• IOM run camps in Bosnia: Structural violence is not an incident

    We demand transparency in the work of international organizations and an immediate switch to the practices of care and justice!

    Since 2018, when the first “temporary reception center” run by the IOM and financed by large from the EU, was established in Bosnia and Herzegovina, people placed in camps have been trying to draw the attention of the public. They have been united in saying that living conditions have been below any standards. At the same time, IOM representatives, as well as the EU, have been repeating that the centers have been built in accordance with the “European standards”. However, they have never told us what these standards are.

    At the moment, camp Blažuj near Sarajevo is the biggest concentration camp in BiH with over 3.200 people ‘housed’ inside. The conditions are precarious. No hot water, food is only basic, it is overcrowded, no heating, many people have scabies, every illness is treated with paracetamol and brufen (DRC responsibility). A similar precarious situation is in another camp near Sarajevo, Ušivak.

    People in Sarajevo are receiving everyday pleas for help from the people in the camps. They ask for food, clothes, hygiene supplies, even baby diapers. Tensions are high and occur in daily conflicts. Additionally, the part of the staff in centers is rude, unprofessional, abusive, and often disrespectful towards the people. Local police enter the camps, and the surrounding area, often using methods that should be scrutinized.

    Therefore, we must ask: Do mass, overcrowded camps represent the “European standard” of living? Is the absence of basic living conditions like hot water and heating, the absence of medical care and treatment, the absence of regular diet and widespread hunger, the absence of human care and compassion the “European standard”? Are mass camps soon becoming new mass graves, as a result of the European living standard in question?

    The atmosphere of tension culminated in Blažuj on the evening of January 20th, when a huge fight broke inside the camp. Another one. Each time it is bigger and bigger. IOM cannot negate this as we all saw the fire a few nights ago, which was the result of one such fight. Those who are running camp do not have the knowledge, or willingness, to deal with tensions, meaning to provide more psychological support than security, better conditions, and activities that would make people at least feel human. Instead of that, the IOM and others have decided to limit media access, and to monitor contacts ‘residents’ have with people outside of the camp and the media, often punishing those who are found to communicate with people outside and accused of sending true information about the conditions in the camp (that should be public anyway). Those who do that are often punished with retaliation, expulsion, or even detention inside the special area in the camps, but also in official detention centers in Bosnia, where with no trials or delivered sentences people are kept sometimes for months.

    In the end, the media, IOM, and authorities put the perpetual blame on people on the move, demonizing and criminalizing them in order to justify their own (wrong) doings and (mis)handlings.

    We ask for transparency in the work of international organizations, and an immediate switch to the practices of care and justice. People in Bosnia, but also many other countries in a similar situation, have been asking for this for decades, with little success, while witnessing what could be described as very problematic behaviour of the personnel and leaders of the international organizations (e.g. during the war, especially in so called “safe zones”, or after the war when the UN personnel was involved in human trafficking).

    - unlimited media access to the camps

    – freedom of speech for people inside the camps

    - utter protection from all kinds of violence

    – access to nutritive food, hot and drinking water, hygienic care, medical treatments, mental health support

    – end to the police, military, and security guards’ violence.

    No more structural violence.

    No more mass camps.

    No more (mass) graves.

    Transbalkan Solidarity


    #violence_structurelle #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Bosnie #OIM #IOM #camps_de_réfugiés #Blažuj #Blazuj #Balkans #route_des_Balkans

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • Bosnia: Fight in migrant camp leaves three officials injured

      Two police officers and an IOM employee suffered minor injuries in clashes at the Blazuj migrant reception center near Sarajevo on Wednesday, police said. More than 3,000 migrants are currently housed at the former military barracks.

      Police were called late Wednesday night to intervene in a fight that had broken out between migrants at the center outside Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

      “During the intervention, migrants attacked police officers and damaged several police and International Organization for Migration (IOM) cars, as well as IOM offices,” police spokesperson Mirza Hadziabdic told the news agency AFP.

      Hadziabdic confirmed that two police officers and an IOM employee were slightly injured, and that the property damaged in the clash included computers and other equipment.

      According to a statement by the IOM, “a skirmish between two migrants … quickly escalated into a bigger fight.” It was not immediately clear if anyone was arrested, AP reports.

      In Bosnian media, the incident was described as a major clash. The news platform Klix.ba published images of smashed cars and reported that police brought in members of special units with dogs. According to Klix.ba, around 2,000 migrants clashed with police and threw stones.

      Klix.ba reported on Friday that six persons involved in the scuffles had received deportation orders from the foreigners’ office and local authorities in the Sarajevo Canton. One Iranian national reportedly also received an an entry ban of three years and is due to be deported.
      Tense situation for migrants in Bosnia

      Bosnia is a transit country for migrants, mainly from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, who travel along the Balkan route in hopes of reaching Western Europe. Many however remain stranded in Bosnia and fail to cross into EU member state Croatia — their attempts are thwarted by Croatian border police who are regularly accused of applying force to push migrants back into Bosnia.

      Bosnia has struggled to manage a growing number of migrant arrivals since 2018 and most recently, the EU called upon Bosnia to provide adequate housing for migrants who are stranded in the country and face harsh winter conditions.

      According to estimates from EU and IOM officials, there are currently between 8,000 and 9,000 migrants in Bosnia.

