|Statewatch article: RefNo# 36332
|Statewatch News Online, April 2016
|- EU Detains 29 Volunteers for Working with Refugees in Greece (Revolution News, link):
"After clashes which started when Macedonian (FYROM) police and soldiers stopped refugees from crossing the Greek/Macedonian (FYROM) border on Sunday, some of the mainstream media are blaming activists who support refugees in Idomeni for inciting refugee protests....
Not only the Greek government, but also the European Union (EU), are embarrassed because activists and volunteers from all over Europe are doing work that they should be doing – supplying refugees with basic needs like food, sanitary products, and medical help." [emphasis added]
And see: Eelectra (link):
"At least 54 volunteers were arbitrarily temporarily deprived of their freedom yesterday. ADM volunteers have suffered several breaches of their rights, intimidation, harassment by authorities, illegal searches, much of which has been for months reported to the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Michel Forst and to hundreds of NGOs. Now part of the media has targeted them, in what seems a coordinated appeal to darkness."
- Italy: The Small Medieval Village With a Big Heart for Refugees (Takepart, link):
"For nearly 20 years, this small Italian town has provided thousands of migrants with a safe place to call their own.
The longtime mayor first realized the potential of refugees after a boatful of Kurdish migrants arrived on Riace’s shores in 1998. With the town struggling to cope with its young residents leaving for opportunities elsewhere, Lucano—a schoolteacher at the time—decided to offer abandoned apartments and job training to those who ended up in Riace. Since that time, it has welcomed more than 6,000 migrants.
For every refugee there, the town receives about $40 every day in government subsidies for a year, which then goes to migrants and their housing costs. While a majority of refugees move north in search of better job opportunities once they acquire their documents, some stay, as Riace offers a safe haven for many families fleeing conflict around the world."
- Migrant numbers dwindle as EU-Turkey deal proceeds (Daily Sabah TUrkey, link):
"The latest figures show that Turkish law enforcement captured more than 1,500 smuggling suspects in 2015, 400 suspects have been arrested so far in 2016 and that more than 65,000 migrants have been intercepted at sea and land by security forces since January."
And see: (IOM): Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016: 177, 207; Deaths: 732 (link) and UNHCR: 178,357 arrivals in the EU, 153,362 in Greece, 24.092 in Italy. 728 dead/missing.
- Aid groups urge halt of Turkey returns, Greek detentions under migration deal (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Deportations of refugees and migrants to Turkey and the detention of asylum-seekers on Greek islands must stop, three aid groups said on Friday, citing fears for human rights raised by an EU-Turkey deal to curb an influx of people into Europe...
"Refugees could be returned to Turkey without having had a proper asylum hearing or without receiving the necessary information about their legal rights," international charity Oxfam, humanitarian NGO Norwegian Refugee Council and Greek group Solidarity Now warned in a joint statement...
"The increasing use of detention as a restriction of the freedom of movement of asylum-seekers on the grounds of their irregular entry is a major concern," they aid groups said.
From the onset, the EU-Turkey agreement has been fiercely criticised by United Nations refugee and human rights agencies, as well as rights groups, as immoral and a violation of international humanitarian law against blanket returns..."
Se aslo: Deportations of refugees and migrants from Greece must be halted as fears of human rights violations grow (Solidarity Now, Greece, link)
- Turkey seeks readmission deals with Iraq, Iran (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "Neighboring Iran and Iraq are among the 14 countries with which Turkey has offered to sign readmission agreements in a move to enable Turkey to take back migrants rejected by the European Union more quickly.
In addition to Iran and Iraq, Turkey has proposed Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Eritrea, Morocco, Ghana, Myanmar, the Republic of Congo, Somali, Sudan and Tunisia conclude readmission deals, Turkish officials told Hürriyet Daily News on April 12.
“Negotiations have still been underway with these source countries,” the same officials, speaking anonymously, said."
- Greece: Vial detention centre (link)
"Please read and share as much as possible, also pass on to any friends you may have in the press to see if we can get some attention on this problem...
