Mass Readmission of 81 refugees from Italy to Patras / Greece – 20.04.2011

Berlusconi is “cleaning his backyard”
As far as we know, Italy readmitted for the first time refugees via the sea way and in a great number from the inland of the country to Greece. 81 sans-papiers from war torn countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, women, minors and other vulnerable persons were arrested on their way through Italy and towards the European “golden” North, deported by ship to Patras and from there transferred to Athens.
The tourist ferries that travel daily between Italy (Brindisi, Ankona, Venice, Bari) and Greece (Patras, Igoumenitsa and Kerkyra Island) are parallel worlds of schizophrenia: While tourists, students and businessmen enjoy the view on the sea from the deck, the sans-papiers risk their lives hidden inside or under trucks in the depth of the ferry. Additionally, “special rooms” (i.e. toilettes) on the parking deck hide the daily deportations of the few that had managed to arrive in Italy but were unlucky to be caught.
Until recently, it was mainly the sans-papiers who were caught inside the ship or in the port of arrival who were directly deported back with the next ship. The organised deportation of the 81 marks a new epoche of the application of the Readmission Agreement between Italy and Greece. With the background of the Italian response to the mass immigration of Tunesians to Lampedusa, this deportation might be a side effect of the power show-off Berlusconi is practicing these days, but it might be also the beginning of a militarised Schengen Area and the rebirth of protectionism manifested in increased controls within the EU. The latter will have tragic consequences for the rights of the sans-papiers. Fortress Europe is fortifying its heartland, which means: more refugees in detention and increased readmissions and deportations.