      Around 6,000 migrants are living in five centers run by the IOM.

      Roughly 900 migrants are living in heated tents at Lipa camp, which the Bosnian army set up after weeks of criticism from the international community over the conditions at the camp.

      Roughly 2,000 migrants are camping out in the woods and in abandoned buildings in northwestern Bosnia, and their situation is becoming increasingly dangerous.


    • Twenty Police Cars damaged by Migrants in Blazuj

      In last night’s riots in the migrant center in Blazuj near Sarajevo, 20 vehicles of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Sarajevo Canton and several IOM vehicles were damaged. This information was confirmed for Klix.ba by the Minister of the Interior of Canton Sarajevo, Admir Katica.

      Two injured police officers and one International Organization for Migrations employee is the epilogue of the chaos that happened last night in the migrant camp in Blazuj. This information was confirmed for “Avaz” by Mirza Hadziabdic, spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior of the Sarajevo Canton, and added that 2,000 migrants took part in the riots.

      The situation calmed down last night at 10:50 p.m. The police are still on the spot, an investigation is being carried out, and no one has been detained so far – Hadziabdic added.

      Recall, the workers of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) tried to move to another camp a migrant who disturbed the order and who is the leader of one of the groups in this camp. Migrants tried to release him by force, after which there was a conflict.


  • Janvier 2021 : Incendie dans le camp de réfugiés à Blazuj (Bosnie-Herzégovine)

    #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Herzégovine #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #feu #asile #migrations #réfugiés #camps_de_réfugiés #Blažuj #Blazuj


    Ajouté à la métaliste sur les incendies dans des camps de réfugiés (principalement en Grèce, mais du coup, élargissement à la route des Balkans) :

  • #Incendies dans les #camps_de_réfugiés (ou autres lieux d’hébergement de demandeurs d’asile et réfugiés) en #Grèce. Tentative de #métaliste, non exhaustive...

    Les incendies sont rassemblés ici en ordre chronologique, mais attention à faire la distinction entre ceux qui ont lieu :
    – par accident
    – comme geste de #protestation de la part des réfugiés entassés dans ces camps surpeuplés et insalubres
    – par main de l’#extrême_droite

    #réfugiés #asile #migrations #feu #incendie #anti-réfugiés #racisme #xénophobie #révolte #résistance

    –-> + un incendie qui a eu lieu en décembre 2020 en #Bosnie (#route_des_Balkans / #Balkans)

    ping @isskein

  • Migranti lungo la Rotta, quarantena permanente versione testuale

    A partire da marzo, mano a mano che il coronavirus dilagava per l’Europa, alcuni stati disposti lungo la dorsale balcanica hanno messo in atto provvedimenti che hanno interessato non solamente la popolazione locale, ma anche e soprattutto la popolazione migrante che vive all’interno dei centri di transito e per richiedenti asilo, allestiti e istituiti lungo la cosiddetta Rotta balcanica a partire dal 2016.
    Dopo il 2015, anno della “crisi dei rifugiati”, che ha visto arrivare in Unione europea quasi un milione di persone (di cui oltre 850 mila transitate dalla Grecia), a partire da marzo 2016 la Rotta balcanica è stata dichiarata ufficialmente chiusa, in base al controverso accordo turco-europeo, che prevede fondamentalmente che la Turchia – in cambio di 6 miliardi di euro versati dall’Ue e di un’accelerazione nelle trattative legate all’ingresso in Europa – gestisca i quasi 4 milioni di richiedenti asilo che si trovano nel suo territorio.
    Di fatto, però, quell’accordo (in realtà una dichiarazione congiunta tra le parti coinvolte) non ha fermato il flusso di persone on the move, ma lo ha solamente rallentato e reso più pericoloso; si calcola, in effetti, che tra il 2016 e il 2019 siano comunque passate circa 160 mila persone lungo questo corridoio migratorio.

    Confini incandescenti
    I paesi maggiormente interessati dalla presenza dei migranti in transito sono Grecia, Serbia e – a partire dal 2018 – Bosnia Erzegovina, diventata nella zona nord-occidentale il collo di bottiglia prima di entrare in Croazia e da lì nei Paesi Shengen, la meta cui maggiormente aspirano le persone, che provengono principalmente da Afghanistan, Pakistan, Siria, Iran e Iraq.
    Poco prima che la pandemia prendesse piede a livello globale, a partire da fine febbraio, la Rotta balcanica era tornata sui principali giornali e siti di notizie, perchè il presidente turco Recep Tayyp Erdo?an aveva annunciato di aver aperto i confini del paese ai migranti intenzionati a raggiungere l’Europa. Quella che sino a poco tempo prima sembrava solo una minaccia si è fatta realtà; nel giro di pochi giorni almeno 10 mila persone hanno raggiunto il confine terrestre tra Turchia e Grecia e hanno provato a sfondare i cordoni di sicurezza greci, trovando una risposta violenta, anche con il sostegno delle polizie e dei militari di altri governi europei.
    La situazione incandescente sul confine, che faceva immaginare uno scenario simile a quello del 2015, con migliaia di persone in transito lungo la rotta, si è però interrotta bruscamente con l’arrivo del virus e le misure di chiusura, limitazione di movimento e autoisolamento messe in atto in pratica da quasi tutti gli stati del mondo.
    Gli stati posti lungo la Rotta balcanica hanno non solo imposto misure restrittive alla popolazione locale, ma hanno chiuso la popolazione migrante all’interno dei campi, dispiegando forze speciali a controllarne i perimetri: nessuna nuova persona entra e nessuno esce, in una quarantena permanente.

