Last September, the University of Edinburgh found itself at the centre of international scrutiny after temporarily renaming the #David_Hume Tower (now referred to by its street designation 40 George Square). The decision to rename the building, and hold a review on the way forward, prompted much commentary – a great deal of which encouraged a reckoning on what David Hume means to the University, its staff and students. These ideas include the full extent of Hume’s views on humanity, to establish whether he maintained any possible links (ideological or participatory) in the slave trade, and the role of Scotland in the African slave trade.
Hume’s belief that Black people were a sub-human species of lower intellectual and biological rank to Europeans have rightfully taken stage in reflecting whether his values deserve commemoration on a campus. “I am apt to suspect the negroes and in general all other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites. […] No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no arts, no sciences.” The full link to the footnote can be found here.
Deliberations are split on whether statues and buildings are being unfairly ‘targeted’ or whether the totality of ideas held by individuals whose names are commemorated by these structures stand in opposition to a modern university’s values. Depending on who you ask, the debate over the tower fluctuates between moral and procedural. On the latter, it must be noted the University has in the past renamed buildings at the behest of calls for review across specific points in history. The Hastings ‘Kamuzu’ Banda building on Hill Place was quietly renamed in 1995, with no clarity on whether there was a formal review process at the time. On the moral end, it is about either the legacy or demythologization of David Hume.
Some opposing the name change argue against applying present moral standards to judge what was not recognised in the past. Furthermore, they point to the archives to argue that prior to the 1760s there is scant evidence that Scots were not anything more than complicit to the slave trade given the vast wealth it brought.
I argue against this and insist that the African experience and the engaged intellectual abolition movement deserves prominence in this contemporary debate about Hume.
For to defend ‘passive complicity’ is to undermine both the Africans who rose in opposition against their oppression for hundreds of years and the explicit goals of white supremacy. For access to mass acquisition of resources on inhabited land requires violent dispossession of profitable lands and forced relocation of populations living on them. The ‘moral justification’ of denying the humanity of the enslaved African people has historically been defended through the strategic and deliberate creation of ‘myths’ – specifically Afrophobia – to validate these atrocities and to defend settler colonialism and exploitation. Any intellectual inquiry of the renaming of the tower must take the genuine concern into account: What was David Hume’s role in the strategic myth-making about African people in the Scottish imagination?
If we are starting with the archives as evidence of Scottish complicity in the slave trade, why ignore African voices on this matter? Does the Scottish archive adequately represent the African experience within the slave trade? How do we interpret their silence in the archives?
Decolonisation, the process Franz Fanon described as when “the ‘thing’ colonised becomes a human through the very process of liberation”, offers a radical praxis through which we can interrogate the role of the archive in affirming or disregarding the human experience. If we establish that the 18th century Scottish archive was not invested in preserving ‘both sides’ of the debate’, then the next route is to establish knowledge outside of a colonial framework where the ideology, resistance and liberation of Africans is centred. That knowledge is under the custodianship of African communities, who have relied on intricate and deeply entrenched oral traditions and practices which are still used to communicate culture, history, science and methods.
To reinforce a point raised by Professor Tommy Curry, the fact that Africans were aware of their humanity to attempt mutiny in slave ships (Meermin & Amistad) and to overthrow colonial governance (the Haitian revolution) amidst the day-to-day attempts to evade slave traders is enough to refute the insistence that the debates must centre around what Scots understood about the slave trade in the 18th century.
To make sense of these gaps in my own research, I have broadly excavated the archival records in Scotland if only to establish that a thorough documentation of the African-led resistance to Scottish participation in the slave trade and colonialism cannot be located in the archives.
Dr David Livingstone (1813–1873), whose writing documenting the slave trade across the African Great Lakes galvanized the Scottish public to take control of the region to be named the Nyasaland Protectorate, would prove to be a redemptive figure in Scotland’s reconsideration of its role in the slave trade. However, in 1891, 153 years after Hume wrote his footnote, Sir Harry Hamilton Johnston (1858–1927), the first British colonial administrator of Nyasaland, would re-inforce similar myths about the ‘British Central African’: “to these [negroes] almost without arts and sciences and the refined pleasures of the senses, the only acute enjoyment offered them by nature is sexual intercourse”. Even at that time, the documented resistance is represented by Scottish missionaries who aimed to maintain Nyasaland under their sphere of control.
Filling in the gaps that the archives cannot answer involves more complex and radical modalities of investigation.
I rely on locally-recognised historians or documenters within communities, who preserve their histories, including the slave trade, through methodically structured oral traditions. The legacy of both the Arab and Portuguese slave trade and British colonialism in Nyasaland remains a raw memory, even though there are no precise indigenous terms to describe these phenomena.
I have visited and listened to oral histories about the importance of ‘ancestor caves’ where families would conduct ceremonies and celebrations out of view to evade the slave catchers. These are the stories still being told about how children were hidden and raised indoors often only taken outside at night, keeping silent to escape the eyes and ears of the catchers. Embedded in these historical narratives are didactic tales, organised for ease of remembrance for the survival of future generations.
Despite what was believed by Hume and his contemporaries, the arts and sciences have always been intrinsic in African cultural traditions. Decolonising is a framework contingent upon recognising knowledge productions within systems that often will never make their way into archival records. It centres the recognition and legitimization of the ways in which African people have collected and shared their histories.
The knowledge we learn from these systems allows us to reckon with both the silence of archives and the fallacies of myth-making about African people.
At very least, these debates should lead to investigations to understand the full extent of Hume’s participation in the dehumanization of enslaved Africans, and the role he played to support the justification for their enslavement.
#Édimbourg #toponymie #toponymie_poltique #Ecosse #UK #Edinburgh #David_Hume_Tower #esclavage #histoire #mémoire #Kamuzu_Banda #colonialisme #imaginaire #décolonisation #Nyasaland #Nyasaland_Protectorate #histoire_orale #archives #mythes #mythologie #déshumanisation
The #University_of_Edinburgh renamed the Hastings ‘Kamuzu’ Banda building on #Hill_Place in the 1990s. Whilst fellow independence leader and Edinburgh alumni #Julius_Nyerere is still regarded as a saint across the world, #Banda died with an appalling record of human rights abuses and extortion – personally owning as much as 45% of #Malawi’s GDP. There are no plaques in Edinburgh commemorating #Kamuzu, and rightly so.
Banda’s time in Edinburgh does, however, give us a lens through which to think about the University and colonial knowledge production in the 1940s and ‘50s; how numerous ‘fathers of the nation’ who led African independence movements were heavily involved in the linguistic, historical and anthropological codification of their own people during the late colonial period; why a cultural nationalist (who would later lead an anti-colonial independence movement) would write ‘tracts of empire’ whose intended audience were missionaries and colonial officials; and how such tracts reconciled imagined modernities and traditions.
Fellow-Edinburgh student Julius Nyerere showed considerable interest in the ‘new science’ of anthropology during his time in Scotland, and #Jomo_Kenyatta – the first president of independent Kenya – penned a cutting-edge ethnography of the #Kikuyu whilst studying under #Malinowski at the LSE, published as Facing Mount Kenya in 1938. Banda himself sat down and co-edited Our African Way of Life, writing an introduction outlining Chewa and broader ‘Maravi’ traditions, with the Edinburgh-based missionary anthropologist T. Cullen Young in 1944.
Before arriving in Edinburgh in 1938, Banda had already furthered his education in the US through his expertise on Chewa language and culture: Banda was offered a place at the University of Chicago in the 1930s on the strength of his knowledge of chiChewa, with Mark Hana Watkins’s 1937 A Grammar of Chichewa: A Bantu Language of British Central Africa acknowledging that “All the information was obtained from Kamuzu Banda, a native Chewa, while he was in attendance at the University of Chicago from 1930 to 1932”, and Banda also recorded ‘together with others’ four Chewa songs for Nancy Cunard’s Negro Anthology. In Britain in 1939 he was appointed as adviser to the Malawian chief, Mwase Kasungu, who spent six months at the London University of Oriental and African Languages to help in an analysis of chiNyanja; an experience that “must have reinforced” Banda’s “growing obsession with his Chewa identity” (Shepperson, 1998).
Banda in Edinburgh
In Edinburgh, Banda shifted from being a source of knowledge to a knowledge producer – a shift that demands we think harder about why African students were encouraged to Edinburgh in the first place and what they did here. Having already gained a medical degree from Chicago, Banda was primarily at Edinburgh to convert this into a British medical degree. This undoubtedly was Banda’s main focus, and the “techniques of men like Sir John Fraser electrified him, and he grew fascinated with his subject in a way which only a truly dedicated man can” (Short, 1974, p.38).
Yet Banda also engaged with linguistic and ethnographic codification, notably with the missionary anthropologist, T Cullen Young. And whilst black Edinburgh doctors were seen as key to maintaining the health of colonial officials across British Africa in the 19th century, black anthropologists became key to a “more and fuller understanding of African thought and longings” (and controlling an increasingly agitative and articulate British Africa) in the 20th century (Banda & Young, 1946, p.27-28). Indeed, having acquired ‘expertise’ and status, it is also these select few black anthropologists – Banda, Kenyatta and Nyerere – who led the march for independence across East and Central Africa in the 1950s and 60s.
Banda was born in c.1896-1989 in Kasungu, central Malawi. He attended a Scottish missionary school from the age 8, but having been expelled from an examination in 1915, by the same T Cullen Young he would later co-author with, Banda left Malawi and walked thousands of miles to South Africa. Banda came to live in Johannesburg at a time when his ‘Nyasa’ cousin, Clements Musa Kadalie was the ‘most talked about native in South Africa’ and the ‘uncrowned king of the black masses’, leading Southern Africa’s first black mass movement and major trade union, the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU).
Banda was friends with Kadalie, and may have been involved with the Nyasaland Native National Congress which was formed around 1918-1919 with around 100 members in Johannesburg, though no record of this remains. Together, Banda and Kadalie were the two leading Malawian intellectuals of the first half of the twentieth century and, in exploring the type of ‘colonial knowledge’ produced by Africans in Edinburgh, it is productive to compare their contrasting accounts of ‘African history’.
In 1927 Kadalie wrote an article for the British socialist journal Labour Monthly entitled ‘The Old and the New Africa’. Charting a pre-capitalist Africa, Kadalie set out that the
“white men came to Africa of their own free will, and told my forefathers that they had brought with them civilisation and Christianity. They heralded good news for Africa. Africa must be born again, and her people must discard their savagery and become civilised people and Christians. Cities were built in which white and black men might live together as brothers. An earthly paradise awaited creation…They cut down great forests; cities were built, and while the Christian churches the gospel of universal brotherhood, the industrialisation of Africa began. Gold mining was started, and by the close of the nineteenth century European capitalism had made its footing firm in Africa….The churches still preached universal brotherhood, but capitalism has very little to do with the ethics of the Nazerene, and very soon came a new system of government in Africa with ‘Law and Order’ as its slogan.” (Kadalie, 1927).
Banda’s own anthropological history, written 17 years later with Cullen Young, is a remarkably different tale. Banda and Young valorise the three authors within the edited volume as fossils of an ideal, isolated age, “the last Nyasalanders to have personal touch with their past; the last for whom the word ‘grandmother’ will mean some actually remembered person who could speak of a time when the land of the Lake knew no white man” (Banda & Young, 1946, p7). Already in 1938, Banda was beginning to develop an idea for a Central African nation.
Writing from the Edinburgh Students Union to Ernest Matako, he reflected: “the British, the French and the Germans were once tribes just as we are now in Africa. Many tribes united or combined to make one, strong British, French or German nation. In other words, we have to begin to think in terms of Nyasaland, and even Central Africa as a whole, rather than of Kasungu. We have to look upon all the tribes in Central Africa, whether in Nyasaland or in Rhodesia, as our brothers. Until we learn to do this, we shall never be anything else but weak, tiny tribes, that can easily be subdued.” (Banda, 1938).
Banda after Edinburgh
But by 1944, with his hopes of returning to Nyasaland as a medical officer thwarted and the amalgamation of Nyasaland and the Rhodesias into a single administrative unit increasingly on the cards, Banda appears to have been grounding this regional identity in a linguistic-cultural history of the Chewa, writing in Our African Way of Life: “It is practically certain that aMaravi ought to be the shared name of all these peoples; this carrying with it recognition of the Chewa motherland group as representing the parent stock of the Nyanja speaking peoples.” (Banda & Young, 1946, p10). Noting the centrality of “Banda’s part in the renaming of Nyasaland as Malawi”, Shepperson asked in 1998, “Was this pan-Chewa sentiment all Banda’s or had he derived it largely from the influence of Cullen Young? My old friend and collaborator, the great Central African linguist Thomas Price, thought the latter. But looking to Banda’s Chewa consciousness as it developed in Chicago, I am by no means sure of this.” Arguably it is Shepperson’s view that is vindicated by two 1938 letters unearthed by Morrow and McCracken in the University of Cape Town archives in 2012.
In 1938, Banda concluded another letter, this time to Chief Mwase Kasungu: “I want you tell me all that happens there [Malawi]. Can you send me a picture of yourself and your council? Also I want to know the men who are the judges in your court now, and how the system works.” (Banda, 1938). Having acquired and reworked colonial knowledge from Edinburgh, Our African Way of Life captures an attempt to convert British colonialism to Banda’s own end, writing against ‘disruptive’ changes that he was monitoring from Scotland: the anglicisation of Chewa, the abandoning of initiation, and the shift from matriarchal relations. Charting and padding out ideas about a pan-Chewa cultural unit – critical of British colonialism, but only for corrupting Chewa culture – Banda was concerned with how to properly run the Nyasaland state, an example that productively smudges the ‘rupture’ of independence and explains, in part, neo-colonial continuity in independent Malawi.
For whilst the authors of the edited works wrote their original essays in chiNyanja, with the hope that it would be reproduced for Nyasaland schools, the audience that Cullen Young and Banda addressed was that of the English missionary or colonial official, poised to start their ‘African adventure’, noting:
“A number of important points arise for English readers, particularly for any who may be preparing to work in African areas where the ancient mother-right still operates.” (Banda & Cullen, 1946, p.11).
After a cursory summary readers are directed by a footnote “for a fuller treatment of mother-right, extended kinship and the enjoined marriage in a Nyasaland setting, see Chaps. 5-8 in Contemporary Ancestors, Lutterworth Press, 1942.” (Banda & Young, 1946, p.11). In contrast to the authors who penned their essays so “that our children should learn what is good among our ancient ways: those things which were understood long ago and belong to their own people” the introduction to Our African Way of Life is arguably published in English, under ‘war economy standards’ in 1946 (post-Colonial Development Act), for the expanding number of British ‘experts’ heading out into the empire; and an attempt to influence their ‘civilising mission’. (Banda & Young, 1946, p.7).
By the 1950s, Banda was fully-assured of his status as a cultural-nationalist expert – writing to a Nyasaland Provincial Commissioner, “I am in a position to know and remember more of my own customs and institutions than the younger men that you meet now at home, who were born in the later twenties and even the thirties…I was already old enough to know most of these customs before I went to school…the University of Chicago, which cured me of my tendency to be ashamed of my past. The result is that, in many cases, really, I know more of our customs than most of our people, now at home. When it comes to language I think this is even more true. for the average youngster [In Malawi] now simply uses what the European uses, without realising that the European is using the word incorrectly. Instead of correcting the european, he uses the word wrongly, himself, in order to affect civilisation, modernity or even urbanity.” (Shepperdson, 1998).
This however also obscures the considerable investigatory correspondence that he engaged in whilst in Scotland. Banda was highly critical of indirect rule in Our African Way of Life, but from emerging archival evidence, he was ill-informed of the changing colonial situation in 1938.
Kadalie and Banda’s contrasting histories were written at different times, in different historical contexts by two people from different parts of Nyasaland. Whilst Banda grew up in an area on the periphery of Scottish missionaries’ sphere of influence, Kadalie came from an area of Malawi, Tongaland, heavily affected by Scottish missionaries and his parents were heavily involved with missionary work. The disparity between the histories that they invoke, however, is still remarkable – Banda invokes a precolonial rural Malawi devoid of white influence, Kadalie on the other hand writes of a pre-capitalist rural Malawi where Christians, white and black, laboured to create a kingdom of heaven on earth – and this, perhaps, reflects the ends they are writing for and against.
Kadalie in the 1920s looked to integrate the emerging African working class within the international labour movement, noting “capitalism recognises no frontiers, no nationality, and no race”, with the long-term view to creating a socialist commonwealth across the whole of Southern Africa. Britain-based Banda, writing with Cullen Young in the 1940s, by comparison, mapped out a pan-Chewa culture with the immediate aim of reforming colonial ‘protectorate’ government – the goal of an independent Malawian nation state still yet to fully form.
Les deux passions américaines du moment en une seule animation :
@arno ceci dit, #Nathan_Evans est écossais (et était un facteur :-)
Et il a une page wiki désormais
Première partie : Une déclaration… pour la vie
Frères, sœurs et compañer@s,
Durant ces derniers mois, nous avons pris contact entre nous de différentes manières. Nous sommes femmes, lesbiennes, gays, bisexuels, transgenres, travestis, transsexuels, intersexes, queers et autres encore, hommes, groupes, collectifs, associations, organisations, mouvements sociaux, peuples originaires, associations de quartier, communautés et un long et cetera qui nous donne une identité.
Nos différences et les distances entre nous viennent des terres, des ciels, des montagnes, des vallées, des steppes, des déserts, des océans, des lacs, des rivières, des sources, des lagunes, des races, des cultures, des langues, des histoires, des âges, des géographies, des identités sexuelles ou pas, des racines, des frontières, des formes d’organisation, des classes sociales, des capacités financières, du prestige social, de la popularité, des followers, des likes, des monnaies, des niveaux de scolarité, des manières d’être, des préoccupations, des qualités, des défauts, des pour, des contre, des mais, des cependant, des rivalités, des inimitiés, des conceptions, des argumentations, des contre-argumentations, des débats, des différends, des dénonciations, des accusations, des mépris, des phobies, des philies, des éloges, des rejets, des abus, des applaudissements, des divinités, des démons, des dogmes, des hérésies, des goûts, des dégoûts, des manières d’être, et un long et cetera qui nous rend différents et bien des fois nous oppose. (...)
#EZLN #zapatistes #Mexique #Grèce #Allemagne #France #Pays_basque #Autriche #Belgique #Bulgarie #Catalogne #Chypre #Ecosse #Slovaquie #Europe #Angleterre #Irlande #Norvège #Portugal #République_tchèque #Russie #Suisse #Togo #État_espagnol #Italie #Argentine #Brésil #Canada #Chili #Colombie #Equateur #Etats-Unis #Pérou
Écosse : les protections périodiques rendues gratuites, une première mondiale
Le Parlement écossais a validé, le 24 novembre dernier, une proposition de loi visant...
The Disturbing History of Tobacco
Tobacco: slaves picked it, Europe smoked it, and the Tobacco Lords of Glasgow grew filthy rich on the profits. Their legacy can be found in the street names across the ‘Merchant City’, but not a single street bears the name of the slaves that made them their fortunes.
À se brûler les ailes
En Écosse, à la rencontre de Gemma, adolescente querelleuse grandissant dans un monde fait de pigeons voyageurs et de violence. De l’adolescence à la maternité, une vie bouleversée lorsque des jeux en apparence innocents se muent en véritables crimes.
#désindustrialisation #aciérie #Ecosse #Thatcher #Margareth_Thatcher #Motherwell #jeunesse #jeunes #quartiers_populaires #habitat #violence #drogue #alcool #maternité #parentalité
The British town with a third ‘nationality’
L’histoire d’une petite ville écartelé entre deux régions, deux cultures, t qui hésite à choisir.
Berwick-upon-Tweed has long existed on the borders of change between England and Scotland – a predicament that’s led to the creation of an altogether different identity.
By Mike MacEacheran
28 September 2020
Here’s a quick geography quiz. Picture a town with attractions including the salmon-stocked River Tweed and Scotsgate, part of a boundary of carefully preserved defensive walls. Nearby, there is a museum dedicated to the history of The King’s Own Scottish Borderers infantry regiment. A Royal Bank of Scotland and a Bank of Scotland stand almost adjacent to each other on a main street, while The Rob Roy B&B, to the south, overlooks mist rolling in from the sea. One final clue: the local team plays in the Lowland League, the fifth tier of Scottish football. Where are you?
#Barcelone et #Valence:
Proposition d’un pont aérien pour évacuer des migrants de Lesbos à Berlin :
#Fourneaux dans la Maurienne, qui est un village plus qu’une ville...
