• ’Police come for us at night’: Belgrade, a crucial but hostile layover city for migrants on the Balkan route

    Serbia’s capital Belgrade serves as a layover for many migrants on the Balkan route. However, the hundreds of Syrian, Afghan or Moroccan migrants passing through every day only have two accommodation options: an overcrowded and remote camp, or the streets and parks of the city.

    Achraf takes a pinch of tobacco from the plastic wrapper. Carefully, he spreads it on a thin, translucent sheet of paper, and moistens the edges. The cigarette is rolled then lit, he takes a long puff, which forms a halo of white smoke around him. His gaze lands haphazardly on the horizon. The young man from Casablanca looks exhausted. It has been two years since he fled Morocco, three months since he left Turkey and two days since he arrived in Belgrade. A large hole on each one of his sneakers reveals his black socks.

    In the Serbian capital Belgrade, he kills time with three other Moroccan migrants, Mohsen, Osman and Amine, on the concrete stairs of the old main train station which has long been falling into disuse. Once the small group has collected some money, which they say will be “soon”, they plan to take the road to northern Serbia in order to reach countries in Central Europe, from where will go to France or Spain.

    The Balkan route, which for many migrants begins in Turkey, has seen an spike this year. According to estimates by the Belgrade-based NGO Klikaktive, almost 90,000 people have entered Serbia since the beginning of 2022, compared to 60,338 for all of 2021, according to combined data from UN refugee agency UNHCR and the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia (KIRS).

    For the migrants who have chosen to cross Serbia rather than Bosnia, another country along the Balkan route, Belgrade is a necessary layover city because of its central location. Taxis or buses coming from the south stop in the capital, while others go north toward the Hungarian and Romanian borders. The layover allows migrants to pause from their journey for a few days and plan the rest of their trip.
    ’Slapping, kicking and bludgeoning’

    The capital, however, is not a good place to rest. The only reception center in the region, located 30 kilometers away in the city of Obrenovac, is at capacity. On October 13, more than 300 people were camping in front of the center, including 16 unaccompanied minors. Numerous migrants prefer the rare green spaces of Belgrade, like the small park next to the old train station and the bus station.

    At dusk, small groups of people settle with their backpacks on the withered grass before spending the night there. No one lies down on the benches which line the small path, some of which are missing wooden pallets. A small newspaper stand at the park’s entrance offers migrants the possibility to recharge their phones for a few Serbian dinars.

    To eat and drink, Achraf and his traveling companions rely on locals, who gave them some food yesterday. “The police come for us at night, so we return here. At the station, they leave us alone.” It is impossible for the young Moroccans to find refuge inside the station: The doors of the imposing yellow building, which the municipality wishes to transform into a museum, is kept locked.

    Sleeping outside is an additional ordeal for these migrants, who are weakened by the first part of their journey. Before arriving in Belgrade, many became victims of violence on the borders of Europe: between Greece and Turkey, or between Serbia and Bulgaria. “When the police catch people there, they beat them up. A friend of mine was hit so hard on his head, he later went crazy,” says Achraf.

    Migrants and NGOs regularly denounce the violent pushbacks at the Bulgarian border with Turkey. Last May, Human Rights Watch reported that “Bulgarian authorities beat, rob, strip and use police dogs to attack Afghans and other asylum seekers and migrants, and then push them back to Turkey without any formal interview or asylum procedure”.

    At the end of 2021, the Bulgarian branch of the Helsinki Committee recorded 2,513 pushbacks from Bulgaria, involving almost 45,000 people. Many pushbacks have also occurred further south, on the border between Serbia and North Macedonia, where Serbia built a barbed wire fence in 2020.

    According to the latest data published by authorities on the subject, Serbia prevented more than 38,000 crossing attempts at its southern border in the same year. The deportations were “often very violent” and included “slaps, kicks, blows with rubber sticks, insults and threats”, says Nikola Kovačević, a human rights lawyer.

    ’People come every day’

    In order to find solace in the Serbian capital, migrants stop at the Wash Centre, located five minutes away from the bus station. Opened in 2020 by the Collective Aid association, it allows migrants to take a shower, wash their belongings and drink a cup of tea or coffee. On this cool and sunny October morning, about 15 people have gathered in front of the small building. Seated inside, Karim, a former police officer from Kabul with his hair in disarray, rubs his eyes before picking up a plastic cup of steaming tea.

    Today, he came to pick up a few clothes that Collective Aid donates to migrants when the NGO has enough in stock. “I don’t have any money at the moment, so I’m glad they gave me this today,” Karim says, pointing to his gray jogging pants.
    “It’s busy all day here at the moment,” Claudia Lombardo, who runs the Wash Centre with three other volunteers, told InfoMigrants. “Since June, between 70 and 80 people come to take a shower every day, and we run 30 washing cycles.” The center also offers visitors a small place where people can shave and clean themselves. Sanitary products for women are also provided. Moreover, migrants can take a shower every afternoon for an hour.


    At a small counter in front of the washing machines, which are stacked on top of one another, a tall young man opens a canvas backpack and pulls out some clothes. Mohamed, 30, has come to Belgrade for the second time in six weeks.

    The young Syrian tried to enter Romania from Majdan in the North of Serbia six times. Each time, the Romanian border guards violently pushed him back and stole his savings, he said. “I couldn’t stand the situation there anymore so I came back here to rest a little.” He has been sleeping at the Obrenovac camp the last two nights, where “the mattresses are infested with insects.”

    During the day, he comes to the Wash Centre, a place he knows well. “I discovered this place during my first visit to the city. When I arrived here [after leaving Turkey and crossing Greece, Albania and Kosovo], I was exhausted and sick. I wanted to buy medicine but no pharmacy would let me in,” he recalls, as his green eyes are widening.

