#bosnie-herzégovine

  • “VivaBiH”: vegani in Bosnia Erzegovina
    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Bosnia-Erzegovina/VivaBiH-vegani-in-Bosnia-Erzegovina-213091

    “VivaBiH” è la prima organizzazione che si batte per i diritti degli animali registrata in Bosnia Erzegovina. Dal 2016, attraverso progetti e campagne mediatiche, persegue la completa abolizione dei sistemi che sfruttano tutti gli animali, promuovendo il veganismo. Un’intervista

  • Ces exilés afghans qui décident de #rester en #Bosnie-Herzégovine

    Quand il a quitté son pays il y a presque six ans, Shafiullah n’imaginait pas se retrouver un jour à Bihać, en Bosnie-Herzégovine. « Enfant, je rêvais de devenir pilote », se souvient-il en souriant. « Mais pour faire plaisir à mon père j’ai étudié le droit. » Quand celui-ci est mort, tué par une bombe dans la rue, Shafiullah a interrompu ses études. À cette époque, sa ville natale, Kunduz, tombait progressivement sous l’emprise des Talibans, dans un climat de terreur et de chaos. « Ma mère a insisté pour que je parte car elle ne voulait pas me perdre. »

    Shafiullah a donc quitté le pays illégalement en passant par l’Iran puis la Turquie. « Mon seul souhait à ce moment-là était de trouver la paix, la sécurité, peu importe où. Je n’imaginais pas que je ne la reverrai pas. » En arrivant en Turquie, le jeune homme entreprend des démarches pour demander l’asile. Mais avec 3,6 millions de réfugiés, dont beaucoup venus de Syrie, le pays est saturé et difficile pour un jeune homme afghan d’espérer obtenir le précieux sésame. Pendant trois ans, Shaffiulah y a donc vécu sans papiers, enchaînant les petits boulots dans les secteurs de la construction ou du tourisme, parfois payé, parfois non. « Je ne pouvais jamais me plaindre sous peine d’être reconduit à la frontière ou de devoir payer une lourde amende », explique-t-il.

    DES ANNÉES D’ERRANCE

    Lassé, il a repris la route en direction cette fois de la Grèce, dans le camp de réfugiés de Moria, où la situation était encore pire qu’en Turquie. En remontant par la Macédoine du Nord, Shaffiulah s’est retrouvé bloqué près de la frontière serbe. Pendant quinze jours, il a fait « le game », marchant dans la forêt pour tenter de traverser la frontière serbe, sans cesse traqué et repoussé par les policiers. « À ce moment-là, je n’avais que 13 euros en poche, un téléphone et un sac de couchage. J’avais faim et soif. C’était très dur. »

    Dans son #errance, il a fini par rencontrer un Macédonien qui aidait les migrants à traverser et l’a imploré de l’emmener. Avec d’autres Afghans et Pakistanais, ils ont rejoint Belgrade, puis Tuzla en Bosnie-Herzégovine. Sans argent, blessé à la jambe, le jeune homme a fini son périple en bus grâce à l’aide d’autres voyageurs jusqu’à Bihać, tout près de la frontière avec l’Union européenne. « La police croate est vraiment la pire. Chaque fois que vous avez un téléphone, ils le cassent devant vous et vous battent, prennent vos chaussures, votre argent, brûlent votre sac et vos affaires », explique-t-il. Un témoignage qui ressemble à celui de nombreux autres réfugiés.

    Dans le canton d’Una Sana, saturé d’exilés depuis la fin 2017, le racisme est omniprésent. Dans les supermarchés, les magasins, les gens le dévisagent et lui demandent souvent de sortir. Dans la rue, des automobilistes lui font des doigts d’honneur. Après huit tentatives de traversée à pied et aucun argent pour payer un passage sécurisé auprès des trafiquants - dont le tarif se chiffre en milliers d’euros -, Shaffiulah s’est résigné à aller dans le camp de Bira, en périphérie de Bihać. « Tout ce que je voulais, c’était arrêter de marcher, retrouver un peu d’espoir, un semblant de sérénité. » Au total, il est resté là-bas un an et demi, dont neuf mois de pandémie. « Le camp était fermé, les migrants à l’intérieur se sentaient en prison. J’ai cru perdre la raison, mais je n’ai jamais perdu espoir, convaincu que quelque chose finirait par arriver. »

    En attendant, Shaffiulah a participé à de nombreuses activités organisées par les associations à l’intérieur du camp et a entrepris les démarches pour demander l’asile, aidé par l’association Vasa prava. « Certaines entreprises voulaient m’embaucher comme guide touristique parce que je parle beaucoup de langues. Mais sans visa, impossible de travailler. » Quand Bira a fermé en octobre 2020, sous la pression des habitants et des autorités locales, Shaffiulah a saisi sa chance en demandant à être transféré à Sarajevo. Là-bas, il avait des contacts qui pourraient peut-être l’aider à déposer sa demande d’asile.

    UNE PRÉCIEUSE CARTE JAUNE

    C’est à Sarajevo que Shaffiulah a appris la mort de sa mère, décédée d’un problème cardiaque. « Elle avait dû se remarier à mon oncle pour pouvoir continuer à vivre », souffle-t-il : en Afghanistan, une femme seule n’a aucun droit. Avec la prise du pouvoir par les Talibans, la situation risque encore de s’aggraver. « Ici, tous les Afghans diront la même chose : les Talibans nous ont tout pris. »

    Dans le camp D’Ušivak, il a participé à un concours de photo avec d’autres migrants. L’organisateur de l’atelier a voulu l’aider en lui louant une chambre dans son appartement. Un précieux sésame, indispensable pour obtenir un visa. « Je suis très reconnaissant envers cette personne qui est venue avec moi faire les démarches d’enregistrement. Cela m’a permis de démarrer la procédure. » Après plusieurs mois d’attente, le demandeur d’asile a reçu la précieuse #carte_jaune, signifiant que sa demande était prise en compte. « Je n’ai pas encore obtenu l’asile, mais au moins, j’ai pu commencer à travailler comme interprète, traducteur ou guide pour plusieurs ONG. »

    Depuis six mois, il est retourné vivre à BIhać. Il partage un appartement avec un collègue bosnien et travaille comme interprète dans les camps avec les équipes de Médecins du monde qui œuvrent à apporter un soutien mental et psychologique aux migrants. « J’aime beaucoup mon travail », confie-t-il. « Il y a une bonne atmosphère. C’est l’endroit où je me sens le mieux, sur le terrain, utile auprès de gens qui sourient même si leur situation est mauvaise. Eux aussi subissent de violents refoulements. Ils reviennent avec le nez ou les jambes cassés. » Shaffiulah espère à terme obtenir le statut de réfugié et pouvoir reprendre ses études, en Bosnie-Herzégovine ou ailleurs.

    Depuis la fin 2017, plus de 80 000 exilés sont passés par la Bosnie-Herzégovine, dont 11 000 en 2021, un nombre à peu près équivalent à celui de l’an dernier sur la même période. À peine 3 sur 1000 ont déposé une demande d’asile. Fin août, l’UNHCR comptabilisait 187 procédures en cours, 124 demandes de dépôt, et sur les 56 réfugiés du pays, à peine cinq ne sont pas originaires de l’ancienne Yougoslavie. Aujourd’hui, la plupart des demandeurs sont des hommes majeurs originaires de Turquie, d’Afghanistan, d’Iran ou du Pakistan.

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Ces-exiles-afghans-qui-decident-de-rester-en-Bosnie-Herzegovine

    #Balkans

  • #Refoulements_en_chaîne depuis l’#Autriche (2021)

    In a recent finding, the Styria Regional Administrative Court in Graz ruled that pushbacks are “partially methodically applied” in Austria, and that in the process, the 21-year-old complainant was subject to degrading treatment, violating his human dignity. The ruling further shed light on the practices of chain pushbacks happening from Italy and Austria, through Slovenia and Croatia, to BiH. The last chain pushback from Austria all the way to BiH was recorded by PRAB partners in early April 2021, while in 2020, 20 persons reported experiencing chain pushbacks from Austria and an additional 76 from Italy.

    Source: rapport “#Doors_Wide_Shut – Quarterly report on push-backs on the Western Balkan Route” (juin 2021)

    #push-backs #refoulements #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #Slovénie #Croatie #frontière_sud-alpine #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Alpes

    • MEPs slam Slovenian Presidency for their role in chain-pushbacks

      In the first week of September (2. 8. 2021), MEPs in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs confronted Slovenian Interior Minister Aleš Hojs as he presented the priorities for Slovenian presidency of the Council of the European Union in Brussels. With evidence provided by BVMN and network members InfoKolpa and Are You Syrious, representatives of The Left in the European Parliament took the Presidency to task for its systemic policy of chain-pushbacks and flagrant abuse of the rule of law. Members also shamed the Slovenian Ministry of Interior for continuing to ignore a Supreme Court ruling which established Slovenia had violated the rights of a Cameroonian plaintiff and are obligated to allow him access to the Slovenian asylum system and to stop returning people to Croatia as there is overwhelming evidence of chain-refoulement and degrading treatment often amounting to tortute.

      Presenting the evidence

      Malin Björk, whose fact-finding trip to Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia was facilitated by Are You Syrious and Infokolpa, then handed over the Black Book of Pushbacks to Minister Hojs, a dossier of cases recorded by the Border Violence Monitoring Network which collates pushback violations from across the Balkans since 2017. The book has a concerningly large section on Slovenian chain pushbacks, sharing the voices of 1266 people documented by BVMN who had either been chain pushed back (via Croatia) to Bosnia-Herzegovina or Serbia. The cases speak of systemic gatekeeping of asylum, misuse of translation, the registering of minors as adults, and fast-tracked returns to Croatian police who would then carry out brutal pushbacks. All point to a high level of complicity by the Slovenian authorities in the brutalisation of people-on-the-move, a fact reinforced by the April ruling of the Slovenian Supreme Court.

      Yet this first hand evidence is in reality just the tip of the iceberg, and a recent open letter on the matter revealed how according to officially available data, over 27,000 returns of potential asylum seekers were carried out by Slovenian authorities in the recent years, resulting in chain refoulement via Croatia to non-EU countries such as Bosnia-Herzegovina.

      “I expect you as a responsible Minister, not only for your country, but for the EU Presidency to take part of this document and tell us what you will do to stop the illegality, impunity and the brutality.”

      More weak denials

      Interior Minister Hojs doubled down on his stance that Slovenia was managing its borders according to the Rule of Law, even despite his own national court ruling the complete opposite. In an unsurprising move, reminiscent of many Interior Ministers across the EU, Hojs levied accusations of fake news and dismissed the Black Book set before him as a fabrication. Referring to his short attempt to actually look at the evidence presented in the book Hojs stated: “How many lies can be concentrated on one half page, I immediately closed the book and did not touch it again”. With the Minister unwilling to leaf through the 244 pages dedicated to crimes carried out by Slovenia, the network welcome him to view the visual reconstruction of a pushback published last year which vividly captured the experience of those denied asylum access in Slovenia and then brutalised while being collectively expelled from Croatia.

      “I have read the Black Book already in parliament and have seen what they write about me and the Slovenian police. All lies.”

      – Minister Hojs Speaking to Slovenian TV

      The fact is that Minister Hojs is personally not mentioned in the Black Book, though his actions are documented on countless pages, implies that someone is indeed lying. Court judgements, the testimony of thousands of pushback victims, and hard video evidence all highlight the fragility of the Slovenian government’s “fake news” line. While already deeply concerning at a national level, the fact that this administration is also spearheading the EU Presidency shows the extent to which perpetrators of pushbacks have been enabled and empowered at the highest level in Brussels. As a recent webinar event hosted by InfoKolpa and BVMN asked: Can a country responsible for mass violations of Human Rights be an honest broker in the preparations of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum? Until the ruling by the Supreme Court is implemented and people-on-the-move have their mandated right to request asylum in Slovenia, this question will continue to be answered firmly with a “no”.

      Today, our MEPs talked to @aleshojs 🇸🇮 Minister of Home Affairs about the thousands of men, women and children who have been denied over the past years the right to seek asylum in Slovenia, and forcefully handed over to Croatian. @Border_Violence #StopPushbacks pic.twitter.com/XvNLvoCLhY

      — The Left in the European Parliament (@Left_EU) September 2, 2021

      MEP statement

      “I was in Velika Kladusa in Bosnia, I was astonished to meet many migrants and refugees that had been to Slovenia, but they had been told that the right to seek asylum did not exist in you country. One of the persons that I met there was from Cameroon and had escaped political persecution. Once he thought he was in safety in Slovenia he called the police himself to ask to be able to claim asylum. Instead he was as so many others, as thousand of others, handed over to the Croatian police who brutalised him and sent him back to Bosnia.

      This case is a little bit special, compared to the many thousands of others, because on 9th April this year the Slovenian Supreme Court itself ruled that Slovenian police had violated the principle of non-refoulement, the prohibition of collective expulsion and denied the him the right to seek international protection.

      You (Minister Hojs) have had meetings with Commissioner Johansson and you have said you will stand up for the right to seek asylum for asylum seekers. Now your own court has found that you fail in this case. So my questions are: Will you stand by your words and provide a humanitarian visa for this person so that he can come back to Slovenia to apply for asylum as he was supposed to have been granted two years ago? And the second is more structural of course, how will you ensure that people have the right to apply for asylum in Slovenia, that they are not brutally pushed back to Croatian police, who are then illegally pushing them back to Bosnia in a kind of chain pushback situation which is a shame, a shame, at European borders?”

      – Malin Björk MEP

      The case referred to is part of strategic litigation efforts led by network member InfoKolpa, which resulted in a landmark judgement issued on 16 July 2020 by the Slovenian Administrative Court. The findings prove that the Slovenian police force in August 2019 carried out an illegal collective expulsion of a member of a persecuted English-speaking minority from Cameroon who wanted to apply for asylum in the country. The verdict was confirmed on 9th April 2021 by the Slovenian Supreme Court, which ruled the following: the Slovenian police violated the principle of non-refoulement, the prohibition of collective expulsions and denied the asylum seeker access to the right to international protection. The state was ordered to ensure that the plaintiff is allowed to re-enter the country and ask for international protection, but no effort has been made by the authorities to respect the ruling of the court. The case is thus another confirmation of the Slovenian misconduct that persistently undermines the foundations of the rule of law, specifically international refugee law and international human rights law.

      We fear for Slovenia.

      https://www.borderviolence.eu/meps-slam-slovenian-presidency-for-their-role-in-chain-pushbacks

    • Briefly reviewing the topic of pushbacks at European borders, it is important to report on the case of a young refugee from Somalia who was prevented from seeking asylum in Austria and was expulsed, or more precisely, pushed back to Slovenia, contrary to international and European law. His case will soon be reviewed at the Provincial Administrative Court of Styria (https://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/migrant-tuzio-austriju-slucaj-bi-mogao-imati-posljedice-i-za-hrvatsku-policiju/2302310.aspx), and if he wins the case, it will be the second verdict that indicates systematic and sometimes chained pushbacks of refugees through Austria, Slovenia, and thus Croatia all the way to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

      Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, du 16.09.2021

  • #Doors_Wide_Shut – Quarterly report on push-backs on the Western Balkan Route

    As part of the #Protecting_Rights_at_Borders initiative funded by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), the second quarterly report on unlawful push-backs carried out by authorities in Greece, North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, and Italy was published: https://helsinki.hu/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/07/PRAB-Report-April-to-June-2021.pdf

    A key finding is that the informal cooperation between states has prevented thousands of women, men and children from seeking protection in Europe this year, in often extremely violent and humiliating ways. Rights violations at borders are not an isolated issue. There is an overall trend, a so–called race to the bottom, with regards to respect for the fundamental rights of migrants, asylum–seekers and refugees. While governments deliberately do not respect and often directly violate migrants’, refugees’, and asylum seekers’ rights under human rights law, humanitarian organizations are often prevented from providing assistance in line with their humanitarian mandates.