A la suite du démantèlement du campement de Calais... les #CAO (mais aussi d’autres initaitives) :
Le #CART dans le #Trièves
Le rôle de la #Bertelsmann_Stiftung :
–-> et notamment la base de données des #best_practices : ▻http://www.wegweiser-kommune.de/projekte/kommunal?thema=integration-fluechtlinge
Quand on regarde après coup certaines images rappelant certaines situations, on croit y lire un avenir, on y cherche parfois la confirmation du présent. On se dit que l’on aurait dû profiter davantage de ces instants, qu’on aurait dû être plus attentif à certains détails, ne pas dire cette phrase ou ce mot, détourner la […]
Le coronavirus ravive les tensions entre l’Angleterre et l’Ecosse
Les scènes de liesse qui ont suivi la réouverture des pubs dimanche 5 juillet à Londres – souvent sans masque ni distanciation physique – n’ont pas du tout rassuré les Écossais, inquiets d’une résurgence des cas dans le pays. Fin juin, une pétition signée par plusieurs milliers de personnes appelait déjà Édimbourg à fermer la frontière par précaution. Si la première ministre, Nicola Sturgeon, membre du parti indépendantiste SNP (Scottish National Party), avait indiqué qu’il n’y avait « pas de plan » concernant une telle mesure, celle-ci estimait tout de même « devoir considérer toutes les options possibles ». Habitué des déclarations trumpiennes, Boris Johnson avait alors rétorqué qu’« il n’y avait pas de frontière entre l’Écosse et l’Angleterre ». La décision de rouvrir des lignes aériennes sans quarantaine avec plusieurs pays étrangers ne s’applique pour le moment qu’en Angleterre. La chef d’État écossaise avait regretté à ce sujet, lors d’une intervention le 3 juillet, un manque d’informations, de concertation et un processus de décision jugé « chaotique ». « Nous prendrons le temps de bien considérer cela, de manière rationnelle avant – je l’espère très bientôt – d’annoncer notre propre décision. » Nicola Sturgeon devrait tout de même déclarer dans les jours à venir la mise en place de corridors aériens pour l’Écosse et donc la fin de la quarantaine pour certains pays, notamment pour ceux ayant un taux de contamination relativement faible. En attendant, les voyageurs s’adaptent. Si les Français interrogés affirment respecter la quarantaine – sous peine d’une amende d’environ 500 euros –, dans les faits, les vérifications à l’aéroport et au domicile sont inexistantes. la ministre de la santé elle-même, Jeane Freeman a admis qu’aucun passager n’avait été contrôlé depuis le 8 juin. Si l’Écosse dépend de l’Angleterre pour les décisions relatives à la gestion des frontières, c’est bien à elle de s’occuper du domaine de la santé et donc d’un bon nombre de mesures relatives à l’épidémie
Glasgow has internalised it’s role in the slave trade. A thread.
https://i.imgur.com/eM6MQSb.png https://i.imgur.com/kGdEXId.png https://i.imgur.com/uOW8TBl.png https://i.imgur.com/c3A1SDj.png
Despite the fact black people make up less than 1% of the overall Scottish population, Glasgow being a major city should rise and re-name these streets. It should not forever internalise such a disgusting time in history.
Also, Jamaica and Tobago street are right next to these streets.
Please forgive the spelling mistakes. I don’t double check what I’ve written when I’m so emotionally invested.
Glasgow ’slaver’ streets renamed by anti-racist campaigners
Anti-racism campaigners have renamed streets in the centre of Glasgow that have links to the slave trade.
In several streets, signs with a black background and white font have appeared alongside the originals, as activists replace the names of tobacco lords and slave trade ownerswith those of black activists, slaves and people killed by police officers.
Cochrane Street – named after Andrew Cochrane, an 18th-century tobacco lord – has been retitled Sheku Bayoh Street.
Sheku Bayoh died in 2015 in police custody in Scotland aged 32 after he was restrained by officers responding to a call in Kirkcaldy.
His sister – who is a nurse – said her family would have attended planned demonstrations in Scotland this weekend but the danger of spreading coronavirus is “still too great”.
Buchanan Street, named after a slave owner, was renamed George Floyd Street, however the sign has now been removed.
Rosa Parks Street has been suggested as an alternative for Wilson Street – after the American civil rights activist.
Floyd, an African-American, died after a white police officer knelt on his knee in Minneapolis on 25 May. His death has sparked days of protest around the world.
The Glasgow street name changes come after more than 11,500 people signed a petition to rename streets named after slave owners.
The petition states: “I think it’s important to take these tobacco lords off the pedestal they seemingly stand on and instead recognise other Scottish activists who are deserving of such esteem.”
Call for probe after man found dead in Covid-19 asylum seeker hotel
Refugee activists have called for an independent inquiry into the decision to move asylum seekers from their flats in Glasgow into hotels, after a man died suddenly at a guest house.
Adnan, a 30-year-old Syrian, who had been in the city for about six months and was claiming asylum, was found dead in his room at #McLay’s_Guest_House on Tuesday 5 May.
He had been living in the hotel for about a month, after accommodation provider, #Mears_Group, moved him from the flat where he had been living alone as part of its Covid-19 response.
It is understood he may have died after a drug overdose. A postmortem will be carried out to confirm the cause of death.
Hundreds of asylum seekers across the city have been moved to hotels by #Mears since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. Their asylum support of £35 per week has stopped and instead they are provided with three meals per day in communal dining rooms, where it is claimed social distancing is difficult.
They have no money for essentials such as toiletries, phone top-ups or snacks. After The Ferret reported that shared coffee and tea facilities put people at risk of being infected by Covid-19, they were taken away in at least one dining room. No in-room alternatives have been offered.
Those supporting asylum seekers in hotels have said the situation is having a toll on their emotional well-being and are concerned about the risks that the situation poses to their physical health during the pandemic.
The Ferret spoke to a friend of Adnan, who is also staying at McLay’s Guest House. He said his friend had addiction issues, was taking street Valium, and had become increasingly distressed during his time at the hotel.
It is claimed that he had experienced past #trauma including abuse in jail and his friend said he had been expressing suicidal thoughts in the weeks leading up to his death.
The day before he died, his friend said he was having flashbacks and had asked to see a GP.
Pinar Aksu, an activist who also works for Maryhill Integration Network, said: “There needs to be an independent inquiry into this death. If people don’t get the help they need then we risk more people dying.
“We also need to stop moving people into hotels. It seems very clear to me that this is being done so that Mears and the Home Office can protect profit. If they care about people’s welfare then why are they moving people out of their flats in the midst of a pandemic to places where they have to eat meals in shared areas and share bathrooms?
“This tragedy is evidence of the damage caused by the asylum system. Moving people to hotels like this is only causing more stress and isolation. It has to stop.”
A spokesperson from the No Evictions Network said: “We are deeply saddened and utterly outraged by the lack of humanity, dignity, or consideration shown to asylum seekers by Mears, the Home Office, and the UK government. They have failed to comply with basic duties and to treat human life with respect.
“Individuals, racist policies and systems are directly to blame for this man’s death. This situation was entirely avoidable. Despite this, pleas for change made by both individuals and organisations have been ignored and a young life has now been lost.”
At oral evidence given to the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into Home Office work on Covid-19, Mears Group said it had taken the decision “on balance” to move people in flats into hotels with meals provided because it meant staff would not need to deliver cash to them. It was also claimed they would have better access to health services.
Mears, along with Clearsprings Real Homes and Serco who have accommodation contracts elsewhere in the UK, said it was “concerning” that asylum seekers had had their support stopped.
A spokesman for Mears Group said: “We are deeply sad to confirm the death of an asylum-seeker who had been in Mears supported accommodation. The cause of death has not been determined.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson said the death is being treated as “unexplained” and that a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.
The Ferret tried to contact McLay’s Guest House for comment but was not able to speak to management. The Home Office has also been contacted.
#décès #mort #mourir_dans_un_hôtel #Glasgow #Ecosse #UK #asile #migrations #réfugiés #hôtel #covid-19 #coronavirus #hébergement #logement #santé_mentale #suicide (?) #traumatisme #privatisation
Fury after Syrian asylum seeker found dead in Scottish hotel
CAMPAIGNERS have slammed the UK Government after a Syrian man was found dead in a Scottish hotel.
Initially named by friends as Adnan Olpi, that can today be confirmed as Adnan Olbeh.
The 30-year-old was amongst scores of asylum seekers placed in a private guest house by Home Office housing contractor Mears Group.
Emergency services were called to the 81-bedroom McLays Hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday afternoon but were unable to save him.
Police Scotland said his death is being treated as unexplained, and friends told The National that he had sought support for mental health struggles and had developed drug problems while in the UK asylum system.
However, despite some reports on social media that he had taken his own life, it is not known whether or not his death was intentional.
Friends living alongside Mr Olbeh at the city site were afraid to speak out on the record, for fear of harming their claims for sanctuary in the UK.
However, speaking on condition of anonymity, one fellow Syrian told how he had accompanied Mr Olbeh to appointments in which he had asked for mental health support. The friend said: “He had suicidal thoughts and told the Home Office that. I went to the hospital with him, he was seeking help. He tried many times. They would ask, ‘can you wait a few days?’”
However, it is claimed that the move into the hotel exacerbated Mr Olbeh’s distress due to the inability to carry out basic independent tasks, like cooking his own meals. The friend went on: “I’m in shock. It’s really tough for me because I was so close with him.
“He was under more pressure. I wonder if there was any small thing I could have done to save him.
“He had a dream, he wanted his life to become better. He wanted to work and send money back to his family. He wanted to improve himself and he was learning the language. He wanted to get married and start a family.”
The No Evictions Network held an online vigil yesterday evening. A spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened by the situation, and utterly outraged by the lack of humanity, dignity or consideration shown to asylum seekers by Mears, the Home Office, and the UK Government.
“They have failed to comply with basic duties and to treat human life with respect. This situation was entirely avoidable. Despite this, pleas for change made by both individuals and organisations have been ignored. We have lost a young life.”
It is understood that around 500 asylum seekers in total are now being housed in Glasgow hotels, including some brought in from elsewhere in the UK. Mears Group claims it had to move people out of the short-term let accommodation used for new applicants but has been unable to find new provision due to coronavirus restrictions on the property market.
Advocacy groups have raised fears about welfare, safety and social distancing but Mears Group insists all movement is being undertaken in accordance with health authority guidance on social distancing.
Last night, a Mears Group spokesperson said: “We are deeply sad to confirm the death of an asylum seeker who had been in Mears supported accommodation. Mears are working with the Home Office to contact the asylum seeker’s family before disclosing more information.”
The Home Office said: "We are aware of an incident resulting in an individual sadly losing his life.
“It would be inappropriate to comment before all of the facts have been established and his family have been notified.”
Syrian man dies in Glasgow amid fears over refugees’ mental health
Concerns raised over hundreds of asylum seekers moved en masse into hotels for lockdown.
A Syrian man has been found dead in a Glasgow guesthouse after outreach workers raised significant concerns about the spiralling mental distress of hundreds of asylum seekers who were moved en masse into hotels at the beginning of lockdown.
The man, who was 30 and had been living in Glasgow for the past six months while he completed his asylum application, was found dead in his room at McLay’s Guest House in the city centre on 5 May. A postmortem will take place to establish the cause of death, but a friend said the man had been experiencing suicidal thoughts for several weeks.
Last month the Guardian reported that more than 300 asylum seekers housed in the city – the UK’s largest dispersal area – had been given less than an hour’s notice to pack up their flats before being moved into city centre hotels, where they claimed physical distancing was “impossible”. In a move condemned by campaigners, they also had all financial support withdrawn.
The private housing provider Mears, which is subcontracted by the Home Office, moved them from mainly self-contained apartments into hotels where residents and campaigners describe continuing difficulties with maintaining physical distancing.
Mears said people were being “safely and appropriately” housed in accordance with health authority guidance, while a Home Office spokesperson said it was “totally incorrect” to suggest that there were problems with physical distancing.
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Since then, outreach workers have identified increasing fear, stress and anxiety among this vulnerable population, who have no information about future housing arrangements and no money to top up their phones to continue communication with lawyers, or buy extra food, hand sanitiser or period products for women.
A friend of the dead man said that since the move into the guesthouse, he had spoken of worsening flashbacks to torture he had experienced on his journey through Libya to the UK.
Ako Zada, the director of Community InfoSource, an asylum housing charity, has been visiting hotel residents regularly. He said: “I’ve been shocked to see people so mentally unwell. They are worried about cleaning of shared areas, and they don’t know when they will be moving again because they keep getting told different stories.”
Hotel residents have complained about the quality of food provided, the fact that windows cannot be opened, as well as the psychological isolation. A number of hotel workers have also contacted the Guardian to raise concerns about large numbers of asylum seekers congregating in enclosed areas.
Robina Qureshi of Positive Action in Housing said the “hotel asylum seekers” were being treated as “less than human”. “Many people, men and women are suffering from severe mental health conditions. The fact that Mears and the Home Office see fit to dump hundreds of people in hotels where there is no social distancing, people cannot keep their personal environment aired or hygienic, and have had their meagre card payment of £35 a week cut to £0 deserves further investigation.”
Sabir Zazai, the chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “This tragic death must be a chilling reminder of the chronic vulnerabilities of those going through the complexities of the asylum system.”
A Mears spokesperson said: “We are deeply sad to confirm the death of an asylum – seeker who had been in Mears-supported accommodation. Mears are working with the Home Office to contact the asylum seeker’s family before disclosing more information.”
A home office spokesperson said: “We are aware of an incident resulting in an individual sadly losing his life. It would be inappropriate to comment before all of the facts have been established and his family have been notified.”
Mears Group 2020 update: scandal-ridden landlord under fire from Glasgow to Gloucester
At the start of 2019 we published a profile on Mears Group. The #Gloucester based housing repairs outsourcer had just won a £1.15 billion contract to run the refugee accommodation system in Scotland, Northern Ireland and much of the north of England.
In the last year, refugee and housing campaigners have been keeping a close eye on Mears, with local resistance to its slum landlord practices emerging across the UK. This report just gives a quick update on some recent news on the company.
Unless you live in one of the properties it manages, you may well not have heard of Mears. But it has quietly built up a small empire across the UK, primarily by taking over privatised housing services from local councils. Along the way it’s already clocked up a list of scandals from Glasgow down to Brighton, involving accusations of local government corruption and numerous alleged overcharging scams.
The death of Adnan Olbeh
Adnan Olbeh was found dead on 5 May 2020 in a Glasgow hotel where he had been placed by Mears Group under its management of the UK’s “asylum dispersal” scheme. He was 30 years old, from Syria. The cause of death is unclear, with any postmortem examination delayed by the corona crisis.
What is known is that Adnan was one of hundreds of refugees recently evicted from their flats by Mears and other asylum landlords.
The mass evictions were part of the Home Office’s coronavirus strategy. Often with just an hour’s notice, people were told to pack and leave their flats and moved into hotels. The logic behind this is not entirely clear, but it seems in line with other aspects of the government’s shambolic covid-19 response. “Social distancing” measures included people being transported four or five to a small van, stripped of cash support and facilities to cook for themselves, and instead being made to eat close together in hotel canteens — with food including the likes of undercooked chicken and mouldy bread.
According to Smina Akhtar, interviewed by John Grayson for the Institute for Race Relations:
“We have had lots of reports from people in the hotels about really awful food and poor conditions there. Adnan’s friend told me that his mental health really deteriorated in the hotel. A week before he died his friend asked the hotel to call an emergency ambulance because Adnan was in a terrible state. His friend went with him to the hospital but said that the staff there did nothing, they offered him no medication, and sent him back to his hotel.”
According to Mears, in evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs select committee, it was acting on a directive from the Home Office.
Mears’ Home Office contracts so far
Adnan Olbeh’s death is one visible tragedy linked to the misery of the UK asylum system. Thousands more people live with the everyday effects of a housing system which “disperses” people into run-down slum housing in the country’s most impoverished communities.
For Mears, this means a ten year profit stream. For Mears’ new tenants – rat infestations, broken boilers, collapsed ceilings, piles of rubbish, and environmental hazards of all kinds seem the norm.
John Grayson of South Yorkshire Asylum Action Group (Symaag) has been documenting the “chaotic” and “failed” Mears contract in Yorkshire. In the past he reported on similar conditions under the last contract holder, G4S.
So have Mears even managed to underperform the shambles of G4S’ housing management? It’s maybe too early to make a full comparison. But it doesn’t look like things have got off to a good start.
G4S and others had complained bitterly about making losses on the former round of asylum housing contracts. To drive profits up, Mears started their own tenure by trying to slash the amounts they pay to the smaller landlords they rent from. In South Yorkshire, Mears offered landlords new contracts paying up to 20% less than G4S had done. Many refused to sign up in what John Grayson calls a “virtual landlords strike” which left Mears struggling to place the asylum seekers it was contracted to house.
In the North East, Mears had similar problems negotiating with G4S’ main sub-contractor Jomast – development company headed by Teesside multi-millionaire Stuart Monk. According to Grayson, this left over 1000 people stuck in hotels across West Yorkshire and Humberside in Wakefield’s “Urban House” temporary asylum accommodation over the winter. And, as he explained to us, the problem is by no means solved.
“When Covid-19 arrived the whole asylum housing system was frozen in the Mears contract areas with around 400 people still in hotels and 270 in Urban House. Many people have now spent four months in Urban House, when they are only meant to stay there a few weeks. Urban House has appalling conditions which have been extensively documented in pictures and videos sent out from people resisting inside.”
One thing Mears has achieved in Yorkshire is provoking a major local authority to come out against the contract. In January, as well as launching inspections of 240 Mears properties, Sheffield Council called on the Home Office to terminate the Mears contract and transfer asylum housing in the city directly to the council. This is only really a token gesture – the council has no say in national asylum policy. But it could be one move in a shift against the outsourced asylum housing system, if followed up elsewhere in the country.
In Scotland, there is a strong solidarity network in support of refugee housing rights – including the Glasgow No Evictions campaign and groups such as the Unity Centre, Living Rent tenants union, and charity Positive Action in Housing. The main rallying point in 2019 was previous contractor Serco’s threatened “lock change evictions” of 300 of its tenants. Well aware of the opposition, Mears has so far tried to tread more carefully. It has promised not to carry out similar evictions, and set up a so-called “independent scrutiny board” to deflect criticism.
In the North of Ireland, the PPR Project is one association monitoring and exposing conditions in Mears’ housing there.
Milton Keynes mystery
Before it turned asylum landlord, Mears’ big profit hope was getting more involved in the very lucrative business of housing development. One of its potential jackpots was a 50/50 joint venture with Milton Keynes council to redevelop seven major estates. The deal was valued at £1 billion, and branded as “YourMK”.
But as of last year, the scheme was dead in the water. In July 2018, the council said it was putting the regeneration deal “on hold”. In October 2018, whistleblower allegations emerged that Mears had been overcharging Milton Keynes for repairs by up to £80,000 a month, with overall some £15 million “unaccounted for”. When we looked at Mears last February, the YourMK website had gone dead, with a page announcing that further information would be coming soon.
The MK scandal still seems to be quietly brewing. In July 2019, the MK Citizen reported first of all that the regeneration scheme was definitively “scrapped”. But a couple of weeks later a second Citizen report corrected that YourMK was “not dead but dormant”, with the council and Mears “in discussions about whether it will remain the right partnership structure in future”.
In May 2020, we haven’t seen any new announcements. The YourMK website is still down, and there is no official word on that supposedly missing 15 million. Where are the budding investigative journalists of Milton Keynes to get to the bottom of this?
Booted out of Brighton
Mears’ ten year housing maintenance contract with Brighton and Hove council finally came to an end on 31 May. Again, customer complaints came together with whistleblower revelations – and, yet again, the apparent disappearance of large sums of money.
A council investigation found it had been overcharged by £500,000 by a plastering subcontractor hired by Mears. A second investigation was later opened into overcharging for electrical work.
Mears will not be missed in #Brighton. And just before they left, in February 2020 their workers were balloting for strike action over pay and Mears’ plan to combine holiday and sick pay.
Newham: Mears Cats
In East London, Mears run 250 homes which are set for demolition as part of Newham Council’s “Regeneration Zone” in Canning Town and Custom House, E16.
Like Milton Keynes, this is another overlong saga of a failing regeneration project leaving people stuck in poor housing. Back in 2011, Newham handed the properties to a private management company called Omega to let out on short term commercial tenancies. This was supposed to be a “temporary” arrangement before the bulldozers came in. Mears bought out the contract in 2014, and six years later are still in place. While the buildings are still owned by the council, Mears collect the rent and do the repairs – in theory.
In reality, Custom House tenants speak of conditions that would be very familiar to anyone in Mears’ asylum accommodation in Sheffield or Glasgow. Months overdue repairs, water leaks, exposed asbestos, rat infestations and a “war” to get anything done – all whilst paying average rents twice as high as in directly run Newham council properties.
Tenants have set up a vocal campaign group called Mears Cats, part of the Peoples Empowerment Alliance of Custom House, pushing to get their repairs done and for Newham Council to take direct responsibility. Boglarka Filler, one of the Mears Cats, told Corporate Watch:
“Schemes such as the partnership between Mears and Newham Council have brought further misery to people already on the receiving end of austerity and insecure employment. Mears Cats are campaigning for better quality, cheaper housing for Mears tenants struggling to cope with disrepair and debts caused by high rents. We will take action to ensure that the Mears contract will not be renewed in Newham when it runs out in 2021, and that we get a fair deal next time.”
