• „Damals habe ich all diese Veränderungen erlebt und gesehen, selbst erfahren, aber richtig denken konnte ich es nicht, nicht erfassen, dass ein ganzer Staat neu aufgebaut wurde. Und wie immer in der Geschichte der Menschen und ihrer Staaten fingen die Leute zuerst mit dem Archivieren an. Wir sind jetzt Kroaten, hörte man überall. Ja, natürlich, dachte ich, jetzt sind wird das geworden, was schon immer in uns gelauert hat, und ich dachte noch, selbst verschwitzt und sehnsüchtig nach Ferne, dass die Wörter in einem neugebackenen Land, in dem die Leute auf Krücken gehen und es plötzlich überall Beinamputierte gibt, komisch klingen, Kroate, Granate, Granatapfel, Apfelsine, Cinématograph - die Welt wurde austauschbar.“
    #yougosnostalgie #Croatie #nationalisme #mémoire

    Sterne erben p. 41

  • Balkans : en Slovénie, les arrivées de migrants ont doublé en un an - InfoMigrants
    https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/54515/balkans--en-slovenie-les-arrivees-de-migrants-ont-double-en-un-an

    Actualités : Balkans : en Slovénie, les arrivées de migrants ont doublé en un an
    Par La rédaction Publié le : 15/01/2024
    En 2023, plus de 60 000 exilés ont été détectés dans ce petit pays alpin, contre environ 30 000 l’année précédente. La plupart de ces personnes sont originaires d’Afghanistan, du Maroc et du Pakistan.
    Le nombre de migrants interpellés a quasiment doublé en 2023 sur un an en Slovénie. Selon les statistiques de la police consultées par l’AFP, 60 587 personnes sont arrivées l’an dernier dans le petit pays alpin, contre 32 024 en 2022, soit une hausse de 89%.
    La plupart sont arrivées en Slovénie via la Croatie voisine, entrée récemment dans l’espace Schengen. Environ 30% étaient originaires d’Afghanistan, 15% du Maroc et 9% du Pakistan. Le nombre de citoyens russes a également doublé, passant de 1 816 à 3 675.
    Presque toutes ces personnes ont émis le souhait de déposer une demande d’asile en Slovénie, avant de poursuivre leur chemin vers l’ouest et le nord de l’Europe le plus souvent. L’Allemagne, souvent le pays d’installation des migrants syriens, turcs et afghans notamment, a de son côté vu grimper les demandes d’asile de plus de moitié l’an passé.
    En 2023, les entrées d’exilés en Slovénie, pays de la route migratoire des Balkans, se sont multipliées. En réaction, les autorités ont introduit le 21 octobre des contrôles à ses frontières, dans le sillage d’autres pays de la Hongrie et de la Croatie. Dix jours plus tard, le 2 novembre, le ministre de l’Intérieur Davor Božinović a convenu avec ses homologues italien et croate de patrouilles conjointes.Dans ce contexte, la police slovène a détecté au cours des deux derniers mois une augmentation des tentatives de passage vers l’Autriche par des cols montagneux peu habités, selon l’agence de presse slovène STA. Au mois de juin pourtant, la Slovénie avait pris une décision à l’encontre de ses récentes décisions : la destruction de sa clôture anti-migrants, le long de la frontière avec la Croatie. Selon le chef du gouvernement slovène Robert Golob, « la clôture n’a pas rempli son but déclaré, qui était de décourager ceux qui voudraient franchir la frontière », avait-il dit devant les journalistes. Le mur a donc être démantelé « pour des raisons humanitaires et parce qu’il a échoué à atteindre son objectif ».
    Une « hostilité » même dans la mort
    Cette barrière, érigée en 2015 lorsque plus d’un demi-million d’exilés avaient transité par le pays, forçaient, d’après les associations, les migrants à emprunter d’autres chemins en pleine nature, plus dangereux. En décembre dernier 2021, une fillette de 10 ans est morte dans la Dragonja, la rivière qui sépare la Croatie de la Slovénie. Elle était sur les épaules de sa mère, qui tentait de gagner l’autre rive, lorsqu’elle a été happée par le courant. Le même mois, le corps d’un Bangladais avait déjà été retrouvé au même endroit. Le 1er janvier 2020, un autre cadavre avait été retrouvé près de là, à Socerb, à la frontière slovène : celui d’un Algérien de 29 ans, décédé après une chute dans un précipice.
    Il n’existe aucun chiffre officiel du nombre de victimes sur la route des Balkans. D’après une enquête de Lighthouse Reports, en collaboration avec d’autres médias et des universités britanniques, « l’hostilité à laquelle les gens sont confrontés aux frontières de l’Europe de leur vivant perdure également lorsqu’ils sont morts. Les autorités nationales ne font que peu ou pas d’efforts pour tenter d’identifier les migrants décédés ou pour informer leurs familles ».
    « Les cadavres non identifiés finissent entassés dans des morgues ou enterrés sans laisser de traces », d’après l’enquête. « Certains corps ne sont jamais retrouvés ».

    #Covid-19#migrant#migration#slovenie#croatie#balkan#routemigratoire#mortalite#frontiere#cadavre#sante

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    –—

    What is the border graves project?
    Hide

    About the investigation

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

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

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

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

    –—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2023/dec/08/revealed-more-than-1000-unmarked-graves-discovered-along-eu-migration-r

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

    • The Border Graves Investigation

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://twitter.com/Techjournalisto/status/1733100115781386448

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Gabriele Cruciata IG @gab_cruciata

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

      X @leahpattem
      IG @madridnofrills

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

      X @EoghanGilmartin
      Muck Rack: Eoghan Gilmartin

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

      X @higabyramirez
      Linkedin Gabriela Ramirez
      Instagram @higabyramirez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      X: @tinayingxu
      IG: @tinayingxu

      https://www.investigativejournalismforeu.net/projects/border-graves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://unbiasthenews.org/border-graves-investigation

    • Widowed by Europe’s borders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Where to turn?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      “The police have no competence”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      She was asked to identify the corpse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Hidden graves, unknown bodies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://unbiasthenews.org/widowed-by-europes-borders

      #Lituanie #Biélorussie #forêt #Pologne #Bialowieza

    • Missing data, missing souls in Italy

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

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

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

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

      So they decided to leave.

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

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

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

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

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

      Uncertain and partial numbers

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

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

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

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

      A DNA test for everyone

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RhbqUACTv8&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Funbiasthenews.org%2

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

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

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

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

      An organizational failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      EU responsibilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlDtBRg02aU&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Funbiasthenews.org%2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


      https://unbiasthenews.org/missing-data-missing-souls

      #Italie #Tareke_Brhane #comitato_3_ottobre #3_octobre_2013 #Lampedusa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Identities known but buried as unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=112&v=SFLYVVtsjGc&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://unbiasthenews.org/unmarked-monuments-of-eus-shame-croatia-bosnia

      #Bosnie #Croatie #Zvornik #Madina_Hussiny

    • Counting the invisible victims of Spain’s EU borders

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

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

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

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

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

      Border Graves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Guaranteeing “last rights”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://unbiasthenews.org/counting-the-invisible-victims-of-spains-eu-borders

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

    • The unidentified: Unmarked refugee graves on the Greek borders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Unclaimed dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Lesvos: 167 unidentified refugee graves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Chios and Samos: graves covered by weeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      These matches are made by the local forensic experts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      “This is not decent”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://unbiasthenews.org/the-unidentified-unmarked-refugee-graves-in-the-greek-borders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.eldiario.es/desalambre/enterrar-mil-personas-nombre-trabas-ue-espana-identificar-cuerpos-migrantes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Λέσβος : 167 αταυτοποίητοι τάφοι προσφύγων

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Αναζητώντας στοιχεία

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

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

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

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

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

      Τις αντιστοιχίσεις αυτές αναλαμβάνουν οι κατά τόπους ιατροδικαστές.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      « Αυτό δεν είναι αξιοπρεπές »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://wearesolomon.com/el/mag/format-el/erevnes/agnoston-stoixeion-pano-apo-1000-ataftopoihtoi-tafoi-sta-evropaika-syn

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

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

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

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

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQAGqiWBB78&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.telegram.hr%2F&

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

      Afganistanci pod križem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PldA9Pa3LJc&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.telegram.hr%2F&

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2nVP5AL1x0&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.telegram.hr%2F&

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJkS3qHfA54&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.telegram.hr%2F&

      https://www.telegram.hr/preview/1905158

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/dec/08/an-obscure-island-grave-fate-of-deadly-eu-migration-routes-youngest-vic

      #Teguise

    • Dead refugees in the Balkans: bribes to find missing relatives

      In comparison to 2015, today more asylum seekers are dying on the Balkan route. While relatives are forced to overcome state indifference to identify their loved ones, they are also forced to bribe authorities, even border guards, in the hope of finding them.

      He had hoped to find his son in a refugee camp. And after spending three weeks looking for him, he had prepared himself for the possibility of finding him in a hospital.

      But he didn’t expect to find him in the graveyard.

      When the policeman with Bulgarian insignia on his uniform showed him the picture of his son lying lifeless in the grass, he lost the ground under his feet. “I wish I could at least have been able to see Majd one last time. My mind still can’t believe that the person in this grave is my son,” says Husam Adin Bibars.

      The 56-year-old Syrian refugee, a father of four other children, had spent 22 days searching for his son from afar when he decided to spend his meager savings to travel from Denmark to Bulgaria to look for him – but it was too late.

      In Bulgaria, he learned that 27-year-old Majd’s body had been buried within just four days of its discovery. Majd had been buried as an unidentified person; there was nothing to indicate that the person buried under that pile of dirt, which Bibars later visited, was his son.

      “We hear that Europe is the land of freedom, democracy, and human rights,” says Bibars soberly. “Where are human rights if I am not able to see my son before his burial?”

      Dead without identification

      Majd had crossed from Turkey to Bulgaria with a group of about 20 other people, hoping to reunite with his parents and siblings in Europe. Once he arrived, his pregnant wife and their daughter, Hannah, would follow.

      Toward the end of September, he stopped returning calls and texts. The smuggler told Bibars that Majd had fallen ill and they needed to leave him behind. Authorities told Bibars his son died of thirst, exhaustion, and exposure.

      In recent years, with the support of EU funds and the increased involvement of the European border agency Frontex, Balkan countries have stepped up border controls, constructing fences, deploying drones and surveillance mechanisms. But this doesn’t deter asylum seekers – it causes them to take longer and more dangerous routes to avoid authorities.

      An investigation by Solomon in collaboration with investigative newsroom Lighthouse Reports, the German magazine Der Spiegel and German public television ARD, the British newspaper i, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, found that the hostility people face at the borders of Europe in life continues even in death.

      We found that since the start of 2022, the lifeless bodies of 155 people presumed to be migrants have ended up in morgues close to borders along a route that includes Serbia, Bulgaria, and Bosnia.

      According to the data, for 2023 there is already a 46% increase in deaths compared to the whole of 2022.

      In the Balkans, people making the journey have to cope with harsh weather conditions, but also with pushbacks, increased brutality by border guards and smugglers, theft by border forces – even detention in secret prisons.

      For their part, the families of those who go missing or die in the region have to search for their loved ones in morgues, hospitals, and special Facebook and WhatsApp groups, and to cope with an equally arduous effort facing the indifference of the authorities.

      In Bulgaria, this investigation reveals, they often also need to pay bribes in the hope of learning more about their missing loved ones.
      The 10 key findings of the investigation:

      - In 2022, the number of people travelling irregularly through the Balkans to Western Europe reached its highest point since 2015, with Frontex recording 144,118 irregular border crossings.

      – The corresponding figure for 2023 is lower (79,609 by September), but remains a multiple of 2019 (15,127) and 2018 (5,844).

      – The Balkan route is more dangerous than ever: in the absence of a centralised relevant registration system, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants platform suggests that more people died or went missing in 2022 than in 2015.

      - According to data gathered for this investigation, at least 155 unidentified bodies ended up in six selected morgues along a section of the Balkan route that includes Bulgaria, Serbia, and Bosnia. The majority of the bodies (92) were found this year.

      - For 2023, the number is already showing a 46% increase compared to 2022, and is exploding in some morgues.

      – Some morgues in Bulgaria (Burgas, Yambol) are having difficulty finding space for the bodies of refugees. Others in Serbia (Loznina) have no space at all.

      - This contributes to unidentified bodies being buried within days, in ‘No Name’ graves. This means that families are left without the opportunity to search for their loved ones.

      - In Bulgaria, families told us that they had to bribe staff at hospitals and morgues, but border guards too, when searching for their loved ones. Sources in the field confirm the practice, which is also recorded in an audio file in our possession.

      – In Bosnia, at least 28 people presumed to be asylum seekers have already died in the Drina River this year, compared to just five in 2022 and three in 2021.

      - Bureaucracy and lack of state interest are recorded as hampering efforts to identify dead asylum seekers.

      Dead but cause of death unknown

      What do you do when your little brother is missing, and because of your status in the country you live in, you can’t travel to look for him?

      Asmatullah Sediqi, a 29-year-old asylum seeker, was in his asylum accommodation in Warrington, UK, when his brother’s travel companions informed him that 22-year-old Rahmatullah was likely dead.

      Due to his status as an asylum seeker, the UK Home Office did not allow Asmatullah to return to Bulgaria, which he had also crossed on his journey, to look for his brother.

      When a friend was able to go on his behalf, the Bulgarian police refused to give any information. And the morgue staff asked for 300 euros to let him see some bodies, Sediqi said in this investigation.

      “In such a situation, a person should help a person,” he added. “They only know money. They are not interested in human life.”

      He managed to borrow the amount they asked for. In July 2022, 55 days after his brother’s disappearance, the Burgas hospital confirmed that one of the bodies in the morgue belonged to Rahmatullah. With another 3,000 euros borrowed, a company repatriated the remains to their parents in Afghanistan.

      But to this day, Sediqi is consumed by one thought: he doesn’t know how, he hasn’t been told why, his brother died.

      The Bulgarian authorities have not given him the results of the autopsy “because I don’t have a visa to travel there,” he says. “I’m sure that when the police found him in the forest, they must have taken some photos. It’s very painful not knowing what happened to my brother. It’s devastating.”
      “Not a single complaint”

      As part of this investigation by Solomon, Lighthouse Reports, RFE/RL, inews, ARD και Der Spiegel, several relatives told us they had also been forced to bribe workers at the Burgas hospital’s morgue to find out if their family members were among the dead.

      When we asked the hospital administration whether they were aware of such practices, Galina Mileva, head of the forensic medicine department at Burgas hospital, said that they had not received “a single report or complaint about such a case. The identification of the bodies is done only in the presence of a police officer conducting the investigation and a forensic expert.”

      The administration also replied that there is no legal provision under which employees could claim money from relatives for this procedure.