    Prendono la strada dei boschi
    In Grecia si calcola una presenza di oltre 118 mila tra rifugiati e richiedenti asilo; circa 20 mila abitano nei 30 campi dislocati sul continente, molti vivono in appartamenti o shelter e oltre 38 mila sono bloccati nei campi ufficiali e informali sulle isole di Lesvos, Chios, Samos e Kos.
    In Serbia sono oltre 8.500 i richiedenti asilo e i migranti distribuiti nei 17 centri in gestione governativa all’interno del paese. Durante il mese di marzo polizia ed esercito locali hanno portato le persone che vivevano negli squat delle periferie di Belgrado e di Šid all’interno dei campi, che sono ora sovraffollati.
    Infine si calcola che in Bosnia Erzegovina ci siano circa 5.500 persone alloggiate in 9 campi per l’accoglienza, ma che almeno 2 mila vivano dormendo in edifici e fabbriche abbandonati o in tende e accampamenti di fortuna nei boschi lungo i confini con la Croazia. L’ampia presenza di persone che vivono fuori dai campi ufficiali ha fatto sì che il 17 aprile il consiglio dei ministri della Bosnia Erzegovina decidesse che ogni straniero che non ha un documento di identità valido e un indirizzo di residenza registrato presso l’ufficio stranieri del comune di competenza, verrà obbligatoriamente portato nei centri di ricezione, dove dovrà risiedere senza possibilità di uscire.
    Per questo motivo già dalle settimane precedenti, in località Lipa, cantone di Una Sana, territorio di Bihac, sono stati avviati di gran lena i lavori per mettere in piedi un nuovo centro temporaneo di transito. Il campo, costituito da ampi tendoni in cerata con letti a castello, container sanitari e toilette chimiche, è stato fortumente voluto dalla municipalità di Bihac per spostare dalle strade e da edifici diroccati le migliaia di persone che vagano tra le rovine senza cibo, acqua corrente, elettricità e vestiti. A partire dalla mattina del 21 aprile sono iniziati in maniera pacifica i trasporti dei migranti, scortati dalla polizia locale, al nuove centro in gestione all’Organizzazione mondiale dei migranti e al Danish Refugee Council. Al tempo stesso, decine di persone che non vogliono vivere nei centri e rimanere bloccate in quarantena a tempo indeterminato, hanno deciso di prendere la strada dei boschi e tentare di andare verso la Croazia o rimanere tra le foreste, in attesa che si allentino nei paesi europei le misure anti-Covid.
    Le preoccupazioni nutrite dalle diverse organizzazioni non governative e associazioni in tutti i contesti citati sono le medesime: i campi sono sovraffolati e non permettono di prevenire la diffusione del contagio, in molti centri i servizi igienici e i presidi sanitari sono insufficienti, in alcune realtà l’acqua non è potabile e fondamentalmente è impossibile mantenere le distanze. Le persone passano le giornate chiuse dentro strutture nella maggior parte dei casi fatiscenti, costrette a lunghe file per ricevere i pasti e sotto il controllo o della polizia e dell’esercito (come in Serbia e Grecia), che impediscono i tentativi di fuga dai campi, o delle imprese di sorveglianza private nei campi in Bosnia (campi gestiti da Iom, a differenza di Serbia e Grecia, dove sono in gestione governativa).
    Naturalmente, se già per la popolazione locale è difficile trovare mascherine usa e getta e guanti, per i migranti nei campi è pressochè impossibile, al punto che sia in Grecia che in Serbia, in alcuni dei centri i migranti hanno cominciato a cucire mascherine in stoffa, per la popolazione dei campi ma anche per la popolazione locale, supportati da alcune organizzazioni.
    In tutti i campi le organizzazioni che non si occupano di servizi primari, ma per esempio di interventi psico-sociali come Caritas, hanno dovuto sospendere o modificare le loro attività e instaurare una modalità di lavoro degli staff a rotazione, per preservare i propri operatori.