Steady profits, feisty shareholders
On a business front, Mears continues to turn a decent profit and pay out to its shareholders. Its last year (2018) annual results clocked operating profits up 4.7% (though revenue was 3% down), and shareholders pocketed a dividend up 3% on the year before.
Mears has kept up its strategy of honing in on its “core” housing maintenance business. After buying up Mitie’s property division last year, it sold off its own home care wing.
Most recently, Mears has said that it only expects a modest impact from the covid crisis. Housing is what is called “non-discretionary” spending – unlike foreign holidays or consumer fads, there is still demand for essential repairs in a downturn. The bulk of Mears’ income is locked in from long term contracts, largely with the public sector. As the company explained, 90% of its order book comes from public bodies and “the government has made a clear commitment that invoices will be settled quickly”.
Through the lockdown, Mears has said it is only carrying out only emergency repairs. Although workers complain they are still being sent on unnecessary jobs without “social distancing” in place, or called in just to sit in company offices.
Less positive for management, there are new rumbles from rebellious shareholders. Back in 2018 one of the two biggest shareholders, a German investment manager called Shareholder Value Management (SVM) successfully pushed out the company’s long-term chairman. At the latest AGM in June 2019, the other big investor also threw its weight around.
PrimeStone Capital, a Mayfair based investor which owns over 13% of Mears’ shares, tried to get two new nominees on the board of directors against management’s wishes. The shareholder rebellion was narrowly defeated. In a statement, PrimeStone explained it was unhappy that “the company’s revenues and profit have remained flat despite its strong market position and growth prospects [while] average net debt has doubled”.
It argued that:
“Mears’ underperformance is predominantly due to a lack of strategic, commercial and financial experience on the board. The current board has a strong concentration of directors with a background in social housing, health & safety and charities.”
Mears’ profit-hungry management guarantee shareholder payoffs by squeezing their repair costs to the bone. The outcome is the lived experience of their tenants across the UK. But, for some shareholders, they’re still not doing enough.https://corporatewatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/rotherham_united_18_19_puma_away_kit_a-600x686.jpg
Students and shirts
Despite its well documented failings, Mears continues to win new contracts – for example, a new housing development project in North Lanarkshire, and a housing maintenance and repairs contract with Crawley council.
Another sideline is its student housing offshoot Mears Student Life, so far with just two complexes in Dundee and Salford.
Mears also likes a bit of football. In May 2019 the League One side Rotherham United confirmed it had extended its contract to emblazon the company’s classy red and black logo on its away kits for the 2019/20 season.
Flowers left for Adnan Olbeh
From Sudan to the #Park_Inn: the tragic story of a migrant’s killing
A mass stabbing in Glasgow in June revealed the plight of asylum seekers crammed into hotels during lockdown
On the last Friday of June, at about midday, Badreddin Abadlla Adam left his room at the Park Inn hotel in Glasgow, walked down to reception, and stabbed six people. The 28-year-old, an asylum seeker from Sudan who had been placed in the hotel as part of the UK government’s emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic, stabbed and seriously injured three other residents, two staff members and a policeman who arrived on the scene. Adam was shot dead by armed officers shortly afterwards.
The incident, which took place as Scotland was still under stringent lockdown, was initially reported by some media outlets as a potential terrorist attack, although police later dismissed this explanation. It was immediately seized on by rightwing activists, to claim that the country was threatened by an influx of “illegal” immigrants.
Instead, the Park Inn incident has highlighted the increasingly precarious situation of people who seek a safe haven in the UK, even as the government proposes more severe measures to deter them. Adam is one of three asylum seekers who have died in Glasgow since the start of the pandemic, a series of events that has shocked the city, and left campaigners and politicians calling for a public inquiry.
At the end of March, B, a 30-year-old Syrian who spoke to the Observer on condition of anonymity, was one of several hundred asylum seekers in Glasgow who unexpectedly received a knock on the door. He had been sent to Scotland’s largest city after arriving in the UK the previous autumn. Glasgow hosts about 10% of the 35,000 people who claim asylum in the UK each year, under a policy known as dispersal. Like other recent arrivals, B was living in his own small apartment; a two-room space in a hostel. He had his own bathroom, and he had privacy.
At the door, however, was an employee of Mears Group, the Home Office contractor that manages asylum accommodation in Glasgow. “They said, ‘you need to get ready,’” B told the Observer, “‘you’re being moved to a hotel because of coronavirus.’” Across the city, hundreds of others were receiving the same call, as Mears abruptly moved about 350 asylum seekers – for the most part, recent arrivals who were living in temporary accommodation – into six hotels. Parliament heard in June that many received little or no notice, and that among them were pregnant women and survivors of trafficking and torture.
In theory, this was a decision taken to ensure people’s safety during the pandemic. But, B said, when he arrived at his new accommodation, a bed and breakfast in the city centre, he found a “horrible situation”. More than 100 people had suddenly been thrust into communal living, sharing washing facilities and queueing for meals. Before, most had been receiving the standard asylum support payment of £37.50 a week, but because food was being provided, this was halted by the Home Office.
“We didn’t have freedom,” B said. “We had no money, we couldn’t choose when to eat or what to eat, and nobody could tell us how long we would be there.” B was also concerned that social distancing was more difficult than in his previous home.
Throughout April, the hotel population grew to more than 500 as asylum seekers continued to be sent to Glasgow. J, a young Iranian who arrived in the city that month, told the Observer – also on condition of anonymity – that while at first he found it a relief to be somewhere safe after a “painful” journey to the UK, the accommodation soon came to feel like a “stylish prison”. Both interviewees said that food sometimes arrived undercooked, and that this led to protests by residents.
“We had so many people ask us, ‘when will this change?’” said Selina Hales, director of Refuweegee, one of several local charities that provided additional food parcels to hotel residents. “People were in a totally controlled environment and one of the main frustrations was the isolation.” A spokesperson for Mears told the Observer that meals were in line with NHS nutrition guidelines, and rated “good” in a survey of residents. They added that there were no recorded cases of Covid-19 in hotels during lockdown.
According to the two asylum seekers, however, the fear and uncertainty prompted by this new situation began to take its toll on people’s mental health; B said that some of his friends were reminded of their experiences of being detained, either in the countries they had fled or on their journeys to the UK. “You could see people starting to unravel,” said Jack Macleod, 21, who worked for several months serving food to residents of the six hotels. Housing and welfare managers, employed by Mears, were available on site, but according to Macleod, many asylum seekers he spoke to felt abandoned.
“People would come and talk to me,” said Macleod, “they would say ‘this place is making me really depressed’. The only thing I could say, because I’m not a counsellor, is ‘just try and hold on’.” Eventually, Macleod said, he left the job – a minimum-wage role he applied for via an agency when he lost his previous job at the start of the pandemic – because he felt he was being forced into the role of ad hoc social worker.
Many asylum seekers suffer abuse before they reach the UK, and the Observer spoke to several people who work with refugees in Glasgow who described how the hotel conditions exacerbated some people’s existing psychological trauma. “We got used to hearing people express suicidal thoughts,” said Dylan Fotoohi, a Glasgow-based activist who helped organise food distribution during lockdown, and has since co-founded the campaign group Refugees for Justice. The spokesperson for Mears said all residents had access to mental health support through a dedicated NHS team. During lockdown, however, this team was stretched as members were seconded to hospital coronavirus wards.
On 5 May, Adnan Olbeh, a 30-year-old Syrian, was found dead in his room at McLays guest house, one of the six hotels. According to friends, Olbeh had been detained and tortured in Libya, on his journey to Europe, and was complaining of flashbacks. In response, the Scottish Refugee Council – the country’s leading refugee charity – sent a letter to the UK home secretary asking for urgent action to “lessen the risk of further tragedies” in the hotels. There was no reply. The Observer has seen a copy of this letter, dated 14 May, but a spokesperson for the Home Office said they did not receive it.
It was not until the stabbings in June – six weeks after Olbeh’s death – that some people began to be moved out of the hotels: the Park Inn was evacuated soon after the incident, and many of the residents were later rehoused in apartments. But why did the Home Office and its contractor find it necessary to put so many there in the first place? In public statements, Mears has said that it was partly for health and safety reasons: housing people together reduced the number of trips across Glasgow that staff had to make during lockdown, and made it easier for health workers to visit asylum seekers.
Another possible reason is that it was running out of places to house people. Since 2012, asylum accommodation has been outsourced to a set of private contractors, but the system has been beset with problems: a report by the National Audit Office in July found that “providers had struggled to establish their supply chains, resulting in poor performance, delays and additional costs”.
One particular pressure point is in the provision of what’s known as “initial accommodation” – the temporary housing that people who have no means to support themselves are placed in when they arrive in the UK. Mears, one of the UK’s largest private social housing providers, took over the contract that covers Glasgow in September last year, from the outsourcing giant Serco. Within weeks, it was facing a shortage of accommodation.
In response, the company began renting serviced apartments – short-term lets, normally used by tourists and visitors to the city – on the open market. On 22 April, a spokesperson for Mears Group told the Scottish news website the Ferret that it had been using these short-term lets, and that it had been forced to move people into hotels because of “restrictions on the property market” brought by the pandemic.
The spokesperson stressed that this decision was taken to ensure the “safety and wellbeing” of the asylum seekers, but was such a move really in people’s best interests? A condition of the Home Office housing contract is that providers must be “proactive” in identifying the needs of vulnerable people in their care – yet Mears’s account of whether it carried out adequate checks before moving people into hotels has been inconsistent.
During the summer, parliament’s home affairs committee held hearings on the UK government’s response to the pandemic. In written evidence supplied to the committee on 10 June, Mears Group stated that it “risk assessed which service users it was appropriate to move, taking into account health advice”. At a press conference on 25 June, however, the company’s chief operating officer John Taylor described the move as a “blanket decision”. Once people were in hotels, he said, “it became obvious that there were vulnerabilities and that the hotel setting isn’t appropriate for some people”. The company then backtracked a few hours later, saying it held “discussions” with asylum seekers prior to deciding whether to move them. The Home Office also says that Mears held a meeting with each person before deciding whether or not to move them.
In its report, published on 28 July, the home affairs committee advised that asylum seekers “should not have been moved to new accommodation during the pandemic without justified and urgent reasons for doing so, or without a vulnerability assessment demonstrating that the move could be made safely”. A spokesperson for the Home Office told the Observer that the department was conducting an evaluation of asylum accommodation and support services in Glasgow during the pandemic. On 24 August, however, Glasgow’s seven MPs walked out of a meeting with the Home Office, in protest at what they said was a refusal to commit to publish the evaluation, or share its results with them. In an open letter, the MPs stressed their dismay and anger at the “mistreatment” of people who were “unceremoniously shunted, at very short notice, from safe, secure serviced accommodation into hotel rooms, for an indefinite period, with no money and no control”.
Within hours of the stabbings at the Park Inn, the incident attracted the attention of rightwing activists. “Horrible tragedy in a Glasgow hotel housing illegal immigrants,” tweeted the Brexit party leader Nigel Farage. “All over the UK, hotels are filling up with young men who are coming across the Channel every day. It is a massive risk to our wellbeing.”
Farage’s comments were immediately condemned by a range of politicians, including Scotland’s justice minister. But throughout the pandemic, Farage has used his platform to encourage a sense of crisis around asylum, describing the recent rise in boat journeys across the Channel as an “invasion” and publishing short films on social media in which he claims to “investigate” the use of hotels across the country to house migrants. Members of the fascist group Britain First have also tried to exploit the issue, forcing their way into several hotels in England, confronting and intimidating residents on camera.
All this, combined with the government’s own tough talk on migration, gives the impression that the UK is experiencing an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers. Yet although there was a slight increase in asylum claims last year, they fell sharply in the first six months of 2020. While more than 2,000 people crossed the Channel in boats during this period – a phenomenon that has dominated the headlines – arrivals by other routes dropped from 8,455 to 4,850, according to the head of UK Visas and Immigration.
Rather, the increased use of hotels is due to a combination of the pandemic and a housing system that was already struggling to cope. While many hotels were hired by local authorities and government housing contractors during lockdown – both for asylum seekers who had nowhere else to live, and rough sleepers, some of whom may also come from migrant backgrounds – their use as temporary asylum accommodation was already on the rise. According to a recent briefing by the House of Commons library, shortly before lockdown, about 1,200 asylum seekers were being housed in “contingency accommodation” such as hotels or short-term lets, because of shortages.
At the same time, delays in processing asylum claims – which mean people spend more time in state-provided housing, putting further pressure on space – have soared: about 40,000 people currently wait more than six months for a decision on their claim, an increase of 75% compared with a year ago. In an attempt to deal with the backlog, the Home Office is now considering outsourcing the asylum interview process to private contractors. Today, about 9,500 asylum-seekers are being housed in 91 hotels across the UK. The government has also modified several disused military barracks to accommodate new arrivals, in conditions exposed in the Observer last week as “squalid”. A Home Office spokesperson said that the use of former military sites “will ease our reliance on hotels and save the taxpayer money”.
Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, is worried that the use of mass accommodation will become the norm. “We are deeply concerned about this shift in asylum housing policy,” he said. “People have come here for protection, and need to be supported to rebuild their lives, not pushed to the margins.”
Alison Phipps, a professor at the University of Glasgow and an expert in refugee integration, shares Zazai’s concerns. “People are arriving from situations where they’ve lived in fear,” she said, “and the question should be, how do you put people as quickly as possible in a situation where they can live in safety and be able to integrate? You can’t do that when you put people in managed facilities that are separate from the population. It’s not far from a prison regime.”
In Glasgow, several hundred people are still being housed in three city hotels, which Mears has said will continue until at least the beginning of next year. Some residents have now been there for more than five months. “Hotels are never a long-term solution,” the company acknowledged, explaining that it is still having difficulty finding alternative accommodation in the city. The hardship asylum seekers face was emphasised once again in August, when Mercy Baguma, 34, from Uganda, was found dead at home next to her severely malnourished child. The circumstances of her death are still unclear – Baguma was reportedly seeking asylum, although she was not being housed in one of the hotels – but on 20 September, Glasgow’s MPs called for a public inquiry into all three deaths.
“We take the wellbeing of everyone in the asylum system extremely seriously,” said the Home Office spokesperson. “These deaths are deeply tragic and our thoughts are with the families of these individuals.”
Currently, Scotland’s police complaints body is conducting an investigation into the use of firearms at the Park Inn. But this will not examine what caused Badreddin Abadlla Adam to attack people, or whether his actions could have been prevented. At the Park Inn, he was quiet and withdrawn until the night before the stabbings, when he threatened his neighbour for playing music too loudly. “He never came to anybody’s attention,” one witness told the Daily Record, explaining that Adam had become so frustrated at his situation that he’d asked to be allowed to return to Sudan. Residents of the Park Inn, several of whom were left traumatised by the attack, were offered counselling by Mears after being moved; a group of them handed a thank-you card to police officers a few days later.
An inquiry, said Phipps, would be “about justice”. “The people of Glasgow, just like the people who were seriously injured in the attacks, and the hotel staff whose lives have changed radically over the last few months, deserve to know why it was that people were hothoused in this way, and why people are still living in accommodation that they have repeatedly said is bad for them.”
Le temps des ouvriers. Le temps de l’#usine (1/4)
Du début du XVIIIe siècle à nos jours, Stan Neumann déroule sur plus de trois siècles l’histoire du monde ouvrier européen, rappelant en une synthèse éblouissante ce que nos sociétés doivent aux luttes des « damnés de la terre ».
Dès le début du XVIIIe siècle, en Grande-Bretagne, une nouvelle économie « industrielle et commerciale », portée par le textile, chasse des campagnes les petits paysans et les tisserands indépendants. Pour survivre, ils doivent désormais travailler contre salaire dans des fabriques (factories) qui rassemblent plusieurs milliers d’ouvriers, sur des métiers appartenant à des marchands devenus industriels. C’est la naissance de la classe ouvrière anglaise. Le travail en usine, le Factory System, où seul compte le profit, impose aux déracinés une discipline et une conception du temps radicalement nouvelles. Avec la révolution industrielle de la fin du XVIIIe siècle, ils subissent un dressage plus violent encore, sous la loi de machines qui réduisent l’ouvrier à un simple rouage.
Surexploitée et inorganisée, cette classe ouvrière primitive, qui oppose à la main de fer de l’industrie naissante des révoltes spontanées et sporadiques, va mettre plusieurs générations à inventer ses propres formes de lutte, dans une alliance parfois malaisée avec les républicains anglais, inspirés par la Révolution française de 1789. Ses revendications sont sociales et politiques : réglementation du travail des enfants, salaires, durée du temps de travail, liberté syndicale, droit de grève, suffrage universel... Dans les années 1820, après des décennies de combats perdus, une classe ouvrière anglaise puissante et combative semble en mesure de faire la révolution.
La classe ouvrière a-t-elle disparu, ou simplement changé de forme, de nom, de rêve ? Conciliant l’audace et la rigueur historique, l’humour et l’émotion, le détail signifiant et le souffle épique, Stan Neumann (Austerlitz, Lénine, Gorki – La révolution à contre-temps) livre une éblouissante relecture de trois cents ans d’histoire. Faisant vibrer la mémoire des lieux et la beauté des archives, célébrissimes ou méconnues, il parvient à synthétiser avec fluidité une étonnante quantité d’informations. Les séquences d’animation, ludiques et inventives, et un commentaire dit par la voix à la fois présente et discrète de Bernard Lavilliers permettent de passer sans se perdre d’un temps à l’autre : celui du travail, compté hier comme aujourd’hui minute par minute, celui des grands événements historiques, et celui, enfin, des changements sociaux ou techniques étalés parfois sur plusieurs décennies, comme le processus de légalisation des syndicats ou du travail à la chaîne. En parallèle, le réalisateur donne la parole à des ouvriers et ouvrières d’aujourd’hui et à une douzaine d’historiens et philosophes, hommes et femmes, « personnages » à part entière dont la passion communicative rythme le récit. On peut citer Jacques Rancière, Marion Fontaine, Alessandro Portelli, Arthur McIvor, Stefan Berger, avec Xavier Vigna comme conseiller scientifique de l’ensemble des épisodes. Cette série documentaire virtuose, où l’expérience intime coexiste avec la mémoire collective, au risque parfois de la contredire, révèle ainsi combien nos sociétés contemporaines ont été façonnées par l’histoire des ouvriers.
#documentaire #film_documentaire #film
#agriculture #cleasning #nettoyage #industrie #industrie_textile #industrialisation #expulsions_forcées #histoire #Ecosse #UK #exode_rural #déplacés_internes #IDPs #histoire #force_de_travail #classe_ouvrière #Highlands #désindustrialisation #compétition #factory_system #esclavage #Crowley #temps #contrôle_du_temps #salaires #profit #filatures #travail_d'enfants #enfants #femmes #New_Lanark #Robert_Owen #silent_monitor #école #Institut_pour_la_formation_du_caractère #paternalisme #contrôle #tyrannie #liberté_de_commerce #grève #émeute #insécurité_sociale #pauvreté #workhouse #criminalisation_de_la_pauvreté #résistance #Enoch #Great_Enoch #John_Ludd #général_Ludd #luddisme #luttes #insurrection #cadence #progrès_technique #accidents_de_travail #Angleterre #insurrection_luddite #massacre_de_Peterloo #odeur #intercheangeabilité #temps_des_ouvriers
Sur le silent monitor :
This small four-sided wooden block was known as a ’silent monitor’ and was used by Robert Owen as a means of imposing discipline at his #New_Lanark_Mills.
Robert Owen was strongly opposed to the use of corporal punishment, so in order to keep discipline at the New Lanark Mills, he devised his own unique system. The ’silent monitors’ were hung next to each worker in the mills, with each side displaying a different colour. ’Bad’ behaviour was represented by the colour black; ’indifferent’ was represented by blue; ’good’ by yellow; and ’excellent’ by white. The superintendent was responsible for turning the monitors every day, according to how well or badly the worker had behaved. A daily note was then made of the conduct of the workers in the ’books of character’ which were provided for each department in the mills.
New Lanark :
Le temps des ouvriers (4/4)Le temps de la destruction
Stan Neumann déroule sur plus de trois siècles l’histoire du monde ouvrier européen. Dernier volet : dans les années 1930, la classe ouvrière semble plus puissante que jamais. Le succès, en 1936, du Front populaire en France témoigne de cette force. Pourtant, les ouvriers européens vont de défaite en défaite...
En Espagne, la dictature franquiste, soutenue par Hitler et Mussolini, triomphe en 1939. Puis dans l’Europe asservie, l’Allemagne nazie fait des ouvriers des pays vaincus des « esclaves du XXe siècle » : « travail obligatoire » pour les ouvriers de l’ouest de l’Europe, « extermination par le travail » des juifs, des Tsiganes et des prisonniers de guerre soviétiques.
