#fylakio

  • Crossing a Red Line: How EU Countries Undermine the Right to Liberty by Expanding the Use of Detention of Asylum Seekers upon Entry

    This week the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, in conjunction with ECRE and a number of European project partners, launched their report “Crossing a Red Line: How EU Countries Undermine the Right to Liberty by Expanding the Use of Detention of Asylum Seekers upon Entry.” By examining four case studies; Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Italy, this research explores how asylum seekers’ rights to liberty are undermined upon entry, with a specific focus on de facto detention.

    “Crossing a Red Line” explains that while there has been a significant decrease in asylum applications in Bulgaria, Hungary and Italy, the use of detention upon entry has been increasing since 2015 and continues to do so. Practises of de facto detention- which indicates the deprivation of an individual’s liberty without the requirement of a detention order- are widespread and specific to country context. Hot spots, transit zones, pre- removal centres, border zones at which migrants have been ‘pushed- back’ and boats- including search and rescue vessels- have all become spaces in which people can be detained. In other cases “protective detention” results in unaccompanied children having their freedom of movement restricted.

    With no procedural guarantees and no opportunity to seek judicial review, the only possibility for release from de facto detention is to leave to another country.

    The Hungarian Helsinki Committee argue that the increasing trend of using of detention measures for asylum seekers upon entry “is motivated by a range of different practical, political, and legal considerations”. In some cases it has been advocated as a mechanism to deal with unprecedented pressure on processing systems, in others it has become an important means to gain political support for governments that frames migration as a security issue. In the case of Greece and Italy, the increased rate of detention of asylum seekers at the border has also been the product of EU- level policy, namely the need to meet the requirements of the EU-Turkey statement and Dublin system.

    The report further questions these motivations; “Why do Member States prefer to use de facto detention despite the existence of a dedicated legal framework? Is it for the purpose of administrative convenience? In order to avoid procedural safeguards? In order to satisfy public appeal and communication needs?

    The report states that there is no evidence that the use of detention reduces the rate of arrivals to the countries in question, rather it serves as a deterrent only so far as pressure is moved from one entry point to the next. In the example of Hungary, the traumatic experience of being detained in ‘transit zones’ contributes to the fact that beneficiaries of international protection frequently leave the country within a few days of their release, to apply for asylum again in another EU country. The use of de facto detention therefore contributes to secondary movements across Europe and is inevitably is counter- productive to refugee integration.

    As ECRE’s previous policy note, “Taking liberties: detention and asylum law reform” found; “The damage caused by detention adds to an already heavy process of adjustment and takes significant time and effort to remedy” (https://www.ecre.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Policy-Note-14.pdf).

    Le rapport en pdf:
    https://www.helsinki.hu/wp-content/uploads/crossing_a_red_line.pdf

    #frontières_extérieures #UE #EU #asile #migrations #détention #rétention #camps #Bulgarie #Grèce #Italie #Hongrie #Fylakio #Evros #base_de_données #database #statistiques #chiffres

  • #Giles_Duley, survivre pour mieux photographier les victimes de la guerre

    Invité par le Centre international de déminage humanitaire à l’occasion d’une conférence sur les mines à l’ONU, à Genève, le photographe britannique, triple amputé, a survécu par miracle à un engin explosif improvisé en Afghanistan. Ce tragique épisode a décuplé son empathie pour les sujets qu’il photographie et renforcé une vocation

    « Tu es un dur, tu vas vivre, buddy. » Le 7 février 2011, au cœur de l’Afghanistan. Dans l’hélicoptère qui l’emmène d’urgence à l’Hôpital des Nations unies à Kandahar, des soldats américains s’évertuent à maintenir Giles Duley en vie. Incorporé dans la 101e Division aéroportée de l’armée américaine pour photographier l’impact humanitaire de la guerre sur les civils, il vient de sauter sur une mine improvisée. Deux jambes et un bras arrachés. Transféré à Birmingham en Angleterre, il passe 46 jours aux soins intensifs. Il survit. Un miracle. Il subit 37 opérations en un an avant de pouvoir quitter l’hôpital.
    Façonner ma vie future

    Invité par le Centre international de déminage humanitaire (GICHD) à Genève à l’occasion de la 22e Conférence internationale de Mine Action réunissant plus de 300 responsables nationaux et onusiens au Palais des Nations jusqu’à vendredi, ce Britannique de 47 ans n’est pas du genre à s’apitoyer sur son sort. A l’ONU, mardi matin, équipé de ses deux prothèses, il lâchera devant un parterre plutôt rangé : « Si je n’avais plus été capable de faire de la photo, j’aurais préféré mourir en Afghanistan. »

    « J’ai d’emblée perdu mes ressources financières, ma maison, ma fiancée, poursuit Giles Duley. J’ai vécu dans une petite chambre où même ma chaise roulante ne rentrait pas. Tout le monde voulait façonner ma vie future. A moi qui avais été un sportif (boxe et athlétisme), on m’avait dit, un an après l’Afghanistan, que j’allais pouvoir désormais m’intéresser aux Jeux paralympiques de Londres de 2012. » Une remarque offensante pour lui qui voit le handicap comme l’incapacité de faire ce que l’on veut faire.

    « Or aujourd’hui, je fais ce que j’aime. Je suis un meilleur photographe qu’avant. » Dans son appartement de Hastings faisant face à la mer, ce Londonien s’en fait un point d’honneur : son appartement n’est pas aménagé spécialement pour lui. Il rappelle qu’il y a quelque temps, il posait vêtu de noir, avec les amputations visibles, sur un tronc blanc pour un autoportrait, prouvant qu’il acceptait son nouveau physique. « Au British Museum, explique-t-il, il y a bien des statues en partie abîmées qu’on continue de trouver belles. »

    Pour la seule année 2018, Giles Duley, exemple de résilience, a voyagé dans 14 pays. Avec la photo comme raison d’être, de vivre. Pour documenter les horreurs réelles de la guerre : « Je ne suis pas un reporter de guerre. Je suis anti-guerre. Je ne photographie jamais des soldats au combat. » Son empathie pour les sujets qu’il photographie est décuplée. En 2015, le Haut-Commissariat de l’ONU pour les réfugiés (HCR) lui confie un mandat pour raconter la crise des migrants de Syrie en lui donnant pour seule directive : « Suis ton cœur. » Une manière de bien cerner le personnage.

    A Lesbos, l’arrivée de migrants épuisés le touche profondément. Il le confesse au Temps : « Je n’ai pas que des blessures. Mes souffrances physiques et émotionnelles sont quotidiennes. Mais c’est précisément cela qui me connecte aux gens. » Giles Duley n’a plus la même palette de possibilités qu’auparavant. Mais il s’en accommode : « Les limites que je peux éprouver me forcent à davantage de créativité. » D’ailleurs, ajoute-t-il, « les meilleures photos ne sont pas celles qu’on prend, mais celles qu’on nous donne ».
    Une vérité, pas la vérité

    Quand, en 2014, il rencontre Khouloud dans un camp de réfugiés dans la vallée de la Bekaa au Liban, il est touché par cette Syrienne, atteinte par un sniper à la colonne vertébrale et alitée dans une tente de fortune depuis plusieurs mois. Un cliché la montre en compagnie de son mari, « une scène d’amour » davantage qu’une scène dramatique dans un camp de réfugiés, relève-t-il. Deux ans après sa première rencontre, il constate que Khouloud est toujours dans la même tente. La situation l’insupporte. Il lance une campagne de financement participatif pour lui venir en aide. Un jour, il recevra de Khouloud, médicalement traitée aux Pays-Bas, un message disant « Vous m’avez redonné ma vie. »

    Giles Duley reste honnête. Ses photos ne représentent pas la réalité, mais une réalité qu’il a choisie. Préférant le noir et blanc, il aime utiliser un drap blanc comme seul arrière-fond pour effacer tout contexte : « Si je photographie une personne dans un camp de réfugiés, on va se limiter à la voir comme une réfugiée. Or elle est bien autre chose. Elle n’est pas née réfugiée. »
    La puissance de l’esprit

    Aujourd’hui directeur de sa fondation Legacy of War, Giles Duley estime être « l’homme le plus chanceux du monde » à voir les milliers de mutilés qui croupissent dans des conditions de vie inacceptables. Dans une interview avec Giles Duley, Melissa Fleming, directrice de la communication au HCR, le relève : « Au cours de toute ma vie, je n’ai jamais rencontré une personne aussi forte, ayant été si proche de la mort et capable de recourir à la puissance de son esprit et de sa volonté pour surmonter » l’adversité.