    Country chapters were written by Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione (ASGI), Diaconia Valdese (DV) and Danish Refugee Council (DRC) regarding Italy; the Hungarian Helsinki Committee regarding Hungary; DRC BiH for Bosnia-Herzegovina; Humanitarian Center for Integration and Tolerance (HCIT) regarding Serbia; Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA) regarding North-Macedonia, and the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and DRC Greece regarding Greece.

    The previous quarterly report is also available here: https://helsinki.hu/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/05/prab-report-january-may-2021-_final_10052021.pdf

    https://helsinki.hu/en/doors-wide-shut-quarterly-report-on-push-backs-on-the-western-balkan-route

    Dans le rapport on trouve une carte avec le nombre de refoulements entre janvier et juin 2021 :

    #push-backs #refoulements #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Grèce #Macédoine_du_Nord #Serbie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Hongrie #Italie
    #rapport

  • Mystery plans to redraw Balkan borders alarm leaders

    “Changing borders would mean opening Pandora’s box,” says Valentin Inzko.

    As international High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina his job is to keep the peace, which has endured since the Dayton Peace Agreement brought conflict to an end in 1995, after almost four years of fighting that cost around 100,000 lives.

    The cause of his consternation was a pair of unofficial documents suggesting some of the borders in the Balkans should be redrawn. The so-called #non-papers made the rounds in diplomatic circles, before being picked up by media in the Western Balkans.

    As far as Bosnia is concerned, its high representative is not about to entertain suggestions that the answer to its ongoing dysfunctionality would be to redraw its national boundaries.

    “If somebody likes to think about changing borders, he should first visit all military graves from France to Stalingrad,” he warns.

    The documents did not carry an author’s name. That’s in keeping with the unofficial nature of a non-paper, but the contents caused outrage across the region.

    Among their suggestions were:

    - A “peaceful dissolution” of Bosnia-Herzegovina, with Serbia and Croatia annexing much of its territory
    - Unification of Kosovo and Albania
    - The creation of an autonomous, majority ethnic-Serb region in northern Kosovo.

    It reads very much like an ethno-nationalist wish-list from the 1990s. And everyone remembers how that unfolded at the time.

    “People are worried. One of my employees was crying, she was really worried about these maps”
    Valentin Inzko, High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    “We are making a mistake if we think that frozen conflicts remain frozen forever,” says Mr Inzko. “You have seen in Nagorno-Karabakh and Palestine - frozen conflicts can break out at any time. This could also be the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

    The non-papers affair has turned into a diplomatic whodunnit.

    Few people have had anything to say in support of the ideas they contain - except Bosnia’s senior ethnic-Serb politician, Milorad Dodik, who never misses a chance to push the idea of secession for the country’s majority ethnic-Serb region. Under the Dayton accords, the country was divided into a Bosniak-Croat Federation and Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Srpska).

    - The town where neighbours won’t share a coffee
    - Land swap could bridge divide for Serbia and Kosovo
    - Capturing the Balkans 25 years after peace deal
    - Bosnia-Herzegovina: Country profile

    But the non-papers may not be the work of self-serving ultranationalists. Slovenia had to fight off suggestions that it was circulating the first document. And media in Kosovo described the second non-paper as a “Franco-German” proposal.

    James Ker-Lindsay, a Balkans expert at the London School of Economics, says “blue-sky thinking” is one way for European leaders to tackle the region’s seemingly intractable issues.

    “We can’t deny there are problems in the Western Balkans. There are two significant issues which have got to be resolved: the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo over Kosovo’s independence - and the deep-seated political dysfunctionality that exists in Bosnia.”

    “This has vexed policymakers for the last 15 years in both cases. So the idea that we would be looking at trying to come up with new approaches to this isn’t particularly unusual”
    James Ker-Lindsay, Balkans expert, LSE

    Nonetheless, Slovenia attempted to consign the non-papers to the waste bin at a meeting of regional leaders it hosted earlier this month. It proposed a declaration affirming the inviolability of current borders.

    But Serbia refused. President Aleksandar Vucic said his country recognised “the borders determined by the UN charter”. In other words, he was not about to sign a document that could be construed as recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

    After meeting Mr Vucic in Slovenia, Kosovo’s president, Vjosa Osmani, told the BBC that she was convinced Belgrade was behind the non-papers.

    “I had no doubts from the very beginning - it’s enough to just read the contents and to see what these non-papers try to push forward. The idea of border redrawing as something that could achieve peace in the region, when in fact it’s the opposite.”

    “If there is one thing the entire political spectrum in #Kosovo agrees on, it’s that border redrawing is completely unacceptable”
    Vjosa Osmani, Kosovo president

    Naturally, Serbia denies all knowledge and James Ker-Lindsay notes that there are “all sorts of confusion and conspiracy theories kicking in”.

    But with the end of his 12-year stint as high representative approaching, Valentin Inzko simply wants everyone to accept the borders as they are and focus on eventually coming together in the European Union.

    “The better idea would be to follow the example of Tyrol - one part is in Italy, another in Austria. But it is one region, with four freedoms and one currency.”

    But EU membership for Western Balkans countries will remain out of reach for years. And that means many more non-papers, whether mischievous or constructive, are bound to be written.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-57251677
    #projet #frontières #Balkans #cartes #différents_frontaliers #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Croatie #Serbie #Albanie #conflits #Milorad_Dodik #Republika_Srpska #République_serbe_de_Bosnie #nationalisme #paix

    ping @reka

  • The fortified gates of the Balkans. How non-EU member states are incorporated into fortress Europe.

    Marko Gašperlin, a Slovenian police officer, began his first mandate as chair of the Management Board of Frontex in spring 2016. Less than two months earlier, then Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar had gone to North Macedonia to convey the message from the EU that the migration route through the Balkans — the so-called Balkan route — was about to close.

    “North Macedonia was the first country ready to cooperate [with Frontex] to stop the stampede we had in 2015 across the Western Balkans,” Gašperlin told K2.0 during an interview conducted at the police headquarters in Ljubljana in September 2020.

    “Stampede” refers to over 1 million people who entered the European Union in 2015 and early 2016 in search of asylum, the majority traveling along the Balkan route. Most of them were from Syria, but also some other countries of the global South where human rights are a vague concept.

    According to Gašperlin, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s primary interest at the EU’s external borders is controlling the movement of people who he describes as “illegals.”

    Given numerous allegations by human rights organizations, Frontex could itself be part of illegal activity as part of the push-back chain removing people from EU territory before they have had the opportunity to assert their right to claim asylum.

    In March 2016, the EU made a deal with Turkey to stop the flow of people toward Europe, and Frontex became even more active in the Aegean Sea. Only four years later, at the end of 2020, Gašperlin established a Frontex working group to look into allegations of human rights violations by its officers. So far, no misconduct has been acknowledged. The final internal Frontex report is due at the end of February.

    After allegations were made public during the summer and fall of 2020, some members of the European Parliament called for Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri to step down, while the European Ombudsman also announced an inquiry into the effectiveness of the Agency’s complaints mechanism as well as its management.

    A European Parliament Frontex Scrutiny Working Group was also established to conduct its own inquiry, looking into “compliance and respect for fundamental rights” as well as internal management, and transparency and accountability. It formally began work this week (February 23) with its fact-finding investigation expected to last four months.

    2021 started with more allegations and revelations.

    In January 2021 the EU anti-fraud office, OLAF, confirmed it is leading an investigation over allegations of harassment and misconduct inside Frontex, and push-backs conducted at the EU’s borders.

    Similar accusations of human rights violations related to Frontex have been accumulating for years. In 2011, Human Rights Watch issued a report titled “The EU’s Dirty Hands” that documented the ill-treatment of migrant detainees in Greece.

    Various human rights organizations and media have also long reported about Frontex helping the Libyan Coast Guard to locate and pull back people trying to escape toward Europe. After being pulled back, people are held in notorious detention camps, which operate with the support of the EU.

    Nonetheless, EU leaders are not giving up on the idea of expanding the Frontex mission, making deals with governments of non-member states in the Balkans to participate in their efforts to stop migration.

    Currently, the Frontex plan is to deploy up to 10,000 border guards at the EU external borders by 2027.

    Policing Europe

    Frontex, with its headquarters in Poland, was established in 2004, but it remained relatively low key for the first decade of its existence. This changed in 2015 when, in order to better control Europe’s visa-free Schengen area, the European Commission (EC) extended the Agency’s mandate as it aimed to turn Frontex into a fully-fledged European Border and Coastguard Agency. Officially, they began operating in this role in October 2016, at the Bulgarian border with Turkey.

    In recent years, the territory they cover has been expanding, framed as cooperation with neighboring countries, with the main goal “to ensure implementation of the European integrated border management.”

    The budget allocated for their work has also grown massively, from about 6 million euros in 2005, to 460 million euros in 2020. According to existing plans, the Agency is set to grow still further and by 2027 up to 5.6 billion euros is expected to have been spent on Frontex.

    As one of the main migration routes into Europe the Balkans has become the key region for Frontex. Close cooperation with authorities in the region has been growing since 2016, particularly through the “Regional Support to Protection-Sensitive Migration Management in the Western Balkans and Turkey” project: https://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Partners/Third_countries/IPA_II_Phase_II.pdf.

    In order to increase its powers in the field, Frontex has promoted “status agreements” with the countries in the region, while the EC, through its Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) fund, has dedicated 3.4 million euros over the two-year 2019-21 period for strengthening borders.

    The first Balkan state to upgrade its cooperation agreement with Frontex to a status agreement was Albania in 2018; joint police operations at its southern border with Greece began in spring 2019. According to the agreement, Frontex is allowed to conduct full border police duties on the non-EU territory.

    Frontex’s status agreement with Albania was followed by a similar agreement with Montenegro that has been in force since July 2020.

    The signing of a status agreement with North Macedonia was blocked by Bulgaria in October 2020, while the agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina requires further approvals and the one with Serbia is awaiting ratification by the parliament in Belgrade.

    “The current legal framework is the consequence of the situation in the years from 2014 to 2016,” Gašperlin said.

    He added that he regretted that the possibility to cooperate with non-EU states in returns of “illegals” had subsequently been dropped from the Frontex mandate after an intervention by EU parliamentarians. In 2019, a number of changes were made to how Frontex functions including removing the power to “launch return interventions in third countries” due to the fact that many of these countries have a poor record when it comes to rule of law and respect of human rights.

    “This means, if we are concrete, that the illegals who are in BiH — the EU can pay for their accommodation, Frontex can help only a little with the current tools it has, while when it comes to returns, Frontex cannot do anything,” Gašperlin said.

    Fortification of the borders

    The steady introduction of status agreements is intended to replace and upgrade existing police cooperation deals that are already in place with non-EU states.

    Over the years, EU member states have established various bilateral agreements with countries around the world, including some in the Balkan region. Further agreements have been negotiated by the EU itself, with Frontex listing 20 “working arrangements” with different non-member states on its website.

    Based on existing Frontex working arrangements, exchange of information and “consultancy” visits by Frontex officials — which also include work at border crossings — are already practiced widely across the Balkan-EU borders.

    The new status agreements allow Frontex officers to guard the borders and perform police tasks on the territory of the country with which the agreement is signed, while this country’s national courts do not have jurisdiction over the Frontex personnel.

    Comparing bilateral agreements to status agreements, Marko Gašperlin explained that, with Frontex taking over certain duties, individual EU states will be able to avoid the administrative and financial burdens of “bilateral solidarity.”

    Radoš Đurović, director of the NGO Asylum Protection Centre (APC) which works with migrants in Serbia, questions whether Frontex’s presence in the region will bring better control over violations and fears that if past acts of alleged violence are used it could make matters worse.

    “The EU’s aim is to increase border control and reduce the number of people who legally or illegally cross,” Đurović says in a phone interview for K2.0. “We know that violence does not stop the crossings. It only increases the violence people experience.”

    Similarly, Jasmin Redžepi from the Skopje-based NGO Legis, argues that the current EU focus on policing its borders only entraps people in the region.

    “This causes more problems, suffering and death,” he says. “People are forced to turn to criminals in search of help. The current police actions are empowering criminals and organized crime.”

    Redžepi believes the region is currently acting as some kind of human filter for the EU.

    “From the security standpoint this is solidarity with local authorities. But in the field, it prevents greater numbers of refugees from moving toward central Europe,” Redžepi says.

    “They get temporarily stuck. The EU calls it regulation but they only postpone their arrival in the EU and increase the violations of human rights, European law and international law. In the end people cross, just more simply die along the way.”

    EU accused of externalizing issues

    For the EU, it was a shifting pattern of migratory journeys that signified the moment to start increasing its border security around the region by strengthening its cooperation with individual states.

    The overland Balkan route toward Western Europe has always been used by people on the move. But it has become even more frequented in recent years as changing approaches to border policing and rescue restrictions in the Central Mediterranean have made crossings by sea even more deadly.

    For the regional countries, each at a different stage of a still distant promise of EU membership, partnering with Frontex comes with the obvious incentive of demonstrating their commitment to the bloc.

    “When regional authorities work to stop people crossing towards the EU, they hope to get extra benefits elsewhere,” says APC Serbia’s Radoš Đurovic.

    There are also other potential perks. Jasmin Redžepi from Legis explains that police from EU states often leave behind equipment for under-equipped local forces.

    But there has also been significant criticism of the EU’s approach in both the Balkans and elsewhere, with many accusing it of attempting to externalize its borders and avoid accountability by pushing difficult issues elsewhere.

    According to research by Violeta Moreno-Lax and Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, who have analyzed the consequences of the EU’s approach to border management, the bloc’s actions amount to a “dispersion of legal duties” that is not “ethically and legally tenable under international law.”

    One of the results, the researchers found, is that “repressive forces” in third countries gain standing as valid interlocutors for cooperation and democratic and human rights credentials become “secondary, if at all relevant.”

    APC’s Radoš Đurović agrees, suggesting that we are entering a situation where the power of the law and international norms that prevent illegal use of force are, in effect, limited.

    “Europe may not have enough power to influence the situations in places further away that push migration, but it can influence its border regions,” he says. “The changes we see forced onto the states are problematic — from push-backs to violence.”

    Playing by whose rules?

    One of the particular anomalies seen with the status agreements is that Albanian police are now being accompanied by Frontex forces to better control their southern border at the same time as many of Albania’s own citizens are themselves attempting to reach the EU in irregular ways.

    Asked about this apparent paradox, Marko Gašperlin said he did “not remember any Albanians among the illegals.”

    However, Frontex’s risk analysis for 2020, puts Albania in the top four countries for whose citizens return orders were issued in the preceding two years and second in terms of returns effectively carried out. Eurostat data for 2018 and 2019 also puts Albania in 11th place among countries from which first time asylum seekers come, before Somalia and Bangladesh and well ahead of Morocco and Algeria.

    While many of these Albanian citizens may have entered EU countries via regular means before being subject to return orders for reasons such as breaching visa conditions, people on the move from Albania are often encountered along the Balkan route, according to activists working in the field.

    Meanwhile, other migrants have complained of being subjected to illegal push-backs at Albania’s border with Greece, though there is a lack of monitoring in this area and these claims remain unverified.

    In Serbia, the KlikAktiv Center for Development of Social Policies has analyzed Belgrade’s pending status agreement for Frontex operations.

    It warns that increasing the presence of armed police, from a Frontex force that has allegedly been involved in violence and abuses of power, is a recipe for disaster, especially when they will have immunity from local criminal and civil jurisdiction.

    It also flags that changes in legislation will enable the integration of data systems and rapid deportations without proper safeguards in place.

    Police activities to secure borders greatly depend on — and supply data to — EU information technology systems. But EU law provides fewer protections for data processing of foreign nationals than for that of EU citizens, effectively creating segregation in terms of data protection.