    “I was wandering in the street when I came across the Wash Centre by chance. I found showers there and people I could talk with. It was liberating. They took care of me a little bit.”

    #hostile_environment #hostile_city #migrations #asile #réfugiés #villes #environnement_hostile #ville_hostile #Serbie #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #SDF #sans-abri #Wash_Centre #Collective_Aid #solidarité

    ping @karine4

  • #Gérald_Darmanin veut rendre « impossible » la vie des étrangers soumis à une obligation de quitter le territoire

    Les circonstances de la mort de la petite #Lola et le profil de la suspecte, de nationalité algérienne et sous le coup d’une #obligation_de_quitter_le_territoire_français (#OQTF), ont suscité de vives critiques à droite et à l’extrême droite. Si les parents de l’enfant ont regretté les tentatives de récupération politique de ce terrible drame, les discussions politiques se poursuivent. Ce jeudi, le ministre de l’intérieur a annoncé l’intention du gouvernement de rendre « impossible » la vie des étrangers faisant l’objet d’une OQTF.

    « Nous avons un travail à faire pour rendre impossible la vie des OQTF en France » dans le futur projet de #loi sur l’immigration, a déclaré Gérald Darmanin sur France Inter, en soulignant comme exemple le fait qu’« aujourd’hui quelqu’un qui fait l’objet d’une OQTF peut encore avoir un #logement_social ». « Un étranger arrivé légalement sur le sol [français] et qui perd son statut, devenant irrégulier, ne doit plus pouvoir garder son logement social », a insisté l’entourage du ministre.

    « Un droit trop complexe » pour expulser

    La #mesure_d’expulsion, dite OQTF, fait l’objet de polémiques récurrentes, notamment sur son taux d’application réel que le gouvernement veut augmenter à l’aide de la loi. Cette polémique a été ravivée depuis le meurtre sauvage de Lola. Sur ce sujet, le ministre de l’Intérieur a déploré un « droit trop complexe pour expulser un étranger en situation irrégulière, avec jusqu’à douze recours administratifs et judiciaires ».

    Selon lui, « plus de la moitié » des 120.000 OQTF prises ne sont pas exécutoires à cause de #recours_administratifs. Le projet de loi à venir prévoit de diviser par trois ce nombre possible de recours, de douze à quatre, a expliqué Gérard Darmanin, en prévoyant sur ce sujet « un grand débat parlementaire très compliqué ». Le gouvernement envisage par ailleurs de « lever les protections pour un certain nombre d’étrangers », a dit le ministre en citant la nécessité de mettre fin au système de #double_peine, qui voit un étranger condamné devoir purger sa peine sur le territoire avant son expulsion.

    Une situation « déjà » impossible

    La suppression de cette mesure permettrait selon lui « d’expulser 4.000 étrangers délinquants supplémentaires par année ». Rendre la vie « impossible » aux étrangers en situation irrégulière, « c’est déjà le cas actuellement », dénonce Mélanie Louis, responsable des questions d’expulsions à l’association La Cimade, pour qui les mesures du projet de loi vont faire rompre la France avec « l’Etat de droit ».

    Selon Mélanie Louis, il est d’ailleurs « complètement faux » qu’une personne sous le coup d’une OQTF ait droit à un logement social en France : « ces personnes bénéficient simplement du droit, inconditionnel, à une place d’#hébergement_d’urgence via le 115 [le numéro d’urgence dédié aux sans-abri], mais dans aucun cas à un HLM ».

    « 100 % d’application » pour les expulsions

    Jeudi soir, le président Emmanuel Macron a dit vouloir « réformer en profondeur les règles, nos lois, pour simplifier les procédures » d’expulsion, à l’occasion d’une nouvelle #loi_sur_l’asile_et_l’immigration qui doit être présentée « On va durcir les règles » pour « aller à ces 100 % » d’application des obligations de quitter le territoire français, des #procédures_d’expulsion dont moins de 10 % seulement sont exécutées. « au premier semestre de l’année prochaine ».

    « On va durcir les règles » pour « aller à ces 100 % » d’application des obligations de quitter le territoire français, des procédures d’expulsion dont moins de 10 % seulement sont exécutées.


    #Darmanin #Gérard_Darmanin_comme_Theresa_May #hostile_environment #environnement_hostile #asile #migrations #réfugiés #instrumentalisation #sans-papiers #rendre_la_vie_impossible #expulsions #renvois #durcissement

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • A clip from ’#We_Have_the_Right_to_be_Here'

    ’Hostile environment - to call it that is too small. Actually give it it’s big name: it’s the state’s 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙡𝙞𝙘𝙞𝙩𝙮 in systematic, racist practice.’



    Screening “We have the right to be here” and Discussion

    ‘We Have the Right To Be Here’ is an oral history and analysis of some of the black and anti-racist movements of post-war Britain, told by three activists in an interview conducted by poet and educator, #Sam_Berkson. #Suresh_Grover, #Frances_Webber and #Colin_Prescod talk of their first-hand involvement in groundbreaking events of the British anti-racist and anti-fascist struggle. From the response to the racist murder of #Kelso_Cochrane in Notting Hill 1959, to #Asian_Youth_Movements in Southall in the 1970s, the case of the ‘#Bradford_12’ in 1981, to the #Stephen_Lawrence justice campaign in the 1990s, the activists tell how successful movements came together to challenge the state and the far-right. Talking from their personal experience at the heart of the struggle, Grover, Webber and Prescod analyse the dynamics of state racism and people’s resistance to it. They reflect on how victories have been won and how much more work there is to do.’The interview was conducted at the Institute of Race Relations in summer 2019, and contains footage, photographs and archive material from many of the struggles mentioned.


