für die Verletzung von Kinderrechten an den europäischen Außengrenzen mitverantwortlich. Zahlreiche Beispiele dafür finden sich im Bericht: vom europäischen Pilotprojekt zum Grenzschutz in Bulgarien über die EU-Finanzierung haftähnlicher Einrichtungen auf Griechenland bis hin zur Rolle der EU-Agentur FRONTEX,« erklärt Sophia Eckert, rechtspolitische Referentin bei terre des hommes. »Unser Bericht zeigt, dass die europäische Gemeinschaft maßgebliche Einflussmöglichkeiten darauf hat, ob der Schutz, das Wohl und die Rechte geflüchteter Kinder und Jugendlicher in der EU gelten oder einer ausgeklügelten Abschottungspolitik der EU-Mitgliedsstaaten zum Opfer fallen sollen.«

    Mit Blick auf das Treffen der europäischen Innenminister*innen in der kommenden Woche fordert terre des hommes eine Kehrtwende der Reform des Gemeinsamen Europäischen Asylsystems. Dazu Sophia Eckert: »Dass die geplanten Reformvorschläge die im Bericht beschrieben Problemlagen beenden werden, ist illusorisch. Vielmehr ist zu befürchten, dass die Reform die Missstände an den europäischen Außengrenzen weiter verschärft, indem sie den Rechtsverletzungen einen europäischen Rahmen gibt. Wir fordern daher die Entscheidungsträger*innen in der EU auf, diese unsäglichen Reformpläne zu stoppen. Von einem menschenwürdigen europäischen Asylsystem erwarten wir den Zugang zu Asyl statt rechtswidriger Abschiebung, Kindeswohl statt Lagerhaft und faire Asylverfahren statt beschleunigter Grenzverfahren.«

    Pour télécharger le rapport :


    #enfants #enfance #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #rapport #terre_des_hommes #enfermement #push-backs #refoulements #Hongrie #Grèce #Bulgarie #Pologne #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #droit_d'asile #traumatisme #santé #santé_mentale

  • Get out ! Zur Situation von Geflüchteten in Bulgarien
    (publié en 2020, ajouté ici pour archivage)

    „Bulgaria is very bad“ ist eine typische Aussage jener, die auf ihrer Flucht bereits etliche Länder durchquert haben. Der vorliegende Bericht geht der Frage nach, warum Bulgarien seit Langem einen extrem schlechten Ruf unter den Geflüchteten genießt.

    Hierzu wird kenntnisreich die massive Gewalt nachgezeichnet, die Bulgarien im Zuge sogenannter „Push-Backs“ anwendet. Auch auf die intensive Kooperation mit der Türkei beim Schutz der gemeinsamen Grenze wird eingegangen. Da die Inhaftierung von Geflüchteten in Bulgarien obligatorisch ist, werden überdies die rechtlichen Hintergründe hierfür und die miserablen Haftbedingungen beschrieben. Weiterhin wird das bulgarische Asylsystem thematisiert und auf die besondere Situation von Geflüchteten eingegangen, die im Rahmen der Dublin-Verordnung nach Bulgarien abgeschoben wurden. Das bulgarische Integrationskonzept, das faktisch nur auf dem Papier existiert, wird ebenfalls beleuchtet.

    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #rapport #Bulgarie #push-backs #refoulements #pull-backs #violence #morts_aux_frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #milices #extrême_droite #enfermement #Dublin #renvois_Dublin #droit_d'asile #encampement #camps

  • Segelvereinswiki

    Tout ce tu dois savoir si tu veux fonder ton club de voile en Allemagne

    Liebe Segelfreundin, lieber Segelfreund,

    beinahe 1300 Segelvereine aus allen 16 Bundesländern sind Mitglied in einem Landes Segler-Verband und damit dem Deutschen Segler-Verband. Neben aller Individualität der einzelnen Clubs, sind sich alle Vereine und ihre Mitglieder in zwei Dingen einig: zunächst einmal in ihrer uneingeschränkten Leidenschaft für das Segeln in all seinen Facetten. Daraus ergibt sich das zweite, stark bindende Element – das ehrenamtliche Engagement, auf allen Ebenen in allen Vereinen. Egal, ob Fahrten- oder Leistungssegeln, Windsurfen oder Kiteboarden, Eis-, Land-, Strand- oder RC-Segeln: Überall bringen Segler sich ein und machen sich stark für ihre große Leidenschaft.

    Wir wissen, dass das oft mit enormem Einsatz verbunden und eine große Herausforderung ist. Deshalb haben wir, alle Landes Segler-Verbände und der Deutsche Segler-Verband, für Sie ein umfassendes Handbuch entwickelt. Mit dieser Informationssammlung möchten wir Ihnen die Gestaltung des Vereinslebens erleichtern. Wir geben Ihnen hier alle notwendigen Informationen für eine gute Vereinsführung an die Hand: von einer Satzungsvorlage über Tipps zu Fördermitteln und Versicherungen bis hin zu Hinweisen für die Ausrichtung einer Regatta. Nutzen Sie das komplette Angebot oder einzelne Elemente daraus. Bitte beachten Sie dabei, dass die Informationen auf diesen Seiten nichts rechtsverbindlich sind.

    Betrachten Sie unser Handbuch als unterstützendes Nachschlagewerk, das Ihnen Anregungen liefern und den Vereinsalltag erleichtern soll. Sie vermissen einige Themen? Dann melden Sie sich unbedingt bei uns. Gemeinsam können wir dieses Handbuch jederzeit erweitern und weiter verbessern. Wenn Sie Fragen und Anregungen haben, freuen wir uns über einen Austausch unter presse@dsv.org.

    #Allemagne #sport #navigation_à_voile #association

  • "Wie ein zweiter Tod"

    Am griechisch-türkischen Grenzfluss Evros enden Versuche, in die EU zu gelangen, immer wieder mit dem Tod. Die Verstorbenen werden oft spät gefunden und bleiben namenlos - ein Trauma für die Angehörigen.

    Am 17. Oktober 2022 überquert die 22-jährige Suhur den Evros, den Grenzfluss zwischen der Türkei und Griechenland. Ein Schlepper verspricht der Frau aus Somalia, sie bis nach Thessaloniki zu bringen. Auf der griechischen Seite angekommen, geht es schnell weiter durch einen Wald.

    Doch Suhur hat starke Bauchschmerzen, nach einigen Kilometern kann sie nicht mehr weiterlaufen. Die anderen aus der Gruppe lassen sie alleine zurück, ihre Freundin verspricht Hilfe zu suchen. Doch dazu dazu kommt es nicht. Tage später findet die Polizei ihre Leiche.

    Es ist Suhurs Onkel Fahti, der ihre Geschichte erzählt, nachdem er ihre Leiche im Universitätskrankenhaus in Alexandroupoli identifiziert hat.
    Engmaschige Kontrollen entlang des Ufers

    Suhur ist eine von vielen Menschen, die versuchen, über den Evros zu gelangen, um Europa zu erreichen. Der Fluss markiert eine Außengrenze der Europäischen Union. Entlang der griechischen Uferseite allerdings wird engmaschig kontrolliert, regelmäßig sind unterschiedliche Polizeieinheiten in der Gegend unterwegs.

    In der Grenzzone selbst ist der Zutritt streng verboten, nur mit Sondererlaubnis darf man in die Nähe des Flusses gehen. Seit 2020 wird ein Grenzzaun errichtet, 38 Kilometer ist er bereits lang, er soll Migranten von einem illegalen Übertritt abhalten.

    Weiterhin traurige Rekorde

    Doch offenbar verfehlen die Maßnahmen ihre erwünschte Wirkung. So erreichten allein im Jahr 2022 laut UNHCR 6022 Flüchtlinge über den Landweg Griechenland, das sind ähnlich hohe Zahlen wie vor der Verschärfung der Kontrollen.

    Einen traurigen Rekord stellt die Zahl der Toten auf, die gefunden werden. Mindestens 63 Menschen sind nach offiziellen Angaben auf der Flucht gestorben, die tatsächlichen Zahlen dürften noch deutlich höher liegen.


    Ein Rechtsmediziner zählt die Toten

    In Alexandroupoli, auf griechischer Seite, arbeitet Pavlos Pavlidis als Rechtsmediziner der Region. Jeder am Evros gefundene tote Flüchtling wird von ihm obduziert.

    Pavlidis führt Protokoll über die Anzahl der Toten am Evros. Auch der tote Körper der Somalierin Suhur wurde ihm aus einem Waldstück nahe des Flusses gebracht.

    Aus London angereist, um die Nichte zu identifizieren

    Nun sitzt ihr Onkel Fahti auf einem Sofa in seinem Büro. Sie sei eine wunderschöne Frau gewesen, sagt er. Fathi ist aus London angereist, um seine Nichte zu identifizieren.

    Die Freundin von Suhur, so erzählt es Fathi, habe sich der griechischen Polizei gestellt, um sie zu der schwer erkrankten Suhur zu führen. Doch die Polizei habe nicht nach ihr gesucht, und die Freundin sofort zurück in die Türkei abgeschoben.

    Verifizieren lässt sich diese Version der Geschehnisse nicht mehr. Die „Push-Back“-Praxis, das Abschieben von Migranten ohne Verfahren, wurde offiziell nie von der griechischen Regierung bestätigt.Trotzdem gibt es viele ähnliche Berichte von Betroffenen.

    Rechtsmediziner Pavlidis hat Suhurs toten Körper obduziert und kommt zu dem Ergebnis: Die junge Frau habe auf der Flucht einen Magendurchbruch erlitten, voraussichtlich hervorgerufen durch großen Stress. Am Ende sei sie an einer Sepsis gestorben. Durch Erschöpfung hervorgerufene Krankheiten seien eine häufige Todesursache am Evros, die häufigste aber Ertrinken im Fluss.

    Viel Flüchtlinge können kaum schwimmen

    Pavlidis sagt, die Verantwortung für die vielen Toten trügen zunächst die Schlepper, die die Schlauchboote völlig überladen, so, dass sie schnell kenterten. Viele Flüchtlinge könnten kaum schwimmen, so werde der Fluss zur Gefahr für ihr Leben.

    Die Flüchtlinge selbst unterschätzen offenbar die Gefährlichkeit der Überfahrt. Aber auch die strenge Abschirmung der Grenze bedeutet für sie eine Gefahr. Um den Grenzschützern auszuweichen, schlagen sie immer gefährlichere Routen ein.

    Wer aufgegriffen wird, muss Angst haben, abgeschoben zu werden. Verletzt sich einer aus der Gruppe, muss dieser damit rechnen, alleine zurückgelassen zu werden. Denn Hilfe zu holen, würde für alle bedeuten, dass ihre teuer bezahlte Flucht erst einmal gestoppt ist.

    Aktuell 52 ungeklärte Todesfälle

    Immer wieder findet die Polizei Tote also auch in den bewaldeten Bergen entlang des Flusses. Die Leichen sind schon nach wenigen Tagen kaum noch zu identifizieren. Pavlidis versucht es trotzdem, sucht nach Todesursache und Todeszeitpunkt und nach Antworten auf die Frage, wer ist dieser Mensch war.

    Aktuell erzählt Pavlidis von 52 ungeklärten Fällen. Hinter jedem einzelnen stünden Angehörige, die diese Menschen vermissten. Die Identität zu verlieren, sei wie ein zweiter Tod, sagt der Rechtsmediziner.

    Etwa 200 Grabsteine erinnern an die namenlosen Toten

    Um den namenlosen Toten eine letzte Ruhestätte zu geben, entstand in dem in den Bergen, nahe der Gemeinde Sidiro, ein Friedhof, der ihnen gewidmet ist. Etwa 200 Grabsteine stehen hier auf einer leichten Anhöhe. Auf den Platten stehen Nummern. Pavlidis führt eine Liste mit den entsprechenden Nummern in seinem Büro.

    Falls doch irgendwann ein Angehöriger zu ihm käme und mit Hilfe einer DNA-Probe einen Toten identifiziere, könne der auf dem Friedhof der Namenlosen ausgegraben und umgebettet werden.

    Im Fall der Somalierin Suhur ist Pavlidis eine Identifizierung gelungen. Ihr Onkel Fathi lebte wochenlang mit der Ungewissheit, was seiner Nichte geschehen sein könnte.

    Nachdem er bei der griechischen Polizei eine Suchanzeige abgegeben hat, lebt er nun mit der brutalen Gewissheit, dass Suhur gestorben ist. Wenigstens habe er nun Klarheit, sagt er, so dass seine Familie und er nun von Suhur Abschied nehmen könnten.


    #frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #morts_aux_frontières #Evros #fleuve #Turquie #Grèce #Pavlos_Pavlidis #cimetière #migrations #asile #réfugiés #identification #murs #barrières_frontalières

  • Chômage : le gouvernement charge les seniors pour justifier son échec

    Les demandeurs d’emploi #seniors sont plus que jamais dans le viseur. Lundi, le gouvernement a confirmé qu’il n’allait pas agréer en l’état la nouvelle convention d’#assurance-chômage issue de l’accord entre le patronat, la CFDT, FO et la CFTC, le 10 novembre, envisageant plutôt de prolonger les règles actuelles par décret jusqu’en juin. L’exécutif veut en effet attendre l’aboutissement de la négociation sur l’#emploi_des_seniors qui devrait démarrer d’ici peu.

    Dans un document envoyé aux syndicats et au patronat, le gouvernement annonce viser un taux d’emploi des 60-64 ans de 65 % (contre 33 % aujourd’hui) à l’horizon 2030, notamment en aménageant les fins de carrière ou en renforçant la formation professionnelle.

    « Si on ne secoue pas les puces »

    Les mesures concernant l’#indemnisation des quinquagénaires seront également abordées dans cette discussion, même si l’accord régressif sur l’assurance-chômage prévoit déjà 440 millions d’euros d’économies à réaliser sur leur dos pour la période 2024-2027.

    Mais, sans attendre, la semaine passée, le ministre de l’Économie Bruno Le Maire avait déjà prévenu qu’il souhaitait abaisser la durée d’indemnisation pour les plus 55 ans, pointant le fait qu’elle dure « vingt-sept mois » à cet âge contre « dix-huit mois pour les chômeurs plus jeunes », avait-il déclaré sur franceinfo.

    Une façon selon lui « de mettre à la retraite de manière anticipée les plus de 55 ans ». Pour le ministre : _« Si on ne secoue pas les puces, il n’y aura pas 5 % de taux de chômage en fin de quinquennat, soit le #plein-emploi_ (contre 7,4 % aujourd’hui NDLR). »

    Cinq millions de chômeurs

    Si le gouvernement multiplie les déclarations tonitruantes et stigmatisantes, c’est que les statistiques du #chômage continuent de remonter en flèche depuis deux trimestres consécutifs, selon l’Insee. Une tendance confirmée par les dernières statistiques de la Dares, parues ce lundi.

    En incluant les chômeurs n’ayant pas travaillé (catégorie A) et ceux en activité réduite (catégories B et C), le nombre de demandeurs d’emploi en France (hors Mayotte) augmente de 0,29 % (+15 800) par rapport à septembre et s’établit à 5,377 millions.

    Le nombre d’inscrits de 50 ans et plus, traditionnellement élevé, est de 1,39 million en octobre, contre 1,38 million en septembre. Ils sont 835 800 âgés de 50 ans et plus à être présents sur les listes de Pôle emploi en octobre depuis un an ou plus, en légère hausse par rapport à septembre.

    Plutôt que de remettre en cause sa politique axée sur la #précarisation de l’#emploi, qui risque de frapper encore plus fort les seniors à l’avenir avec la récente #réforme_des_retraites, le gouvernement persiste à réduire leurs droits.

    Dernière trouvaille, selon les informations de la Tribune dimanche, la première ministre Élisabeth Borne envisagerait désormais de limiter les #ruptures_conventionnelles, qui explosent entre 55 et 60 ans faisant office de #préretraite déguisée, en pointant une nouvelle fois du doigt les bénéficiaires. Mais sans lutter contre les discriminations liées à l’âge chez les employeurs, souvent prompts à se débarrasser des salariés les plus matures.

  • La Caf des Landes condamnée pour avoir mis fin au RSA d’allocataires après un contrôle | StreetPress

    « Après des contrôles, il arrive que certaines Caf coupent le RSA à titre presque punitif et ne le rétablissent jamais ensuite », dénonce Maître Terrasson. D’après lui, il s’agit de mesures « illégales, vexatoires et humiliantes » :

    « D’éventuelles irrégularités déclaratives ne justifient en rien qu’il soit mis fin à des prestations de survie. Le RSA est un droit, pas une aumône. »

    L’autre problème, selon l’avocat, est le manque de précision comptable de l’institution qui ne justifie jamais les sommes qu’elle réclame. « La Caf est incapable d’avoir la précision qu’elle exige pourtant d’allocataires dans le besoin ! » tonne-t-il. Il n’est pas rare qu’elle récupère plus que ce qu’elle ne devrait, et se fasse ainsi de l’argent sur le dos des plus précaires. Ce qui s’expliquerait justement par le fait que les allocataires ne font que très rarement valoir leurs droits.

    • Le 13 novembre 2023, le tribunal administratif de Pau a jugé que la Caf n’avait pas à suspendre les aides d’un couple d’allocataires vivant sous le seuil de pauvreté.
      Magali et Serge, 48 ans, sans-emploi tous les deux, et leur fils de 22 ans, ont l’habitude de vivre avec presque rien. La famille remplit régulièrement son frigo aux Restos du Cœur. Dans son modeste appartement à Mont-de-Marsan, dans les Landes (40), elle n’a plus d’eau chaude ni de chauffage depuis un an, la faute à une dette de 4.000 euros auprès d’EDF. Tout a encore empiré depuis un contrôle de la caisse d’allocations familiales (Caf), en avril dernier. Depuis cette date, l’organisme leur réclame un trop-perçu de 17.722 euros qui a entraîné la suspension du revenu de solidarité active (RSA) de Serge et la baisse des allocations personnalisées au logement (APL) de Magali. Ils doivent désormais plus de 5.000 euros à leur fournisseur d’électricité, ne sortent même plus pour aller à la plage car il faudrait payer un ticket de bus et se demandent comment nourrir leurs deux chats.

      Alors, le 13 novembre 2023, en apprenant la décision du Tribunal administratif de Pau, ils ont eu l’impression de sortir un tout petit peu la tête de l’eau. Dans le cadre d’une procédure d’urgence, le juge des référés a estimé que la Caf des Landes n’avait pas le droit de mettre fin au RSA de Serge, le couple ayant des ressources inférieures au seuil de pauvreté. « C’était un gros gros soulagement », souffle Magali, la voix tremblante à travers le téléphone. « Les allocataires pensent souvent, à tort, que la Caf est toute puissante, mais cela prouve que les tribunaux peuvent encore être des garde-fous », estime leur avocat Clément Terrasson qui souligne une décision « rare ». En outre, la juridiction reproche à l’organisme de protection sociale d’avoir effectué des retenues sur leurs aides avant même d’avoir étudié les #recours des allocataires, pourtant faits dans les délais.

      Une affaire banale pour des allocataires de la CAF

      « C’est une affaire triste mais on ne peut plus banale », note maître Clément Terrasson. Comme StreetPress l’a raconté dans un précédent article, les #trop-perçus touchent des millions d’allocataires de la Caf ou de #Pôle Emploi souvent en raison d’une erreur de l’organisme, parfois à tort.

      Après avoir enchaîné les petits boulots, Magali a dû arrêter de travailler à cause d’une d’une polyarthrite rhumatoïde, une maladie auto-immune qui atteint les articulations. Depuis dix ans, la quadragénaire touche une pension d’#invalidité d’environ 430 euros par mois. Quant à Serge, auteur de quelques ouvrages sur le rock, il a perdu son emploi alimentaire dans une station-service et n’a plus le chômage depuis 2020. L’écrivain occasionnel touche un RSA de 450. À cela s’ajoutent des #APL de plus de 300 euros. Devant les juges, ils estiment vivre à trois avec 1.300 euros d’aides, dont 600 euros partent dans leur loyer.

      Le 5 avril 2023, une agent de la Caf se présente chez Magali et Serge pour un #contrôle, après leur avoir demandé de préparer des documents comme leurs relevés bancaires et leurs avis de non-imposition. Après avoir feuilleté leur dossier, la salariée de la Caf les informe qu’ils n’ont pas déclaré les aides familiales, conséquentes, qu’ils ont reçues ni les droits d’auteurs de Serge – autour de 250 euros en trois ans. Elle leur annonce qu’ils vont passer en « commission fraude ». « J’étais en larmes et j’ai eu l’impression que ça l’agaçait », se souvient Magali, qui s’est sentie humiliée. Elle assure :

      « Pour les anniversaires ou à Noël, ma famille nous envoie de l’argent pour nous aider… Je ne savais qu’il fallait déclarer ce qu’on touchait d’aide familiale ! » [mieux vaut éviter : en espèces, par mandat, ou par l’entremise d’un prête nom sans dossier Caf, ndc]
      Vingt jours plus tard, le RSA de Serge est interrompu et sur le site de la Caf, le couple découvre qu’il doit un total de 17.723 euros. Le 5 juin 2023, ils font un recours administratif préalable contre ces décisions, qui n’est jamais pris en compte.