    La vocation de Giles n’était toutefois pas une évidence. Des cinq frère et sœurs, il est le plus « difficile ». Les études ne le branchent pas, au contraire du sport. Il décroche une bourse d’études aux Etats-Unis pour la boxe, mais un accident de voiture met fin à ses espoirs. Il se lance dans la photo de groupes de rock (Oasis, Marilyn Manson, Lenny Kravitz, etc.) et de mode. Mais un jour, face à une jeune actrice en pleurs dans un hôtel londonien, il réalise que la photo de mode ne le rend plus heureux. Il abandonne, travaille dans un bar, cédant brièvement à la dépression et à l’alcool.
    A 30 ans, une nouvelle vocation

    Mais comme une bouée de sauvetage, il se souvient d’un cadeau laissé par son parrain à peine décédé quand il avait 18 ans : un appareil photo Olympus et Unreasonable Behaviour, l’ouvrage autobiographique de la légende de la photo Don McCullin. Les images du Vietnam et du Biafra le bouleversent. A 30 ans, il identifie sa nouvelle vocation : raconter par l’image l’histoire personnelle des victimes oubliées du cynisme humain à travers la planète. Pour leur donner la chance d’une nouvelle vie. Malgré les douleurs qui ne le lâchent jamais. Ou peut-être à cause d’elles.

    https://www.letemps.ch/monde/giles-duley-survivre-mieux-photographier-victimes-guerre
    #photographie #victimes_de_guerre #handicap #autonomie
    ping @albertocampiphoto @philippe_de_jonckheere

  • On the edge of the EU, refugee flows flood the Evros River

    A clampdown on Europe’s eastern borders and the Aegean Sea has forced migrants to seek different — and more dangerous — routes to the continent. Hunters and fishermen find their bodies, reports Anthee Carassava.

    http://www.dw.com/en/on-the-edge-of-the-eu-refugee-flows-flood-the-evros-river/a-43068842?maca=en-Twitter-sharing
    #Evros #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Grèce #frontières #Pavlos_Pavlidis #mourir_aux_frontières #morts #décès

    • Si jamais, pour mémoire, j’avais écrit cet article en 2012, paru dans @lacite et repris par @visionscarto :
      Dans la région de l’Evros, un mur inutile sur la frontière greco-turque

      L’Europe se déchire sur la « crise des migrants », et la Hongrie vient d’annoncer la fermeture de la frontière et l’édification d’une clôture de barbelés de 4 mètres de haut sur les 175 kilomètres de tracé frontalier avec la Serbie. Mais que se passe-t-il vraiment le long des frontières européennes ? Voyage en plusieurs étapes avec Alberto Campi et Cristina Del Biaggio, qui arpentent ces marges depuis 2012.

      Aujourd’hui, le mur d’Evros, sur la frontière greco-turque. Considérée comme une passoire, les autorités grecques ont cherché à la « verrouiller » en construisant un « mur » sur un peu plus de 12 kilomètres, symbole du durcissement de la politique de surveillance et de restriction des flux migratoires vers l’Europe.


      https://visionscarto.net/evros-mur-inutile

    • Erdogan crackdown, Syria war seen fueling migrant flows to Greece

      Over the previous week, a record 1,500 migrants and asylum-seekers crossed the Evros River border, most of them Kurds from Syria and Iraq, as well as self-professed critics of the Erdogan regime. Most turn themselves into Greek authorities, waiting to be formally identified and transferred to reception centers.

      Greek officials are concerned that arrivals via Evros will rise as dry weather has resulted in lower water levels in the river.

      Another key factor, military and police sources have told Kathimerini, is that Turkish authorities appear less willing than before to stem inflows. They say that the ease with which traffickers and migrants are able to reach the Turkish side of the border – despite Erdogan’s decision to reinforce Turkey’s land border with thousands of pro-government military border guards – suggests that the authorities have either been ordered to turn a blind eye to widespread trespassing or are susceptible to bribes. Additionally, analysts say that the fact that the vast majority of migrants are Kurds from war-torn Afrin in Syria and from Iraq, whose presence in Turkey would be a headache for Erdogan, amplifies skepticism over the true motives of Turkish authorities.

      “The Turks are doing in Evros what we did in Idomeni in the beginning [of the crisis],” a source said in reference to the now-defunct border camp on Greece’s frontier with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. “We simply facilitated the refugee flows so that they could move on to Europe through Skopje.”

      Meanwhile, sources say that the channels of communication between Greek and Turkish border guards, which in the past facilitated the arrest of migrants and smugglers before the attempted crossing, have been clogged amid deteriorating bilateral ties. The arrest of two Greek soldiers in early March after they accidentally crossed into Turkish territory has made Greek patrols more restrained in their operations.

      Greece plans to reinforce its border force with an additional 150 guards as of May 1.

      http://www.ekathimerini.com/227933/article/ekathimerini/news/erdogan-crackdown-syria-war-seen-fueling-migrant-flows-to-greece

      Greece plans to reinforce its border force with an additional 150 guards as of May 1

      –-> #militarisation_des_frontières

    • Concern as rising numbers cross from Turkey to Greece via Evros

      Over a thousand people have crossed the Evros river, marking the land border between Turkey and Greece, since March this year. Last week over one hundred people arrived each day and 340 people arrived on Tuesday alone. This has led to concerns from authorities and NGOs that an emergency situation is unfolding.

      Many of the people crossing the border have ended up sleeping in the parks and squares of the city of Thessaloniki, waiting for a place in a camp. There are also reports of hundreds of people waiting outside police stations, to get arrested in order to gain temporary residence. The municipality has expressed concerns that the city may experience similar circumstance as the events of 2015, where thousands of people slept on the streets across Greece. Local and national migration authorities have scheduled a meeting for Saturday to discuss the situation. The Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas expressed his concerns about the increase of arrivals and announced his ministry has developed two plans to deal with the situation, which he will share privately with party leaders.

      Arrivals have also been increasing on the Aegean islands, with arrivals on Lesvos almost four times the amount of last year. Minister Vitsas said “I’m not scared about the islands because we know what we have to do. What is really worrisome is the huge increase through Evros.” A concern also raised by the Head of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) in Greece, Ruben Cano: “This is not the route most people take to reach Greece – it’s a worrying development. The summer will see river levels drop which could also lead to a further rise in people braving the journey.”

      The situation for refugees in Greece has been increasingly tense after incidents on Sunday, where a group of asylum seekers who had been occupying the central square in Mytillene, Lesvos to protest reception conditions and long asylum processing times, were attacked by over a hundred far right extremists. The attackers threw projectiles, including bricks and flares. The Mayor of Lesvos, Spyros Galinos, wrote to Minister Vitsas and the Citizen’s Protection Minister Nikos Toskas, saying, “Lack of action and poor management has resulted in nearly 10,000 asylum seekers being trapped in miserable conditions around a town of 27,000 residents and has created intense fear in the local community; a community that has lost its sense of security and after last night’s events its cohesion too.”

      The state of affairs in Turkey following the failed coup-attempt of 2016, the humanitarian impact of the war in Syria and deteriorating diplomatic ties between Greece and Turkey are cited as reasons for the increase of crossings of mainly people of Kurdish descent from Syria and Iraq and Turkish nationals.


      https://www.ecre.org/concern-as-rising-numbers-cross-from-turkey-to-greece-via-evros

    • Grèce : de plus en plus de réfugiés arrivent par voie terrestre

      La situation devient « intenable » dans la région de l’Evros, au nord-est de la Grèce. Selon le HCR, 2900 personnes ont pénétré dans le pays en avril par la frontière terrestre, 1650 en mars. Les autorités grecques s’inquiètent de cette hausse d’autant que de nombreux camps ont été fermés dans le nord du pays et que les capacités d’accueil y sont restreintes.


      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/les-refugies-sont-de-plus-en-plus-nombreux-a-arriver-par-voie-ter

    • ’Grieken die migranten terugsturen is duistere, illegale praktijk’

      In de nacht, buiten het zicht, langs de afgelegen rivieroever van de Evros gebeurt het: migranten die voet op Griekse bodem hebben gezet, worden weer in een bootje geladen en teruggevaren naar Turkije. Pushbacks. De grensrivier tussen Turkije en Griekenland is het middelpunt van een goed georganiseerd, illegaal gesleep met migranten.

      https://nos.nl/artikel/2230095-grieken-die-migranten-terugsturen-is-duistere-illegale-praktijk.html
      #refoulement #push-back

    • Le HCR demande à la Grèce d’améliorer la situation à Evros

      Le HCR, l’Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, demande au gouvernement grec d’améliorer de toute urgence les conditions de vie et les capacités d’accueil des réfugiés dans la région d’Evros, à la suite d’une récente augmentation des arrivées via la frontière terrestre avec la Turquie. Des centaines de personnes sont actuellement maintenues dans des centres de détention de la police.

      Environ 2 900 personnes sont arrivées à Evros ce mois-ci, principalement des familles syriennes ou iraquiennes. Cela représente près de la moitié des arrivées enregistrées pour l’ensemble de l’année 2017. Selon les données recueillies par le HCR, les arrivées par voie terrestre ont dépassé le nombre d’arrivées par la mer au mois d’avril. Au moins huit personnes sont mortes depuis le début de l’année en tentant de traverser le fleuve Evros.

      Cette augmentation des nouvelles arrivées met à rude épreuve l’unique centre d’accueil et d’identification d’Evros, situé à Fylakio. Ce centre a dépassé sa capacité maximale d’accueil de 240 personnes, dont 120 enfants non accompagnés ou séparés de leur famille.