    #racisme_systémique #racisme_d'Etat #UK #Angleterre #hostile_environment #environnement_hostile #complicité #histoire #résistance #luttes #interview #entretien

    ping @isskein @cede @karine4


    La #cruauté de cette #Europe qui perd toute #humanité à ses #frontières...
    Bulgaria Floods Evros River to Prevent Migrants Storming Greek Borders

    Bulgaria Floods Evros River to Prevent Migrants Storming Greek Borders
    At the request of Greece, Bulgaria opened an Evros River dam located on its territory on Monday in order to cause intentional flooding and make it more difficult for migrants amassed at the Greek-Turkish border to cross the river.

    The opening of the #Ivaylovgrad Dam accordingly resulted in rising levels of the Evros River, Star TV reported.

    As the standoff between thousands of migrants and refugees on the Turkish side of the Evros and Greek security forces continues, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis met his German counterpart Angela Merkel in Berlin and stressed that Greece and Europe cannot be blackmailed.

    He pointed out that if the Turkish President wants a review of the EU-Turkey agreement on migration “which he has, himself, effectively demolished,” then he must take the following actions: Remove the desperate people from Evros and stop spreading disinformation and propaganda.

    The Greek PM suggested that Erdogan should also examine other possible improvements, such as joint patrols to control the flow of migrants at the Turkish border. He also pointed out that the repatriation of those who illegally enter Greece should be possible from mainland Greece, as well as the islands.

    ”Greece has always recognized and continues to recognize that Turkey has played a crucial role in the management of the refugee issue — but this can’t be done using threats and blackmail,” he added.


    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Bulgarie #Evros #Grèce #fleuve_Evros #barrage #environnement_hostile #ouverture #barrage_hydroélectrique #inhumanité #inondation #noyades #dangers #dangerosité

    Le barrage en question...


    Ajouté à ce fil de discussion :

    • Bulgaria opens dam in Evros – Water level rises closing passage for illegal immigrants

      Greece is taking every measure necessary to demonstrate its determination to guard the borders of Europe.
      Τhe passage for migrants from the Evros river became even more difficult as the dams from Bulgaria opened and water levels began to rise.

      The Bulgarian authorities, at Greece’s request, proceeded forward with the action.

      Greece is taking every measure necessary to demonstrate its determination to guard the borders of Europe.

      The Ivailograc Dam releases even greater quantities of water from noon onwards, resulting in the rising levels of the Arda and Evros rivers.


    • Non, la Bulgarie n’a pas ouvert un barrage pour aider la Grèce à stopper les migrants

      De nombreux sites internet et comptes d’extrême droite affirment que « la Bulgarie a ouvert [lundi 9 mars] un barrage pour faire monter le niveau du fleuve Evros » et ainsi empêcher les migrants de franchir la frontière turco-grecque. Faux, selon le gouvernement bulgare. Des relevés au barrage d’Ivaylovgrad et des images satellites contredisent également cette affirmation.

      « Les autorités bulgares, à la demande de la Grèce, ont ouvert le barrage d’Ivaïlovgrad, de sorte que le fleuve Evros qui délimite une majeure partie de la frontière gréco-turque soit en crue, plus difficile à traverser à pied (...) Voici un bel exemple de la solidarité européenne », écrit le site d’extrême droite FL24.

      L’affirmation, relayée lundi 9 mars par la chaîne grecque Star TV, a été reprise le 11 mars par les sites Valeurs Actuelles et Fdesouche, par un porte-parole de Génération identitaire et par de nombreux sites anglophones, comme ici et ici.

      « La Bulgarie n’a pas reçu de demande de la Grèce pour un lâcher contrôlé au barrage d’Ivaylovgrad », a déclaré à l’AFP Ivan Dimov, conseiller de la ministre bulgare des Affaires étrangères Ekaterina Zaharieva.

      Ce barrage est situé sur la rivière Arda, affluent du fleuve Evros, à quelques kilomètres en amont de la frontière bulgaro-grecque, et à une trentaine de kilomètres à vol d’oiseau de la frontière gréco-turque.

      « On n’observe pas de hausse du niveau du fleuve Maritsa au niveau de Svilengrad », ville bulgare située en aval, près de la frontière gréco-turque, affirme M. Dimov.

      Le ministre bulgare de l’Environnement et de l’Eau, Emil Dimitrov, a également démenti mercredi sur la chaîne bulgare BTV (voir ici) avoir reçu une telle demande des autorités grecques. Le barrage d’Ivaylovgrad n’a pas été ouvert ces derniers jours, a-t-il affirmé.

      « C’est une fake news (...). Personne n’a autorisé une telle chose. Je signe chaque mois un programme d’utilisation de l’eau libérée par les barrages », et ce document « est valable pour le mois en cours », a déclaré le ministre.

      Les images utilisées pour illustrer la prétendue nouvelle remontent par ailleurs à plusieurs années.

      La photo ci-dessous circulait déjà sur internet en février 2015 (voir ici).

      Les images du tweet ci-dessous, reprises par la plupart des sites, dont Valeurs Actuelles, avaient déjà été diffusées par un site grec en juillet 2018 (captures d’écran ci-dessous à droite).

      Des relevés, disponibles sur le site du ministère bulgare de l’Environnement et de l’Eau, montrent eux que le niveau du barrage d’Ivaylovgrad a légèrement augmenté entre le 6 et le 10 mars, contredisant la thèse d’un lâcher d’eau massif le 9 mars.