Après 1945, la guerre froide génère de nouvelles fractures. En Occident, on achète la paix sociale en améliorant les conditions de vie et de travail dans la plus pure tradition fordiste. À l’Est, le pouvoir est confisqué par des partis uniques qui prétendent représenter les ouvriers tout en les privant des libertés syndicales avec le soutien de l’URSS et de ses tanks. L’espoir renaît dans les années 1970, qui voient fleurir les utopies révolutionnaires, des Lip à Solidarnosc. Mais c’est un chant du cygne. Avec son cortège de misère et de chômage, la désindustrialisation a commencé.
La classe ouvrière a-t-elle disparu, ou simplement changé de forme, de nom, de rêve ? Conciliant l’audace et la rigueur historique, l’humour et l’émotion, le détail signifiant et le souffle épique, Stan Neumann ("Austerlitz", « Lénine »", ""Gorki"" – ""La révolution à contre-temps") livre une éblouissante relecture de trois cents ans d’histoire. Faisant vibrer la mémoire des lieux et la beauté des archives, célébrissimes ou méconnues, il parvient à synthétiser avec fluidité une étonnante quantité d’information. Les séquences d’animation, ludiques et inventives, et un commentaire dit par la voix à la fois présente et discrète de Bernard Lavilliers permettent de passer sans se perdre d’un temps à l’autre : celui du travail, compté hier comme aujourd’hui minute par minute, celui des grands événements historiques, et celui, enfin, des changements sociaux ou techniques étalés parfois sur plusieurs décennies, comme le processus de légalisation des syndicats ou du travail à la chaîne. En parallèle, le réalisateur donne la parole à des ouvriers et ouvrières d’aujourd’hui et à une douzaine d’historiens et philosophes, hommes et femmes, « personnages » à part entière dont la passion communicative rythme le récit. On peut citer Jacques Rancière, Marion Fontaine, Alessandro Portelli, Arthur McIvor, Stefan Berger, avec Xavier Vigna comme conseiller scientifique de l’ensemble des épisodes. Cette série documentaire virtuose, où l’expérience intime coexiste avec la mémoire collective, au risque parfois de la contredire, révèle ainsi combien nos sociétés contemporaines ont été façonnées par l’histoire des ouvriers.
#poing_levé #Front_populaire #Espagne #Fígols #mujeres_libres #guerre_d'Espagne #mineurs #alcolisme #violence_domestique #expulsions_collectives #travailleurs_étrangers #Volkswagen #nazisme #extermination_par_le_travail #Berlin #Pologne #Hongrie #superflu #rock_and_roll #mai_68 #Sochaux #Lip #Solidarność #Solidarnosc #Anna_Walentynowicz #printemps_de_Prague #NUM #autonomie_ouvrière #Arthur_McIvor #Margareth_Thatcher #muséification #désindustrialisation #invisibilisation #uberisation
The Cropper Lads
“Croppers, although relatively few in numbers, played a central part in the activities of the machine-breaking Luddites in #Yorkshire. Prior to the introduction of machinery to do the job they had been top-grade apprenticed craftsmen, trained to produce a smooth even nap on the woollen cloth after it had been woven. They cropped the woven cloth with heavy shears and were highly skilled, and relatively highly paid so had more to lose than most by the introduction of the machinery. Prior to this they had blacked any cloth produced in a gig mill and therefore had already shown their anti-machinery stance and solidarity with the weavers. Thus croppers joined the Nottinghamshire Luddites in raids on mills to break the machinery which resulted in desperate battles between mill-owners backed by the police and militia, and the Luddites, which resulted in much bloodshed and even death.
Great Enoch was the name given to a big hammer used to smash the machinery, rather ironically as it was named after Enoch and James Taylor of Marsden near Huddersfield who were the ingenious blacksmiths who invented the cropping machine.”
Come, cropper lads of great renown,
Who love to drink good ale that’s brown,
And strike each haughty tyrant down
With hatchet, pike and gun.
The cropper lads for me,
And gallant lads they’ll be,
With lusty stroke the shearframes broke,
The cropper lads for me.
What though the specials still advance,
And soldiers nightly round us prance,
The cropper lads still lead the dance,
With hatchet, pike and gun.
And night by night when all is still,
And the moon is hid behind the hill,
We forward march to do our will,
With hatchet, pike and gun.
Great Enoch he shall lead the van,
Stop him who dares, stop him who can,
Press forward every gallant man,
With hatchet, pike and gun.
Chanson découverte dans le documentaire sur Arte :
Le temps des ouvriers
Le #Great_Enoch :
Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin
Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin
Dreams o peace an o freedom
Sae smile in your sleep, bonnie baby
Once our valleys were ringin
Wi sounds o our children singin
But nou sheep bleat till the evenin
An shielings stand empty an broken
We stood, wi heads bowed in prayer
While factors laid our cottages bare
The flames fired the clear mountain air
An many lay dead in the mornin
Where was our fine Highland mettle,
Our men once sae fearless in battle?
They stand, cowed, huddled like cattle
Soon tae be shipped owre the ocean
No use pleading or praying
All hope gone, no hope of staying
Hush, hush, the anchor’s a-weighing
Don’t cry in your sleep, bonnie baby
#histoire #Ecosse #industrialisation #clearance #nettoyage #violence #terres #arrachement #déracinement #déplacements_forcés #Fuadaich_nan_Gàidheal #évacuations #déportation #décès #morts #histoire #agriculture #moutons #élevage #Highlands #montagne
Découverte dans ce documentaire qui passe en ce moment sur Arte :
Le temps des ouvriers
Une pièce de théâtre autour de ces événements :
The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black Black Oil
The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil is a play written in the 1970s by the popular playwright #John_McGrath. From April 1973, beginning at a venue in Aberdeen (Aberdeen Arts Centre), it was performed in a touring production in community centres on Scotland by 7:84 and other community theatre groups. A television version directed by John Mackenzie was broadcast on 6 June 1974 by the BBC as part of the Play for Today series.
Du coup, je découvre aussi ce site web d’un groupe où j’ai trouvé la chanson et qui va beaucoup plaire à @sinehebdo (mais pas que...)
Three Acres And A Cow. A history of land rights and protest in folk song and story
Telling the history of land, housing and food in Britain is always a multi-stranded narrative. On one side we have the history of enclosure, privatisation and the dispossession of land based communities; on the other we have the vibrant histories of struggle and resistance that emerged when people rose up and confronted the loss of their lands, cultures and ways of life.
These multiple histories go largely undocumented in the literature of the times, often expressed simply as a hanging here and an uprising there, yet in the music and stories of the people they take on a different life.
‘Three Acres And A Cow’ connects the Norman Conquest and Peasants’ Revolt with Brexit, fracking and our housing crisis via the Enclosures, English Civil War, Irish Land League and Industrial Revolution, drawing a compelling narrative through the radical people’s history of England in folk song, story and poem.
Part TED talk, part history lecture, part folk club sing-a-long, part poetry slam, part storytelling session… Come and share in these tales as they have been shared for generations.
Song On The Times
You working men of England one moment now attend
While I unfold the treatment of the poor upon this land
For nowadays the factory lords have brought the labour low
And daily are contriving plans to prove our overthrow
So arouse! You sons of freedom! The world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town
There’s different parts in Ireland, it’s true what I do state
There’s hundreds that are starving for they can’t get food to eat
And if they go unto the rich to ask them for relief
They bang their door all in their face as if they were a thief
So arouse! You sons of freedom! The world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town
Alas how altered are the times, rich men despise the poor
And pay them off without remorse, quite scornful at their door
And if a man is out of work his Parish pay is small
Enough to starve himself and wife, his children and all
So arouse! You sons of freedom! The world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town
Version #Chumbawamba :
#Dùthaich_Mhic_Aoidh – song about the Highland clearances in Sutherland, Scotland for sheep
Mo mhallachd aig na caoraich mhòr
My curse upon the great sheep
Càit a bheil clann nan daoine còir
Where now are the children of the kindly folk
Dhealaich rium nuair bha mi òg
Who parted from me when I was young
Mus robh Dùthaich ‘IcAoidh na fàsach?
Before Sutherland became a desert?
Tha trì fichead bliadhna ‘s a trì
It has been sixty-three years
On dh’fhàg mi Dùthaich ‘IcAoidh
Since I left Sutherland
Cait bheil gillean òg mo chrìdh’
Where are all my beloved young men
‘S na nìonagan cho bòidheach?
And all the girls that were so pretty?
Shellar, tha thu nist nad uaigh
Sellar, you are in your grave
Gaoir nam bantrach na do chluais
The wailing of your widows in your ears
Am milleadh rinn thu air an t-sluagh
The destruction you wrought upon the people
Ron uiridh ‘n d’ fhuair thu d’ leòr dheth?
Up until last year, have you had your fill of it?
Chiad Dhiùc Chataibh, led chuid foill
First Duke of Sutherland, with your deceit
‘S led chuid càirdeis do na Goill
And your consorting with the Lowlanders
Gum b’ ann an Iutharn’ bha do thoill
You deserve to be in Hell
Gum b’ fheàrr Iùdas làmh rium
I’d rather consort with Judas
Bhan-Diùc Chataibh, bheil thu ad dhìth
Duchess of Sutherland, where are you now?
Càit a bheil do ghùnan sìod?
Where are your silk gowns?
An do chùm iad thu bhon oillt ‘s bhon strì
Did they save you from the hatred and fury
Tha an diugh am measg nan clàraibh?
Which today permeates the press?
Mo mhallachd aig na caoraich mhòr
My curse upon the great sheep
Càit a bheil clann nan daoine còir
Where now are the children of the kindly folk
Dhealaich rium nuair bha mi òg
Who parted from me when I was young
Mus robh Dùthaich ‘IcAoidh na fàsach?
Blog super intéressant, merci, mais musique pas très rock’n’roll...
The enduring culture and limits of political song
Simon Cross, Cogent Arts & Humanities 4:1 (2017)
Cities must act
40,000 people are currently trapped on the Aegean islands, forced to live in overcrowded camps with limited medical services and inadequate sanitation.
#Glasgow, sign this petition from @ActMust
demanding relocation from the islands.
#CitiesMustAct is a bold new campaign asking the citizens, councils and mayors of European towns and cities to pledge their support for the immediate relocation of asylum seekers on the Greek islands.
In our previous campaigns we pushed for change on the EU level. From our interaction with EU leaders we have learned that they are hesitant or even unable to act because they believe that there is no broad support for helping refugees among European citizens. Let’s prove them wrong!
On the 30th of March, the Mayor and citizens of Berlin pledged to take in 1,500 refugees. Now we are asking cities and towns across Europe to join Berlin in offering sanctuary to refugees in overcrowded camps on the Greek mainland and islands.
As COVID-19 threatens a health crisis in densely overcrowded camps, we must act now to relieve pressure on these horrendous camps.
Whilst cities may not have the legislative power to directly relocate refugees themselves, #CitiesMustAct will send a powerful message of citizen solidarity that governments and the EU can’t ignore!
Join us in spreading the #CitiesMustAct campaign across Europe - join us today!
Cities lobby EU to offer shelter to migrant children from Greece
Ten European cities have pledged shelter to unaccompanied migrant children living in desperate conditions on Greek island camps or near the Turkish border.
Amsterdam, Barcelona and Leipzig are among the cities that have written to European Union leaders, saying they are ready to offer a home to vulnerable children to ease what they call a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis in Greece.
“We can provide these children with what they now so urgently need: to get out of there, to have a home, to be safe, to have access to medical care and to be looked after by dedicated people,” the letter states.
But the cities can only make good on their pledge if national governments agree. Seven of the 10 local government signatories to the letter are in countries that have not volunteered to take in children under a relocation effort launched by the European commission in March.
#Rutger_Groot_Wassink, Amsterdam’s deputy mayor for social affairs, said it was disappointing the Dutch government had declined to join the EU relocation scheme. He believes Dutch cities could house 500 children, with “30-35, maybe 40 children” being brought to Amsterdam.
“It’s not that we can send a plane in and pick them up, because you need the permission of the national government. But we feel we are putting pressure on our national government, which has been reluctant to move on this issue,” he said.
The Dutch government – a four-party liberal-centre-right coalition – has so far declined to join the EU relocation effort, despite requests by Groot Wassink, who is a member of the Green party.
“It might have something to do with the political situation in the Netherlands, where there is a huge debate on refugees and migrants and the national government doesn’t want to be seen as refugee-friendly. From the perspective of some of the parties they feel that they do enough. They say they are helping Greece and of course there is help for Greece.”
If the Dutch government lifted its opposition, Groot Wassink said transfers could happen fairly quickly, despite coronavirus restrictions. “If there is a will it can be done even pretty soon,” he said.
Ten EU countries – Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Luxembourg and Lithuania – have pledged to take in at least 1,600 lone children from the Greek islands, just under a third of the 5,500 unaccompanied minors estimated to be in Greece.
So far, only a small number have been relocated: 12 to Luxembourg and 47 to Germany.
The municipal intervention chimes with comments from the German Social Democrat MEP Brigit Sippel, who said earlier this month that she knew of “cities and German Länder who are ready … tomorrow, to do more”. The MEP said Germany’s federal government was moving too slowly and described the initial transfer of 47 children as “ridiculous”.
Amsterdam, with Utrecht, organised the initiative through the Eurocities network, which brings together more than 140 of the continent’s largest municipalities, including 20 UK cities. The UK’s home secretary, Priti Patel, has refused calls to take in lone children from the Greek islands.
Groot Wassink said solidarity went beyond the EU’s borders. He said: “You [the UK] are still part of Europe.”
Migrants and mayors are the unsung heroes of COVID-19. Here’s why
- Some of the most pragmatic responses to COVID-19 have come from mayors and governors.
- The skills and resourcefulness of refugees and migrants are also helping in the fight against the virus.
- It’s time for international leaders to start following suit.
In every crisis it is the poor, sick, disabled, homeless and displaced who suffer the most. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Migrants and refugees, people who shed one life in search for another, are among the most at risk. This is because they are often confined to sub-standard and overcrowded homes, have limited access to information or services, lack the financial reserves to ride out isolation and face the burden of social stigma.
Emergencies often bring out the best and the worst in societies. Some of the most enlightened responses are coming from the world’s governors and mayors. Local leaders and community groups from cities as diverse as #Atlanta, #Mogadishu (▻https://twitter.com/cantoobo/status/1245051780787994624?s=12) and #Sao_Paulo (▻https://www.docdroid.net/kSmLieL/covid19-pmsao-paulo-city-april01-pdf) are setting-up dedicated websites for migrants, emergency care and food distribution facilities, and even portable hand-washing stations for refugees and internally displaced people. Their actions stand in glaring contrast to national decision-makers, some of whom are looking for scapegoats.
Mayors and city officials are also leading the charge when it comes to recovery. Global cities from #Bogotá (▻https://www.eltiempo.com/bogota/migrantes-en-epoca-de-coronavirus-en-bogota-se-avecina-una-crisis-478062) to #Barcelona (▻https://reliefweb.int/report/spain/barcelonas-show-solidarity-time-covid-19) are introducing measures to mitigate the devastating economic damages wrought by the lockdown. Some of them are neutralizing predatory landlords by placing moratoriums on rent hikes and evictions. Others are distributing food through schools and to people’s doorsteps as well as providing cash assistance to all residents, regardless of their immigration status.
Cities were already in a tight spot before COVID-19. Many were facing serious deficits and tight budgets, and were routinely asked to do ‘more with less’. With lockdowns extended in many parts of the world, municipalities will need rapid financial support. This is especially true for lower-income cities in Africa, South Asia and Latin America where migrants, refugees and other vulnerable groups risk severe hunger and even starvation. They also risk being targeted if they try and flee. International aid donors will need to find ways to direct resources to cities and allow them sizeable discretion in how those funds are used.
Philanthropic groups and city networks around the world are rapidly expanding their efforts to protect and assist migrants and refugees. Take the case of the #Open_Society_Foundations, which is ramping up assistance to New York City, Budapest and Milan to help them battle the pandemic while bolstering safety nets for the most marginal populations. Meanwhile, the #Clara_Lionel_and_Shawn_Carter_Foundations in the US have committed millions in grants to support undocumented workers in Los Angeles and New York (▻https://variety-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/variety.com/2020/music/news/rihanna-jay-z-foundations-donate-million-coronavirus-relief-1203550018/amp). And inter-city coalitions, like the #US_Conference_of-Mayors (▻https://www.usmayors.org/issues/covid-19) and #Eurocities (▻http://www.eurocities.eu/eurocities/documents/EUROCITIES-reaction-to-the-Covid-19-emergency-WSPO-BN9CHB), are also helping local authorities with practical advice about how to strengthen preparedness and response.
The truth is that migrants and refugees are one of the most under-recognized assets in the fight against crises, including COVID-19. They are survivors. They frequently bring specialized skills to the table, including expertise in medicine, nursing, engineering and education. Some governments are catching on to this. Take the case of Portugal, which recently changed its national policies to grant all migrants and asylum seekers living there permanent residency, thus providing access to health services, social safety nets and the right to work. The city of #Buenos_Aires (►https://www.lanacion.com.ar/sociedad/coronavirus-municipios-provincia-buenos-aires-sumaran-medicos-nid234657) authorized Venezuelan migrants with professional medical degrees to work in the Argentinean healthcare system. #New_York (▻https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20210-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating), #New_Jersey (►https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/20200401b.shtml) and others have cleared the way for immigrant doctors without US licenses to provide patient care during the current pandemic.
There are several steps municipal governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations should take to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on migrants and displaced people. For one, they need to clearly account for them in their response and recovery plans, including ensuring free access to healthy food and cash assistance. Next, they could strengthen migrant associations and allow qualified professionals to join the fight against infectious disease outbreaks. What is more, they could ensure access to basic services like housing, electricity, healthcare and education - and information about how to access them in multiple languages - as Portugal has done.
Mayors are on the frontline of supporting migrants and refugees, often in the face of resistance from national authorities. Consider the experience of Los Angeles’s mayor, #Eric_Garcetti (▻https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/04/08/coronavirus-garcetti-relief-businesses-immigrants), who recently called on the US Congress to provide rapid relief to roughly 2.5 million undocumented immigrants in California. Or the mayor of Uganda’s capital #Kampala, #Erias_Lukwago (▻https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Opposition-gives-out-food-to-poor-despite-Museveni-ban/688334-5518340-hd23s8/index.html), who has resorted to distributing food himself to poor urban residents despite bans from the central government. At the same time, #Milan ’s mayor, #Giuseppe_Sala (▻https://www.corriere.it/economia/finanza/20_aprile_13/sala-sindaci-europei-alla-crisi-si-risponde-piu-solidarieta-attenzione-citt), wrote to the European Union to urgently request access to financial aid. These three mayors also lead the #Mayors_Migration_Council, a city coalition established to influence international migration policy and share resources (▻https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/e/2PACX-1vRqMtCR8xBONCjntcDmiKv0m4-omNzJxkEB2X2gMZ_uqLeiiQv-m2Pb9aZq4AlDvw/pub) with local leaders around the world.
The truth is that refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people are not sitting idly by; in some cases they are the unsung heroes of the pandemic response. Far from being victims, migrants and displaced people reflect the best of what humanity has to offer. Despite countless adversities and untold suffering, they are often the first to step up and confront imminent threats, even giving their lives (►https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/world/europe/coronavirus-doctors-immigrants.html) in the process. The least we can all do is protect them and remove the obstacles in the way of letting them participate in pandemic response and recovery. Mayors have got this; it’s now time for national and international decision-makers to follow suit.
signalé par @thomas_lacroix
Public Statement from European Cities on Vulnerable Children in the refugee situation in Greece
*Bologna: il Consiglio comunale per la regolarizzazione dei
Il Consiglio Comunale di Bologna oggi ha approvato, con 18 voti favorevoli e 6 contrari, un ordine del giorno per ottenere un provvedimento di regolarizzazione dei migranti attualmente soggiornanti in territorio italiano in condizione di irregolarità originaria o sopravvenuta, con la massima tempestività, data l’emergenza sanitaria in corso.