      La famille est détruite

      « On n’a jamais eu énormément d’argent. Mais là, ça nous a détruits. C’est un peu comme si, quand on est pauvre, on ne peut jamais s’en sortir… » s’exaspère Magali. La maman en situation de handicap dit être tombée dans un état dépressif sévère avec l’envie de « passer à l’acte ».

      Au-delà des sommes qui représentent une véritable épée de Damoclès pour les allocataires touchés par un tel contrôle, c’est l’accusation de #fraude qui la heurte. Elle se souvient d’une conversation particulièrement blessante avec une #assistante_sociale du département. « Elle m’a dit que je vivais au crochet de la société depuis trop longtemps et qu’on allait me remettre au travail » , raconte Magali :

      « Quand on entend des choses sur les #fraudeurs à la télé, on ne se rend pas compte qu’on peut rentrer dans cette case. On n’a escroqué personne, on ne s’est pas enrichis… On n’a même pas de four à micro-ondes ! On essayait juste de survivre dans un quotidien un peu compliqué. »

      Le tribunal pour obliger la Caf à rendre des comptes

      La mère de famille, qui milite au sein de la #CGT_chômeurs et précaires, en parle à ses copains syndicalistes. C’est grâce à l’un d’eux qu’elle est mise en relation avec l’avocat Clément Terrasson, qui a fait de l’aide aux #allocataires de la Caf l’une de ses spécialités. Avec son conjoint, Magali décide de se battre pour leurs droits devant la justice. « J’ai eu l’impression d’avoir été piégée et qu’ils ne s’attendaient pas à ce qu’on se défende », dit-elle.

      [passage cité au-dessus]

      Le combat judiciaire du couple des Landes n’est pas fini. Si Serge devrait récupérer son #RSA dans quelques jours, la décision en référé est une mesure d’urgence et le jugement final aura lieu dans environ un an et demi. Magali conclut :

      « Je suis contente d’avoir gagné. Maintenant, on sait que c’est possible et qu’ils ne peuvent pas faire n’importe quoi. »

      #indus #droit #Caf #précaires #data_mining #société_punitive

  • ‘A mass assassination factory’: Inside Israel’s calculated bombing of Gaza

    Permissive airstrikes on non-military targets and the use of an artificial intelligence system have enabled the Israeli army to carry out its deadliest war on Gaza, a +972 and Local Call investigation reveals.

    The Israeli army’s expanded authorization for bombing non-military targets, the loosening of constraints regarding expected civilian casualties, and the use of an artificial intelligence system to generate more potential targets than ever before, appear to have contributed to the destructive nature of the initial stages of Israel’s current war on the Gaza Strip, an investigation by +972 Magazine and Local Call reveals. These factors, as described by current and former Israeli intelligence members, have likely played a role in producing what has been one of the deadliest military campaigns against Palestinians since the Nakba of 1948.

    The investigation by +972 and Local Call is based on conversations with seven current and former members of Israel’s intelligence community — including military intelligence and air force personnel who were involved in Israeli operations in the besieged Strip — in addition to Palestinian testimonies, data, and documentation from the Gaza Strip, and official statements by the IDF Spokesperson and other Israeli state institutions.

    Compared to previous Israeli assaults on Gaza, the current war — which Israel has named “Operation Iron Swords,” and which began in the wake of the Hamas-led assault on southern Israel on October 7 — has seen the army significantly expand its bombing of targets that are not distinctly military in nature. These include private residences as well as public buildings, infrastructure, and high-rise blocks, which sources say the army defines as “power targets” (“matarot otzem”).

    The bombing of power targets, according to intelligence sources who had first-hand experience with its application in Gaza in the past, is mainly intended to harm Palestinian civil society: to “create a shock” that, among other things, will reverberate powerfully and “lead civilians to put pressure on Hamas,” as one source put it.

    Several of the sources, who spoke to +972 and Local Call on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the Israeli army has files on the vast majority of potential targets in Gaza — including homes — which stipulate the number of civilians who are likely to be killed in an attack on a particular target. This number is calculated and known in advance to the army’s intelligence units, who also know shortly before carrying out an attack roughly how many civilians are certain to be killed.

    In one case discussed by the sources, the Israeli military command knowingly approved the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in an attempt to assassinate a single top Hamas military commander. “The numbers increased from dozens of civilian deaths [permitted] as collateral damage as part of an attack on a senior official in previous operations, to hundreds of civilian deaths as collateral damage,” said one source.

    “Nothing happens by accident,” said another source. “When a 3-year-old girl is killed in a home in Gaza, it’s because someone in the army decided it wasn’t a big deal for her to be killed — that it was a price worth paying in order to hit [another] target. We are not Hamas. These are not random rockets. Everything is intentional. We know exactly how much collateral damage there is in every home.”

    According to the investigation, another reason for the large number of targets, and the extensive harm to civilian life in Gaza, is the widespread use of a system called “Habsora” (“The Gospel”), which is largely built on artificial intelligence and can “generate” targets almost automatically at a rate that far exceeds what was previously possible. This AI system, as described by a former intelligence officer, essentially facilitates a “mass assassination factory.”

    According to the sources, the increasing use of AI-based systems like Habsora allows the army to carry out strikes on residential homes where a single Hamas member lives on a massive scale, even those who are junior Hamas operatives. Yet testimonies of Palestinians in Gaza suggest that since October 7, the army has also attacked many private residences where there was no known or apparent member of Hamas or any other militant group residing. Such strikes, sources confirmed to +972 and Local Call, can knowingly kill entire families in the process.

    In the majority of cases, the sources added, military activity is not conducted from these targeted homes. “I remember thinking that it was like if [Palestinian militants] would bomb all the private residences of our families when [Israeli soldiers] go back to sleep at home on the weekend,” one source, who was critical of this practice, recalled.

    Another source said that a senior intelligence officer told his officers after October 7 that the goal was to “kill as many Hamas operatives as possible,” for which the criteria around harming Palestinian civilians were significantly relaxed. As such, there are “cases in which we shell based on a wide cellular pinpointing of where the target is, killing civilians. This is often done to save time, instead of doing a little more work to get a more accurate pinpointing,” said the source.

    The result of these policies is the staggering loss of human life in Gaza since October 7. Over 300 families have lost 10 or more family members in Israeli bombings in the past two months — a number that is 15 times higher than the figure from what was previously Israel’s deadliest war on Gaza, in 2014. At the time of writing, around 15,000 Palestinians have been reported killed in the war, and counting.

    “All of this is happening contrary to the protocol used by the IDF in the past,” a source explained. “There is a feeling that senior officials in the army are aware of their failure on October 7, and are busy with the question of how to provide the Israeli public with an image [of victory] that will salvage their reputation.”
    ‘An excuse to cause destruction’

    Israel launched its assault on Gaza in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas-led offensive on southern Israel. During that attack, under a hail of rocket fire, Palestinian militants massacred more than 840 civilians and killed 350 soldiers and security personnel, kidnapped around 240 people — civilians and soldiers — to Gaza, and committed widespread sexual violence, including rape, according to a report by the NGO Physicians for Human Rights Israel.

    From the first moment after the October 7 attack, decisionmakers in Israel openly declared that the response would be of a completely different magnitude to previous military operations in Gaza, with the stated aim of totally eradicating Hamas. “The emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy,” said IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari on Oct. 9. The army swiftly translated those declarations into actions.

    According to the sources who spoke to +972 and Local Call, the targets in Gaza that have been struck by Israeli aircraft can be divided roughly into four categories. The first is “tactical targets,” which include standard military targets such as armed militant cells, weapon warehouses, rocket launchers, anti-tank missile launchers, launch pits, mortar bombs, military headquarters, observation posts, and so on.

    The second is “underground targets” — mainly tunnels that Hamas has dug under Gaza’s neighborhoods, including under civilian homes. Aerial strikes on these targets could lead to the collapse of the homes above or near the tunnels.

    The third is “power targets,” which includes high-rises and residential towers in the heart of cities, and public buildings such as universities, banks, and government offices. The idea behind hitting such targets, say three intelligence sources who were involved in planning or conducting strikes on power targets in the past, is that a deliberate attack on Palestinian society will exert “civil pressure” on Hamas.

    The final category consists of “family homes” or “operatives’ homes.” The stated purpose of these attacks is to destroy private residences in order to assassinate a single resident suspected of being a Hamas or Islamic Jihad operative. However, in the current war, Palestinian testimonies assert that some of the families that were killed did not include any operatives from these organizations.

    In the early stages of the current war, the Israeli army appears to have given particular attention to the third and fourth categories of targets. According to statements on Oct. 11 by the IDF Spokesperson, during the first five days of fighting, half of the targets bombed — 1,329 out of a total 2,687 — were deemed power targets.

    “We are asked to look for high-rise buildings with half a floor that can be attributed to Hamas,” said one source who took part in previous Israeli offensives in Gaza. “Sometimes it is a militant group’s spokesperson’s office, or a point where operatives meet. I understood that the floor is an excuse that allows the army to cause a lot of destruction in Gaza. That is what they told us.

    “If they would tell the whole world that the [Islamic Jihad] offices on the 10th floor are not important as a target, but that its existence is a justification to bring down the entire high-rise with the aim of pressuring civilian families who live in it in order to put pressure on terrorist organizations, this would itself be seen as terrorism. So they do not say it,” the source added.

    Various sources who served in IDF intelligence units said that at least until the current war, army protocols allowed for attacking power targets only when the buildings were empty of residents at the time of the strike. However, testimonies and videos from Gaza suggest that since October 7, some of these targets have been attacked without prior notice being given to their occupants, killing entire families as a result.

    The wide-scale targeting of residential homes can be derived from public and official data. According to the Government Media Office in Gaza — which has been providing death tolls since the Gaza Health Ministry stopped doing so on Nov. 11 due to the collapse of health services in the Strip — by the time the temporary ceasefire took hold on Nov. 23, Israel had killed 14,800 Palestinians in Gaza; approximately 6,000 of them were children and 4,000 were women, who together constitute more than 67 percent of the total. The figures provided by the Health Ministry and the Government Media Office — both of which fall under the auspices of the Hamas government — do not deviate significantly from Israeli estimates.

    The Gaza Health Ministry, furthermore, does not specify how many of the dead belonged to the military wings of Hamas or Islamic Jihad. The Israeli army estimates that it has killed between 1,000 and 3,000 armed Palestinian militants. According to media reports in Israel, some of the dead militants are buried under the rubble or inside Hamas’ underground tunnel system, and therefore were not tallied in official counts.

    UN data for the period up until Nov. 11, by which time Israel had killed 11,078 Palestinians in Gaza, states that at least 312 families have lost 10 or more people in the current Israeli attack; for the sake of comparison, during “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, 20 families in Gaza lost 10 or more people. At least 189 families have lost between six and nine people according to the UN data, while 549 families have lost between two and five people. No updated breakdowns have yet been given for the casualty figures published since Nov. 11.

    The massive attacks on power targets and private residences came at the same time as the Israeli army, on Oct. 13, called on the 1.1 million residents of the northern Gaza Strip — most of them residing in Gaza City — to leave their homes and move to the south of the Strip. By that date, a record number of power targets had already been bombed, and more than 1,000 Palestinians had already been killed, including hundreds of children.

    In total, according to the UN, 1.7 million Palestinians, the vast majority of the Strip’s population, have been displaced within Gaza since October 7. The army claimed that the demand to evacuate the Strip’s north was intended to protect civilian lives. Palestinians, however, see this mass displacement as part of a “new Nakba” — an attempt to ethnically cleanse part or all of the territory.
    ‘They knocked down a high-rise for the sake of it’

    According to the Israeli army, during the first five days of fighting it dropped 6,000 bombs on the Strip, with a total weight of about 4,000 tons. Media outlets reported that the army had wiped out entire neighborhoods; according to the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, these attacks led to “the complete destruction of residential neighborhoods, the destruction of infrastructure, and the mass killing of residents.”

    As documented by Al Mezan and numerous images coming out of Gaza, Israel bombed the Islamic University of Gaza, the Palestinian Bar Association, a UN building for an educational program for outstanding students, a building belonging to the Palestine Telecommunications Company, the Ministry of National Economy, the Ministry of Culture, roads, and dozens of high-rise buildings and homes — especially in Gaza’s northern neighborhoods.

    On the fifth day of fighting, the IDF Spokesperson distributed to military reporters in Israel “before and after” satellite images of neighborhoods in the northern Strip, such as Shuja’iyya and Al-Furqan (nicknamed after a mosque in the area) in Gaza City, which showed dozens of destroyed homes and buildings. The Israeli army said that it had struck 182 power targets in Shuja’iyya and 312 power targets in Al-Furqan.

    The Chief of Staff of the Israeli Air Force, Omer Tishler, told military reporters that all of these attacks had a legitimate military target, but also that entire neighborhoods were attacked “on a large scale and not in a surgical manner.” Noting that half of the military targets up until Oct. 11 were power targets, the IDF Spokesperson said that “neighborhoods that serve as terror nests for Hamas” were attacked and that damage was caused to “operational headquarters,” “operational assets,” and “assets used by terrorist organizations inside residential buildings.” On Oct. 12, the Israeli army announced it had killed three “senior Hamas members” — two of whom were part of the group’s political wing.

    Yet despite the unbridled Israeli bombardment, the damage to Hamas’ military infrastructure in northern Gaza during the first days of the war appears to have been very minimal. Indeed, intelligence sources told +972 and Local Call that military targets that were part of power targets have previously been used many times as a fig leaf for harming the civilian population. “Hamas is everywhere in Gaza; there is no building that does not have something of Hamas in it, so if you want to find a way to turn a high-rise into a target, you will be able to do so,” said one former intelligence official.

    “They will never just hit a high-rise that does not have something we can define as a military target,” said another intelligence source, who carried out previous strikes against power targets. “There will always be a floor in the high-rise [associated with Hamas]. But for the most part, when it comes to power targets, it is clear that the target doesn’t have military value that justifies an attack that would bring down the entire empty building in the middle of a city, with the help of six planes and bombs weighing several tons.”

    Indeed, according to sources who were involved in the compiling of power targets in previous wars, although the target file usually contains some kind of alleged association with Hamas or other militant groups, striking the target functions primarily as a “means that allows damage to civil society.” The sources understood, some explicitly and some implicitly, that damage to civilians is the real purpose of these attacks.

    In May 2021, for example, Israel was heavily criticized for bombing the Al-Jalaa Tower, which housed prominent international media outlets such as Al Jazeera, AP, and AFP. The army claimed that the building was a Hamas military target; sources have told +972 and Local Call that it was in fact a power target.

    “The perception is that it really hurts Hamas when high-rise buildings are taken down, because it creates a public reaction in the Gaza Strip and scares the population,” said one of the sources. “They wanted to give the citizens of Gaza the feeling that Hamas is not in control of the situation. Sometimes they toppled buildings and sometimes postal service and government buildings.”

    Although it is unprecedented for the Israeli army to attack more than 1,000 power targets in five days, the idea of causing mass devastation to civilian areas for strategic purposes was formulated in previous military operations in Gaza, honed by the so-called “Dahiya Doctrine” from the Second Lebanon War of 2006.

    According to the doctrine — developed by former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, who is now a Knesset member and part of the current war cabinet — in a war against guerrilla groups such as Hamas or Hezbollah, Israel must use disproportionate and overwhelming force while targeting civilian and government infrastructure in order to establish deterrence and force the civilian population to pressure the groups to end their attacks. The concept of “power targets” seems to have emanated from this same logic.

    The first time the Israeli army publicly defined power targets in Gaza was at the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The army bombed four buildings during the last four days of the war — three residential multi-story buildings in Gaza City, and a high-rise in Rafah. The security establishment explained at the time that the attacks were intended to convey to the Palestinians of Gaza that “nothing is immune anymore,” and to put pressure on Hamas to agree to a ceasefire. “The evidence we collected shows that the massive destruction [of the buildings] was carried out deliberately, and without any military justification,” stated an Amnesty report in late 2014.

    In another violent escalation that began in November 2018, the army once again attacked power targets. That time, Israel bombed high-rises, shopping centers, and the building of the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV station. “Attacking power targets produces a very significant effect on the other side,” one Air Force officer stated at the time. “We did it without killing anyone and we made sure that the building and its surroundings were evacuated.”

    Previous operations have also shown how striking these targets is meant not only to harm Palestinian morale, but also to raise the morale inside Israel. Haaretz revealed that during Operation Guardian of the Walls in 2021, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit conducted a psy-op against Israeli citizens in order to boost awareness of the IDF’s operations in Gaza and the damage they caused to Palestinians. Soldiers, who used fake social media accounts to conceal the campaign’s origin, uploaded images and clips of the army’s strikes in Gaza to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok in order to demonstrate the army’s prowess to the Israeli public.

    During the 2021 assault, Israel struck nine targets that were defined as power targets — all of them high-rise buildings. “The goal was to collapse the high-rises in order to put pressure on Hamas, and also so that the [Israeli] public would see a victory image,” one security source told +972 and Local Call.

    However, the source continued, “it didn’t work. As someone who has followed Hamas, I heard firsthand how much they did not care about the civilians and the buildings that were taken down. Sometimes the army found something in a high-rise building that was related to Hamas, but it was also possible to hit that specific target with more accurate weaponry. The bottom line is that they knocked down a high-rise for the sake of knocking down a high-rise.”
    ‘Everyone was looking for their children in these piles’

    Not only has the current war seen Israel attack an unprecedented number of power targets, it has also seen the army abandon prior policies that aimed at avoiding harm to civilians. Whereas previously the army’s official procedure was that it was possible to attack power targets only after all civilians had been evacuated from them, testimonies from Palestinian residents in Gaza indicate that, since October 7, Israel has attacked high-rises with their residents still inside, or without having taken significant steps to evacuate them, leading to many civilian deaths.

    Such attacks very often result in the killing of entire families, as experienced in previous offensives; according to an investigation by AP conducted after the 2014 war, about 89 percent of those killed in the aerial bombings of family homes were unarmed residents, and most of them were children and women.

    Tishler, the air force chief of staff, confirmed a shift in policy, telling reporters that the army’s “roof knocking” policy — whereby it would fire a small initial strike on the roof of a building to warn residents that it is about to be struck — is no longer in use “where there is an enemy.” Roof knocking, Tishler said, is “a term that is relevant to rounds [of fighting] and not to war.”

    The sources who have previously worked on power targets said that the brazen strategy of the current war could be a dangerous development, explaining that attacking power targets was originally intended to “shock” Gaza but not necessarily to kill large numbers of civilians. “The targets were designed with the assumption that high-rises would be evacuated of people, so when we were working on [compiling the targets], there was no concern whatsoever regarding how many civilians would be harmed; the assumption was that the number would always be zero,” said one source with deep knowledge of the tactic.

    “This would mean there would be a total evacuation [of the targeted buildings], which takes two to three hours, during which the residents are called [by phone to evacuate], warning missiles are fired, and we also crosscheck with drone footage that people are indeed leaving the high-rise,” the source added.

    However, evidence from Gaza suggests that some high-rises — which we assume to have been power targets — were toppled without prior warning. +972 and Local Call located at least two cases during the current war in which entire residential high-rises were bombed and collapsed without warning, and one case in which, according to the evidence, a high-rise building collapsed on civilians who were inside.

    On Oct. 10, Israel bombed the Babel Building in Gaza, according to the testimony of Bilal Abu Hatzira, who rescued bodies from the ruins that night. Ten people were killed in the attack on the building, including three journalists.

    On Oct. 25, the 12-story Al-Taj residential building in Gaza City was bombed to the ground, killing the families living inside it without warning. About 120 people were buried under the ruins of their apartments, according to the testimonies of residents. Yousef Amar Sharaf, a resident of Al-Taj, wrote on X that 37 of his family members who lived in the building were killed in the attack: “My dear father and mother, my beloved wife, my sons, and most of my brothers and their families.” Residents stated that a lot of bombs were dropped, damaging and destroying apartments in nearby buildings too.

    Six days later, on Oct. 31, the eight-story Al-Mohandseen residential building was bombed without warning. Between 30 and 45 bodies were reportedly recovered from the ruins on the first day. One baby was found alive, without his parents. Journalists estimated that over 150 people were killed in the attack, as many remained buried under the rubble.

    The building used to stand in Nuseirat Refugee Camp, south of Wadi Gaza — in the supposed “safe zone” to which Israel directed the Palestinians who fled their homes in northern and central Gaza — and therefore served as temporary shelter for the displaced, according to testimonies.

    According to an investigation by Amnesty International, on Oct. 9, Israel shelled at least three multi-story buildings, as well as an open flea market on a crowded street in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp, killing at least 69 people. “The bodies were burned … I didn’t want to look, I was scared of looking at Imad’s face,” said the father of a child who was killed. “The bodies were scattered on the floor. Everyone was looking for their children in these piles. I recognized my son only by his trousers. I wanted to bury him immediately, so I carried my son and got him out.”

    According to Amnesty’s investigation, the army said that the attack on the market area was aimed at a mosque “where there were Hamas operatives.” However, according to the same investigation, satellite images do not show a mosque in the vicinity.