      « Barrage d’Ivaylovgrad : 120.161 millions de m3, soit 76,68% de son volume total », est-il écrit dans le relevé du 10 mars. Celui du 6 mars indique un niveau inférieur, avec 119.302 m3 d’eau, soit 76,13% de sa capacité.

      Une comparaison d’images satellites (disponibles sur le site Sentinel Hub) des 8 et 11 mars ne montre pas non plus de crue significative du fleuve Evros.

      Un petit banc de sable, situé en aval du barrage et à 1,5 km en amont de la frontière turco-grecque, est notamment visible aux deux dates, bien que légèrement moins au 11 mars. Pour autant, un correspondant de l’AFP présent à la frontière gréco-turque à ces dates explique que la zone a connu d’importantes précipitations.

      Des images satellites plus anciennes montrent que ce banc s’est réduit de manière nettement plus significative entre le 6 et le 8 mars, et que ce banc varie régulièrement - et fortement - en fonction du niveau du fleuve.

      Le ministre M. Dimitrov a expliqué à la télévision bulgare qu’un lâcher d’eau au barrage d’Ivaylovgrad aurait fait monter le niveau du fleuve Evros durant quelques heures, mais n’aurait eu selon lui aucun effet durable susceptible de dissuader des migrants de tenter la traversée.

      La Grèce possède en outre un barrage sur la rivière Arda (voir ici), affluent de l’Evros, a-t-il rappelé, suggérant que le pays aurait pu créer une crue artificielle sans l’aide de la Bulgarie.

      Des milliers de migrants se sont rués vers la frontière terrestre turco-grecque, délimitée par le fleuve Evros, quand Ankara a annoncé le 28 février l’ouverture de ses portes à tous les demandeurs d’asile souhaitant rejoindre l’Europe. Des dizaines ont réussi à traverser le fleuve et à pénétrer sur le territoire grec.

      Contacté mercredi 11 mars, le gouvernement grec n’avait pas répondu à nos questions.


  • #Briançon, capitale des #escartons (1343-1789)

    Signée en 1343, la « #Grande_Charte_des_Libertés » entérinait l’#autonomie du territoire des Escartons, entre #Piémont et #Briançonnais. 675 ans avant que des militants n’y accueillent des migrants, ces vallées transalpines défendaient déjà une organisation basée sur l’#entraide et la #solidarité.


    #Les_Escartons #histoire #Hautes-Alpes #république_des_Escartons #élevage #commerce #passage #alphabétisme #alpage #biens_communs #communaux #communauté #forêt #propriété_collective #corvées #entretien_du_territoire #solidarité #escarton #répartition_des_impôts #Italie #France #périphérie #Dauphiné #Royaume_de_France #liberté #impôts #monnaie #justice #Traité_d'Utrecht #frontières #ligne_de_partage_des_eaux #frontières_nationales #frontières_nationales #rencontre #nostalgie

    Anne-Marie Granet-Abisset, minute 30’35 :

    « 1713 est une date capitale pour le fonctionnement de l’Escarton, parce que c’est une décision liée à un traité qui est prise très loin, à Utrecht, et qui va décider de ce qui apparaît comme une zone de périphérie, une zone des marges, et donc, dans les négociations, la France ce qui lui paraît important, c’est la #vallée_de_Barcelonnette, et laisse au Duc de Savoie, ce qu’on va appelé les #vallées_cédées, c’est-à-dire l’escarton de Valcluse, Pragelato, l’#escarton_de_Château-Dauphin, et l’#escarton_de_Oulx. C’est le début de ce qui va être une évolution qui démarre au 18ème, mais qui va s’accentuer au 19ème, où la frontière va se marquer. ça va casser ce qui faisait la force d’un territoire qui fonctionnait de façon presque autonome, en tout cas qui fonctionnait dans une organisation, ce qui ne veut pas dire qu’ils s’aimaient tous, mais en tout cas ils s’entendaient tous pour défendre leurs intérêts. C’est aussi le moment où les militaires arrivent et vont redessiner la frontière : on partage, on dessine, on installe des fortifications en un temps où la frontière va se marquer. »

    Colette Colomban :

    "Puisqu’on va pour la première fois, en Europe, penser les frontières à partir de limites géographiques. Donc on va placer la frontière sur la ligne de partage des eaux, ce qui correspond à la volonté du #Pré_Carré_de_Vauban, c’est-à-dire, délimiter le territoire, les frontières de la France, de façon la plus régulière possible afin qu’elle soit plus facile à défendre et éviter ainsi des bouts de territoires qui s’enfoncent trop en territoire ennemi et beaucoup plus difficiles à défendre. On va du coup border des frontières à des cours d’eau, à des limites de partage des eaux. Les cols qui jusqu’alors étaient vraiment des passages, là deviennent des portes, des fermetures, des frontières. Mongenèvre se ferme à ce moment-là. Il faut imaginer que ça a été vraiment vécu comme un traumatisme, ce traité d’Utrecht, avec vraiment une #coupure de #liens familiaux, de liens amicaux, de liens commerciaux.