      “We appeal to these complaints to be addressed through official channels to us and to the investigating authorities. If such practices are found to exist, the workers will be held accountable,” they added.
      “Money is requested at every step of the process”

      Another relative, whose family also travelled to Bulgaria in late 2022 to search for a family member, told us that after they paid staff at the morgue 300 euros to be allowed to look at the dead bodies, they also had to pay border guards.

      It was the only way they could be taken seriously, the relative explained.

      When they asked the border guards to show them photos of people who had been found dead, the border guards said they didn’t have time, but when the family agreed to pay 20 euros for each photo shown to them, time was found.

      Georgi Voynov, a lawyer for the Bulgarian Committee Helsinki Refugee and Migrant Programme, confirmed that families of deceased persons have approached the Committee about cases in which hospitals asked for large sums of money to confirm that the bodies of their loved ones were there.

      “They complain that they are being asked for money at every step of the process,” he said.

      International organisations, including the Bulgarian Red Cross, confirmed that they had such experiences from persons they had supported, who said they had been forced to pay money to hospitals and morgues.

      A Bulgarian Red Cross official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, commented:

      “We understand that these people are very overwhelmed and have to be paid extra for all the extra work they do. But this should be done in a legal way.”

      https://wearesolomon.com/mag/focus-area/migration/dead-refugees-in-the-balkans

      #Bulgarie #Drina #Galina_Mileva

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

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

    Case

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

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

    Context

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

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

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=72&v=HJlmNZdblSc&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fww


    https://www.ecchr.eu/en/case/pushbacks-un-child-rights-croatia-slovenia

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

  • Border justice

    Instead of forging safe, legal pathways to protection, European states and the EU are fostering strategies of deterrence, exclusion and externalization. Most people on the move are left with no alternative but to cross borders irregularly. When they do, state actors routinely detain, beat and expel them – mostly in secret, with no assessment of their situation, and denying them access to legal safeguards.

    These multiple human rights violations are all part of the pushback experience. Often reliant on racial profiling, pushbacks have become a normalized practice at European borders. ECCHR challenges this state of rightlessness through legal interventions and supports affected people to document and tell their stories. Together we hold states accountable and push for changes in border practice and policies.

    Our team brings together a diverse group of lawyers and interdisciplinary researchers, working transnationally with partners to develop legal strategies and tackle rights violations at borders. We meticulously reconstruct and verify the experiences of those subjected to pushbacks. Confronted with states’ denial of the reality at Europe’s borders, we collect, analyze and publicise in-depth knowledge. Our aim is to enforce the most basic of legal principles: the right to have rights.

    https://www.ecchr.eu/en/border-justice

    #frontières #justice #refoulements #push-backs #violence #migrations #réfugiés #asile #justice_frontalière #justice_migratoire #Espagne #rapport #Ceuta #Grèce #Macédoine_du_Nord #Libye #Italie #hotspots #Allemagne #Croatie #Slovénie #frontière_sud-alpine #droit_d'asile #ECCHR

  • Tra i respinti dalla Croazia. La violenza è ancora la prassi lungo le rotte balcaniche

    Ritorno sulla frontiera tra Bosnia ed Erzegovina e Unione europea, a quasi tre anni dall’incendio che distrusse il campo di #Lipa. Le persone incontrate denunciano i respingimenti illegali e le vessazioni delle polizie. Tra gennaio e ottobre 2023 i passaggi nei Balcani occidentali sono stati quasi 100mila. Il videoreportage

    È notte fonda ma la luna piena illumina tutta la valle del fiume Sava. Non è l’ideale per le persone che nell’ombra provano a passare da un confine all’altro, dal Nord della Bosnia ed Erzegovina alla Croazia. “A qualcuno la luna piena dà sicurezza -racconta un ragazzo che arriva dal Sudan- perché vedi bene la strada. Ad altri non piace, perché le guardie ti vedono lontano un miglio”.

    Bosanska Gradiška è uno degli snodi chiave per i migranti che dal Nord della Bosnia tentano di attraversare il fiume per entrare in Croazia, nell’Unione europea. In tanti sono morti nelle acque della Sava, affogati a poche bracciate dalla riva, ma i più giovani, soprattutto in estate, provano ancora a nuotare da una sponda all’altra, da un confine all’altro. I segni del passaggio sono evidenti, ci sono persino tracce di pneumatici e di trascinamento. Sembra la scia di una piccola imbarcazione. Nei villaggi lunga la Sava, da Gradiška in poi, alcuni residenti della zona “noleggiano” le loro barchette per accompagnare i migranti dall’altro lato, per 20 o 30 marchi.

    Si cammina in silenzio, tutto tace, la frontiera ufficiale, quella presidiata dalla polizia, è a pochissimi chilometri. “Ultimamente i migranti si vedono poco in giro -spiega un’attivista della zona- ma ci sono eccome. Adesso si nascondono di più ma si muovono e tanto”. I numeri confermano i “flussi” lungo le rotte negli ultimi mesi. Secondo i dati di Frontex, da gennaio a ottobre gli “attraversamenti” nei Balcani occidentali hanno superato quota 97.300, soprattutto afghani, siriani e turchi. I volontari della zona, però, registrano la presenza anche di persone provenienti dal Nord Africa e dall’Africa sub-sahariana.

    “Tanti arrivano direttamente in Serbia con l’aereo e poi cominciano il viaggio. Altri, invece, arrivano a piedi dalla Turchia o dalla Grecia”. Il cammino, in ogni caso, è faticoso e pericoloso. Il rischio è quello di morire di freddo in inverno o di essere picchiati, di perdere anche quel poco che si ha, di rimanere bloccati per mesi. Cosa che sta accadendo di nuovo, nell’autunno del 2023, lontano dai riflettori un tempo più accesi.

    “Mi hanno spaccato uno zigomo -racconta un ventenne iraniano incontrato nei boschi bosniaci a fine ottobre- è successo l’altra sera. Adesso aspetto qualche giorno prima di ritentare. La polizia croata è la peggiore”. “I miei amici un mese fa sono passati senza problemi”, aggiunge un altro ragazzo, che non dice di dov’è. “E invece a noi ci fanno sputare sangue, letteralmente”. Qualcosa è successo. Fino a qualche settimana fa le autorità croate lasciavano “passare” con più facilità, e per i migranti era diventato relativamente semplice arrivare fino Zagabria o a Fiume, per poi proseguire verso la Slovenia. Poi, però, la protesta dei residenti di alcune cittadine sul confine hanno spinto il governo croato a cambiare ancora una volta politica. Riprendendo così i respingimenti violenti. I metodi brutali della polizia croata sono noti da tempo. I racconti raccolti in questi giorni in Bosnia ed Erzegovina confermano invece che tutte le pratiche più disumane utilizzate in questi anni sono tornare prepotentemente “di moda”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRgHN1sh8ZQ&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Faltreconomia.it%2F&

    I respingimenti della polizia croata hanno avuto un immediato contraccolpo sulle presenze al campo di Lipa, a 25 chilometri da Bihać. Siamo arrivati al campo di mattina con un permesso per entrare e svolgere una visita guidata della struttura. L’unico dato di cui siamo certi è il numero delle presenze. A novembre ci sono all’incirca 1.500 persone, accampate insieme nonostante le condizioni non siano delle migliori. I ragazzi sono spesso costretti a spendere i propri soldi per comprare all’esterno sapone e dentifricio, perché raramente sono a disposizione. “Compriamo anche qualcosa da mangiare -racconta Adam, dalla Siria- perché spesso abbiamo fame, ma è anche l’occasione per fare una pausa e per uscire dal recinto”. Ci spostiamo al negozietto che è stato allestito proprio di fronte all’ingresso del campo. Prendiamo un the mentre i ragazzi si avvicinano numerosi. Due euro per un bicchierino. I prezzi sono alti. Un solo rotolo di carta igienica costa quasi un euro. “Lo compriamo perché non c’è mai nei bagni”, spiega un ragazzo con il sacchetto in mano. Le guardie del campo intanto ci osservano, non gradiscono molto che si parli con i loro “ospiti”, e allora ci spostiamo verso il bosco.

    Mentre siamo nella jungle, poco fuori Lipa, incontriamo tre ragazzi siriani che tornano verso il campo dopo essere stati respinti. Hanno l’aria stanca e affranta, anche perché a due di loro la polizia ha sequestrato e spaccato il telefono. Si fermano qualche minuto a raccontare ma poi proseguono, perché hanno bisogno di riposare, bere un po’ d’acqua, riordinare le idee. Nel pomeriggio raggiungiamo il campo Borići, dedicato alle famiglie e ai minori non accompagnati, dove ci sono poco più di 800 persone. Un numero non elevatissimo ma comunque superiore a quello della media degli ultimi mesi. Tra loro ci sono molte persone in arrivo dall’Africa sub-sahariana ma anche diverse famiglie dal Bangladesh. “A volte restano a lungo -spiega uno dei coordinatori del centro, dove abbiamo il permesso di entrare-. E infatti ai bambini facciamo anche da scuola. È un modo per insegnargli la lingua, per trascorrere del tempo sereno e magari fargli ritrovare il sorriso”. L’atmosfera qui è migliore e anche l’accoglienza è meno militaresca, più informale. Finché c’è la luce del sole il clima resta sereno, ma appena fa buio il fermento aumenta.

    Ogni sera i migranti cercano di attraversare il confine arrivando il più vicino possibile con i taxi o con gli autobus e sperano di non incontrare la polizia croata. Di recente, però, succede quasi sempre. Lo raccontano a più riprese le tantissime persone incontrate in questi giorni d’autunno. Grecia, Turchia, Bulgaria, Serbia. Tra i ragazzi che hanno il desiderio di far sapere cosa gli è successo c’è Mohammed, dal Marocco, che ha provato ad attraversare il confine croato sette volte e ha subito maltrattamenti feroci dalla polizia di Zagabria. Poi c’è Samir, 18 anni, dall’Afghanistan, in fuga dai Talebani. E poi c’è Alì, dal Ghana, che ha perso i documenti e non è riuscito a rientrare in Italia dal suo Paese. Tre storie racchiuse in questo video, anche se ci vorrebbero ore e ore di testimonianze. Ore e ore di immagini e denunce, perché quel che accade sotto i nostri occhi fa vergognare.

    https://altreconomia.it/tra-i-respinti-dalla-croazia-la-violenza-e-ancora-la-prassi-lungo-le-ro
    #Balkans #route_des_balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #refoulements #push-backs #Croatie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Bosanska_Gradiška #Sava #rivière_Sava #rivière #violence #violences_policières #Bihać #Borići

  • 10.11.2023 : Iz Kolpe potegnili truplo, v vodi je bilo že teden ali dva

    Un corps a été retiré de Kolpa, il était dans l’eau depuis une semaine ou deux
    –-> date de mort environ 01.11.2023

    Truplo so v sredo opazili sprehajalci in poklicali policijo.

    V sredo popoldne so gasilci PGD Črnomelj iz reke Kolpe med Gribljami in Krasincem potegnili moško truplo.

    V sporočilu za javnost so zapisali, da so truplo opazili sprehajalci in o tem obvestili policijo. Ogled so opravili kriminalisti novomeške policijske uprave. Znakov nasilja niso odkrili, zdravnica pa je ocenila, da je bilo v vodi verjetno že teden ali dva.

    O dogodku so obvestili dežurnega preiskovalnega sodnika, na okrožno državno tožilstvo pa bodo poslali poročilo. Kriminalisti in policisti nadaljujejo ugotavljanje identitete.

    –—

    Google translate :

    Le corps a été repéré par des promeneurs mercredi et la police a été appelée.
    Mercredi après-midi, les pompiers du PGD Črnomelj ont retiré le corps d’un homme de la rivière Kolpa, entre #Griblje et #Krasinec .

    Dans le communiqué, ils ont écrit que le corps avait été repéré par des passants et en ont informé la police. L’inspection a été effectuée par des experts en criminalité du département de police de Novi Sad. Aucun signe de violence n’a été constaté, mais le médecin a estimé qu’il était probablement dans l’eau depuis une semaine ou deux.

    Le juge d’instruction en poste a été informé des faits et un rapport sera adressé au parquet. Les enquêteurs criminels et la police continuent d’établir l’identité.

    https://www.slovenskenovice.si/kronika/doma/iz-kolpe-potegnili-truplo-v-vodi-je-bilo-ze-teden-ali-dva
    #mourir_aux_frontières #frontières #morts_aux_frontières #Slovénie #Croatie #Kupa #Kolpa #frontière_sud-alpine #montagne #Alpes

    –-

    ajouté à la métaliste sur les morts à la frontière entre la Croatie et la Slovénie :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/811660

  • 10.11.2023 : Na migrantskoj ruti : Reporteri Dnevnika Nove TV pronašli mrtvo tijelo pored Kupe
    On the migrant route : Dnevnik Nova TV reporters found a dead body next to Kupa

    Općina #Netretić inače je dijelom migrantske rute kojom strani državljani iz Hrvatske prelaze u Sloveniju, a reporteri Nove TV su tijekom izvještavanja uočili mrtvo tijelo

    U koritu rijeke Kupe u Netretiću kod Karlovca danas je pronađeno mrtvo tijelo. Tijelo su pronašli upravo reporteri Nove TV koji su odmah pozvali i policiju koja je stigla nakon sat vremena i potvrdila pronalazak muškog tijela.

    Kako prenosi medij, općina Netretić inače je dijelom migrantske rute kojom strani državljani iz Hrvatske prelaze u Sloveniju. Općina se nalazi uz granicu, rijeku Kupu, zbog čega brojni stradavaju pokušavajući otići prema zapadnoj Europi. MUP je potvrdio kako je ove godine pronašao pet mrtno stradalih migranata, dok je ta brojka prošle godine iznosila čak 24.

    – Tu ispod livade, dolje ispod kuće, sam ih par puta vidio na cesti, ali ne napadaju i nemamo problema. Znaju vam ići da donji slap i onda imaju putić prema Sloveniji - ispričao je mještanin Igor.

    google translate :

    La municipalité de Netretić fait partie de la route des migrants par laquelle les citoyens étrangers de Croatie traversent la Slovénie et les reporters de Nova TV ont repéré un cadavre pendant leur reportage.

    Un cadavre a été retrouvé aujourd’hui dans le lit de la rivière Kupa à Netretić, près de Karlovac. Le corps a été retrouvé par les journalistes de Nova TV qui ont immédiatement appelé la police, qui est arrivée une heure plus tard et a confirmé la découverte du corps d’un homme.

    Comme l’ont rapporté les médias, la municipalité de Netretić fait partie de la route migratoire par laquelle les citoyens étrangers de Croatie traversent la Slovénie. La municipalité est située à côté de la frontière, la rivière Kupa, c’est pourquoi de nombreuses personnes meurent en essayant de se rendre en Europe occidentale. Le ministère de l’Intérieur a confirmé avoir trouvé cinq migrants morts cette année, alors que l’année dernière, ce nombre s’élevait à 24.