    The IDF Spokesperson did not address +972’s and Local Call’s queries about specific attacks, but stated more generally that “the IDF provided warnings before attacks in various ways, and when the circumstances allowed it, also delivered individual warnings through phone calls to people who were at or near the targets (there were more from 25,000 live conversations during the war, alongside millions of recorded conversations, text messages and leaflets dropped from the air for the purpose of warning the population). In general, the IDF works to reduce harm to civilians as part of the attacks as much as possible, despite the challenge of fighting a terrorist organization that uses the citizens of Gaza as human shields.”
    ‘The machine produced 100 targets in one day’

    According to the IDF Spokesperson, by Nov. 10, during the first 35 days of fighting, Israel attacked a total of 15,000 targets in Gaza. Based on multiple sources, this is a very high figure compared to the four previous major operations in the Strip. During Guardian of the Walls in 2021, Israel attacked 1,500 targets in 11 days. In Protective Edge in 2014, which lasted 51 days, Israel struck between 5,266 and 6,231 targets. During Pillar of Defense in 2012, about 1,500 targets were attacked over eight days. In Cast Lead” in 2008, Israel struck 3,400 targets in 22 days.

    Intelligence sources who served in the previous operations also told +972 and Local Call that, for 10 days in 2021 and three weeks in 2014, an attack rate of 100 to 200 targets per day led to a situation in which the Israeli Air Force had no targets of military value left. Why, then, after nearly two months, has the Israeli army not yet run out of targets in the current war?

    The answer may lie in a statement from the IDF Spokesperson on Nov. 2, according to which it is using the AI system Habsora (“The Gospel”), which the spokesperson says “enables the use of automatic tools to produce targets at a fast pace, and works by improving accurate and high-quality intelligence material according to [operational] needs.”

    In the statement, a senior intelligence official is quoted as saying that thanks to Habsora, targets are created for precision strikes “while causing great damage to the enemy and minimal damage to non-combatants. Hamas operatives are not immune — no matter where they hide.”

    According to intelligence sources, Habsora generates, among other things, automatic recommendations for attacking private residences where people suspected of being Hamas or Islamic Jihad operatives live. Israel then carries out large-scale assassination operations through the heavy shelling of these residential homes.

    Habsora, explained one of the sources, processes enormous amounts of data that “tens of thousands of intelligence officers could not process,” and recommends bombing sites in real time. Because most senior Hamas officials head into underground tunnels with the start of any military operation, the sources say, the use of a system like Habsora makes it possible to locate and attack the homes of relatively junior operatives.

    One former intelligence officer explained that the Habsora system enables the army to run a “mass assassination factory,” in which the “emphasis is on quantity and not on quality.” A human eye “will go over the targets before each attack, but it need not spend a lot of time on them.” Since Israel estimates that there are approximately 30,000 Hamas members in Gaza, and they are all marked for death, the number of potential targets is enormous.

    In 2019, the Israeli army created a new center aimed at using AI to accelerate target generation. “The Targets Administrative Division is a unit that includes hundreds of officers and soldiers, and is based on AI capabilities,” said former IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi in an in-depth interview with Ynet earlier this year.

    “This is a machine that, with the help of AI, processes a lot of data better and faster than any human, and translates it into targets for attack,” Kochavi went on. “The result was that in Operation Guardian of the Walls [in 2021], from the moment this machine was activated, it generated 100 new targets every day. You see, in the past there were times in Gaza when we would create 50 targets per year. And here the machine produced 100 targets in one day.”

    “We prepare the targets automatically and work according to a checklist,” one of the sources who worked in the new Targets Administrative Division told +972 and Local Call. “It really is like a factory. We work quickly and there is no time to delve deep into the target. The view is that we are judged according to how many targets we manage to generate.”

    A senior military official in charge of the target bank told the Jerusalem Post earlier this year that, thanks to the army’s AI systems, for the first time the military can generate new targets at a faster rate than it attacks. Another source said the drive to automatically generate large numbers of targets is a realization of the Dahiya Doctrine.

    Automated systems like Habsora have thus greatly facilitated the work of Israeli intelligence officers in making decisions during military operations, including calculating potential casualties. Five different sources confirmed that the number of civilians who may be killed in attacks on private residences is known in advance to Israeli intelligence, and appears clearly in the target file under the category of “collateral damage.”

    According to these sources, there are degrees of collateral damage, according to which the army determines whether it is possible to attack a target inside a private residence. “When the general directive becomes ‘Collateral Damage 5,’ that means we are authorized to strike all targets that will kill five or less civilians — we can act on all target files that are five or less,” said one of the sources.

    “In the past, we did not regularly mark the homes of junior Hamas members for bombing,” said a security official who participated in attacking targets during previous operations. “In my time, if the house I was working on was marked Collateral Damage 5, it would not always be approved [for attack].” Such approval, he said, would only be received if a senior Hamas commander was known to be living in the home.

    “To my understanding, today they can mark all the houses of [any Hamas military operative regardless of rank],” the source continued. “That is a lot of houses. Hamas members who don’t really matter for anything live in homes across Gaza. So they mark the home and bomb the house and kill everyone there.”
    A concerted policy to bomb family homes

    On Oct. 22, the Israeli Air Force bombed the home of the Palestinian journalist Ahmed Alnaouq in the city of Deir al-Balah. Ahmed is a close friend and colleague of mine; four years ago, we founded a Hebrew Facebook page called “Across the Wall,” with the aim of bringing Palestinian voices from Gaza to the Israeli public.

    The strike on Oct. 22 collapsed blocks of concrete onto Ahmed’s entire family, killing his father, brothers, sisters, and all of their children, including babies. Only his 12-year-old niece, Malak, survived and remained in a critical condition, her body covered in burns. A few days later, Malak died.

    Twenty-one members of Ahmed’s family were killed in total, buried under their home. None of them were militants. The youngest was 2 years old; the oldest, his father, was 75. Ahmed, who is currently living in the UK, is now alone out of his entire family.

    Ahmed’s family WhatsApp group is titled “Better Together.” The last message that appears there was sent by him, a little after midnight on the night he lost his family. “Someone let me know that everything is fine,” he wrote. No one answered. He fell asleep, but woke up in a panic at 4 a.m. Drenched in sweat, he checked his phone again. Silence. Then he received a message from a friend with the terrible news.

    Ahmed’s case is common in Gaza these days. In interviews to the press, heads of Gaza hospitals have been echoing the same description: families enter hospitals as a succession of corpses, a child followed by his father followed by his grandfather. The bodies are all covered in dirt and blood.

    According to former Israeli intelligence officers, in many cases in which a private residence is bombed, the goal is the “assassination of Hamas or Jihad operatives,” and such targets are attacked when the operative enters the home. Intelligence researchers know if the operative’s family members or neighbors may also die in an attack, and they know how to calculate how many of them may die. Each of the sources said that these are private homes, where in the majority of cases, no military activity is carried out.

    +972 and Local Call do not have data regarding the number of military operatives who were indeed killed or wounded by aerial strikes on private residences in the current war, but there is ample evidence that, in many cases, none were military or political operatives belonging to Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

    On Oct. 10, the Israeli Air Force bombed an apartment building in Gaza’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, killing 40 people, most of them women and children. In one of the shocking videos taken following the attack, people are seen screaming, holding what appears to be a doll pulled from the ruins of the house, and passing it from hand to hand. When the camera zooms in, one can see that it is not a doll, but the body of a baby.

    One of the residents said that 19 members of his family were killed in the strike. Another survivor wrote on Facebook that he only found his son’s shoulder in the rubble. Amnesty investigated the attack and discovered that a Hamas member lived on one of the upper floors of the building, but was not present at the time of the attack.

    The bombing of family homes where Hamas or Islamic Jihad operatives supposedly live likely became a more concerted IDF policy during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Back then, 606 Palestinians — about a quarter of the civilian deaths during the 51 days of fighting — were members of families whose homes were bombed. A UN report defined it in 2015 as both a potential war crime and “a new pattern” of action that “led to the death of entire families.”

    In 2014, 93 babies were killed as a result of Israeli bombings of family homes, of which 13 were under 1 year old. A month ago, 286 babies aged 1 or under were already identified as having been killed in Gaza, according to a detailed ID list with the ages of victims published by the Gaza Health Ministry on Oct. 26. The number has since likely doubled or tripled.

    However, in many cases, and especially during the current attacks on Gaza, the Israeli army has carried out attacks that struck private residences even when there is no known or clear military target. For example, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, by Nov. 29, Israel had killed 50 Palestinian journalists in Gaza, some of them in their homes with their families.

    Roshdi Sarraj, 31, a journalist from Gaza who was born in Britain, founded a media outlet in Gaza called “Ain Media.” On Oct. 22, an Israeli bomb struck his parents’ home where he was sleeping, killing him. The journalist Salam Mema similarly died under the ruins of her home after it was bombed; of her three young children, Hadi, 7, died, while Sham, 3, has not yet been found under the rubble. Two other journalists, Duaa Sharaf and Salma Makhaimer, were killed together with their children in their homes.

    Israeli analysts have admitted that the military effectiveness of these kinds of disproportionate aerial attacks is limited. Two weeks after the start of the bombings in Gaza (and before the ground invasion) — after the bodies of 1,903 children, approximately 1,000 women, and 187 elderly men were counted in the Gaza Strip — Israeli commentator Avi Issacharoff tweeted: “As hard as it is to hear, on the 14th day of fighting, it does not appear that the military arm of Hamas has been significantly harmed. The most significant damage to the military leadership is the assassination of [Hamas commander] Ayman Nofal.”
    ‘Fighting human animals’

    Hamas militants regularly operate out of an intricate network of tunnels built under large stretches of the Gaza Strip. These tunnels, as confirmed by the former Israeli intelligence officers we spoke to, also pass under homes and roads. Therefore, Israeli attempts to destroy them with aerial strikes are in many cases likely to lead to the killing of civilians. This may be another reason for the high number of Palestinian families wiped out in the current offensive.

    The intelligence officers interviewed for this article said that the way Hamas designed the tunnel network in Gaza knowingly exploits the civilian population and infrastructure above ground. These claims were also the basis of the media campaign that Israel conducted vis-a-vis the attacks and raids on Al-Shifa Hospital and the tunnels that were discovered under it.

    Israel has also attacked a large number of military targets: armed Hamas operatives, rocket launcher sites, snipers, anti-tank squads, military headquarters, bases, observation posts, and more. From the beginning of the ground invasion, aerial bombardment and heavy artillery fire have been used to provide backup to Israeli troops on the ground. Experts in international law say these targets are legitimate, as long as the strikes comply with the principle of proportionality.

    In response to an enquiry from +972 and Local Call for this article, the IDF Spokesperson stated: “The IDF is committed to international law and acts according to it, and in doing so attacks military targets and does not attack civilians. The terrorist organization Hamas places its operatives and military assets in the heart of the civilian population. Hamas systematically uses the civilian population as a human shield, and conducts combat from civilian buildings, including sensitive sites such as hospitals, mosques, schools, and UN facilities.”

    Intelligence sources who spoke to +972 and Local Call similarly claimed that in many cases Hamas “deliberately endangers the civilian population in Gaza and tries to forcefully prevent civilians from evacuating.” Two sources said that Hamas leaders “understand that Israeli harm to civilians gives them legitimacy in fighting.”

    At the same time, while it’s hard to imagine now, the idea of dropping a one-ton bomb aimed at killing a Hamas operative yet ending up killing an entire family as “collateral damage” was not always so readily accepted by large swathes of Israeli society. In 2002, for example, the Israeli Air Force bombed the home of Salah Mustafa Muhammad Shehade, then the head of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. The bomb killed him, his wife Eman, his 14-year-old daughter Laila, and 14 other civilians, including 11 children. The killing caused a public uproar in both Israel and the world, and Israel was accused of committing war crimes.

    That criticism led to a decision by the Israeli army in 2003 to drop a smaller, quarter-ton bomb on a meeting of top Hamas officials — including the elusive leader of Al-Qassam Brigades, Mohammed Deif — taking place in a residential building in Gaza, despite the fear that it would not be powerful enough to kill them. In his book “To Know Hamas,” veteran Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar wrote that the decision to use a relatively small bomb was due to the Shehade precedent, and the fear that a one-ton bomb would kill the civilians in the building as well. The attack failed, and the senior military wing officers fled the scene.

    In December 2008, in the first major war that Israel waged against Hamas after it seized power in Gaza, Yoav Gallant, who at the time headed the IDF Southern Command, said that for the first time Israel was “hitting the family homes” of senior Hamas officials with the aim of destroying them, but not harming their families. Gallant emphasized that the homes were attacked after the families were warned by a “knock on the roof,” as well as by phone call, after it was clear that Hamas military activity was taking place inside the house.

    After 2014’s Protective Edge, during which Israel began to systematically strike family homes from the air, human rights groups like B’Tselem collected testimonies from Palestinians who survived these attacks. The survivors said the homes collapsed in on themselves, glass shards cut the bodies of those inside, the debris “smells of blood,” and people were buried alive.

    This deadly policy continues today — thanks in part to the use of destructive weaponry and sophisticated technology like Habsora, but also to a political and security establishment that has loosened the reins on Israel’s military machinery. Fifteen years after insisting that the army was taking pains to minimize civilian harm, Gallant, now Defense Minister, has clearly changed his tune. “We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly,” he said after October 7.


    #bombardement #assassinat_de_masse #Gaza #7_octobre_2023 #Israël #bombardements #AI #IA #intelligence_artificielle #armée_israélienne #doctrine_Dahiya

    via @freakonometrics

    ici aussi via @arno:

    • #The_Gospel’: how Israel uses AI to select bombing targets in Gaza

      Concerns over data-driven ‘factory’ that significantly increases the number of targets for strikes in the Palestinian territory

      Israel’s military has made no secret of the intensity of its bombardment of the Gaza Strip. In the early days of the offensive, the head of its air force spoke of relentless, “around the clock” airstrikes. His forces, he said, were only striking military targets, but he added: “We are not being surgical.”

      There has, however, been relatively little attention paid to the methods used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to select targets in Gaza, and to the role artificial intelligence has played in their bombing campaign.

      As Israel resumes its offensive after a seven-day ceasefire, there are mounting concerns about the IDF’s targeting approach in a war against Hamas that, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, has so far killed more than 15,000 people in the territory.

      The IDF has long burnished its reputation for technical prowess and has previously made bold but unverifiable claims about harnessing new technology. After the 11-day war in Gaza in May 2021, officials said Israel had fought its “first AI war” using machine learning and advanced computing.

      The latest Israel-Hamas war has provided an unprecedented opportunity for the IDF to use such tools in a much wider theatre of operations and, in particular, to deploy an AI target-creation platform called “the Gospel”, which has significantly accelerated a lethal production line of targets that officials have compared to a “factory”.

      The Guardian can reveal new details about the Gospel and its central role in Israel’s war in Gaza, using interviews with intelligence sources and little-noticed statements made by the IDF and retired officials.

      This article also draws on testimonies published by the Israeli-Palestinian publication +972 Magazine and the Hebrew-language outlet Local Call, which have interviewed several current and former sources in Israel’s intelligence community who have knowledge of the Gospel platform.

      Their comments offer a glimpse inside a secretive, AI-facilitated military intelligence unit that is playing a significant role in Israel’s response to the Hamas massacre in southern Israel on 7 October.

      The slowly emerging picture of how Israel’s military is harnessing AI comes against a backdrop of growing concerns about the risks posed to civilians as advanced militaries around the world expand the use of complex and opaque automated systems on the battlefield.

      “Other states are going to be watching and learning,” said a former White House security official familiar with the US military’s use of autonomous systems.

      The Israel-Hamas war, they said, would be an “important moment if the IDF is using AI in a significant way to make targeting choices with life-and-death consequences”.

      From 50 targets a year to 100 a day

      In early November, the IDF said “more than 12,000” targets in Gaza had been identified by its target administration division.

      Describing the unit’s targeting process, an official said: “We work without compromise in defining who and what the enemy is. The operatives of Hamas are not immune – no matter where they hide.”

      The activities of the division, formed in 2019 in the IDF’s intelligence directorate, are classified.

      However a short statement on the IDF website claimed it was using an AI-based system called Habsora (the Gospel, in English) in the war against Hamas to “produce targets at a fast pace”.

      The IDF said that “through the rapid and automatic extraction of intelligence”, the Gospel produced targeting recommendations for its researchers “with the goal of a complete match between the recommendation of the machine and the identification carried out by a person”.

      Multiple sources familiar with the IDF’s targeting processes confirmed the existence of the Gospel to +972/Local Call, saying it had been used to produce automated recommendations for attacking targets, such as the private homes of individuals suspected of being Hamas or Islamic Jihad operatives.

      In recent years, the target division has helped the IDF build a database of what sources said was between 30,000 and 40,000 suspected militants. Systems such as the Gospel, they said, had played a critical role in building lists of individuals authorised to be assassinated.

      Aviv Kochavi, who served as the head of the IDF until January, has said the target division is “powered by AI capabilities” and includes hundreds of officers and soldiers.

      In an interview published before the war, he said it was “a machine that produces vast amounts of data more effectively than any human, and translates it into targets for attack”.

      According to Kochavi, “once this machine was activated” in Israel’s 11-day war with Hamas in May 2021 it generated 100 targets a day. “To put that into perspective, in the past we would produce 50 targets in Gaza per year. Now, this machine produces 100 targets a single day, with 50% of them being attacked.”

      Precisely what forms of data are ingested into the Gospel is not known. But experts said AI-based decision support systems for targeting would typically analyse large sets of information from a range of sources, such as drone footage, intercepted communications, surveillance data and information drawn from monitoring the movements and behaviour patterns of individuals and large groups.

      The target division was created to address a chronic problem for the IDF: in earlier operations in Gaza, the air force repeatedly ran out of targets to strike. Since senior Hamas officials disappeared into tunnels at the start of any new offensive, sources said, systems such as the Gospel allowed the IDF to locate and attack a much larger pool of more junior operatives.

      One official, who worked on targeting decisions in previous Gaza operations, said the IDF had not previously targeted the homes of junior Hamas members for bombings. They said they believed that had changed for the present conflict, with the houses of suspected Hamas operatives now targeted regardless of rank.

      “That is a lot of houses,” the official told +972/Local Call. “Hamas members who don’t really mean anything live in homes across Gaza. So they mark the home and bomb the house and kill everyone there.”
      Targets given ‘score’ for likely civilian death toll

      In the IDF’s brief statement about its target division, a senior official said the unit “produces precise attacks on infrastructure associated with Hamas while inflicting great damage to the enemy and minimal harm to non-combatants”.

      The precision of strikes recommended by the “AI target bank” has been emphasised in multiple reports in Israeli media. The Yedioth Ahronoth daily newspaper reported that the unit “makes sure as far as possible there will be no harm to non-involved civilians”.

      A former senior Israeli military source told the Guardian that operatives use a “very accurate” measurement of the rate of civilians evacuating a building shortly before a strike. “We use an algorithm to evaluate how many civilians are remaining. It gives us a green, yellow, red, like a traffic signal.”

      However, experts in AI and armed conflict who spoke to the Guardian said they were sceptical of assertions that AI-based systems reduced civilian harm by encouraging more accurate targeting.

      A lawyer who advises governments on AI and compliance with humanitarian law said there was “little empirical evidence” to support such claims. Others pointed to the visible impact of the bombardment.

      “Look at the physical landscape of Gaza,” said Richard Moyes, a researcher who heads Article 36, a group that campaigns to reduce harm from weapons.

      “We’re seeing the widespread flattening of an urban area with heavy explosive weapons, so to claim there’s precision and narrowness of force being exerted is not borne out by the facts.”

      According to figures released by the IDF in November, during the first 35 days of the war Israel attacked 15,000 targets in Gaza, a figure that is considerably higher than previous military operations in the densely populated coastal territory. By comparison, in the 2014 war, which lasted 51 days, the IDF struck between 5,000 and 6,000 targets.

      Multiple sources told the Guardian and +972/Local Call that when a strike was authorised on the private homes of individuals identified as Hamas or Islamic Jihad operatives, target researchers knew in advance the number of civilians expected to be killed.

      Each target, they said, had a file containing a collateral damage score that stipulated how many civilians were likely to be killed in a strike.

      One source who worked until 2021 on planning strikes for the IDF said “the decision to strike is taken by the on-duty unit commander”, some of whom were “more trigger happy than others”.

      The source said there had been occasions when “there was doubt about a target” and “we killed what I thought was a disproportionate amount of civilians”.

      An Israeli military spokesperson said: “In response to Hamas’ barbaric attacks, the IDF operates to dismantle Hamas military and administrative capabilities. In stark contrast to Hamas’ intentional attacks on Israeli men, women and children, the IDF follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm.”
      ‘Mass assassination factory’

      Sources familiar with how AI-based systems have been integrated into the IDF’s operations said such tools had significantly sped up the target creation process.

      “We prepare the targets automatically and work according to a checklist,” a source who previously worked in the target division told +972/Local Call. “It really is like a factory. We work quickly and there is no time to delve deep into the target. The view is that we are judged according to how many targets we manage to generate.”