    The EU Fundamental Rights Agency has warned that the establishment of a more invasive system for non-EU nationals could potentially lead to increased discrimination and skew data that could further “fuel existing misperceptions that there is a link between asylum-seekers, migration and crime.”

    A question of standards

    Frontex emphasizes that there are codified safeguards and existing internal appeal mechanisms.

    According to the status agreements, violations of fundamental rights such as data protection rules or the principle of non-refoulement — which prohibits the forcible return of individuals to countries where they face danger through push-backs or other means — are all reasons for either party to suspend or terminate their cooperation.

    In January, Frontex itself suspended its mission in Hungary after the EU member state failed to abide by an EU Court of Justice decision. In December 2020, the court found that Hungarian border enforcement was in violation of EU law by restricting access to its asylum system and for carrying out illegal push-backs into Serbia.

    Marko Gašperlin claimed that Frontex’s presence improved professional police standards wherever it operated.

    However, claims of raising standards have been questioned by human rights researchers and activists.

    Jasmin Redžepi recounts that the first complaint against a foreign police officer that his NGO Legis filed with North Macedonian authorities and international organizations was against a Slovenian police officer posted through bilateral agreement; the complaint related to allegations of unprofessional conduct toward migrants.

    “Presently, people cross illegally and the police push them back illegally,” Redžepi says. “They should be able to ask for asylum but cannot as police push people across borders.”

    Gašperlin told K2.0 that it is natural that there will be a variation of standards between police from different countries.

    In its recruitment efforts, Frontex has sought to enlist police officers or people with a customs or army background. According to Gašperlin, recruits have been disproportionately from Romania and Italy, while fewer have been police officers from northern member states “where standards and wages are better.”

    “It would be illusory to expect that all of the EU would rise up to the level of respect for human rights and to the high standards of Sweden,” he said. “There also has not been a case of the EU throwing a member out, although there have been examples of human rights violations, of different kinds.”

    ‘Monitoring from the air’

    One of the EU member states whose own police have been accused of serious human rights violations against refugees and migrants, including torture, is Croatia.

    Despite the allegations, in January 2020, Croatia’s Ministry of the Interior Police Academy was chosen to lead the first Frontex-financed training session for attendees from police forces across the Balkan route region.

    Frontex currently has a presence in Croatia, at the EU border area with Bosnia and Herzegovina, amongst other places.

    Asked about the numerous reports from international NGOs and collectives, as well as from the national Ombudsman Lora Vidović and the Council of Europe, of mass human rights violations at the Croatian borders, Gašperlin declined to engage.

    “Frontex helps Croatia with monitoring from the air,” he said. “That is all.”

    Gašperlin said that the role of his agency is only to notify Croatia when people are detected approaching the border from Bosnia. Asked if Frontex also monitors what happens to people once Croatian police find them, given continuously worsening allegations, he said: “From the air this might be difficult. I do not know if a plane from the air can monitor that.”

    Pressed further, he declined to comment.

    To claim ignorance is, however, becoming increasingly difficult. A recent statement on the state of the EU’s borders by UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, notes: “The pushbacks [at Europe’s borders] are carried out in a violent and apparently systematic way.”

    Radoš Đurović from APC Serbia pointed out that Frontex must know about the alleged violations.

    “The question is: Do they want to investigate and prevent them?” he says. “All those present in the field know about the violence and who perpetrates it.”

    Warnings that strict and violent EU border policies are increasing the sophistication and brutality of smugglers, while technological “solutions” and militarization come with vested interests and more potential human rights violations, do not seem to worry the head of Frontex’s Management Board.

    “If passage from Turkey to Germany is too expensive, people will not decide to go,” said Gašperlin, describing the job done by Frontex:

    “We do the work we do. So people cannot simply come here, sit and say — here I am, now take me to Germany, as some might want. Or — here I am, I’m asking for asylum, now take me to Postojna or Ljubljana, where I will get fed, cared for, and then I’ll sit on the bus and ride to Munich where I’ll again ask for asylum. This would be a minimal price.”

    Human rights advocates in the region such as Jasmin Redžepi have no illusions that what they face on the ground reflects the needs and aims of the EU.

    “We are only a bridge,” Redžepi says. “The least the EU should do is take care that its policies do not turn the region into a cradle for criminals and organized crime. We need legal, regular passages and procedures for people to apply for asylum, not illegal, violent push-backs.

    “If we talk about security we cannot talk exclusively about the security of borders. We have to talk about the security of people as well.”

    https://kosovotwopointzero.com/en/the-fortified-gates-of-the-balkans

    #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #externalisation #frontex #Macédoine_du_Nord #contrôles_frontaliers #militarisation_des_frontières #push-backs #refoulements #refoulements_en_chaîne #frontières_extérieures #Regional_Support_to_Protection-Sensitive_Migration_Management_in_the_Western_Balkans_and_Turkey #Instrument_for_Pre-Accession (#IPA) #budget #Albanie #Monténégro #Serbie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #accords_bilatéraux

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste sur l’externalisation des frontières :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749
    Et plus particulièrement ici :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/731749#message782649

    ping @isskein @karine4

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


    https://twitter.com/SeebrueckeFfm/status/1347627466026790912
    #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) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/851143#message892911

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Detention instead of asylum

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

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

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

    Pushbacks by Frontex?

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

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

    Frontex rejects allegations

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

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

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

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

    Border protection from beyond the EU

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

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

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

    The route west

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

    But at this point, these are just rumors.

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

    Ominous police checks

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

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

    Conflicting accounts

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

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

    The police refused to comment on that.

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

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

    –---

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

    • Frontex confronted with allegations of violence in North Macedonia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Briefing: External action: Frontex operations outside the EU

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

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

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

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

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

      The first agreements in context

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

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

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

      Frontex expands external operations while future agreements remain on hold

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

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

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

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

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

      Fundamental rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

      An extra article 3

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

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

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

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

      Privileges and immunities of the members of the team

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

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

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

      Acting on behalf of the host non-EU state

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

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

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

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

      Access to databases

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

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

      Language on discrimination

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

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

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

      Obligation to give evidence as witnesses in criminal proceedings

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

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

      Frontex and home state obligation not to jeopardise criminal proceedings

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

      Lingering uncertainty

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

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

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

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

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

      Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Updating the laws on immigration and borders

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

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

      Frontex: already on the scene

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

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

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

      And asylum?

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

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

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

      Summary

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

      Sara Ianovitz, Ph.D. in International Law

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

      #Albanie

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

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

      Midnight in Macedonia

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

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

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

      Foreign agents

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

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

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

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

      No reports at Frontex

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

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

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

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

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

      Not even numbers

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

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

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

      A significant presence

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

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

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

      Bilateral agreements

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

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

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

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

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

      Buffer states in the Balkans

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

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

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

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

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

  • Le camp de migrants de #Lipa, en #Bosnie, ravagé par un #incendie

    Le camp de Lipa, dans le nord-ouest de la Bosnie, ravagé par les flammes. Un violent incendie s’est déclaré ce mercredi dans ce camp de migrants situé dans la région de #Bihac, près de la frontière avec la Croatie. 1 200 personnes y étaient hébergées. Aucune victime n’est à déplorer. Selon des témoins, le sinistre a démarré dans une installation de stockage de combustibles. Il s’est rapidement propagé.

    Selon la directrice du camp, Natasa Omerovic, ce sont d’anciens résidents qui l’ont déclenché à un moment où le camp était fermé pour être déplacé.

    Selon Peter Van der Auweraert, coordinateur de la mission de l’Organisation internationale pour les Migration (OIM) en Bosnie-Herzégovine, la plupart des infrastructures ont été détruites. L’#OIM, qui gérait ce centre d’accueil, a récemment annoncé son retrait en raison de mauvaises conditions.


    https://twitter.com/PeterAuweraert/status/1341721207939448833

    Début décembre, ce camp de #tentes avait fait l’objet de vives critiques. Etabli comme une réponse #provisoire pour faire face à la #pandémie de #coronavirus, il n’était pas équipé pour des conditions hivernales. Le camps incendié n’était pas équipé de chauffage et n’avait jamais été branché sur le réseau électrique.

    L’Organisation internationale pour les migrations et la Commission européenne exhortaient les autorités locales à trouver une solution pour héberger ailleurs les résidents du camp de Lipa, ainsi que quelque 2 000 autres migrants dépourvus de logement dans la région de Bihac, près de la frontière de l’Union européenne.

    Les autorités municipales et cantonales de Bihac refusent de permettre à l’OIM de rouvrir l’ancien centre d’accueil à Bihac, dans les halles d’une ancienne usine, malgré une instruction du gouvernement fédéral en ce sens. Il a été fermé peu avant les élections municipales de novembre, pour répondre à une pression croissante des habitants.

    « Les autorités compétentes doivent coopérer et agir dans la plus grande urgence pour répondre aux besoins des réfugiés et des migrants sans abris et sauver les vies », a insisté lundi la Commission européenne dans un communiqué.

    https://fr.euronews.com/2020/12/23/le-camp-de-migrants-de-lipa-en-bosnie-ravage-par-un-incendie

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

    –—

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur les incendies dans des camps de réfugiés (principalement en Grèce, mais du coup, élargissement à la route des Balkans) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/851143#message892911

    • Bosnie : le camp de Lipa ravagé par un incendie, 1 300 migrants à la rue

      Le camp de Lipa, dans le nord-ouest de la Bosnie, a été complètement détruit mercredi par un incendie probablement « criminel », ont indiqué les autorités. Environ 1 300 migrants, qui y étaient hébergés, se retrouvent désormais à la rue en pleine hiver avec des températures glaciales.

      « Jour terrible » pour le camp de Lipa. Dans un tweet, Peter Van der Auweraert, le représentant de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) en Bosnie-Herzégovine, ne cache pas son désespoir.

      Le camp de migrants, situé dans le nord-ouest du pays, vient de partir en fumée, ce mercredi 23 décembre. Environ 1 300 migrants y étaient hébergés dans des conditions dramatiques.


      https://twitter.com/PeterAuweraert/status/1341704305125027840

      « L’incendie s’est déclaré à 11h. Les pompiers ont réussi à l’éteindre, mais les quatre grandes tentes dans lesquelles les migrants dormaient ont brulé », a déclaré à l’AFP un porte-parole de la police, Ale Siljdedic, précisant qu’il n’y avait pas eu de blessés.
      « Un acte criminel »

      « Nous supposons qu’il s’agit d’un acte criminel et que des résidents du camp en sont à l’origine », a-t-il poursuivi. Peter Van der Auweraert évoque lui d’"anciens résidents [qui] ont mis le feu à trois tentes et aux conteneurs après que la plupart des migrants ont quitté le camp".

      https://twitter.com/PeterAuweraert/status/1341721207939448833

      Les exilés auraient agi en signe de protestation : mis en place en avril dans ce village près de Bihac, le site avait été installé comme une solution temporaire, rien n’étaient prévu pour que ses résidents y passent l’hiver. Le camp incendié n’était pas équipé d’électricité et de chauffage, alors que le pays connaît actuellement une vague de froid.

      « Désastre après désastre », a encore déploré Peter Van der Auweraert de l’OIM.
      Des milliers de personnes à la rue

      L’agence onusienne, qui gérait ce centre d’accueil, avait récemment annoncé son retrait de la structure en raison des mauvaises conditions de vie des exilés. L’OIM et la Commission européenne exhortaient depuis début décembre les autorités locales à trouver une solution pour héberger ailleurs ces 1 300 personnes, ainsi que quelque 2 000 autres migrants dépourvus de logement dans la région de Bihac, près de la frontière de l’Union européenne.

      Avec cet incendie, les résidents se retrouvent à la rue, en plein hiver et alors qu’est prévue une forte baisse de température dans les prochains jours. « Ils vont probablement se diriger vers Bihac (à 30 km au nord-ouest de Lipa, ndlr) et vont occuper des bâtiments abandonnés », a déclaré Ale Siljdedic.

      Les autorités municipales et cantonales de Bihac refusent que l’OIM rouvre l’ancien centre d’accueil à Bihac, dans les halles d’une ancienne usine, malgré une instruction du gouvernement fédéral en ce sens. Il a été fermé peu avant les élections municipales de novembre, pour répondre à une pression croissante des habitants.

      « Les autorités compétentes doivent coopérer et agir dans la plus grande urgence pour répondre aux besoins des réfugiés et des migrants sans abris et sauver des vies », a insisté lundi la Commission européenne dans un communiqué.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/29292/bosnie-le-camp-de-lipa-ravage-par-un-incendie-1-300-migrants-a-la-rue

      #SDF

    • Thousands of refugees without shelter after Bosnia camp burns

      Dozens spend the night at a damaged metal container near the site of the fire, where only a ghostly steel construction remained.

      More than a thousand refugees and migrants from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa were left to sleep in the cold after their camp in northwestern Bosnia burned down amid a dispute among Bosnian politicians over where to house them.

      On Wednesday, a fire destroyed the camp in Lipa housing about 1,200 people. Police and United Nations officials have said the blaze was probably started by people unhappy at the temporary closure of the camp, scheduled for the same day, and uncertainty about where they would be relocated in Bosnia.

      Dozens of men spent the night at a damaged metal container near the site of the fire, where only a ghostly steel construction remained. Smoke was still rising from some burned patches of ground on Thursday morning.

      Others tried to erect nylon tents and slept fully dressed on the frozen ground. Most of them walked through the woods towards the town of Bihac, near the Croatian border, avoiding areas marked with warnings about landmines remaining from the Bosnian war in the 1990s.

      About 10,000 refugees and migrants from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are stuck in Bosnia, hoping to reach wealthier countries in the European Union.

      “I couldn’t sleep last night, I sat all night,” said Bylal from Pakistan, adding that he would wait to see if the government would provide them with a new shelter.

      The Lipa camp, which was opened last spring as a temporary shelter for the summer months 25 km away from Bihac, was set to be shut on Wednesday for winter refurbishing. But Bosnia’s authorities failed to find alternative accommodation for residents.

      The central government wanted the refugees and migrants to temporarily return to the Bira camp in Bihac, which was shut down in October, but local authorities disagreed, saying that other parts of Bosnia should also share the burden of the migrant crisis.

      “Please open the Bira camp so everybody goes there, it’s very good there,” said Yasin, also from Pakistan. “Here it’s cold, we can’t stay here, we don’t have food, we are hungry.”

      The European Union, which had supported Bosnia with 60 million euros to manage the refugee crisis and pledged 25 million euros more, has repeatedly asked the authorities to find an alternative to the unsuitable Lipa camp, warning of an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

      “We urge … the authorities to rise above political considerations and temporarily reopen the centre Bira in Bihac,” the EU said in a statement on Wednesday

      https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/24/thousands-of-refugees-without-shelter-after-bosnia-camp-burns

    • Bosnie : après l’incendie du camp de Lipa, des centaines de migrants prisonniers du #froid et de la #neige

      Dans le nord de la Bosnie-Herzégovine, des centaines de migrants sont toujours sans solution d’hébergement depuis l’incendie du camp de Lipa le 23 décembre. La situation est extrêmement inquiétante alors que des chutes de neige et des températures glaciales se sont abattues sur la région ce week-end.

      La situation était déjà compliquée dans le camp de Lipa, elle est devenue catastrophique. Dans le nord-ouest de la Bosnie, plusieurs centaines de migrants sont contraints de vivre dans le froid et la neige après l’incendie de ce camp le 23 décembre.

      Ces hommes – originaires d’Afghanistan et du Bangladesh pour la plupart – tentaient samedi de se protéger du froid et du vent en s’enveloppant dans des couvertures et des sacs de couchage, ont observé des journaliste des l’agence Associated Press (AP).

      La Croix-Rouge de Bosnie a distribué des repas aux exilés qui ne survivent que grâce à ces colis alimentaires. La police ne les autorise pas à quitter le site, les empêchant de se rendre dans la ville voisine de Bihac pour acheter quelques denrées alimentaires.