    – Là-bas, sous le pré, sous la maison, je les ai vus plusieurs fois sur la route, mais ils n’attaquent pas et nous n’avons aucun problème. Ils savent comment se rendre à la cascade inférieure et ensuite ils ont un petit chemin vers la Slovénie - a déclaré l’habitant local Igor.

    https://www.vecernji.hr/vijesti/na-migrantskoj-ruti-reporteri-pronasli-mrtvo-tijelo-u-rijeci-kupi-kod-karlo

    #mourir_aux_frontières #frontières #morts_aux_frontières #Slovénie #Croatie #Kupa #Kolpa #frontière_sud-alpine #montagne #Alpes #Netretic

    –-

    ajouté à la métaliste sur les morts à la frontière entre la Croatie et la Slovénie :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/811660

  • Veglia a tutto solare
    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Croazia/Veglia-a-tutto-solare-227337

    Decarbonizzare, decentrare, democratizzare. Sono le tre D di una possibile rivoluzione energetica che alcuni cittadini stanno portando avanti sull’isola croata di Veglia (Krk) attraverso l’installazione di molti impianti fotovoltaici e l’istituzione di una comunità energetica. Un’intervista

  • Suspendira se Schengen ? Slovenija : Upozorili smo Hrvate da je problem ogroman
    –-> Schengen est-il suspendu ? Slovénie : nous avons prévenu les Croates que le problème est énorme

    ITALIJA je obavijestila Sloveniju da zbog promijenjene situacije u Europi i na Bliskom istoku uvodi kontrolu na granici sa Slovenijom, priopćilo je slovensko ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova, a neformalno se najavljuje da bi kontrole uskoro mogle biti uvedene i na slovensko-hrvatskoj granici.

    Prema neslužbenim informacijama, kontrole bi trebale biti uvedene u subotu, za početak na 10 dana, s mogućnošću produljenja. Zbog toga bi Slovenija trebala uvesti kontrolu na granicama s Hrvatskom i Mađarskom, navodi agencija STA.

    Sve je izglednije da će se granične kontrole, barem privremeno, vratiti niti godinu dana nakon što su ukinute.

    Kako primjećuje slovenski portal Siol, i Rim i Ljubljana upozorili su Hrvatsku da mora napraviti više kako bi se suzbile ilegalne migracije. Zagrebu je nuđena pomoć u kontroli vanjskih granica, posebno na granici s BiH, ali i na granicama sa Srbijom i Crnom Gorom.
    Ljubljana upozoravala, Plenković odbio pomoć

    Prijedlozi su išli u smjeru pomoći europske agencije za nadzor vanjskih granica Frontexa, a Slovenija i Italija ponudile su Hrvatskoj i mješovite policijske patrole. No hrvatski premijer Andrej Plenković odbio je takve prijedloge jer hrvatska policija “dobro kontrolira vanjsku granicu”.

    Bilo je to krajem lipnja.

    “Ministar unutarnjih poslova je već dogovorio da će doći šest savjetnika Frontexa koji će pomagati Hrvatskoj na pitanjima sprječavanja nezakonitih migracija, ali ne na način da bismo mi stavili policajce iz drugih država članica na svoje granice”, rekao je Plenković odgovarajući na pitanje novinara o ideji slovenskog premijera da se pripadnici Frontexa rasporede na granici između Hrvatske i BiH kako bi pomogli u sprječavanju ilegalnih ulazaka migranata.

    “Hrvatska, kao članica EU i članica šengenskog prostora, ima dovoljno svojih kapaciteta, 6500 policajaca čuva granicu i vanjsku granicu Europske unije, koja je sada i vanjska granica šengenskog prostora”, rekao je Plenković. Bilo je to nakon što je slovenski premijer Robert Golob prije summita EU najavio da će tražiti raspoređivanje pripadnika Frontexa na granice Hrvatske i BiH.

    S druge strane, i Rim i Ljubljana proljetos su počeli upozoravati da bi se zbog povećanog broja ilegalnih prelazaka granice mogla ponovo uvesti sustavna kontrola granice. Slovenska vlada počela je mjestimično uklanjati “tehničke prepreke” na granici s Hrvatskom, odnosno ogradu, no politika je uvijek više ili manje glasno upozoravala Zagreb da će, ako Italija uvede kontrolu na granici sa Slovenijom, i Slovenija učiniti to na granici s Hrvatskom, da ne postane “džep”. Tim više što Austrija kontrolira granicu sa Slovenijom još od migrantske krize 2015.-2016., navodi Siol.

    Glavni ravnatelj slovenske policije Senad Jušić prošli je tjedan u Brežicama također upozorio hrvatskog kolegu da je problem velik. Istaknuo je da je slovenska policija ove godine već obradila više od 45.000 ilegalnih prelazaka granice.

    https://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/suspendira-se-schengen-slovenija-upozorili-smo-hrvate-da-je-problem-ogroman/2505165.aspx?index_ref=naslovnica_vijesti_prva_d

    #Slovénie #Croatie #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #contrôles_systématiques_aux_frontières #frontière_sud-alpine #Alpes

    –—

    ajouté à cette métaliste sur l’annonce du rétablissement des contrôles frontaliers de la part de plusieurs pays européens :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/1021987

    • Schengen e i flussi migratori, tra retorica e realtà

      L’article original en croate: https://www.portalnovosti.com/patka-o-migracijama

      Il sistema di libera circolazione di Schengen viene sempre più spesso messo in crisi da sospensioni applicate da alcuni stati membri chiamando in causa la necessità di contrastare le migrazioni, spesso senza il riscontro dei numeri. La situazione in Croazia e Slovenia.

      Il fiore all’occhiello dell’integrazione europea, come un tempo i burocrati di Bruxelles chiamavano il sistema di Schengen, è stato seriamente messo a repentaglio dalla decisione di undici stati membri dell’UE di sospendere temporaneamente il regime di libera circolazione. Dal centro dell’Unione (Germania, Francia, Danimarca, Svezia) alla periferia, ossia al confine tra Slovenia e Croazia, passando per la Polonia, la Repubblica Ceca, la Slovacchia, l’Italia e l’Austria, si è assistito al ripristino dei controlli alle frontiere. Una misura che non ha colto di sorpresa chi, soprattutto tra gli studiosi del fenomeno migratorio e i migranti stessi, negli ultimi mesi ha attraversato uno dei paesi di cui sopra a bordo di un autobus o un treno.

      Tra chi non è rimasto stupito c’è anche Marijana Hameršak, ricercatrice presso l’Istituto di etnologia e studi sul folklore di Zagabria, responsabile del progetto ERIM , che indaga i meccanismi di gestione dei flussi migratori alle periferie dell’UE.

      Hameršak spiega che da anni ormai nell’UE il sistema di Schengen e la questione migratoria vengono sfruttati in un’ottica strategica, come strumento di politica estera, ma anche come mezzo di polarizzazione dell’elettorato e, in ultima analisi, come espediente per normalizzare l’idea – che peraltro non trova alcun riscontro nella realtà, né tanto meno è corroborata da ricerche – secondo cui le migrazioni rappresentano un problema.

      “L’aumento dei numeri, di cui si parla cercando di spiegare la decisione della Slovenia di introdurre controlli al confine con la Croazia, è una variazione relativa, in parte conseguenza dell’applicazione dei diversi sistemi e tattiche amministrative. Ad ogni modo, non è un aumento recente – i numeri hanno iniziato a crescere nella primavera del 2022, se non addirittura prima – così come l’introduzione dei controlli, per quanto ci si sforzi di presentarla in un’ottica emergenziale, non è una misura inattesa”, sottolinea Hameršak.

      Se alcuni stati membri, come l’Austria, hanno continuato quasi ininterrottamente ad effettuare controlli alle frontiere sin dall’ondata migratoria del 2015, altri paesi solo negli ultimi mesi hanno dispiegato le cosiddette pattuglie mobili ai confini, giustificando tale decisione con un possibile ripetersi della crisi, alimentando così un sentimento di paranoia tra la popolazione.

      Stando ad un’analisi pubblicata sul portale Euractiv alla fine di settembre (https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/schengen-how-europe-is-ruining-its-crown-jewel), un quarto dei paesi dell’area Schengen ha impiegato le pattuglie mobili lungo i confini prima ancora della sospensione ufficiale del regime di libera circolazione, rendendo così più difficile la vita di molti cittadini dell’UE, ma anche dei rifugiati e altre persone in movimento che attraversano i paesi Schengen.

      Uršula Lipovec Čebron, professoressa associata presso il Dipartimento di Etnologia e Antropologia culturale della Facoltà di Filosofia di Lubiana e collaboratrice al progetto ERIM, fa il punto della situazione al confine sloveno-croato.

      “Anche prima della sospensione di Schengen la polizia slovena effettuava controlli giornalieri su treni e autobus, ricorrendo alla profilazione razziale. Quindi, fermava sistematicamente i migranti, registrava i loro dati personali e poi li faceva scendere dai mezzi di trasporto. Negli ultimi mesi, viaggiando in treno da Zagabria a Lubiana, ho spesso assistito a simili scene a Dobova e ad altri valichi di frontiera”, spiega Uršula Lipovec Čebron.

      Per la professoressa Lipovec Čebron, la sospensione di Schengen da un lato ha legittimato una prassi già esistente, dall’altro ha portato ad una spettacolarizzazione del lavoro della polizia di frontiera.

      Anche Marijana Hameršak è dello stesso avviso. Stando alle sue parole, sono state proprio le pratiche impiegate dalla polizia di frontiera a spingere molte persone, anche dopo l’ingresso della Croazia nello spazio Schengen, ad attraversare il confine croato-sloveno di notte, al di fuori dei valichi ufficiali, anche cercando di superare il filo spinato.

      “Ora che sono stati introdotti controlli sistematici, chiudendo anche i passaggi nella recinzione al confine, quei percorsi stanno nuovamente diventando l’unica opzione”, afferma Marijana Hameršak.

      Se il premier croato Andrej Plenković e il ministro dell’Interno Davor Božinović si sono sforzati di presentare la sospensione della libera circolazione da parte della Slovenia come una decisione legata esclusivamente agli attacchi terroristici sul suolo europeo, il ministro dell’Interno sloveno Boštjan Poklukar ha a più riprese criticato le autorità croate a causa dell’aumento del numero di migranti giunti in Slovenia dalla Croazia. Lubiana ha anche offerto aiuto a Zagabria, proponendo più volte di formare pattuglie miste lungo il confine, ma la Croazia ha sempre rifiutato di collaborare.

      Nel frattempo, le procedure applicate nei confronti dei migranti intercettati nel territorio croato sono cambiate. Nella primavera del 2022 la polizia croata aveva iniziato a rilasciare ai migranti un foglio di via, intimando loro di lasciare la Croazia e lo Spazio economico europeo entro sette giorni. Poi però da marzo di quest’anno l’atteggiamento della polizia è cambiato: molte persone sorprese mentre cercavano di entrare in Croazia, ma anche quelle che soggiornavano irregolarmente nel paese sono state registrate come richiedenti asilo, per poi essere sollecitate a proseguire il loro viaggio verso ovest.

      Marijana Hameršak spiega che i documenti rilasciati ai migranti durante quella procedura praticamente significano una regolarizzazione temporanea del loro status, ossia un riconoscimento delle persone in transito in cerca di protezione internazionale.

      “Non sappiamo ancora quali possano essere le conseguenze di tale prassi, né tantomeno sappiamo se le persone interessate rischino di essere maggiormente esposte a reclusioni e deportazioni in altri stati membri dell’UE. È chiaro però che bisogna trovare la forza politica per perseguire una strada finalizzata alla decriminalizzazione del transito e dei flussi migratori in generale, tenendo conto dei bisogni dei singoli individui. Non è una strada impossibile, ci sono diversi precedenti storici. Posso citare il cosiddetto passaporto di Nansen, che prende il nome dal primo commissario per i rifugiati della Società delle Nazioni, che nel periodo tra le due guerre mondiali aveva permesso a centinaia di migliaia di sfollati di raggiungere luoghi dove – per motivi economici, legami familiari o altri fattori – volevano provare a rifarsi una vita”, spiega la ricercatrice.

      Stando alle statistiche ufficiali, in Croazia nei primi sei mesi del 2023 oltre 24mila persone hanno chiesto asilo, una cifra di gran lunga superiore rispetto agli anni scorsi. Tuttavia, le espulsioni violente continuano: nei primi nove mesi di quest’anno sono stati registrati circa duemila respingimenti. Sul sito dell’iniziativa No Name Kitchen sono stati riportati i dettagli di un recente caso in cui dieci cittadini afghani e due indiani sono stati gettati nell’acqua fredda dopo essere stati privati dei loro beni e intimiditi con colpi d’arma da fuoco, manganellate e altre forme di abuso fisico da parte della polizia croata. Secondo le testimonianze delle vittime, l’episodio si è verificato all’inizio di ottobre nei pressi di Bihać, al confine tra Croazia e Bosnia Erzegovina.

      Nel frattempo, in vista delle elezioni europee e nazionali, molti leader politici, come anche le forze di opposizione, continuano ad alimentare un clima emergenziale, parlando del collasso di Schengen e spingendo ostinatamente per l’adozione del nuovo patto sulla migrazione e l’asilo in cui vedono l’unica soluzione. La proposta del patto – che, vista la situazione attuale, potrebbe essere approvata prima del previsto – rappresenta un passo indietro nella tutela dei diritti dei migranti e dei rifugiati.

      Se il testo dovesse essere approvato nella sua versione attuale, l’accesso all’asilo in Europa diventerebbe ancora più difficile, si cercherebbe di tenere i migranti il più lontano possibile dall’UE e molti di quelli già presenti sul suolo europeo verrebbero rimpatriati. A lungo termine, la Croazia, la Serbia e la Bosnia Erzegovina con ogni probabilità verrebbero trasformate nella cosiddetta “zona cuscinetto”, ma anche in una sorta di dumping ground dove confinare gli “indesiderati”. E per questo si è deciso in fretta e furia di costruire un centro di identificazione a Dugi Dol, nei pressi di Krnjak, in Croazia.

      Marijana Hameršak sottolinea che la sospensione di Schengen e i discorsi che l’accompagnano contribuiranno ad un’ulteriore stigmatizzazione dei migranti, alla normalizzazione delle pratiche di profilazione razziale e alla polarizzazione della società – dinamiche che ultimamente sono diventate molto evidenti su entrambi i lati del confine croato-sloveno. Se in Croazia l’opposizione di destra invoca l’invio dell’esercito al confine e un referendum sull’immigrazione, in Slovenia vogliono ribaltare la decisione di rimuovere il filo spinato lungo il confine, una delle principali promesse elettorali dell’attuale premier sloveno Robert Golob.