      Etant donné que le centre d’accueil et d’identification est submergé et qu’il peine à procéder à l’enregistrement et à l’identification des réfugiés, à fournir des services d’ordre médicaux, psychosociaux ou d’interprétation, les autorités ont placé des personnes, dont de nombreux enfants, dans des centres de détention de la police éparpillés dans la région et inadaptés à la situation, dans l’attente que des places se libèrent.

      Certaines personnes sont maintenues depuis plus de trois mois dans des centres de détention de la police. Les conditions de vie y sont désastreuses et les services y sont limités au strict minimum. Lors d’une visite sur place, les équipes du HCR ont découvert des familles qui dormaient à même le sol dans les couloirs à côté des cellules. Dans un autre établissement, on comptait à peine un médecin et quatre infirmières pour plus de 500 personnes. Parmi les centaines de personnes maintenues dans ces conditions, on dénombre des femmes enceintes, de très jeunes enfants et des personnes qui ont besoin de soins médicaux ou d’une aide psycho-sociale.

      Nous nous réjouissons de la décision qui a permis de libérer plus de 2 500 personnes détenues par les autorités mais nous sommes préoccupés par les conditions dans lesquelles ces libérations ont été réalisées, à savoir sans vérifier la vulnérabilité des personnes concernées et sans leur fournir suffisamment d’informations au sujet de l’asile ou de leurs autres options. Leur situation doit être examinée de toute urgence afin de leur permettre l’accès à des soins et aux procédures d’asile.

      Nous saluons les efforts menés par la police et par le centre d’accueil et d’identification de Fylakio en vue de relever les défis auxquels ils sont confrontés mais, face à des ressources de plus en plus limitées, la situation est devenue intenable.

      Le HCR suggère plusieurs mesures :

      Accroître d’urgence la capacité d’accueil du centre de réception et d’identification, en y augmentant le nombre de places disponibles et en y améliorant les conditions de vie et les services ;
      Identifier des lieux de transit ouverts, vers lesquels pourront être dirigées les personnes qui arrivent d’Evros et où l’enregistrement et l’identification pourront être réalisés ;
      Mettre en place des équipes mobiles d’enregistrement et d’identification ;
      Transférer immédiatement les familles en détention vers des abris sûrs et les guider vers les services dont elles ont besoin ;
      Améliorer les conditions de vie dans les centres de la police, y compris pour des périodes de courte durée, en y assurant l’accès à des espaces communs et à des services élémentaires, notamment et en priorité des soins de santé ;
      Augmenter les capacités d’enregistrement des autorités grecques compétentes afin de garantir l’accès aux procédures d’asile et l’enregistrement des demandes en temps opportun ;
      Transférer rapidement les enfants non accompagnés vers des lieux sûrs et procéder rapidement à une évaluation de leur situation et des liens familiaux.

      Le HCR continue de fournir son appui en matière de protection au centre d’accueil et d’identification de Fylakio, et reste en contact étroit et régulier avec le gouvernement grec afin de faire face à cette situation exceptionnelle. Le HCR continuera d’aider les autorités grecques en fournissant un soutien technique et matériel, notamment des couvertures, des vêtements, des articles d’hygiène, des lampes à énergie solaire et d’autres articles non alimentaires.


      http://www.unhcr.org/fr/news/briefing/2018/4/5ae734a4a/hcr-demande-grece-dameliorer-situation-evros.html

    • La rivière Evros, point de passage des clandestins entre la Turquie à la Grèce

      Les migrants multiplient les tentatives pour passer le fleuve qui marque la frontière, en dépit de la pression exercée par les polices turque et grecque.

      Rivière tumultueuse qui marque la frontière entre la Turquie et la Grèce, à 75 kilomètres de la ville d’Edirne, en Thrace orientale, l’Evros est l’une des portes d’entrée des migrants en Europe. Si les candidats au départ prennent moins souvent les bateaux pour rejoindre l’Union européenne via les îles grecques, ils optent toujours pour la traversée de la rivière Evros, réputée – à tort, car il existe des cas de noyades – moins dangereuse que celle de la mer Egée.

      Ces passages de migrants redoublent après la décrue printanière du fleuve, comme en témoignent les sacs plastique, les vêtements abandonnés et les canots pneumatiques dégonflés qui jonchent ses berges. Ces tout derniers mois, le rythme s’est encore accéléré. Les autorités grecques faisaient état d’une moyenne de 44 arrivées par jour dans la zone en 2017. Elles sont passées à 62 en janvier et février 2018, puis à 200 les mois suivants. « En avril, nous avons enregistré 2 700 arrivées pour la région d’Evros », a déploré Dimitris Vitsas, le ministre de la politique migratoire, lors d’un débat parlementaire sur les réfugiés, mardi 24 avril.

      « Chaque jour, je vois des réfugiés. Je les croise quotidiennement dans mes champs ou le long des sentiers qui mènent au village », confirme Erdogan Adali, le chef de l’administration du village d’#Akcadam, situé à 3 kilomètres du fleuve. « Ça me fend le cœur. Ils sont dans un état pitoyable, hagards, pieds nus, affamés. Je leur donnerais volontiers le gîte et le couvert, mais c’est un délit, je ne peux pas. Dès que je les vois, je suis obligé d’alerter les gendarmes qui viennent les chercher pour les ramener au centre de rétention d’Edirne », raconte l’agriculteur au visage buriné, dont les rizières et les champs de blé jouxtent le village.

      Le reste... #paywall
      https://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2018/06/05/la-riviere-evros-point-de-passage-des-clandestins-entre-la-turquie-a-la-grec

    • Greece: Asylum-Seeking Women Detained with Men. Urgently End Dangerous Detention Conditions

      Greek authorities are routinely confining asylum-seeking women with unrelated men in the northern Evros region, at the land-border with Turkey, putting them at grave risk of sexual violence and harassment. Authorities should immediately stop holding asylum-seeking women and girls in closed facilities with unrelated men.

      Human Rights Watch research in Northern Greece in late May 2018 found women and girls housed with unrelated men in sites for reception and/or detention of asylum seekers. Twelve women and two girls interviewed said they had been locked in cells or enclosures for weeks, and in one case for nearly five months, with men and boys they did not know. Four said they were the sole females confined with dozens of men, in some cases with at least one male partner or relative.

      “Women and girls should not be confined with men who are complete strangers, even for a day,” said Hillary Margolis, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These women and girls came to Greece seeking security and protection, and instead they are living in fear.”

      Five women said they had severe psychological distress as a result, including two who had suicidal thoughts. Other women and girls said they experienced sleeplessness, anxiety, and other emotional and psychological distress, in part due to fear of confinement with unrelated men.

      The Greek government has not provided authorities in northern Greece with sufficient resources to respond to a surge in arrivals over the land border with Turkey in April. Officials who met with Human Rights Watch acknowledged that the increase led to a slowdown in reception and identification procedures, including registration of asylum claims, as well as overcrowding of and lengthier stays in reception and immigration detention facilities.

      Pending completion of reception and identification procedures, newly-arrived irregular migrants and those seeking international protection are held in border police stations in the Evros region, in the Fylakio pre-removal detention center, run by the Hellenic Police, and/or in the Fylakio reception and identification center (RIC), run by the Ministry for Migration Policy. The Ministry and the Hellenic police granted Human Rights Watch access to these sites, and authorities at the pre-removal detention center and RIC helped identify female migrants in the facilities so that Human Rights Watch could approach them for interviews.

      Eight women and one of the girls said they had been held in cells with unrelated men in Fylakio pre-removal detention center, including six women who were held with unrelated men at the time of the interviews. Five women and the two girls were housed with unrelated men in pre-fabricated containers and locked, fenced-off “sections” in the Fylakio RIC at the time of the interviews. Some said they were held with unrelated men in multiple facilities.

      Two of the women said they had been at the pre-removal center in cells with their male partners and many unknown men for at least two weeks. “Maha,” a 38-year-old woman from Iraq, was visibly shaking as she described being the sole woman in a cell with about 60 men for over two weeks. Maha said she avoided drinking water due to fear of using the shared toilet inside the cell. She said that she was living almost exclusively inside an enclosure she and her partner created by hanging blankets around their bunkbed.

      “I haven’t moved my legs for 23 days,” she said in tears, demonstrating how she cowered with her knees hugged to her chest all day. “If I had a way to kill myself, I would have.”

      According to a police registry given to Human Rights Watch researchers, at the time of the interview she and her partner were held in a cell with 32 unrelated men. Maha was released days after her interview, but her partner remained in detention.

      Some women and girls said they were housed with unrelated men at the RIC for weeks or months. “Suraya,” a woman in her twenties (nationality withheld) in the RIC with her four-year-old nephew while awaiting confirmation of their family links, spent nearly five months in a section she said housed only men and unaccompanied boys. She said a fellow asylum seeker sexually assaulted her. “He started touching me while I was sleeping,” Suraya said, adding that he left when she screamed, and she reported it to authorities. “I have asked [them] to take me to a safer place here, or to another camp, but nothing has happened,” she said.