      « Lipa est devenue une prison hivernale », a dénoncé sur Twitter Peter Van der Auweraert, représentant de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations en Bosnie-Herzégovine. « Les migrants ne sont pas autorisés à quitter le site de Lipa et doivent maintenant faire du feu dans les tentes restantes pour se tenir chaud […] C’est une tragédie totalement inutile », ajoute-t-il.


      https://twitter.com/PeterAuweraert/status/1343267176321585154

      Dans la grande tente qui a survécu à l’incendie et où dorment désormais les migrants, le toit commence à ployer sous le poids de la neige, met par ailleurs en garde Peter Van der Auweraert, pointant un « terrible accident qui n’attend que de se produire ».
      « Nous vivons comme des animaux »

      L’association No Name Kitchen a indiqué, de son côté, « faire de son mieux pour procurer des vêtements chauds et de la nourriture aux personnes ». « La police a bloqué la route et plus de 1000 personnes se trouvent dans la forêt autour du camp de Lipa », précise l’organisation.


      https://twitter.com/NoNameKitchen1/status/1342890272221523969

      « Nous vivons comme des animaux. Même les animaux vivent mieux que nous ! » a déclaré un Pakistanais à AP qui ne s’est identifié que par son prénom, Kasim. « S’ils ne nous aident pas, nous mourrons, alors aidez-nous s’il vous plaît. »


      https://twitter.com/PeterAuweraert/status/1342775470899781638

      « Ce n’est pas ainsi que quiconque devrait vivre », a également pointé Peter Van der Auweraert, appelant la classe politique bosnienne au « courage » et à l’"action" pour débloquer la situation et autoriser l’ouverture d’un nouveau centre d’hébergement.

      La capitaine de navire allemande Carola Rackete a également alerté sur les réseaux sociaux sur l’urgence de la situation dans le nord de la Bosnie et appelé à soutenir les associations qui viennent en aide aux exilés.

      https://twitter.com/CaroRackete/status/1343181760167866368

      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/29320/bosnie-apres-l-incendie-du-camp-de-lipa-des-centaines-de-migrants-pris

  • Rapporti di monitoraggio

    Sin dal 2016 il progetto ha pubblicato report di approfondimento giuridico sulle situazioni di violazione riscontrate presso le diverse frontiere oggetto delle attività di monitoraggio. Ciascun report affronta questioni ed aspetti contingenti e particolarmente interessanti al fine di sviluppare azioni di contenzioso strategico.

    Elenco dei rapporti pubblicati in ordine cronologico:

    “Le riammissioni di cittadini stranieri a Ventimiglia (giugno 2015): profili di illegittimità“

    Il report è stato redatto nel giugno del 2015 è costituisce una prima analisi delle principali criticità riscontrabili alla frontiera italo-francese verosimilmente sulla base dell’Accordo bilaterale fra il Governo della Repubblica italiana e il Governo della Repubblica francese sulla cooperazione transfrontaliera in materia di polizia e dogana (Accordo di Chambery)
    #Vintimille #Ventimiglia #frontière_sud-alpine #Alpes #Menton #accord_bilatéral #Accord_de_Chambéry #réadmissions

    Ajouté à la #métaliste de liens autour d’#accords_de_réadmission entre pays européens...
    https://seenthis.net/messages/736091
    Et plus précisément ici:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/736091#message887941

    –---

    “Le riammissioni di cittadini stranieri alla frontiera di Chiasso: profili di illegittimità”

    Il report è stato redatto nell’estate del 2016 per evidenziare la situazione critica che si era venuta a creare in seguito al massiccio afflusso di cittadini stranieri in Italia attraverso la rotta balcanica scatenata dalla crisi siriana. La frontiera italo-svizzera è stata particolarmente interessata da numerosi tentativi di attraversamento del confine nei pressi di Como e il presente documento fornisce una analisi giuridica delle criticità riscontrate.

    Ajouté à la #métaliste de liens autour d’#accords_de_réadmission entre pays européens...
    https://seenthis.net/messages/736091
    Et plus précisément ici:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/736091#message887940

    –-----

    “Lungo la rotta del Brennero”

    Il report, redatto con la collaborazione della associazione Antenne Migranti e il contributo della fondazione Alex Langer nel 2017, analizza le dinamiche della frontiera altoatesina e sviluppa una parte di approfondimento sulle violazioni relative al diritto all’accoglienza per richiedenti asilo e minori, alle violazioni all’accesso alla procedura di asilo e ad una analisi delle modalità di attuazione delle riammissioni alla frontiera.

    #Brenner #Autriche

    –---

    “Attività di monitoraggio ai confini interni italiani – Periodo giugno 2018 – giugno 2019”

    Report analitico che riporta i dati raccolti e le prassi di interesse alle frontiere italo-francesi, italo-svizzere, italo-austriache e italo slovene. Contiene inoltre un approfondimento sui trasferimenti di cittadini di paesi terzi dalle zone di frontiera indicate all’#hotspot di #Taranto e centri di accoglienza del sud Italia.

    #Italie_du_Sud

    –------

    “Report interno sopralluogo Bosnia 27-31 ottobre 2019”

    Report descrittivo a seguito del sopralluogo effettuato da soci coinvolti nel progetto Medea dal 27 al 31 ottobre sulla condizione delle persone in transito in Bosnia. Il rapporto si concentra sulla descrizione delle strutture di accoglienza presenti nel paese, sull’accesso alla procedura di protezione internazionale e sulle strategie di intervento future.

    #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine

    –---

    “Report attività frontiere interne terrestri, porti adriatici e Bosnia”

    Rapporto di analisi dettagliata sulle progettualità sviluppate nel corso del periodo luglio 2019 – luglio 2020 sulle diverse frontiere coinvolte (in particolare la frontiera italo-francese, italo-slovena, la frontiera adriatica e le frontiere coinvolte nella rotta balcanica). Le novità progettuali più interessanti riguardano proprio l’espansione delle progettualità rivolte ai paesi della rotta balcanica e alla Grecia coinvolta nelle riammissioni dall’Italia. Nel periodo ad oggetto del rapporto il lavoro ha avuto un focus principale legato ad iniziative di monitoraggio, costituzione della rete ed azioni di advocacy.

    #Slovénie #mer_Adriatique #Adriatique

    https://medea.asgi.it/rapporti

    #rapport #monitoring #medea #ASGI
    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières
    #frontières_internes #frontières_intérieures #Balkans #route_des_balkans

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Bosnia Signs Deal with Pakistan to Send Back Migrants

    Bosnia and Herzegovina signed an agreement with Pakistan that opens up the possibility of repatriating some illegal Pakistani migrants who are currently in the Balkan country.

    Pakistani Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmed Shah and Bosnian Security Minister Selmo Cikotic signed an agreement and an accompanying protocol in Islamabad on Wednesday which should allow migrants to be returned to their home country.

    With the agreement, Pakistan committed itself to accept the return of its citizens who are currently living illegally in Bosnia and vice versa.

    According to the agreement, the competent authorities for receiving, submitting and processing readmission requests, as well as those for transit, will be the Bosnian Security Ministry and the Ministry of Interior for Pakistan.

    Readmission and reception of citizens of the two countries and the transit of foreigners will take place through the international airports in Sarajevo and Islamabad.

    The issue of Pakistani migrants in Bosnia has been the source of problems between the two countries that escalated when Fahrudin Radoncic, the former Bosnian security minister, accused Islamabad in April this year of not wanting to work with Sarajevo on the illegal migration issue.

    The dispute started when Radoncic ordered Bosnia’s Service for Foreigners’ Affairs, the SFA, to compile a list of an estimated 9,000 to 10,000 illegal migrants to be deported, excluding refugees from war-torn Syria.

    He claimed that there are around 3,000 illegal migrants from Pakistan among them and that that Pakistani embassy didn’t want to co-operate on identifying them.

    Radoncic went so far as to demand that the Pakistani ambassador to Sarajevo be declared persona non grata.

    However, Radoncic did not receive the support of either state presidency chairman Sefik Dzaferovic or Bisera Turkovic, the Bosnian foreign minister, which is why he resigned in early June.

    According to estimates by the International Organisation for Migration, Bosnian authorities and NGOs, there are currently about 10,000 illegal migrants in Bosnia, of whom a significant number are citizens of Pakistan.

    Slobodan Ujic, director of Bosnia’s Service for Foreigner’s Affairs, SFA, told BIRN earlier that establishing the identity of migrants had been a problem for years because the embassies of countries where migrants come from do not want to cooperate.

    https://balkaninsight.com/2020/11/04/bosnia-signs-deal-with-pakistan-to-send-back-migrants
    #Bosnie #accord_de_réadmission #asile #migrations #réfugiés #déboutés #renvois #expulsions #accord #Bosnie-Herzégovine

  • Croatia stopped 16,000 migrant border crossings since January

    Croatia claims to have stopped just over 16,000 attempts by migrants without visas to cross the border with Bosnia since the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, Bosnia says it has halted close to 9,000 illegal migrant entrances so far this year.
    Since the beginning of the year, Croatian border police have halted just over 16,000 attempts to enter the country by migrants without proper papers arriving from Bosnia, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said Wednesday.

    Some 374 people were arrested on human trafficking charges in police operations, the minister said, most of whom were allegedly members of criminal organizations.

    Bosnian border crossings

    Meanwhile, Bosnian border police stopped almost 9,000 illegal attempts to cross into Bosnia and Herzegovina since the beginning of the year, border police director Zoran Galic said on September 12.

    There were 8,463 attempted entrances in total. In 7,376 of these cases, the migrants reportedly had been previously stopped and identified in Bosnia and had documents with them in which they declared their intention to request asylum in the country.

    Galic said that in the past eight months, some 11 migrant trafficking crimes had been discovered in the Zvornik area along the border with Serbia alone.

    Migrants still on Balkan Route

    Countries along the so-called Balkan Route have fortified their borders and increased border patrols in recent years. But there are still tens of thousands of migrants who are trying to cross through eastern European countries such as Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia to Western Europe.

    In recent weeks, border authorities discovered numerous migrants trying to clandestinely cross borders in the Balkan region.

    In Slovenia, in the 24 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday, police from the Capodistria district reportedly stopped 35 migrants from entering Croatia. According to a police statement, most of them were from Afghanistan (23) or Morocco (6).

    Migrants hiding on trucks

    On September 15, Serbian customs officials stationed along the border between Hungary and Croatia discovered 14 migrants hiding in various trucks. They were allegedly trying to reach EU countries in Western Europe. Serbian media report that six migrants had been discovered at the Horgos crossing on the Hungarian border on a Macedonian truck carrying tires from Turkey to the Czech Republic.

    Four migrants were discovered on two Serbian trucks that were carrying women’s hosiery and headed for Italy. The migrants, two on each truck, were discovered during a customs check on the border with Croatia. Also on the Serbian-Croatian border, four migrants were found on a truck carrying olives from Greece to the Netherlands.

    In another incident along the border between Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday morning, three migrants were reportedly rescued in #Zvornik while they were trying to cross the #Drina river. The three had been stuck at the point where the river is deepest for hours, grasping large stone blocks to not be swept away from the current. Passers-by saw the migrants, who were then rescued by the border police and firefighters.

    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/27384/croatia-stopped-16-000-migrant-border-crossings-since-january
    #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #Croatie #statistiques #chiffres #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine

  • The Frontier Within: The European Border Regime in the Balkans

    In the summer of 2015, the migratory route across the Balkans »entered into the European spotlight, and indeed onto the screen of the global public« (Kasparek 2016: 2), triggering different interpretations and responses. Contrary to the widespread framing of the mass movement of people seeking refuge in Europe as ›crisis‹ and ›emergency‹ of unseen proportions, we opt for the perspective of »the long Summer of Migration« (Kasparek/Speer 2015) and an interpretation that regards it as »a historic and monumental year of migration for Europe precisely because disobedient mass mobilities have disrupted the European regime of border control« (Stierl/Heller/de Genova 2016: 23). In reaction to the disobedient mass mobilities of people, a state-tolerated and even state-organized transit of people, a »formalized corridor« (Beznec/Speer/Stojić Mitrović 2016), was gradually established. To avoid the concentration of unwanted migrants on their territory, countries along the route—sometimes in consultation with their neighboring countries and EU member states, sometimes simply by creating facts—strived to regain control over the movements by channeling and isolating them by means of the corridor (see e.g. Hameršak/Pleše 2018; Speer 2017; Tošić 2017). »Migrants didn’t travel the route any more: they were hurriedly channeled along, no longer having the power to either determine their own movement or their own speed« (Kasparek 2016). The corridor, at the same time, facilitated and tamed the movement of people. In comparison to the situation in Serbia, where migrants were loosely directed to follow the path of the corridor (see e.g. Beznec/Speer/Stojić Mitrović 2016; Greenberg/Spasić 2017; Kasparek 2016: 6), migrants in other states like North Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia were literally in the corridor’s power, i.e. forced to follow the corridor (see Hameršak/Pleše 2018; Beznec/Speer/Stojić Mitrović 2016; Chudoska Blazhevska/Flores Juberías 2016: 231–232; Kogovšek Šalamon 2016: 44–47; Petrović 2018). The corridor was operative in different and constantly changing modalities until March 2016. Since then, migration through the Balkan region still takes place, with migrants struggling on a daily basis with the diverse means of tightened border controls that all states along the Balkan route have been practicing since.

    This movements issue wants to look back on these events in an attempt to analytically make sense of them and to reflect on the historical rupture of the months of 2015 and 2016. At the same time, it tries to analyze the ongoing developments of bordering policies and the struggles of migration. It assembles a broad range of articles reaching from analytical or research based papers shedding light on various regional settings and topics, such as the massive involvement of humanitarian actors or the role of camp infrastructures, to more activist-led articles reflecting on the different phases and settings of pro-migrant struggles and transnational solidarity practices. In an attempt to better understand the post-2015 border regime, the issue furthermore presents analyses of varying political technologies of bordering that evolved along the route in response to the mass mobilities of 2015/2016. It especially focuses on the excessive use of different dimensions of violence that seem to characterize the new modalities of the border regime, such as the omnipresent practice of push-backs. Moreover, the articles shed light on the ongoing struggles of transit mobility and (transnational) solidarity that are specifically shaped by the more than eventful history of the region molded both by centuries of violent interventions and a history of connectivity.

    Our transnational editorial group came together in the course of a summer school on the border regime in the Balkans held in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2018. It was organized by the Network for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies (kritnet), University of Göttingen, Department of Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology (Germany), the Research Centre of the Academy of Sciences and Arts (Slovenia), the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research (Croatia), and the Institute of Ethnography SASA (Serbia). The summer school assembled engaged academics from all over the region that were involved, in one form or another, in migration struggles along the route in recent years.1 The few days of exchange proved to be an exciting and fruitful gathering of critical migration and border regime scholars and activists from different regional and disciplinary backgrounds of the wider Balkans. Therefore, we decided to produce this movements issue by inviting scholars and activists from the region or with a deep knowledge on, and experience with, regional histories and politics in order to share their analyses of the Balkan route, the formalized corridor, and the developments thereafter. These developments have left a deep imprint on the societies and regional politics of migration, but they are very rarely taken into consideration and studied in the West as the centuries long entanglements that connect the Balkan with the rest of Europe.