    Anne-Marie Granet-Abisset, minute 39’35 :

    Il y a une redécouverte des Escartons, parce que la charte est revenue dans la mairie de Briançon en 1985. Et dans ce cadre-là, les Escartons ont servi de légitimité pour refonder à la fois une #mémoire et une histoire qui a commencé d’abord du point de vue patrimonial, on a mis une association sur les anciens escartons, et puis maintenant, d’or en avant, les escartons sont même les noms de la recréation du Grand briançonnais qui reprend le Queyra, le Briançonnais, mais qui adhèrent des territoires qui ne faisaient pas partie de des anciens escartons. On est en train de reconstituer, en utilisant ce qui a été une avance sur l’histoire... on re-fabrique, on re-bricole une histoire en mettant en avant ce qui était la tradition, c’est-à-dire l’habitude d’#autonomie, la façon de s’auto-administrer, la volonté de garder la maîtrise du territoire, en même temps avec véritablement l’idée de fonctionner avec les vallées qui étaient les anciennes Vallées cédées. Donc les Escartons vont devenir un élément qui caractérise et qui redonne une #fierté à ces territoires considérés, pendant longtemps et notamment au 19ème, comme des territoires enclavés, comme des territoires arcaïques. Ces territoires ont souffert de cette vision qu’ils ont d’ailleurs totalement intégrée et qui fait que, les Escartons étaient un moyen de réaffirmer leur avance sur l’histoire. Leur avance sur l’histoire c’est le fait de constituer un territoire transfrontalier, qui fonctionne comme une région des Alpes à l’intérieur d’une Europe qui serait une Europe des régions"

    Gérard Fromm, 46’20 :

    "Ici on a été une zone de passage, beaucoup d’Italiens sont venus, ont passé le col de Mongenèvre et sont venus s’installer en France à une période où la vie était difficile en Italie. Donc il y a beaucoup de familles qui sont d’origine italienne. On est ici une zone de passage depuis longtemps. On est une zone de migration, donc, naturellement, on a retrouvé un certain nombre de choses. Les Italiens de l’autre côté, beaucoup parlent français, et puis il y a une culture qui est identique : regardez les églises, les clochers ont la même forme, les peintures murales dans les églises ont les mêmes origines. On a vraiment une continuité. Ces éléments-là font qu’aujourd’hui on a d’ailleurs une proximité avec nos amis italiens. On ne se rend pas compte, on est un peu au bout du monde pour les Français, sauf que leur bout du monde il est beaucoup plus loin... les Italiens c’est la porte à côté. Des Briançonnais vont à Turin, Turin c’est à une heure et quart d’ici. Aujourd’hui on a d’ailleurs une proximité avec nos amis italiens dans le cadre des programmes européens, mais aujourd’hui aussi par exemple avec les problèmes des migrants, ce sont des problèmes qu’on partage avec les communes de l’autre côté. On travaille en permanence avec les Italiens.

    Elsa Giraud, guide conférencière et historienne, 49’13 :

    « C’est le milieu dans lequel on vit, qui peut être un milieu hostile, qui est un milieu qui nécessite des connaissances, une habitude. Et si les Escartons sont nés et ont perduré pendant des siècles, c’est parce que nous sommes dans un territoire de passage, parce que nous sommes dans un territoire où on a des populations et des ressources différentes d’un côté et de l’autre. Donc il fallait des passages, des migrations saisonnières pour vivre dans ces montagnes qui ne vous nourrissent pas l’hiver, pour aller en plaine, pour échanger les produits d’un versant et de l’autre de la montagne. Et le point commun c’est ce besoin de se déplacer, de migrer. La géographie et le climat font qu’on est obligé de s’entraider et venir au secours de celui qui est en pleine montagne. Ici, si on ne connaît pas la montagne, en plein hiver on ne passe pas, on y reste. »

    #hostile_environment #environnement_hostile #entraide



    • ’National day of shame’ : #David_Lammy criticises treatment of Windrush generation

      Labour MP says situation has come about because of the hostile environment that begun under Theresa May, as he blames a climate of far-right rhetoric. People who came to the UK in the 1950s and 60s are now concerned about whether they have a legal right to remain in the country. The government has admitted that some people from the Windrush generation had been deported in error, as Theresa May appeared to make a U-turn on the issue Some Windrush immigrants wrongly deported, UK admits.


    • Amber Rudd’s resignation letter in full and the Prime Minister’s response

      Amber Rudd has resigned as home secretary amid increasing pressure over the way the Home Office handled immigration policy.

      Her resignation came after leaked documents undermined her claims she was unaware of the deportation targets her officers were using.

      Downing Street confirmed Theresa May had accepted Ms Rudd’s resignation on Sunday night. She is the fifth cabinet minister to have left their position since the Prime Minister called the snap election in June 2017.


    • Black history is still largely ignored, 70 years after Empire Windrush reached Britain

      Now, 70 years and three to four generations later, the legacy of those who arrived on the Windrush and the ships that followed is being rightly remembered – albeit in a way which calls into question how much their presence, sacrifices and contributions are valued in Britain.

      #histoire #mémoire

    • Chased into ’self-deportation’: the most disturbing Windrush case so far

      As Amelia Gentleman reflects on reporting one of the UK’s worst immigration scandals, she reveals a new and tragic case.

      In the summer of 2013, the government launched the peculiarly named Operation Vaken, an initiative that saw vans drive around six London boroughs, carrying billboards that warned: “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest.” The billboards were decorated with pictures of handcuffs and the number of recent immigration arrests (“106 arrests last week in your area”). A line at the bottom adopted a softer tone: “We can help you to return home voluntarily without fear of arrest or detention.”

      The Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto promise to reduce migration to the tens of thousands had been going badly. It was time for ministers to develop new ways of scaring immigrants into leaving and for the government’s hostile environment policy to get teeth. More than 170,000 people, many of them living in this country legally, began receiving alarming texts, with warnings such as: “Message from the UK Border Agency: you are required to leave the UK as you no longer have the right to remain.”

      The hope was that the Home Office could get people to “self-deport”, frightening them into submission. In this, politicians appeared to have popular support: a YouGov poll at the time showed that 47% of the public approved of the “Go home” vans. The same year, Home Office vehicles began to be marked clearly with the words “Immigration Enforcement”, to alert people to the hovering presence of border guards.