      “Da tempo ormai in Slovenia si cerca di strumentalizzare politicamente le migrazioni, con l’intento di dividere la popolazione che di solito ha pochi contatti con i rifugiati, quindi non riesce attraverso la propria esperienza ad acquisire un’adeguata consapevolezza del fenomeno migratorio. È facile incutere paura diffondendo informazioni non veritiere, tanto che molti cittadini continuano a non vedere nulla di problematico nella recinzione al confine. C’è però anche chi protesta pubblicamente contro la chiusura dei valichi di frontiera e altre misure che rendono più difficile e mettono a rischio la vita dei migranti, ma non potranno mai fermarli nel loro tentativo di trovare una via per raggiungere l’Unione europea”, conclude la professoressa Lipovec Čebron.

      https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Slovenia/Schengen-e-i-flussi-migratori-tra-retorica-e-realta-227884

      #patrouilles_mobiles #spectacle #foglio_di_via

  • Slovenci objavili gdje je na granici najgore stanje. “Koristimo konjicu, helikoptere”

    SLOVENIJA uvodi pojačane kontrole granice s Hrvatskom. Slovenska policija, odmah nakon graničnih prijelaza, postavlja punktove na kojima može zaustavljati vozila.

    Portal 24ur navodi da se radi o sljedećim mjestima: kod željezničkog nadvožnjaka u mjestu Rigonce u blizini prijelaza Harmica, na punktu Trnovec kod Metlike, Obrežje kod Kalina, ali i na granici prema Italiji - u mjestima Rakitovec, Podgorje i Sočerga na području PU Koper. Iza graničnog prijelaza Obrežje, najvećeg cestovnog prijelaza Hrvatske i Slovenije, policija je organizirala motrenje.

    Kako pišu slovenski mediji, nakon ulaska Hrvatske u Schengen početkom godine, broj migranata koji zapadnobalkanskom rutom ilegalno dolaze u Sloveniju, pa tako i preko Bosne i Hercegovine, znatno je porastao. Slovenska policija je od početka godine do kraja kolovoza obradila 36.137 ilegalnih prelazaka državne granice između Slovenije i Hrvatske. U istom razdoblju prošle godine obrađen je 13.601 neovlašteni ulazak.

    Policija primjećuje da je i prije ulaska Hrvatske u šengenski prostor došlo do preusmjeravanja migracijskih tokova s ​​područja Bele krajine na područje Posavja. Jedan od razloga je i to što sve više migranata u Hrvatskoj iskazuje namjeru traženja azila, pa ih se dovozi u azilantske centre na zagrebačkom području, koje je geografski vrlo blizu Posavja, rekao je Bojan Tomc, načelnik Odjela za državnu granicu i strance, pojasnili su prije nekoliko dana iz Policijske uprave (PU) Novo mesto.

    I dok slovenska vlada Roberta Goloba inzistira na koalicijskoj obvezi oko uklanjanja ograde na granici, iz pograničnih općina kažu da šengenski sustav u Hrvatskoj očito ne funkcionira. Od mještana se čuju pozivi da se pojača policijski nadzor i da se prestane s uklanjanjem ograde na granici.
    Slovenci objavili gdje je najgore stanje

    Kako pišu slovenski mediji, trenutno je najgore na području zapadno od Samobora (Bregana-Obrežje) i posebno Zaprešića. S hrvatske strane granice zapadno od Zaprešića nalazi se Šenkovec, a sa slovenske mjesto Rigonce za koje Slovenci kažu da je najpogođenije migracijama.

    Cijelo to područje od Obrežja do Rigonce spada u slovensku regiju Posavje, gdje su najviše pogođena naselja Rigonce, Dobova (nalazi se u nastavku na Rigonce) i Obrežje. Prema riječima ravnatelja PU Novo mesto Igora Juršiča, policija je u Rigoncama, gdje je najkritičnije - trenutno bilježe od 120 do 200 migranata dnevno - pojačala kontrolu i ophodnjama i tehničkim sredstvima. Između ostalog, migrante nastoje presresti što bliže granici kako ne bi ulazili u naselja i izazivali nelagodu kod mještana. Svakodnevno koriste konjicu, vodiče službenih pasa i helikopter. Surađuju s hrvatskom policijom s kojom imaju redovite sastanke, a u mješovitim patrolama zajednički nadziru područje s obje strane granice.

    Ove godine na području PU Novo mesto obrađeno je 32.500 stranaca koji su ilegalno prešli državnu granicu. U istom razdoblju prošle godine takvih je prelazaka bilo oko 5000. Samo u Rigoncama ove je godine granicu ilegalno prešlo 25 tisuća stranaca. Također je uhićeno 177 stranaca, krijumčara, koji su počinili kazneno djelo nedopuštenog prelaska državne granice. Lani je u istom razdoblju uhićen 31.
    “Mještani su vrlo tolerantni”

    Kako javlja STA, zamjenik glavnog ravnatelja policije Robert Ferenc objasnio je na hitnoj sjednici Odbora za unutarnje poslove, državnu upravu i lokalnu samoupravu da se nakon ulaska Hrvatske u šengenski prostor migracije više odvijaju kroz tzv. zelenu granicu nego raznim cestovnim i željezničkim pravcima.

    Zbog toga je policija pojačala prisutnost i počela provoditi mješovite ophodnje sa svim policijama država s kojima Slovenija graniči. Glavni ravnatelj policije Senad Jušić pozvao je hrvatskog kolegu da pojača mješovite ophodnje na području Policijske postaje Brežice.

    Načelnik Općine Brežice Ivan Molan rekao je da je ministar unutarnjih poslova Boštjan Poklukar tijekom posjeta Rigoncama obećao da će ovaj dio ograde biti posljednji koji će biti uklonjen.

    Mještane Rigonca, koji osjećaju izrazito pojačan pritisak ilegalnih prelazaka granice, opisao je kao vrlo tolerantne prema izbjeglicama te, prema njegovim riječima, zbog toga nije bilo sukoba između te dvije skupine. Prema riječima Anje Bah Žibert (SDS), u rujnu je granicu prešlo 6200 migranata u naselju s oko 180 stanovnika.

    https://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/slovenci-objavili-na-kojem-granicnom-prijelazu-s-hrvatskom-ulazi-najvise-migranata/2498944.aspx

    Google translation:
    Slovenians announced where the worst situation is on the border. “We use cavalry, helicopters”

    SLOVENIA introduces increased border controls with Croatia. Immediately after the border crossings, the Slovenian police set up checkpoints where they can stop vehicles.

    The 24ur portal states that the following places are involved: near the railway overpass in the town of Rigonce near the Harmica crossing, at the Trnovec point near Metlika, Obrežje near Kalin, but also on the border with Italy - in the towns of Rakitovec, Podgorje and Sočerga in the area of ​​PU Koper. Behind the Obrežje border crossing, the largest road crossing between Croatia and Slovenia, the police organized surveillance.

    According to the Slovenian media, after Croatia’s entry into Schengen at the beginning of the year, the number of migrants who illegally come to Slovenia via the Western Balkans route, including via Bosnia and Herzegovina, has increased significantly. From the beginning of the year to the end of August, the Slovenian police processed 36,137 illegal border crossings between Slovenia and Croatia. In the same period last year, 13,601 unauthorized entries were processed.

    The police note that even before Croatia’s entry into the Schengen area, there was a redirection of migration flows from the area of ​​Bela Krajina to the area of ​​Posavija. One of the reasons is that more and more migrants in Croatia express their intention to seek asylum, so they are brought to asylum centers in the Zagreb area, which is geographically very close to Posavije, said Bojan Tomc, head of the Department for State Borders and Foreigners, explained a few days ago from the Police Administration (PU) Novo mesto.

    And while the Slovenian government of Robert Golob insists on a coalition commitment to remove the fence on the border, the border municipalities say that the Schengen system in Croatia is clearly not working. There are calls from the locals to increase police surveillance and to stop removing the border fence.
    Slovenians announced where the worst situation is

    According to the Slovenian media, it is currently worst in the area west of Samobor (Bregan-Obrežje) and especially Zaprešić. On the Croatian side of the border, west of Zaprešić, is Šenkovec, and on the Slovenian side is Rigonce, which Slovenians say is the most affected by migration.

    The entire area from Obrežje to Rigonce belongs to the Slovenian region of Posavje, where the settlements of Rigonce, Dobova (it is located below Rigonce) and Obrežje are the most affected. According to the director of PU Novo mesto Igor Juršič, the police in Rigonci, where it is most critical - currently recording 120 to 200 migrants per day - has strengthened control with patrols and technical means. Among other things, they try to intercept migrants as close to the border as possible so that they do not enter settlements and cause discomfort among the locals. They use cavalry, service dog handlers and a helicopter on a daily basis. They cooperate with the Croatian police, with whom they have regular meetings, and jointly monitor the area on both sides of the border in mixed patrols.

    This year, 32,500 foreigners who illegally crossed the state border were processed in the territory of the Novo mesto PU. In the same period last year, there were about 5,000 such crossings. Only in Rigonci this year, 25,000 foreigners crossed the border illegally. Also, 177 foreigners, smugglers, who committed the crime of illegally crossing the state border were arrested. Last year, 31 were arrested in the same period.
    “The locals are very tolerant”

    As reported by STA, Deputy Director General of Police Robert Ferenc explained at the emergency meeting of the Committee for Internal Affairs, State Administration and Local Self-Government that after Croatia’s entry into the Schengen area, migration is taking place more through the so-called the green border but by various road and rail routes.

    Because of this, the police increased their presence and began conducting joint patrols with all the police of the countries with which Slovenia borders. Chief Police Director Senad Jušić called on his Croatian colleague to step up mixed patrols in the area of ​​the Brežice Police Station.

    The head of the municipality of Brežice, Ivan Molan, said that the Minister of the Interior, Boštjan Poklukar, promised during his visit to Rigonci that this part of the fence would be the last to be removed.

    He described the locals of Rigonc, who feel the extremely increased pressure of illegal border crossings, as very tolerant towards refugees and, according to him, because of this, there were no conflicts between the two groups. According to Anja Bah Žibert (SDS), in September, 6,200 migrants crossed the border in a settlement with about 180 inhabitants.

    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #Slovénie #Croatie #militarisation_des_frontières #Rigonice #Harmica
    #Trnovec #Metlika #Obrežje #Kalin #Rakitovec #Podgorje #Sočerga
    #Italie #Schengen #Posavja #Zaprešić #Šenkovec

    via @erim

  • 31.01.2018 : "Na Kupi se utopio migrant ?"

    Kada je riječ o nadzoru granice, hrvatska policija čuva i štiti državnu granicu neovisno o tome radi li se o granici koja se proteže kopnom ili rijekom

    Djelatnici PU karlovačke još provode istragu i utvrđuju identitet muškarca čije su beživotno tijelo u srijedu poslijepodne pronašli na Kupi u naselju Ladešići u općini Netretić.

    – Na tom području policija u srijedu nije postupala prema osobama vezano uz nezakonite prelaske državne granice. Kada je riječ o nadzoru granice, hrvatska policija čuva i štiti državnu granicu neovisno o tome radi li se o granici koja se proteže kopnom ili rijekom, a sve kako bismo spriječili nezakonite prelaske državne granice - kazali su u PU karlovačkoj. Ono što sigurno znaju, je da se muška osoba utopila, odnosno da do smrti nije dovelo neko kazneno djelo.

    Da je možda riječ o migrantu, kazali su nam mještani koji svjedoče o tome da se često na toj lokaciji, gdje Kupa dijelu Hrvatsku od Slovenije, mogu susresti nepoznate osobe, pretpostavljaju iz Afganistana, Sirije i drugih zemalja koje se pokušavaju domoći slovenske granice. Osim na toj lokaciji, mještani pokupskih naselja u općini Bosiljevo, ali i na ozaljskom području, po neoznačenim seoskim putevima, također često svjedoče o policijskim ophodnjama i hvatanju migranta koji prelaskom rijeke Kupe pokušavaju izići iz Hrvatske prema drugim zemljama EU-a.

    https://www.vecernji.hr/vijesti/migrant-mrtvo-tijelo-rijeka-kupa-1223565

    #frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Croatie #Slovénie #Alpes #Kolpa

    –-

    ajouté à la métaliste sur les morts à la frontière_sud-alpine :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/811660

    • Utopljenik iz Kupe kod Ladešića je migrant

      U pokušaju prelaska rijeke Kupe izgubio je život

      Muškarac čiji je leš jučer pronađen u rijeci Kupi u mjestu Ladešići je migrant, doznaje Radio Mrežnica.

      Leš je pronađen u popodnevnim satima uz obalu rijeke Kupe s hrvatske strane. Riječ je o dijelu uz samu hrvatsko-slovensku granicu, a nesretnik je očito pokušao doći do Slovenije odnosno prijeći rijeku Kupu. Na to upućuju i nestali čamci s hrvatske strane obale, pa se pretpostavlja da stradali nije bio sam. Policija istražuje slučaj.

      https://radio-mreznica.hr/utopljenik-iz-kupe-kod-ladesica-migrant

  • 29.04.2018 : "Another migrant appears to have drowned in #Kolpa"

    Črnomelj, 30 April - Police apprehended a group of seven migrants in the south of the country after they entered Slovenia illegally from Croatia across the Kolpa river. Suspecting that there had been another person in the group who failed to swim over, police called in firefighters to inspect the river and they found a body.

    https://english.sta.si/2509414/another-migrant-appears-to-have-drowned-in-kolpa

    #frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Croatie #Slovénie #Alpes

    –-

    ajouté à la métaliste sur les morts à la frontière entre la Croatie et la Slovénie :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/811660

  • 03.06.2018: Iz Kupe izvučeno truplo muškarca, istražuje se je li stradali ilegalni migrant

    U Gornjem Prilišću, na granici sa Slovenijom, u nedjelju je iz Kupe izvučeno truplo nepoznatog muškarca, slijedi utvrđivanje identiteta i kriminalističko istraživanje, izvijestila je karlovačka policija, a na upit Hine potvrdila je da se radi o mlađem muškarcu te da se istražuje je li riječ o ilegalnom migrantu.

    U ime spašavatelja HGSS-a iz Karlovca Vlado Furač je rekao da su njihovi ronioci po nalogu policije izvadili iz Kupe tijelo mrtvog muškarca, te je ustvrdio „da javnost zna da je ovo mjesto na Kupi na migrantskoj ruti, da je tu prijašnjih mjeseci već bilo utapljanja stranaca, te bi moglo biti da je to opet jedan takav slučaj“.