    In this editorial, we will outline the transnational mobility practices in the Balkans in a historical perspective that includes the framework of EU-Balkan relations. With this exercise we try to historize the events of 2015 which are portrayed in many academic as well as public accounts as ›unexpected‹ and ›new‹. We also intend to write against the emergency and escalation narrative underlying most public discourses on the Balkans and migration routes today, which is often embedded in old cultural stereotypes about the region. We, furthermore, write against the emergency narrative because it erodes the agency of migration that has not only connected the region with the rest of the globe but is also constantly reinventing new paths for reaching better lives. Not only the history of mobilities, migrations, and flight connecting the region with the rest of Europe and the Middle East can be traced back into the past, but also the history of political interventions and attempts to control these migrations and mobilities by western European states. Especially the EU accession processes produce contexts that made it possible to gradually integrate the (Western) Balkan states into the rationale of EU migration management, thus, setting the ground for today’s border and migration regime. However, as we will show in the following sections, we also argue against simplified understandings of the EU border regime that regard its externalization policy as an imperial top-down act. Rather, with a postcolonial perspective that calls for decentering western knowledge, we will also shed light on the agency of the national governments of the region and their own national(ist) agendas.
    The Formalized Corridor

    As outlined above, the formalized corridor of 2015 reached from Greece to Northern and Central Europe, leading across the states established in the 1990s during the violent breakdown of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and, today, are additionally stratified vis-à-vis the EU. Slovenia and Croatia are EU member states, while the others are still in the accession process. The candidate states Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro have opened the negotiation process. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo—still not recognized as a sovereign state by Serbia and some EU member states—have the status of potential candidates. However, in 2015 and 2016, the states along the corridor efficiently collaborated for months on a daily basis, while, at the same time, fostering separate, sometimes conflicting, migration politics. Slovenia, for example, raised a razor-wire fence along the border to Croatia, while Croatia externalized its border to Serbia with a bilateral agreement (Protokol) in 2015 which stated that the »Croatian Party« may send a »train composition with its crew to the railway station in Šid [in Serbia], with a sufficient number of police officers of the Republic of Croatia as escort« (Article 3 Paragraph 2).

    Despite ruptures and disputes, states nevertheless organized transit in the form of corridor consisting of trains, buses, and masses of walking people that were guarded and directed by the police who forced people on the move to follow the corridor’s direction and speed. The way the movements were speedily channeled in some countries came at the cost of depriving people of their liberty and freedom of movement, which calls for an understanding of the corridor as a specific form of detention: a mobile detention, ineligible to national or EU legislation (see Hameršak/Pleše 2018; Kogovšek Šalamon 2016: 44–47). In the context of the corridor, camps became convergence points for the heterogeneous pathways of movements. Nevertheless, having in mind both the proclaimed humanitarian purpose of the corridor, and the monumental numbers of people to whom the corridor enabled and facilitated movement, the corridor can be designated as an unprecedented formation in recent EU history. In other words: »The corridor – with all its restrictions – remains a historical event initiated by the movement of people, which enabled thousands to reach central Europe in a relatively quick and safe manner. […] But at the same time it remained inscribed within a violent migration management system« (Santer/Wriedt 2017: 148).

    For some time, a broad consensus can be observed within migration and border studies and among policy makers that understands migration control as much more than simply protecting a concrete borderline. Instead, concepts such as migration management (Oelgemoller 2017; Geiger/Pécoud 2010) and border externalization (as specifically spelled out in the EU document Global Approach to Migration of 2005) have become increasingly important. In a spatial sense, what many of them have in common is, first, that they assume an involvement of neighboring states to govern migration in line with EU migration policies. Second, it is often stated that this leads to the creation of different zones encircling the European Union (Andreas/Snyder 2000). Maribel Casas-Cortes and Sebastian Cobarrubias, for instance, speak of four such zones: the first zone is »formed by EU member states, capable of fulfilling Schengen standards«, the second zone »consists of transit countries« (Casas-Cortes/Cobarrubias 2019), the third zone is characterized by countries such as Turkey, which are depicted by emigration as well as transit, and the fourth zone are countries of origin. While Casas-Cortes and Cobarrubias rightly criticize the static and eurocentric perspective of such conceptualizations, they nevertheless point to the unique nature of the formalized corridor because it crisscrossed the above mentioned zones of mobility control in an unprecedented way.

    Furthermore, the corridor through the Balkans can be conceived as a special type of transnational, internalized border. The internalized European borders manifest themselves to a great extent in a punctiform (see Rahola 2011: 96–97). They are not only activated in formal settings of border-crossings, police stations, or detention centers both at state borders and deep within state territories, but also in informal settings of hospitals, hostels, in the streets, or when someone’s legal status is taken as a basis for denying access to rights and services (i.e. to obtain medical aid, accommodation, ride) (Guild 2001; Stojić Mitrović/Meh 2015). With the Balkan corridor, this punctiform of movement control was, for a short period, fused into a linear one (Hameršak/Pleše 2018).

    The rules of the corridor and its pathways were established by formal and informal agreements between the police and other state authorities, and the corridor itself was facilitated by governmental, humanitarian, and other institutions and agencies. Cooperation between the countries along the route was fostered by representatives of EU institutions and EU member states. It would be too simple, though, to describe their involvement of the countries along the route as merely reactive, as an almost mechanical response to EU and broader global policies. Some countries, in particular Serbia, regarded the increasing numbers of migrants entering their territory during the year 2015 as a window of opportunity for showing their ›good face‹ to the European Union by adopting ›European values‹ and, by doing so, for enhancing their accession process to the European Union (Beznec/Speer/Stojić Mitrović 2016; Greenberg/Spasić 2017). As Tošić points out, »this image was very convenient for Serbian politicians in framing their country as ›truly European‹, since it was keeping its borders open unlike some EU states (such as Hungary)« (2017: 160). Other states along the corridor also played by their own rules from time to time: Croatia, for example, contrary to the Eurodac Regulation (Regulation EU No 603/2013), avoided sharing registration data on people in transit and, thus, hampered the Dublin system that is dependent on Eurodac registration. Irregular bureaucracies and nonrecording, as Katerina Rozakou (2017) calls such practices in her analysis of bordering practices in the Greek context, became a place of dispute, negotiations, and frustrations, but also a clear sign of the complex relationships and different responses to migration within the European Union migration management politics itself.

    Within EU-member states, however, the longer the corridor lasted, and the more people passed through it, the stronger the ›Hungarian position‹ became. Finally, Austria became the driving force behind a process of gradually closing the corridor, which began in November 2015 and was fully implemented in March 2016. In parallel, Angela Merkel and the European Commission preferred another strategy that cut access to the formalized corridor and that was achieved by adopting a treaty with Turkey known as the »EU-Turkey deal« signed on 18 March 2016 (see Speer 2017: 49–68; Weber 2017: 30–40).

    The humanitarian aspect for the people on the move who were supposed to reach a safe place through the corridor was the guiding principle of public discourses in most of the countries along the corridor. In Serbia, »Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić officially welcomed refugees, spoke of tolerance, and compared the experience of refugees fleeing war-torn countries to those of refugees during the wars of Yugoslav Succession« (Greenberg/Spasić 2017: 315). Similar narratives could also be observed in other countries along the corridor, at least for some period of time (see, for Slovenia, Sardelić 2017: 11; for Croatia, Jakešević 2017: 184; Bužinkić 2018: 153–154). Of course, critical readings could easily detect the discriminatory, dehumanizing, securitarizing, and criminalizing acts, practices, tropes, and aspects in many of these superficially caring narratives. The profiling or selection of people, ad hoc detentions, and militarization—which were integral parts of the corridor—were, at the time, only denounced by a few NGOs and independent activists. They were mostly ignored, or only temporarily acknowledged, by the media and, consequently, by the general public.

    Before May 2015, ›irregular‹ migration was not framed by a discourse of ›crisis‹ in the countries along the route, rather, the discourse was led by a focus on ›separate incidents‹ or ›situations‹. The discursive framing of ›crisis‹ and ›emergency‹, accompanied by reports of UN agencies about ›unprecedented refugee flows in history‹, has been globally adopted both by policy makers and the wider public. »In the wake of the Summer of Migration, all involved states along the Balkan route were quick to stage the events as an ›emergency‹ (Calhoun 2004) and, in best humanitarian fashion, as a major humanitarian ›crisis‹, thus legitimizing a ›politics of exception‹« (Hess/Kasparek 2017: 66). Following the logic that extraordinary situations call for, and justify, the use of extraordinary measures, the emergency framework, through the construction of existential threats, resulted, on the one hand, in a loosely controlled allocation of resources, and, on the other hand, in silencing many critical interpretations, thus allowing various ›risk management activities‹ to happen on the edge of the law (Campesi 2014). For the states along the route, the crisis label especially meant a rapid infusion of money and other resources for establishing infrastructures for the urgent reception of people on the move, mainly deriving from EU funds. Politically and practically, these humanitarian-control activities also fastened the operational inclusion of non-EU countries into the European border regime.

    As Sabine Hess and Bernd Kasparek have pointed out, the politics of proclaiming a ›crisis‹ is at the heart of re-stabilizing the European border regime, »making it possible to systematically undermine and lever the standards of international and European law without serious challenges to date« (Hess/Kasparek 2017: 66). The authors:

    »have observed carefully designed policy elements, which can be labelled as anti-litigation devices. The design of the Hungarian transit zones is a striking case in point. They are an elementary part of the border fence towards Serbia and allow for the fiction that the border has not been closed for those seeking international protection, but rather that their admission numbers are merely limited due to administrative reasons: each of the two transit zones allows for 14 asylum seekers to enter Hungary every day« (Hess/Kasparek 2017: 66; on the administrative rationale in Slovenia see e.g. Gombač 2016: 79–81).

    The establishment of transit zones was accompanied by a series of legislative tightenings, passed under a proclaimed ›crisis situation caused by mass immigration‹, which, from a legal point of view, lasts until today. Two aspects are worth mentioning in particular: First, the mandatory deportation of all unwanted migrants that were detected on Hungarian territory to the other side of the fence, without any possibility to claim for asylum or even to lodge any appeal against the return. Second, the automatic rejection of all asylum applications as inadmissible, even of those who managed to enter the transit zones, because Serbia had been declared a safe third country (Nagy/Pál 2018). This led to a completely securitized border regime in Hungary, which might become a ›role model‹, not only for the countries in the region but also for the European border regime as a whole (ECtHR – Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary Application No. 47287/15).
    The Long Genealogy of the Balkan Route and its Governance

    The history of the Balkan region is a multiply layered history of transborder mobilities, migration, and flight reaching back as far as the times of the Habsburg and Ottoman empires connecting the region with the East and Western Europe in many ways. Central transportation and communication infrastructures partially also used by today’s migratory projects had already been established at the heydays of Western imperialism, as the Orient Express, the luxury train service connecting Paris with Istanbul (1883), or the Berlin-Baghdad railway (built between 1903 and 1940) indicate. During World War II, a different and reversed refugee route existed, which brought European refugees not just to Turkey but even further to refugee camps in Syria, Egypt, and Palestine and was operated by the Middle East Relief and Refugee Administration (MERRA).

    The Yugoslav highway, the Highway of Brotherhood and Unity (Autoput bratstva i jedinstva) often simply referred to as the ›autoput‹ and built in phases after the 1950s, came to stretch over more than 1,000 km from the Austrian to the Greek borders and was one of the central infrastructures enabling transnational mobilities, life projects, and exile. In the 1960s, direct trains departing from Istanbul and Athens carried thousands of prospective labor migrants to foreign places in Germany and Austria in the context of the fordist labor migration regime of the two countries. At the end of that decade, Germany signed a labor recruitment agreement with Yugoslavia, fostering and formalizing decades long labor migrations from Croatia, Serbia, and other countries to Germany (Gatrell 2019, see e.g. Lukić Krstanović 2019: 54–55).

    The wars in the 1990s that accompanied the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the consequent establishment of several new nation states, created the first large refugee movement after the Second World War within Europe and was followed by increasing numbers of people fleeing Albania after the fall of its self-isolationist regime and the (civil) wars in the Middle East, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan since the mid-1990s. As the migratory route did not go north through the Balkan Peninsula, but mainly proceeded to Italy at the time, the label Balkan route was mostly used as a name for a drugs and arms smuggling route well known in the West. Although there was migration within and to Europe, the Balkan migratory route, with the exception of refugee movements from ex-Yugoslavia, was yet predominantly invisible to the broader European public.

    Sparse ethnographic insights from the beginning of the 2000s point this out. Academic papers on migrant crossings from Turkey to the island of Lesbos mention as follows: »When the transport service began in the late 1980s it was very small and personal; then, in the middle of the 1990s, the Kurds began to show up – and now people arrive from just about everywhere« (Tsianos/Hess/Karakayali 2009: 3; see Tsianos/Karakayali 2010: 379). A document of the Council of the European Union from 1997 formulates this as following:

    »This migration appears to be routed essentially either through Turkey, and hence through Greece and Italy, or via the ›Balkans route‹, with the final countries of destination being in particular Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Several suggestions were put forward for dealing with this worrying problem, including the strengthening of checks at external borders, the stepping up of the campaign against illegal immigration networks, and pre-frontier assistance and training assignments in airports and ports in certain transit third countries, in full cooperation with the authorities in those countries« (ibid. quoted in Hess/Kasparek 2020).

    During this time, the EU migration management policies defined two main objectives: to prevent similar arrivals in the future, and to initiate a system of control over migration movements toward the EU that would be established outside the territories of the EU member states. This would later be formalized, first in the 2002 EU Action Plan on Illegal Immigration (see Hayes/Vermeulen 2012: 13–14) and later re-confirmed in the Global Approach to Migration (2005) framework concerning the cooperation of the EU with third states (Hess/Kasparek 2020). In this process, the so-called migratory routes-approach and accompanying strategies of controlling, containing, and taming the movement »through epistemology of the route« (Hess/Kasparek 2020) became a main rationale of the European border control regime. Thus, one can resume that the route was not only produced by movements of people but also by the logic, legislation, investment etc. of EU migration governance. Consequently, the clandestine pathways across the Balkans to Central and Western Europe were frequently addressed by security bodies and services of the EU (see e.g. Frontex 2011; Frontex 2014), resulting in the conceptual and practical production of the Balkan as an external border zone of the EU.

    Parallel to the creation of ›Schengenland‹, the birth of the ›Area of Freedom, Security and Justice‹ inter alia as an inner-EU-free-mobility-zone and EU-based European border and migration regime in the late 1990s, the EU created the Western Balkans as an imaginary political entity, an object of its neighborhood and enlargement policy, which lies just outside the EU with a potential ›European future‹. For the purpose of the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) initiated in 1999, the term Western Balkan was launched in the EU political context in order to include, at that moment, ›ex-Yugoslav states minus Slovenia plus Albania‹ and to presumably avoid potential politically sensitive notions. The Western Balkans as a concept represents a combination of a political compromise and colonial imagery (see Petrović 2012: 21–36). Its aim was to stabilize the region through a radical redefinition that would restrain from ethno-national toponyms and to establish a free-trade area and growing partnership with the EU. The SAP set out common political and economic goals for the Western Balkan as a region and conducted political and economic progress evaluations ›on a countries’ own merits‹. The Thessaloniki Summit in 2003 strengthened the main objectives of the SAP and formally took over elements of the accession process—institutional domains and regulations that were to be harmonized with those existing in the EU. Harmonization is a wide concept, and it basically means adopting institutional measures following specific demands of the EU. It is a highly hierarchized process in which states asked to ›harmonize‹ do not have a say in things but have to conform to the measures set forth by the EU. As such, the adoption of the EU migration and border regime became a central part of the ongoing EU-accession process that emerged as the main platform and governmental technology of the early externalization and integration of transit and source countries into the EU border regime. This was the context of early bilateral and multilateral cooperation on this topic (concerning involved states, see Lipovec Čebron 2003; Stojić Mitrović 2014; Župarić-Iljić 2013; Bojadžijev 2007).