    Distanziamento impossibile
    Nonostante in Serbia e in Bosnia Erzegovina non siano stati ufficialmente accertati casi di persone positive al Covid19 tra i migranti nei centri, la stessa cosa non si può dire della Grecia, dove sono scoppiati almeno tre focolai, il primo a Ritsona, una ex base militare a 70 chilometri da Atene, che ospita oltre 3 mila persone, il secondo nel campo di Malakasa, dove è stato trovato un caso positivo tra gli oltre 1.600 residenti, il terzo nel sud della Grecia, a Kranidi, dove 150 su 497 persone di un ostello che ospita famiglie monogenitoriali sono risultate positive al test. In tutti i casi i campi sono stati posti in totale isolamento e quarantena per 14 giorni, e le persone non sono autorizzate a uscire dai loro container, stanze o tende. Per evitare che il fenomeno esploda soprattutto nei contesti come le isole, dove i campi sono sovraffolati e le condizioni di vita più miserevoli, il governo greco ha previsto lo spostamento di almeno 2.300 persone considerate più vulnerabili al virus sulla terraferma, in appartamenti, hotel e altri campi.
    In generale le reazioni dei migranti alle misure che sono state messe in atto sono state simili in tutti i luoghi. In primis vi è la sincera preoccupazione di ammalarsi nei campi; le persone sono consapevoli che igiene e misure di distanziamento sociale sono impossibili da tenere. Per fare un esempio, il Bira, un campo in Bosnia Erzegovina per uomini single e minori non accompagnati, che ha una capacità ufficiale di 1.500 persone, ne ospita più di 1.800 e nei container abitativi vivono non 6 persone, ma almeno il doppio. In luoghi così è impossibile fisicamente mettere in atto tutte le procedure necessarie a evitare il contagio.
    Altro punto che risulta particolarmente frustrante, soprattutto nei campi in Serbia e in Bosnia Erzegovina, è l’impossibilità di uscire fisicamente dai centri. Questo significa non poter esercitare nessuna libertà di movimento, non poter andare a comprare beni e cibo, magari non necessari per la sopravvivenza, ma di aiuto per resistere psicologicamente. Significa non poter andare a ritirare i soldi che i parenti mandano tramite Western Union e Money gram e ovviamente significa non poter tentare il game, il “gioco” di recarsi a piedi, da soli o guidati dai trafficanti, verso i confini, per cercare di valicarli.

    Gli interventi Caritas e Ipsia
    La frustrazione di rimanere bloccati a tempo indeterminato è molto alta; in molti dei campi sono scoppiate risse a volte anche molto violente, tra gli stessi migranti ma anche con le forze di polizia e di sicurezza preposte al controllo dei centri. Questi episodi, in Bosnia Erzegovina, sono avvenuti tra i minori non accompagnati del campo Bira, al Miral di Velika Kladuša, a Blažuj vicino a Sarajevo. Stesse dinamiche, con conseguente intervento pesante della security, a Krnja?a, Preševo e Adaševci in Serbia.
    Le organizzazioni impegnate nei centri per migranti potrebbero avere un importante ruolo di stress-relief (supporto in situazione di pressione psicologica) in un contesto di frustrazioni e violenze così diffuse, ma le organizzazioni che gestiscono i campi e i governi locali preferiscono una dimesione di chiusura quasi totale, senza capire che sarebbe importante prevenire la crescita di ulteriori tensioni.
    Caritas e Ipsia Acli, partner dei progetti lungo la rotta dei Balcani dal 2016, continuano – nella misura del possibile – le loro attività in Grecia, Serbia e Bosnia. Gli operatori locali sono portavoce e testimoni dei bisogni delle persone; anche se, a seguito dell’emergenza sanitaria, i ragazzi e le ragazze in Servizio civile all’estero hanno dovuto tornare in patria per non rimanere bloccati, e ciò ha tolto forze ed energie ai team locali, gli operatori sul terreno continuano il supporto alla popolazione migrante lungo la Rotta. Un piccolo apporto, in un mare di bisogni, ma il segno di un’attenzione e una prossimità che non devono essere cancellate dal virus.


    #route_des_balkans #Balkans #Grèce #Croatie #campement #hébergement #camps #forêt #masques #distanciation_sociale #Grèce #Serbie #Bosnie #fermeture_des_frontières #frontières #coronavirus #covid-19 #Lipa #Bihac #OIM #IOM #Danish_Refugee_Council #Ritsona #Athènes #Malakasa #Kranidi #Bira #confinement #liberté_de_mouvement #Miral #Velika_Kladuša #Velika_Kladusa #Blažuj #Blazuj #Preševo #Adaševci #Krnja #Presevo #Adasevci

    ping @luciebacon

    • [Traduit par Chiara Lauvergnac, via Migreurop] 

      Migrants along the Route, permanent quarantine
      April 27, 2020
      Starting in March, as the coronavirus spread to Europe, some states located along the rear Balkan have implemented agreements that have affected not only the local population, but also and above all the migrant population living inside the transit and asylum seeker centers, set up and set up along the so-called Balkan route from 2016.
      After 2015, the year of the “refugee crisis”, which saw almost one million people arrive in the European Union (of which more than 850 thousand passed through Greece), starting from March 2016 the Balkan route was officially declared closed, on the basis of the controversial Turkish-European agreement, which basically provides that Turkey - in exchange for € 6 billion paid by the EU and an acceleration in negotiations related to entry into Europe - handles almost 4 million asylum seekers who we are in its territory.

      In fact, however, that agreement (actually a joint declaration between the parties involved) did not stop the flow of people on the move, but really slowed it down and made it more dangerous; it is estimated, in fact, that between 2016 and 2019 around 160 thousand people have passed through this migratory corridor.

      Red-hot borders

      The countries mainly affected by the presence of migrants in transit are Greece, Serbia and - starting from 2018 - Bosnia and Herzegovina, that became the bottleneck in the north-western area before entering Croatia and from there the Shengen countries, the destination which people aspire to, who are mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and Iraq.