    Policija je potom na upit Hine potvrdila da se istražuje i mogućnost da je stradala nepoznata muška osoba stranac, migrant, te da je Kupa u Prilišću državna granice sa Slovenijom, što znači da je, kako je rečeno, “muškarac pronađen na hrvatskoj strani linije razgraničenja sa Slovenijom”. (Hina)

    https://dnevnik.hr/vijesti/crna-kronika/iz-kupe-izvuceno-truplo-muskarca-istrazuje-se-je-li-stradali-ilegalni-migran
    #frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Croatie #Slovénie #Alpes

    –-

    ajouté à la métaliste sur les morts à la frontière_sud-alpine:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/811660

    • ‘U bijegu su skakali u rijeku. Nitko nije izronio’: Potresna ispovijest migranta o tragediji kod D. Rese

      Salman, 23-godišnjak iz Pakistana, prijatelj je jednog od utopljenika, Mohsina Alija, dao je iskaz aktivisticama Inicijative Dobrodošli, a potvrdio je i u razgovoru za naš list ono što je ispričao o tragediji koja se dogodila 2. lipnja kada je skupina migranata pokušala domoći se Slovenije preko rijeke

      U subotu, 2. lipnja, u rijeci na granici sa Slovenijom utopilo se šest migranata, među njima i 22-godišnji Mohsin Ali iz Pakistana, posvjedočili su migranti koji su preživjeli tragediju.

      Naš list telefonom je razgovarao sa Salmanom, 23-godišnjakom iz Pakistana i prijateljem utopljenika Mohsina Alija, koji je trenutno izbjeglica u Velikoj Kladuši. Salman se 2. lipnja, zajedno sa skupinom prijatelja i drugova migranata iz Velike Kladuše, pokušao domoći Slovenije. Nije im uspjelo. Dogodila se tragedija, a preživjele je policija vratila u Veliku Kladušu, među njima i Salmana. Razgovarajući za naš list u subotu iz Velike Kladuše, Salman nam je potvrdio iskaz koji je 5. srpnja dao aktivisticama Inicijative Dobrodošli, koja u Hrvatskoj pomaže izbjeglicama.

      Salmanov iskaz

      Ovo je Salmanov iskaz tim aktivisticama, koje čuvaju audio snimku njegovog svjedočanstva: »2. lipnja, skupina ljudi pokušala je prijeći granicu iz Hrvatske u Sloveniju. Policija nas je vidjela i pucala. Pokušavajući pobjeći, ljudi su počeli skakati u rijeku. Mnogi nisu znali plivati, i nisu mogli procijeniti dubinu rijeke. Nitko nije izronio. Jedan čovjek počeo je plakati i moliti policajce da im pomognu, jer se ljudi utapaju. Ali policija nije reagirala. Tog dana, Mohsin Ali i još pet-šest ljudi izgubili su živote u toj rijeci. Slovenska policija kasnije nam je pokazala fotografije mrtvih tijela. Prepoznao sam Mohsina Alija. Rekli su nam da je njegovo tijelo u Zagrebu. Dan kasnije, poslan sam natrag u Bosnu. U kontaktu smo s majkom Mohsina Alija. Ona želi da se njegovo tijelo vrati u Pakistan«.

      Salman je u subotnjem razgovoru za naš list potvrdio da je taj razgovor autentičan, a podaci istiniti. Dodao je kako nerado razgovara za novine, »jer mu to nikad ne koristi«. Odbio je kazati i svoje prezime, a nije kazao ni ime majke Mohsina Alija, kao ni grad u kojem je Mohsin živio u Pakistanu. Salman, međutim, jest potvrdio da majka zna za pogibiju sina, te da tijelo želi vratiti kući, kako bi ga dostojno ispratila.

      Naš list u subotu je razgovarao i s jednom od četiri aktivistice Inicijative Dobrodošli, koje su u Velikoj Kladuši snimile Salmanov iskaz. Ta žena, čije ime i kontakte posjeduje naša redakcija, kazala nam je kako je u grupi iz koje su se migranti utopili, uz Salmana, bio i bratić utopljenika Mohsina Alija. On je preživio. Prema nekim informacijama, ostalih petoro utopljenika bili su iz Sirije i Maroka, ali o tim ljudima nema dodatnih informacija. Svi su se utopili na istome mjestu, kod Duge Rese, i u istome događaju, koji je Salman opisao aktivisticama, ali ime rijeke ti ljudi nisu znali.

      Prema informacijama iz krugova aktivista koji nastoje pratiti teškoće izbjeglica što Bosne i Hercegovine pokušavaju, preko Hrvatske, prijeći dalje u zapadnu Europu, opasnost od utapanja izbjeglica postala je tako akutna, da neplivači koji iz Bihaća i Velike Kladuše kreću na neizvjestan put, sa sobom sve češće nose konopce, kako bi se vezali kada prelaze rijeke, da se ne utope.

      Potvrda vijesti

      Kao dodatna potvrda vijesti da su se 2. lipnja migranti uistinu utopili može poslužiti i vijest Hine, koja je dan kasnije, u nedjelju, 3. lipnja, prenijela priopćenje karlovačke policije kako je »u Gornjem Prilišću, na granici sa Slovenijom, u nedjelju iz Kupe izvučeno truplo nepoznatog muškarca, mlađeg migranta«. Hina je u tom izvještaju citirala Vladu Furača iz karlovačke podružnice Hrvatske gorske službe spašavanja (HGSS), koji je potvrdio da su njihovi ronioci po nalogu policije izvukli tijelo iz Kupe. Furač je dodao kako »javnost zna da je ovo mjesto na Kupi na migrantskoj ruti, da je tu prijašnjih mjeseci već bilo utapanja stranaca, te bi moglo biti da je to opet jedan takav slučaj«. Policija je u istome izvještaju potvrdila da je »muškarac pronađen na hrvatskoj strani linije razgraničenja sa Slovenijom«.

      Odgovarajući na upit našeg lista, Odjela za odnose s javnošću MUP-a 2. srpnja izvijestio je kako je od početka 2017. do lipnja ove godine, u pokušajima da prijeđu granicu, u Hrvatskoj poginulo ukupno 12 migranata. Nevladine organizacije, pak, barataju podatkom o šesnaest poginulih u istome razdoblju, te izražavaju bojazan da je poginulih i više. Kako bilo, može se zaključiti da se broj poginulih izbjeglica u Hrvatskoj u posljednjih godinu i pol popeo na najmanje osamnaest – uz nadu da nije i mnogo veći.

      https://www.novilist.hr/novosti/hrvatska/u-bijegu-su-skakali-u-rijeku-nitko-nije-izronio-potresna-ispovijest-migrant

  • 21.12.2000, news d’un exilé (d’origine iranienne) mort à la frontière croato-slovène :

    Ustrijeljen Iranac

    #frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Croatie #Slovénie #Alpes

    –-

    ajouté à la métaliste sur les morts à la frontière_sud-alpine :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/811660

  • THE WIRE | a film by Tiha K. Gudac

    By constructing an iron fence, right through the beautiful KUPA-region, Slovenia has made Croatia somewhat an unwilling buffer for the influx of the refugees coming from Bosnia, trying to reach Europe.

    Of cause of the fence, the usual way of life has collapsed and a new dynamic was generated. The region has become an arena of different faces of human nature brought forward by a time of crisis, in which local population needs to find a way to deal with this new situation in order to survive.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dCx4d8GXYw


    #film #film_documentaire #documentaire #rivière #Kolpa #Kupa #barrières_frontalières #frontières #migrations #réfugiés #frontière_sud-alpine #Croatie #Slovénie #militarisation_des_frontières

  • 21.05.2018 : 82 migrants blocked in Slovenia, one drowns in river

    Slovenian authorities have stopped 82 migrants who entered the country irregularly, while yet another drowning took place in the river along the country’s border with Croatia. Meanwhile, authorities in Bosnia have highlighted some priorities for fighting the flow of irregular migrants into the country.

    Slovenian police last week blocked 82 migrants who entered the country illegally, while on Tuesday, a new case of drowning was recorded in the Kupa River along the border with Croatia, marking the fifth this year. Local media sources said police arrested two migrants after they crossed the river to enter Slovenia, while a third didn’t make it and drowned. The nationalities of the migrants were not specified.

    The migrants who were stopped over the weekend were from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria, India, Libya, and Egypt. All of the migrants applied for international protection and are being housed in a migrant reception centre. Another three migrants were found on a Bulgarian truck at the Bregana crossing between Croatia and Slovenia.

    Bosnia plans new measures to fight migrant flows

    The “Action Group for the Fight Against Illegal Migration and the Trafficking of Persons”, convened by Attorney General Gordana Tadic, established three priorities for police forces: protection of the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an improvement in related legislation, and regulations with neighboring countries on the question of readmission of refugees. Another goal of the action group meeting was to establish means of intervention to prevent future crises such as the one that took place last Friday, when police in the Mostar Canton stopped a convoy of buses with migrants from Sarajevo aboard, who were headed to a reception centre in Mostar.

    Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzegovina Security Minister Dragan Mektic said strengthening police presence along the borders with Serbia and Montenegro has produced visible results and significantly reduced the number of illegal migrants who have entered Bosnia.


    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/9419/82-migrants-blocked-in-slovenia-one-drowns-in-river
    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #décès #mourir_aux_frontières #frontières #morts_aux_frontières #Slovénie #Croatie #frontière_sud-alpine #Kolpa #Kupa #rivière #rivière_Kolpa

    #Rosalnica

    • AYS DAILY DIGEST 25/05/2018: Another absurd deal to stop people from coming to the EU

      Slovenia

      Slovenian police issued a statement saying that number of people who are arriving to this country incresed this year. According to the official data, until the end of April this year, Slovenian Police apprehended 1,226 persons for irregular border-crossing. It signifies increase of 280 percent in comaprison to the same period last year.

      Slovenian authorities said they stopped 82 people entering the country last week, with one person drowning in the Kupa River along the border with Croatia.

      A rise in asylum applications has also been reported, with 798 registered in the four months of 2018, compared to 1,476 in the entire year 2017.

      As reported, the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants, is working on a new contingency plan for responding to the higher number of arrivals, while the Migration Office is in the process of enlisting more staff for the purpose of processing applications.

      https://medium.com/are-you-syrious/ays-daily-digest-25-05-2018-another-absurd-deal-to-stop-people-from-coming-t

  • En occasion de la journée mondiale de la paix, une #commémoration a eu lieu à #Zagreb, le 23.09.2023. J’y étais et ai pris quelques photos...

    La commémoration a eu lieu dans le parc mémoriel de #Dotrščina

    L’installation artistique qui a été conçue par l’occasion :


    #crayon #papier #gomme

    –-

    –—
    Des images du parc mémoriel, qui n’a jamais été terminé, car avant la fin c’était aussi la fin de la Yougoslavie...


    –-> cette pierre mémorielle est une réplique de l’originale, inaugurée il y a peu après qu’elle ait été détruite dans les années 1990

    Mais des images du projets dans le spomenik database :


    https://www.spomenikdatabase.org/dotrscina

    #Dotrscina #spomenik #mémoriel #mémoire #Croatie
    ping @reka

  • #Arbe, la voragine nera nella memoria Italiana. Pagliarulo: «Ogni silenzio deve essere superato»

    Si è svolta ieri all’isola di Arbe (#Rab) in Croazia, una grande celebrazione dell’80° anniversario della Liberazione del campo di concentramento fascista. Qui durante l’occupazione italiana, iniziata nell’aprile 1941, furono deportati migliaia di civili slavi – fra cui circa duemila donne e mille bambini - prevalentemente sloveni, ma anche croati ed ebrei, che furono decimati dalla fame, dalle malattie, dalle privazioni, dai maltrattamenti. I deceduti “ufficiali” furono 1.435, ma la cifra fu con tutta probabilità molto superiore. Nessuno ha mai pagato per questi crimini e l’Italia non smette di ignorare questa tragedia.
    Sono intervenuti il Presidente della repubblica croata Zoran Milanovič e la Presidente della repubblica slovena Nataša Pirc Musar. L’iniziativa è stata promossa dai presidenti delle associazioni partigiane dei tre Paesi: Franjo Habulin (per Saba Hr Croazia), Marijan Križman (per ZZB-NOB Slovenia), Gianfranco Pagliarulo (per l’ANPI Italia), che hanno preso la parola, assieme al Sindaco di Arbe e ad un superstite del campo di concentramento.
    Per l’Anpi nazionale, oltre a Pagliarulo, erano presenti Carlo Ghezzi, Dino Spanghero, Fabio Vallon. Tra i partecipanti anche molte delegazioni di Comitati provinciali ANPI in particolare dal Friuli Venezia Giulia.
    “Oggi noi diciamo “Mai più!” - ha detto il Presidente dell’Anpi in un passaggio del suo intervento - ma sappiamo che non basta dire “Mai più!”. Occorre una piena assunzione di responsabilità da parte del mio Paese, che ho l’onore di rappresentare. Occorre affermare senza alcuna ambiguità che l’invasione italiana fu un atto criminale e che le tragedie successive furono causate soprattutto da quella invasione e aggravate da un razzismo strisciante verso le popolazioni slave. La incancellabile responsabilità politica di tutto ciò ricade sul fascismo italiano e sul nazismo tedesco in un tempo in cui dominavano in tutta Europa i nazionalismi. Ogni silenzio dev’essere superato. A maggior ragione questo è urgente, perché viviamo un tempo in cui rinascono forme vecchie e nuove di nazionalismo, razzismo, irredentismo, e persino di fascismo e di nazismo. Chi non ama tutta l’umanità non ama la sua patria. Questo era lo spirito patriottico dei partigiani italiani e dei partigiani di tutta Europa. Ecco perché dobbiamo pensare a un nuovo umanesimo mondiale in cui ci si ritrova fratelli per migliorare le condizioni di vita e di sopravvivenza sulla terra davanti alle sfide gigantesche a cui l’umanità è oggi sottoposta: lo sfruttamento sul lavoro, la povertà, la fame, le pandemie, il riscaldamento globale. Senza mai dimenticare cosa avvenne in quest’isola, nel nome di tutte le vittime, nella denuncia e nell’esecrazione dei responsabili, andiamo avanti tenendoci per mano”.