    The decisive inclusion of the Western Balkan states in the EU design of border control happened at the Thessaloniki European Summit in 2003, where concrete provisions concerning border management, security, and combating illegal migration were set according to European standards. These provisions have not been directly displayed, but were concealed as part of the package of institutional transformations that respective states had to conduct. The states were promised to become members of the EU if the conditions were met. In order to fulfill this goal, prospective EU member states had to maintain good mutual relations, build statehoods based on ›the rule of law‹, and, after a positive evaluation by the EU, begin with the implementation of concrete legislative and institutional changes on their territories (Stojić Mitrović/Vilenica 2019). The control of unwanted movements toward the EU was a priority of the EU accession process of the Western Balkan states from the very beginning (Kacarska 2012). It started with controlling the movement of their own nationals (to allow the states to be removed from the so-called Black Schengen list) during the visa facilitation process. If they managed to control the movement of their own nationals, especially those who applied for asylum in the EU via biometric passports and readmission obligations (asylum seekers from these states comprise a large portion of asylum seekers in the EU even today), they were promised easier access to the EU as an economic area. Gradually, the focus of movement control shifted to third-country nationals. In effect, the Western Balkan states introduced migration-related legislative and institutional transformations corresponding to the ones already existing in the EU, yet persistent ›non-doing‹ (especially regarding enabling access to rights and services for migrants) remained a main practice of deterrence (Valenta/Zuparic-Iljic/Vidovic 2015; Stojić Mitrović 2019).

    From the very beginning, becoming an active part of the European border regime and implementing EU-centric migration policies, or, to put it simply, conducting control policies over the movements of people, has not been the goal of the states along the Balkan route per se but a means to obtain political and economic benefits from the EU. They are included into the EU border regime as operational partners without formal power to influence migration policies. These states do have a voice, though, not only by creating the image of being able to manage the ›European problem‹, and accordingly receive further access to EU funds, but also by influencing EU migration policy through disobedience and actively avoiding conformity to ›prescribed‹ measures. A striking example of creative state disobedience are the so-called 72-hour-papers, which are legal provisions set by the Serbian 2007 Law on Asylum, later also introduced as law in North Macedonia in June 2015: Their initial function was to give asylum seekers who declared their ›intention to seek asylum‹ to the police the possibility to legally proceed to one of the asylum reception centers located within Serbia, where, in a second step, their asylum requests were to be examined in line with the idea of implementing a functioning asylum system according to EU standards. However, in practice, these papers were used as short-term visas for transiting through North Macedonia and Serbia that were handed out to hundreds of thousands of migrants (Beznec/Speer/Stojić Mitrović 2016: 17–19, 36).

    Furthermore, the introduction of migration control practices is often a means for achieving other political and economic goals. In the accessing states, migration management is seen as services they provide for the EU. In addition, demands created by migration management goals open new possibilities for employment, which are essential to societies with high unemployment rates.

    Besides direct economic benefits, migration has been confirmed to be a politically potent instrument. States and their institutions were more firmly integrated into existing EU structures, especially those related to the prevention of unwanted migration, such as increased police cooperation and Frontex agreements. On a local level, political leaders have increasingly been using migration-related narratives in everyday political life in order to confront the state or other political competitors, often through the use of Ethno-nationalist and related discourses. In recent times, as citizens of the states along the Balkan route themselves migrate in search for jobs and less precarious lives, migration from third states has been discursively linked to the fear of foreigners permanently settling in places at the expense of natives.
    Contemporary Context

    According to a growing body of literature (e.g. Hess/Kasparek 2020; Lunaček Brumen/Meh 2016; Speer 2017), the Balkan route of the year 2015 and the first months of 2016 can be conceptualized in phases, beginning with a clandestine phase, evolving to an open route and formalized corridor and back to an invisible route again. It is necessary to point to the fact that these different phases were not merely the result of state or EU-led top-down approaches, but the consequence of a »dynamic process which resulted from the interplay of state practices, practices of mobility, activities of activists, volunteers, and NGOs, media coverage, etc. The same applies for its closure« (Beznec/Speer/Stojić Mitrović 2016: 6).

    The closure of the corridor and stricter border controls resulted in a large transformation of the Balkan route and mobility practices in the recent years, when push-backs from deep within the EU-territory to neighboring non-EU states, erratic movements across borders and territories of the (Western) Balkan states, or desperate journeys back to Greece and then back to the north became everyday realities. In the same period, the route proliferated into more branches, especially a new one via Bosnia and Herzegovina. This proliferation lead to a heightened circulation of practices, people, and knowledge along these paths: a mushrooming of so-called ›jungle camps‹ in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an escalation of border violence in Croatia, chain push-backs from Slovenia, significant EU financial investments into border control in Croatia and camp infrastructures in neighboring countries, the deployment of Frontex in Albania, etc. As the actual itineraries of people on the move multiplied, people started to reach previously indiscernible spots, resulting in blurring of the differences between entering and exiting borders. Circular transit with many loops, involving moving forward and backwards, became the dominant form of migration movements in the region. It transformed the Balkan route into a »Balkan Circuit« (Stojić Mitrović/Vilenica 2019: 540; see also Stojić Mitrović/Ahmetašević/Beznec/Kurnik 2020). The topography changed from a unidirectional line to a network of hubs, accommodation, and socializing spots. In this landscape, some movements still remain invisible—undetected by actors aiming to support, contain, and even prevent migration. »We have no information about persons who have money to pay for the whole package, transfer, accommodation, food, medical assistance when needed, we have no idea how many of them just went further«, a former MSF employee stressed, »we only see those who reach for aid, who are poor or injured and therefore cannot immediately continue their journey.« Some movements are intentionally invisibilized by support groups in order to avoid unwanted attention, and, consequently, repressive measures have also become a common development in border areas where people on the move are waiting for their chance to cross. However, it seems that circular transnational migration of human beings, resulting directly from the securitarian practices of the European border regime, have also become a usual form of mobility in the region.

    The Balkan route as a whole has been increasingly made invisible to spectators from the EU in the last years. There were no mass media coverage, except for reports on deplorable conditions in certain hubs, such as Belgrade barracks (Serbia), Vučjak camp (Bosnia and Herzegovina), or violent push-backs from Croatia that received global and EU-wide attention. However, this spectacularization was rarely directly attributed to the externalization of border control but rather more readily linked to an presumed inability of the Balkan states to manage migration, or to manage it without the blatant use of violence.

    As Marta Stojić Mitrović and Ana Vilenica (2019) point out, practices, discourses, knowledge, concepts, technologies, even particular narratives, organizations, and individual professionals are following the changed topography. This is evident both in the securitarian and in the humanitarian sector: Frontex is signing or initiating cooperation agreements with non-EU member Balkan states, border guards learn from each other how to prevent movements or how to use new equipment, obscure Orbanist legislative changes and institutionalized practices are becoming mainstream, regional coordinators of humanitarian organizations transplant the same ›best practices‹ how to work with migrants, how to organize their accommodation, what aid to bring and when, and how to ›deal‹ with the local communities in different nation-states, while the emergency framework travels from one space to another. Solidarity groups are networking, exchanging knowledge and practices but simultaneously face an increased criminalization of their activities. The public opinion in different nation states is shaped by the same dominant discourses on migration, far-right groups are building international cooperations and exploit the same narratives that frame migrants and migration as dangerous.
    About the Issue

    This issue of movements highlights the current situation of migration struggles along this fragmented, circular, and precarious route and examines the diverse attempts by the EU, transnational institutions, countries in the region, local and interregional structures, and multiple humanitarian actors to regain control over the movements of migration after the official closure of the humanitarian-securitarian corridor in 2016. It reflects on the highly dynamic and conflicting developments since 2015 and their historical entanglements, the ambiguities of humanitarian interventions and strategies of containment, migratory tactics of survival, local struggles, artistic interventions, regional and transnational activism, and recent initiatives to curb the extensive practices of border violence and push-backs. In doing so, the issue brings back the region on the European agenda and sheds light on the multiple historical disruptions, bordering practices, and connectivities that have been forming its presence.

    EU migration policy is reaffirming old and producing new material borders: from border fences to document checks—conducted both by state authorities and increasingly the general population, like taxi drivers or hostel owners—free movement is put in question for all, and unwanted movements of migrants are openly violently prevented. Violence and repression toward migrants are not only normalized but also further legalized through transformations of national legislation, while migrant solidarity initiatives and even unintentional facilitations of movement or stay (performed by carriers, accommodation providers, and ordinary citizens) are increasingly at risk of being criminalized.

    In line with this present state, only briefly tackled here, a number of contributions gathered in this issue challenge normative perceptions of the restrictive European border regime and engage in the critical analysis of its key mechanisms, symbolic pillars, and infrastructures by framing them as complex and depending on context. Furthermore, some of them strive to find creative ways to circumvent the dominance of linear or even verbal explication and indulge in narrative fragments, interviews, maps, and graphs. All contributions are focused and space- or even person-specific. They are based on extensive research, activist, volunteer or other involvement, and they are reflexive and critical towards predominant perspectives and views.

    Artist and activist Selma Banich, in her contribution entitled »Shining«, named after one of her artistic intervention performed in a Zagreb neighborhood, assembles notes and reflections on her ongoing series of site-specific interventions in Zagreb made of heat sheet (hallmarks of migrants’ rescue boats and the shores of Europe) and her personal notes in which she engages with her encounters with three persons on the move or, rather, on the run from the European border control regime. Her contribution, formulated as a series of fragments of two parallel lines, which on the surface seem loosely, but in fact deeply, connected, speaks of the power of ambivalence and of the complexities of struggles that take place everyday on the fringes of the EU. Andrea Contenta visualizes and analyzes camps that have been mushrooming in Serbia in the recent years with a series of maps and graphs. The author’s detailed analysis—based on a critical use of available, often conflicting, data—shows how Serbia has kept thousands of people outside of the western EU territory following a European strategy of containment. Contenta concludes his contribution with a clear call, stating: »It is not only a theoretical issue anymore; containment camps are all around us, and we cannot just continue to write about it.« Serbia, and Belgrade in particular, is of central importance for transmigration through the Balkans. On a micro-level, the maps of Paul Knopf, Miriam Neßler and Cosima Zita Seichter visualize the so-called Refugee District in Belgrade and shed light on the transformation of urban space by transit migration. On a macro-level, their contribution illustrates the importance of Serbia as a central hub for migrant mobility in the Balkans as well as for the externalization of the European border regime in the region. The collective efforts to support the struggle of the people on the move—by witnessing, documenting, and denouncing push-backs—are presented by the Push-Back Map Collective’s self-reflection. In their contribution to this issue, the Push-Back Map Collective ask themselves questions or start a dialogue among themselves in order to reflect and evaluate the Push-Back map (www.pushbackmap.org) they launched and maintain. They also investigate the potentials of political organizing that is based on making an invisible structure visible. The activist collective Info Kolpa from Ljubljana gives an account of push-backs conducted by the Slovenian police and describes initiatives to oppose what they deem as systemic violence of police against people on the move and violent attempts to close the borders. The text contributes to understanding the role of extralegal police practices in restoring the European border regime and highlights the ingenuity of collectives that oppose it. Patricia Artimova’s contribution entitled »A Volunteer’s Diary« could be described as a collage of diverse personal notes of the author and others in order to present the complexity of the Serbian and Bosnian context. The genre of diary notes allows the author to demonstrate the diachronic line presented in the volunteers’ personal engagements and in the gradual developments occurring in different sites and states along the route within a four-year period. She also traces the effects of her support for people on the move on her social relations at home. Emina Bužinkić focuses on the arrest, detention, and deportation of a non-EU national done by Croatia to show the implications of current securitization practices on the everyday lives and life projects of migrants and refugees. Based on different sources (oral histories, official documentation, personal history, etc.), her intervention calls for direct political action and affirms a new genre one could provisionally call ›a biography of a deportation‹. In her »Notes from the Field« Azra Hromadžić focuses on multiple encounters between the locals of Bihać, a city located in the northwestern corner of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and people on the move who stop there while trying to cross into Croatia and the EU. Some of the sections and vignettes of her field notes are written as entries describing a particular day, while others are more anthropological and analytical reflections. Her focus lies on the local people’s perspectives, the dynamics of their daily encounters with migrants and alleged contradictions, philigram distinctions, as well as experiences of refugeeness that create unique relationships between people and histories in Bihać. Karolína Augustová and Jack Sapoch, activists of the grassroots organization No Name Kitchen and members of the Border Violence Monitoring Network, offer a systematized account of violence towards people on the move with their research report. The condensed analysis of violent practices, places, victims, and perpetrators of the increasingly securitized EU border apparatus is based on interviews conducted with people on the move in border areas with Croatia, Šid (Serbia) and Velika Kladuša (BiH). They identify a whole range of violence that people on the move are facing, which often remains ignored or underestimated, and thus condoned, in local national settings as well as on the EU and global level. They conclude that border violence against people on the move cannot be interpreted as mere aggression emanating from individuals or groups of the police but is embedded in the states’ structures.

    We also gathered scientific papers discussing and analyzing different aspects of the corridor and the years thereafter. In their article, Andrej Kurnik and Barbara Beznec focus on assemblages of mobility, which are composed of practices of migrants and local agencies that strive to escape what the authors call ›the sovereign imperative‹. In their analysis of different events and practices since 2015, they demonstrate how migratory movements reveal the hidden subalternized local forms of escape and invigorate the dormant critique of coloniality in the geopolitical locations along the Balkan route. In their concluding remarks, the authors ask to confront the decades-long investments into repressive and exclusionary EU migration policies and point to the political potential of migration as an agent of decolonization. The authors stress that post-Yugoslav European borderland that has been a laboratory of Europeanization for the last thirty years, a site of a ›civilizing‹ mission that systematically diminishes forms of being in common based on diversity and alterity is placed under scrutiny again. Romana Pozniak explores the ethnography of aid work, giving special attention to dynamics between emotional and rational dimensions. Based primarily on interviews conducted with humanitarians employed during the mass refugee transit through the Balkan corridor, she analyzes, historizes, and contextualizes their experiences in terms of affective labor. The author defines affective labor as efforts invested in reflecting on morally, emotionally, and mentally unsettling affects. She deals with local employment measures and how they had an impact on employed workers. Pozniak discusses the figure of the compassionate aid professional by it in a specific historical context of the Balkan corridor and by including personal narrations about it. The article of Robert Rydzewski focuses on the situation in Serbia after the final closure of the formalized corridor in March 2016. Rydzewski argues that extensive and multidirectional migrant movements on the doorstep of the EU are an expression of hope to bring a ›stuckedness‹ to an end. In his analysis, he juxtaposes the representations of migrant movements as linear with migrant narratives and their persistent unilinear movement despite militarized external European Union borders, push-backs, and violence of border guards. Rydzewsky approaches the structural and institutional imposition of waiting with the following questions: What does interstate movement mean for migrants? Why do migrants reject state protection offered by government facilities in favor of traveling around the country? In her article, Céline Cantat focuses on the Serbian capital Belgrade and how ›solidarities in transit‹ or the heterogeneous community of actors supporting people on the move emerged and dissolved in the country in 2015/2016. She analyzes the gradual marginalization of migrant presence and migration solidarity in Belgrade as an outcome of imposing of an institutionalized, official, camp-based, and heavily regulated refugee aid field. This field regulates the access not only to camps per se, but also to fundings for activities by independent groups or civil sector organizations. Teodora Jovanović, by using something she calls ›autoethnography of participation‹, offers a meticulous case study of Miksalište, a distribution hub in Belgrade established in 2015, which she joined as a volunteer in 2016. The transformation of this single institution is examined by elaborating on the transformation within the political and social contexts in Serbia and its capital, Belgrade, regarding migration policies and humanitarian assistance. She identifies three, at times intertwined, modes of response to migration that have shaped the development of the Miksalište center in corresponding stages: voluntarism, professionalization, and re-statization. She connects the beginning and end of each stage of organizing work in Miksalište by investigating the actors, roles, activities, and manners in which these activities are conducted in relation to broader changes within migration management and funding.