      A separate source told the publication the Gospel had allowed the IDF to run a “mass assassination factory” in which the “emphasis is on quantity and not on quality”. A human eye, they said, “will go over the targets before each attack, but it need not spend a lot of time on them”.

      For some experts who research AI and international humanitarian law, an acceleration of this kind raises a number of concerns.

      Dr Marta Bo, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said that even when “humans are in the loop” there is a risk they develop “automation bias” and “over-rely on systems which come to have too much influence over complex human decisions”.

      Moyes, of Article 36, said that when relying on tools such as the Gospel, a commander “is handed a list of targets a computer has generated” and they “don’t necessarily know how the list has been created or have the ability to adequately interrogate and question the targeting recommendations”.

      “There is a danger,” he added, “that as humans come to rely on these systems they become cogs in a mechanised process and lose the ability to consider the risk of civilian harm in a meaningful way.”


    • Comment l’armée israélienne utilise l’intelligence artificielle pour bombarder Gaza

      Suggestions de cibles, plans d’attaque automatisés : des outils algorithmiques, développés par Tsahal ou des entreprises privées, servent à mener une guerre « totale » à Gaza. D’anciens officiers du renseignement parlent d’une « usine d’assassinat de masse ».

      L’intelligence artificielle mise au service du bombardement sur la bande de Gaza, l’un des plus destructeurs et meurtriers du XXIe siècle. L’idée, qui appartenait il y a peu à la science-fiction, est désormais une réalité. L’armée israélienne le revendique officiellement dans sa communication.

      Le sujet, qui avait déjà intéressé plusieurs titres de la presse israélienne et internationale ces dernières années, a été remis sur le devant de la scène, ces derniers jours, par une longue enquête du média israélo-palestinien de gauche +972, publiée le 30 novembre. En s’appuyant sur des témoignages de militaires et d’ex-militaires, l’article détaille les rouages de la campagne aérienne sans précédent menée par Tsahal sur Gaza depuis le 7 octobre. Et l’usage, fait par l’armée dans ce contexte, d’outils d’intelligence artificielle.
      Tsahal revendique une « guerre par IA »

      L’utilisation de ce type de technologies dans un cadre militaire par les forces israéliennes a été documentée à plusieurs reprises. En 2021, après la campagne de bombardements menée pendant onze jours sur Gaza, le Jerusalem Post rapportait que Tsahal revendiquait avoir mené cette année-là la première « guerre par IA », mentionnant plusieurs outils algorithmiques destinés à optimiser l’action sur le terrain. Le quotidien israélien nommait alors trois algorithmes, nommés « Alchemist », « Gospel », et « Depth of Wisdom ». Un autre système, « Fire Factory », a été décrit en juillet 2023 par le média Bloomberg.

      Dans un contexte militaire, l’IA est utilisée pour analyser un très grand nombre de données issues du renseignement (ou de la logistique dans certains cas), et estimer rapidement les effets des différents choix stratégiques possibles. Deux outils, en particulier, seraient utilisés par Tsahal dans le cadre des attaques menées depuis le 7 octobre. Le premier, « Gospel » (ou « Habsora »), vise à suggérer les cibles les plus pertinentes pour une attaque, dans un périmètre donné. Le second, « Fire Factory », sert à optimiser, en temps réel, les plans d’attaques des avions et des drones, en fonction de la nature des cibles choisies. L’algorithme se chargerait de calculer la quantité de munitions nécessaires, d’attribuer les cibles aux différents avions et drones, ou de déterminer l’ordre le plus pertinent pour les attaques.

      Une capture d’écran de « Fire Factory », publiée en juillet par Bloomberg à titre d’illustration, montre une carte avec plusieurs cibles entourées, ainsi qu’une frise chronologique sur laquelle se succèdent différentes frappes. A noter que la séquence d’attaque présentée est fictive ou que, tout du moins, un certain nombre d’éléments à l’image ont été altérés avant publication, les noms des cibles en hébreu étant ici fantaisistes (des restaurants de Tel Aviv, par exemple).

      Toujours d’après Bloomberg, les systèmes d’intelligence artificielle de l’armée israélienne seraient développés par l’armée elle-même, mais aussi par des acteurs privés, comme l’entreprise du secteur de la défense Rafael, qui fournirait « Fire Factory ». A propos d’un outil du même genre (mais d’un autre nom), l’entreprise vante sur son site « un changement de paradigme révolutionnaire dans l’analyse de la situation et le circuit entre le capteur et le tireur, permettant une efficacité, une vitesse et une précision sans précédent ».
      De 50 cibles par an à 100 cibles par jour

      Dans les deux cas, les systèmes sont supervisés (d’après les déclarations de Tsahal cet été à Bloomberg) par des opérateurs humains qui, derrière l’écran, doivent vérifier et approuver tant les cibles que les plans de raids. Dit autrement, ces systèmes ne prendraient pas directement la décision de tirer, bien qu’une partie du processus soit automatisé. Selon des représentants des forces armées israéliennes interrogées par Bloomberg, ces solutions informatiques avaient été élaborées dans l’hypothèse de la conduire d’une « guerre totale » (« all-out war »).

      D’après le média +972, l’utilisation de ces solutions technologiques explique comment l’armée israélienne a pu bombarder la bande de Gaza à un rythme aussi effréné (15 000 cibles durant les seuls 35 premiers jours de bombardement, selon les chiffres mêmes de Tsahal). De fait, dans un communiqué publié début novembre, les forces armées israéliennes reconnaissaient elles-mêmes que « Gospel » (cité nommément) leur permettait de générer, de manière automatique, « des cibles à un rythme rapide ».

      Dans un article paru fin juin sur le média israélien YNet, l’ancien chef d’état-major de l’armée israélienne Aviv Kochavi expliquait que, lors de la guerre de 2021, « Gospel » générait 100 cibles par jour, ajoutant : « Pour mettre cela en perspective, dans le passé, nous produisions 50 cibles à Gaza par an. » Et de préciser que, lors de ces opérations militaires, la moitié des cibles suggérées par le logiciel avaient été attaquées. Au regard du rythme auquel l’algorithme propose de nouvelles cibles à bombarder, d’anciens officiers de renseignement critiques du procédé, interrogés par +972, assimilent le processus à une « usine d’assassinat de masse ».
      « Rien n’arrive par hasard »

      Les pertes civiles font partie des éléments dont « Gospel » tient compte pour identifier de nouvelles cibles. En effet, selon l’enquête de +972, l’armée israélienne dispose d’informations sur la majorité des cibles potentielles à Gaza, permettant notamment d’estimer le nombre de personnes civiles susceptibles d’être tuées en cas de frappes. Or, selon une autre source interrogée par le média israélien, depuis le 7 octobre, le nombre de morts civils jugé acceptable par le commandement militaire israélien dans l’objectif d’atteindre un dirigeant du Hamas serait passé de « dizaines » à « des centaines ».

      Nous ne sommes pas le Hamas. Ce ne sont pas des missiles aléatoires. Tout est intentionnel.
      — Une source anonyme au média israélien « +972 »

      « Rien n’arrive par hasard, déclare une autre source aux journalistes de +972. Lorsqu’une fillette de 3 ans est tuée dans une maison à Gaza, c’est parce que quelqu’un, dans l’armée, a décidé que ce n’était pas grave qu’elle soit tuée – que c’était un prix qui valait la peine d’être payé pour frapper [une autre] cible. Nous ne sommes pas le Hamas. Ce ne sont pas des missiles aléatoires. Tout est intentionnel. Nous savons exactement combien de dommages collatéraux il y a dans chaque maison. »
      Des milliers d’arbitrages invisibles

      Outre l’intensification des frappes permise par ces outils, se pose également la question de la qualité des données de renseignement sur lesquelles reposent les analyses. En 2020, une enquête du quotidien britannique The Independent, citant des militaires israéliens, pointait déjà des failles dans le cibles visées par les bombardements de l’armée de l’air israélienne, y compris sur des cibles obsolètes, pour remplir des quotas.

      Si ces données sont imprécises, périmées ou erronées, les suggestions logicielles n’auront aucune valeur stratégique. Or, si d’après un militaire interrogé par Bloomberg, une partie du choix des IA est transmise aux militaires décisionnaires, ces derniers ignorent le détail des milliers d’arbitrages invisibles réalisés par l’IA, et ne peuvent pas interroger leur fiabilité ou leur pertinence. De façon plus générale, l’utilisation de ces algorithmes rend plus difficile, pour les militaires, de comprendre ou de justifier leurs décisions.


    • Gaza: una “fabbrica di omicidi di massa” grazie all’intelligenza artificiale

      Israele ha impiegato un sistema di intelligenza artificiale per generare obiettivi di morte che ha trasformato Gaza in una “fabbrica di omicidi di massa”, secondo un nuovo rapporto investigativo, di forte impatto, pubblicato dall’organo israeliano di informazione +972 Magazine. Il sistema differisce in modo significativo dalle precedenti operazioni militari, provocando uccisioni indiscriminate e un numero estremamente elevato di vittime civili durante l’attuale offensiva di Israele a Gaza.

      L’esercito israeliano dispone di dossier che riguardano la stragrande maggioranza dei potenziali obiettivi a Gaza – comprese le case – e che stabiliscono il numero di civili che probabilmente saranno uccisi in caso di attacco, hanno dichiarato le fonti a +972. Questo numero è calcolato e conosciuto in anticipo, e le unità di intelligence dell’esercito sanno anche, poco prima di effettuare un attacco, quanti civili saranno sicuramente uccisi.

      Mettendo in evidenza lo scioccante disprezzo per la vita dei civili, il rapporto ha rilevato che il comando militare israeliano ha consapevolmente approvato l’uccisione di centinaia di civili palestinesi nel tentativo di assassinare un singolo comandante militare di spicco di Hamas. “I numeri sono aumentati da decine di morti civili [permessi] come danni collaterali nell’ambito di un attacco a un alto funzionario nelle operazioni precedenti, a centinaia di morti civili come danni collaterali”, ha dichiarato una fonte a +972.

      I protocolli sviluppati per la selezione degli obiettivi utilizzati da Israele hanno visto l’esercito aumentare significativamente i bombardamenti di infrastrutture che non sono di natura prettamente militare. Queste includono residenze private, edifici pubblici, infrastrutture e grattacieli che, secondo le fonti, l’esercito definisce “obiettivi di potere”.

      “Nulla accade per caso”, ha riferito un’altra fonte.

      “Quando una bambina di 3 anni viene uccisa in una casa a Gaza, è perché qualcuno nell’esercito ha deciso che non costituiva un grosso problema il fatto di ucciderla, che era un prezzo da pagare per colpire [un altro] obiettivo”.

      “Noi non siamo Hamas. Questi non sono razzi casuali. Tutto è intenzionale. Sappiamo esattamente quanti danni collaterali ci sono in ogni casa”.

      Gli ingenti danni alla vita dei civili a Gaza sono dovuti all’uso diffuso di un sistema di intelligenza artificiale chiamato Habsora (Il Vangelo). A quanto pare, il sistema raccomanda potenziali obiettivi di Gaza con un ritmo automatizzato senza precedenti. Citando ex ufficiali, l’indagine sostiene che questa tecnologia consente una “fabbrica di omicidi di massa” che privilegia la quantità rispetto all’accuratezza, permettendo danni collaterali più elevati. L’obiettivo è stato esplicitamente menzionato dal portavoce dell’esercito israeliano Daniel Hagari che, all’inizio dell’operazione militare israeliana di ottobre, ha dichiarato: “L’enfasi è sul danno e non sulla precisione”.

      Sebbene non sia mai accaduto che l’esercito israeliano abbia attaccato oltre 1.000 obiettivi energetici in cinque giorni, secondo il rapporto, l’idea di provocare devastazioni di massa nelle aree civili per scopi strategici è stata formulata anche in precedenti operazioni militari a Gaza, affinate dai tempi della cosiddetta “Dottrina Dahiya” applicata durante la Seconda Guerra del Libano del 2006.

      Secondo la dottrina – sviluppata dall’ex capo di Stato Maggiore dell’IDF Gadi Eizenkot, che ora è membro della Knesset e fa parte dell’attuale gabinetto di guerra – in una guerra contro gruppi di guerriglieri come Hamas o Hezbollah, Israele deve usare una forza sproporzionata e schiacciante, colpendo le infrastrutture civili e governative, al fine di stabilire una deterrenza e costringere la popolazione civile a fare pressione sui gruppi per porre fine ai loro attacchi. Si ritiene che il concetto di “obiettivi di potere” sia nato da questa stessa logica.

      Finora sono stati uccisi oltre 15.000 palestinesi, tra cui un numero sproporzionatamente alto di donne, bambini e anziani che non erano militanti. L’uccisione indiscriminata da parte di Israele è stata descritta come un “caso da manuale di genocidio” dai maggiori esperti nel campo degli studi sui genocidi.

      Il bilancio delle vittime civili e delle distruzioni a Gaza ha spinto i gruppi per i diritti umani e alcuni studi legali a chiedere indagini indipendenti per far emergere le responsabilità di quello che, secondo molti, è un genocidio.


  • #Interpol makes first border arrest using Biometric Hub to ID suspect

    Global database of faces and fingerprints proves its worth.

    European police have for the first time made an arrest after remotely checking Interpol’s trove of biometric data to identify a suspected smuggler.

    The fugitive migrant, we’re told, gave a fake name and phony identification documents at a police check in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, while traveling toward Western Europe. And he probably would have got away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids Interpol’s Biometric Hub – a recently activated tool that uses French identity and biometrics vendor Idemia’s technology to match people’s biometric data against the multinational policing org’s global fingerprint and facial recognition databases.

    “When the smuggler’s photo was run through the Biometric Hub, it immediately flagged that he was wanted in another European country,” Interpol declared. “He was arrested and is currently awaiting extradition.”

    Interpol introduced the Biometric Hub – aka BioHub – in October, and it is now available to law enforcement in all 196 member countries.

    Neither Interpol nor Idemia immediately responded to The Register’s questions about how the technology and remote access works.

    But Cyril Gout, Interpol’s director of operational support and analysis, offered a canned quote: “The Biometric Hub helps law enforcement officers know right away whether the person in front of them poses a security risk.”

    That suggests Interpol member states’ constabularies can send biometric data to BioHub from the field and receive real-time info about suspects’ identities.

    The multinational policing org has said that Hub’s “biometric core” combines Interpol’s existing fingerprint and facial recognition databases, which both use Idemia tech, with a matching system also based on Idemia’s biometric technology.

    Interpol and Idemia have worked together for years. In 1999, he police organization chose Idemia to develop its fingerprint database, called the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). And then in 2016, Interpol inked another contract with Idemia to use the French firm’s facial recognition capabilities for the Interpol Face Recognition System (IFRS).

    According to Idemia, the latest version of its Multibiometric Identification System, MBIS 5, uses “new generation algorithms which provide a higher matching accuracy rate with a shorter response time and a more user-friendly interface.”

    In its first phase, Interpol will use MBIS 5 to identify persons of interest (POIs) for police investigations.

    A second phase, which will take two years to become fully operational, will extend the biometric checks to border control points. During this phase the system will be able to perform up to one million forensic searches per day – including fingerprints, palm prints, and portraits.

    Interpol expects the combined fingerprints and facial recognition system will speed future biometric searches. Instead of running a check against separate biometric databases, BioHub allows police officers to submit data to both through one interface, and it only requires human review if the “quality of the captured biometric data is such that the match falls below a designated threshold.”

    To address data governance concerns, Interpol claims BioHub complies with its data protection framework. Additionally, scans of faces and hands uploaded to the Hub are not added to Interpol’s criminal databases or made visible to other users. Any data that does not result in a match is deleted following the search, we’re told.

    While The Register hasn’t heard of any specific data privacy and security concerns related to BioHub, we’re sure it’s only a matter of time before it’s misused.

    America’s Transportation Security Agency (TSA) over the summer also said it intends to expand its facial recognition program, which also uses Idemia’s tech, to screen air travel passengers to 430 US airports. The TSA wants that capability in place within ten years.

    The TSA announcement was swiftly met with opposition from privacy and civil rights organizations, along with some US senators who took issue [PDF] with the tech.


    #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #technologie #empreintes_digitales #biométrie #Interpol #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Biometric_Hub #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Idemia #reconnaissance_faciale #passeurs #BioHub #extradition #sécurité #risque #interopérabilité #base_de_données #Automated_Fingerprint_Identification_System (#AFIS) #Interpol_Face_Recognition_System (#IFRS) #Multibiometric_Identification_System #MBIS_5 #algorithmes #persons_of_interest (#POIs) #portraits #Transportation_Security_Agency (#TSA)

  • L’erosione di Schengen, sempre più area di libertà per pochi a danno di molti

    I Paesi che hanno aderito all’area di libera circolazione strumentalizzano il concetto di minaccia per la sicurezza interna per poter ripristinare i controlli alle frontiere e impedire così l’ingresso ai migranti indesiderati. Una forzatura, praticata anche dall’Italia, che scatena riammissioni informali e violazioni dei diritti. L’analisi dell’Asgi

    Lo spazio Schengen sta venendo progressivamente eroso e ridotto dagli Stati membri dell’Unione europea che, con il pretesto della sicurezza interna o di “minacce” esterne, ne sospendono l’applicazione. Ed è così che da spazio di libera circolazione, Schengen si starebbe trasformando sempre più in un labirinto creato per isolare e respingere le persone in transito e i cittadini stranieri.

    Per l’Associazione per gli studi giuridici sull’immigrazione (Asgi) la sospensione della libera circolazione, che dovrebbe essere una pratica emergenziale da attivarsi solo nel caso di minacce gravi per la sicurezza di un Paese, rischia infatti di diventare una prassi ricorrente nella gestione dei flussi migratori.

    A fine ottobre di quest’anno il governo italiano ha riattivato i controlli al confine con la Slovenia, giustificando l’iniziativa con l’aumento del rischio interno a seguito della guerra in atto a Gaza e da possibili infiltrazioni terroristiche. La decisione è stata anche proposta come reazione alla pressione migratoria a cui è soggetto il Paese. Lo stesso giorno in cui l’Italia ha annunciato la sospensione della libera circolazione -misura prorogata- la stessa scelta è stata presa anche da Slovenia, Austria, Repubblica Ceca, Slovacchia, Polonia e Germania. Una prassi che rischia di agevolare le violazioni dei diritti delle persone in transito. “Questa pratica, così come l’uso degli accordi bilaterali di riammissione, ha di fatto consentito alle autorità di frontiera dei vari Stati membri di impedire l’ingresso nel territorio e di applicare respingimenti ai danni di persone migranti e richiedenti asilo, in violazione di numerose norme nazionali e sovranazionali”, scrive l’Asgi.

    Il “Codice frontiere Schengen” prevede che i confini interni possano essere attraversati in un qualsiasi punto senza controlli sulle persone, in modo indipendente dalla loro nazionalità. Secondo i dati del Consiglio dell’Unione europea, circa 3,5 milioni di persone attraverserebbero questi confini ogni giorno mentre in 1,7 milioni lavorerebbero in un Paese diverso da quello di residenza, attraversando così una frontiera interna. In caso di minaccia grave per l’ordine pubblico o la sicurezza interna in uno Stato membro, però, quest’ultimo è autorizzato a ripristinare i controlli “in tutte o in alcune parti delle sue frontiere interne per un periodo limitato non superiore a 30 giorni o per la durata prevedibile della minaccia grave”. Tuttavia, lo stesso Codice afferma che “la migrazione e l’attraversamento delle frontiere esterne di un gran numero di cittadini di Paesi terzi non dovrebbero in sé essere considerate una minaccia per l’ordine pubblico o la sicurezza”.

    Inoltre, anche nel caso in cui vengano introdotte restrizioni alla libera circolazione, queste vanno applicate in accordo con il diritto delle persone in transito. “La reintroduzione temporanea dei controlli non può giustificare alcuna deroga al rispetto dei diritti fondamentali delle persone straniere che fanno ingresso nel territorio degli Stati membri e, nel caso specifico dell’Italia, attraverso il confine italo-sloveno -ribadisce l’Asgi-. In particolare, il controllo non può esentare le autorità di frontiera dalla verifica delle situazioni individuali delle persone straniere che intendano accedere nel territorio dello Stato e che intendano presentare domanda di asilo”. In particolare, la sicurezza dei confini non può impedire l’accesso alle procedure di protezione internazionale per chi ne fa richieste e di riceve informazioni sulla possibilità di farlo. Infine, i controlli non possono portare a una violazione del diritto di non respingimento, che impedisce l’espulsione di una persona verso Paese dove potrebbe subire trattamenti inumani o degradanti o dove possa essere soggetta a respingimenti “a catena” verso Stati che si macchiano di queste pratiche.

    Le operazioni di pattugliamento lungo il confine tra Italia e Slovenia presentano criticità proprio in tal senso. Secondo le notizie riportate dai media e le recenti dichiarazioni del ministro dell’Interno Matteo Piantedosi, l’Italia avrebbe applicato ulteriori misure che hanno l’evidente effetto di impedire alla persona straniera l’accesso al territorio nazionale e ai diritti che ne conseguono. Già a settembre del 2023 il ministro aveva dichiarato, in risposta a un’interrogazione parlamentare, la ripresa dell’attività congiunta tra le forze di polizia di Italia e Slovenia a partire dal 2022. Sottolineando come grazie all’accordo fosse stato possibile impedire, per tutto il 2023, l’ingresso sul territorio nazionale di circa 1.900 “migranti irregolari”. “Preoccupa, inoltre, l’opacità operativa che caratterizza questi interventi di polizia: le modalità, infatti, con le quali vengono condotti sono poco chiare e difficilmente osservabili ma celano evidenti profili di criticità e potenziali lesioni di diritti”.