    Leggi il racconto della celebrazione, a cura di Eric Gobetti, pubblicato sul quotidiano il manifesto : https://ilmanifesto.it/campo-fascista-di-arbe-un-oblio-annunciato

    Guarda uno stralcio dell’intervista della Rete televisiva nazionale Slovena al Presidente Pagliarulo: https://www.rtvslo.si/rtv365/arhiv/174985065?s=mmc

    https://www.anpi.it/arbe-la-voragine-nera-nella-memoria-italiana-pagliarulo-ogni-silenzio-deve-esse

    #Rab #mémoire #Croatie #histoire #fascisme #Italie #Italie_fasciste #camp_de_concentration #commémoration

  • Il ministero dell’Interno condannato a risarcire un respinto a catena in Bosnia

    Il Tribunale di Roma ha accertato l’illegittimità delle “riammissioni” al confine orientale, ricostruendo il “nesso causale” tra respingimenti e trattamenti inumani. Il Viminale deve farsi carico del danno inflitto a un cittadino pakistano richiedente asilo. Decisivo il lavoro di rete tra attivisti, Ong e avvocati. Una decisione attualissima

    Il ministero dell’Interno è stato condannato dal Tribunale di Roma a pagare 18.200 euro a titolo di risarcimento nei confronti di A., cittadino originario del Pakistan in fuga dal Paese, per averlo prima fermato a Trieste e poi respinto in Slovenia e a catena verso la Croazia e la Bosnia ed Erzegovina. Nonostante avesse manifestato la volontà di domandare protezione internazionale. Cento euro per ogni giorno trascorso tra la “riammissione” in Slovenia avvenuta a metà ottobre 2020 e il rientro in Italia nell’aprile 2021, come prevede la giurisprudenza comunitaria e nazionale su casi assimilabili.

    La decisione della giudice Damiana Colla del 9 maggio è estremamente rilevante non soltanto perché “accerta e dichiara l’illegittimità” delle riammissioni informali attive da parte italiana ma soprattutto perché inchioda l’”evidente nesso di causalità” tra l’operato della polizia italiana e il “danno subito” da A.. “La lesione del diritto d’asilo e i trattamenti inumani -scrive infatti la giudice- sono stati la diretta conseguenza della riammissione informale del ricorrente in Slovenia da parte delle autorità di frontiera di Trieste”.

    La decisione ottenuta dalle avvocate Caterina Bove e Anna Brambilla dell’Asgi, commenta la stessa Associazione per gli studi giuridici sull’immigrazione, “è stata il frutto di un lavoro di rete che ha visto coinvolti diversi soggetti attivi nel contrasto alle violenze verso le persone in movimento attivi lungo la rotta balcanica, tra i quali la rete RiVolti ai Balcani (in particolare Gianfranco Schiavone e Agostino Zanotti), la giornalista Elisa Oddone, la Ong ‘Lungo la rotta balcanica’, l’associazione Pravni center za varstvo človekovih pravic in okolja – Legal Centre for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (Pic, in particolare Ursa Regvar), il progetto Medea dell’Asgi, Ics Ufficio Rifugiati, Linea d’ombra, il Centro per la Pace di Zagabria, Anela Dedic e tutti gli attivisti e attiviste che agiscono per la tutela per i diritti umani in Bosnia ed Erzegovina e lungo le rotte percorse dalla persone in transito”.

    Nuove ombre si allungano su una prassi che i governi europei intendono invece elevare sempre più a norma “guida” della brutale gestione delle frontiere, come dimostra l’accordo al Consiglio europeo Giustizia e Affari interni dello scorso 8 giugno sui regolamenti in tema di gestione dell’asilo e della migrazione e delle procedure.

    Non si tratta di un’ordinanza che guarda a un passato ormai superato o a una pagina triste nel frattempo voltata: se è vero infatti che l’Italia ha condotto i respingimenti verso la Slovenia per tutto il 2020 e li ha sospesi nel 2021, è noto che da fine 2022 il nuovo governo abbia annunciato di volerli riprendere (con “risultati” incerti di cui abbiamo già scritto). Il tutto nonostante il precedente dell’ordinanza cautelare del Tribunale di Roma a firma della giudice Silvia Albano, emessa nel gennaio 2021 a fronte del ricorso promosso sempre dalle avvocate e socie Asgi Caterina Bove e Anna Brambilla (la vicenda è ben raccontata nel film “Trieste è bella di notte” dei registi Andrea Segre, Stefano Collizzolli e Matteo Calore).

    La storia di A. ricostruita nella decisione di Roma è tanto forte quanto emblematica. La sua fuga dal Pakistan inizia nel 2018, quand’è ferito in un attacco del gruppo terroristico Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. Sopravvissuto, e temendo ritorsioni da ambo le parti (estremisti ed esercito cui apparteneva), decide di scappare. Resta per un anno in Turchia e per tre volte prova a entrare in Grecia, nell’Unione europea. Al terzo tentativo riesce, attraversando poi la Macedonia del Nord, la Serbia e arrivando nell’estate 2019 in Bosnia ed Erzegovina.

    Per nove volte è respinto dalle polizie croate e per tre da quelle slovene. Il primo ottobre 2020, a “riammissioni informali attive” ormai a pieno regime da parte italiana, gli riesce il “game” che lo porterà a Trieste nella mattinata del 17 ottobre. Qui però alcuni militari lo fermano quasi subito insieme ad altre quattro persone. Finiscono tutti in una stazione di polizia dove sono visitati e gli vengono fatti firmare fogli non tradotti dal contenuto oscuro. A. riferisce però agli agenti di voler chiedere asilo ma questi lo “affidano” alla polizia slovena. Non ha niente in mano: “informale” vuol dire infatti respinto senza lo straccio di un provvedimento scritto, motivato, impugnabile, cioè senza convalida dell’autorità giudiziaria, senza diritto a un ricorso effettivo. A riprova di quanto sia basso e surreale il dibattito sul garantismo in Italia.

    È così che A., con l’etichetta fasulla di “cittadino extraeuropeo entrato irregolarmente” e non invece di richiedente asilo, si fa una notte in una stazione di polizia slovena e il giorno dopo si vede “consegnato alle autorità croate e da queste respinto in Bosnia con metodi violenti, comprese percosse”, sempre per citare il giudice di Roma.

    Alla fine della catena lo attende la Bosnia ed Erzegovina. Nel caso di A. è l’insediamento informale di Vedro Polje, poco distante da Bihać, nel Nord-Ovest del Paese. Per via delle “degradanti condizioni di vita al campo”, come si legge nell’ordinanza che ha condannato il Viminale, A. decide di riprovarci. Lì non può rimanere. Ce la fa, di nuovo, perché “frontiere chiuse” è uno slogan vuoto, e ad aprile del 2021 torna nell’Italia che lo aveva illegalmente respinto. Tre mesi prima, come detto, la giudice Albano del Tribunale di Roma aveva già sanzionato il ministero dell’Interno per le stesse riammissioni (caso specifico diverso, naturalmente). A., memore del precedente respingimento, abbandona in fretta Trieste e raggiunge Brescia. Il 10 maggio fa quella domanda d’asilo che gli era stata negata dalla polizia italiana qualche mese prima e a tre giorni da Natale si vede riconoscere lo status di rifugiato. Ma non gli suona come un lieto fine quanto lo sprone a chieder giustizia per quel respingimento illegale subìto.

    Il 31 dicembre 2021 fa perciò ricorso. Il ministero dell’Interno si costituisce in giudizio il 27 settembre 2022 sostenendo che no, non si sarebbe trattato di un’espulsione collettiva vietata dal diritto internazionale ed europeo, che l’intera procedura si sarebbe svolta nel rispetto dei diritti umani fondamentali delle persone coinvolte, che la pratica sarebbe stata pienamente legittima e che il danno subito dal ricorrente (cioè A.) non sarebbe stato dimostrato.

    Il Tribunale di Roma dà però torto a Roma e ragione ad A. e alle avvocate Bove e Brambilla, facendo così squagliare la tesi difensiva del Viminale come il sole fa con la neve. “Il trattamento che il ricorrente ha descritto di aver subito da parte delle autorità di frontiera italiane al momento del suo primo ingresso a Trieste […] è stato pienamente provato in giudizio”, scrive la giudice Colla. Dalla manifestazione della volontà di chiedere protezione alla presa in consegna da parte delle autorità slovene. È documentata anche la catena: la detenzione in Slovenia al Centro per stranieri di Veliki Otok, nella Postumia (Carniola interna), e la successiva riammissione in Croazia. Fino alla Bosnia. Nessun alibi quindi per il Viminale, che della mancata prova dell’arrivo in Italia dei respinti ne ha fatto fino a oggi un leitmotiv. Questa volta non gli è riuscito nascondere la mano.

    Nella “jungle” di Vedro Polje, dove si trova a inizio 2021, A. ha per fortuna incontrato la giornalista Elisa Oddone e l’operatore sociale Diego Saccora dell’associazione “Lungo la rotta balcanica” (e tra le anime della rete RiVolti ai Balcani). Oddone, che stava curando un reportage per Al Jazeera ed NPR, raccoglie la testimonianza di A. e fa da primo contatto-ponte con le avvocate Bove e Brambilla. Anche Saccora confermerà in Tribunale più incontri con A.. A Vedro Polje infatti l’operatore sociale e ricercatore sul campo portava assistenza e beni di prima necessità. Non solo: lo accompagna di persona presso uno studio notarile di Bihać “per conferire mandato agli attuali difensori al fine di esperire ricorso avverso la riammissione in Slovenia”. A dimostrazione che il supporto incisivo alle persone in transito calpestate dai governi europei alle frontiere può assumere le forme più svariate, e che l’aiuto più distante dalla solidarietà istituzionalizzata può passare persino dalla ceralacca di un notaio. Quante pagine gravi e paradossali faranno scrivere ancora le politiche europee?

    Oddone e Saccora raccontano per filo e per segno al giudice le condizioni proibitive in cui si trovava all’epoca A. insieme ad altri. Riparati nei boschi, con la temperatura fino a venti gradi sotto zero di un inverno bosniaco, senz’acqua, senza accoglienza per via della chiusura dei due campi locali più grandi, praticamente senza cibo, stretti tra “ronde” di cittadini locali ostili e “possibili furti da parte di altri gruppi di richiedenti asilo, alla ricerca di quanto necessario alla sopravvivenza”.

    Secondo il Tribunale di Roma la riammissione “informale” di A. da parte dell’Italia avrebbe “contraddetto” le “norme di rango primario, costituzionale e sovranazionale, le quali, evidentemente, non possono essere derogate da un accordo bilaterale intergovernativo (del 1996, ndr) non ratificato con legge”.

    “La Direttiva 2008/115/CE non legittima affatto, anzi contrasta con la descritta pratica di riammissione informale posta in essere dal governo italiano -chiarisce la giudice Colla-. Infatti, sebbene tale direttiva (al suo art. 6, par. 3) consenta agli Stati membri di riammettere nello Stato confinante di provenienza senza una specifica decisione di rimpatrio, qualora sussistano accordi bilaterali tra gli Stati interessati già vigenti alla data di entrata in vigore della direttiva stessa (essendo tali accordi invece non più consentiti nella vigenza della stessa), tuttavia, nell’esecuzione dell’accordo, lo Stato italiano è comunque vincolato dalla normativa interna anche costituzionale (art 13 Cost.), nonché dal diritto sovranazionale, alla stregua del quale lo Stato ha il dovere di accertare la situazione concreta nella quale la persona riammessa verrà a trovarsi, con particolare riferimento all’eventualità di una violazione dei suoi diritti fondamentali (che si prospettava nel caso di specie secondo le informazioni largamente disponibili). Soprattutto poi, la riammissione informale non può mai essere applicata nei confronti di una persona che manifesti l’intenzione di chiedere asilo, come nella specie accaduto”.

    Oltre al regolamento 604/2013 (Dublino III), l’Italia, nella foga di respingere, avrebbe persino violato lo stesso accordo bilaterale con la Slovenia. L’articolo due prevede infatti che ciascuna parte, su richiesta dell’altra, “si impegna a riammettere sul proprio territorio il cittadino di uno Stato terzo che non soddisfa le condizioni di ingresso o di soggiorno nel territorio dello Stato richiedente, non potendosi evidentemente considerare in tale situazione chi abbia espresso la volontà di chiedere protezione”. Proprio come A..

    A titolo di aggravante per le autorità italiane, segnala poi il Tribunale elencando corposa bibliografia, c’è anche il fatto che queste erano “perfettamente” a conoscenza -“o almeno trovandosi nella condizione di avere perfetta conoscenza”- “delle violazioni cui i respinti sarebbero stati esposti in Slovenia”, così come in Croazia, per non parlare delle condizioni orribili in Bosnia ed Erzegovina, denunciate anche dalla commissaria per i diritti umani del Consiglio d’Europa Dunja Mijatović.

    A maggior ragione dopo le tredici pagine dell’ordinanza del Tribunale di Roma nessuno potrà dire “non sapevo”. Nel buio spicca il “lavoro di rete per contrastare le violazioni”, come lo chiamano le avvocate Bove e Brambilla. “La decisione è un importante risultato non solo perché ribadisce l’illegittimità della condotta posta in essere dalle autorità italiane -concludono- ma perché valorizza, anche attraverso l’assunzione della testimonianza diretta di Saccora e Oddone, l’impegno di tante persone che si impegnano a denunciare e contrastare le violazioni dei diritti delle persone in transito”.

    https://altreconomia.it/il-ministero-dellinterno-condannato-a-risarcire-un-respinto-a-catena-in

    #justice #Italie #frontière_sud-alpine #Slovénie #frontières #migrations #asile #réfugiés #condamnation #refoulements #refoulements_en_chaîne #push-backs #tribunal #réadmissions #Trieste #réadmissions_informelles_actives #Bihać #Bihac #Vedro_Polje #Veliki_Otok #Croatie #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine #forêt #hostile_environment #environnement_hostile #accord_bilatéral

    –—

    ajouté à la #Métaliste sur les #refoulements_en_chaîne sur la #route_des_Balkans:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/1009117

  • “Like We Were Just Animals”. Pushbacks of People Seeking Protection from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Laila R. fled Afghanistan with her parents and her two brothers in 2016, when she was 11 or 12 years old. They sought international protection in Iran, then Turkey, and then Greece. Increasingly desperate for stability, they travelled through North Macedonia and arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina in early 2021. When Laila first spoke to Human Rights Watch in November 2021, she and her family had tried to enter Croatia dozens of times. Croatian police apprehended her and her family each time, ignored their repeated requests for asylum, drove them to the border, and forced them to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    When Croatian police carry out such pushbacks—broadly meaning official operations intended to physically prevent people from reaching, entering, or remaining in a territory and which either lack any screening for protection needs or employ summary screening—they do not contact authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to arrange for people’s formal return. Instead, Croatian police simply order people to wade across one of the rivers that mark the international border.

    Laila and many others interviewed by Human Rights Watch said Croatian authorities frequently pushed them back to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the middle of the night. She and others told Human Rights Watch Croatian police sometimes pushed them back near Velika Kladuša or other towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But on many occasions, the Croatian police took them somewhere far from populated areas.

    Describing the first pushback she experienced, Laila said, “We had no idea where we were. It was the middle of the night, and the police ordered us to go straight ahead until we crossed the river to Bosnia. We spent that night in the forest.”

    Croatian police had destroyed the family’s phones, so they had no easy way of navigating to safety. The next morning, she and her family eventually came across a road. They walked some 30 kilometers to reach Velika Kladuša.