NUTRITION OF BABIES IN VIAL DETENTION CENTER, CHIOS
As many are aware, conditions in Vial are atrocious. There is a dire shortage of drinking water and of food, and a complete dearth of most everything else. But the most vexing, appalling, devastating situation by far, the one that is calling out for immediate change, is that of young babies at Vial. There is no system whatsoever in place for distribution of baby milk (baby formula) for young babies. Patchwork semi-solutions have been brought by selfless, exhausting efforts on the part of individual volunteers (in particular Kostas Tanainis) who have occasionally been allowed in depending on the irrational whim of guards; there is no official policy in place. When donated baby milk has been delivered to the camp but volunteers were not allowed to distribute it, it has languished undistributed."
- Help the Helpers in Idomeni: Greece Police - Stop arresting volunteers (change.org, link): "After clashes which started when Macedonian (FYROM) police and soldiers stopped refugees from crossing the Greek/Macedonian (FYROM) border on Sunday, some of the mainstream media are blaming activists who support refugees in Idomeni for inciting refugee protests.... We have been portrayed as being present at all the protests. This is easy to do because we are in camps every day and when we become aware of protests, we act to minimise harm.
This petition will be delivered to: Alexis Tsipras, Greece Police, EU Union, media"
- Are You Syrious (link):
"Greek military are circling #Idomeni and the surrounding areas as part of a supposed drill. Soldiers deployed on ground just hundreds of meters from the main camp, 5 fighter jets and 4 military choppers all active. Kids and mothers screaming and scared in camp due to the military presence, which obviously brings back memories of the war they are fleeing from. Volunteers also being arrested regularly for frivolous offenses. 26 arrested yesterday alone. The Greek clampdown has begun, crazy scenes to witness in 21st century Europe....
Oxfam, British Refugee Council, International Rescue Committee and 10 other organisations have condemned UK government as turning a blind eye to suffering on its doorstep and needs to “accept its moral responsibility”. Although the UK pledged 7.7 billion British pounds to countries in the Middle East (Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon) in February, the organisations called for the UK to step up their efforts to create a “safe haven” within British borders along with contributing more to humanitarian aid and assistance in improving conditions for refugees trapped at borders and in transit (particularly Greece). Maurice Wren from the British Refugee Council explained that “While European leaders demonstrate a collective failure of political leadership and moral courage, people who have escaped war and tyranny are met with barbed wire and tear gas, mums are forced to bathe their infants in dirty puddles, and yet more refugee children drown on Europe’s shores.”...
Germany deported 60 percent more migrants last year than in 2014, the government said on Wednesday, with figures from January and February showing that the pace of repatriations further accelerating. Some 22,369 people were forcibly returned to their countries of origin in 2015, up from 13,851 the previous year. In the first two months of this year close to 4,500 people were repatriated - twice as many as in January and February 2015. Meanwhile, the number of asylum seekers who have voluntarily left Germany also rose sharply, from 13,573 in 2014 to 37,200 in 2015. From January to March this year, voluntary repatriations reached 14,095."
- Kyrgyzstan: Protests In Bishkek Against NGO Registration Legislation (Radio Free Europe, link)
"Kyrgyz human rights activists have gathered outside of parliament in Bishkek to protest against a proposed "foreign agents" law being considered by lawmakers.
The bill would require noncommercial, nongovernmental organizations involved in political activities -- and which receive any funds from foreign sources -- to be labled as “foreign agents”."
Seems a bit similar to what's happening in Greece?:
NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control (Statewatch)
- News (15.4.16)
Greek army exercises trigger reaction from Turkey, FYROM (ekathimerini.com, link): "The Greek armed forces on Thursday staged military exercises on the country’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and over the Aegean island of Oinousses, following several days of Turkish violations of Greek air space and tensions with FYROM. ... On Thursday, Greek police officers continued to conduct checks on volunteers and activists suspected of inciting refugees to storm across the FYROM border. Officers are attempting to prevent the activists, most of whom are foreign and aligned with anti-establishment groups, from distributing leaflets that urge the refugees to defy the advice of Greek and FYROM authorities and breach the frontier. Two Spanish men, aged 27 and 28, were detained on Thursday on several charges including disturbing the peace and putting the Greek state at risk. According to police sources, the two men were seen in a crowd of migrants trying to scale the barbed-wire border fence."
EU asylum applications from lone children quadruple (euobserver, link)
Greece: Almost Four Thousand People Still At Piraeus Port (News That Moves, link): "As of 13 April around 3,800 people were still waiting at the Piraeus port, in Athens, according to UNHCR data. Until recently, more than 5,000 people were camped there. Greek authorities announced that they are planning to fully evacuate the port by the end of April."
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