    Le azioni di polizia, infatti, avrebbero avuto luogo già in territorio italiano oltre il confine: una simile procedura appare in linea con quanto previsto dalle procedure di riammissione bilaterale, ma in contrasto con il Codice frontiere Schengen, che presuppone che i controlli possano essere svolti solo presso i valichi di frontiera comunicati alle istituzioni competenti. Una prassi simile è stata riscontrata lungo il confine italo-francese, dove l’Asgi ha identificato la coesistenza di pratiche legate alla sospensione della libera circolazione con procedure di riammissione informale.

    “La libera circolazione nello spazio europeo è una delle conquiste più importanti dei nostri tempi -è la conclusione dell’Asgi-. Il suo progressivo smantellamento dovrebbe essere dettato da una effettiva emergenza e contingenza, entrambe condizioni che sembrano non rinvenibili nelle motivazioni addotte dall’Italia e dagli altri Stati membri alla Commissione europea. La libertà di circolazione, pilastro fondamentale dell’area Schengen, rivela forse a tutt’oggi la sua vera natura: un’area di libertà per pochi a danno di molti”.


    #Schengen #contrôles_frontaliers #contrôles_systématiques_aux_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Europe #frontières_intérieures #espace_Schengen #sécurité #libre_circulation #Italie #Slovénie #terrorisme #Gaza #Slovénie #Autriche #République_Tchèque #Slovaquie #Pologne #Allemagne #accords_bilatéraux #code_frontières #droits_humains #droits_fondamentaux #droit_d'asile #refoulements_en_chaîne #patrouilles_mixtes #réadmissions_informelles #France #frontière_sud-alpine


    ajouté au fil de discussion sur la réintroduction des contrôles systématiques à la frontière entre Italie et Slovénie :

  • Europe’s Nameless Dead

    As more people try to reach Western Europe through the Balkans, taking increasingly dangerous routes to evade border police, many are dying without a trace

    When hundreds of thousands of refugees crossed through the Balkans in 2015, border controls were limited and there were few fences or walls. The route was largely open.

    After several years of lull, the number of people making this journey recently increased again. Last year saw the highest number of crossings since 2015, predominantly due to ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and hostile treatment of refugees in Turkey.

    But the Balkan route has changed in the last eight years. With the help of funding from both the EU and the UK, countries in the Balkans have erected fences and built walls. When border police catch people seeking asylum, they often force them back over the border.

    Subsequently, those making the journey often take longer and more dangerous routes in order to evade the police – and the consequences can be deadly; people are freezing to death in forests, drowning in rivers or dying from sheer exhaustion.

    There is no official data on the number of dead and missing migrants in the Balkans. Efforts that have been made to collect data – for example the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project – are based mostly on media reports and are likely to be significantly underestimated.

    With RFE/RL, Der Spiegel, ARD, the i newspaper, Solomon and academics from Aston, Liverpool and Nottingham Universities, we sought to measure the scale of migrant deaths at the borders of a commonly trodden route spanning Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia. Crucially, we sought to find out what subsequently happens to the bodies of these people and what their families go through trying to find them.

    We found that the hostility people face at the borders of Europe in life continues into death. State authorities make little to no effort to identify dead migrants or inform their families, while individual doctors, NGO workers and activists do what they can to fill in the gaps. Unidentified bodies end up piled in morgues or buried without a trace.

    It was clear from the outset that it would be impossible to get comprehensive numbers on migrant deaths, given some bodies will never be found, particularly when people have drowned in rivers or died deep in forests.

    In Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, we requested data from police departments, prosecutors’ offices, courts and morgues on how many unidentified bodies they had recorded in recent years. While some provided information, most failed to respond or declined to disclose the data.

    But through this process we managed to obtain data on the number of bodies known or presumed to be migrants received by six morgues near the borders along the Bulgaria-Serbia-Bosnia route. We found 155 such cases across the six facilities since the start of 2022 – the majority (92) dying this year alone.

    By speaking with forensic pathologists in Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, we found that in each of the three countries, the legal protocol is that an autopsy must be performed on all unidentified bodies – but what happens next is less clear. Information on the deceased is fragmented and held across different institutions, with no unified system which proactively seeks to connect them with families looking for them.

    Through interviews with more than a dozen people whose family members had gone missing or died along the route, we learnt that they are left with no idea where to look or who to ask. We found WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages connecting networks of concerned families, desperately sharing photos and information about their lost loved ones. Some NGOs in Bulgaria and Serbia said they are contacted about such cases every day.

    In some cases when families approached Burgas morgue in south-eastern Bulgaria – where we recorded the highest number of migrant bodies – they were told by staff that they could only check the bodies if they paid them cash bribes. This was confirmed by multiple testimonies and NGOs operating in the area.

    RFE/RL followed the case of one Syrian father’s search for his son. Husam Adin Bibars, a refugee in Denmark, travelled to Bulgaria after his son, Majd Addin Bibars, went missing there while trying to reach Western Europe.

    After a day and a half of asking different institutions, Bibars was directed to a local police station near the Turkish border – where he was shown a photo of Majd’s lifeless body. He was told he had died of thirst, exhaustion and cold – and that he had been buried four days after his body was found.

    In an interview with ARD, the prosecutor in Yambol, a Bulgarian city close to the Turkish border, near where Majd was buried, said his body was buried after four days in keeping with their procedure of carrying out burials of unidentified migrants “fast” to free up space in the morgue.

    Some 900 kilometres away in Bosnia, iNews spoke to Dr Vidak Simić, a forensic pathologist responsible for performing autopsies on bodies found in the Drina River, which runs along the Serbian border. He said that in 2023 alone, he had examined 28 bodies presumed to be migrants, compared with five last year. The vast majority remain unidentified and are now buried in graves marked ‘NN’ – an abbreviation for a Latin term for a person with no name.

    The doctor is now working with local activist Nihad Suljić to try to help families find their missing loved ones, by checking his autopsy files to see if any unidentified bodies match the description of missing people. But he says a proper system needs to be put in place for this. “[Families] enter a painstaking process, through embassies, burial organisations, to obtain a bone sample, so that they can compare it with one of their family members,” he says.


    #mourir_aux_frontières #frontières #morts_aux_frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #décès #morts #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #visualisation #cartographie

    ping @reka

    • Sie erfrieren in Wäldern, ertrinken in Flüssen

      Europas namenlose Tote: Viele Flüchtende, die auf der Balkanroute sterben, werden nie identifiziert. Angehörige suchen verzweifelt nach Gewissheit – manche müssen sich den Zugang zu Leichenhallen erkaufen. Der SPIEGEL-Report.



    • Namenloser Tod in Bulgarien

      An der türkisch-bulgarischen Grenze endet der Versuch von Migranten, in die EU zu kommen, oft in tödlicher Erschöpfung. Die Behörden begraben die Leichen schnell - ohne Identifizierung. Für die Angehörigen ist das ein weiteres Trauma.

      Das Porträt hängt zwischen den Fenstern im ansonsten schmucklosen Wohnzimmer. Wenn Hussam Adin Bibars es von der Wand nimmt, um es zu zeigen, wirkt es, als würde er eine Bürde tragen.

      Der gut aussehende junge Mann mit den blauen Augen und dem akkurat gestutzten, schwarzen Bart auf dem Foto ist sein Sohn. Das letzte Lebenszeichen von ihm kam im Herbst. Majid hatte sich auf den Weg gemacht, um zu seiner Familie zu ziehen. Sein Vater war bereits im Jahr 2015 aus Syrien geflohen und lebt heute in Dänemark.

      Um seinen Plan in die Tat umzusetzen, musste Majid über die berüchtigte Balkanroute, die in den vergangenen Jahren immer gefährlicher geworden ist. Die Außengrenzen werden strenger bewacht, Geflüchtete und ihre Schleuser wählen längere und gefährlichere Routen, um ein Aufeinandertreffen mit der Polizei zu vermeiden.

      Verloren im „Dreieck des Todes“

      Der Weg führt an der türkisch-bulgarischen Grenze durch dichte, endlose Wälder. „Dreieck des Todes“ nennen sie das Gebiet hier, weil dort besonders viele tote Körper gefunden wurden. Immer wieder verirren sich Flüchtlinge, sterben an Dehydrierung und Erschöpfung.

      Oft sind es Mitarbeiter von NGOs wie Diana Dimova, die die Toten finden. Vergangenes Jahr hätten sie zehn bis zwölf Notrufe erreicht, erzählt sie, dieses Jahr habe sie schon nicht mehr zählen können, es seien aber auf jeden Fall mehr als 70 gewesen.

      Nach Recherchen des ARD-Studios Wien in Kooperation mit Lighthouse Reports, dem Spiegel, RFE/RL, Solomon und inews starben allein in den vergangenen zwei Jahren mindestens 93 Menschen auf ihrem Weg durch Bulgarien.

      Dem Rechercheteam liegen zahlreiche Videos und Fotos Geflüchteter vor. Sie stehen neben ihren sterbenden Weggefährten, betten sie auf Jacken, versuchen sie zuzudecken und müssen sie schließlich auf dem Waldboden zurücklassen, der starre Blick eingefangen auf einem wackeligen Handyvideo.

      Wer zu schwach ist, wird zurückgelassen

      Hussam Adin Bibars erfährt, dass auch Majid nicht genug zu trinken hat. Er wird immer schwächer, berichtet von Bauchkrämpfen und kann nicht mehr weiterlaufen. Sein Vater macht sich Sorgen, versucht, mit dem Schleuser in Kontakt zu kommen.

      Der Schmuggler sagte, dass sich der Gesundheitszustand von Majid verschlechtert habe. Sie hätten ihn im Wald zurückgelassen. Ich habe versucht, ihm zu erklären, dass Majid ein Mensch ist und man ihn in so einem Zustand nicht einfach im Wald zurücklassen kann. Ich habe den Schmuggler gebeten, Majid an die nächstmögliche Behörde zu übergeben.

      Verzweifelte Suche in Bulgarien

      Als der Kontakt abbricht, macht Hussam sich auf eigene Faust auf die Suche. Er reist nach Bulgarien, klappert Krankenhäuser ab, schließlich auch Leichenhallen.

      In der Gerichtsmedizin in Yambol, einer Stadt im Südosten des Landes, findet er eine erste Spur, die ihn zu seinem Sohn führen könnte. Ein Körper, der zu seiner Beschreibung passt, sei dort gewesen, erzählt man ihm.

      Auf der Polizeistation zeigt man ihm schließlich Fotos, man habe den Leichnam auf einem Feld gefunden.

      Was bleibt: eine Grabnummer

      Hussam will seinen Sohn sehen und identifizieren, doch der Leichnam ist bereits weg. Die Polizei hat nur noch die Nummer eines Grabes für ihn. Für den Vater ist diese Nachricht kaum zu ertragen:

      Ich wünschte, ich hätte wenigstens die Chance, Majid ein letztes Mal zu sehen, aber bis heute bin ich mir über seinen Tod absolut unsicher. Ich habe zwar Fotos von ihm gesehen und sein Telefon erhalten, aber ich habe ihn nicht mit eigenen Augen gesehen, so dass mein Verstand immer noch nicht glauben kann, dass die Person in diesem Grab mein Sohn ist.

      Die Begründung der Staatsanwaltschaft

      Bevor der Körper überhaupt identifiziert werden konnte, hatte der Staatsanwalt ihn bereits zur Beerdigung freigegeben. Nach nur vier Tagen. Milen Bozidarov, einer der zuständigen Staatsanwälte für die Region verweist im Interview mit der ARD auf hygienische Gründe.

      Die Leichenhallen seien voll, jeder sei zur Eile angehalten. Wenn man davon ausgehen könne, die tote Person sei ein Migrant und die Angehörigen weit weg, dann gebe es keine sinnvollen Gründe, den Körper weiterhin aufzubewahren.

      Doch Majids Vater wollte seinen Sohn finden, die weite Anreise aus Dänemark hinderte ihn nicht an der Suche. 22 Tage nach seinem Tod war er in Bulgarien vor Ort. Da war es jedoch längst zu spät.

      Das einzige, was er noch besuchen konnte, war ein Erdhaufen auf einem Friedhof inmitten anderer namenloser Gräber.

      „Man will keine Aufmerksamkeit“

      Scharfe Kritik an dieser Praxis des schnellen Begrabens kommt von Anwalt Dragomir Oshavkov aus Burgas. Eigentlich dürfe es keinen Unterschied machen, ob der Tote ein Bulgare oder ein Migrant sei.

      Die Behörden hätten bei Migranten jedoch kein Interesse daran, die wahre Todesursache und die Identität herauszufinden, erzählt er. Man wolle den Prozess einfach schnell und möglichst bequem abschließen.

      Ein Verhalten, das für die EU unwürdig ist. So sieht es Erik Marquardt, der für die Grünen im Europaparlament sitzt und die Migrationspolitik der letzten Jahre genau verfolgt.

      Wenn man nach wenigen Tagen, ohne die Todesursache genau zu ermitteln, Menschen einfach verscharrt und sich nicht um die Angehörigen kümmert, dann will man offenbar nicht, dass die Aufmerksamkeit auf diese Fälle kommt.

      Marquardt bringt die Einführung einer EU-Datenbank ins Spiel und eine Verpflichtung der Mitgliedstaaten, bei der Auffindung von Verwandten mitzuwirken.

      Ein Kind ohne Vater

      Für viele Menschen ist der Weg über die Balkanroute inzwischen tödlich - und endet in einem namenlosen Grab. Auch für Majid.

      Wenige Tage nach seinem Tod kommt Majids Tochter zur Welt. Hussam, der Großvater, zeigt ein Video, auf dem die Kleine unter einer weiß-blauen Samtmütze hervor blinzelt. Sie wird bei ihrer Mutter aufwachsen.

      Wo und wie ihr Vater genau gestorben ist, wird sie niemals erfahren.



      #Bulgarie #Turquie

    • "Ничии тела". Как стотици хора загинаха в бягството си през България

      През България минава път, който не е на картата и е все по-смъртоносен. По него вървят мигрантите, тръгнали за Западна Европа. Някои умират по пътя. После близките им ги търсят сред хаос и корупция. Разследване на Свободна Европа, Lighthouse Reports, The I Newspaper, Solomon, Der Spiegel и ARD.

      “Това е синът ми!”, възкликва със стегнат в гърлото глас 53-годишният сириец от Алепо Хусам Ал-Дийн Бибарс. Дежурният полицай в Елхово му показва снимка на очевидно мъртъв млад мъж със сиво-черни дрехи. На снимката той лежи в пръстта в землището на село Мелница, Ямболска област.

      Само ден по-рано бащата е пристигнал в България от Дания, където живее, с надеждата да открие безследно изчезналия си син Мажд, на 27 години. Екипът ни съпровожда бащата в това търсене.

      Още 22 дни по-рано Мажд е преминал нелегално българо-турската граница с група, водена от трафиканти. Платил е 7000 евро на каналджиите, за да достигне до заветната дестинация - Германия, където мечтае да се установи с жена си и малката си дъщеря.

      Хусам е чул сина си за последен път ден преди началото на фаталното пътуване. “Как си татко, добре ли си със здравето?” - пита Мажд.
      Хусам и снимката

      “На първата снимка не беше той. На втората обаче беше. Когато го видях, се сринах на земята”, каза бащата. От полицията му обясняват, че синът му е починал от преумора и че по тялото му няма следи от насилие.

      Първоначалната мисъл на Хусам Бибарс е да вземе тялото на Мажд и да го погребе у дома, в Сирия или в Турция, при семейството му. Тази надежда бързо бива попарена. Разбираме, че младият мъж вече е погребан служебно в безименен гроб в Елхово с постановление на окръжен прокурор от Ямбол. Документът е издаден едва 4 дни след като тракторист случайно е намерил тялото му и звъни в полицията.

      “Слушаме, че Европа е земя на свобода, демокрация и човешки права. Но къде са човешките права в това да не мога да видя сина си преди да бъде погребан? Видях единствено гроба му, снимките и телефона му. Това е всичко, което имам от него”, казва бащата.
      Един от стотици загинали

      Мажд Бибарс е един от стотиците бежанци от Близкия изток, изгубили живота си в последните години, докато минават по т.нар. Балкански маршрут в опит да намерят закрила в Европа.

      По данни на европейската гранична агенция Frontex, през 2022 г. броят на опитите за преминаване на европейските граници достига до пиковите равнища от 2016 г., като почти половината от тях, или 145 000 души, са минали именно през Югоизточна Европа.

      Обикновено смъртта по европейските граници се свързва с трагичните корабокрушения по бреговете на Средиземно море. Но различни доклади, като проекта Missing Migrants на Международната организация по миграция показват, че сухопътният маршрут през Балканите става все по-опасен.

      В продължение на повече от седем месеца екип от журналисти на Lighthouse reports, Der Spiegel, ARD, Свободна Европа и Inews проследи и документира десетки случаи на мигранти, безследно изчезнали или изгубили живота си в опит да преминат през три държави от т.нар. Балкански маршрут - България, Сърбия и Босна и Херцеговина.

      За семействата им процесът по издирване се оказва истински кошмар. Ако се окаже, че мигрантът е загинал, те трябва да идентифицират и евентуално да репатрират тялото му, или да го погребат в България.

      Само че на национално и на международно ниво няма нито единен, нито адекватен отговор на техните въпроси. Независимо от разрастващия се мащаб на проблема, роднините на загинали и изчезнали мигранти се сблъскват с липса на информация, незаинтересованост и тромави административни процедури. А ако действието се развива в България - и с корупция в бургаската морга, където се озовава най-големият брой от телата за загиналите.
      “Лавинообразен” ръст на изчезналите и загиналите

      “Често се случва да получа обаждане в полунощ от човек (...), който, на развален английски директно ме пита: Можете ли да намерите брат ми?”, разказва Калинка Янкова от Службата за възстановяване на семейни връзки към Българския червен кръст.

      “Най-много ни мотивира това да намираме хората живи. Но напоследък рядко имаме този късмет”, допълва тя.

      Янкова и екипът й разполагат с 631 сигнала за предполагаемо загинали през тази година и още стотици молби за издирване на изчезнали мигранти, подадени от роднините им. Към момента имат установени около 20 смъртни случая, в които са съдействали на семействата за идентифициране на починалите им близки. Сред тях има и деца.

      “Всичко започна през септември миналата година и оттогава случаите нараснаха лавинообразно”, казва Янкова.

      Думите й се потвърждават и от данните на правозащитната организация Фондация “Достъп до права”, или ФАР, която само за месеците септември и октомври 2023 г. е получила на своя спешен телефон 70 сигнала за изчезнали на територията на страната мигранти. За трима от тях по-късно разбират, че са починали в горите около град Средец.

      “В около 95 процента от случаите това са роднини, които се свързват с нас, посочвайки България, като държава, в която те за последен път са се чули с лицето”, казаха от ФАР.

      В останалите около 5 процента лично трафикантите подават сигнали за бедстващи хора, но това се случва часове след като човекът е бил изоставен, за да се избегне рискът от това служители на гранична полиция да задържат групата или да я върнат в Турция - практика, за която ви разказахме в последните ни разследвания. Основните места, където се намират лицата, са в горите около Средец и планината “Странджа” - район, печално известен още от времето на комунистическите гранични войски като“триъгълника на смъртта”.

      Но реално черната статистика е доста по-голяма. Само за периода 2022-2023 г. в моргата към УМБАЛ Бургас, която е и най-натоварената заради близостта си до турската граница, са съхранявани общо 54 тела на мигранти. 31 от тях са намерени от началото на тази година. Проверките ни в граничните райони до Турция и Сърбия установиха поне 93 смъртни случаи с мигранти на територията на страната за последните две години.

      Екипът ни документира други 62 случая от Сърбия и Босна и Херцеговина за същия период, с което трагичните инциденти по тази част от Балканския маршрут, установени само в рамките на това разследване, достигнаха 155.

      В местните медии темата е сведена до сензационни заглавия от типа на “Моргата в Бургас се препълни” или “Странджа е осеяна с трупове”. Ние решихме да проследим историите зад числата, причините за големия брой трагични инциденти и начините, по които институциите се справят с тях.
      В търсене на изчезналите роднини

      Мохамад Мудасир Арианпур е гордостта на семейството си. Служи в афганистанската армия, докато талибаните не вземат отново властта през 2021 г. Това прави живота му у дома невъзможен.

      На 21 септември 2022 г. Мохамад прекосява турско-българската граница с група от 26 други мигранти, водени от двама трафиканти. На 25 септември младият мъж губи сили и не може да продължи пътя през горите на Странджа. Негови приятели виждат, че се намират близо до село и му оставят две бутилки с вода с надеждата, че скоро ще бъде намерен и предаден на българските власти.

      Оттогава никой няма връзка с него.