    As with Laila and her family, many of the people who spoke to Human Rights Watch told us they had first sought asylum in Greece as well as in countries outside the European Union before they attempted to enter Croatia. Laila and her family spent one month in Iran, six months in Turkey, and more than three years in Greece, leaving each country after concluding that authorities in each did not intend to respond to their requests for international protection. They did not seek international protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina because they had heard that the country’s authorities rarely granted asylum.

    Croatia became an increasingly important point of entry to the European Union in 2016, after Hungary effectively closed its borders to people seeking asylum. Croatian police have responded to the increase in the number of people entering Croatia irregularly—without visas and at points other than official border crossings—by pushing them back without considering international protection needs or other individual circumstances. In April 2023, for instance, Farooz D. and Hadi A., both 15 years old, told Human Rights Watch Croatian police had apprehended them the night before, driven them to the border, and ordered them to walk into Bosnia and Herzegovina, disregarding their request for protection and their statements that they were under the age of 18.

    Pushbacks from Croatia to the non-European Union countries it borders are now common. Between January 2020 and December 2022, the Danish Refugee Council recorded nearly 30,000 pushbacks from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina, almost certainly an underestimate. Approximately 13 percent of pushbacks recorded in 2022 were of children, alone or with families. Human rights groups have also recorded pushbacks from Croatia to Serbia and to Montenegro.

    Croatian pushbacks have often included violent police responses, including physical harm and deliberate humiliation. Video images captured by Lighthouse Reports, an investigative journalism group, for a 2021 investigation it conducted in collaboration with Der Spiegel, the Guardian, Libération, and other news outlets showed a group of men in balaclavas forcing a group of people into Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although the men did not wear name tags or police badges, the investigation identified them as Croatian police based on characteristic clothing items, the gear they carried, and the corroboration of other police officers. Der Spiegel recounted, “One of the masked men repeatedly lashes out with his baton, letting it fly at the people’s legs so that they stumble into the border river, where the water is chest-high. Finally, he raises his arm threateningly and shouts, ‘Go! Go to Bosnia!’”[1]

    In most of the accounts Human Rights Watch heard, Croatian police wore uniforms, drove marked police vans, and identified themselves as police, leaving no doubt that they were operating in an official capacity.

    Men and teenage boys have told Human Rights Watch and other groups that Croatian police made them walk back to Bosnia and Herzegovina barefoot and shirtless. In some cases, Croatian police forced them to strip down to their underwear or, in a few cases, to remove their clothing completely. In one particularly egregious case documented by the Danish Refugee Council, a group of men arrived at a refugee camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina with orange crosses spray-painted on their heads by Croatian police, an instance of humiliating and degrading treatment the Croatian ombudswoman concluded was an act of religious hatred.

    Younger children have seen their fathers, older brothers, and other relatives punched, struck with batons, kicked, and shoved. Croatian border police have also discharged firearms close to children or pointed firearms at children. In some cases, Croatian police have also shoved or struck children as young as six.

    Croatian police commonly take or destroy mobile phones. Human Rights Watch also heard frequent reports that Croatian police had burned, scattered, or otherwise disposed of people’s backpacks and their contents. In some cases, people reported that police had taken money from them. “The last time we went to Croatia, the police took everyone’s money and all our telephones. Why are they like this?” asked Amira H., a 29-year-old Kurdish woman from Iraq travelling with her husband and 9-year-old son.[2]

    Pushbacks inflict abuse on everyone. In particular, many people said pushbacks took a toll on their mental well-being. Hakim F., a 35-year-old Algerian man who said Croatian police had pushed him back four times between December 2022 and January 2023, commented, “These pushbacks are so stressful, so very, very stressful.”[3] Stephanie M., a 35-year-old Cameroonian woman, told Human Rights Watch in May 2022, “These pushbacks have been so traumatizing. I find I cannot sleep. I am always thinking of the things that have happened, replaying them in my head. There are days I cry, when I ask myself why I am even living. I find myself thinking, ‘Let everything just end. Let the world just end.’”[4]

    For children and their families, who frequently cannot travel as fast on foot as single adults can, pushbacks may add considerably to the time spent in difficult, often squalid, and potentially unsafe conditions before they are able to make a claim for asylum in an EU country. They increase the time children spend without access to formal schooling. For unaccompanied children in particular, pushbacks can increase the risk that they will be subject to trafficking. Family separation may also result from pushbacks: the nongovernmental organization Are You Syrious has reported cases of women allowed to seek asylum in Croatia with their children while their husbands are pushed back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Croatian police continued to carry out pushbacks throughout 2022, although in the second half of the year police increasingly employed an alternative tactic of issuing summary expulsion orders directing people to leave the European Economic Area within seven days. These summary expulsion orders did not consider protection needs and did not afford due process protections. By late March 2023, Croatian police appeared to have abandoned this practice and resumed their reliance on pushbacks.

    Croatian authorities regularly deny the overwhelming evidence that Croatian police have regularly carried out pushbacks, sometimes inflicting serious injuries, frequently destroying or seizing phones, and nearly always subjecting people to humiliating treatment in the process. The Croatian government did not respond to Human Rights Watch’s request for comment on this report.

    On the initiative of and with funding from the European Union, Croatia has established a border monitoring mechanism, with the ostensible purpose of preventing and addressing pushbacks and other abuses at the border. The mechanism’s parameters and track record have so far not been promising. Its members cannot make unannounced visits and cannot go to unofficial border crossing points. It is not clear how the members are appointed and how the mechanism’s priorities are defined. It has had its reports revised to remove criticism of Croatian police and the Croatian Ministry of the Interior.

    Croatia’s consistent and persistent use of pushbacks violates several international legal norms, including the prohibitions of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, collective expulsion, and refoulement—the sending of people to places where they would face ill-treatment or other irreparable harm or would be at risk of return to harm. Pushbacks of children violate the international norm that states take children’s best interests into account, including by taking particular care to ensure that returns of children are in their best interests. Excessive force, other ill-treatment, family separation, and other rights violations may also accompany pushback operations.

    Slovenia and other European Union member states are also implicated in the human rights violations committed by Croatian authorities against people transferred to Croatia under “readmission agreements”—arrangements under which states return people to the neighbouring countries through which they have transited, with few, if any, procedural safeguards. For instance, under Slovenia’s readmission agreement with Croatia, Slovenian police summarily transferred irregular migrants to Croatia if they have entered Slovenia from Croatia, regardless of whether they requested asylum in Slovenia. In turn, Croatian authorities generally immediately pushed them on to Bosnia and Herzegovina or to Serbia.

    EU institutions have effectively disregarded the human rights violations committed by Croatian border authorities. The European Union has contributed substantial funds to Croatian border management without securing meaningful guarantees that Croatia’s border management practices will adhere to international human rights norms and comply with EU law.

    Moreover, the European Union’s decision in December 2022 to permit Croatia to join the Schengen area, the 27-country zone where internal border controls have generally been removed, sends a strong signal that it tolerates pushbacks and other abusive practices.

    Croatia should immediately end pushbacks to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to Serbia and instead afford everybody who expresses an intention to seek international protection the opportunity to do so. Croatia should also reform its border monitoring mechanism to ensure that it is a robust and independent safeguard against pushbacks and other official abuse.

    Until such time as Croatia definitively ends pushbacks and other collective expulsions, ensures that people in need of international protection are given access to asylum, and protects the rights of children, Slovenia should not seek to carry out returns under its readmission agreement with Croatia. Austria, Italy, and Switzerland, in turn, should not send people to Slovenia under their readmission agreements as long as Slovenia continues to apply its readmission agreement with Croatia.

    Through enforcement of EU law and as a condition of funding, the European Commission should require Croatian authorities to end pushbacks and other human rights violations at the border and provide concrete, verifiable information on steps taken to investigate reports of pushbacks and other human rights violations against migrants and asylum seekers.

    The European Union and its member states should also fundamentally reorient their migration policy to create pathways for safe, orderly, and regular migration.

    https://www.hrw.org/report/2023/05/03/we-were-just-animals/pushbacks-people-seeking-protection-croatia-bosnia-and
    #renvois #expulsions #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #frontières #push-backs #refoulements #expulsions_de_masse #Croatie #Bosnie #Bosnie-Herzégovine

    • Migrants’ Mass Expulsions from Croatia Raise Legal Doubts

      Croatia and Bosnia say the expulsion of hundreds of migrants and refugees from the first to the second country are regulated by a bilateral agreement – but NGOs, rights groups and a legal expert question its legality.

      Since the end of March 2023, hundreds of migrants and refugees have been returned from Croatia back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

      Differently from the illegal pushbacks that saw thousands of people being violently sent back from Croatia to Bosnia between 2018 and 2022, these recent operations are happening with cooperation between the two countries and with the open approval of European institutions.

      NGOs and rights groups were the first to condemn this new phenomenon, referring to it as “mass expulsions” implemented by Croatia. With information gathered by direct testimonies and documents collected from the expelled people, they have voiced concerns regarding alleged degrading treatments and human rights violations by Croatian police.

      Besides such abuses, experts also say the procedure could be illegal. “There are some doubts over the legality of what we are seeing happening between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in terms of European law,” Italian jurist and migration expert Gianfranco Schiavone told BIRN.
      Not allowed to seek asylum

      A few weeks after the first migrants and refugees were returned to Bosnia’s northwest Una-Sana Canton, Mustafa Ruznic, the canton’s Prime Minister, sent an open letter to Bosnia’s state security and foreign ministers, as well as to the head of the Foreigners Affairs Service, SPS, demanding an explanation for the increased number of migrants and refugees reportedly returned from Croatia to Bosnia based on a bilateral readmission agreement.

      Ruznic said a significant number of them were unknown to the authorities and might present security risks, and complained of not being informed about the ongoing construction of a detention centre in the Lipa Temporary Reception Centre, situated in the Canton’s administrative centre, Bihac.

      Croatian and Bosnian authorities later explained that the mass returns were taking place on the basis of a bilateral agreement between the two states signed in 2002 and annexed again in September 2011 with a specific plan for its implementation, but never actually put into use.

      Nenad Nesic, Bosnia’s Minister of Security, denied a new possible crisis in Bosnia’s parliament on April 19, a day after he met Ruznic in Bihac.

      Presenting data for the first three months of 2023, he stated that a total of 768 foreign citizens had been accepted back under the Readmission Agreement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

      He added that, during the same period, 1,816 requests for the admission of foreigners under readmission were rejected because Croatian authorities couldn’t prove they came from Bosnia.

      “This clearly shows that our Foreigners Service is responsibly doing its job and there is no influx of migrants into Bosnia and Herzegovina. Migrants are evenly distributed and currently most of them are in the Sarajevo Canton, where 630 migrants are accommodated,” Nesic stated.

      Sara Kekus, from the Zagreb-based Center for Peace Studies, CMS, who has been monitoring the situation with migrants, told BIRN that they do not have specific data on readmissions, but that the number is clearly increasing.

      “According to the testimonies of our associates, organisations, volunteers, and activists who are present in BiH, the persons returned from Croatia testified that they tried to seek asylum [there], but they were not allowed to do so, or they did not even know who to ask for asylum,” Kekus said.

      According to Kekus, people reported not having access to translators and that they were issued documents mostly in Croatian, which they signed without knowing what they were signing.

      “Complaints are that persons were kept in detention for several days and that the meals were rather meagre, one a day, bread and cheese and water,” he said.

      Among the expelled people, Kekus notes, there were not only adults but also unaccompanied children and families with small children, which is “especially problematic”.

      The Border Violence Monitoring Network, a grassroot watchdog network of NGOs and rights groups, collected testimonies from people subjected to the pushbacks and denounced the lack of translations and the fact that the internationally guaranteed right to ask for asylum was not respected by the Croatian authorities.

      “The police there [in Croatia] asked us to pay for accommodation, food and transport to the border, as if we were in a hotel and not in a prison. We didn’t ask to be taken there. We feel as if we were robbed,” one of the men expelled from Croatia told them. Documents collected by BVMN support this last claim.

      In a written response to BIRN’s inquiry, the Croatian Ministry of Interior, MUP, said that “the BVMN report is not based on information about actual treatment”.

      It said that “every illegal migrant caught by the Croatian police has the right and is adequately informed about the possibility of expressing an intention to seek international protection. If he/she expresses such an intention, an appropriate procedure is initiated.”
      Expulsions or ‘returns’?

      In the same letter, the Croatian MUP stated that implementation of the bilateral agreement had been discussed at several meetings prior to this, and that at the Joint EU-BiH Readmission Committee meeting on March 28 in Brussels, the European Commission reminded Bosnia’s authorities of their obligation to implement the agreement.

      The MUP also said these procedures cannot be called expulsions, but are instead returns of persons as regulated by the bilateral agreement.

      Italian jurist and migration expert Gianfranco Schiavone has a different opinion. “This type of procedure needs to be verified carefully because the notion of readmission applies currently in light of a directive, 115 of 2008, that regulates readmissions, but only among member countries of the European Union.”

      That is not the case for the two countries in question. Croatia is a European Union member since 2015, and it joined the visa-free Schengen zone at the start of 2023. Bosnia, on the other hand, has only recently been granted the status of EU candidate country.

      “This is de facto an expulsion of an alien citizen who irregularly arrived in a European country and should happen under the guarantee of the same European directive,” stated Schiavone.

      Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch published a report on May 3, saying “Croatian police regularly and often violently push back refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants to Bosnia and Herzegovina without assessing their asylum requests or protection needs”. The 94-page report, titled “‘Like We Were Just Animals’: Pushbacks of People Seeking Protection from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina,” finds that Croatian authorities engage in pushbacks, including of unaccompanied children and families with young children.

      “The practice is ongoing despite official denials, purported monitoring efforts, and repeated – and unfulfilled – commitments to respect the right to seek asylum and other human rights norms. Border police frequently steal or destroy phones, money, identity documents, and other personal property, and often subject children and adults to humiliating and degrading treatment, sometimes in ways that are explicitly racist,” the report says.

      “Pushbacks have long been standard operating procedure for Croatia’s border police, and the Croatian government has bamboozled European Union institutions through deflection and empty promises,” said Michael Garcia Bochenek, senior children’s rights counsel at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report. “These abhorrent abuses – and the official duplicity that facilitates them – should end.”

      Croatian authorities have mostly disclaimed responsibility for pushbacks, and the Croatian Ministry of the Interior did not respond to Human Rights Watch’s requests for a meeting or for comment on its findings, it says in the report.

      https://balkaninsight.com/2023/05/05/migrants-mass-expulsions-from-croatia-raise-legal-doubts

    • Croatia accused of new mass expulsions of migrants to Bosnia

      The investigative journalism project BIRN reports that Croatia has been carrying out mass expulsions of migrants to its neighbor, Bosnia. The two countries claim the returns are lawful under a bilateral agreement.