      Operation Vaken ran for just one month, and its success was limited. A Home Office report later found that only 11 people left the country as a result; it also revealed that, of the 1,561 text messages sent to the government’s tip-off hotline, 1,034 were hoaxes – taking up 17 hours of staff time.

      Theresa May’s former adviser Nick Timothy later tried to argue that the vans had been opposed by the prime minister and were only approved while she was on holiday. But others who worked on the project insisted that May had seen the wording on the vans and requested that the language be toughened up. Meanwhile, the Immigration Enforcement vehicles stayed, with their yellow fluorescent stripes and black-and-white checks, a sinister presence circling areas of high migration. Gradually, the broader strategy of intimidation began to pay off. Some people were frightened into leaving.
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      In my two years of reporting on what became known as the Windrush scandal, Joycelyn John’s experience was the most disturbing case I came across. Joycelyn arrived in London in 1963 at the age of four, travelling with her mother on a Grenadian passport as a British subject. She went to primary and secondary school in Hammersmith, west London, before working in hotels in the capital – including the Ritz and a Hilton.

      Some time around 2009, she lost her Grenadian passport, which contained the crucial stamp giving her indefinite leave to remain. She had trouble getting a new passport, because her mother had married and changed her daughter’s surname from Mitchell to John. Because she never registered the change, there was a discrepancy between Joycelyn’s birth certificate and the name she had used all her adult life. She spent several years attempting to sort out her papers, but by 2014, aged 55, she had been classified as living in Britain illegally. She lost her job and was unable to find new work. For a while, she lived in a homeless hostel, but she lost her bed, because the government does not normally fund places for people classified as illegal immigrants. She spent two years staying with relatives, sleeping on sofas or the floor.

      In that time, Joycelyn managed to gather 75 pages of evidence proving that she had spent a lifetime in the UK: bank statements, dentists’ records, medical files, tax records, letters from her primary school, letters from friends and family. But, inexplicably, this was not enough. Every letter she received from the Home Office warned her that she was liable to be deported to Grenada, a country she had left more than 50 years ago. She began to feel nervous about opening the door in case immigration officers were outside.

      A Home Office leaflet encouraging people to opt for a voluntary departure, illustrated with cheerful, brightly coloured planes and published about the same time as the “Go Home” vans were launched, said: “We know that many people living in the UK illegally want to go home, but feel scared of approaching the Home Office directly. They may fear being arrested and detained. For those returning voluntarily, there are these key benefits: they avoid being arrested and having to live in detention until a travel document can be obtained; they can leave the UK in a more dignified manner than if their removal is enforced.” This appeal to the desire for a dignified departure was a shrewd tactic; the idea of being forcibly taken away terrified Joycelyn, who saw the leaflets and knew of the vans. “There’s such stigma... I didn’t want to be taken off the plane in handcuffs,” she says. She was getting deeper into debt, borrowing money from a younger brother, and felt it was no longer fair to rely on him.

      When the hostile environment policy is working well, it exhausts people into submission. It piles up humiliations, stress and fear until people give up. In November 2016, Joycelyn finally decided that a “voluntary” departure would be easier than trying to survive inside the ever-tightening embrace of Home Office hostility. Officials booked her on a flight on Christmas Day; when she asked if she could spend a last Christmas with her brother and five sisters, staff rebooked her for Boxing Day. She was so desperate that she felt this was the best option. “I felt ground down,” she says. “I lost the will to go on fighting.”

      By that point, she estimated she must have attempted a dozen times to explain to Home Office staff – over the phone, in person, in writing – that they had made a mistake. “I don’t think they looked at the letters I wrote. I think they had a quota to fill – they needed to deport people.” She found it hard to understand why the government was prepared to pay for her expensive flight, but not to waive the application fee to regularise her status. A final letter told her: “You are a person who is liable to be detained... You must report with your baggage to Gatwick South Virgin Atlantic Airways check-in desk.” The letter resorted to the favoured Home Office technique of scaring people with capital letters, reminding her that in her last few weeks: “YOU MAY NOT ENTER EMPLOYMENT, PAID OR UNPAID, OR ENGAGE IN ANY BUSINESS OR PROFESSION.” It also informed her that her baggage allowance, after a lifetime in the UK, was 20kg – “and you will be expected to pay for any excess”.

      How do you pack for a journey to a country you left as a four-year-old? “I was on autopilot,” Joycelyn recalls. “I was feeling depressed, lonely and suicidal. I wasn’t able to think straight; at times, I was hysterical. I packed the morning I left, very last-minute. I’d been expecting a reprieve. I didn’t take a lot – just jeans and a few T-shirts, a toothbrush, some Colgate, a towel – it didn’t even fill the whole suitcase.” She had £60 to start a new life, given to her by an ex-boyfriend. She had decided not to tell her sisters she was going; she confided only in her brother. “I just didn’t want any fuss.” She didn’t expect she would ever be allowed to return to Britain.

      In Grenada, she found everything unfamiliar. She had to scrub her clothes by hand and struggled to cook with the local ingredients. “It’s just a completely different lifestyle. The culture is very different.” She was given no money to set her up and found getting work very difficult. “You’re very vulnerable if you’re a foreigner. There’s no support structure and no one wants to employ you. Once they hear an English accent – forget it. They’re suspicious. They think you must be a criminal if you’ve been deported.”

      Joycelyn recounts what happened to her in a very matter-of-fact way, only expressing her opinion about the Home Office’s consistent refusal to listen when I ask her to. But her analysis is succinct: “The way I was treated was disgusting.” I still find it hard to accept that the government threatened her until she felt she had no option but to relocate to an unfamiliar country 4,300 miles away. The outcome – a 57-year-old Londoner, jettisoned to an island off the coast of Venezuela, friendless and without money, trying to make a new life for herself – is as absurd as it is tragic.