      Authorities at the pre-removal detention center said there is a separate designated cell for women traveling alone, but they also put families in that cell “if necessary,” such as during periods of overcrowding. The facility was under capacity when Human Rights Watch visited, but two single women said they were in a cell with unrelated families. Authorities in both the pre-removal detention center and the RIC acknowledged gaps in response at the facilities, which they attribute largely to a dearth of resources.

      National and European law as well as international standards require that men and women be held separately in detention, including reception and immigration detention facilities, unless they are members of the same family and consent to being held together. They also call for separating unaccompanied children from adults, and separate accommodation for families. A 2016 order issued by the Headquarters of the Hellenic Police instructs police to separate women and children from unrelated men in closed facilities.

      Greek authorities should ensure the safety and security of all asylum seekers, including by providing single women, single men, families, and unaccompanied children with separate accommodation, toilets and bathing facilities in all immigration detention sites and other closed facilities. Authorities should urgently fit all rooms, bathrooms, and containers in RICs with locking doors to facilitate security and privacy.

      When necessary, authorities should urgently transfer single women, unaccompanied and separated children, and families including couples in immigration detention to accommodation or facilities that meet these standards. Authorities should also ensure that asylum seekers have a safe and confidential means to report sexual harassment or assault, and that such reports are promptly investigated, those responsible are appropriately punished, and immediate measures are taken to ensure victims’ safety and well-being.

      “Women and girls in these sites are overcome by fear from being locked up with men who are complete strangers,” Margolis said. “Greek authorities need to put an urgent stop to this, and grant them the security, privacy and dignity they deserve.”

      Accounts from asylum seekers in Fylakio pre-removal detention center and the reception and identification center (RIC) in Fylakio, Greece:

      Fatima (all names have been changed), 24, from Algeria, who had been at the pre-removal center with her husband for 20 days: “For 20 days I have been the only woman [in our cell]. The others are all single men. I had difficulty at the beginning. I sleep at night covered in a blanket. One night a man [in the cell] came and lifted the blanket and was looking at me. When I go to take a bath, the men come and try to look over the wall…. I am very stressed…. I feel like I have reached the bottom. I feel like I am broken.”

      Suha, 20, from Morocco, who had been in the Fylakio pre-removal detention center with her husband for two weeks. At the time of the interview, they were in a cell alone, but they had previously been in the same center for two weeks in a cell with mostly men: “There were two other girls and 60 to 70 men [in the cell] … I was fighting for myself every day … The worst time was when I would go to the toilet. All of them would follow me with their eyes, say things. Some men, when they see a woman they act like animals. They would call out to me, ‘Stand up, stop here, let us look at you, you’re beautiful.’ The toilets are mixed [for men and women.] The bath is the same. There is no lock on the door. If you sit, they can’t see you [over the wall]. But if you stand they can see you from the chest up. Imagine being a woman in those conditions.”

      Samira, 18, from Syria, who had been in the RIC with her 15-year-old sister for three weeks: “Since I’ve been here I’m unable to eat. I’m very stressed. I can’t leave my sister, I have to take care of her…. I’m constantly afraid that someone will enter our container. I don’t sleep at night – I stay awake during the day and sleep in the morning… I only shower once every two weeks because I feel like people are watching me [in the bathroom] … I wake up every morning at 3 a.m. feeling scared and nervous.”

      Nada, 16, from Syria, who had been in the RIC with her older brother and sister for nearly two months: “We’re the only family in our section, it’s all single men. The only women are me and my sister. Everyone is afraid here. There are more than 20 men [or unaccompanied boys] living in our section…. At first, we were 20 people in the [same] container, but they have all left. It was mixed men and women. We didn’t feel safe and couldn’t sleep. We stayed up all night…. We shared the toilet with strangers. I used to take my sister with me and ask her to wait at the door.”

      Nadir, 21, from Syria, who had been in the RIC for 20 days with his 6-year-old niece, Abra, whose mother became separated from them during the crossing from Turkey to Greece: “We are in the same container with two families…. The doors don’t lock…. The families staying with us are Iraqi Kurds. We can’t communicate with them – how can we feel safe? It is not a question of nationality, it is just that they are strangers. I can’t leave [Abra] alone. If she wants to go outside, I go outside; if she wants to go to the toilet, I go with her. There are single men [or unaccompanied boys]. If you come at night around 10 p.m. you will hear the noises they make [yelling] and understand why we don’t feel safe.”

      Abbas, 35, from Iran, who had arrived at the Fylakio pre-removal detention center with his wife, 36 the previous day: “When we reached here, [the police] said, ‘You have to be separated [from your wife].’ I said, ‘No, we can’t be separated, we are a couple.’ Then the police said, ‘If you don’t separate, you’ll both have to go to the room with all the men.’ My wife was shocked and started crying. She was really scared. I said, ‘Okay, let’s separate.’ I kissed her, said goodbye, and they put her in another room and me in the room with all the men.” Eventually, he said, the police brought his wife to a cell opposite his and then put them together in that cell, along with unrelated families.

      Additional Information on Combined Detention of Women and Men

      In interviews with twelve women and two girls from May 19 to 24, eight women and one girl said they had been held in cells with unrelated men in Fylakio pre-removal detention center, including six women who were held with unrelated men at the time of the interviews.

      Women at the pre-removal center said that combined toilet and bathing stalls in cells they shared with men did not have floor-to-ceiling walls, and they were harassed by male cellmates while using them. One 24-year-old woman, in a cell with her husband and 20 single men, said men attempted to watch her over the wall while she used the toilet.

      Six women and two girls told Human Rights Watch they were also housed with unrelated men at the RIC, sometimes for weeks or months, in pre-fabricated containers and “sections,” which are fenced-in, locked enclosures containing a courtyard and multiple containers housing migrants and asylum seekers. Five women and two girls were being held with unrelated men and/or boys at the time of their interviews at the Fylakio RIC.

      Assignment to sections is based primarily on nationality. Awaiting confirmation of age, placement in designated accommodation, or establishment of family links to other asylum seekers can result in lengthy stays for unaccompanied or separated children and their non-immediate family members.

      Two unrelated girls, ages 15 and 16, each said they had been in these sections in the RIC with unrelated adult men and/or boys for over three weeks; one said she and her 30-year-old sister had been the only females in a section with 20 men and/or boys for about 45 days. One 19-year-old pregnant woman who was there with her husband and in-laws said her container housed multiple unrelated families in one shared room.

      Some women and girls, as well as a man with his 6-year-old niece, said they and their family members live in rooms inside containers shared with unrelated families including men or boys. In all cases, they said they share toilets and bathing facilities with men and/or boys, and that no containers or bedrooms have locking doors.

      Detention of Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Greece

      Under Greek law, authorities may restrict the movement of new arrivals for up to 25 days at a reception and identification center (RIC) and up to a total of six months in immigration detention, including at pre-removal centers. Unaccompanied and separated children may be held longer pending resolution of their cases and reunification with family members, particularly when age or family links are in question, or pending available space in designated sites with protected areas or shelters.

      Upon arrival in the Evros region in northern Greece, where the land-border with Turkey is located, irregular migrants and those seeking international protection are held in border police stations, a pre-removal detention center, and/or a RIC, pending completion of reception and identification procedures. Following these procedures, new arrivals may be detained for processing or assessment of their asylum claim, or for deportation.

      While the increase in arrivals in April temporarily strained asylum identification, registration, and accommodation services in Northern Greece and the Evros region, authorities are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of asylum seekers throughout registration and identification processes. Increased arrivals do not justify the Greek government’s failure to protect women and girls, or to allow dangerous conditions to persist even after arrivals have decreased.

      During Human Rights Watch visits to sites in the Thessaloniki area and in Evros, authorities said that arrivals had returned to a normal range over the previous two weeks. On May 19, authorities at Fylakio pre-removal detention center said the site has a capacity of 374 and was housing only 172 people. On May 21, authorities at the RIC, which has a capacity of 240, said it was housing 196. Nevertheless, Human Rights Watch found women and girls being held with unrelated men and boys.

      On June 1, following an April ad hoc visit to Greece, the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment reported the detention of men, women, and children together in a single cell at the Fylakio pre-removal center, consistent with the Human Rights Watch findings in May.

      Authorities said they give priority to members of “vulnerable” groups for registration, processing, and transfer to appropriate accommodation. Under Greek law this includes unaccompanied or separated children, people with disabilities, pregnant women and new mothers, single parents with minor children, and victims of sexual violence, torture or other severe psychological or physical trauma. The authorities acknowledged that unaccompanied or separated children – and sometimes their family members – may be accommodated for lengthy periods in the RIC due to limited spaces in designated “safe” facilities and lengthy processes for verifying family links.