    Finishing this editorial in the aftermath of brutal clashes at the borders of Turkey and Greece and in the wake of the global pandemic of COVID-19—isolated in our homes, some of us even under curfew—we experience an escalation and normalization of restrictions, not only of movement but also of almost every aspect of social and political life. We perceive a militarization, which pervades public spaces and discourses, the introduction of new and the reinforcement of old borders, in particular along the line of EU external borders, a heightened immobilization of people on the move, their intentional neglect in squats and ›jungles‹ or their forceful encampment in deplorable, often unsanitary, conditions, where they are faced with food reductions, violence of every kind, and harrowing isolation. At the same time, we witness an increase of anti-migrant narratives not only spreading across obscure social networks but also among high ranked officials. Nonetheless, we get glimpses of resistance and struggles happening every day inside and outside the camps. Videos of protests and photos of violence that manage to reach us from the strictly closed camps, together with testimonies and outcries, are fragments of migrant agency that exist despite overwhelming repression.

    https://movements-journal.org/issues/08.balkanroute
    #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #revue #humanitarisme #espoir #attente #mobilité #Belgrade #Serbie #solidarité #Miksaliste #Bihac #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #encampement #corridor #cartographie #visualisation

  • UN official: Bosnia authorities expose migrants to suffering

    With harsh weather fast approaching, the number of migrants and refugees who are sleeping rough in Bosnia keeps rising because of the persistent refusal by authorities at different levels of government in the country to coordinate their work and embrace “rational” solutions, a U.N. migration official said Thursday.

    Peter Van der Auweraert, the Western Balkans coordinator and Bosnia representative of the International Organization for Migration, told The Associated Press that instead of helping the U.N. agency to expand accommodation for migrants, some local authorities in the country are now even restricting access to housing that is already available.

    Of around 8,500 migrants stuck in Bosnia, 2,500 are forced to sleep outside “in squats, forests, streets (and) abandoned buildings,” mostly in the northwestern Krajina region, which shares a highly porous 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) border with European Union member Croatia.

    “What is the sad part of this is that this is absolutely unnecessary in the sense that we have financial resources, provided mostly by the European Union, to provide (for) and take care of all those people,” Van der Auweraert told the AP in an interview.

    “I have a center (in Krajina) for 1,500 people. Local authorities only allow me to have 500. I could get 1,000 people tomorrow from the street, inside this center, but I am not allowed to do so,” he added.

    Bosnian authorities weren’t immediately available for comment.

    In 2017, Bosnia became a bottleneck for thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and North Africa seeking better lives in Europe when other nations closed off their borders.

    The EU has so far provided Bosnia with 60 million euros ($70 million) in emergency funding, most notably for seven migrant centers, including six in Krajina, which can house more than 7,000 people.

    For its part, Bosnia has repeatedly promised, and failed, to identify additional suitable public properties for temporary accommodation of migrants. Instead, decrying an alleged failure by other parts of the country to share the load of the lingering crisis, Krajina authorities recently begun emptying some of the existing reception centers there. They pushed people on the move out of urban areas and abandoned them in forests to fend for themselves. In response, police forces of adjacent regions started blocking migrants from walking back to their areas.

    The sight of thousands of homeless people, with no access to medical care or sometimes even food, increases a sense of insecurity among the local population and has apparently led to a proliferation of vigilante groups that are threatening the migrants with violence.

    Van der Auweraert said Bosnia had “a few weeks to come together” to decide “in a rational manner” to deal with the migration situation at hand.

    “If we do not do that, we will have a humanitarian crisis in a month’s time ... we will have people sleeping in the snow, including this time families and children,” he said.

    Forced to stay in a makeshift camp set up by some 300 migrants and refugees in a forest not far from the northwestern town of Velika Kladusa, where they had been dropped off and abandoned by local police, Amin Hasan Han, a migrant from Bangladesh, echoed those concerns.

    “Winter is coming, people are living under tents,” Han said, adding: “Also, we are starving … people cannot get food.”

    https://apnews.com/article/europe-united-nations-d60adc0b6742c3c1299cee4308312adb
    #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #route_des_Balkans #Balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #logement #hébergement #SDF #sans-abri #Krajina #aide_financière

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Réfugiés : #violences et #chaos dans le nord-ouest de la Bosnie-Herzégovine
    Traduit et adapté par Manon Rumiz (Article original : https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Bosnia-Erzegovina/Migranti-caos-Bosnia-204594)

    Squats démantelés, familles déportées et laissées sans aide au bord de la route, violentes manifestations anti-migrants.... Dans le canton d’Una-Sana (nord-ouest de la Bosnie-Herzégovine), la situation des réfugiés devient toujours plus dramatique.

    « C’est le chaos. » Voilà comment Silvia Maraone, qui coordonne les activités de l’ONG italienne Ipsia (https://www.facebook.com/IPSIA.BIH) à #Bihać, résume la situation actuelle dans le canton d’#Una_Sana, explosive depuis le milieu de l’été. « Les conditions imposées par le gouvernement local n’offrent plus de répit à personne. Même les familles, les femmes et les enfants n’ont plus accès aux #camps officiels. Quant aux transports en commun, ils sont désormais interdits aux réfugiés, ce qui permet aux trafiquants de faire des affaires encore plus lucratives. »

    Dans le même temps, la police expulse les #squats et tous les #camps_informels, renvoyant les réfugiés hors des frontières du canton. La population locale, de son côté, manifeste ouvertement son hostilité face à la présence massive de candidats à l’exil. Les agressions verbales et physiques se multiplient, ainsi que les attaques contre les volontaires.

    “Le canton d’Una Sana est plus que jamais le #cul-de-sac de la route des Balkans.”

    Du fait de la #pandémie et de la proclamation de l’#état_d’urgence, la situation s’est encore détériorée depuis le printemps. Les camps officiels, déjà pleins, n’accueillent plus de nouveaux entrants alors mêmes que les arrivées ont repris depuis la réouverture des frontières au mois de juin. Le canton d’Una Sana est plus que jamais le cul-de-sac de la route des Balkans, d’autant qu’à l’ouest, le jeu de domino entre les polices italienne, slovène et croate se poursuit, aboutissant au #refoulement des migrants interceptés dans cette zone frontalière de l’Union européenne.

    La seule réponse apportée par les autorités locales a été l’ouverture, en avril, d’un « #camp_d’urgence » à Lipa, entre Bihać et #Bosanski_Petrovac, dont le millier places a vite été rempli. Les squats se sont donc multipliés dans les #friches_industrielles et dans les bois. De toute façon, les migrants ne souhaitent pas rester ici et le « #game » continue : chaque jour, ils sont des centaines à tenter de déjouer la surveillance de la frontière croate avec l’espoir de ne pas être arrêté avant d’avoir atteint l’Italie.

    Le début du « chaos » qu’évoque Silvia Maraone remonte à la mi-juillet, avec l’expulsion du camp de fortune qui s’était créé à l’entrée de #Velika_Kladuša, près du camp officiel de #Miral, le long de la rivière #Kladušnica. Officiellement, l’opération a été déclenchée à cause des plaintes répétées des riverains. Début août, la police est revenue pour chasser les migrants qui avaient reconstitué un nouveau camp.

    « #Milices_citoyennes »

    Quelques jours plus tard, le maire de Bihać, #Šuhret_Fazlić, déclarait que la situation était aussi devenue insoutenable dans sa commune. « Cela n’a jamais été pire qu’aujourd’hui. Chaque jour, nous assistons à l’arrivée d’un flux incontrôlé de migrants. Il y en a déjà des milliers qui campent un peu partout. Une fois de plus, on nous laisse seuls », avant de conclure, menaçant : « Nous sommes prêts à prendre des mesures radicales ». Ce n’est pas la première fois que le maire de Bihać tire la sonnette d’alarme. Début 2018, au tout début de la crise, l’édile déplorait déjà le manque de soutien des autorités de la Fédération, l’entité croato-bosniaque dont dépend le canton, et nationales. À l’automne 2019, Silvia Maraone s’inquiétait aussi : « La situation ne fera qu’empirer dans les mois qui viennent si de nouveaux camps officiels ne sont pas ouverts d’urgence ».

    Selon les chiffres officiels, plus de 80% des réfugiés présents sur le sol bosnien se concentreraient dans le seul canton d’Una Sana. « Il sont plus de 5000, dont à peine la moitié hébergés dans des centres d’accueil officiels. Les autres dorment dans des bâtiments détruits ou dans les bois en attendant de tenter le game », poursuit Silvia Maraone. Ces dernières semaines, la population de Velika Kladuša a organisé des manifestations hebdomadaires contre la présence de migrants. Organisées sur les réseaux sociaux, ces rassemblements réunissent des habitants venus de tout le canton.

    Pire, des #milices citoyennes ont commencé à se mettre en place pour refouler les migrants. « Dans certains groupes Facebook, des membres signalent les plaques des véhicules qui transportent des migrants », observe Silvia Maraone. « Des routes ont même été bloquées, des pierres et des bâtons jetés sur les véhicules. » Ce n’est pas tout. « Des citoyens ont attaqué des migrants en pleine rue, tandis que les volontaires leur venant en aide se sont faits dénoncer à la police. » Le 17 août, les forces de l’ordre ont dû intervenir à Velika Kladuša où des dizaines de riverains s’étaient massés et avaient attaqué un bus où se trouvaient des migrants.

    Pour justifier de telles actions coup de poing, on trouve la rhétorique habituelle de l’extrême-droite complotiste : la prétendue violence de ces migrants et la menace qu’ils feraient peser pour la sécurité de la population locale. Des arguments balayés par les statistiques officielles, mais qui font mouche auprès de Bosniens fatigués par des décennies de divisions, de corruption et de misère.

    Deux jours après la violente manifestation du 17 août à Velika Kladuša, la cellule de crise du canton d’Una-Sana a décrété des mesures très dures : l’évacuation de tous les migrants vivant hors des structures d’accueil officielles, perquisition dans tous les lieux privés offrants des services aux migrants, interdiction de quitter les camps officiels, d’utiliser les transports en commun et d’entrer dans le canton pour tous les migrants. Des postes de contrôle ont aussi été mis en place sur les routes d’accès au canton.

    “Ils ont tout brûlé, vêtements, téléphones portables, sacs à dos. Ils nous ont frappés avec des matraques.”

    « Les personnes expulsées des squats n’ont pas toutes pu être accueillies au camp de #Lipa et ont été refoulées en #Republika_Srpska (l’autre entité de Bosnie-Herzégovine) », dénonce Silvia Maraone. « Même les familles avec enfants sont abandonnées sans aucune aide. » Ces restrictions à la #liberté_de_mouvement violent les #droits_humains fondamentaux, comme l’a dénoncé Amnesty International dans un communiqué, le 25 août. Le réseau Transbalkanska Solidarnost (https://transbalkanskasolidarnost.home.blog) demande aux autorités locales et aux organisations internationales de « mettre fin à la politique du silence », de condamner publiquement ces pratiques illégales, de poursuivre les responsables et d’assurer un accueil digne et sûr aux migrants.

    Transbalkanska Solidarnost a recueilli plusieurs #témoignages sur ces expulsions, dont celles de l’ONG No Name Kitchen à Bosanska Otoka. « Nous dormions dans une ancienne usine abandonnée près de Bihać quand la police est arrivée. Il devait y avoir 20 ou 25 policiers. Ils ont tout brûlé, vêtements, téléphones portables, sacs à dos. Ils nous ont frappés avec des matraques, puis nous ont expulsés ici où nous sommes sans nourriture, sans rien. Je me suis échappé d’Afghanistan pour me sauver et là je retrouve cette violence... Pourquoi ?! », se désole A., 16 ans. Selon les chiffres des associations, plus de 500 réfugiés se sont retrouvés bloqués sur la ligne de démarcation entre les deux entités bosniennes, personne ne voulant les prendre en charge.

    Malgré les menaces qui se font toujours plus fortes, les réseaux de #volontaires continuent de venir en aide aux migrants : distribution de produits de première nécessité, de vêtements et signalement des violences et des violations des droits. « Ce n’est pas facile », reconnaît Silvia Maraone. « Tout le monde vous regarde mal et ceux que vous aidez sont détestés… Nous restons prudents. » Son ONG, Ipsia ; intervient toujours dans le camp de Bira, géré par l’#Organisation_internationale_pour_les_migrations (#OIM) où elle gère le Café social et prépare un projet plus vaste, soutenu par des fonds européens, pour développer des activités, hors des camps, visant à améliorer les relations entre migrants et population locale. Il y a urgence. « Jamais le bras-de-fer avec le reste de la Bosnie n’a été aussi tendu. »

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/refugies-chaos-dans-le-nord-ouest-de-la-bosnie-herzegovine

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #camps_de_réfugiés #campements #IOM #extrême_droite #solidarité

    –-> « Quant aux transports en commun, ils sont désormais interdits aux réfugiés, ce qui permet aux trafiquants de faire des affaires encore plus lucratives »
    #ségrégation #transports_publics #transports_en_commun #apartheid

    –-> « l’#Organisation_internationale_pour_les_migrations (#OIM) gère le Café social et prépare un projet plus vaste, soutenu par des fonds européens, pour développer des activités, hors des camps, visant à améliorer les relations entre migrants et population locale. Il y a urgence. »
    En fait, ce qu’il faudrait faire c’est ouvrir les frontières et laisser ces personnes bloquées en Bosnie, où elles n’ont aucune intention de rester, de partir...

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • The first cases of COVID-19 among the migrant population in BIH, in the #Bira camp, were also confirmed (balkans.aljazeera.net/video/bay-o-zdravstvenom-nadzoru-migranata-u-bih). Organizations working in the camps are trying to keep the situation under control, but there is always the possibility of spreading of the infection among the migrant population.

    Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 04.09.2020

    #réfugiés #asile #migrations #covid-19 #coronavirus #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #route_des_Balkans #Balkans #camps_de_réfugiés

    ping @luciebacon @isskein

  • Bosnie-Herzégovine : un migrant tué près de la frontière croate

    3 juillet 2020 - 12h : Un migrant a été tué le 2 juillet alors qu’il essayait de traverser la frontière croate près de #Kulen_Vakuf, en Bosnie-Herzégovine, a confirmé la police du canton d’#Una-Sana. « Des habitants de Kulen Vakuf ont informé la police locale qu’un groupe de migrants portaient un homme blessé. Les policiers et l’équipe médicale ont déclaré que l’homme est malheureusement mort de ses blessures, causées par une #arme_à_feu. La blessure fatale était localisée dans le dos de la victime, provenant probablement d’un #fusil », explique Ale Šiljdedić, porte-parole de la police du canton d’Una-Sana.

    Selon les médias locaux, l’identité de la victime et des personnes qui le transportaient est pour le moment inconnue. Selon eux, ces personnes utilisaient les services du camp de réfugiés de Lipa et auraient essayé de passer en Croatie près de Kulen Vakuf.