      In April 2018, the leaders of 52 countries arrived in London for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting. The Mall was decorated with flags; caterers at Buckingham Palace prepared for tea parties and state dinners. In normal times, this summit would have been regarded as a routine diplomatic event, heavy with ceremony and light on substance. But, with Brexit looming, the occasion was seen as an important opportunity to woo the countries on which Britain expected to become increasingly reliant.

      A week before the event, however, the 12 Caribbean high commissioners had gathered to ask the British government to adopt a more compassionate approach to people who had arrived in the UK as children and were never formally naturalised. “I am dismayed that people who gave their all to Britain could be discarded so matter-of-factly,” said Guy Hewitt, the Barbados high commissioner. “Seventy years after Windrush, we are again facing a new wave of hostility.”

      Hewitt revealed that a formal request to meet May had been declined. The rebuff convinced the Caribbean leaders that the British government had either failed to appreciate the scale and seriousness of what was happening or, worse, was aware, but did not view it as a priority. It smacked of racism.

      By then, I had been covering cases such as Joycelyn’s for six months. I had written about Paulette Wilson, a 61-year-old grandmother who had been detained by the Home Office twice and threatened with deportation to Jamaica, a country she had left half a century earlier; about Anthony Bryan, who after 50 years in the UK was wrongly detained for five weeks; and about Sylvester Marshall, who was denied the NHS radiotherapy he needed for prostate cancer and told to pay £54,000 for treatment, despite paying taxes here for decades. Yet no one in the government had seemed concerned.

      I contacted Downing Street on 15 April to ask if they could explain the refusal to meet the Caribbean delegation. An official called back to confirm that a meeting had not been set up; there would be other opportunities to meet the prime minister and discuss this “important issue”, she said.

      It was a huge mistake. An article about the diplomatic snub went on the Guardian’s front page and the political response was instantaneous. Suddenly, ministers who had shown no interest were falling over themselves to express profound sorrow. The brazen speed of the official turnaround was distasteful to watch. Amber Rudd, then the home secretary, spoke in parliament to express her regret. The Home Office would establish a new team to help people gather evidence of their right to be here, she announced; fees would be waived. The prime minister decided that she did, after all, need to schedule a meeting with her Caribbean colleagues.

      There were a number of factors that forced this abrupt shift. The campaigner Patrick Vernon, whose parents emigrated from Jamaica in the 50s, had made a critical connection between the scandal and the upcoming 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks. A fortnight earlier, he had launched a petition that triggered a parliamentary debate, calling for an immigration amnesty for those who had arrived as British subjects between 1948 and 1971. For months, I had been describing these people as “Caribbean-born, retirement-age, long-term British residents”, a clunky categorisation that was hard to put in a headline. But Vernon’s petition succinctly called them the “Windrush generation” – a phrase that evoked the emotional response that people feel towards the pioneers of migration who arrived on that ship. Although it was a bit of a misnomer (those affected were the children of the Windrush generation), that branding became incredibly potent.

      After months of very little coverage, the BBC and other media outlets began to report on the issue. On 16 April, the Guardian reprinted the photographs and stories of everyone we had interviewed to date. The accounts were undeniable evidence of profound and widespread human suffering. It unleashed political chaos.


      It was exciting to see the turmoil caused by the relentless publication of articles on a subject that no one had previously wanted to think about. Everyone has moments of existential doubt about whether what they do serves a purpose, but, for two weeks last April, the government was held to account and forced to act, demonstrating the enormous power of journalism to trigger change.

      At the Guardian’s offices in London, a team of reporters was allocated to interview the huge number of emerging Windrush voices. Politicians were contacted by constituents who had previously been nervous about giving their details to officials; they also belatedly looked through their constituency casebooks to see if there were Windrush people among their immigration caseload; finally, they began to speak up about the huge difficulties individuals were facing as a result of Home Office policy.

      Editors put the story on the front page, day after day. Any hope the government might have had of the issue quickly exhausting itself was dashed repeatedly by damaging new revelations. For a while, I was unable to get through my inbox, because there were too many unhappy stories about the government’s cruel, bureaucratic mishandling of cases to be able to read and process. Caroline Bannock, a senior journalist who runs the Guardian’s community team, created a database to collect people’s stories, and made sure that everyone who emailed got an answer, with information on where to go for advice and how to contact the Windrush Taskforce, set up by Rudd.

      I found the scale of the misery devastating. One morning, I came into work to find 24 messages on my answerphone from desperate people, each convinced I could help. I wanted to cry at my desk when I opened a letter from the mother of a young woman who had arrived in Britain from Jamaica in 1974, aged one. In 2015, after being classified as an illegal immigrant and sent to Yarl’s Wood detention centre, she had taken an overdose and died. “Without the time she spent in Yarl’s Wood, which we understand was extremely unpleasant, and the threat of deportation, my daughter would be alive today,” she wrote. The government had been aiming to bring down immigration at any cost, she continued. “One of the costs, as far as I am concerned, was my daughter’s life.”

      Alongside these upsetting calls and letters, there were many from readers offering financial support to the people we interviewed, and from lawyers offering pro bono assistance. A reader sent a shoebox full of chocolate bars, writing that he wanted to help reporters keep their energy levels up. At a time when the reputation of journalism can feel low, it was rewarding to help demonstrate why independent media organisations are so important.