L’ordine del giorno è stato presentato dal consigliere Federico Martelloni (Coalizione civica) e firmato dai consiglieri Clancy (Coalizione civica), Frascaroli (Città comune), Palumbo (gruppo misto-Nessuno resti indietro), Errani, Persiano, Campaniello, Mazzoni, Li Calzi, Colombo (Partito Democratico), Bugani, Piazza, Foresti (Movimento 5 stelle). Ecco il testo :
“Il Consiglio Comunale di Bologna, a fronte dello stato di emergenza sanitaria da Covid-19 in corso e delle misure assunte dal Governo nazionale e dalle Giunte locali per contrastarne la diffusione e limitarne l’impatto sulla popolazione attualmente presente sul territorio. Ritenuto che non trova spazio nell’odierno dibattito pubblico, segnato dalla predetta emergenza, l’esigenza di assumere provvedimenti che sanino la posizione dei migranti che soggiornano irregolarmente nel nostro Paese, tema oggetto dell’ordine del giorno votato il 23 dicembre 2019 dalla Camera dei Deputati in sede di approvazione della legge di bilancio, adottato col fine di produrre molteplici benefici per la collettività , a partire dal fatto che: a) si offrirebbe l’opportunità di vivere e lavorare legalmente nel nostro Paese a chi già si trova sul territorio ma che , senza titolo di soggiorno , è spesso costretto per sopravvivere a rivolgersi ai circuiti illeciti ; b) si andrebbe incontro ai tanti datori di lavoro che , bisognosi di personale, non possono assumere persone senza documenti , anche se già formati, e ricorrono al lavoro in nero ; c) si avrebbero maggiore contezza – e conseguentemente controllo – delle presenze sui nostri territori di alcune centinaia di migliaia di persone di cui poco o nulla si sa , e, conseguentemente, maggiore sicurezza per tutti.
Dato atto chetale esigenza è stata ribadita, alla vigilia della dichiarazione dello stato di pandemia, dalla ministra dell’interno Lamorgese in data 15 gennaio 2020, in Risposta a interrogazione orale, confermando che “L’intenzione del Governo e del Ministero dell’Interno è quella di valutare le questioni poste all’ordine del giorno che richiamavo in premessa, nel quadro più generale di una complessiva rivisitazione delle diverse disposizioni che incidono sulle politiche migratorie e sulla condizione dello straniero in Italia” (resoconto stenografico della seduta della Camera dei Deputati del 15 gennaio 2020, pag. 22).Tenuto conto che il tema della regolarizzazione degli stranieri irregolarmente soggiornanti diventa ancor più rilevante e urgente nella contingenza che ci troviamo ad attraversare, come giustamente rimarcato nell’Appello per la sanatoria dei migranti irregolari al tempo dei Covid-19, elaborato e sottoscritto da centinaia di associazioni (visibile al seguente indirizzo: ▻https://www.meltingpot.org/Appello-per-la-sanatoria-dei-migranti-irregolari-ai-tempi.html#nb1), atteso che alle buone ragioni della sanatoria si aggiungono , oggi, anche le esigenze di tutela della salute collettiva, compresa quella delle centinaia di migliaia di migranti privi del permesso di soggiorno, che non hanno accesso alla sanità pubblica. Considerato che l’Appello richiamato al punto che precede giustamente sottolinea che il migrante irregolare:-non è ovviamente iscritto al Sistema Sanitario Nazionale e di conseguenza non dispone di un medico di base, avendo diritto alle sole prestazioni sanitarie urgenti ;-non si rivolge alle strutture sanitarie nei casi di malattia lieve, mentre, nei casi più gravi non ha alternativa al presentarsi al pronto soccorso , il che contrasterebbe con tutti i protocolli adottati per contenere la diffusione del virus. – è costretto a soluzioni abitative di fortuna , in ambienti spesso degradati e insalubri, condivisi con altre persone .Considerato,in definitiva,che i soggetti “invisibili” sono per molti aspetti più esposti al contagio del virus e più di altri rischiano di subirne le conseguenze sia sanitarie, per la plausibile mancanza di un intervento tempestivo, sia sociali, per lo stigma cui rischiano di essere sottoposti a causa di responsabilità e inefficienze non loro ascrivibili .Assunto che iniziative di tal fatta sono all’ordine del giorno anche in altri paesi dell’Unione, avendo il governo del Portogallo già approvato una sanatoria per l’immediata regolarizzazione di tutti i migranti in attesa di permesso di soggiorno che avessero presentato domanda alla data di dichiarazione dell’emergenza Coronavirus, per consentirne l’accesso al sistema sanitario nazionale, all’apertura di conti correnti bancari; alle misure economiche straordinarie di protezione per persone e famiglie in condizioni di fragilità ; alla regolarizzazione dei rapporti di lavoro .Condivide l’urgenza di intercettare centinaia di migliaia di persone attualmente prive di un regolare permesso di soggiorno, per contenere il loro rischio di contrarre il virus; perché possano con tranquillità usufruire dei servizi della sanità pubblica nel caso di sintomatologia sospetta; perché non diventino loro malgrado veicolo di trasmissione del virus, con tutte le nefaste conseguenze che possono derivarne nei territori, incluso il territorio di Bologna.
Invita il Sindaco e la Giunta a dare massima diffusione, anche attraverso i canali di comunicazione istituzionale, agli appelli e alle iniziative finalizzate ad ottenere un provvedimento di regolarizzazione dei migranti attualmente soggiornanti in territorio italiano in condizione d’irregolarità originaria o sopravvenuta .a farsi promotore, in tutte le sedi istituzionali, a partire dall’ANCI, delle iniziative volte a ottenere l’adozione di un provvedimento di regolarizzazione ed emersione degli stranieri irregolarmente soggiornanti, con la massima tempestività richiesta dell’emergenza sanitaria oggi in corso.
Asylum seekers’ lives ‘put at risk’ by decision to move them to hotels
Hundreds of asylum seekers claim their lives are being put at risk after they were moved out of their flats and into #Glasgow hotels where they are unable to isolate to protect themselves from coronavirus.
Financial support of £35 per week has been stopped by the Home Office and replaced with communal meals, eaten alongside others in the hotel dining rooms.
A video provided to The Ferret shows that many door handles at the hotels must be pulled open en route to meals. Another shows a tea and coffee station where, it is claimed, everyone must open the same coffee jar and pour water from a shared urn.
The Ferret understands that over 500 asylum seekers, who include new arrivals and those on emergency section 4 support, are being housed in three city centre hotels.
They include asylum seekers living in Mears Group flats in Glasgow, others newly entitled to accommodation from the provider, as well as those being bussed into the city from across the UK.
The first moves started two weeks ago, but some people were still being moved on Wednesday 22 April. The Ferret was told that one family has been moved, despite assurances given to charities that none would be affected.
Concerns have been raised that Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.
On 20 April new data from NHS England revealed they accounted for 16 per cent of positive tests, though only 7.5 per cent of the population is Asian and three per cent black.
Asylum seekers told The Ferret they were contacted without notice by housing provider Mears Group, which took over the housing contract from Serco last September, and told they had 20 minutes to pack all their belongings for the move.
They claim they were picked up in a van with others who they did not know, and that no masks were provided. However a spokesperson for Mears Group said they followed government health advice.
In some cases ‘Aspen’ debit cards on to which asylum support of £35 a week is paid had already stopped working. In others support was terminated after arrival at the hotel, leaving people without any access to cash for essentials like sanitary products or toiletries, phone top-ups, paracetamol or clothing.
Three meals a day are provided at the hotels, which must be eaten in the shared dining room at set times. It is claimed that social distancing measures are not being respected in corridors, elevators or dinning rooms. Others are fearful that they may pick up the virus from door handles and elevator buttons used by all residents on their way to meals.
One man told The Ferret he and his brother had been moved to a city centre hotel 12 days ago. He estimates about 75 other asylum seekers are staying there.
They had been living in a two-bedroom Glasgow flat provided by Mears Group since they arrived in the UK in December.
“A man from Mears came to the door and said there was an order by the Home Office to move us to a hotel,” he said. “He told me: “You have 10-30 mins to pack. I have been here for five months that was not possible for me.”
In the end he left after less than two hours, leaving some food – which he is unable to cook in the hotel – behind.
He was picked up in a van, with two other men. While a board separated the driver, there was no protection provided for the passengers.
Now, his support has stopped and communal meals are provided in the hotel dining room. The rest of their time is spent in their rooms. “Everything has got much worse for us since we moved here,” he said. “We have to go down to the dining room and we all have to touch the same doors.”
“It’s like being in jail,” added the man. “Everybody feels the same. We spend all day in our rooms but we don’t want to sleep. We don’t know what we are doing here.
“It feels like no-one cares. We have been abandoned.”
Another man, who asked to be known only as Mohamed, said that he was moved on 21 April into a city-centre hotel where over 100 other asylum seekers were being housed.
He has previously been self-isolating at a flat provided by Positive Action in Housing but after his application for emergency support – known as Section 4 – was approved by the Home Office on the grounds that he is unable to travel, he was put in a hotel.
“I thought my situation was going to get better but it’s worse,” he said. “No-one here has any gloves, we still use the elevator. It makes no sense. I’ve seen pregnant women staying here too, and it’s them I feel really sorry for.
“From here I can go for a walk down to the river but that’s it – then I’m back to my room. We are just stuck here and nobody is communicating anything. We don’t have any money for phone tops or anything.”
Gary Christie, head of policy at Scottish Refugee Council said many people had been moved without “proper explanation” of why they had to leave, and how long they would be moved for.
“It’s confusing and frightening for people and raises serious concerns about how the Home Office communicates and shares vital information,” he said.
“People can’t stay in hotels forever. We need to know how the Home Office plans to accommodate people when lockdown restrictions ease so charities, local authorities and other partners can support any further moves.
“We’re also really concerned that people in hotels are not receiving cash support that’s needed for phone top ups and other essentials. We’re seeking urgent answers on this from the Home Office.”
Ana Santamarina, an activist from the No Evictions Network supporting asylum seekers, said that many people had phoned to say they were frightened by the lack of social distancing measures. Others reported that their support had stopped.
She called for the situation to be urgently resolved. “People want to be back in their homes,” she told The Ferret. “They feel so disempowered – they can’t even take decisions like what or when they eat. They need to have their asylum support back.
“This virus disproportionately affects a vulnerable population, and this is making people even more vulnerable.”
A spokesman for Mears Group said the decision was made due to a shortage of suitable accommodation.
He added: “Mears had been utilising short term let accommodation in Glasgow to house new applicants into the city whilst they were supported prior to move into a more long term accommodation pending a decision on their application for Asylum.
“Unfortunately with the current Covid-19 emergency the ability to move people on in the time they are allowed to be in these short lets was severely limited due to restrictions on the property market and general movement within the service.
“Therefore we had no alternative but to procure hotel space where we can safely and appropriately house and support each person with food and health services without restriction on time of residence.
“All movement of the people concerned was undertaken in accordance with health authority guidance on social distancing and use of personal protective equipment. The safety and wellbeing of each person is paramount and Mears are working hard to ensure we meet all obligations at this very difficult time.”
A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said, as far as the council was aware, the use of hotels had been agreed for new arrivals. She added: “We would expect people to be able to adhere to the lockdown and guidance on social distancing in any accommodation provided.”
A Home Office spokesperson said:”We are only moving asylum seekers where it is necessary, strictly following guidance from public health authorities, and into accommodation that ensures social distancing. This is to help stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.”
‘I am like a prisoner again’ – Glasgow’s destitute Eritreans
Some nights Ariam gets lucky. A friend lets him sleep on a couch or curled up in the corner of a bedroom floor.
But most evenings he just walks. With a bag slung over his slight, mid-30s frame, the Eritrean traverses Glasgow’s crepuscular streets, shoulders pulled tight against the elements.
Ariam, not his real name, walks because he has no place to go.
“I do not sleep on the street. It is too cold. I just walk around all night,” he says when we meet in a Glasgow cafe. It is around midday and Ariam looks tired. Stubble cloaks his thin face. He speaks clear English in a low monotone, as if his batteries are drained.
“I’ve stayed in every part of Glasgow. Here, there, everywhere. That’s the way I live,” he tells me.
The Ferret met the Eritrean refugees in this report in Glasgow in 2016. Two years on, most are still living the same precarious existence today, outside the immigration system with no access to work or housing, and with no prospect of returning to a homeland where they would face prison – or worse – for desertion.
Ariam did not always live like this. Like so many Eritreans he spent years in compulsory military service with no prospect of an end. Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki’s one-party state is one of the world’s most oppressive regimes, according to Human Rights Watch.
I’ve stayed in every part of Glasgow. Here, there, everywhere. That’s the way I live.
One day, while guarding Eritrea’s western border, Ariam managed to escape into Sudan. From there, often on foot, he reached Libya. A precarious £1,000 ride on an inflatable dingy with 27 others took him across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.
Eventually he arrived in Dover. That was 2006.
Once in the UK, Ariam was granted discretionary leave to remain, on humanitarian grounds. He moved to Glasgow shortly afterwards, and got a job at a warehouse and a flat in the East End.
Life thousands of miles away from home was not easy but it was better than living in constant fear in Eritrea.
In October 2015, Ariam reapplied to the Home Office for leave to remain. He had no reason to be worried. The system was cumbersome but he had been through it numerous times. However, this time his application was turned down. He was not entitled to work – or to draw any benefits.
“I paid my taxes. Now they were telling me I couldn’t work, and they wouldn’t support me,” he says. “I risked my life to come to this country and now they abandoned me.”
As he talks he takes a clear plastic envelope from his jacket pocket. Methodically he thumbs through the sheaf of documents inside; there are neatly ordered tax returns, Barclays bank statements, pages headed with the Home Office’s fussy shield of the Royal Arms crest. Among the paraphernalia of governance is a photocopied pamphlet: ‘Food Clothing Shelter Information Advice for Destitute Asylum Seekers’.
After we have finished our coffees, Ariam and another Eritrean, Mike, take me to the East End, where they often sleep on the floor of an apartment complex that they lived in before their access to benefits was cut. The Barras slips past our taxi window. Then Celtic Park. “Paradise” declares a huge banner wrapped around the stadium. We keep driving. Five minutes later we arrive at a utilitarian block of flats clad in pebbledash. The building is perhaps only fifteen years old but already showing signs of age.
“Here we are,” Ariam smiles. We are standing outside a janitor’s cupboard on the ground floor of the flats. Mike unfurls a mattress clandestinely stored inside. When the superintendent is away they sometimes sleep on the stairwell floor, in front of a plate glass window looking out onto a biscuit factory.
Eritreans were the leading recipients of destitution grants from Scottish charity Refugee Survival Trust in 2015 and 2016. Destitute Eritreans in Scotland have received almost 300 survival grants over since 2014. Many of these were in and around Glasgow.
Those The Ferret spoke to told a similar story. Having survived one of the most brutal regimes on the planet, many are barred from employment or benefits and forced to sleep in night shelters, on floors, or even in parks.
“We are trapped here,” Ariam says as we walk back towards the city. “It is like we are prisoners of war here.”
People have been fleeing Eritrea for Britain since the 1980s. For decades, the vast majority were granted asylum. But that changed in 2015 when the Home Office – then headed by Theresa May, who had pledged to radically reduce immigration – decided that Eritrea was no longer unsafe for refugees to return to.
That year, Eritreans accounted for the largest group applying for asylum in the UK, with more than 3,700 applicants. But almost overnight the number of successful applications plummeted.
In the first quarter of 2015 just under three-quarters of Eritrean applicants were approved. That figure fell to 34 per cent in the following three months.
The Home Office was eventually forced to change its policy, and in 2016 – the last full year on record – the number of successful Eritrean asylum claims rose significantly.
But there are still Eritreans in the UK who have found themselves living outside the system, with no formal status or right to accommodation or employment, trapped in what the British Government has called “a hostile environment” for immigrants.
There is no evidence that Eritreans avoiding military service in Eritrea are thinking ‘I won’t go to the UK to avoid sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow’.
Simon Cox, immigration lawyer
“The logic of the hostile environment policy is we hold these people hostage to deter others from coming. There is no evidence that this works,” says Simon Cox, a migration lawyer for the Open Society Justice Initiative.
“There is no evidence that Eritreans avoiding military service in Eritrea are thinking ‘I won’t go to the UK to avoid sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow’.”
SNP MP Stuart McDonald says the Home Office has used a policy of “enforced destitution in order to try and make someone leave the UK” that is “barbaric and utterly inappropriate”.
“It is a scandal these people are being forced to sleep in parks and bus shelters,” McDonald told the Ferret.
The Home Office does not deport people back to Eritrea, such is the brutality of Isaias Afwerki’s one-party state.
Afwerki led the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front in a 30-year-long secessionist war with Ethiopia that culminated in independence, in 1993. Since then the president has overseen an increasingly brutal surveillance state.
Eritreans as young as 13 or 14 are forced into sawa – indefinite national service – from which many never leave.
Extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and forced labour take place “on a scope and scale seldom witnessed elsewhere”, according to a damning 2015 United Nations report. Afwerki oversees “ruthless repression” and “pervasive state control”.
No one knows for sure how many people live in Eritrea. Some put the population at three million. Others six. This disparity attests to the scale of migration in recent decades.
A 2015 UN report found that Eritreans who fled the country illegally are regarded as “traitors” and frequently imprisoned if they return. “[They] are systematically ill-treated to the point of torture,” the UN said.
The Home Office used to recognise the barbarity of the Eritrean regime. In 2008, six Eritreans athletes at the World Cross Country Championship in Edinburgh lodged claims for political asylum. All were granted. One of the runners, Tsegai Tewelde, went on to compete for Britain in the 2016 Olympics.
But the British Government’s position on Eritrea abruptly changed not long after a high level diplomatic meeting in the Eritrean capital, Asmara. In December 2014, senior Eritrean government officials received a UK delegation led by James Sharp, the Foreign Office’s director of migration, and Rob Jones, the Home Office’s head of asylum and family policy.
Soon afterwards, Theresa May’s Home Office radically changed its guidance on Eritrea. The scale of human rights abuse in Eritrea was less severe than previously thought, Home Office officials said. Forced military service was no longer indefinite; those who left the country illegally faced no consequences as long as they signed a ‘letter of apology’ and paid a ‘diaspora tax’ on money earned abroad. This controversial new assessment was based on a ‘flawed’ Danish report.
Britain’s official guidance on Eritean was only junked when judges ruled that returning Eritreans faced serious harm. Subsequent internal documents revealed that the UK government downplayed the risk of human rights abuses in Eritrea to reduce asylum seeker numbers – despite doubts from its own experts.
McDonald said that the Home Office’s “treatment of Eritrean asylum seekers has been disgraceful – clinging on to clearly unreliable country evidence that returns to Eritrea could be made safely, even when the international consensus and overwhelming evidence was to the opposite effect.
“There can be little doubt that a good number among the 300 Eritreans forced to rely on survival grants were refused while the old guidance was in place and the Home Office should be looking again at their cases.”
Even though the Home Office’s country guidance has been amended , the bureaucratic hurdles can prove insurmountable for Eritreans on the streets. There are so many meetings to attend, forms to fill in correctly, documents to present.
“Once you become homeless it becomes almost impossible. You can’t keep your paper. The idea of keeping an appointment goes out the window,” says Simon Cox.
This labyrinthine process has been cited as one reason for the unprecedented increase in homeless refugees in Scotland in recent years. In 2014-15, the Refugee Survival Trust gave out 336 grants. Last year it was more than 1,000 for the first time.
“The amount that we spend on grants has increased by 586 per cent in just three years and we are concerned about how long we will be able to meet this soaring demand to meet the most basic needs of the most vulnerable people in our society,” says Zoë Holliday, a co-ordinator with the Refugee Survival Trust.
More than half of those receiving grants were either submitting a fresh asylum claim or further submissions to support an existing claim. At this stage of the asylum process most refugees have no access to government support.
“There is a huge need for reform of the asylum system so that fewer individuals and families fall through the many gaps in the system and find themselves destitute. There is also a need for more support to be available for those who do find themselves in this situation, because it is simply unacceptable that so many people find themselves reliant on small emergency grants from a small charity like ours, which is in turn reliant on small donations from individuals and foundations,” says Holliday.
Owen Fenn, manager of Govan Community Project, a community-based organisation that works with migrants in Glasgow, says the Home Office’s “agenda continues to punish the most vulnerable in our society”.
“People then either have to sign up to return to a country where they will probably be killed, sleep on the streets and survive on foodbanks, or start working in a black economy where they are at risk of abuse and, if caught, criminalisation,” Fenn added.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Failed asylum seekers or those who have departed from the asylum process who can return to their country of origin should do so.
“The Home Office has no obligation and does not provide support for failed asylum seekers, unless there is a genuine obstacle to their departure.”
David has never seen his only son, Esrom. The child, who will be twelve at his next birthday, lives with David’s wife in the Eritrean capital Asmara. It is a city David, not his real name fears he will never see again.
When Esrom was born, David was living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. He had deserted his post as an Eritrean border guard. “I left with two friends,” David recalls. “We knew the place, where the minefields were.” The three men snuck away quietly, avoiding the snipers that guard the border, before crossing at a river.
On the other side of the border the men were picked by a rebel group fighting the Ethiopian government. One of his companions was the son of a former government minister who was arrested in a vicious 2001 crackdown and never seen again.
After four days, the deserters were handed over to Ethiopian authorities who placed them in a refugee camp. From there David joined the familiar route for Eritrean exiles; through Sudan, on to Libya and then across the Mediterranean.