      Shortly before the pandemic took off globally, starting from the end of February, the Balkan Route had returned to the main newspapers and news sites, because Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan announced he had opened the borders to migrants willing to reach Europe. What seemed only a threat became reality; within a few days at least 10,000 people reached the land border between Turkey and Greece and tried to push through the security cordons, finding a violent response, also with the support of the police and military personnel from other EU countries.
      The incandescent situation on the border, which showed a scenario similar to that of 2015, with thousands of people in transit along the route, however, was abruptly interrupted with the arrival of the virus and the measures of closure of movement and the self-isolation put into practice by almost all states of the world.
      The states located along the Balkan route have not only imposed restrictive measures on the local population, but have closed the migrant population inside the camps, deploying special forces to control their perimeters: no new person enters and no one excludes, in a permanent quarantine.
      They take the road in the woods

      In Greece there are an estimated 118,000 refugees and asylum seekers; about 20 thousand inhabitants in the 30 camps located on the continent, many residents in apartments or shelters and over 38 thousand are blocked in the official and informal camps on the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Kos.
      In Serbia there are over 8,500 asylum seekers and migrants distributed in the 17 government-run centers within the country. During the month of March the police and army brought the people who lived in the squat on the outskirts of Belgrade and Šid into the camps, which are now overcrowded.
      Finally, it is estimated that in Bosnia and Herzegovina there are about 5,500 people housed in 9 camps for reception, but that at least 2,000 live sleeping in abandoned buildings and factories or in makeshift tents and camps in the woods along the borders with Croatia. On April 17, the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina decided that every foreigner who does not have a valid identity document and a residence address registered at the foreign office of the municipality of competence, will be obligatorily taken to the reception centers, where he must reside without possibility to go out. For this reason, work has already started in the past weeks, in Lipa, in the canton of Una Sana, in the Bihac area, to set up a new temporary transit centre. The camp, consisting of large tents with bunk beds, sanitary containers and chemical toilets, was fortuitously desired by the municipality of Bihac to move the thousands of people who wander through streets and ruined buildings without food, running water, electricity and clothes. Transportation of migrants, escorted by local police, to the new centre managed by the the World Organization for Migrants and the Danish Refugee Council began peacefully from the morning of April 21. At the same time, dozens of people who do not want to live in the centres and remain stuck in quarantine indefinitely, have decided to take the road through the woods and try to go to Croatia or stay in the forests, waiting for anti-Covid measures to loosen in the various countries.
      The concerns raised by the various non-governmental organizations and associations in all the contexts mentioned are the same: thecamps are overcrowded and do not allow to prevent the spread of the infection, in many centers the toilets and health facilities are insufficient, in some situations the water is not drinkable and basically it is impossible to keep your distance. People spend their days locked in structures in most cases dilapidated, forced to wait in long lines to receive meals and under the control of the police and the army (as in Serbia and Greece), which prevent attempts to flee the camps, or private surveillance companies in the camps in Bosnia ( managed by IOM, unlike Serbia and Greece, where they are under government management).
      Of course, if it is already difficult for the local population to find disposable masks and gloves, for migrants in the camps it is almost impossible, to the point that both in Greece and Serbia, in some of the centers the migrants have begun to sew masks in cloth , for the population of the campss but also for the local population, supported by some organizations.
      In all camps, organizations that do not deal with primary services, but for example with psycho-social interventions such as IPSIA/Caritas, have had to suspend or modify their activities and establish a rotating staff working mode, to preserve their operators.
      Impossible distancing

      Although cases of positive Covid19 people among migrants in the centers have not been officially recognized in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the same cannot be said of Greece, where at least three outbreaks have erupted, the first in Ritsona, a former military base 70 kilometers from Athens, which houses over 3,000 people, the second in the Malakasa camp, where a positive case was found among the more than 1,600 residents, the third in southern Greece, in Kranidi, where 150 out of 497 people from a hostel hosting single parent families tested positive. In all cases the camps were placed in total isolation and quarantined for 14 days, and people are not allowed to leave their containers, rooms or tents. To prevent the phenomenon from exploding especially in contexts such as the islands, where the camps are overcrowded and the living conditions most miserable, the Greek government has disposed the movement of at least 2,300 people considered most vulnerable to the virus on the mainland, in apartments, hotels and other camps.
      In general, the reactions of migrants to the measures that have been put in place have been similar in all places. First of all, there is the sincere concern of getting sick in the camps; people are aware that hygiene and social distancing measures are impossible to maintain. For example, the Bira, a camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina for single men and unaccompanied minors, which has an official capacity of 1,500 people, is home to more than 1,800 and not just 6 people live in one container, but at least twice as many. In places like this it is physically impossible to put in place all the necessary procedures to avoid contagion.
      Another point that is particularly frustrating, especially in the camps in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, is the impossibility of physically leaving the centers. This means not being able to exercise any freedom of movement, not being able to go and buy goods and food, perhaps not necessary for survival, but of help to resist psychologically. It means not being able to go and collect the money that relatives send via Western Union and Money gram and obviously means not being able to try the game, the “game” to go on foot, alone or guided by traffickers, to the borders, to try to cross them.
      The Caritas and Ipsia interventions