      The Greek government’s failure to accommodate men, women, and children separately in immigration detention is a longstanding problem, including in Evros. The European Court of Human Rights and multiple other international human rights bodies have criticized inhumane and degrading conditions in Greek immigration detention facilities, including failure to separate women and children from unrelated men. Human Rights Watch has previously documented violence, insecurity, sexual harassment, and unhygienic and unsanitary conditions in facilities for registration, identification, and processing of asylum seekers on the Greek islands, or “hotspots.” Human Rights Watch has also found women traveling alone housed with unrelated men in island hotspots.


      https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/07/greece-asylum-seeking-women-detained-men

      #Fylakio #femmes #violences_sexuelles #harcèlement_sexuel

    • Greek Authorities’ Struggle to Identify Dead Evros Migrants

      The worsening humanitarian situation on Greece’s land border with Turkey, is drawing international media attention.

      As the local authorities also face the challenge of identifying the bodies they recover from the frontier river, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has already called on the Greek government to urgently improve conditions and expand reception capacity in the north east.

      This follows a recent rise in arrivals in the Evros area across the land border with Turkey.

      In one report, Britain’s BBC investigates how people fleeing from Iraq and Syria as well as other countries like Iran and Afghanistan, put themselves at risk while trying to cross the dangerous waters of the Evros.

      The BBC dispatch covers the work of local people like Professor Pavlos Pavlidis of the Alexandroupoli State Hospital. A forensic surgeon, he has built up a huge database of photos, personal items and DNA samples taken from unidentified people who have perished while crossing into Greece.

      Sometimes, his work allows for a victim to be identified: “It gives an answer, even if it is a sad answer,” he says.

      http://greece.greekreporter.com/2018/05/01/greek-authorities-struggle-to-identify-dead-evros-migrants
      #cadavres #morts #identification #corps #décès #mourir_aux_frontières

    • Unprepared and overwhelmed: Greece’s resurgent river border with Turkey. When an old migration route became new again, the Evros region was caught on the back foot.

      Locals in Evros are used to new faces. People have been quietly slipping across the river that forms a natural barrier for all but 12 kilometres of the tense, militarised border between Greece and Turkey since Greece joined the European Union in 1981.

      But everyone on the Evros River was puzzled when a crush of hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers began crossing their sleepy riverine border every day in March. Six months later, arrivals have slowed but worries persist that the region is still poorly prepared for any new influx.

      At the rush’s height in April, more than 3,600 crossed the river in one month, surpassing the total number of people arriving in Greece by sea for the first time since 2012. They came across the Evros on plastic dinghies, and once on Greek soil they were picked up by smugglers in cars or continued the journey by foot. The banks of the river were littered with discarded clothes, water bottles, food and medicine packages, and flotation devices, which remain there today.

      Despite its history of migration, Evros, one of Greece’s poorest regions, was caught off guard. Hundreds of new arrivals were crammed into police stations, waiting for months to lodge their asylum claims. There were no NGOs to help out. Conditions were dismal, and services limited.

      “We are all surprised with the rise in arrivals in Evros, and the lack of Greek preparation,” said Georgia Spyropoulou, an advocacy officer with the Hellenic League for Human Rights, from her office in Athens.

      Greek officials say they were caught unawares too, with a local police commissioner telling the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, in June that “it is necessary to be prepared in case there is an increase in arrivals again.” Still, local police insisted they were doing the best they could with the resources available to them.

      No one is quite sure what prompted the flood of people in the first place. And plenty of of people are still making their way to Evros – 9,480 by the end of July, taking a gamble on a border that looks safe but can be deadly – 29 people have died this year during the crossing or shortly after.
      Border police and barn doors

      Before 2012, and before millions of people began landing on Europe’s beaches and drowning in the Mediterranean, Evros (known as the Meriç River in Turkish) was the main crossing point for those hoping to make it into Europe through Greece.

      Amidst mounting pressure from other EU countries to further seal its borders (Austria’s interior minister famously said Greece was “open like a barn door”), Athens launched Operation Aspida (“Shield”) in 2012, deploying 1,800 more police officers and erecting a fence on the land portion of the border, adding to a 175-strong rapid border intervention team known as RABIT – set up in 2010 with the help of Frontex, the EU border agency.

      Those who made it alive to the Greek banks of the Evros this year found a system wholly unprepared for their arrival.

      The new measures worked, and by November 2012 migrant arrivals had dwindled to none – a remarkable decrease from 6,500 in August that year.

      Athens denies reports of pushbacks of asylum seekers, but human rights watchdogs have documented collective expulsions in which people are forced back into Turkey after already crossing the river, and the UN has also raised concerns.

      Despite the crackdown, the numbers began to creep up again slowly this March. And then the spring rush came.
      Understaffed and unprepared

      Those who made it alive to the Greek banks of the Evros this year found a system wholly unprepared for their arrival.

      The procedure is supposed to be simple: new arrivals are brought to “pre-removal detention centres” run by the Hellenic police, where they wait for no more than seven days to be fingerprinted and have their asylum claims registered at the region’s one official Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in the small village of Fylakio.

      But it proved to be anything but.

      The RIC was understaffed and overwhelmed by the numbers, causing the sorts of major delays in processing that have plagued the reception system on the Greek islands.

      In a scathing review of Evros in the springtime, UNHCR criticised the detention of new arrivals in sub-standard police facilities. Human Rights Watch also found troubling conditions in May: women and girls were being held with unrelated men. One woman told the watchdog she was sexually assaulted by a fellow asylum seeker; her requests to be transferred to another location were ignored.

      After asylum seekers’ claims are processed, they are moved to the RIC itself, which has a 240-person capacity.

      Unlike on the Greek islands and its controversial policy of containment, people in Evros are allowed to move about the country. After applying for asylum, most head to other government- or UN-run camps elsewhere in the country. Still, even the RIC facility quickly became overrun as unaccompanied minors and those likely to have their asylum claims rejected had to stay on.
      Improvements

      When IRIN visited Fylakio in July, it found the RIC camp no longer overcrowded, and newly arrived asylum seekers expressed relief at being out of the pre-removal detention centre. “That was a very bad place,” one Turkish arrival said, declining to elaborate.

      IRIN was not granted access to the nearby pre-removal detention centre. But despite Greek police releasing many migrants from police detention, a HRW report from July said conditions in Fylakio remained “inhumane”, describing “dark, dank cells, with overpowering odours in the corridors”, a lack of toilets and locked doors, and insufficient healthcare.

      There have been some improvements for those out of their first detention, and NGOs have arrived to help: ARISIS, a Greek non-governmental organisation that provides social support for minors, had recently set up a makeshift office, and Médecins Sans Frontières has now established a permanent outpost in Fylakio.

      But one RIC employee said they remain understaffed. “We have the experience and motivation to manage the situation,” but not the manpower, the employee said, asking to remain anonymous because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

      Staff work in two shifts. When IRIN visited, the centre’s director was on sick leave, and there were still no doctors on staff, and only three nurses.

      In one crowded container at the RIC centre, an Iraqi family was living alongside the body of a dog that had died the previous week – its body still hadn’t been removed, and the stench lingered. The mother was concerned for the health of her infant, who was in hospital. Because members of the family, including the mother, are minors, they are currently stuck in limbo, waiting at the RIC.

      Communication remains a constant issue. There are no official, permanent translators and the overwhelming majority of the centre’s staff only speaks English or Greek.

      “There are asylum seekers who are interpreting for other asylum seekers… [which is] completely inappropriate,” Eva Cosse, Western Europe researcher for HRW, told IRIN.
      What’s next?

      Months after the springtime surge at Evros, there is still confusion about what caused it – and if there’s any way to predict if the same thing might happen again. Everyone, it seems, has a theory.

      “The waves of migration increase in populations when there are serious issues in the country of origin,” Nikolaos Menexidis, the barrel-chested police major general of Western Thrace, told IRIN from his headquarters in the town of Kommini. “When Turkey created the latest issues in Afrin, we saw a rise in numbers.”

      It’s true that following Turkey’s assault on the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin – militias supported by Ankara took control in March – the majority of those recorded crossing in the spring were Syrian Kurds and Iraqis.

      But that doesn’t explain the drop in other nationalities who have long used the river crossing, like asylum seekers from Pakistan, countered Dimitros Koros, a lawyer with the Greek Council of Refugees.

      Some people may be driven by politics – Turks who had fled and made it to the RIC in Fylakio said they had been wrongly accused of terrorist activity at home or suspected of ties to the Gulen movement, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for the 2016 attempted coup in his country. Others may have just heard there was a chance to make it to Europe at the river.

      Whatever the reason for the surge, migrants and asylum seekers people will likely continue to take their chances on the way to Greece. And Koros, the lawyer with the Greek Council for Refugees, worries that new arrivals will continue to struggle, as they move away from the squalid conditions at the border itself and into a wider region unequipped to help.

      “Evros is not just the border,” he said. “Evros is here in Thessaloniki. They are here, homeless, without any provision of service.”

      http://www.irinnews.org/news-feature/2018/09/27/unprepared-and-overwhelmed-greece-s-resurgent-river-border-turkey

    • An open secret: Refugee pushbacks across the Turkey-Greece border

      On an eastern frontier of the European Union, people are whisked back to Turkey before they can claim asylum in Greece.