      В следващите месеци негови роднини, живеещи в Западна Европа, посещават България няколко пъти, обикалят полицейски управления, бежански центрове, болници и морги, но опитите им да го открият не се увенчават с успех.

      Отчаяното търсене ги среща и с други семейства, сполетени от същата съдба. Сестра му Фатме Арианпур решава да създаде Whatsapp група, в която всички си помагат и обменят информация.

      “Намерихме се в различни групи във Фейсбук и разбрахме, че сме толкова много хора в една и съща ситуация”, разказва Фатме. “Надявам се, че като говорим за тези неща, ще успеем да променим нещо. Независимо дали са живи или мъртви, хората имат права”, допълва тя.

      Именно в създадената от нея група, както и в други подобни срещнахме основния герой на историята ни - Хусам Бибарс, както и други семейства, с които разговаряхме.

      Поне четирима от интервюираните ни казаха, че при посещенията си в моргата в УМБАЛ Бургас са плащали на служители на лечебното заведение, за да видят дали близките им не са сред съхраняваните там тела.

      Сумите, за които чухме, варираха между 50 лева и 200 евро на посещение.

      “В крайна сметка всички просто искат пари”, обобщи опита си Али, афганистански бежанец. Той прекарва месеци в България, опитвайки се да погребе 16-годишния си брат, като общо разходите му възлизат на над 8000 евро.
      50 лева

      Оплакванията от корупционни практики с тела на мигранти в моргата в Бургас не са нищо ново за работещите в правозащитния сектор.

      “Получавали сме информация и сигнали, че от семейства, открили мъртъв човек там, са били искани големи суми за потвърждение, че тялото е там, и за освобождаването му. Оплакват се, че са им били искани пари на всяка стъпка от процеса”, казва Георги Войнов, адвокат в бежанско-мигрантската служба на Българския хелзинкски комитет.

      За Калинка Янкова от БЧК новината за подобни форми на изнудване идва от близки на загинал афганистанец, които й споделят, че са платили над 100 евро, за да видят тялото на своя близък.

      “Бях извън себе си от възмущение.(...) Когато споделих с един колега, той ми каза: добре дошла в клуба”, добавя тя.

      Аудиофайл, с който екипът ни разполага, е и първото категорично потвърждение на тези твърдения. В него ясно се чува как служител на моргата в Бургас иска общо 100 лева от семейство, търсещо свой близък, заради това, че му е показал тела на починали мигранти в камерата.

      “Две по 50. Двама човека сме. Още едно 50”, инструктира той роднините, преди да ги насочи към процедура по разпознаване чрез ДНК.

      От УМБАЛ Бургас обясниха, че в лечебното заведение не е постъпвал нито един сигнал или жалба за подобни практики и обясниха, че идентификацията на телата се извършва само и единствено в присъствието на разследващ полицай и съдебен лекар.

      “Огромна част от телата са в състояние на напреднало разложение и е невъзможно да бъдат разпознати без ДНК експертиза, дори и да бъдат показани”, уточниха от болницата.

      “Апелираме подобни сигнали и оплаквания, да бъдат адресирани по официалния ред към нас и към разследващите органи. Ако се установи, че има подобни практики, служителите ще понесат съответната отговорност”, посочи още управлението на МБАЛ Бургас.
      “Ничии тела”

      В българския НПК процедурите по идентифициране на случайно намерени тела са едни и същи, независимо дали казусът засяга български или чужд гражданин. В подобни случаи прокуратурата започва досъдебно производство, което има две цели: да идентифицира лицето и да установи причината за смъртта. На жертвите се взема ДНК, което се съхранява, ако евентуално в бъдеще се появят близки, които искат да извършат разпознаване.

      Съвпадението на ДНК е задължително за освобождаване на тела от моргите или за евентуална ексхумация, което отнема около 3 месеца и допълнително усложнява процеса по репатриране на починалите. Към момента Хусам Бибарс вече над месец очаква резултатите от ДНК тест, за да може да получи важни документи за семейството на починалия си син.

      В случай, че самоличността на лицето не може да бъде установена и няма данни за насилствено причинена смърт, наблюдаващият прокурор може да издаде постановление за извършване на служебно погребение, което е в правомощията на съответната община.

      Чрез запитвания по Закона за достъп до обществена информация разбрахме, че през последните 4 години общините Бургас, Средец и Ямбол са извършили общо 14 служебни погребения, като основната част - 10, са били в Бургас.

      Тези данни се отнасят за всички неидентифицирани тела, но посещения на гробищните паркове ни дават основание да смятаме, че в болшинството от случаите става дума за мигранти. За сравнение, от най-голямата община в страната, столичната, в същия период не е извършено нито едно служебно погребение, разпоредено от прокурор.

      Остава отворен и въпросът защо от моргата в Бургас редовно идват оплаквания, че е препълнена с тела на неидентифицирани мигранти, някои от които престояват там с години, а случаи като този на Мажд Бибарс биват приключени за четири дни, повдигайки сериозни съмнения, че изобщо са били правени опити тялото да бъде идентифицирано.

      В отговор на наше запитване от Главната прокуратура ни увериха, че на централно ниво няма решение за по-бързо освобождаване на тела и това “не е възможно, тъй като наблюдаващите прокурори следва стриктно да спазват нормите на НПК”.

      “Ако близките не пожелаят да получат тялото и изрично заявят това, тогава се пристъпва към служебно погребение. Същото се налага да се извърши и когато не бъде установена самоличността на починалия – при обективно положени изчерпателни усилия за това или при случаи, когато се изясни, че починалият няма близки и роднини”, посочват прокурорите. Те подчертават, че при случаите с български граждани се действа по същия начин.

      Но Милен Божидаров, който е прокурор в Ямболската районна прокуратура, признава, че стремежът в неговия район е случаите да се приключват бързо.

      “Това е въпрос на организация на процеса, всички ние целим бързина”, заяви той.

      По думите на прокурора, при “обичайни обстоятелства” роднините на загинали се търсят и обикновено се установяват още в деня на смъртта.

      Но очевидно случаите с телата на мигранти не попадат в обичайната хипотеза.

      “Когато ние имаме неидентифициран труп, за който няма обяснение [за самоличността], освен, че е [ясно, че е] бежанец, и се предполага, че роднините му са някъде по света и не са се свързали с нас в този, предходния или по-предходния ден, няма обективни причини, които да налагат съхранението на този труп”, обясни той.

      “Представете си, че този баща не се беше появил - ние така или иначе нямаше да стигнем до някакъв резултат и трупът не може да стои безкрайно в камера в някое от здравните заведения”, допълни прокурорът.

      Но според адвокат Драгомир Ошавков, който работи с фондация ФАР в Бургас, в огромния процент от случаите с мигранти органите на досъдебното производство и прокуратурата просто нямат интерес от това да вършат подробни изследвания и да установяват реално причините за смъртта и самоличността.

      “Те бързат да приключат по най-бързия и удобен за тях начин това досъдебно производство”, категочен е той.

      “Това са едни ничии хора, ничии тела. Мигранти, които не представляват голям обществен интерес. Те не са желани в България, не са желани вероятно и в Западна Европа. Вероятно затова те са считани по-скоро като тежест за системата, вместо като случаи, които трябва да бъдат разрешени”, смята юристът.


    • Νεκροί πρόσφυγες στα Βαλκάνια : « Λάδωσε » για να βρεις τον άνθρωπό σου

      Στη βαλκανική οδό πεθαίνουν περισσότεροι αιτούντες άσυλο ακόμα και από το 2015. Ενώ οι συγγενείς καλούνται να αντιμετωπίσουν την κρατική αδιαφορία για την ταυτοποίηση των ανθρώπων τους, αναγκάζονται και να πληρώσουν εκατοντάδες ευρώ απλώς για να τους αναζητήσουν.

      Ήλπιζε πως θα έβρισκε τον γιο του σε κάποιον προσφυγικό καταυλισμό. Και αφού είχε περάσει τρεις εβδομάδες αναζητώντας τον, είχε προετοιμαστεί για το ενδεχόμενο να τον εντοπίσει σε κάποιο νοσοκομείο.

      Αλλά δεν περίμενε να τον βρει στο νεκροταφείο.

      Όταν ο αστυνομικός με το βουλγαρικό εθνόσημο του έδειξε τη φωτογραφία του γιου του, να κείτεται δίχως ζωή στο γρασίδι, έχασε τη γη κάτω απ’ τα πόδια του. « Εύχομαι τουλάχιστον να είχα τη δυνατότητα να δω τον Μαχίντ μια τελευταία φορά. Το μυαλό μου ακόμη και σήμερα δεν μπορεί να πιστέψει πως ο άνθρωπος σε αυτόν τον τάφο είναι ο γιος μου », λέει ο Χουσάμ Αντίν Μπίμπαρς.

      Ο 56χρονος Σύριος πρόσφυγας, πατέρας πέντε ακόμη παιδιών, είχε συμπληρώσει 22 ημέρες αναζητώντας από απόσταση τον γιο του, όταν αποφάσισε να ξοδέψει τα λιγοστά του χρήματα για να ταξιδέψει από τη Δανία στη Βουλγαρία και να ψάξει για εκείνον — αλλά ήταν πια αργά.

      Στη Βουλγαρία, έμαθε πως το σώμα του 27χρονου Μαχίντ είχε ταφεί μέσα σε μόλις τέσσερις ημέρες από τον εντοπισμό του. Ο Μαχίντ είχε ταφεί ως αγνώστων στοιχείων, τίποτα δεν ενημέρωνε πως κάτω από εκείνον τον σωρό με χώμα που αργότερα επισκέφθηκε βρισκόταν ο γιος του.

      « Ακούμε πως η Ευρώπη είναι η γη της ελευθερίας, της δημοκρατίας, και των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων », λέει νηφάλια ο Χουσάμ Αντίν Μπίμπαρς. « Που είναι τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, εάν δεν έχω τη δυνατότητα να δω τον γιο μου πριν την ταφή του ; ».

      Νεκροί δίχως ταυτότητα

      Ο Μαχίντ είχε περάσει από την Τουρκία στη Βουλγαρία με ένα γκρουπ περίπου 20 ακόμη ατόμων, ελπίζοντας να συναντήσει και πάλι τους γονείς και τα αδέρφια του στην Ευρώπη. Αφού έφτανε εκείνος, η έγκυος γυναίκα του και η κόρη τους, Χάνα, θα μπορούσαν να ακολουθήσουν.

      Προς τα τέλη Σεπτεμβρίου, σταμάτησε να απαντάει σε κλήσεις και μηνύματα. Ο διακινητής είπε στον Μπίμπαρς ότι ο Μαχίντ είχε αρρωστήσει και είχε χρειαστεί να τον αφήσουν πίσω. Οι Αρχές είπαν ότι ο γιος του πέθανε από τη δείψα, την εξάντληση, και το κρύο.

      Τα τελευταία χρόνια, με κοινοτικά χρήματα και αυξημένη συμμετοχή του ευρωπαϊκού οργανισμού συνοριοφυλακής Frontex, οι βαλκανικές χώρες εντείνουν ολοένα τους συνοριακούς ελέγχους, αναπτύσσοντας φράχτες, drones, και μηχανισμούς επιτήρησης. Αλλά αυτό δεν αποτρέπει τους αιτούντες άσυλο — τους οδηγεί σε μεγαλύτερες και περισσότερο επικίνδυνες διόδους για να αποφύγουν τις Αρχές.

      Μια έρευνα του Solomon σε συνεργασία με την ερευνητική ομάδα Lighthouse Reports, το γερμανικό περιοδικό Der Spiegel, τη γερμανική δημόσια τηλεόραση ARD, τη βρετανική εφημίδα i, το Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, και ακαδημαϊκούς από τα πανεπιστήμια Aston, Liverpool, και Nottingham, αποτυπώνει πως η εχθρότητα που αντιμετωπίζουν στα σύνορα της Ευρώπης οι άνθρωποι σε κίνηση όσο ζουν συνεχίζεται και στο θάνατο.

      Διαπιστώσαμε πως, από τις αρχές του 2022 έως σήμερα, τα άψυχα σώματα 155 ανθρώπων που πιθανολογείται ότι ήταν αιτούντες άσυλο κατέληξαν σε νεκροτομεία κοντά στα σύνορα κατά μήκος μιας διαδρομής που εκτείνεται ανάμεσα στη Βουλγαρία, τη Σερβία, και τη Βοσνία.

      Από την εξέταση των στοιχείων, για το 2023 προκύπτει ήδη μια αύξηση των θανάτων κατά 46% σε σύγκριση με ολόκληρο το 2022.

      Στα Βαλκάνια, οι αιτούντες άσυλο καλούνται να αντιμετωπίσουν τις δύσκολες καιρικές συνθήκες, αλλά και τις επαναπροωθήσεις, την αυξημένη βιαιότητα συνοριοφυλάκων και διακινητών, την καταλήστευση από συνοριακές δυνάμεις — έως και την κράτησή τους σε μυστικές « φυλακές ».

      Οι οικογένειες των ανθρώπων που πεθαίνουν, ή καθίστανται αγνοούμενοι στην περιοχή, αναζητούν τους δικούς τους σε νεκροτομεία, νοσοκομεία, και ειδικά γκρουπ σε Facebook και WhatsApp. Καλούνται να ανταπεξέλθουν σε μια εξίσου ψυχοφθόρα προσπάθεια, και να αντιμετωπίσουν την αδιαφορία των Αρχών.

      Στη Βουλγαρία, όπως τεκμηριώνει η παρούσα έρευνα, συχνά χρειάζεται και να « λαδώσουν » στην ελπίδα να μάθουν περισσότερα για τους δικούς τους.
      Τα 10 βασικά ευρήματα της έρευνας :

      1. Ο αριθμός όσων ταξίδεψαν παράτυπα μέσω Βαλκανίων για τη δυτική Ευρώπη το 2022 έφτασε στο ανώτατο σημείο από το 2015, με την Frontex να καταγράφει 144.118 παράτυπες διελεύσεις συνόρων.

      2. Ο αντίστοιχος αριθμός για το 2023 είναι μικρότερος (79.609 έως τον Σεπτέμβριο), αλλά παραμένει πολλαπλάσιος σε σχέση με το 2019 (15.127) και το 2018 (5.844).

      3. Η βαλκανική οδός είναι πιο επικίνδυνη από ποτέ : ελλείψει ενός κεντρικού σχετικού συστήματος καταγραφής, η πλατφόρμα Missing Migrants του Διεθνούς Οργανισμού Μετανάστευσης (ΔΟΜ) υποδεικνύει ότι το 2022 έχασαν τη ζωή τους ή κατέστησαν αγνοούμενοι περισσότεροι άνθρωποι ακόμη και από το 2015.

      4. Σύμφωνα με στοιχεία που συγκεντρώσαμε, τουλάχιστον 155 αταυτοποίητα πτώματα κατέληξαν σε έξι νεκροτομεία ενός τμήματος της βαλκανικής οδού, που περιλαμβάνει Βουλγαρία, Σερβία, και Βοσνία. Η πλειοψηφία των πτωμάτων (92) εντοπίστηκαν φέτος.

      5. Για το 2023, ο αριθμός εμφανίζει ήδη αύξηση κατά 46% σε σχέση με το 2022, και εκτοξεύεται σε ορισμένα νεκροτομεία.

      6. Κάποια νεκροτομεία της Βουλγαρίας (Μπουργκάς, Γιάμπολ) δυσκολεύονται να βρουν χώρο για τα σώματα των προσφύγων. Άλλα στη Σερβία (Λόζνιτσα) δεν διαθέτουν καθόλου χώρο.

      7. Η έλλειψη χώρου οδηγεί στην ταφή αταυτοποίητων σωμάτων εντός ημερών, σε τάφους αγνώστων στοιχείων. Αυτό σημαίνει πως καθίσταται πρακτικά αδύνατο για τις οικογένειες να μπορέσουν να ταυτοποιήσουν τους δικούς τους.

      8. Στη Βουλγαρία, οικογένειες μας είπαν πως αναγκάστηκαν να « λαδώσουν » εργαζομένους σε νοσοκομεία και νεκροτομεία, αλλά και συνοριοφύλακες, αναζητώντας τους ανθρώπους τους. Πηγές στο πεδίο επιβεβαιώνουν την πρακτική, η οποία καταγράφεται και σε ηχητικό αρχείο στην κατοχή μας.

      9. Στη Βοσνία, 28 άνθρωποι που εκτιμάται πως ήταν αιτούντες άσυλο έχουν ήδη χάσει τη ζωή τους στον ποταμό Ντρίνα φέτος, σε σύγκριση με μόλις πέντε το 2022 και τρεις το 2021.

      10. Γραφειοκρατία και έλλειψη κρατικού ενδιαφέροντος καταγράφεται πως δυσχεραίνουν τις προσπάθειες ταυτοποίησης νεκρών αιτούντων άσυλο.

      Νεκρός αλλά δεν ξέρει γιατί

      Τι κάνεις όταν ο μικρός σου αδερφός σου αγνοείται, και το δικό σου καθεστώς απαγορεύει να βρεθείς στο πεδίο για να τον αναζητήσεις ;

      Ο 29χρονος Ασματουλά Σεντίκι βρισκόταν στη δομή φιλοξενίας στο Γουόρινγκτον του Ηνωμένου Βασιλείου, όπου έχει αιτηθεί άσυλο, όταν συνταξιδιώτες του αδερφού του τον ενημέρωσαν πως ο 22χρονος Ραχματουλά πιθανόν να ήταν νεκρός.

      Λόγω του καθεστώτους του ως αιτούντα άσυλο, το Home Office δεν επέτρεψε στον Ασματουλά να επιστρέψει στη Βουλγαρία, την οποία είχε διασχίσει και ο ίδιος κατά το δικό του ταξίδι, για να αναζητήσει τον αδερφό του.

      Όταν ένας φίλος κατέστη δυνατό να πάει για λογαριασμό του, η βουλγαρική αστυνομία αρνήθηκε να δώσει οποιαδήποτε πληροφορία. Και το προσωπικό του νεκροτομείου ζήτησε 300 ευρώ για τον αφήσει να δει ορισμένα πτώματα, είπε ο Σεντίκι στα πλαίσια της παρούσας έρευνας.

      « Σε μια τέτοια κατάσταση, ο άνθρωπος πρέπει να βοηθάει τον άνθρωπο », πρόσθεσε. « Ξέρουν μόνο τα χρήματα. Δεν τους ενδιαφέρει η ανθρώπινη ζωή ».

      Κατάφερε να δανειστεί το ποσό που του ζήτησαν. Τον Ιούλιο του 2022, 55 ημέρες μετά την εξαφάνισή του αδερφού του, το νοσοκομείο του Μπουργκάς επιβεβαίωσε ότι ένα από τα σώματα στο νεκροτομείο ανήκε σε κείνον. Με ακόμη 3.000 ευρώ που δανείστηκε, μπόρεσε να επαναπατρίσει τον αδελφό του στους γονείς τους στο Αφγανιστάν.

      Αλλά έως και σήμερα, τον Ασματουλά κατατρώει μια σκέψη : δεν γνωρίζει πώς, δεν τον έχει ενημερώσει κανείς γιατί, πέθανε ο αδερφός του.

      Οι βουλγαρικές Αρχές δεν του έχουν δώσει τα αποτελέσματα της νεκροψίας, επειδή δεν έχει βίζα για να ταξιδέψει εκεί, λέει. « Είμαι σίγουρος ότι, όταν η αστυνομία τον βρήκε στο δάσος, θα τράβηξε κάποιες φωτογραφίες. Θέλω να δω πώς έμοιαζε τότε το σώμα του ».
      « Ούτε μια καταγγελία »

      Στα πλαίσια της παρούσας έρευνας των Solomon, Lighthouse Reports, RFE/RL, inews, ARD, και Der Spiegel, αρκετοί συγγενείς μας είπαν πως είχαν επίσης αναγκαστεί να « λαδώσουν » εργαζομένους στο νεκροτομείο του Μπουργκάς, προκειμένου να μπορέσουν να διαπιστώσουν εάν ανάμεσα στα νεκρά σώματα στους ψύκτες βρίσκονταν οι δικοί τους.

      Όταν ρωτήσαμε τη διοίκηση του νοσοκομείου εάν τέτοιου είδους πρακτικές ήταν σε γνώση της, η επικεφαλής του τμήματος ιατροδικαστικής του νοσοκομείου Μπουργκάς, Γκαλίνα Μίλεβα, είπε πως δεν έχει λάβει « ούτε μία αναφορά ή καταγγελία για κάποια τέτοια περίπτωση ».

      « Η ταυτοποίηση των πτωμάτων πραγματοποιείται αποκλειστικά και μόνο παρουσία αστυνομικού που διεξάγει την έρευνα και ιατροδικαστή », υποστήριξε. Απαντώντας σε σχετική ερώτηση, συμπλήρωσε πως δεν υπάρχει καμία νομική πρόβλεψη, με βάση την οποία εργαζόμενοι στο νεκροτομείο θα μπορούσαν να ζητήσουν χρήματα από τους συγγενείς γι’ αυτή τη διαδικασία.