      The frustration of getting stuck indefinitely is very high; in many of the camps brawls sometimes even very violent broke out, among the migrants themselves but also with the police and security forces in charge of the control of the centers. These incidents in Bosnia and Herzegovina occurred among unaccompanied minors from the Bira camp, in Velika Kladuša’s Miral, in Blažuj near Sarajevo. Same dynamics, with consequent heavy security intervention, in Krnja? A, Preševo ​​and Adaševci in Serbia.
      Organizations engaged in migrant centers may have an important stress-relief role (support in situations of psychological pressure) in a context of such widespread frustrations and violence, but the organizations that manage the camps and local governments prefer an almost closed closure total, without understanding that it would be important to prevent the growth of further tensions.
      Caritas and Ipsia Acli, partners of projects along the Balkan route since 2016, continue - as far as possible - their activities in Greece, Serbia and Bosnia. Local operators are spokespersons and witnesses to people’s needs; even though, following the health emergency, the young men and women in the Civil Service abroad had to return to their homeland in order not to get stuck, and this took away local forces and energies. The operators on the ground continue to support the migrant population along the Route. A small contribution, in a sea of ​​needs, but the sign of attention and proximity that must not be erased by the virus.

      Silvia Maraone

      Caritas Italiana - Migranti lungo la Rotta, quarantena permanente

  • Shelter Provided to Migrants Sleeping Rough in Bosnian Capital

    Migrants who have been sleeping on the streets of Sarajevo for the past weeks have been given accommodation at a temporary reception centre located in a military barracks near the city.

    The International Organization for Migration, IOM, the Danish Refugee Council, DRC, the Red Cross of the Federation entity in Bosnia, together with migrants who volunteered, on Friday set up heated isolation tents for migrants in the Blazuj army barracks, furnished with 1,000 beds, mattresses and blankets.

    The idea is to provide temporary accommodation for migrants and refugees who have previously been sleeping rough on the streets of Sarajevo.

    According to the IOM, the migrants will first go through a medical check-up pending registration after which they will have access to shelter, food, medical assistance and other humanitarian needs.

    In mid-March, the Sarajevo Canton, which includes the Bosnian capital and various nearby towns and villages, imposed restrictions on the movement of migrants, and ordered them into temporary reception centres as a part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

    However, since the existing temporary reception centres did not have the capacity to host all the migrants located in and around the Sarajevo Canton, more capacity was needed.

    A similar temporary reception centre is being built not far from the village of Lipa, in western Bosnia, in the Una-Sana Canton.

    However, Bosnian Serbs have called on the authorities not to build a tent camp near the village, where post-war Serb returnees live, because they claim the mainly Muslim migrants could be a threat to them.

    There are about 7,500 registered migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For at least 3,000 of them, there are no places in temporary reception centres set up by the authorities.


    #Covid-19 #Migrants #Migrations #Balkans #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Blazuj #Camp #Sarajevo

  • AYS Daily Digest 14/04/20

    Two days ago, people finally received their cash card top up. Normally, they receive financial assistance at the beginning of the month, as do most people in Greece, but due to the Corona restrictions, it was late this month. A lot of people needed to go shopping as they were running out of food, but only 65 people are currently allowed to go out at one time. There are currently over a thousand people in the camp, which has become more crowded since they moved the people camping outside to within the walls of the hotspot. As a result the situation escalated and the police beat both the women and the men to separate the groups.

    With 14 more days of quarantine, the people in Ritsona have no way to protect themselves. Seven out of ninety have already tested positive in the community.

    Mobile Info Team has recorded information from 30 homeless people on the move in Thessaloniki who were fined by the police under the “movement restrictions.” One person has been fined as often as 5 times, another two people, 4 times each. These people have nowhere to live, nowhere to go and the government who refuses to assist them sends its law enforcement officers to fine them?

    Fascist violence has been escalating over the past few weeks and on April 8th they burned down the home of refugees living outside Moria. Mare Liberum spoke with two of the men who were living there.
    The latest fire in #Moria caused a lot of devastating destruction.
    Luckily, the White Helmets have begun cleaning up the area, trying to make conditions better and cleaner for residents.
    Seawatch is working to send 1000 masks to Lesvos to try to curb the outbreak.
    #Incendie #Xenophobie

    The Ministry of Immigration and Asylum signed a contract today to lease a property in the ALITHEIA complex, in #Lefkonia-Kontari area of ​​Chios, for the creation of a space for the stay of the newcomers.
    The rent for a period of seven months amounts to 46,200 EURO, with the possibility of extending the lease, and the property will operate as a place of residence for newly arrived immigrants. This is supposedly all done in an effort to disperse the impact of the Corona pandemic. The impetus for the decision was stated as:
    “For reasons of urgency and unpredictability that are not the fault of the Greek State, as well as for reasons of security, public order and public interest, with attention to the need to take the necessary measures to protect public health and society as a whole.”

    Some good news out of Samos today. A young Syrian boy’s family reunification case was accepted! Hassan* will be able to join his older brother in the UK. The pictures below were taken by Hassan himself and demonstrate the dire conditions in the camps.

    #Transfert #Mineurs #Enfants
    This afternoon 20 minors were taken from Moria Camp to the harbor of Piraeus (Athens). They should reach Germany by the 18th.

    Human Rights Watch is calling for hundreds of migrant children who are in Greece without parents or relatives and in immigration detention to be moved to child friendly housing. HRW say they are currently at a heightened risk for contracting COVID-19.