“I was not mentally fit to join the army,” David says. It’s a surprising thing to hear; he is tall, and well-built and speaks with a quiet confidence. But after 15 years in National Service, earning as little as £2 a month, he had to escape.
Most of those who escape Eritrea are deserters. Many are not as lucky as David.
Then they were caught and brought back. The whole night they were beaten. All you could hear was their screams.
In 2016, a convoy of military trucks travelled through the capital, Asmara. A busload of National Service conscripts made a run for it. They were shot down in cold blood. Twenty-nine were killed or injured.
David knows first hand the brutality of life in Eritrea. Scars line his face. “They beat me with sticks,” he tells me.
Torture was frequent in the jail he was held in after an earlier, unsuccessful, escape attempt. “One night four people managed to run from the prison. They escaped for two weeks. Then they were caught and brought back. The whole night they were beaten. All you could hear was their screams.”
Now in his 40s, David has lived in Glasgow for almost a decade. We meet across the street from the African Caribbean Centre on Osborne Street. The community venue closed in 2016 with unpaid debts totalling over £60,000.
David and his Eritrean friends look wistfully across at the padlocked doors, chewing tobacco and sharing cigarettes. “We went there every day. Now we have nowhere to go,” he says.
The rest of the group nod. “We used to spend all day there,” says another. Often they would meet other Africans in the centre who would give them a roof for the night. Now many spend their days in public libraries, seeking solace from the cold before the long night arrives and the night shelters open.
David sleeps on a friend’s floor some nights; others he spends in a homeless shelter in Glasgow that he has to leave by 8am. His clothes are washed by an Eritrean friend whose asylum application is being processed.
“We get nothing from the government. We live on the charity organisations for our daily meal,” he says.
“You don’t say “next week I will do this”, you just live day-to-day. You are always depending on someone else.”
David came to the UK because he had family here. “I thought it would be better.” Has it been, I ask? He shakes his head. “No.”
The Eritrean diaspora is now spread right across the world. Glasgow has one of the largest communities in the UK, with an estimated 500 Eritreans dispersed across the city.
“Eritreans keep a low profile in case the Eritrean government comes after them,” says Teklom Gebreindrias, a graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University who was granted asylum in the UK after escaping Eritrea in 2007.
The Home Office has said that many Eritrean asylum applicants are bogus, made by other African nationals posing as Eritrean. But in a response to a Freedom of Information submitted by The Ferret, the Home Office said that data on so-called ‘nationality disputes’ is not collated and cannot be accessed without a manual investigation of all asylum cases.
Another Eritrean, who we will call Moses, has given up appealing. He shows me an ID card. It looks very official, with the Westminster portcullis embossed beside his grainy photograph. Typed on the back in bold font is “FORBIDDEN FROM TAKING EMPLOYMENT”.
Moses is thirty, tall and thin with piercing eyes. He absconded from the Eritrean army and arrived in the UK almost a decade ago. “I came here as a young man, now look at me.” His foot taps an impatient beat on the floor. He juggles a baseball cap between his broad hands. He grew up dreaming of becoming a mechanic. Now he spends his days killing time.
“We are in a productive age but because we cannot work we are idle in this country. It affects your mental wellbeing.” His voice is rasping, and angry. “I used to be a normal person, but now I have depression. It is not easy to live for ten years without any support.”
Moses has slept rough in Queen’s Park on Glasgow’s Southside. “People just stare at you but they do nothing.”
For Moses the dream of a new life in the UK – a dream he risked sniper fire for, almost drowned in the Mediterranean Sea for, spent countless nights locked up in Home Office detention centres for – is dead.
“I don’t want to stay in this country. It has ruined my life. There is nothing worse. We were living a miserable life in Eritrea. Now we are living a miserable life here.”
Ruling allowing Serco to evict asylum seekers sets ‘dangerous precedent’
Campaigners are warning that a “dangerous precedent” has been set by a “brutal” ruling from Scotland’s highest court that evicting asylum seekers by changing their locks is lawful.
The judgement means an estimated 150 people in Glasgow can now be evicted. The Inner House of the Court of Session rejected an appeal by Govan Law Centre and upheld an earlier court verdict in favour of the multinational housing provider, Serco.
Most of those affected have had their pleas for asylum refused and have no right to public funds. They now face street homelessness even though they may working on appeals to Home Office decisions to deport them. Serco claimed it could now evict up to 20 people per week.
Lawyers, including those from the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said they had “serious” concerns that the judgement meant the rights of vulnerable people living in Scotland would be breached.
The court found that because Serco is a private organisation, it does not have to meet human rights obligations. The company lost its Home Office contract to house asylum seekers in Glasgow to the Mears Group in September.
If the court had found in Govan Law Centre’s favour, Serco would have been forced to get a court order before making each eviction, giving asylum seekers greater protection. The company has previously sought court orders in some cases.
At a press conference held by Govan Law Centre, which was representing clients in the case, those living in Serco accommodation and facing eviction spoke about their fears of ending up on the streets in the depths of winter.
Campaigners said they had deep concerns for clients and were frustrated that many of those facing eviction are still fighting appeals. People can spend years in the asylum system, falling in and out of destitution and their right to accommodation, before their right to protection is recognised.
Lorna Walker, instructing solicitor for Govan Law Centre, said: “To lose your home and become street homeless, especially when you have no right to public funds, is one of the worst things that could happen to a human being.
“It is our position that without a court of law the outcome can be catastrophic. We are deeply concerned that it is held that the human rights act does not extend far enough to protect this most vulnerable group of people from being evicted.”
Khadija Anwar, from Kenya, spoke of her shock and confusion following the decision. She and her husband, Muhammad, from Pakistan, are facing eviction from their Serco flat after having their case refused. Now in their seventies, they have been destitute for five months, relying on support from Positive Action in Housing, food banks and other charities.
“Both of us are very tired,” she said. “I am struggling with arthritis and vertigo and my husband has heart problems, dementia problems. It’s very difficult.”
She added: “Already I can’t bear this cold, even inside the house. How can they do this? Do they think we can stay out on the street in this cold? I’m so worried about my husband, my loving husband. This is not the stage where we can leave [the UK] without each other.”
Robina Qureshi, chief executive of Positive Action on Housing, said: “What the court has done is legally institute a form of housing apartheid in Glasgow where one section of our community have their housing and human rights upheld, yet another can be dragged from their homes and on to the streets without recourse to public funds, to work or any form of support.
“What does an eviction without due process look like? Where are the police, where are the sheriffs officers? Serco and other private housing companies now have carte blanche. They have the freedom to do this. What we have seen that people are enduring destitution for years and finally getting leave to remain.
“But the fight does not stop here. And we are ready for it.”
Positive Action on Housing is hoping to find additional capacity in its rooms for refugees programme, where volunteer hosts offer someone a bed. But Qureshi acknowledged it was not a perfect set-up, claiming people should be able to build their lives without the support of charity.
Currently the only other option is the Glasgow Night Shelter for Destitute Asylum Seekers, which has space for about 20 men but is often full. The Glasgow Winter Shelter will not open until December.
Govan Law Centre is currently consulting with clients. But it may appeal to the UK Supreme Court, while the Scottish Human Rights Commission, which intervened in the case, confirmed it is also considering further legal action.
Judith Robertson, chair of the commission, said: “We have serious concerns about the implications of this ruling, both for the people directly affected and for the protection of human rights more broadly.
“The court’s finding that Serco is not acting as a public authority in this context, and therefore is not bound by human rights legal obligations, has profound consequences for how people’s rights are protected when public services are delivered by private providers.
“Governments should not be able to divest themselves of their human rights obligations by outsourcing the provision of public services.”
Fiona McPhail, Shelter Scotland’s principle solicitor, agreed the decision was “deeply concerning”. She added: “It’s the state that has the statutory obligation to accommodate asylum seekers. If by privatising those services, the state can avoid its obligations under human rights law, this sets a dangerous precedent.”
Glasgow City Council has recently made cuts of over £3m to existing homeless services. Shelter Scotland is taking the council to court for failing to meet its duty to accommodate homeless people.
Lock change evictions ruled lawful
Refugee Survival Trust fears a humanitarian crisis on Glasgow’s streets, as lock change evictions of asylum seekers approved by Court of Session.
A humanitarian catastrophe created by the UK Home Office and Serco, its former housing contractor, will force hundreds of vulnerable asylum seekers onto the streets of #Glasgow, warns the Refugee Survival Trust.
This follows a ruling by the Court of Session, which found Serco’s controversial ‘lock change’ eviction policy to be lawful. This ruling will see people who are fleeing war and persecution evicted from their homes and forced onto the city’s streets into destitution.
Cath McGee, Destitute Asylum Seeker Service Manager at the Refugee Survival Trust said, “We’ve been hearing from asylum seekers living under enormous stress who have told us that they are terrified of losing the roof over their head in the harsh winter months. We now fear a humanitarian crisis on Glasgow’s streets involving hundreds of already vulnerable people who have no other means to support themselves as they cannot work or claim benefits.”
“These people have nowhere else to go. They are not permitted to access homeless services so throwing them out of their homes onto the streets will place them at enormous risk. They have fled war and persecution and are seeking asylum in Scotland. Now they will be forced to fight for their daily survival.”
“With their basic right to shelter taken from them they won’t have a postal address to collect important letters related to their asylum case. Nor will they be in a position to seek legal advice or gather new evidence to support a fresh asylum claim to help them stay in the UK.”
Scots housing law prevents Scottish families from being evicted without a court order. The Refugee Survival Trust, a charity that leads the Destitute Asylum Seeker Service in Glasgow and provides practical support including small emergency cash grants to asylum seekers facing destitution, says this should apply to everyone in Scotland, regardless of their immigration status.
“Vulnerable people seeking asylum should be afforded the same housing rights as Scottish families. We should not tolerate a system that treats people seeking international protection in this brutal way,” said Ms McGee.
In September 2019, the #Mears_Group took over the contract to provide housing to asylum seekers in Glasgow. The Group is yet to give a formal undertaking that it won’t force asylum seekers into homelessness and destitution.
“We’re calling on the Mears Group to make a public commitment that they won’t pursue lock change evictions to forcibly remove vulnerable people seeking asylum here in Scotland from their homes,” added Ms McGee.
Disappointing decision on Serco lock changes
Today the Court of Session found in favour of Serco in a test case for asylum seeker lock changes.
Our Principal Solicitor Fiona McPhail commented:
“This decision is deeply disappointing news for all those directly affected.
“We now face a situation where around 300 people will be at risk of summary eviction, with no right to homeless assistance or no right to work to earn their own income to cover rent, meaning there is a high risk they will end up on the streets of Glasgow.
“Our clients are continuing to progress their asylum claims and cannot return to their country of origin.
“The finding that Serco is not a public authority and therefore does not need to comply with the Human Rights Act or the Equality Act is deeply concerning. It’s the state that has the statutory obligation to accommodate asylum seekers - if by privatising those services, the state can avoid its obligations under human rights and equalities law, this sets a dangerous precedent.
Gordon MacRae, Assistant Director for Communications and Policy, Shelter Scotland said:
“At Shelter Scotland we think there are both moral and legal cases to be heard. It is morally repugnant to force anyone out of their home with nowhere for them to go. Public bodies must not stand by while people face winter on the streets.
“Shelter Scotland exist to protect everyone’s housing rights no matter their circumstances. We will continue to do what we can protect those whose rights are denied. “
Fiona McPhail added:
“The Court appears to have placed some emphasis on the type of case it was- and the fact that it was not a judicial review. Hopefully the solicitors in this case will reflect on these observations, as judicial review proceedings were raised by another party and have been put on hold whilst this case has been taken as the lead case.”
#Glasgow faces homeless crisis with asylum seeker evictions
With temperatures plunging, night shelters scramble to deal with fallout after court ruled to allow ‘lock-change evictions’.
Asylum seekers in Glasgow are facing the prospect of sleeping on the streets in freezing conditions when the wave of “lock-change evictions” – held off for nearly 18 months by public protests and legal challenges – finally begins in earnest over the next fortnight, with the only available night shelter already full to capacity and frontline workers desperately scrambling to secure more emergency accommodation.
Earlier this month, Scotland’s highest court upheld a ruling that Serco, which claims it has been “demonised” over its controversial policy of changing the locks on the homes of refused asylum seekers, did not contravene Scottish housing law or human rights legislation. The private housing provider now plans to evict 20 people a week.
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Annika Joy, who manages the Glasgow night shelter for destitute asylum seekers, is blunt about the prospects of avoiding a homelessness crisis across the city, where temperatures plummeted to below zero last week. “We don’t have any slack,” she says. “We have 24 beds here, booked to capacity every night. We believe there are already 150 asylum seekers at any time who are making survival decisions, perhaps being forced to sell sex or labour for accommodation, or sofa surfing. Now we estimate that another 150 people will be evicted by Serco over the winter.”
Joy is painfully aware of how basic the shelter’s provisions are. There are no showers in the building, nor sufficient secure space where guests can store possessions. Without enough power for a catering cooker, the hot breakfasts and dinners provided with donated food are made on a minimal four-ring hob. In the bunk room itself, colourful blankets and sheets are draped around beds. It looks like a children’s sleepover party, but these are adult males desperately trying to create privacy among strangers, many of whom suffer from insomnia or night terrors.
Refused asylum seekers in the UK find themselves in an almost uniquely unsupported position, with no right to homeless assistance or to work to provide for themselves.
Graham O’Neill of the Scottish Refugee Council says many of those initially refused have their claims accepted on appeal – 55% according to most recent figures. A quarter of those Serco planned to evict when it first announced its lock-change policy in July 2018 have since returned to Section Four homelessness support.
For O’Neill, there is a deep frustration that many of those still facing eviction are waiting weeks for decisions that should be made within days, or have fresh asylum claims ready but aren’t allowed to lodge them because of Home Office bureaucracy. “They are facing street homelessness, when actually in law they have an entitlement to support.”
Joy says that a longer-term solution is needed across the city: “These are not people who will need a bed for a few nights until they have their lives sorted out, and we won’t end homelessness in Glasgow without a proper plan for asylum seekers.”
The city is already facing a winter crisis, with demands for the council night shelter to open early because of freezing temperatures, while last month Shelter Scotland launched a judicial review that claims Glasgow city council has illegally denied temporary accommodation to homeless applicants.
With this in mind, campaigners are working together with local housing associations and charities who have spare rooms, and in discussion with Glasgow’s city council and the Scottish government – who are limited because they are not legally allowed to directly fund accommodation for over-stayers - to put together a critical mass of long-term accommodation.
The plan is to offer accommodation along with wraparound legal and health support, which can also serve the women who make up one in five of those facing eviction and who currently have nowhere to go.
Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, which has been supporting a number of those anticipating eviction, emphasises the long-term psychological toll of the lock-change policy, saying: “People are very frightened about the prospect of being turfed onto the street at any time.”
Joy emphasises how much living circumstances impact on people’s capacity to access support. “It’s striking how many rights our guests who have been refused by the Home Office have. When people are less anxious about where they are going to spend the night, when they have the encouragement to open up about their experiences, we often discover new information that can help their claims.”
Map of Scots women accused of witchcraft published for first time - The Scotsman
A map that tracks more than 3,000 Scots women who were accused of being witches in the 16th and 17th Century has been published for the first time.
The interactive document has been created by data experts at the University of Edinburgh.
It builds on the university’s breakthrough work on the Scottish Witchcraft Survey which brought to life the persecution of women during the period, with many burned at the stake or drowned.
En Ecosse, la perspective du Brexit renforce les indépendantistes
Le nouveau premier ministre britannique Boris Johnson fait craindre le pire aux Écossais, majoritairement hostiles au Brexit. De quoi renforcer encore l’hégémonie du Parti national écossais, le SNP, social-démocrate, pro-européen et indépendantiste, dont le succès s’est fait aux dépens des travaillistes.
La lande d’Écosse, un décor romantique, mais 100 % artificiel | National Geographic
un extrait d’article de 2017
Un décor naturel, vraiment ? Ce paysage, recouvrant aujourd’hui 40 % du territoire britannique, est pourtant 100 % artificiel. Il y a 10 000 ans, avant que l’homme ne s’installe en Écosse, la zone était composée majoritairement de #forêts. À l’instar des oliveraies de Toscane, la lande est le fruit d’un long travail de plantations et d’aménagements mené par l’homme. Pour qu’elle se tapisse ainsi de callunes - la bruyère ordinaire -, il faut pratiquer régulièrement des brûlis sélectifs. Ainsi, les arbres ne se développent pas en trop grand nombre.
Aujourd’hui les enjeux écologiques et économiques poussent à replanter des arbres sur la lande. Le but ? Développer l’industrie du bois tout en augmentant la capacité d’absorption des gaz à effet de serre du territoire. Pour atteindre ces objectifs, un plan de reboisement d’un cinquième de l’#Écosse est prévu. Problème : il menace les nombreuses espèces d’oiseaux qui vivent dans la lande. Le retour à la végétation d’origine n’est pas le seul sujet de controverse. Ces terres appartiennent, en majorité, à de riches propriétaires qui les transforment en domaine de chasse ou en terrain de golf. Dans ce contexte, comment les protéger ? Nous vous proposons de découvrir l’envers du décor, mais, surtout, les querelles entre chasseurs et militants écologistes qui n’en finissent pas de s’écharper sur la question.
En citant @reka :
Petit #crash de deux mondes qui n’auraient jamais dû se rencontrer.
Fil de discussion devenu une sorte de #métaliste...
Oui, celle-ci est citée via le billet de @reka, où l’on peut citer aussi sa carte:
Mais, justement, je voulais voir si les seenthisien·nes en ont en tête d’autres...
« Invisibiliser les migrants, pour visibiliser une région de tourisme »
C’est les mots prononcés par Sarah Bachellerie lors d’une session des Rencontres de géopolitique critique :
Elle se réfère à ce qu’elle a observé à Briançon.
Dans cette vidéo, un migrant dit (2’21) :
« C’est impressionnant de voir de près... marcher dans les montagnes... c’est quand même beau. On fait un peu comme les touristes... des #touristes_migrants ».
Son compagnon de route rebondit :
« Nous sommes des touristes et clandestins au même temps »
Des migrants accostent sur une plage espagnole sous le regard des touristes
Une patrouille aura tenté d’empêcher le bateau pneumatique de rejoindre le rivage. En vain.
Le quotidien des migrants a rencontré celui des touristes sur cette plage espagnole
Le contraste entre les deux réalités est saisissant.
2. The Canary Islands was still one of the main destinations for African migrants two years later. By this stage the boats were often leaving from Mauritania or even Senegal, instead of Morocco - a perilous journey across 1,000km of the Atlantic. Many people arrived starving and dehydrated. This photograph taken on #Tenerife's #La_Tejita beach shows tourists trying to help a young boy, and earned #Arturo_Rodriguez a World Press Photo award in 2007.
Le samedi 15 juin, un groupe de randonneurs arrive au #refuge de Risnjak, dans le but d’y passer la nuit avant d’entamer le lendemain l’ascension du sommet. Mais à l’entrée du refuge, ils tombent sur une scène inattendue : un fusil automatique trône sur une table et deux membres des forces spéciales discutent avec la gérante du refuge. Ils sont là pour la « protéger des réfugiés », explique-t-elle. Cet hiver, certains seraient entrés par effraction dans le refuge et l’auraient « dévasté ». Pourtant, on ne voit nulle trace de dégradation, pas la moindre fenêtre cassée. Les malheureux étaient simplement à la recherche de chaleur et de nourriture.