      If the scene at the office was a smooth-running model of professionalism, at home it was chaos. I wrote until 2am and got up at 5am to catch up on reading. I tapped out so many articles over two weeks that my right arm began to ache, making it hard to sleep. My dictaphone overheated from overuse and one of its batteries exploded. I had to retreat entirely from family life, to make sure I poured out every bit of information I had. Shoes went missing, homework was left undone, meals were uncooked. There was an unexpected heatwave and I was aware of the arrival of a plague of ants, flies and fleas (and possibly nits), but there was no time to deal with it.

      I am married to Jo Johnson, who at the time was a minister in May’s government. As a news reporter, I have to be politically independent; I let him get on with his job and he doesn’t interfere in mine. Life is busy and mostly we focus on the day-to-day issues that come with having two children. Clearly, there are areas of disagreement, but we try to step around anything too contentious for the sake of family harmony.

      But the fact did not go unnoticed. One Sunday morning, Jo had to go on television to defend Rudd, returning home at lunchtime to look after the children so I could talk on the radio about how badly the government had got it wrong. I can see why it looks weird from the outside; that weekend it felt very weird. I had only one brief exchange about the issue with his brother Boris, who was then the foreign secretary, at a noisy family birthday party later in the year. He said: “You really fucked the Commonwealth summit.”


      On 25 April, Rudd appeared in front of the home affairs select committee. She told MPs she had been shocked by the Home Office’s treatment of Paulette and others. Not long into the session, Rudd was thrown off course by a question put to her by the committee’s chair, Yvette Cooper. “Targets for removals. When were they set?”

      “We don’t have targets for removals,” she replied with easy confidence. It was an answer that ended her career as home secretary.

      In an earlier session, Lucy Moreton, the head of the Immigration Service Union, had explained how the Home Office target to bring net migration below 100,000 a year had triggered challenging objectives; each region had a removal target to meet, she said. Rudd’s denial seemed to indicate either that she was incompetent and unaware of how her own department worked, or that she was being dishonest. Moreton later told me that, as Rudd was giving evidence, colleagues were sending her selfies taken in front of their office targets boards.

      Rudd was forced back to parliament the next day. This time, she admitted that the Home Office had set local targets, but insisted: “I have never agreed there should be specific removal targets and I would never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people.” But, on 29 April, the Guardian published a private memo from Rudd to May, sent in early 2017, that revealed she had set an “ambitious but deliverable” target for an increase in enforced deportations. Later that evening, she resigned.

      When I heard the news, I felt ambivalent; Rudd hadn’t handled the crisis well, but she wasn’t responsible for the mess. She seemed to be resigning on a technicality, rather than admitting she had been negligent and that her department had behaved atrociously on her watch. The Windrush people I spoke to that night told me Rudd’s departure only shifted attention from the person who was really responsible: Theresa May.


      Joycelyn John was issued with a plane ticket from Grenada to England in July 2018. “A bit of me was ecstatic, a bit of me was angry that no one had listened to me in the first place,” she told me when we met at her still-bare flat in June this year. She had been rehoused in September, but the flat was outside London, far from her family and empty; council officials didn’t think to provide any furniture. Friends gave her a bed and some chairs, but it was months before she was able to get a fridge.

      In late 2018, she received a letter of apology from the then home secretary, Sajid Javid. “People of the Windrush generation who came to Britain from the Commonwealth, as my parents did, have helped make this country what it is today,” he wrote. “The experiences faced by you and others have been completely unacceptable.” The letter made her cry, but not with relief. “I thought: ‘What good is a letter of apology now?’ They ruined my life completely. I came back to nothing. I have had to start rebuilding my life from scratch at the age of 58.”

      She still has nightmares that she is back in Grenada. “I can feel the heat, I can smell the food, I can actually taste the fish in the dream – in a good way. But mostly they are bad memories.” The experience has upended her sense of who she is. “Before this I felt British – I just did. I’m the sort of person who would watch every royal wedding on television. I feel less British now. I feel I don’t belong here, and I don’t belong there.”

      While a government compensation scheme has been announced, Joycelyn, like most of the Windrush generation, has yet to receive any money. Since the government apologised for its “appalling” treatment, 6,000 people have been given documents confirming their right to live in the UK. Joycelyn is one of them. But, although her right to be here is now official, she hasn’t yet got a passport – because she can’t afford the fee. And she remains frightened. “I’m still looking over my shoulder all the time. I’m a nervous wreck.”


  • UK banks to check 70m bank accounts in search for illegal immigrants

    Exclusive: From January banks will be enrolled in Theresa May’s plans to create ‘hostile environment’ for illegal migrants

    Exclusive: From January banks will be enrolled in Theresa May’s plans to create ‘#hostile_environment’ for illegal migrants

    #it_has_begun #régression #migrations #sans-papiers #UK #surveillance #Angleterre #collaboration #police #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #politique_migratoire #environnement_hostile #persécution #harcèlement

    #frontières_mobiles? #mobile_borders

    Si d’autres personnes veulent bien m’aider avec des tags...

    cc @reka

  • The hostile environment: what is it and who does it affect?

    The “hostile environment” for migrants is a package of measures designed to make life so difficult for individuals without permission to remain that they will not seek to enter the UK to begin with or if already present will leave voluntarily. It is inextricably linked to the net migration target; the hostile environment is intended to reduce inward migration and increase outward emigration.

    The hostile environment includes measures to limit access to work, housing, health care, bank accounts and to reduce and restrict rights of appeal against Home Office decisions. The majority of these proposals became law via the Immigration Act 2014, and have since been tightened or expanded under the Immigration Act 2016.


    #hostile_environment #environnement_hostile #migrations #UK #mythe #préjugés #asile #réfugiés #statistiques #chiffres #retours #renvois #expulsions #retours_volontaires #Angleterre #efficacité #dissuasion