    Human rights violations including illegal pushbacks continue occurring at the Greece-Turkey border. Read MIT’s report co-authored with No Name Kitchen and Border Violence Monitoring Network for more information on the update situation.


    The changing weather has just added to the number of difficulties people on the move face while stuck in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As there is no public transport at their disposal and no freedom of movement for them, getting from one place to another is extremely difficult. Most of the people are left out on their own (if they are not forced into provisional campsite like #Lipa near #Bihac), only some have managed to stay in private accommodation under different conditions and circumstances, while many are stuck in different hardships of the official camps run by international organisations, and German Civil Protection (Technisches Hilfswerk) in the case of recently infamous #Blazuj camp. Those who bother to go the extra step and show humane treatment to these people in transit through Bosnia and Herzegovina more than often see images of despair among these people who now also often carry the stigma of potential health risk in the context of coronavirus, although no infected people have been reported among all those people throughout the country.


    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Grèce #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Camp

  • AYS Weekend Digest 11–12/04/20


    Coast guard ordered to prevent any crossing from Turkey
    Following news from Turkey (see above), Greek media went into a frenzy on a possible second wave of what they like to call “the Turkish invasion”. According to these racist and colonial rhetorics, people on the move are nothing more than pawns used by Turkey to destroy Greek and European civilisation. The Greek coastguard has received orders to stay alert, “prevent any vessel carrying migrants from entering Greek territorial waters” and avoid any crossing from Turkey “on grounds of national security and public health”, Giorgos Christides reports.
    Since early February, Greek media have embraced war-like rhetoric and fake news in their coverage of people on the move in the country. Not only have they been described as ‘biological weapons’ armed by Turkey, but the number of positive Covid-19 tests are constantly given in separate figures for “citizens” and “non-citizens”. A racist attitude that is expanding to other groups:

    Criminal complaint filed against Greek coast guard for push-backs from Samos coast

    Greece: CHIOS
    No running water in Vial camp, Chios
    From Jenny Zinovia Kali, in the Solidarity in Chios group:
    Μessages keep coming from the residents of Vial about the unacceptable conditions they are experiencing in the camp despite the pandemic.
    As of yesterday, VIAL does not have running water. People can neither shower nor wash their hands. The mothers have no water to clean the little ones.
    Even worse, the administration has also banned the distribution of basic necessities to voluntary groups outside Vial, but no distributions have taken place since the pandemic started from Vial’s first reception. So the residents do not have any sanitary ware, diapers, sanitary napkins, etc.
    How do you ask 6000 people — roughly — to follow the protection measures when they don’t provide them with the basics ??????

    Greece: LESVOS
    Hunger strike in Moria’s PRO.KE.KA carries on
    As reported by Deportation Monitoring Aegean, the prisoners detained in Moria pre-removal detention centre (PRO.KE.K.A) in Lesvos have been on hunger strike since 5th April 2020. The PRO.KE.K.A hunger strikers demand their immediate release to avoid the disastrous consequences of a virus outbreak in the prison.

    As we previously reported, this week one boy was killed in Moria camp. Violence and fights erupted in the following hours. Nonetheless, the self-organised Moria White Helmets and the Moria Corona Awareness team are continuing to do what they can to improve the conditions in the camp. People are reportedly scared to line in queues for food and water and on Friday they held a large peaceful protest demanding safety, protection and the evacuation of everybody.

    While UNHCR is reportedly looking for hotels and ships on the eastern Greek islands to house vulnerable people from RICs, it is also reported that West Lesvos Municipality “grudgingly” accepted to restore and reopen the “old” Stage-2 transit camp in Skala Sykamnias as a quarantine facility to house new arrivals. This was used until the beginning of the year, but it was closed following a decision of the same municipality. It was later attacked by arsonists in March.

    GREECE: Samos
    Med’EqualiTeam is looking for doctors and nurses on Samos
    We need your help!
    Med’EqualiTeam is the only medical NGO on the Greek island of Samos offering primary healthcare to the 7000+ refugee population. Focusing on triage, treatment and wound care, the team sees currently up to 100 patients per day.
    The team are urgently looking for doctors and nurses who can stay 1 month or more.
    (All new team members must self-isolate for 2 weeks upon arrival to ensure safety of patients.)
    Please apply on https://www.medequali.team/de/volunteer/application

    GREECE: Athens
    More reports of racial profiling and police violence during so-called Covid-19 checks
    One young man was stopped, beaten, humiliated and had his papers destroyed in Athens. Read the full report (in Greek and English) HERE

    People are once again being placed in Miratovac and Krnjača camps.

    A local solidarity group reports that the situation in Serbia is increasingly tense. Corona virus has allowed the Government to close the camps, turning them into jails. The army is stationed outside while inside there are the Comisariat, a department of the police. There are reports that a child was hit by one of the workers this week, which was followed by the presence of armed police using tear gas as we reported last week. Local activists are calling on people to spread the news of what is happening.

    Violence Continues in camps and at borders
    Local groups report that workers from the private security agency that is involved in the camp Blažuj have physically attacked people staying at the camp. When they stood up against this violence, the police were brought in.
    When people try to leave these conditions and cross over into Croatia, further violence awaits for them.