Notre plus grosse intervention a eu lieu il y a deux jours. On est sortis en mer à 5h, comme tous les matins. A 6h30 on est prévenus par nos spotters qu’un bateau est en approche à 3NM. On trace pleine balle. À 2 NM de l’objectif on reçoit un appel d’un bateau frontex portugais en contact avec le bateau nous disant que les réfugiés ne veulent pas s’arrêter et qu’ils comptent sur nous pour les faire stopper. Quand on arrive on découvre un petit bateau avec 13 réfugiés (5 enfants) accroupis dedans fonçant vers le rivage (1 NM). Le pilote porte une capuche et refuse tout contact visuel avec nous. on peut lire la panique dans les yeux des gens. On sourit, leur parle en farsi pour leur dire de s’arrêter mais ils refusent. Les portugais perdent patience et coupent la route au bateau, qui esquive. Ils lancent un bout sur le bateau, les réfugiés le rejettent à l’eau et il se prend dans leur hélice, stoppant net le bateau. A partir de là tout part en sucette. Un gamin se lève, sort un tournevis et crève le bateau, qui commence à s’affesser à bâbord. Les portugais s’approchent et avant qu’ils puissent réagir plusieurs réfugiés sautent sur leur bateau, déstabilisant leur bateau à eux qui commence à se retourner sur les autres, tombés à l’eau. On s’approche suffisamment pour que je puisse attraper le bord tribord et en donnant tout ce que j’ai, retourner à la force du poignet le bateau. Les bagages tombent en cascade sur les personnes dans l’eau, accrochés désespérément les uns aux autres. Un garde portugais réussi à en attraper plusieurs pendant qu’on dégage leur bateau pour pouvoir nous approcher. Il reste un couple, la femme est maintenue en l’air par un policier qui la tient par son foulard pendant que son mari dans l’eau est agrippé à elle. Ils sont maintenus à bout de bras contre la coque par le garde portugais, à bout de force. On s’approche suffisamment pour que le garde puisse lâcher et le couple se retrouve à l’eau entre nos deux bateaux, proches de moins d’un mètre, avec un clapot travers de 1m. Je me penche par dessus bord, les yeux plongés dans ceux terrifiés de la femme. J’attrape l’homme pendant qu’un garde portugais attrape la femme. L’homme s’accroche désespérément à notre bateau mais lutte pour ne pas être séparé de sa femme. On se met à 3 pour le décrocher et le hisser à bord. Il s’évanouit immédiatement. Il respire, on le met en PLS. Je m’occupe de lui et il fini par reprendre connaissance. Il est totalement paniqué et cherche sa femme. Il vomit plusieurs fois. On le calme en lui montrant sa femme et son fils à bord du bateau Portugais,on l’hydrate et le couvre et on le réconforte jusqu’à ce qu’on arrive au port. On les débarque tous,les gardes côtes et la police arrivent, prennent des photos du gamin au tournevis et du pilote. Notre équipage a droit à un contrôle d’identité. Le maire du village arrive en hurlant parce qu’on a ramené les réfugiés à skala et que ça nuit au tourisme. La police embarque les réfugiés. La vie du village reprend son cours. On fait un point rapide entre nous pour débriefer cette situation qui aurait pû dégénérer salement. On partage notre ressenti sur cette détresse immense chez les réfugiés et la violence des situations qu’ils traversent, qui les amène à des extrémités aussi folle que crever leur propre bateau (en discutant avec l’ancien du groupe à l’arrivée on a découvert qu’ils avaient tous pour consigne de ne faire confiance à personne).
Vous trouverez ici une vidéo de l’intervention, filmée depuis mon casque :
J’ai ajouté à cette liste à cause de cette réaction du maire :
Le maire du village arrive en hurlant parce qu’on a ramené les réfugiés à skala et que ça nuit au tourisme.
Quand les hôtel sont ré-utilisés pour accueillir ou squattés des migrants...
Autres hôtels auxquels je pense
Suite à venir... voir aussi ci-dessous dans le fil de discussion
Refugees meet Tourists on the Island of All Together
An award-winning short video about Europeans meeting with new Syrian refugees one-on-one in front of a camera is both light-hearted and serious — a humanist view of the crisis.
« Ces migrants qui gâchent nos vacances » : l’indécence à son comble
"Vendredi dernier (12 juillet), RTL-TVI a diffusé, au journal télévisé, une séquence intitulée « Une touriste belge découvre des cadavres sur une plage de Djerba » et présentée de la façon suivante : « Un début de vacances raté pour Charlotte. La Liégeoise venait d’arriver à Zarzis, en Tunisie, et elle a découvert un cadavre sur la plage ». Au cours du reportage, on comprend que ce sont des corps de migrants échoués sur la plage qui sont en cause : ils viennent gâcher les vacances d’une touriste belge, qui demande à changer d’hôtel.
Témoignage d’une nuit à la frontière franco-italienne : la solidarité face à la déshumanisation des exilé.e.s
Dès notre arrivée à #Montgenèvre, le #paradoxe de cette frontière nous saute aux yeux. Une #frontière à la fois invisible et floue ; étendue et poreuse. Invisible et floue car on ne sait jamais exactement où l’on se trouve par rapport à elle. Là, sommes-nous en France ? Et ici, en Italie ? Les glisseurs de la station slaloment avec la frontière, évoluant entre les arbres sans se soucier de savoir si celui-ci est un sapin italien et celui-là un pin français, s’ils foulent la poudreuse de #Clavière, premier village italien après la frontière, ou de Montgenèvre, dernier village français avant la frontière. Etendue et poreuse car les contrôles dits « frontières » peuvent s’étendre sur des dizaines de kilomètres et prennent différentes formes. Ces contrôles se matérialisent par le local de la police aux frontières (PAF), une présence massive des forces de l’ordre et des vrombissements de motoneiges. Ils donnent lieu à des violations quotidiennes des droits, à des humiliations, des violences verbales et physiques. Et cela, depuis près de trois ans.
Une frontière paradoxale donc, aux bords de laquelle l’insouciance des loisirs se mêle à une réalité innommable qui demeure impunie.
Le lendemain matin, quelques heures plus tard à peine, le soleil irradie de nouveau la station de ski de Montgenèvre. Les skieurs, sans conscience des événements de la nuit, slaloment de nouveau entre les arbres, balayant ainsi les dernières traces des scènes nocturnes laissées dans la neige. Tout cela a-t-il vraiment eu lieu ? Ces scènes étaient-elles réelles ? Oui. Elles sont même quotidiennes. Pourtant, elles sont insoutenables, presque impossible à raconter et ne peuvent être rationnalisées.
Et ça... que celleux qui ont fait des vacances en Italie connaissent...
Les #vendeurs_ambulants sur les plages. Quand j’allais en vacances en Italie avec ma famille (il fut un temps...), c’était surtout des Sénégalais... qu’en Italie on surnommait (surnomme ?) « #Vu_cumprà » (terme méprisant qui imite l’accent des vendeurs qui répètent comme une litanie « est-ce que tu veux acheter ? » —> « Vuoi comperare ? », en italien —> devenu « Vu cumprà ? »
J’ai pensé à cela en voyant passer cet article ce matin sur twitter...
Italy’s Politics Go to the Beach
For decades, immigrant peddlers have been part of the familiar fabric of the Italian summer vacation. It’s no longer so simple.
Flexibiliser le travail et produire des vies illégales
« Les Etats font exprès de ne pas délivrer des papiers à tout le monde pour que d’autres puissent exploiter les sans-papiers dans des conditions difficiles, sur certains chantiers ou dans les sites touristiques de ski en montagne, ou dans les travaux de ménage. »
Fin 2018, le ministère de l’Intérieur a rappelé aux préfets l’objectif de réduction des nuitées hôtelières « qui ne permettent pas un accompagnement satisfaisant du demandeur d’asile », demandant donc de « favoriser leur transformation en d’autres modalités d’hébergement »
p.174 de ce rapport :
Le Rapport annuel 2019 sur l’asile en France et en Europe
Citation tirée du livre «Stranieri residenti. Una filosofia della migrazione» de Donatella Di Cesare (2017, p.110):
La chiusura della rotta balcanica ha avuto effetti immediati, che non sarebbe stato difficile immaginare. Chi era intrappolato a Est, ha cercato una via d’uscita; a chi era ancora fuori dai confini europei non restava che la via del mare. Molti siriani e curdi sono andati raccogliendosi sulle coste turche nella speranza di trovare un passaggio per le vicine isole greche, avvistabili da costa a costa. I trafficanti sono stati assidui e zelanti nel predisporre le traversate con barche piccole, capaci di dissimularsi con facilità. Per filmare gli sbarchi l’occhio delle telecamere si è spinto talvolta fin là, dove le vacanze dei turisti venivano disturbate dall’irruzione di naviganti provenienti dall’universo incomprensibile delle guerre orientali.
Et page 116:
Il turista e il profugo, persino l’uno accanto all’altro, sulla stessa spiaggia, sono le due figure emblematiche in cui il Mediterraneo è scisso. Il contrasto non potrebbe essere più stridente. (...) Imponenti navi da crociera scaricano ogni giorno turisti animati dal bisogno compulsivo del consumo, mentre gommoni pericolanti, «carrette del mare», perdono parte della loro zavorra negli abissi. Banalità e sciagura si rincorrono sulle onde, lasciando scie di rifiuti, relitti alla deriva, per un verso plastica e lattine, per l’altro scarti umani.
Il paragone con i turisti mostra tutta l’ambivalenza che la frontiera riserva. Figura speculare a quella del migrante, il turista, lontano dall’antica idea del viaggio ormai in rovina, si muove spinto sia dall’esigenza del consumo – consumo di luoghi, di paesaggi, di musei ecc. – sia dal bisogno del confort, collezionando mete in attesa del meritato ritorno. Gode di un’extraterritorialità, in senso inverso a quello del migrante. Soggiorna in un grande resort, o in un villaggio turistico, al fine di preservarsi da ogni rischio; l’altro non gli interessa, né intende mettere a repentaglio la propria identità. Viaggia, ma è come se non viaggiasse, perché non fa un passo oltre sé.14 Per il turista, che spende per viaggiare, e viaggia per spendere, le frontiere si aprono rapidamente. Il contrario avviene per il migrante che guadagna per viaggiare, e viaggia per guadagnare. Per lui le frontiere si chiudono. (p.212)
Reçu via la mailing-list de Inicijativa dobrodosli, le 28.10.2019 :
Avec ce commentaire :
#Welcome_to_Croatia and #Croatia_Full_of_Torture – using the language of tourist slogans, are the latest #billboards set up in #Cista_Provo municipality, where artists have intervened in public space for more than a decade through billboards, highlighting various social issues.
Billboards were put up at this location, not far from the Croatian border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, a few days after the European Commission announced that Croatia had fulfilled the conditions to join the Schengen area. “People who are beaten up and insulted every day, people who truly know pain, hunger, and fear, speak much more accurate about our country than the worn-out tourist slogans,” said the activists behind the action.
In the name of joining Schengen, Croatia has normalized and institutionalized #violence, which remains unacceptable. Illegal pushbacks and incarceration of refugees and migrants, and police violence, abuse, and torture of individuals and groups, men and women, adults and children have been reported for years. With this action, we declare that we will never accept this (as) reality. We will never believe the police lies and their unconvincing press releases.
With these billboards, we declare that the truth of refugees and migrants who are exposed to police repression daily is more powerful and louder than your batons, beacons, and prison cells. People who are beaten up and insulted every day, people who truly know pain, hunger, and fear, speak much more accurate about our country than the worn-out tourist slogans. They speak of repression that knows no boundaries, of violence that spills over on all „others”, of violence that attacks women and girls, intimidates transgender and queer people, insults lesbians and gays, hates Serbs and Roma people, starves workers, crushes the poor and homeless, persecutes activists and journalists, beats up anti-fascists and libertarians. Not in our name!
Citation tirée du livre «Stranieri residenti. Una filosofia della migrazione» de Donatella Di Cesare (2017, p.152):
Schütz scorge la novità della «crisi», coglie l a differenza tra il turista, spettatore distaccato, e lo straniero che dovrà stabilirsi, vede l’esigenza di una traduzione da un modello culturale all’altro , cammino per nulla ovvio, dato che il nuovo paese più che un rifugio, è un campo d’avventura per l’immigrato.
Έστησαν « μπλόκο » για να διώξουν τους πρόσφυγες
Επεισόδια δημιούργησαν τις πρώτες πρωινές ώρες στην Παραλίμνη Γιαννιτσών στον νομό Πέλλας, κάτοικοι της περιοχής, με αφορμή την άφιξη στην περιοχή λεωφορείων που μετέφεραν πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες.
Συγκεκριμένα, περίπου 30 άτομα συγκεντρώθηκαν στο σημείο που θα έφταναν δύο τουριστικά λεωφορεία που μετέφεραν περίπου 100 με 150 πρόσφυγες και αποπειράθηκαν να « μπλοκάρουν » την εγκατάστασή τους σε ξενοδοχείο.
Στην αρχή τα λεωφορεία αποχώρησαν από το σημείο, ωστόσο στη συνέχεια προσέγγισαν το ξενοδοχείο από παράδρομο και οι πρόσφυγες κατάφεραν να εγκατασταθούν.https://im2.7job.gr/sites/default/files/imagecache/775x435/article/2019/44/304258g-prosfigesgiannitsa.jpg
Οι συγκεντρωθέντες αποχώρησαν φωνάζοντας συνθήματα κατά των προσφύγων ενώ λίγο νωρίτερα είχαν αναρτήσει πανό με το ρατσιστικό σύνθημα : « Απελάστε τους λαθραίους μετανάστες από την Ελλάδα. Κλείστε τα σύνορα. Αλληλεγγύη στους Έλληνες ».
Οι κάτοικοι μετέβησαν στο αστυνομικό τμήμα προκειμένου να υποβάλουν μήνυση κατά παντός υπευθύνου, καθώς υποστήριζαν πως δεν είχαν ενημερωθεί για την άφιξη των προσφύγων και μεταναστών.
Αντίστοιχο περιστατικό σημειώθηκε και στις Σέρρες. Λίγο πριν τις 3 τα ξημερώματα, κάτοικοι συγκεντρώθηκαν στον κάθετο άξονα της Εγνατίας Οδού.
Ένα λεωφορείο που μετέφερε πρόσφυγες σε ξενοδοχείο, στην περιοχή του Σιδηροκάστρου, αναγκάστηκε να σταματήσει πριν τα διόδια και, όταν οι ντόπιοι αποχώρησαν, συνέχισε την πορεία του για τον τελικό προορισμό του.
Uz granicu s BiH postavljeni jumbo plakati Dobrodošli u Hrvatsku – Hrvatska puna mučenja
Dobrodošli u Hrvatsku i Hrvatska puna mučenja – Welcome to Croatia i Croatia full of torture, najnoviji su jumbo plakati postavljeni u Cisti Provo, na mjestu na kojem umjetnici više od desetljeća kroz jumbo plakate interveniraju u javni prostor i propituju društvene probleme. Plakati su u ovom mjestu nedaleko od granice s BiH podignuti nekoliko dana nakon što je Europska komisija objavila da Hrvatska ispunjava uvjete za ulazak u Schengenski prostor. “Ljudi koji svakodnevno trpe udarce, uvrede i psovke, koji poznaju bol, glad i strah, govore vjerodostojnije o našoj zemlji od izlizanih turističkih slogana”, poručuju aktivistkinje koje stoje iza akcije.
Priopćenje aktivstkinja prenosimo u cijelosti:Ljudi koji svakodnevno trpe udarce, uvrede i psovke, koji poznaju bol, glad i strah, govore vjerodostojnije o našoj zemlji od izlizanih turističkih slogana
“U ime ulaska u Schengen u Hrvatskoj je normalizirano i institucionalizirano nasilje, a to je nedopustivo. Godinama se izvještava o nezakonitim protjerivanjima i zatvaranjima izbjeglica i migranata, o policijskom nasilju, zlostavljanju i mučenju kojem su izloženi pojedinci i grupe, muškarci i žene, odrasli i djeca.
Ovom akcijom želimo poručiti da nikad nećemo pristati na takvo stanje stvari. Nikada nećemo povjerovati policijskim lažima i neuvjerljivim priopćenjima.
Jumbo plakatima poručujemo da je istina izbjeglica i migranata koji su svakodnevno izloženi policijskoj represiji snažnija i glasnija od vaših pendreka, rotirki i ćelija. Ljudi koji svakodnevno trpe udarce, uvrede i psovke, koji poznaju bol, glad i strah, govore vjerodostojnije o našoj zemlji od izlizanih turističkih slogana.
Govore o represiji koja ne poznaje granice, o nasilju koje se prelijeva i na nas druge, o nasilju koje napada žene i djevojčice, zastrašuje transrodne i queer osobe, vrijeđa lezbijke i gejeve, mrzi Srbe i Rome, izgladnjuje radnice i radnike, mrvi siromašne i bezdomne, proganja aktiviste i novinare, mlati antifašiste i slobodare. Ne u naše ime!”
Za više informacija o policijskom nasilju na granicama, aktivistkinje mole da se kontaktira: Davor Božinović, telefon: 00 385 1 6122 129, telefaks: 00 385 1 6122 405, email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commentaire de Inicijativa dobrodosli, mail du 06.11.2019 :
Not far from the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the town of #Cista_Provo, billboards were put up this week with slogans Welcome to Croatia and Croatia full of torture. The activists behind this campaign say that “people who suffer physical and verbal abuse on a daily basis, who know pain, hunger and fear, speak more credibly about our country than worn out tourist slogans.” Artists have been questioning social issues through billboards in the town of Cista Provo for more than a decade, with the current campaign appearing just a few days after the European Commission gave Croatia the green light to enter Schengen.
Commentaire reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop :
The irony of travel giant #Airbus profiting from border walls (!!!)
Le commentaire fait référence à ce rapport sur les murs :
The Business of Building Walls
Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe is once again known for its border walls. This time Europe is divided not so much by ideology as by perceived fear of refugees and migrants, some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Citation tirée du livre «Stranieri residenti. Una filosofia della migrazione» de Donatella Di Cesare (2017, p.217):
««Documenti!» La richiesta appare del tutto ovvia nell’epoca attuale. Di solito è la polizia a domandare le generalità. Lo straniero che arriva viene identificato alla frontiera. «Perché è qui?» «Per quanto tempo?» «Nome e indirizzo dell’albergo in cui soggiornerà!?» Non è detto, peraltro, che non venga fermato, se non addirittura respinto. A ben guardare la richiesta, che mina già al fondo ogni ospitalità, è la conferma che chi viaggia è «fuori posto», non è lì dove era stato assegnato. Il che non costituisce un problema, se lo spostamento è temporaneo, come avviene per il turista, per il manager, per lo studente. Diventa invece una difficoltà insormontabile per il migrante.»
Requérants d’asile aux Mayens de Chamoson : mon rêve c’est la paix
Ils viennent de Syrie, du Sri Lanka, d’Erythrée ou encore de Géorgie. Une cinquantaine de familles de réfugiés et de requérants d’asile ont été placées pour des séjours de plusieurs semaines au « Temps de vivre », une ancienne auberge des #Mayens_de_Chamoson transformée par le canton du Valais en lieu de vie et de formation. C’est là que la mini radio ambulante « Caravane FM » a monté son antenne pour recueillir les témoignages et les instants de vie de ces migrants qui tentent de reconstruire leur existence et de réaliser leur rêve : celui de la paix. Reportage touchant qui donne la parole aux personnes venues chercher refuge en Suisse.
Tourists in #Gran_Canaria are left stunned as 24 migrants including three children and a pregnant woman in a rickety boat land on popular beach on the holiday isle
Il Rifugio (2012) retrace la vie suspendue de 116 de ces migrants, hébergés pendant plus de quatre mois dans un #hôtel solitaire sur le sommet des Alpes italiennes. Isolés du reste du monde, ils vivent dans l’attente de savoir s’ils seront expulsés ou enfin reconnus, alors que l’hiver est à venir.
Hotel Berlin, Sjenica
#Sjenica was set up as a temporary centre in the former #Hotel_Berlin to accommodate an increased number of asylum-seekers in Serbia in August 2013. Later on, in March 2017, the former textile factory Vesna was added to the Asylum Centre. The old Hotel Berlin, with inadequate conditions and collective dormitories in the hall, was closed in July 2018. The centre in Sjenica is now located only in the former factory Vesna, downtown Sjenica, that can take up to 250 persons in 27 rooms. According to the management of the centre, the ongoing reconstruction works are to extend its capacity by an additional 160 places. An average of 150 persons per day stayed in this centre in the course of the first eleven months of 2018. According to the latest information of November 2018, children comprised 93% of the residents of the centre, the majority of them being unaccompanied. The principle of family unity is observed at placement, so the families are always accommodated together.
Et une photo signée Alberto Campi à l’intérieur de l’Hotel Berlin :
“I hadn’t been sure what to bring with me from Iran. I really didn’t have anything of any value.
My lot in life after thirty years /
After thirty years of trying my best in that dictatorship /
After thirty years struggling within that theocracy known as Iran /
After thirty years my lot in life was nothing /
What else could I have taken with me besides a book of petry?
I had wanted to exit the gates of Teheran airport not carrying anything with me. But I was afraid of the officers. Without a doubt they would have asked why this skinny lad, going overseas, was taking nothing with him. So I brought a backpack and filled it with a bunch of old newspapers and a few sets of worthless clothes. I departed the airport looking like a tourist. I honestly didn’t have a thing that was worth even a cent. If it weren’t for my fear of the officers, I would have left like an empty-handed vagbond.
I was probably the lightest traveller in the history of all the world’s airports. It was just me, the clothes on my back, a book of poetry, a packet of smokes, and my manhood.
Now I am metres away from completing my long, arduous journey. I have my soaking wet boo of poetry in my hands. I have lost my shoes, and my clothes are full of thousands of holes.”
Citation tirée du livre de #Behrouz_Boochani, No friends but the mountains:
L’inteview de deux réfugiés syriens qui expliquent comment ils arrivent à quitter un aéroport en Grèce (je ne sais plus lequel) en se faisant passer par des touristes espagnols...
"Metal syrien en exil"
Evakuiert die griechischen Inseln - jetzt!