      « Απευθύνουμε έκκληση αυτές οι καταγγελίες να απευθύνονται μέσω της επίσημης οδού σε εμάς και στις ανακριτικές αρχές. Εάν διαπιστωθεί η ύπαρξη τέτοιων πρακτικών, οι εργαζόμενοι θα λογοδοτήσουν », είπε.
      « Ζητούνται χρήματα σε κάθε βήμα της διαδικασίας »

      Άλλος συγγενής, η οικογένεια του οποίου στα τέλη του 2022 χρειάστηκε επίσης να μεταβεί στη Βουλγαρία για να αναζητήσει μέλος της, μας είπε πως αφού έδωσαν δίχως επιτυχία 300 ευρώ σε κάποιον στο νεκροτομείο για να τους επιτραπεί να κοιτάξουν τα νεκρά σώματα, χρειάστηκε να πληρώσουν και συνοριοφύλακες.

      Ήταν ο μόνος τρόπος να τους πάρουν στα σοβαρά, εξήγησε.

      Όταν ζήτησαν από τους συνοριοφύλακες να τους δείξουν φωτογραφίες ανθρώπων σε κίνηση που είχαν εντοπιστεί νεκροί, εκείνοι τους είπαν πως δεν είχαν χρόνο — όταν δέχθηκαν να τους δώσουν 20 ευρώ για κάθε φωτογραφία που θα τους έδειχναν, ο χρόνος βρέθηκε.

      Ο Γκεόργκι Βόινοφ, δικηγόρος του προγράμματος για πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες της Βουλγαρικής Επιτροπής του Ελσίνκι, επιβεβαίωσε πως οικογένειες θανόντων έχουν απευθυνθεί στην οργάνωση για περιπτώσεις στις οποίες νοσοκομεία ζήτησαν μεγάλα ποσά για να επιβεβαιώσουν πως τα σώματα των δικών τους βρίσκονταν εκεί.

      « Καταγγέλλουν ότι τους ζητούνται χρήματα σε κάθε βήμα της διαδικασίας », είπε.

      Πηγές από διεθνείς οργανισμούς, μεταξύ αυτών και από τον Ερυθρό Σταυρό Βουλγαρίας, επιβεβαίωσαν πως είχαν συναφή εμπειρία από συγγενείς τους οποίους είχαν υποστηρίξει, και οι οποίοι είχαν επίσης αναγκαστεί να καταβάλουν χρήματα σε νεκροτομεία και νοσοκομεία.

      « Καταλαβαίνουμε ότι αυτοί οι άνθρωποι είναι πολύ καταβεβλημένοι και πρέπει να πληρώνονται επιπλέον για όλη αυτή την επιπλέον δουλειά που κάνουν », σχολίασε στέλεχος του Ερυθρού Σταυρού Βουλγαρίας που μίλησε στην έρευνα υπό τον όρο ανωνυμίας.

      « Αλλά ας συμβαίνει αυτό με νόμιμο τρόπο ».

      * Στην έρευνα, που πραγματοποιήθηκε σε συντονισμό του Lighthouse Reports, συμμετείχαν οι Σταύρος Μαλιχούδης, Jack Sapoch, May Bulman, Maria Cheresheva, Steffen Ludke, Ivana Milanovic Djukic, Nicole Voegele, Jelena Obradović-Wochnik, Thom Davies, Arshad Isakjee, Doraid al Hafid, Anna Tillack, Oliver Soos, Klaas van Dijken, Aleksandar Milanovic, Camelia Ivanova, Pat Rubio Bertran.



    • Surge in refugee deaths in Balkans region where UK provides border force training

      InvestigationAlmost 100 people presumed to be migrants have died along one section of the route this year - a 46 per cent increase on the whole of 2022

      When he saw the photograph of his dead son, Hussam Adin Bibars collapsed to the floor. After three weeks of searching, he had found him – and his worst fears had been realised.

      The image, handed to him by a Bulgarian police officer, showed 27-year-old Majd Addin Bibars lying pale and lifeless on a patch of grass. “I fell down when I saw it,” Mr Bibars, 53, recalls. “I recognised him immediately … It was my son.”

      The Syrian father of five, who has refugee status and lives in Denmark, wanted to see Majd’s body for himself – but was told it had already been buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery several miles away, four days after it was found.

      Majd had been travelling through Bulgaria from Turkey in the hope of reaching Germany, where he would be closer to his parents and hoped to later bring his pregnant wife and young daughter, Hanaa, to join him.

      He had been with a group of around 20 others embarking on the same, dangerous journey – but he stopped responding to texts and calls at the end of September. The smuggler leading the group informed Mr Bibars that Majd had fallen sick and the group had left him, the grieving father says.

      After 22 days searching for Majd from afar, Mr Bibars decided to spend the little money he had to travel to Bulgaria.

      After speaking to a staff member at a hospital near the Turkish border – with the help of a translator – he was directed to the local police station, where he was shown the photo of Majd’s lifeless body. He was told his son had died of thirst, exhaustion and cold – and that he had been buried.

      “We hear that Europe is the land of freedom, democracy and human rights – where are human rights if I can’t see my son before his funeral?” asks Mr Bibars. “All I saw was a grave, photos and his phone. That’s all I have of him.”

      Majd was one of many people who have died while travelling through the Balkans to reach Western Europe – and whose families are forced to undergo a painstaking process to find out what happened.

      Many making these fatal journeys had hoped to claim asylum in EU countries such as Germany and France, while others planned to try their luck on a small boat towards the UK, often due to existing family ties in the country. So far this year, Britain has received the fifth-highest number of asylum applications across Europe.

      There is no official data on the number of deaths, but an investigation by i, in collaboration with investigative bureau Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, Solomon, ARD and RFE/RL Sofia, has found that the bodies of 92 people presumed to be migrants have been received across six morgues in border areas along one section of the route – spanning Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia – this year, a 46 per cent increase on the whole of 2022.

      Border security in these countries has been tightened in recent years, helped by funding from the EU and the UK. Britain has provided training and equipment to Bulgarian border police since 2020, and Rishi Sunak announced in October that his Government would form bilateral initiatives with Bulgaria and Serbia aimed at tackling organised crime linked to illegal migration.

      Migration experts have criticised these agreements, highlighting the risks attached to such cooperation given that border guards in these countries are known to have been involved in violations of international law, including pushbacks and other violence against people on the move.

      Use of violence by border police in the Balkans has increased, with officers in some areas – notably Bulgarian police operating near the Turkish border and Serbian police in northern Serbia – documented using violence against people trying to cross, and sometimes illegally forcing them back across borders.

      Instead of deterring people from making the journeys, it has led them to take longer and more dangerous routes to evade security forces – leading to more deaths.

      At the same time, the number of people being resettled under safe and legal routes in Europe has declined, with 79 per cent fewer relocated under UNHCR resettlement schemes in the UK last year than in 2019, and 17 per cent fewer across the EU.

      This investigation has found that many migrants have been buried in anonymous graves, sometimes within days – like Majd – due to lack of space in morgues, making it almost impossible for their families to locate them.

      Milen Bozhidarov, the prosecutor in Yambol, a Bulgarian city close to the Turkish border, said Majd’s funeral took place after four days in keeping with their procedure of carrying out burials of unidentified migrants “fast” to free up space in the morgue.

      “When we have unidentified body that was found in a place that gives us no other explanation except that the person is a migrant, and the suggestion is that the relatives are somewhere in the world and no one is getting in touch with us that day or on the next day, then there are no objective reasons why the body should be kept,” he added.

      Some family members have been forced to pay bribes to morgue staff to find out whether their loved ones’ bodies are held. i has heard testimony from several families saying they paid sums of cash ranging from €50 to €300 to staff at the morgue in Burgas, a Bulgarian city near the Turkish border, to see the bodies.

      The head of the Burgas morgue, Galina Mileva, said it had not received any complaints about such incidents and encouraged people to report such cases to the morgue’s management.

      The countries where these deaths occur, and Europe as a whole, are under growing pressure from politicians, NGOs and forensic experts to create a mechanism to help families searching for missing loved ones who have died on these journeys.

      Families face additional hurdles when they can’t travel due to their status or nationality. Asmatullah Sediqi, an Afghan asylum seeker in the UK, was prevented by UK Home Office rules from travelling to Bulgaria, where his 22-year-old brother Rahmatullah had gone missing presumed dead after crossing from Turkey.

      A friend went on his behalf, but Bulgarian police refused to provide any information, and morgue staff said he would need to pay them €300 to see any bodies, Mr Sediqi said.

      “They just know money. They don’t care about a human life,” he added.

      Mr Sediqi, 29, who lives in asylum accommodation in Warrington, borrowed money to pay the bribe. His friend established that one of the bodies in the morgue was Rahmatullah.

      By borrowing another €3,000 – putting him into heavy debt – Mr Sediqi paid a company to repatriate his brother’s body to his parents in Afghanistan. But he has had no information by the Bulgarian authorities on how Rahmatullah died.

      “They didn’t give us the results of the autopsy because I don’t have a visa to go there,” he says. “It’s very painful not knowing what happened to my brother.”

      Dr Vidak Simić, a pathologist in Bosnia who carries out autopsies on bodies found in the Drina River on the Serbian border, said the number of unidentified migrant bodies being brought to him for autopsy has surged in the past year.

      In 2023, he has examined the bodies of 28, compared with five last year and three in 2021. The vast majority remain unidentified and are buried in graves marked “NN” – an abbreviation for a Latin term for a person with no name.

      The doctor is working with a local activist to try to help families find missing loved ones, checking his autopsy files to see if any unidentified bodies match the description of missing people – but says a proper system is needed.

      “[Families] enter a painstaking process, through embassies, burial organisations, to obtain a bone sample, so that they can compare it with one of their family members,” he says. “Nobody is doing the work to connect families with those who have drowned.”

      EU human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatović described “inaction” among European countries to facilitate DNA matching and create a data collection procedure on migrant disappearances and deaths.

      Erik Marquardt, Green Party politician in the European Parliament, said the fact that countries such as Bulgaria are burying unidentified bodies within days suggested they “don’t want attention brought to these cases”.

      “We have to think about whether we can set up a database at an EU level that would oblige member states to clarify: who is this person’s child, who are the parents, how can they be reached? This is very important,” he added.

      Until then, the bodies of those who die escaping conflict will continue to pile up in morgues or be buried without a trace, leaving more families to endure an agonising process to find out they have died – or left in a perpetual state of uncertainty.

      A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK and Bulgaria have a close law enforcement partnership. By working together we are able to bolster Bulgaria’s border security, tackle serious organised crime and immigration crime threats, and disrupt the business model of these criminal groups.

      “Individuals awaiting the outcome of their asylum claims in the UK are not permitted to travel abroad, but are provided with a range of support by the government.”


    • Almost 100 refugees died on their way through Bulgaria within the last two years

      According to a research by the ARD studio (https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/europa/bulgarien-migranten-todesfaelle-100.html) in Vienna in cooperation with Lighthouse Reports (https://www.lighthousereports.com/investigation/europes-nameless-dead), Der Spiegel (https://www.spiegel.de/ausland/vermisste-fluechtlinge-auf-der-balkanroute-europas-namenlose-tote-a-5d0b55a7), RFE/RL (https://www.svobodnaevropa.bg/a/migranti-zaginali-bejanci/32708468.html), Solomon (https://wearesolomon.com/el/mag/thematikh/metanasteush/dead-refugees-balkans) and inews (https://inews.co.uk/news/world/surge-refugee-deaths-balkans-uk-training-border-forces-2785043) – which was published in the beginning of December 2023 – at least 93 people died on their way through Bulgaria in the last two years alone.

      The research team spoke with forensic pathologists in Bulgaria and people whose family members had gone missing or died on the route. The people on the run are usually dying because of exhaustion and cold on their route, which leads through mountains, bushes and the countryside. The last case was reported on the 27th of November 2023 by the Bulgarian authorities (https://orf.at/stories/3341237). Additionally there is a fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border which was constructed already in 2013 and replaced and modified in the following years with a bigger one (https://bordermonitoring.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/bm.eu-2020-bulgaria_web.pdf). Additionally to this numerous car accidents are happening regularly. Some of them are fatal (https://bulgaria.bordermonitoring.eu/2023/03/20/another-refugee-dies-on-the-streets-of-bulgaria).

      But not only the dangerous way is the problem for the people on the run, there is also the Bulgarian border police, which is accused of brutal Push-Backs. According to the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee only in 2022 almost 90.000 people where affected by #push-backs (https://ecre.org/2022-update-aida-country-report-on-bulgaria). Also young people with their families and unaccompanied minors are at risk to be push-backed, as the NGOs “Center for legal aid – Voice in Bulgaria“ and “Mission Wings“ found out, while conducting interviews in Turkey (https://www.tdh.de/fileadmin/user_upload/inhalte/04_Was_wir_tun/Themen/Weitere_Themen/Fluechtlingskinder/tdh_Bericht_Kinderrechtsverletzungen-an-EU-Aussengrenzen.pdf). For 2023 Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov stated that that app 165,000 ‚illegal entry attempts‘ at the Bulgarian-Turkish were prevented (https://www.novinite.com/articles/222633/October+Sees+41+Decrease+in+Illegal+Migrants+in+Bulgaria).

      With regard to Bulgaria, the fundamental rights officer of the EU border protection authority Frontex became active in a total of seven internally reported cases regarding possible violations of fundamental rights, the authority said in response to a request from ORF (https://orf.at/stories/3341237). In the beginning of December 2023. All cases concern pushback allegations from Bulgaria to Turkey, a Frontex spokeswoman said. At least 232 Frontex officers were deployed in Bulgaria in 2023 (https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/51259/exclusive-why-are-migrant-pushbacks-from-bulgaria-to-turkey-soaring).


  • Prijelaz / #The_Passage — dedicated to our fallen comrades

    Od 14. do 21. svibnja 2021. godine u galeriji Živi Atelje DK u Zagrebu predstavljeno je spomen-platno Prijelaz / The Passage. Prijelaz / The Passage je zbirka memorijalnih portreta izrađenih od crvenog i crnog konca na botanički obojanoj tkanini koji su nastali u okviru umjetničkih istraživačkih radionica koje je osmislila i kurirala selma banich u suradnji s Marijanom Hameršak, a na kojima su sudjelovale umjetnice, znanstvenice, prevoditeljice i druge članice kolektiva Žene ženama i znanstveno-istraživačkog projekta ERIM.



    THE PASSAGE — dedicated to our fallen comrades

    #Selma_Banich and #Marijana_Hameršak in collaboration with Women to Women collective

    Živi Atelje DK, Zagreb, 2021

    #portraits #art_et_politique #migrations #réfugiés #asile #décès #mourir_aux_frontières #morts_aux_frontières #commémoration #mémoire #textile #Balkans #route_des_Balkans

  • Contrôler les assistés - Genèses et usages d’un mot d’ordre. Vincent Dubois, Raisons d’agir, 2021, 456 p.
    François Testard, Revue des politiques sociales et familiales 2022/4 (n°145), pages

    Les travaux de recherche du sociologue et politiste V. Dubois, professeur à l’institut d’études politiques (IEP) de l’université de Strasbourg, s’inscrivent dans une approche critique de l’action publique. Dans Contrôler les assistés. Genèses et usages d’un mot d’ordre, il étudie les transformations contemporaines de l’#État_social, en examinant l’évolution et l’impact des politiques de #surveillances et de #sanctions à l’égard des populations les plus #précaires. Dans la continuité de son ouvrage publié en 1999 sur l’analyse du traitement administratif de la misère au sein des guichets des Caisses d’allocations familiales (#Caf), il décrit la montée en puissance d’un nouvel impératif moral, politique, bureaucratique et gestionnaire, en France comme ailleurs en Europe : celui de contrôler les « #assistés », définis comme les « agents sociaux en tant qu’ils sont insérés dans des structures institutionnelles de protection sociale dont ils sont largement dépendants » (p. 13). Par protection sociale, V. Dubois désigne plus particulièrement certaines aides versées par les Caf : allocations de logement, allocations familiales, revenu de solidarité active (RSA). Engagée très tôt dans une politique de contrôle, la Caisse nationale des Allocations familiales (Cnaf) représente ainsi, selon lui, « l’opérateur central du contrôle des assistés en France » (p. 52).

    2 V. Dubois précise qu’avant cet ouvrage, le contrôle des bénéficiaires des #prestation_ sociales n’avait fait l’objet que de très peu de recherches spécifiques, réalisées aux États-Unis, au Royaume-Uni et au Canada principalement . Ces travaux s’inscrivent dans des champs disciplinaires (travail social, criminologie, politiques sociales, etc.) dans lesquels la #sociologie n’est pas toujours au centre de l’analyse et abordent de manière partielle la thématique du contrôle, se concentrant sur les #usagers, leurs expériences, leurs perceptions et leurs réactions, notamment sur leurs modes de résistance. « Les relations au sein des champs politiques et bureaucratiques qui ont présidé à l’élaboration des dispositifs » (p. 41) n’y sont que partiellement traitées. Cette revue de littérature permet à V. Dubois de souligner l’aspect inédit de sa démarche, qui place le contrôle comme objet central d’étude, convoquant différents courants sociologiques , notamment autour de trois dimensions d’analyse : « les évolutions des politiques sociales et des représentations qui leur sont associées, la fabrication des dispositifs et des politiques de contrôle et la manière dont ce contrôle s’exerce en pratique » (p. 41-42).

    Le chercheur met en corrélation l’essor sans précédent des thématiques de « l’#assistanat » et de la #fraude aux prestations sociales, dite « #fraude_sociale », dans le débat public, politique et médiatique depuis les années 1990, et l’évolution des pratiques de contrôle.

    #livre #RSA #APL #AAH

  • Serco, quando la detenzione diventa un business mondiale

    Da decenni l’azienda è partner dei governi per l’esternalizzazione dei servizi pubblici in settori come sanità, difesa, trasporti, ma soprattutto nelle strutture detentive per le persone migranti. Nel 2022 ha acquisito Ors con l’idea di esportare il suo modello anche in Italia

    «Ho l’orribile abitudine di camminare verso gli spari». Si descrive così al Guardian il manager Rupert Soames. Nipote dell’ex primo ministro del Regno Unito Winston Churchill, figlio di Christopher, ambasciatore in Francia e ultimo governatore della Rhodesia – odierno Zimbabwe – e fratello dell’ex ministro della difesa conservatore Nicholas, Rupert Soames per anni è stato il numero uno della multinazionale britannica Serco, quella che il quotidiano britannico chiama «la più grande società di cui non avete mai sentito parlare».

    Serco (Service Company) è un’azienda business to government (B2G), specializzata in cinque settori: difesa, giustizia e immigrazione, trasporti, salute e servizi al cittadino. Opera in cinque continenti e tra i suoi valori principali dichiara: fiducia, cura, innovazione e orgoglio. Dai primi anni Novanta, è cresciuta prendendo in carico servizi esternalizzati dallo Stato a compagnie terze e aggiudicandosi in pochi anni un primato sulla gestione degli appalti privati. Sono arrivati poi indagini dell’antitrust inglese, accuse di frode in appalti pubblici e conseguenti anni di crisi dovuti alla perdita di diverse commesse, fino a quando il nipote di Churchill non è diventato Ceo di Serco, nel 2014. Da allora la società ha costruito un impero miliardario fornendo servizi molto diversi tra loro: dai semafori di Londra, al controllo del traffico aereo a Baghdad. La gestione dei centri di detenzione per persone migranti è di gran lunga il principale business di Serco nelle due macroaree “Europa e Regno Unito” e “Asia e Pacifico”. Ad oggi Serco ha all’attivo più di 500 contratti e impiega più di 50 mila persone in tutto il mondo. Nel 2022 ha totalizzato 4,7 miliardi di sterline in ricavi, un regalo ai suoi azionisti, tra cui i fondi d’investimento BlackRock e JP Morgan.


    L’inchiesta in breve

    Serco (Service Company) è una multinazionale britannica che fornisce diversi servizi ai governi, soprattutto nei settori della difesa, sanità, giustizia, trasporti e immigrazione, dalla gestione dei semafori di Londra fino al traffico aereo di Baghdad
    Oggi la società ha all’attivo più di 500 contratti e impiega oltre 50 mila persone in tutto il mondo. Nel 2022 ha totalizzato 4,7 miliardi di sterline in ricavi e tra i suoi azionisti ci sono fondi d’investimento come BlackRock e JP Morgan
    Il suo Ceo fino a dicembre 2022 era Rupert Soames, nipote di Winston Churchill, che ha risollevato la società dopo un periodo di crisi economica legato ad alcuni scandali, come i presunti abusi sessuali nel centro di detenzione per donne migranti Yarl’s Wood, a Milton Ernest, nel Regno Unito
    Nelle macroregioni “Europa e Gran Bretagna” e “Asia e Pacifico” il settore dove l’azienda è più presente è l’immigrazione. Su dieci centri per l’espulsione presenti nel Regno Unito, Serco oggi ne gestisce quattro
    In Australia, la multinazionale gestisce tutti i sette centri di detenzione per persone migranti attualmente attivi ed è stata criticata più volte per la violenza dei suoi agenti di sicurezza, soprattutto nella struttura di Christmas Island
    L’obiettivo di Serco è esportare questo modello anche nel resto d’Europa. Per questo, a settembre 2022 ha acquisito la multinazionale svizzera Ors, entrando nel mercato della detenzione amministrativa anche in Italia, dove la sua filiale offre servizi nel settore spaziale


    In otto anni, Soames ha portato il fatturato della società da circa 3,5 miliardi nel 2015 a 4,5 miliardi nel 2022, permettendo così all’azienda di uscire da una fase di crisi dovuta a vari scandali nel Regno Unito. Secondo il Guardian, dal 2015 al 2021 ha ricevuto uno stipendio di 23,5 milioni di sterline. «Sono molto ben pagato», ha ammesso in un’intervista. Ha lasciato l’incarico nel settembre 2022 sostenendo che fosse arrivato il momento di «esternalizzare» se stesso e andare in pensione. Ma a settembre 2023 è stato nominato presidente di Smith & Nephew, azienda che produce apparecchiature mediche. Al suo posto è arrivato Mark Irwin, ex capo della divisione Regno Unito ed Europa e di quella Asia Pacific di Serco.