      Migrants are being expelled from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina under a formal agreement between the two countries, rights groups say. Their claims are based on testimonies from migrants who said they were pushed back over the border by Croatian police, sometimes violently.

      In a recent report, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) says these alleged pushbacks are a “new phonemenon” and are not the same as the expulsions that took place from Croatia to Bosnia between 2018 and 2022, which have already been documented.

      According to the BIRN report, Croatian authorities have been sending migrants back across the border to Bosnia, which is outside EU territory, under a revived bilateral agreement between the two countries. This was only discovered by the premier of the canton of Una-Sana, in Bosnia’s northwest, after more than 760 migrants returned under the deal had already arrived in his canton.

      Bosnia’s security minister, Nenad Nesic, has denied that there is an influx of migrants into the country. But Sara Kekus, from the Center for Peace Studies in Zagreb, told BIRN that the number is increasing. He also said that those returned from Croatia had testified that they had tried to seek asylum there but had not been allowed to do so, or had not known who to ask. In some cases they had been given documents mostly in Croatian which they signed without understanding what they were.

      According to Kekus, some of the migrants, who included unaccompanied minors and families with young children, said they had been mistreated by Croatian authorities: “Complaints are that persons were kept in detention for several days and that the meals were rather meagre, one a day, bread and cheese and water,” he is quoted as saying.
      ’Illegal practice’

      The pushbacks were also confirmed by the Border Violence Monitoring Networ (BVMN), another NGO, which condemned the fact that Croatian authorities had acted in breach of the internationally guaranteed right to request asylum.

      The Croatian interior ministry denied this, telling BIRN, “every illegal migrant caught by the Croatian police has the right and is adequately informed about the possibility of expressing an intention to seek international protection.” The ministry also said its operations were not “expulsions” but returns, carried out under the bilateral agreement.

      But all returns of migrants from EU countries to ’third countries’ outside the bloc have to happen according to an EU law, Directive 2008/115. As Bosnia is not yet in the EU, these procedures need to be followed for returns from Croatia, as Italian lawyer and migration expert Gianfranco Schiavone told BIRN. “This is de facto an expulsion of an alien citizen who irregularly arrived in a European country and should happen under the guarantee of the same European directive.”

      Migrants ’treated like animals’

      The BIRN investigation into illegal practices being carried out by an EU member state at the bloc’s external border follows a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which includes very recent testimonies of migrants who were pushed back from Croatia. In April, 2023, according to the report, two 15-year-old boys, Farooz D. and Hadi A., said Croatian police had caught them, driven them to the border and ordered them to walk into Bosnia, “disregarding their request for protection and their statements that they were under the age of 18.”

      HRW claims that in continuing to expel migrants, often using violent tactics, Croatia is acting in violation of international laws, including the prohibition against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and against refoulement – sending people to places where they would face harm. The Croatian government did not respond to HRW’s request for comment.

      https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/48806/croatia-accused-of-new-mass-expulsions-of-migrants-to-bosnia

    • Croazia: manganelli anche contro i bambini migranti

      La Croazia respinge i migranti, tra i quali molti minori non accompagnati e famiglie con bambini, e rende impossibile l’accesso all’asilo. È ciò che emerge dall’ultimo rapporto di Human Rights Watch, mentre il ministro dell’Interno Božinović continua a smentire.

      A distanza di meno di un mese dalla conferenza stampa in cui il ministro dell’Interno croato Davor Božinović – cercando di giustificare se stesso e i suoi sottoposti di fronte alle prove di violazioni della polizia croata nei confronti dei migranti emerse nell’ambito di un’inchiesta giornalistica – ha dichiarato che la Croazia rispetta i diritti umani e che la polizia croata non effettuai respingimenti di migranti, il titolare del dicastero dell’Interno per l’ennesima volta è stato smentito dalla realtà, nella fattispecie da un rapporto di Human Rights Watch (HRW) che riporta le testimonianze dei migranti e dei rifugiati respinti dalla Croazia verso la Bosnia Erzegovina.

      Il rapporto intitolato “Come se fossimo animali: respingimenti di persone in cerca di protezione”, pubblicato lo scorso 3 maggio, conferma che negli ultimi anni le autorità croate hanno partecipato a respingimenti violenti dei migranti, compresi i minori non accompagnati e intere famiglie con bambini piccoli. Dal rapporto emerge chiaramente che i respingimenti continuano, nonostante le costanti smentite da parte degli alti funzionari dello stato e le ripetute promesse (mai mantenute) di voler garantire l’accesso all’asilo.

      “Da tempo ormai i respingimenti sono diventati una prassi consueta della polizia di frontiera croata, e il governo croato continua a ingannare le istituzioni europee distogliendo l’attenzione dalla questione e facendo vane promesse. Questi deplorevoli abusi, così come l’ambiguità istituzionale che li facilita, devono cessare”, ha dichiarato Michael Garcia Bochenek, consulente senior di Human Rights Watch per i diritti dei bambini e autore del rapporto.

      Nel periodo compreso tra novembre 2021 e aprile 2023 i ricercatori di HRW hanno intervistato oltre cento rifugiati e richiedenti asilo perlopiù provenienti da Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran e Pakistan. La maggior parte delle persone intervistate sostiene di aver subito respingimenti violenti – anche decine di volte – da parte della polizia croata, che ha sempre ignorato le loro richieste di asilo. Ad esempio, il diciassettenne Rozad N., proveniente dal Kurdistan iracheno, racconta che negli ultimi due anni lui e la sua famiglia, compreso suo fratello di sette anni e sua sorella di nove anni, sono stati respinti 45-50 volte. Un ragazzo iraniano, Darius M., oggi diciottenne, tra il 2020 e il 2021, quindi quando era ancora minorenne, è stato rimandato dalla Croazia verso la Bosnia Erzegovina ben 33 volte, mentre un suo connazionale, Farhad K., ventuno anni, insieme ai genitori e alla sorella di quattordici anni, è stato respinto dalla polizia croata più di 20 volte.

      Il Danish Refugee Council solo nel periodo tra gennaio 2020 e dicembre 2022 ha registrato quasi trentamila respingimenti dalla Croazia verso la Bosnia Erzegovina. In molti casi (12% nel 2020, 13% nel 2021) tra i bersagli della polizia croata c’erano anche bambini.

      Nel rapporto di HRW si sottolinea che il numero effettivo di persone respinte dalla Croazia è indubbiamente superiore a quello stimato, soprattutto considerando che gli agenti croati, con il sostegno dell’agenzia Frontex, pattugliano anche il confine con la Serbia e quello con il Montenegro.

      Il copione è quasi sempre lo stesso: quando intercetta i migranti la polizia croata li riporta verso luoghi difficilmente raggiungibili lungo il confine, ordinando loro di allontanarsi dal territorio croato. Nel loro ritorno verso i paesi confinanti, i migranti respinti spesso si trovano costretti ad attraversare fiumi e torrenti, a inerpicarsi sulle rocce e camminare tra fitti boschi. Gli agenti croati non di rado costringono i migranti a ritornare in Bosnia Erzegovina scalzi, indossando solo biancheria intima, o persino completamente spogliati. Secondo la stragrande maggioranza delle testimonianze, ad effettuare i respingimenti sono persone in divisa che guidano veicoli della polizia e si identificano come agenti, lasciando così chiaramente intendere di agire in veste di pubblici ufficiali.

      Quasi tutti i migranti respinti affermano di essere stati picchiati almeno una volta dagli agenti croati o di aver assistito a scene di violenza perpetrate dalla polizia croata. “Ti guardano come se non fossi un essere umano, la violenza semplicemente è parte integrante della procedura”, racconta Zafran R., ventotto anni, descrivendo le percosse che gli sono state inflitte dagli agenti croati. “La prima volta che la mia famiglia ha cercato di attraversare il confine, nell’ottobre 2020, la polizia ci ha catturati, prendendo a botte me e mio padre. Ho detto agli agenti che mia madre era molto malata e che doveva andare in ospedale. Uno di loro ha risposto duramente: ‘Siamo poliziotti, non medici. Vattene in Bosnia, pezzo di merda! Perché siete venuti in Croazia?!’”, racconta un altro giovane migrante. “Alcune persone sono state brutalmente picchiate. La polizia croata si è impossessata dei loro cellulari, per poi distruggerli. Hanno bruciato i nostri effetti personali davanti ai nostri occhi, gridando: ‘Non vi vogliamo nel nostro paese, ritornate in Bosnia!’”, ricorda Laila, sedici anni, fuggita dall’Afghanistan.

      I racconti dei migranti respinti sono corroborati da testimonianze di molti operatori umanitari. Un volontario dell’associazione italiana Strada SiCura spiega che nella primavera del 2022, durante una visita in Bosnia Erzegovina, ha visto molte ferite che corrispondevano ai racconti che aveva sentito in precedenza. “Ho visto costole fratturate, diverse ferite alle gambe, lividi sul viso e altre parti della testa corrispondenti alle testimonianze delle vittime. Una persona riportava un’ustione sul petto che sembrava essere stata causata da un dispositivo elettrico”.

      I ricercatori di HRW hanno raccolto anche numerose testimonianze dei migranti che sono finiti in ospedale dopo essere stati picchiati dalla polizia croata affrontando poi un lungo periodo di convalescenza. Così il diciannovenne Ibrahim F., proveniente dal Camerun, ha spiegato che alla fine del 2021 gli agenti croati lo avevano picchiato così fortemente che non poteva camminare per due mesi.

      “Abbiamo sentito anche alcune testimonianze secondo cui le donne migranti avrebbero subito molestie e abusi sessuali da parte degli agenti croati. Così ad esempio un migrante ghanese, Emmanuel J., ha raccontato che quando, nel maggio 2022, la polizia croata aveva intercettato un grande gruppo di migranti con cui lui viaggiava e tra i quali c’erano anche otto donne, alcuni agenti avevano ‘molestato le donne’ palpeggiandole nelle parti intime”, scrive HRW, ricordando che anche in precedenza alcuni rifugiati avevano riferito di essere stati stuprati con rami e costretti dalla polizia croata a spogliarsi completamente e sdraiarsi l’uno sopra l’altro.

      I ricercatori sono venuti a conoscenza anche di diversi episodi di violenza nei confronti dei bambini. “Molti bambini piccoli sono stati costretti ad assistere a scene in cui i loro padri, fratelli maggiori e cugini venivano pestati a pugni e calci e presi a manganellate. Gli agenti della polizia di frontiera croata più volte hanno sparato vicino ai bambini e puntato le armi contro di loro. Sono stati registrati anche alcuni episodi che hanno visto gli agenti croati spintonare e picchiare bambini di sei anni”.

      Nel suo rapporto, HRW riporta anche la testimonianza di una donna proveniente dall’Afghanistan che nel febbraio del 2021 è stata respinta dalla Croazia insieme alla sua famiglia. “Ad un certo punto [gli agenti croati] hanno iniziato a prendere a schiaffi e picchiare i bambini. Poi hanno ordinato loro di addentrarsi in un bosco. Quando poi li ho raggiunti, i bambini erano sdraiati a terra. Un agente ha detto loro di alzarsi e togliersi i vestiti. La polizia li picchiava con manganelli mentre si spogliavano”, ha raccontato la donna, spiegando che dopo le prime violenze e umiliazioni gli agenti hanno ordinato alla sua famiglia di ritornare a piedi in Bosnia Erzegovina. “Per tutto il percorso ci colpivano con bastoni alla schiena e alle gambe, scagliandosi in particolare contro i bambini”.

      Lorena Fornasir, medico in pensione e una delle fondatrici dell’organizzazione umanitaria Linea d’Ombra di Trieste, conferma che simili violenze comportano conseguenze psicologiche incommensurabili per le vittime, conseguenze che di solito si manifestano come disturbo da stress post-traumatico. Le osservazioni di Lorena Fornasir corroborano i dati emersi da una recente ricerca sulla situazione dei rifugiati in Serbia, secondo cui le persone respinte dalla Croazia mostrano sintomi più pronunciati di depressione, ansia e stress post-traumatico rispetto ad altri migranti.

      Nel frattempo, come si sottolinea anche nel rapporto di HRW, le autorità croate continuano a negare qualsiasi responsabilità dei respingimenti alle frontiere, sforzandosi di confutare le prove, ormai indiscutibili, di violenze della polizia che spesso infligge gravi lesioni ai migranti, confisca e distrugge i loro effetti personali e li sottopone a trattamenti umilianti e degradanti. Michael Garcia Bochenek ha confermato a Novosti, che il governo croato non ha voluto commentare i dati emersi dal rapporto, né tanto meno ha voluto rispondere alle domande di HRW che ha chiesto un incontro con i rappresentanti del governo per discutere anche del controverso meccanismo indipendente di monitoraggio dell’operato della polizia.

      Si tratta di uno strumento creato su iniziativa della Commissione europea nell’ambito del nuovo Patto sulla migrazione e l’asilo. Pur trattandosi formalmente di un meccanismo indipendente, è stato il ministero dell’Interno croato a decidere a chi affidare il monitoraggio e quali metodi utilizzare. Il primo rapporto, pubblicato nel 2022, ha confermato i dubbi sull’effettiva indipendenza del meccanismo creato dal governo croato. È infatti emerso che l’unico scopo di questo strumento, peraltro finanziato con risorse europee, è quello di legittimare l’attuale stato delle cose alle frontiere esterne dell’UE, completamente ignorando le violenze nei confronti dei migranti.

      Che anche l’UE continui a chiudere un occhio di fronte alle violazioni dei diritti umani alle sue frontiere esterne, lo conferma il fatto che nel dicembre 2022 gli stati membri hanno dato il via libera all’ingresso di Zagabria nell’area Schengen, inviando così un forte messaggio che l’Europa tollera respingimenti e altri abusi. C’è però ancora tempo per invertire la tendenza. HRW ritiene infatti che la Commissione europea debba sollecitare le autorità croate affinché pongano fine ai respingimenti e forniscano informazioni attendibili sulle azioni intraprese per indagare sulle violazioni dei diritti dei migranti.

      “I respingimenti non devono diventare una consuetudine. Le istituzioni europee devono dimostrare fermezza nel chiedere alla Croazia di assumersi la propria responsabilità delle sistematiche violazioni del diritto dell’UE e delle norme internazionali”, conclude HRW.

      https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Croazia/Croazia-manganelli-anche-contro-i-bambini-migranti-225073

      aussi ici:
      https://seenthis.net/messages/1002500

  • Croazia, progetto Fearless: concluso lo sminamento
    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Croazia/Croazia-progetto-Fearless-concluso-lo-sminamento-224975

    L’obiettivo strategico della Croazia è liberare il paese dalle mine entro il 2026, come previsto dal Programma nazionale per lo sminamento. Un terzo del territorio ancora contaminato verrà bonificato grazie ai fondi di coesione europea