      Linda, a 19-year-old Syrian and registered refugee, had just crossed from Turkey into Greece at the Evros River when men carrying guns appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. She wasn’t sure if they were police officers or soldiers, but they emerged from behind trees and wore dark uniforms that helped them blend into the night.

      It was mid-May, and several hours earlier Linda had boarded a mini-bus in Istanbul with around 35 other people, including children and a pregnant woman, eager to enter European Union territory. The trip had been organised by smugglers, and the passengers ended up in a remote area close to the northwestern Turkish city of Edirne. At around three in the morning they boarded small boats that ferried them across the river.

      Linda’s plan was to get into Greece, then make her way to Denmark, where her fiancé lives. Her crossing was part of a sharp uptick in traffic into the EU via the Evros (known as the Meriç in Turkish) this spring; 3,600 people are known to have crossed in April alone, compared to just over 1,000 in all of 2013.

      But she didn’t make it more than a few steps into EU territory before she was stopped.

      The men demanded that everyone in the group hand over their mobile phones. “Then they beat the men who were with us, put us in a boat, and sent us back to the Turkish side of the border,” Linda recalled when she spoke to IRIN recently in Istanbul.

      Pushbacks like the one Linda experienced have been going on for years, documented by both human rights watchdogs and the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR. They are also illegal under European and international law.

      “The right to claim and enjoy asylum is a fundamental human right," Leo Dobbs, a UNHCR spokesman in Greece, told IRIN. Pushbacks at the Evros border, he added, are a “serious issue.”

      According to a report released by the Greek Council for Refugees in February, before the spring rush, pushbacks have increased to the point of being “systematic” as the number of people crossing the Evros has grown slowly in the past two years.

      The Evros River border between Turkey and Greece is one of the easternmost frontiers of the European Union. Until a fence went up on all but 12 kilometres of the Evros in 2012, it was the easiest and safest path for asylum seekers from the Middle East and elsewhere to reach Europe, and nearly 55,000 people crossed the border irregularly in 2011.

      A controversial 2016 EU-Turkey deal that paved the way for asylum seekers to be returned from the Greek Islands to Turkey (which it deems safe under the terms of that agreement), does not apply to the Evros border. Instead, there is a separate, largely ineffective bilateral readmission agreement dating from 2002 that was suspended earlier this year.

      Even under the terms of that agreement, pushbacks like the one Linda experienced violate European and international laws on refugee protection, which require states to allow asylum seekers to file for protection and prohibit sending them back to countries where they may face danger. While countries are allowed to protect their borders, they cannot legally return people who have already crossed without first evaluating their claims.

      Pushbacks may be illegal, but they are an open secret. “It’s something that everybody knows,” said Dimitris Koros, a lawyer with the Greek Council for Refugees. Now, when an asylum seeker enters Greece from the land border, “the first thing you encounter is the possibility of being pushed back,” he added.

      The Greek Ministry for Migration Policy did not respond to IRIN’s requests for comment, but the Greek government has repeatedly denied it is engaged in systematic pushbacks.

      Human rights organisations say they have raised the issue of responsibility with the Greek government multiple times without receiving a response. “It’s a difficult thing… to say that the government instructs or gives orders to the policemen to do it,” Konstantinos Tsitselikis, a human rights law professor and former director of the Hellenic League for Human Rights said, “but they have the knowledge and they tolerate it at least.”

      It’s unclear just how many people have been pushed back or who is responsible, because the area around the border is a closed military zone and there aren’t many NGOs working in the region.

      Meanwhile on the Turkish side of the river, security forces regularly apprehend people attempting to cross and transfer them to government-run detention centres. But amidst a pervasive atmosphere of fear and silence, the treatment of asylum seekers and migrants after they are pushed back and detained largely remains a mystery.
      A longstanding practice

      According to Tsitselikis, pushbacks have been happening for decades.

      “I used to do my military service in 1996-97 in the Evros border area,” he told IRIN. “Even then the Greek authorities were doing pushbacks every day.”

      Although the border is technically a military zone, these days border police patrol the frontier as well as personnel from the EU border control agency, Frontex.

      People who have been pushed back, including Linda, describe being met by security forces wearing different types of uniforms, but it’s tough to assign responsibility.

      “Since it takes place outside of the public eye, we don’t really understand who is responsible,” Koros, from the Greek Council for Refugees, said.

      When asked about the practice by IRIN, Nikolaos Menexidis, police major general of Western Thrace, the Greek region that borders Turkey, said Hellenic police always follow the proper procedures when dealing with migrants.

      Menexidis said his forces have been working with Turkish police for the past six years on what he calls “technical issues.” They primarily exchange information on stopping smugglers on both sides of the border, he said.

      After pushback

      Linda’s ordeal did not end when she was pushed back into Turkey. The smugglers who brought her group to the border were gone and so was the bus. Without phones to call for help, the group was stuck. After waiting several hours, they tried to cross again.

      This time they made it further, walking for five or six hours in Greek territory before they were stopped, taken to a detention centre, and placed in a room with people from many different countries.

      After being held for several more hours, they were driven back to the border, the men were beaten again, and they were all forced back to the Turkish side of the river. By that point, the group was exhausted and thirsty. “For two days we didn’t drink water. When we saw the river we drank from it,” Linda said. “There were people who got sick because the water was dirty.”

      A group of Turkish soldiers found them in the woods and brought them food, water, and milk for the children and pointed them in the direction of Edirne, where they arranged for taxis to bring them back to Istanbul.

      In a way, Linda was lucky. Last December, the Greek Council for Refugees documented the case of a Pakistani man who died of hypothermia after being forcibly returned to Turkey. He had fallen into the cold water on the way back.

      While the Evros is no more than a few metres wide, its current is deceptively strong and, according to records in Greece, at least 29 people this year have died while trying to cross the water or shortly after.

      Some who are forced back to Turkey face serious punishment. Since a failed military coup in 2016, the Turkish government has jailed tens of thousands of opponents, leading to an increase in the number of Turks fleeing to Greece to seek asylum – nearly 2,000 in 2017 compared to just 180 the year before. The Hellenic League for Human Rights has documented two cases of Turks being pushed back from Greece at the Evros and later being imprisoned in Turkey, including journalist Murat Çapan, who is now serving a 22.5 year sentence for “participating in a terrorist organization and attempting to overthrow the constitution”.

      Despite documentation, human rights advocates say they have struggled to bring attention to the issue of pushbacks, as EU and international policymakers focus on stemming Mediterranean crossings. There is little appetite in Europe at the moment for monitoring or changing policies that are keeping asylum seekers and migrants from entering the EU.

      “Both the European Union and the Greek government... prefer not to open this discussion, especially in this political environment,” Tsitselikis said, referring to the rise of right-wing, anti-migration politics in Europe that is shaking the foundations of the EU.
      Fear and silence

      In early June, about a 10-minute drive from Edirne, hundreds of people in the parking lot of what the Turkish government calls a “migrant removal centre” huddled under tin pavilions that offered shade from the afternoon sun. This is where those caught on the Turkish side of the river are brought.

      IRIN visited three times over the course of a week to try to gain access, but never received a response to our requests.

      The centre is surrounded by a low wall topped with a chain-link fence and spools of razor wire. Each time IRIN visited, there were hundreds of people – mostly men, but also women and small children – in the parking lot and white vans passed in and out of the metal gate depositing more people. Two large charter buses idled in the parking lot with their doors open, seemingly waiting for people to board.

      In close to a week spent at the border, there was no concrete evidence of what was happening inside the centre. There were hints and rumours, but no one wanted to speak on record – including Turkish organisations that work with asylum seekers – because of the sensitivity of the issue.

      It is simply not clear how long people are kept in the centre, or what happens to them when they are removed. The Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management responded to IRIN’s requests for comment with links to online statistics and Turkish law on removals.

      Several Syrian and Afghan asylum seekers that IRIN spoke to shared stories of being held in such centres for a period of time before being released inside Turkey and permitted to stay. Most of the people IRIN spoke to reported good treatment while inside.

      But in 2015 and 2016, Amnesty International documented cases of Syrians detained while trying to migrate to Europe and being deported to Syria, according to Anna Shea, an Amnesty researcher working on refugee and migrant rights.

      Amnesty has also recently documented a case of a Syrian asylum seeker stopped in Edirne being deported to Idlib, the rebel-held province in northwestern Syria where a ceasefire is so far holding off a government offensive but humanitarians warn conditions are still dire. It is unclear if the case is part of a larger trend.

      In recent months, Turkey has deported large numbers of Afghans and Syrians, stopped after crossing Turkey’s southern and eastern borders, back to their respective countries.

      But it is difficult to know if this practice has been extended to people who have tried to travel to Greece, given that the organisations working on migrant and refugee rights were unwilling to speak on the record, and the government declined to comment on the issue or allow access to detained migrants.