Récemment, l’Initiative européenne pour la stabilité a publié un plan concret à cet effet. 35 000 migrants devraient maintenant être amenés des îles vers le continent. L’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) y construit actuellement trois camps pour plusieurs milliers de migrants. Cinq autres camps temporaires pourraient accueillir 10 000 migrants supplémentaires. Selon l’OIM, ces travaux pourraient être achevés en moins de deux semaines.
10 000 autres personnes pourraient être hébergées dans des #hôtels vides sur le continent. Il s’agit également d’une solution provisoire viable compte tenu de l’effondrement du tourisme. Des fonds européens sont disponibles pour cela. En Grèce, quelque 7 000 personnes sont déjà hébergées dans des hôtels.
–-> traduction de l’allemand:
Vor Kurzem veröffentlichte die Europäische Stabilitätsinitiative einen konkreten Plan dazu. 35.000 Migranten müssten jetzt von den Inseln auf das Festland gebracht werden. Die Internationale Organisation für Migration (IOM) baut dort derzeit drei Lager für einige Tausend Migranten. Fünf weitere provisorische Lager könnten weitere 10.000 Migranten beherbergen. Laut IOM wären diese innerhalb von weniger als zwei Wochen fertigstellbar.
Weiter 10.000 Menschen könnten in leeren Hotels auf dem Festland untergebracht werden. Auch das ist angesichts des Zusammenbruchs des Tourismus eine praktikable Übergangslösung. Europäische Gelder dafür gibt es. Bereits jetzt sind etwa 7.000 Menschen in Griechenland in Hotels untergebracht.
Alors que les #Hautes-Alpes regorgent d’#infrastructures_touristiques inutilisées pendant la période de #confinement, aucune #mise_à_l’abri préventive n’a été décidée pour les 120 personnes précaires du département. Malgré tout, les associations s’organisent et ripostent.
« On pourrait limiter le risque contamination de ces publics précaires en leur offrant un hébergement préventif, regrette Carla Melki. Dans les Hautes-Alpes, on parle de 120 personnes à héberger. Dans un département où il y a d’énormes infrastructures touristiques qui ne sont plus utilisées, la possibilité de mettre à l’abri paraît plutôt facile. »
#Voyageurs_internationaux ou immigrants, le virus ne fait pas la différence
Une fermeture prophylactique des frontières ciblée sur les seuls migrants (européens ou non), n’aurait donc aucun sens, vu leur part minime dans l’ensemble des entrées. Dans notre imaginaire, fermer les frontières, c’est d’abord les fermer aux migrants. Mais le covid-19 se moque de cette distinction ; il se propage d’un pays à l’autre via les voyageurs de toute sorte, sans se demander s’ils sont migrants.
Les enfants invisibles de #Haraldvangen
Alentour, le paysage lui donne raison. Nous sommes à une heure d’Oslo, dans un décor enneigé de vacances à la montagne. Haraldvangen, ancienne #colonie_de_vacances entourée de sapins, fait face à un lac bleu étincelant. Ici, des générations de petits Norvégiens ont skié et nagé, étés et hivers durant. Mais depuis deux ans, la grande bâtisse de bois ne résonne plus des rires des enfants. Fin décembre 2017, le gouvernement norvégien a fermé le bâtiment à double tour, installé un feu rouge derrière la porte, fait enlever les poignées des fenêtres pour transformer la colo en bunker. Haraldvangen est devenu la première « #unité_familiale » du pays, un mot fleuri pour désigner un #centre_de_détention pour #mineurs migrants et leurs parents.
Asylum seekers’ lives ‘put at risk’ by decision to move them to hotels
Hundreds of asylum seekers claim their lives are being put at risk after they were moved out of their flats and into #Glasgow hotels where they are unable to isolate to protect themselves from coronavirus.
Dispositif d’#accueil des demandeurs d’asile : état des lieux 2020
On parle ici des hôtels #Formule_1 (donc appartenant au groupe Accor) utilisées pour héberger surtout des Dublinés :
5 351 places ont été créées dans le cadre d’un programme d’accueil et d’hébergement des demandeurs d’asile (#PRAHDA). Lancé par appel d’offres en septembre 2016 remporté pour tous les lots par ADOMA, il consiste en grande partie en des places situées dans d’anciens #hôtels formule 1, rachetés au groupe #Accor. Ces places, gérées par l’OFII, accueillent pour moitié des personnes isolées, qui ont demandé l’asile ou qui souhaitent le faire et qui n’ont pas été enregistrées. Ce dispositif s’est spécialisé dans beaucoup de lieux dans l’hébergement avec #assignation_à_résidence des personnes Dublinées notamment ceux situés à proximité d’un #pôle_régional_Dublin. Cependant des personnes dont la demande est examinée à l’OFPRA ou à la CNDA y sont également logées.
Elena, jeune Française d’origine grecque, a dû mal à se remettre de la mort de sa mère, survenue un an plus tôt. Elle décide de retourner dans sa maison de vacances sur l’île de #Lesbos où la présence de sa mère est partout. Heureusement, elle peut compter sur l’amitié de Nassim et Sekou, deux jeunes banlieusards trop heureux d’avoir quitté leur banlieue le temps d’un été. Mais les vacances vont être bouleversées quand le trio rencontre Elyas, jeune Syrien réfugié depuis peu sur l’île. Attirée par le jeune homme et émue par son histoire, Elena va tout tenter pour aider Elyas à continuer son périple et retrouver sa mère qui est dans un camp...
Residents from a village near #Pella in Central Macedonia gathered to protest the transfer of vulnerable asylum seekers from Moria, Lesbos, to a Greek hotel rented by IOM. In the early hrs of Tuesday, locals started a fire, blocked the roads and threatened to burn down the hotel.
Άρνισσα Πέλλας : Έκαψαν ξενοδοχείο που θα φιλοξενούσε αιτούμενους άσυλο
Ρατσιστικές αντιδράσεις στις προσπάθειες μετεγκατάστασης στην ηπειρωτική χώρα, προσφύγων που ανήκουν σε ευάλωτες ομάδες
Jonas et Silvia sont en vacances en voilier sur la Méditerranée. Au large, ils tombent sur une embarcation en difficulté, des tas de réfugiés à son bord. Après avoir alerté les garde-côtes, ils perdent le bateau de vue. Le lendemain matin, ils se réveillent...
Malte retient en mer plus de 400 migrants sur des navires de tourisme
Depuis fin avril, Malte retient systématiquement sur des navires touristiques positionnés au large de ses côtes tous les migrants secourus en mer dans ses eaux territoriales. On compte désormais plus de 400 personnes retenues à bord de quatre ferries sans avoir eu accès à des avocats, des interprètes ou des agents du HCR.
Malgré les appels répétés de l’ONU et des ONG à mettre fin à la détention de centaines de migrants retenus au large de Malte, La Valette fait la sourde oreille et continue, au contraire, de maintenir en pleine mer de nouveaux naufragés.
Les autorités ont même affrété un quatrième bateau touristique, le Jade de l’opérateur #Supreme_Cruise, pour les 75 personnes secourues mercredi 27 mai dans ses eaux territoriales, portant à 425 le nombre de migrants retenus à bord de #navires_privés.
Fermeture des ports
Depuis début avril, Malte refuse tout débarquement de migrants sur son sol, arguant que ses ports ne peuvent être considérés comme sûrs en raison de la pandémie de coronavirus. Les autorités mettent également en avant un manque de places suffisantes pour accueillir de nouveaux arrivants dans les centres pour migrants du pays, en pleine crise sanitaire.
Ainsi, dès le 30 avril, les premiers naufragés secourus par un bateau de pêche au large de Malte n’ont pas été autorisés à débarquer dans un port maltais. Les 57 naufragés ont été transférés sur un ferry touristique, l’#Europa_II, appartenant à la société #Captain_Morgan_Cruises Ltd.
Quelques jours plus tard, le 7 mai, le même scénario s’est reproduit avec le transfert de 105 migrants secourus dans les eaux maltaises à bord d’un autre bateau touristique, l’#Atlantis, appartenant à la même compagnie. Dix-huit femmes et enfants ont par ailleurs été amenés sur la terre ferme.
Le vendredi 22 mai, ce sont 121 personnes secourues par les autorités maltaises qui sont orientées vers le ferry #Bahari, toujours de la compagnie Captain Morgan Cruises Ltd. Dix-neuf personnes vulnérables ont, quant à elles, été prises en charge sur l’île.
Les derniers naufragés à prendre place à bord d’un des trois navires de l’entreprise Captain Morgan sont les 63 migrants secourus dans la même zone mardi 26 mai.
"Nous sommes dans un état déplorable"
Les informations sur les conditions de vie à bord de ces navires de croisières sont peu nombreuses, les Maltais refusant aux journalistes et aux associations de rencontrer les prisonniers. Seule la Croix-Rouge a pu monter à bord écrit le quotidien Times of Malta.
Selon Alarm Phone, la plateforme d’aide aux migrants en mer, qui cite le témoignage d’un migrant retenu, des tentatives de suicide et des grèves de la faim ont été signalées. "L’anxiété, le désespoir et la dépression ont augmenté (...). Nous sommes dans un état déplorable. Nous n’avons aucun moyen de communication pour montrer notre (condition) au monde extérieur", a déclaré un prisonnier à l’organisation.
En réponse à ces affirmations, des vidéos et des photos ont été diffusées sur les réseaux sociaux, montrant des migrants à bord de ces navires chanter et danser. Cependant, les ONG s’interrogent sur la date d’enregistrement de ces vidéos, qui aurait pu être tournées au moment de leur arrivée sur le bateau touristique.
"Les personnes à bord sont gravement traumatisées par les abus dont elles ont été victimes dans les camps de torture libyens. N’utilisez pas leur soulagement momentané pour justifier des violations cruelles des droits de l’homme", a ainsi réagi Alarm Phone.
"Violation du droit international et européen"
Dans une lettre envoyée jeudi 28 mai au Premier ministre maltais, Amnesty International rappelle que "rien ne peut justifier de détenir des personnes pendant des jours sans base légale et dans des conditions inadéquates". Selon les ONG, les naufragés n’ont pas pu avoir accès à des avocats, à des interprètes ou à des agents du Haut-commissariat des Nations unies aux réfugiés (HCR).
"La privation de liberté sans base légale est une détention illégale et arbitraire en violation du droit international et européen", averti de son côté Human Right Watch dans un communiqué.
En agissant de la sorte, les autorités maltaises entendent faire pression sur les États membres de l’Union européenne (UE) afin qu’ils prennent "leur responsabilité". Malte plaide depuis des mois pour la mise en place d’un mécanisme de répartition pérenne au sein de l’UE.
Le HCR demandait déjà le 22 mai à Malte et aux États européens de s’entendre sur un accord de répartition de ces migrants, afin de les “mettre en sécurité sur la terre ferme".
"Le traitement (des migrants) et la violation de leurs droits (ne sont pas) dignes du peuple de Malte ou de toute autre pays de l’UE", estime HRW, qui appelle les États membres à respecter "leurs engagements".
Attirer les touristes, collaborer, se taire : comment la station de Montgenèvre protège l’ordre de la frontière
Migrazione internazionale e spazio pubblico turistico: la presenza silenziosa dei venditori ambulanti di origine straniera nelle spiagge dell’isola di #Ischia
Questo contributo propone la descrizione delle dinamiche socio-spaziali che si sviluppano in un luogo turistico, in periodo di alta stagione, concentrandosi in particolare sulle spiagge di San Pietro e Maronti, sull’isola di Ischia. Nella fattispecie, lo spazio balneare sarà letto al prisma delle relazioni che intercorrono tra bagnanti e venditori ambulanti di origine straniera. La spiaggia, nonostante si presenti come uno spazio liminale e poco strutturato, viene dunque letta come spazio che solo in apparenza rifugge da quelle categorie che in letteratura sono usate piuttosto per definire e studiare lo spazio urbano. Tale dimensione sarà interpretata e concepita come prodotto sia dell’esperienza visiva sia di quella uditiva, attraverso una iniziale analisi del paesaggio sonoro che la caratterizza. Dal caso preso in esame si verificherà anche il ruolo svolto dall’ambulantato nel sostentamento di una certa parte della popolazione migrante, residente o meno sull’isola, con particolare riferimento agli effetti delle iniziative ministeriali e municipali messe in atto per combattere questa attività.
Une cinquantaine de migrants sub-sahariens ont été arrêtés dimanche 21 juin, chez eux, sur leur lieu de travail et parfois dans la rue par la police marocaine qui les a conduits dans une école de la ville de #Laâyoune, dans la région du #Sahara_occidental. Pendant sept jours, ils ont été entassés dans des salles de classe, sans accès à l’eau courante ou à des vêtements propres, sans possibilité de sortir ou de s’alimenter correctement. Tous ont subi des tests de dépistage au coronavirus avant d’être relâchés dans la soirée, dimanche 28 juin. Ceux testés positifs au Covid-19 ont été mis en quarantaine dans un #hôtel où ils reçoivent notamment un traitement à la #chloroquine.
Mohamed était loin de se douter qu’il allait passer une semaine en enfer. Cinq heures après son arrivée à l’école de Laâyoune, une équipe médicale s’est présentée pour lui faire passer un premier dépistage. « On était plus de 50. Personne ne pouvait sortir tant qu’on n’avait pas les résultats. Trois jours plus tard, on a appris que 11 personnes étaient positives. Elles ont été mises à l’écart dans un hôtel où ils leur donnent des médicaments. »
Un peu plus au nord, à #Tan-Tan, la situation est plus tendue. L’AMDH a recensé un groupe de 33 migrants dont « 20 femmes et 3 bébés » placés en quarantaine dans l’#hôtel_Hagounia depuis sept jours « sans qu’ils n’aient subi un seul dépistage au Covid jusqu’à présent ».
Ce jour-là à #Vintimille. Retour d’un lieu d’exil sans cesse confiné
À la veille de la reprise officielle de la saison touristique, plusieurs réalités se superposent. Les arrivées de touristes tant attendues par la municipalité coïncident avec celles de groupes considérés comme irréguliers. Les usagers des terrasses à nouveau animées côtoient les déambulations quotidiennes des personnes exilées pour trouver une stratégie de passage. Les camions de nettoyage sillonnent les rues ; les fourgons des marchands du célèbre marché de Vintimille reprennent place. Cette soudaine effervescence économique est traversée par le ballet des forces de l’ordre : militaires, police municipale, guardia di finanza et carabinieri quadrillent la ville. Nous nous étonnons de voir la police nationale française stationnée devant la gare. La stratégie des autorités italiennes semble moins correspondre à une logique de contrôle de l’immigration qu’à un impératif de tenir à l’écart du centre-ville les migrant-tes indésirables. C’est-à-dire celles et ceux qu’il ne faut pas voir dans ce paysage renaissant de la consommation.
Citations tirées du livre de Alessandro Leogrande : La frontiera
Para rapport à #Lampedusa...
“Come indicato su molti siti turistici, è davvero una delle spiagge più belle al mondo, un paradiso incontaminato avvolto dalla luce e dal silenzio. Un paradiso davanti al quale almeno 366 persone sono morte affogate. Il peschereccio si è rovesciato a poche centinaia di metri dalal costa, tra l’Isola dei Conigli e Cala Galera, nello stesso spicchio di mare riprodotto su un’infinità di dépliant.
Non poteva esserci contrasto più netto. E’ incommensurabile, semplicemente incommensurabile, la frattura tra la tragedia avvenuta qui davanti e la calma piatta dell’acqua limpida, un vetro sotto al sole feroce, appena inscurito dagli scogli che sul basso fondale venano la sabbia.” (Leogrande, 2017 : 144)
“Accanto a noi un gruppo di svedesi si fotografa con le imbarcazioni della Capitaneria di porto sullo sfondo. Syoum sbotta: ‘Va bene la memoria, ma qui si rischia una replica della Costa Concordia. I selfie, le foto in posa… prima o poi prenderà piede anche qui il turismo dell’orrore con le guide’”. (Leogrande, 2017 : 145)
« Ci siamo, eccoci dentro #Claviere, paese delle mie vacanze da ragazzo, dove mio padre mi ha insegnato a sciare e mia madre metteva il visone durante la settimana bianca. Vaneggiamenti d’amore adolescenziali mi tornano in mente, accanite ricerche su e giù per il paese alla ricerca di Arianna, ricordi che sembrano finiti un secondo fa. Passiamo davanti alla chiesetta il cui interrato è occupato da qualche giorno dagli anarchici, gente insopportabile ma dal cuore enorme. Passiamo davanti ai carabinieri che osservano gli occupanti e l’anziano prete che squadra, infuriato, la cantina della sua chiesa piena di gente con pezzi di ferro sulla faccia e negri di ogni genere ed età – chiedo scusa, ma è l’unico termine che possa spiegare il sentimento generale di quel momento. Sciatori ovunque, felici : mi piacciono. Devo tornare a sciare in questo bellissimo comprensorio. Gente che non immagina nemmeno, che sorride e si chiude gli scarponi, controlla il filo, cerca parcheggio, si compra un pezzo di pizza. Due mondi mescolati, ineluttabilmente destinati a convivere, ma in apparenza alieni »
(in: Maurizio Pagliassotti, Ancora dodici chilometri , 2019 : 57)
#Kamena_Vourla: Locals rally against refugee children, close schools in protest
According to local media, Mayor of Kamena Vourla, Ioannis Sykiotis, announced that as of tomorrow, schools of all levels in the municipality will remain closed in protest.
He said that that they were not informed by the central government about the arrival of 39 refugee children who are accommodated in a spa hotel.
« Una scena usuale da queste parti. (…) Gente per bene alla guida, quelli che riconosci per l’implacabile sorriso di chi è troppo ricco e troppo felice. Una decina di superbe Ferrari con targa italiana più qualche eccezione svizzera mi superano, come una lunga bandiera rossa tesa dal vento: Tutti dovrebbero venire a vedere questo su queste meravigliose montagne il territorio spettacolo dei ricchissimi e dei poverissimmi che si incrociano e nemmeno si vedono, di chi corre per piacere verso un piatto di ostriche e una coppa di champagne a 2000 metri e 2000 euro, e chi corre per scappare verso un miserabile piatto di cous cous con un bicchier d’acqua alla stessa altitudine »
Source: Maurizio Pagliassotti, Ancora dodici chilometri, 2019 : 203-204.
El ministro de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones, José Luis Escrivá, anunció este viernes que de aquí a finales de año Canarias contará con 7.000 plazas de acogida provisionales en carpas para vaciar el puerto de #Arguineguín y los establecimientos hoteleros.
El epicentro de este fenómeno migratorio ha sido el puerto de Arguineguín, que aloja en la actualidad a poco más de 1.300 personas, si bien ha llegado a registrar picos de 2.300 en un dique de apenas 3.600 metros cuadrados. Además, 17 hoteles y edificios de apartamentos alojan a 5.500 migrantes, según los datos del Ministerio.
El delegado del Gobierno en Canarias ha explicado que las personas que permanecían hasta este domingo en el muelle han sido reubicadas en distintos recursos, algunos de ellos gestionados por el Ministerio del Interior, como el #CATE (#Centro_de Atención_Temporal_para_Extranjeros) de #Barranco_Seco, y otros por la cartera de Migraciones, como los complejos hoteleros del sur de Gran Canaria.
L’accueil de réfugiés « réinstallés » dans les communes rurales de #Dordogne
« Tout cet accompagnement n’est pas assez structuré pour permettre aux réfugiés de s’intégrer », s’emporte Liliane Gonthier, maire de #Boulazac, dont la commune a aussi dû accueillir des demandeurs d’asile dans un hôtel proche de la mairie. « Si on veut être une terre d’accueil, il faut une volonté politique. Quand on voit les demandeurs d’asile entassés dans le Formule 1, sans cuisine ou même frigo, ce n’est pas un accueil digne. On sait que, dans certaines communes, les migrants sont repartis vers les grandes villes, peut-être vers la jungle de Calais. Ce n’est pas une politique aboutie et ça manque d’humanité ! » « J’aurais pu continuer à accueillir des personnes », se désole Pascal Bourdeau qui ne souhaite pas recevoir plus de 5 familles dans sa commune, pourtant convaincu que « l’intégration est plus facile dans les campagnes et que les mélanges sont une richesse ». Mais il n’y a aucune coordination entre les différents acteurs institutionnels et peu ou pas de suivi. « Quand on arrive au bout du dispositif prévu par les associations prestataires, on nous laisse tomber ! »
Le #Brexit et la frontière irlandaise — Géoconfluences
Par Fabien Jeannier. Les Irlandais du Nord, à une plus courte majorité que leurs voisins Écossais, ont voté contre le Brexit, qui doit pourtant advenir. Alors que l’intégration européenne avait joué un rôle important pour atténuer les effets de frontière avec la République d’#Irlande, dans le contexte d’une réconciliation symbolique après un conflit armé, les négociations du Brexit posent une question insoluble : une frontière peut-elle être à la fois ouverte et fermée ?