    Poco prima di lasciare l’incarico, Soames ha acquisito la multinazionale svizzera Ors, leader nel settore dell’immigrazione in Europa. L’operazione vale 39 milioni di sterline, a cui Serco aggiunge 6,7 milioni di sterline per saldare il debito bancario accumulato da Ors. L’acquisizione, per Serco, avrebbe consentito «di collaborare e supportare i clienti governativi in tutta Europa, che hanno un bisogno continuo e crescente di servizi di assistenza all’immigrazione e ai richiedenti asilo». Con Ors, società appena giunta anche nel sistema di gestione dei centri di detenzione in Italia, Serco vuole «rafforzare la nostra attività europea, raddoppiandone all’incirca le dimensioni e aumentando la gamma di servizi offerti».

    In Europa i centri di detenzione per migranti sono infatti in aumento, soprattutto in Italia, dove, scrive in un report l’Agenzia dell’Unione europea per l’asilo (Euaa), i milioni previsti per queste strutture sono 5,5 nel 2023, 14,4 per il 2024 e 16,2 nel 2025. Degli scandali di Ors, abbiamo scritto in una precedente puntata: «Non accettiamo le accuse di “cattiva gestione” dei servizi offerti da Ors – scrive Serco via mail a IrpiMedia, rispondendo alla richiesta di commento per questa inchiesta -. I casi spesso ripetuti dai media e citati dalle ong risalgono a molto tempo fa e sono stati smentiti più volte». Serco tuttavia riconosce che «in un’azienda con più di 2.500 dipendenti, che opera in un settore così delicato come quello dell’immigrazione, di tanto in tanto si commettono degli errori. È importante riconoscerli rapidamente e correggerli immediatamente». A giudicare dalle inchieste giornalistiche e di commissioni parlamentari nel Regno Unito e in Australia, Paese dove gestisce tutte le strutture detentive per migranti, non è però quello che ha fatto Serco negli anni.

    Yarl’s Wood e le prime accuse di violenze sessuali

    Serco nel 2007 vince l’appalto dell’Home Office, il ministero dell’Interno britannico, per la gestione del centro di espulsione Yarl’s Wood, a Milton Ernest, della capienza di circa 400 persone, fino al 2020 in maggioranza donne. Nel 2013, le detenute iniziano a denunciare il personale per abusi e violenze sessuali. Continui sguardi da parte dello staff, che entrava nelle stanze e nei bagni durante la notte, rapporti non consensuali, palpeggiamenti e ricatti sessuali in cambio di aiuto nelle procedure per i documenti o della libertà, tentativi di rimpatrio delle testimoni, sono alcune delle segnalazioni delle donne del centro, raccolte in alcune inchieste del The Observer. Secondo l’ong Women for Refugee Women molte delle donne rinchiuse nel centro avevano già subito violenze e dovevano essere considerate soggetti vulnerabili.

    Alla richiesta di replica del giornale, la società aveva negato l’esistenza di «un problema diffuso o endemico» a Yarl’s Wood, o che fosse «in qualche modo tollerato o trascurato». «Ci impegniamo a occuparci delle persone nei centri di espulsione per immigrati con dignità e rispetto, in un periodo estremamente difficile della loro vita», ha detto l’azienda a IrpiMedia, riferendo che «ogni volta che vengono sollevate accuse vengono svolte indagini approfondite» (nel caso di Yarl’s Wood condotte dall’ispettorato per le carceri tra il 2016 e il 2017) e che «dal 2012 a Yarl’s Wood non ci sono state accuse di abusi sessuali». Nonostante le denunce, il licenziamento di alcuni dipendenti per condotte inappropriate, la morte sospetta di una donna, i numerosi casi di autolesionismo e i tentativi di suicidio, nel 2014 l’Home Office ha nuovamente aggiudicato l’appalto, del valore di 70 milioni di sterline e della durata di otto anni, a Serco.
    Il mondo avrà ancora bisogno di carceri

    «Il mondo – scriveva Soames nel report annuale del 2015, appena arrivato in Serco – avrà ancora bisogno di prigioni, di gestire l’immigrazione, di fornire sanità e trasporti». Il Ceo dispensava ottimismo nonostante gli scandali che avevano appena travolto la società. Ha avuto ragione: gli appalti si sono moltiplicati.

    Oltre la riconferma della gestione di Yarl’s Wood, nel 2020 Serco si è aggiudicata per 277 milioni di sterline il centro di detenzione Brook House, vicino all’aeroporto di Gatwick, e nel 2023 il centro di Derwentside con un contratto della durata di nove anni, rinnovabile di un anno, del valore di 70 milioni di sterline. Su dieci centri per l’espulsione presenti nel Regno Unito, dove la detenzione amministrativa non ha limiti temporali, Serco oggi ne gestisce quattro.
    Derwentside ha preso il posto di Yarl’s Wood come unico centro detentivo per donne senza documenti nel Regno Unito: con 84 posti, il centro si trova in un luogo isolato nel nord dell’Inghileterra, senza servizi, trasporti e con una scarsa connessione per il telefono. «Le donne vengono tagliate fuori dalle famiglie e dalle comunità, ci sono davvero poche visite da parte dei parenti», spiega a IrpiMedia Helen Groom, presidentessa della campagna che vuole l’abolizione del centro. Ma qualcosa sta per cambiare, dice: «All’inizio dell’anno prossimo dovrebbe diventare un centro di detenzione per uomini, e non più per donne. Probabilmente perché negli ultimi due anni sono stati occupati solo la metà dei posti». Il 18 novembre i movimenti solidali e antirazzisti britannici hanno organizzato una manifestazione per chiedere la chiusura del centro.


    Brook House è invece stato indagato da una commissione di esperti indipendenti costituita su richiesta dell’allora Home Secretary (ministra dell’Interno) Preti Patel a novembre 2019. Lo scopo era approfondire i casi di tortura denunciati da BBC Panorama, avvenuti tra il primo aprile e il 31 agosto 2017, quando a gestire la struttura era la multinazionale della sicurezza anglo-danese G4S. I risultati del lavoro della commissione sono stati resi pubblici sia con una serie di audizioni sia con un report del settembre 2023. Qui si legge che Brook House è un ambiente che non riesce a soddisfare i bisogni delle persone con problemi psichici, molto affollato, simile a un carcere. Si parla di un «cultura tossica» che crea un ambiente malsano dove esistono «prove credibili» di abusi sui diritti umani dei trattenuti. Accuse che non riguardano Serco, ma per la commissione d’inchiesta che monitora il centro ci sono «prove che suggeriscono che molti dei problemi presenti durante il periodo di riferimento persistono nella gestione di Brook House da parte di Serco».

    Secondo la commissione alcuni dipendenti che lavoravano nella gestione precedente ricoprono ora ruoli di grado più elevato: «[C]iò mette inevitabilmente in dubbio il grado di integrazione dei cambiamenti culturali descritti da Serco». I dati della società mostrano un aumento nell’uso della forza per prevenire l’autolesionismo, continua la presidente della commissione, e «mi preoccupa che si permetta l’uso della forza da parte di agenti non formati». Dall’inizio della gestione, «abbiamo apportato miglioramenti significativi alla gestione e alla cultura del centro», ha replicato Serco a IrpiMedia.


    I principali appalti di Serco nel mondo

    Serco lavora con i ministeri della Difesa anche negli Stati Uniti e in Australia. La collaborazione con la marina americana è stata potenziata con un nuovo contratto da 200 milioni di dollari per potenziarne l’infrastruttura tecnologica anti-terrorismo. In Australia fornisce equipaggi commerciali per la gestione di navi di supporto della Marina a sostegno della Royal Australian Navy. Ha inoltre collaborato alla progettazione, costruzione, funzionamento e manutenzione della nave australiana RSV Nuyine, che si occupa della ricerca e dell’esplorazione in Antartide. Dal 2006 supporta i sistemi d’arma a corto raggio Typhoon, Mini Typhoon e Toplite e fornisce formazione accreditata alla Royal Australian Navy. Infine offre supporto logistico e diversi servizi non bellici all’esercito australiano in Medio Oriente, grazie a un contratto da 107 milioni di dollari che inizierà nel 2024.

    Serco negli Usa e Australia lavora anche nel settore sanitario. Negli Stati Uniti, la società si è aggiudicata un contratto da 690 milioni di dollari con il Dipartimento della Salute, portando avanti anche in questo caso una collaborazione che va avanti dal 2013, quando gestiva per 1,2 miliardi di dollari l’anno il sistema di assistenza sanitaria noto come Obamacare. In Australia Serco gestisce 21 servizi non sanitari del Fiona Stanley Hospital, un ospedale pubblico digitale, come il desk, l’infrastruttura di rete, i computer, l’accoglienza, il trasporto dei pazienti, le risorse umane, grazie a un contratto da 730 milioni di dollari australiani (435 milioni di euro) rinnovato nel 2021 per sei anni. Nel 2015, l’azienda era stata multata per un milione di dollari australiani (600 mila euro) per non aver raggiunto alcuni obiettivi, soprattutto nella pulizia e nella logistica.

    C’è poi il Medio Oriente, dove Serco lavora dal 1947. Impiega più di 4.500 persone in quattro Paesi: gli Emirati Arabi Uniti, l’Arabia Saudita, il Qatar e l’Iraq. Qui, Serco opera in diversi settori, tra cui i servizi antincendio e di soccorso, i servizi aeroportuali, il settore dei trasporti e il sistema ferroviario. In Arabia Saudita gestisce da tempo 11 ospedali, ma la società sta già individuando nuove opportunità nelle smart cities e nei giga-progetti del Regno Saudita. È del 10 maggio 2023 la notizia che Serco agirà come amministratore dei servizi di mobilità sostenibile nella nuova destinazione turistica visionaria del Regno, il Mar Rosso. La crescita di progetti sauditi porterà questo Paese a rappresentare oltre il 50% dei ricavi di Serco in Medio Oriente entro il 2026.


    Australia, il limbo dei detenuti 501

    L’Australia è un Paese famoso per la sua tolleranza zero verso la migrazione irregolare. Questo però non ha impedito al sistema detentivo per migranti di crescere: un’interrogazione parlamentare del 2020 rivela che la detenzione dei richiedenti asilo costa ancora poco più di due miliardi e mezzo di dollari australiani, 1,2 miliardi di euro. Tra chi può finire in carcere, dalla riforma del Migration Act del 2014, ci sono anche i cosiddetti detenuti 501, persone a cui è stato revocato il permesso di soggiorno per una serie di motivazioni, come condanne a oltre dodici mesi, sospetta associazione con un gruppo coinvolto in crimini di rilevanza internazionale o reati sessuali su minori.

    «Potrebbero anche non aver commesso alcun crimine, ma si ritiene che abbiano problemi di carattere o frequentino persone losche», spiega l’avvocata Filipa Payne, fondatrice di Route 501, organizzazione che ha seguito i casi di molti “501”. Chi rientra in questa casistica si ritrova quindi a dover scontare una doppia reclusione: dopo il carcere finisce all’interno di un centro di detenzione, dove sono rinchiusi anche i richiedenti asilo, in attesa di ottenere una risposta definitiva sul visto. Queste persone, che oggi rappresentano circa l’80% dei trattenuti, spesso vivono in Australia da diversi anni, ma non hanno mai richiesto o ottenuto la cittadinanza.

    «È molto peggio della prigione perché almeno lì sai quando uscirai – racconta dal Melbourne Immigration Detention Centre James, nome di fantasia, un ragazzo di origine europea che vive in Australia da oltre 30 anni -. È tutto molto stressante e deprimente, passo la maggior parte del tempo nella mia stanza». Dopo aver passato poco più di un anno in carcere per furto, sta scontando una seconda reclusione nei centri gestiti da Serco come detenuto 501 perché, come i richiedenti asilo, non ha in mano un permesso di soggiorno per restare in Australia. Da quando è uscito dal carcere, James ha vissuto in quattro diversi centri di detenzione gestiti da Serco, dove si trova rinchiuso da quasi dieci anni. Fino a una storica sentenza della Corte Suprema australiana dell’8 novembre 2023, la detenzione indefinita non era illegale e ad oggi, secondo i dati del Refugee Council of Australia, i tempi di detenzione in media sono di oltre 700 giorni, quasi due anni.

    Chi come James si trova incastrato nel sistema, può solo sperare di ottenere un documento per soggiornare in Australia, che può essere concesso in ultima istanza dal ministero dell’Immigrazione. Altrimenti «non ci sarà altra soluzione per me che quella di tornare al mio Paese d’origine. Non parlo la lingua, tutta la mia famiglia è qui, la mia vita sarebbe semplicemente finita. Sarebbe molto difficile per me, forse non vorrei più vivere», dice James.


    Christmas Island, «un posto orribile»

    Serco arriva in Australia nel 1989 e dopo vent’anni vince un contratto di cinque anni, rinnovato nel 2014, da 279 milioni di dollari australiani (169 milioni di euro) per la gestione di tutte le strutture di detenzione per migranti dell’Australia continentale e quella di Christmas Island, un’isola più vicina all’Indonesia che all’Australia, funzionale al trattamento delle richieste d’asilo fuori dal continente, in un territorio isolato. «È un posto orribile, dove ho visto molta violenza. Ho visto persone tagliarsi con le lamette, impiccarsi, rifiutarsi di mangiare per una settimana», ricorda James, che è passato anche da Christmas Island. Lo scorso 1 ottobre, la struttura è stata chiusa per la seconda volta dopo le raccomandazioni del Comitato delle Nazioni Unite per i Diritti Umani, ma potrebbe nuovamente essere riaperta.

    Tra il 2011 e il 2015, l’epoca di maggiore utilizzo del centro, ci sono state diverse proteste, rivolte, scioperi della fame. Tra il 2014 e il 2015, 128 minori detenuti hanno compiuto atti di autolesionismo, 105 bambini sono stati valutati da un programma di sostegno psicologico “ad alto rischio imminente” o “a rischio moderato” di suicidio. Dieci di loro avevano meno di 10 anni.

    Dopo una visita effettuata nel 2016, alcuni attivisti dell’Asylum Seeker Resource Centre hanno segnalato la mancanza di un’adeguata assistenza sanitaria mentale e una pesante somministrazione di psicofarmaci, che aiutano anche a sopportare l’estremo isolamento vissuto dai trattenuti. Anche James rientra in questa categoria: «Ho iniziato a prendere il mio farmaco circa sette anni fa. Mi aiuta con l’ansia e la depressione ed è molto importante per me».


    Come si gestisce la sicurezza nei centri

    Marzo 2022: l’emittente neozelandese Maori Television mostra video di detenuti di un centro di Serco contusi e sanguinanti legati con una cerniera ai mobili di una sala da pranzo. «Se quelle guardie avessero fatto quello che hanno fatto ai detenuti fuori dal centro di detenzione, sarebbe stato considerato un crimine. Ma poiché si tratta di sicurezza nazionale, è considerato appropriato. E questo non va bene», spiega l’avvocata di migranti e detenuti “501” Filipa Payne a IrpiMedia. “Quelle guardie” sono agenti di sicurezza scelti da Serco su mandato dell’Australian Border Force.

    Anche gli addetti alla sicurezza, in Australia, sono gestiti dal privato e non dalle forze dell’ordine nazionali. Serco precisa che prima di iniziare a operare, seguono un corso di nove settimane che comprende «gestione dei detenuti, consapevolezza culturale, supporto psicologico, tecniche di allentamento dell’escalation, controllo e contenzione». Al team si aggiunge una squadra di risposta alle emergenze, l’Emergency Response Team (ERT), che agisce nei casi più complessi. Sono «agenti appositamente addestrati a gestire le situazioni il più rapidamente possibile per evitare l’escalation degli incidenti», afferma la società via mail. Secondo gli attivisti userebbero delle pratiche discutibili: «Le braccia vengono sollevate dietro la schiena, la persona viene gettata a terra, messa in ginocchio e ammanettata da dietro da diversi membri del personale».

    I Centri di permanenza per il rimpatrio (Cpr) in Australia e in Italia, un confronto

    Dal 2018 a marzo 2023 sono stati registrati quasi 800 episodi di autolesionismo, secondo Serco usati come «arma di negoziazione» nei vari centri gestiti dalla società, e 19 morti. Sarwan Aljhelie, un rifugiato iracheno di 22 anni, è deceduto al suo quarto tentativo di suicidio riaprendo il tema della sorveglianza e del supporto mentale alle persone trattenute. Circa tre settimane prima era stato trasferito senza preavviso dal centro di Villawood a quello di Yongah Hill, nei pressi di Perth, a più di tremila chilometri di distanza dalla sua famiglia e dai suoi tre figli. Mohammad Nasim Najafi, un rifugiato afghano, avrebbe invece lamentato problemi cardiaci per due settimane, secondo alcuni suoi compagni, prima di morire per un sospetto infarto.

    In Australia, Serco continua comunque a gestire tutti i sette centri di detenzione attivi e, nonostante il calo del fatturato del 5% – da 540 a 515 milioni di euro – segnalato nel rapporto di metà anno, la compagnia ha annunciato di essere «lieta di aver prorogato il contratto per la gestione delle strutture di detenzione per l’immigrazione e i servizi per i detenuti fino al dicembre 2024». «Siamo fortemente impegnati a garantire un ambiente sicuro e protetto per i detenuti, i dipendenti e i visitatori. I nostri dipendenti si impegnano a fondo per garantire questo obiettivo, spesso in circostanze difficili», scrive la società.


    La storia di Joey

    Joey Tangaloa Taualii è arrivato in Australia dall’isola di Tonga nel 1975 con i suoi genitori. Oggi ha 49 anni, 12 figli e 5 nipoti, ma è rinchiuso dall’inizio del 2021 nel Melbourne Immigration Detention Centre (MIDC), uno dei sette centri di detenzione per persone migranti gestiti da Serco in Australia. Il suo profilo rientra nella categoria dei detenuti 501, come James.

    La riforma è arrivata quando Joey era appena entrato in carcere dopo una condanna a otto anni per aver aggredito, secondo quanto racconta, un membro di una banda di motociclisti nel 2009. Nonostante viva in Australia da 48 anni, non ha mai ottenuto la cittadinanza, credendo erroneamente che il suo visto permanente avesse lo stesso valore. Ora è in attesa di sapere se potrà tornare dalla sua famiglia ma non ha garanzie su quanto tempo potrà passare recluso.

    «È un posto costruito per distruggerti», dice. Dopo quasi tre anni nel MIDC è diventato difficile anche trovare un modo per passare il tempo. Le attività sono così scarne da sembrare concepite per «bambini» e non c’è «nulla di strutturato, che ti aiuti a stimolare la mente», racconta. Joey preferisce restare la maggior parte del tempo all’interno della sua stanza ed evitare qualsiasi situazione che possa essere usata contro di lui per influenzare il riottenimento del visto. «Ci sono persone deportate in altri continenti, che non hanno famiglia, e allora scelgono di tentare il suicidio», afferma, pensando alla possibilità di essere rimpatriato a Tonga. Parla dalla sua stanza con l’occhio sinistro bendato. La sua parziale cecità richiederebbe un intervento, che sostiene di stare aspettando da due anni.

    L’ultima speranza risiede nella bontà del governo, di solito più aperto verso le persone che vivono in Australia da diversi anni. Per quello, però, ci sarà da aspettare e non si sa per quanto tempo ancora: «Ho frequentato l’asilo, le scuole elementari e le scuole superiori in Australia, i miei genitori sono stati nella stessa casa per 45 anni a Ringwood, dove siamo cresciuti giocando a calcio e a cricket e abbiamo pagato le tasse. Questo è il motivo per cui i 501 si sono suicidati e sono stati deportati. Le nostre lacrime e le nostre preghiere non cadranno nel vuoto».

    #Serco #ORS #asile #migrations #réfugiés #rétention #détention_administrative #business #privatisation #Italie #Rupert_Soames #Yarl’s_Wood #Australie #Christmas_island #UK #Angleterre #Brook_House #Derwentside


    ajouté au fil de discussion sur la présence d’ORS en Italie :

    lui-même ajouté à la métaliste autour de #ORS, une #multinationale #suisse spécialisée dans l’ « #accueil » de demandeurs d’asile et #réfugiés :