    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Grèce #Xénophobie #Chios #Vial #Camp #Lesbos #Moria #Grèvedelafaim #Révolte #Violence #Quarantaine #Skalasykamnias #Samos #Athènes #Miratovac #Krnjaca #Serbie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Blažuj

  • CARITAS 6 APRIL 2020

    We keep working regardless of the virus. Migrants need our support more than ever!


    On 17 March, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus. As in many other countries in Europe and the world over, the consequences of the outbreak are problematic and serious. For example, many people have lost their temporary jobs. The country is struggling to develop a strategy to support the hundreds of migrants who are living on the streets or in non-suitable accommodations outside dedicated camps, which are already crowded and operating at full capacity. Each of the ten cantons of the federation has its own agenda and responsibilities, which does not make things any easier.

    The situation of migrants is indeed of great concern. In Tuzla, migrants and asylum seekers are not allowed to gather in one place, making it difficult for NGOs to assist them. There are still some local citizens who show their empathy and support as they can, for example by distributing blankets and sleeping bags. However, the vast majority of the local community is living in distress and showing a hostile attitude towards migrants. The Red Cross is the only organisation allowed to distribute food, but in a very restricted way.

    Migrants and asylum seekers are human beings who need to eat, sleep and be protected in a dignified way. Their living standards are minimal, yet they fear to ask for help and feel that they need to hide from other people and from the police. Nobody should ever feel unwelcome and lost, even less so during a pandemic. Now there are restrictions also on renting houses, rooms or other type of shelters. Even persons wishing to help find it very difficult to do so.

    In Tuzla, the local NGOs operate as one. For example, one of Caritas’ partner organisations opened a new safe house. Caritas does not close under these difficult circumstances either and continues to operate the laundry service to ensure a minimum standard of hygiene for those in need. The Caritas laundry service in the Bira camp is also still working every day. Now, it is needed more than ever!

    Blažuj camp
    In the Sarajevo canton, the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers is a little bit better. The police is patrolling the area and if they see any migrants, they drive them to Blažuj. This new camp has a capacity to house 1,500 people, but the conditions are incredibly challenging. The residents find it hard to endure the imposed isolation and some tend to leave after a few hours. Many migrants and asylum seekers are afraid of each other, especially since they need to stay in rooms with many people they do not know – different nationalities, with different languages and cultural differences! Hygiene keeps being a major issue: in Blažuj there is running water, but there is no laundry service, for example. Also, the residents still lack hygiene products like soap, shampoo and toothpaste, which in the current situation are very precious.

    The number of persons currently accommodated in Blažuj camp is very high; in fact, it is not even clear how many there are exactly. These people are not allowed to leave the camp, despite that there isn’t enough food for everybody. Even if they could leave, shops in the village display signs saying migrants are not welcome as customers, even if they have money.

    Living in squats
    Migrants who do not want or cannot go to the camps are living in squats. Only those who are not aware of the lock-down or who are desperate for money come out and risk to be taken to a camp. The people living in these squats are hungry and cold; yet, they manage to maintain a positive attitude: the memory of the long journeys they had to travel are enough to keep them hopeful now. But they need more help. Caritas receives many calls for assistance from them. Some of them are desperate for food or other basic necessities. We know that we cannot respond to all this by ourselves, so we try our best to join forces with other local partners to exchange information and find solutions where we can. We simply cannot accept to see people going hungry in the 21st Century. The migrants in squats live in extremely poor conditions, without water nor electricity. Most of the squats are located in ruined, abandoned houses without windows and with living spaces as tiny as broom closets. One such squat is a shelter hosting 40 young men; some lucky ones have tents to stay in.

    The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the daily lives of all people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But, it is those most vulnerable who are the most highly impacted, and migrants and refugees are for sure among them.

    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Tuzla #Sarajevo #Blažuj #Camp #Squat

  • Post MiGreat / AidBrigade


    As pretty much everywhere in Europe, Bosnia is alllll about Corona at the moment. Although the first confirmed cases were Bosnian people who had visited Italy, politicians and media are unafraid to blame the Middle-Eastern migrants for bringing the disease into Bosnia. This has led to a few radical measures, good and bad.

    Within a few days, capacity for Blazuj camp increased with 1000 beds. What we have advocated for for 2 years in Bosnia finally happened. Space was made available, not just for families but also for the single men and boys. But people were not given any choice - hostels, squats and ruins were raided and 400 people were forced to Blazuj by the police.

    Migrants are blamed for spreading the virus and are thus banned from public spaces, public transport, shops and supermarkets, just for being darker skinned. Police hunts down on migrants and violently drops them off at the camp gate. The camp is full once again, thus the refugees are not allowed to enter and forced to walk back to Sarajevo, from where the vicious cycle will start again.

    Providing aid on the streets has never been this hard, but people on the move are still hungry, cold and sick - now more than ever as they can’t work, beg or visit a supermarket. But the volunteers keep going: they deliver food packs, medical supplies and clothes on the doorsteps of ruined squats. We are incredibly proud to support them and their contactless, Corona proof ’ninja distributions’. With gloves, face masks and strict safety measures, homeless refugees can still get survival packs safely.

    Corona is not about fearing foreigners or blaming people for the colour of their skin. The smartest and most humane thing to do is to provide proper, safe shelter to all: old, young, homeless, black or white. Let’s use this crisis to unite, protect the vulnerable and leave no one behind.

    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Blazuj #camp #Sarajevo