      “The total stonewalling and lack of information and complete lack of transparency is cause for concern in and of itself,” said Shea, the Amnesty researcher. “I mean, what do they have to hide?”

      Hidden practice

      At a small village outside of Edirne, a man herding goats pointed to places where people crossed the nearby river, but there was no sign of anyone during the day. Crossings happened only at night, he said. And the Turkish army prohibited people from approaching the river after 7 pm.

      The road leading from the village followed the winding course of the Evros, which was often blocked from view by thick stands of trees. The surrounding area was full of corn fields, rice paddies, and thick vegetation. Small dirt roads that shot off in the direction of the river were marked with red signs carrying a stencilled soldier – a warning that entry beyond that point was prohibited.

      Not far away, in the city centre, everyone seemed shocked to learn that so many people had crossed the border this year. It was a problem that most locals assumed was already in the past, given that most of the frontier had been lined with barbed wire and cameras for the past six years.

      But those who have tried and failed to cross the Evros know that the rural quiet harbours dangers the eye can’t see.

      Linda has given up on seeing her fiancé anytime soon – a visa is likely to take years – and she isn’t planning on trying to cross the border again. “I started being afraid because of the things I saw,” she said.


      https://www.irinnews.org/special-report/2018/10/08/refugee-pushbacks-across-turkey-greece-border-Evros
      #push-back #refoulement

    • Grèce : le mystère des trois migrantes retrouvées égorgées

      Les corps des trois femmes avaient été découverts le 10 octobre par un agriculteur dans un champ près du fleuve Evros.

      Trois migrantes retrouvées mortes début octobre près du fleuve Evros à la frontière gréco-turque au nord de la Grèce ont été identifiées. Selon la police, il s’agit d’une mère et ses deux filles. Elles ont été égorgées après avoir été entravées.

      Le mode d’exécution pose questions aux enquêteurs, qui privilégient la piste criminelle depuis la découverte des corps en octobre dernier. « Des femmes contraintes à s’agenouiller avant d’être égorgées, pourrait évoquer une action de type djihadiste, mais dans l’immédiat, la police n’exclut ni ne privilégie aucune piste », explique une source policière.

      L’hypothèse d’une « punition » infligée par un réseau de passeurs a aussi été avancée par les médias grecs. L’affaire « est sans précédent dans les annales du pays, c’est un mystère », a relevé la même source policière.


      http://www.leparisien.fr/faits-divers/grece-le-mystere-des-trois-migrantes-retrouvees-egorgees-26-10-2018-79291

    • Le fleuve Évros, cimetière des migrants anonymes

      Ce fleuve boueux, aux courants dangereux et à la profondeur traîtresse, tue et recrache régulièrement des corps quasi impossibles à identifier.

      Bloqué en Turquie, Mustafa a d’abord tenté d’atteindre la Bulgarie par la voie terrestre avec un groupe de migrants afghans. Mais une fois la frontière passée, la police bulgare les a interceptés avant de les renvoyer en Turquie, où ils ont été emprisonnés dans le centre de détention d’Edirne pendant trois mois. Quelques semaines après sa libération, au milieu de l’été 2014, Mustafa a demandé à sa famille restée en Afghanistan, d’envoyer de l’argent à un passeur qui avait promis de l’emmener en Bulgarie – mais cette fois-ci en passant par la Grèce.

      Les cinq jeunes hommes de son nouveau groupe ont alors dû se cotiser pour financer le bateau gonflable qui leur servirait à franchir à deux reprises l’Évros, un fleuve de 480 kilomètres de long qui marque la frontière greco-turque, mais aussi une partie de la frontière entre la Grèce et la Bulgarie.

      La route migratoire qui consiste à traverser l’Évros, fréquemment empruntée depuis les années 1990, est redevenue populaire après l’accord UE-Turquie signé en 2016 visant à limiter les arrivées de migrants dans les îles Grecques via la mer Méditerranée. Cette route a longtemps semblé préférable à emprunter la Méditerranée pour atteindre la Grèce. Mais ce fleuve boueux, aux courants dangereux et à la profondeur traîtresse, car variable, tue et recrache régulièrement des corps quasi impossibles à identifier.

      C’est dans la région grecque de l’Évros que l’on trouve le plus grand nombre de corps de migrants non identifiés en Grèce. À cela s’ajoutent les corps retrouvés du côté turc de l’Évros, et aussi en Bulgarie. À Évros, les employés de la morgue de l’hôpital d’Alexandroúpoli, aidés par le Comité International de la Croix Rouge, tentent d’identifier les corps pour aider les familles qui recherchent un proche disparu.

      Mais tout ça, Mustafa ne le sait pas. Le passeur a acheté un bateau « pour les petits bébés » et « à peine plus grand qu’un lit », se rappelle aujourd’hui Mustafa. En pleine nuit, le groupe trouve un coin où la végétation est assez dense pour les dissimuler. Puis, le passeur et les six Afghans gonflent et s’entassent sur la petite embarcation.

      « Les courants étaient trop rapides pour nager, » explique Mustafa à VICE News. « On a eu peur de mourir [...], que le bateau coule et que des poissons, comme des piranhas, nous mangent. » Le groupe traverse finalement la frontière entre la Turquie et la Grèce, en 20 minutes. « On a ensuite récupéré le bateau, car le passeur a dit qu’on en aurait encore besoin, » raconte Mustafa, sa voix douce, mais anxieuse en harmonie avec son visage triste et enfantin.

      En effet, après avoir marché environ deux jours, Mustafa se retrouve face à la même rivière, qu’il doit traverser pour atteindre la Bulgarie. Il fait noir et les branches sous l’eau percent l’embarcation de fortune. Rapidement, Mustafa se débarrasse de son sac à dos pour pouvoir nager. Il s’accroche à des branches, parvient à sortir de l’eau et retrouve le passeur et trois autres camarades. Mais deux des migrants, des jeunes qui n’avaient pas plus de 20 ans, ne sont pas là.

      Objets retrouvés avec les corps de migrants et réfugiés à Évros. Morgue de l’hôpital général de l’université d’Alexandroúpolis, Grèce. Juillet 2017. (Photo de Stylianos Papardelas)

      « Le bateau a coulé, on n’a pas vu ce qu’il s’est passé, mais ensuite, ils avaient disparu, » raconte doucement Mustafa. « On ne les a pas retrouvés. » Après trois jours de marche et une semaine passée au camp de Hamanli, Mustafa est emprisonné dans le centre de détention de Busmantsi près de Sofia. Puis, après encore des semaines de voyage, il atteindra Paris, où il n’a toujours pas réussi à obtenir l’asile et espère faire venir sa femme et ses trois enfants.

      Les deux camarades de voyage de Mustafa ont sans doute rejoint les centaines de victimes de l’Évros, dont les corps, retenus au fond du fleuve par la boue et les branches, sont souvent retrouvés des mois, voire des années, après leur disparition.

      Poppi Lazaridou, assistante à la morgue de l’hôpital général de l’université d’Alexandroúpolis, raconte l’histoire tragique d’une famille afghane. Grèce. Juillet 2017. (Vidéo produite par Christopher Nicholas/Fragkiska Megaloudi/CICR)

      Selon les données communiquées par le CICR, 352 corps ont été découverts entre 2000 et 2017 dans la région de l’Évros, qui borde le fleuve du côté grec. Seuls 105 ont été identifiés. Entre janvier et mai 2017, 841 personnes ont été arrêtées à Évros en essayant de traverser la frontière (contre 1 638 pour la même période en 2016).

      « Mais peut-être qu’il y a plus de corps que nous n’avons pas encore trouvés, » dit le docteur Pavlos Pavlidis, médecin légiste à l’hôpital général de l’université d’Alexandroúpoli (Grèce). De plus, ces chiffres n’incluent pas les corps retrouvés en Turquie et en Bulgarie. « Je pense que les chiffres [pour la Turquie] sont à peu près les mêmes que du côté grec, » ajoute-t-il, lors d’une interview réalisée par le CICR.

      D’après Pavlidis, la première cause de décès des migrants dans la région, ce sont les noyades. Jusqu’en 2008, la deuxième cause de décès, c’était les mines, disséminées le long de la frontière et retirées cette année-là. Après les opérations de déminage, l’hypothermie a pris la seconde place sur la liste.

      « Quand tu sors de la rivière et que tu es mouillé, tu t’assois dans tes habits trempés, et tu commences à te sentir endormi, et tu meurs d’hypothermie, » explique Pavlidis. « Ils sombrent en fait dans un sommeil profond, ils ne souffrent pas... Ils ne se réveillent jamais. »

      Les passeurs ne laissent pas les migrants emporter leurs sacs sur les embarcations. Ils portent donc beaucoup de couches de vêtements sur eux, explique Pavlidis. Quand le bateau chavire, le poids attire les personnes vers le fond. « Il est impossible de survivre, mais en plus les corps restent sous l’eau et on ne peut pas les récupérer, » dit-il. « Nous avions un cas où la personne a été retrouvée portant quatre pantalons et sept chemises. »

      Il y a quelques années, la plupart des victimes étaient principalement des hommes seuls fuyant l’Afghanistan, le Pakistan ou le Bangladesh, d’après les observations de Pavlidis. Mais depuis la guerre en Syrie, les familles syriennes ont rejoint le groupe. « Maintenant, on va avoir des enfants, des femmes, des grands-pères. » (Selon le CICR, le nombre de familles a récemment recommencé à diminuer.)