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Les-dernieres-infos-Refugies-Balkans-Bosnie-Herzegovine-un-nouvea

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #décès #morts #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Croatie #Balkans #route_des_Balkans

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur les morts à la frontière sud-alpine :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/758646#message806449

  • Info Park Weekly 27 May – 2 June 2020

    Serbia
    ➢ Serbian Ministry of Defense dropped the tender for procurement of razor wire originally intended for fencing the reception/asylum centers. As cited on the Ministry’s website, the reasons for this are "objective and verifiable and could have not been foreseen at the time of initiating the procedure”. This is a small but important victory for humanitarian organizations Info Park, A11 Initiative, PIN and other defenders of refugee and migrant human rights who called upon the Ministry to stop the dangerous process which would
    lead to further militarization of migration management in Serbia.
    ➢ The strong trend of migrants and refugees leaving reception centers in Serbia continued this week. On June 1, as per SCRM data 5 687 people are registered in 18 camps, 40% down from only a month ago when the centers were still in quarantine. Out of this number, 1171 are in asylum centers and 4516 in reception centers. The outflow of centers’ beneficiaries contributed to better living conditions, so the camps are not overcrowded
    anymore– Adasevci (690) and Krnjaca (612) are the busiest places at the moment. Thousands of migrants are already outside, in border areas with Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary and Romania as well as in Belgrade central area (according to Info Park’s assessment, around 300 persons). No corona cases have been registered among the
    migrants so far, despite occasional testing

    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    ➢ Danish Refugee Council (DRC) active in the field in BiH has confirmed the accusations made last week by migrants who were illegally expelled to BiH from Croatia, while experiencing inhuman treatment when Croatian police spray-painted orange crosses on
    their heads. In April alone, DRC teams in BiH recorded 1,641 cases of refugees and migrants returning from Croatia to Bosnia. Of that number, 891 said they had suffered violence or physical assault, 1,253 said their property had either been confiscated or
    destroyed (set on fire), 871 said Croatian police had either confiscated or destroyed their identification documents, and 445 person said they were denied the opportunity to seek
    asylum, despite explicitly asking about it. To find out more on the current situation in BiH, please read this weekly appendix written by Aleksandra Damjanovic from DRC in BiH.
    ➢ According to local BiH web portal Klix, The State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) is implementing an action code-named “Trieste” ordered by the Una-Sana Canton Prosecutor’s Office. The operation is aimed at breaking up an organized criminal group
    that has been smuggling migrants from BiH through Croatia to other European Union countries. The “Trieste” operation is also being carried out in Croatia, in cooperation with EUROPOL. Searches are being conducted at five locations in Velika Kladusa, Cazin and
    Bihac. Eight people were arrested so far - four in BiH and four in Croatia.

    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Serbie #camp #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Refoulement

  • RÉFUGIÉS SUR LA ROUTE DES BALKANS : LE RÈGNE DE LA VIOLENCE ET DU SILENCE

    Des exilés tués dans les camps financés par l’UE, maltraités et marqués à la peinture par la police croate, des camps de réfugiés qui ressemblent de plus en plus à des « camps de concentration »… La situation ne cesse de se détériorer tout au long de la route des Balkans. Entretien avec la journaliste Nidžara Ahmetašević.

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Refugies-sur-la-route-des-Balkans-le-regne-de-la-violence-et-du-s

    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #camp #violencespolicières #frontière #Serbie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Croatie

  • Info Park
    Weekly
    20 – 26 May 2020

    Serbia
    ➢ After the lockdown measures were lifted, the number of refugees and other migrants visible in the parks and streets of Savamala district has been increasing daily. Info
    Park mobile team has registered a daily average of 160 people on the move in the area, which is higher than the week before and corresponds to the numbers before
    the state of emergency. By the end of the week, police officers returned to Park Luke Celovica, commencing raids, and bringing migrants without permits to governmentrun centers to leave the camps back. Info Park registered 534 push backs from Hungary –the high number reflecting return to pre-pandemic dynamics in the border
    zone.
    ➢ Ministry of Defense published a public procurement for 2.5 tons of razor-wire intended for fencing the reception and asylum centers in Serbia. Info Park issued a press statement joined by A11 Initiative, PIN, Alternative Center for Girls and Collective Aid, calling the Ministry to immediately withdraw the public procurement
    and return its activities within their constitutional framework. Moreover, the organizations called upon the European Commission to react and inform the
    authorities in Belgrade that these actions are derogating the efforts undertaken in Serbia’s accession process towards the European Union, within chapters 23 and 24.
    Full statement is available here.
    ➢ According to Serbian media, a person from Valjevo was arrested for spreading national and racial hatred towards migrants in the text on newly established website owned by the detainee. The website article reads that a new refugee camp for 10,000 migrants will open in Valjevo should the ruling Progressives win the forthcoming
    elections.
    ➢ Belgrade Center for Human Rights issued a press statement informing the public on the inadmissible conduct of the Bogovadja Asylum Centre security guards, who verbally and physically abused an unaccompanied child accommodated there. The
    BCHR pressed criminal charges against the guards.
    ➢ The updated AIDA 2019 Country Report on Serbia documents the main developments in asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention of asylum seekers and the Covid-19 measures. Read the full country report here.

    Croatia
    ➢ Portal Novosti reported on the latest in a series of attempts of Croatian authorities to curb migration in the country. Reportedly, the Croatian state enterprise for forest management carried out deforestation on the heights of the Plješivica mountain and near the former Yugoslav National Army airport Željava, along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Croatian police allegedly did not deny it but said they aimed to control better the entry of refugees and other migrants from BiH.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    ➢ During the previous week, a group of migrants accidentally initiated a fire in an abandoned hall near Miral RC in Velika Kladusa. On 18 May the special police forces
    entered the hall and used physical violence against a group of migrants found there and forced them to leave the place. The video of the incident was published on the
    YouTube. Association for Democratic Initiatives (ADI) and Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) released a joint statement and condemned the violation of human rights and
    use of violence against migrants. Afterwards the cantonal police conducted an internal investigation and concluded there was no excessive use of violence in the
    action.

    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Serbie #Croatie

  • [Google Translate]

    Eid lunch for migrants in Zenica: They have a special place in our hearts

    The Majlis of the Islamic Community of Zenica, in cooperation with the Kocevo Jamaat, today organized an Eid lunch for more than 20 migrants in Zenica, all with the aim of spreading the Eid atmosphere and helping occasional travelers.
    This is the first time that the Majlis of the Islamic Community of Zenica has organized such an activity with the aim of helping migrants, travelers to the European Union, who are stuck in our country due to the impossibility of moving to neighboring Croatia.

    Considering that they are far from their countries, without families, the Majlis decided to give them warmth on this Eid, so that in the congregation of Kočevo with the host Ismet ef. About 20 of Bašić had an Eid lunch, and they also received hedi.

    Basic said that this is a novelty and that most likely other majlises and levels of the Islamic Community of BiH will accept this practice.

    "Apart from this activity, we have previously collected stalls and aid for migrant centers. Bosniaks in this city have always been merhametli, and we wanted to brighten our cheeks and tell occasional travelers to have a special place in our hearts, houses and our city, "said ef. Basic for Klix.ba.

    He added that the citizens of BiH are most invited to be an example to other people of how to treat this population of people because we ourselves were passengers a few years ago, but still today.

    "They often repeat in conversation that they left their countries because of the economy, disrespect for human rights, denied freedom and democracy. They want to reach European countries. I think you will agree, and I myself have lived in Arab countries for a long time, that Muslims in BiH has great freedom, which can be seen through the sermons because no one delegates to us what we will talk about, while it is not in Islamic countries, we helped this population through our traveling iftar activity during Ramadan. “10 migrants worshiped iftars and monetary hedias. This activity today is the crown of our human obligation to man, especially to those in need,” our interlocutor added.

    Jamaat members, but also the citizens of Zenica, help migrants every day, but they cannot fulfill all their wishes.

    "In the days of Eid, nostalgia is felt, they say that they miss their homeland, family, parents, family ... Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we were so persistent and tried in some things like them, where would we end up … ”, Concluded Bašić.

    After the Eid lunch, the migrants cleaned the courtyard of the mosque.

    https://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/bajramski-rucak-za-migrante-u-zenici-imaju-posebno-mjesto-u-nasem-srcu/200525071

    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Zenica #Eid

  • [Google Translate]

    The imams of Mostar shared the joy of Eid with the migrants and the local priest

    Today, three Mostar imams from the area of ​​Bijelo Polje shared the joy of Eid with the migrants in Salakovac and with the local priest, who visited and treated them to Eid delicacies.
    The arrival of the Mostar imams in the IPC Salakovac caused great joy among the migrants, and they especially cheered up the children to whom they distributed Eid packages and lit up their faces with smiles.

    As the imam of the Podgorani-Humi-Prigrađani congregation, Admir ef. Čopelj, told us, with the help of good people, they prepared 750 packages, of which 50 were distributed to children in the IPC Salakovac and 700 to the children of the congregation from Bijelo Polje.

    Thus, during the past three days in the area of ​​Bijelo Polje, three imams knocked on many doors of their congregation members. They brought joy to many homes and caused smiles on the faces of many children, surprising them with Ramadan packages.

    “As we could not gather the children in one place due to the pandemic, we decided that everyone in their congregation would knock on the door and deliver the packages to their home address, which made them very happy,” said Admir ef. Shoe. The goal was, as he emphasizes, for the children to remember this Ramadan and Eid in a beautiful memory and to see the smiles on their faces, which completes the Eid joy.

    Recalling that it is important to share the joy of Eid at all times, the imam of the Potoci congregation, Ammar Copelj, points out that this is especially important now, when people have been away from each other for almost more than two months, even their loved ones.

    “Slowly, these protection measures are diminishing and the concessions came at a time of joy to be together, and to feel that joy,” said Imam Ammar Copelj.

    However, due to protection measures, as the imam of the Kuti-Livač Ensar Vila congregation points out, they could not even organize a traditional reception, which was regularly attended by representatives of other religious communities. Therefore, as he explains, the three imams decided to bring Eid cakes together and visited the parish priest from Bijelo Polje, Nebojsa Radic, who welcomed them with enthusiasm.

    "This means a lot to me. We have been building a community and living together for a long time, through our Christmas celebrations they are always welcome with us and we with them for Eid. I think this is a message to our society that this is the only way we can build love between us and “A healthy coexistence and the life of our communities. This is a great joy both for the believers of the Islamic faith and for us to be able to share the joy of our holidays,” said Pastor Radić.

    https://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/mostarski-imami-radost-bajrama-podijelili-sa-migrantima-i-mjesnim-popom/200524060

    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Mostar #Eid

  • [Google Translate]

    After the recording of the use of force against migrants in Miral: The results of the internal investigation are known

    An internal investigation was completed after a video of a police intervention in the Miral reception center and the use of force against migrants appeared.

    The Minister of Internal Affairs of the Una-Sana Canton (USK), Nermin Kljajić, said that the internal investigation confirmed that there was no violation of authority during one of the police interventions in Miral, which has been talked about a lot in recent days due to a controversial video on the Internet.

    "It was clearly established that the intervention of the police officers in this reception center was explicitly requested by the employees of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), since their lives were endangered. We simply had to act in that way and use physical force. Reasons for intervention. there were also aggressive behavior of migrants, disrespect for officials, causing incidents, and dangers in the camp itself, "the cantonal interior minister added.

    Kljajic also spoke about the overall situation when it comes to migrants.

    He said that the situation with migrants, ie a series of incidents and several burning abandoned buildings in Velika Kladuša, conditioned the increased police presence and controls.

    "As you know, several abandoned buildings in Velika Kladuša have been set on fire in recent days. We have not yet identified the perpetrators of these crimes, although we found migrants with valid Mirala residence cards in those facilities and moved them to this reception center.

    Further investigations will determine whether these arsons are actually the result of their dissatisfaction that we were doing our job. Also, I must say that the number of migrants on the streets of Velika Kladuša has significantly increased, for which there is no place in Miral. The complete situation dictates the intensified police controls - Kljajić added.

    Members of the Operational Group for the Situation with Migrants in Una-Sana Canton, due to all events and the complete situation, asked for the cooperation of the municipal authorities in Velika Kladuša, ie finding a location for the formation of a transitional center to accommodate migrants from Miral, abandoned buildings.

    https://radiosarajevo.ba/vijesti/bosna-i-hercegovina/nakon-snimka-primjene-sile-nad-migrantima-u-miralu-poznati-rezultati-interne-istrage/377964

    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Miral #Camp #Violencespolicières #Velikakladusa

  • [Google Translate]

    Minister on police violence against migrants in Miral: We had to use force because they were aggressive

    The Minister of Internal Affairs of the Una-Sana Canton (USK), Nermin Kljajić, confirmed that the situation with migrants, ie incidents and several burning abandoned buildings in Velika Kladuša, conditioned the increased police presence and controls. He also referred to a video released a few days ago, which shows police beating migrants.
    "As you know, several abandoned buildings in Velika Kladuša have been set on fire in recent days. We have not yet identified the perpetrators of these crimes, although we found migrants with valid Mirala residence cards in these buildings and moved them to this reception center. “These burns are actually a consequence of their dissatisfaction that we did our job. I must also say that the number of migrants on the streets of Velika Kladuša has increased significantly, for which there is no place in Miral. The complete situation dictates increased police controls,” said Minister Kljajić. .

    It was also emphasized that the internal investigation confirmed that there was no abuse of power during one of the police interventions in Miral, which has been talked about a lot in recent days due to the controversial video on the Internet.

    "It was clearly established that the intervention of the police officers in this reception center was explicitly requested by the employees of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), since their lives were endangered. We simply had to act in that way and use physical force. Reasons for intervention. there were also aggressive behavior of migrants, disrespect for officials, causing incidents, and dangers in the camp itself, "the cantonal interior minister added.

    Due to all the events and the complete situation, the members of the Operational Group for the Situation with Migrants in Una-Sana Canton requested the cooperation of the municipal authorities in Velika Kladuša, ie finding a location for the formation of a transitional center to accommodate migrants from Miral and city streets. abandoned buildings.

    https://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/ministar-o-nasilju-policije-nad-migrantima-u-miralu-morali-smo-upotrijebiti-silu-jer-su-bili-agresivni/200522119

    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Miral #Velikakladusa #Violence #Incendie

  • [Google Translate]

    Fazlić: If the stampede of migrants goes to Bihać, there will be more Vučjak

    The mayor of Bihać, Šuhret Fazlić, warned the authorities that, if a stampede of migrants enters this city, which no one will take care of, he will open five more Vučjak camps.

    Fazlic emphasized the importance of the presence of the EU Delegation, the European Commission and international organizations, without which, as he said, the situation would be chaotic.

    – We should all be professional and quickly continue the successful cooperation so far. Also, I must warn all actors in the process that I will not hesitate to open new Vučjak if Bihać is again exposed to the unbearable pressure of migrants and left to it - said Fazlić.

    The Prime Minister of Una-Sana Canton Mustafa Ružnić, mayors and mayors of Una-Sana Canton emphasized at today’s meeting the importance and success of the current cooperation with the European Commission and international organizations, but also reiterated that the interest of the citizens of that canton is always in the first place. uncompromisingly insists on closing the reception centers “Bira” and “Miral”.

    – We will be maximally professional in further actions, however, it must be clear to everyone that the Una-Sana Canton will not be a yard for solving the problem of migration in this part of Europe. We will not deal with any correspondence, but we will, in accordance with the constitutional powers, take care of the interests and security of our citizens - Ružnić pointed out.

    He mentioned that the closure of “Bira” and “Mirala” was ordered at a joint meeting in Brussels, where it was emphasized that the reception centers must not be in private facilities.

    It is clearly defined how the process of final closure of “Bire” will take place in two phases and that it has actually already begun.

    The Minister of Internal Affairs of the Una-Sana Canton, Nermin Kljajić, pointed out that in the past period, they blocked this reception center by reducing the number of service users from 2,100 people to the current 650 migrants.

    – In the first phase of the further process, we are relocating minors, after which we will transfer about 400 people to a reception camp at the Lipa site. I hope that we will finish everything very soon, and with professional action and with the support of international organizations, finally close the unconditional and undesirable camp in the center of Bihać - said Kljajić.

    The political representatives of the Una-Sana Canton are persistent in the request for the relocation of unaccompanied minors to reception centers outside that canton, federal media report.

    Cantonal Minister of Health Nermina Ćemalović stated that they are already in communication with the authorities for the reception centers Duje and Salakovac, where they want to relocate 150 minors who do not have adequate living conditions in the centers in the Una-Sana Canton.

    – In “Bira” and “Miral”, we currently have 23 children under the age of 15, which is inadmissible. Someone should really think about this big problem, which of course was left to us again in the canton - said Ćemalović.

    The importance of joint action in this situation was emphasized at the meeting, but also the belief that this time there will be support and cooperation between the Ministry of Security in the Council of Ministers and the line minister Fahrudin Radončić.

    https://lat.rtrs.tv/vijesti/vijest.php?id=385146

    #Covid-19 #Migration #Migrant #Balkans #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Camp #Una-Sanacanton #Bihac