      Les corps sont retrouvés par Frontex, la police, l’armée ou par des chasseurs et des pêcheurs, explique Pavlidis. Ils sont souvent dans un état de décomposition avancée, ou mangés par les poissons. Lorsqu’on lui ramène un corps, le médecin enregistre les habits et effets personnels. Ces objets, qu’il collecte depuis environ 15 ans, sont essentiels à la reconnaissance des corps.

      Le docteur Pavlos Pavlidis, médecin légiste et pathologiste, montre et parle des objets retrouvés avec les corps de migrants et réfugiés, à la morgue de l’hôpital général de l’université d’Alexandroúpolis, Grèce. Juillet 2017. (Vidéo produite par Christopher Nicholas/Fragkiska Megaloudi/CICR)

      Puis son équipe procède à une autopsie. Ils prélèvent ensuite un échantillon ADN et l’envoient au laboratoire de la police à Athènes. Si l’échantillon correspond à un profil existant, ils collaborent avec la Croix Rouge Internationale. Et, si quelqu’un recherche un proche qui a traversé l’Évros à cette période, ils poursuivent le processus d’identification.

      Si aucune recherche n’est entamée, les corps quittent la morgue après trois à quatre mois, et sont enterrés dans l’un des trois cimetières musulmans des alentours. La position et le numéro de leur tombe sont archivés afin qu’ils puissent être retrouvés par des proches dans le futur.

      « Nous avons plusieurs recherches fructueuses, mais pas tant que ça, car c’est un procédé très complexe et long, » explique Jan Bikker à VICE News. En tant que médecin légiste du CICR à Athènes, son travail consiste en partie à tenter de retrouver les familles des défunts si le gouvernement grec n’a pas réussi à le faire.

      « Ce n’est pas toujours aussi simple que ça en a l’air : on retrouve des papiers d’identité, mais nous ne sommes jamais sûrs que ce soit la bonne personne, » dit-il. « En effet, les papiers peuvent être faux ou une personne peut être enregistrée sous différents noms, ou porter les papiers de quelqu’un d’autre.

      L’équipe de Bikker aide aussi les familles ayant contacté le CICR à retrouver le corps de leurs proches et à produire un échantillon d’ADN pour procéder à l’identification. Cet échantillon est nécessaire à identifier un corps en trop mauvais état.

      Ce travail est difficile pour plusieurs raisons : les familles peuvent vivre dans des zones de conflits ; être des personnes déplacées ; résider illégalement dans un pays ; ou risquer l’emprisonnement si leur gouvernent apprend que leur proche a quitté le pays.

      « Normalement, nous collectons les informations descriptives qui pourraient nous donner une première piste. Une fois que nous avons une idée et une correspondance possible avec un corps, nous tentons de travailler avec [les proches des disparus] et les autorités pour obtenir l’ADN. »

      Une fois le corps identifié, les familles décident, en fonction de leurs moyens, si elles souhaitent rapatrier le corps dans leur pays d’origine.

      « Nous espérons qu’un cadre légal sera mis en place en Grèce [...] pour la centralisation des informations descriptives dans une base de données centrale avec toutes les informations sur les personnes disparues et les corps non identifiés, » explique Bikker.

      Comme l’explique Fragkiska Megaloudi, chargée de communication au CICR à Athènes, l’identification des morts est de la responsabilité de l’État grec. Le CICR est la seule association aidant l’État grec pour le médico-légal et prend le relais pour les identifications difficiles.

      L’association se charge aussi d’instruire les gardes côtiers grecs sur la manière de gérer dignement les corps, fournit du matériel à l’équipe du docteur Pavlidis, et améliore les cimetières accueillant les migrants et réfugiés.

      « Nous aidons à améliorer et à marquer les tombes, comme ça, si nous trouvons la famille, ils peuvent revenir et trouver la tombe de la personne. Sinon ils ne peuvent pas tourner la page, » dit-elle.

      « Nous reconstruisons de petites histoires autour de ces personnes, mais nous ne savons jamais qui elles étaient, leurs noms, ce qu’elles pensaient, leurs espoirs, leurs rêves... Et elles sont juste mortes ici » dit Megaloudi, émue. « C’est le côté le plus tragique de la crise migratoire. »

      Des agriculteurs d’Évros racontent leurs rencontres avec des migrants et réfugiés de passage à Évros. Grèce. Juillet 2017.

      https://www.vice.com/fr/article/d3qxbw/le-fleuve-vros-cimetire-des-migrants-anonymes-grece-turquie

  • L’odyssée grecque des migrants

    Des familles, des hommes seuls, majoritairement des personnes jeunes aptes à faire le long voyage ... Ils sont plus de 48 000 migrants à être arrivés illégalement en Grèce depuis le début de l’année 2015. 60% de ces naufragés sont arrivés de Syrie, ayant fui un conflit qui a déjà fait plus de 230 000 morts, selon l’OSDH (organisation syrienne des droits de l’homme). Les autres, des Afghans, des Irakiens, des Somaliens, des Erythréens... veulent eux-aussi échapper aux violences qui gangrènent leurs pays. Ces exilés racontent souvent avoir pris de gros risques pour quitter leurs pays. Ils rejoignent ensuite la Turquie puis la Grèce. Leur objectif : mettre un pied dans l’Union européenne. La république hellénique est l’une des principales « portes d’entrée ».

    http://labogrec.blog.lemonde.fr/2015/06/10/sur-les-iles-grecques-lodyssee-tragique-des-migrants
    #Grèce #migration #asile #photographie #réfugiés #Lesbos #Lesvos #Leros #Fylakio #Evros
    cc @albertocampiphoto

  • What’s in a name? The reality of First “Reception” at Evros

    spite its potential, the Greek system of referral of third country nationals to the appropriate procedures (known as ‘first reception’), coupled with a dramatic lack of reception places, results in practice in asylum seekers and migrants, including children, being held in detention, often for prolonged periods. This is the conclusion of a report published this week following an ECRE delegation visit to the Fylakio First ‘Reception’ Centre and the adjacent Fylakio Detention Centre in the Evros region.

    Migrants arriving irregularly in the Evros region may be detained for up to seven days in a police station, or in the Fylakio Detention Centre, before they are transferred to the First Reception Centre in Fylakio. Although the facility is called a ‘reception centre’ and the conditions are better than in the Fylakio Detention Centre, it is ECRE’s view that the situation is also one of detention as they are deprived of their liberty; people are not allowed to leave without permission and the centre is secured with barbed wire and permanently guarded by the Hellenic Police. From the ‘First Reception Centre’, many people are referred back to the #Fylakio #Detention_Centre, or another detention centre, either for their removal, for the completion of their asylum application or because there is no appropriate open accommodation available....

    http://www.ecre.org/component/content/article/70-weekly-bulletin-articles/1003
    REPORT LINK HERE---> http://www.ecre.org/component/downloads/downloads/992.html
    #evros #grece #ECRE #refugie @cdb_77

  • ECRE’s visit to Fylakio’s First Reception Centre shows #asylumseekers stuck in ‘detention carrousel’

    Despite its potential, the Greek system of referral of third country nationals to the appropriate procedures (known as ‘first reception’), coupled with a dramatic lack of reception places, results in practice in asylum seekers and migrants, including children, being held in detention, often for prolonged periods. This is the conclusion of a report published this week following an ECRE delegation visit to the Fylakio First ‘Reception’ Centre and the adjacent Fylakio Detention Centre in the Evros region.

    http://www.ecre.org/component/content/article/70-weekly-bulletin-articles/1003
    #Fylakio #Grèce #détention_administrative #rétention #asile #réfugiés #migration

  • Ségrégation en Grèce, mode d’emploi | La Cité
    http://www.lacite.info/segregation-en-grece-mode-demploi

    Ségrégation en Grèce, mode d’emploi

    Liaison Orestiada-Alexandropouli : une femme afghane résidant à Damas fuit les combats qui font rage en Syrie, juillet 2012.
    Dans les trains qui, depuis la frontière terrestre avec la Turquie, conduisent les migrants vers Athènes, la séparation avec les habitants est devenue une pratique courante. Reportage sur la ligne qui relie Orestiada à la capitale grecque.

    Texte Cristina del Biaggio Photos Alberto Campi

    Orestiada est la première ville grecque que les migrants croisent après avoir traversé la frontière terrestre entre la Grèce et la Turquie. Sur le quai de la gare, les contrôleurs de train se démènent pour que les migrants prennent place dans le wagon arrière, plongé dans le noir, alors que les habitants, des Grecs pour la plupart, s’assoient librement dans le wagon devant, éclairé à souhait.