“open the borders!” – refugee protests increasing in Greece

+Currently about 22,000-25,000 refugees trapped in Greece+ Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas estimates it can become 70,000 within one month if borders don’t open again+In Idomeni and Athens refugees protest daily and demand the opening of the borders*

Protest against closure of border 28. February in Victoria Square

Protest against closure of border 28. February in Victoria Square

The UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on February 26, 2016 voiced concern about increasing border restrictions in the Balkans and Austria for migrants and refugees streaming towards Europe “calls on all countries to keep their borders open, and to act in a spirit of responsibility sharing and solidarity, including through expanding legal pathways to access asylum,” his spokesman Dujarric said.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday expressed serious concern at security measures adopted at a recent meeting of the heads of police of five European countries.

“In the wake of the adoption of these measures last week, the treatment of refugees and migrants moving through some of these countries already appears to have changed, with seriously negative implications for their human rights,” Zeid said. “Latest reports suggest chain deportations are now taking place all the way down the Balkan land route, which includes Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, towards Greece. In addition, hundreds of Afghans were reportedly stranded in abject conditions for over five days on the border between The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, and many other Afghans have been blocked from entering The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from Greece, apparently solely on the basis of their nationality. … Whether or not someone possesses a particular document has no bearing whatsoever on whether/not they are a refugee. There are number of reasons why a refugee may have to flee her or his country without valid travel documents. The lack of a valid document should never be a reason for refusing entry into an asylum procedure. … I am particularly troubled that the agreement appears to enable the collective expulsion of non-nationals, acts explicitly prohibited under international law,” Zeid said.

Protest on February 26 in the port of Piraeus

Protest on February 26 in the port of Piraeus

On February 28, 2016 about 6,000 refugees are on the islands waiting for their transfer and another 2,156 arrived newly, Minister of Shipping Dritsas said. The three chartered ferries for their transfer are also being used to host refugees when necessary. More than 7,500 refugees are waiting at the border in Idomeni to cross. More than 2,500 remain in the port gates in Piraeus. In Athens a Baseball gym and another gym in Ilion will open to host refugees. In Lamia a former hotel with a capacity for 400 got transformed to host refugees. More than 1,500 refugees are hosted provisory in the prefecture of Kavala, following ferry transfers from the islands.

Transit camps built up and run by the army have been created in Diavata (currently: more than 2,200 persons), Schisto (currently 1,200), Elaiona (currently: 1,200), Elliniko (official capacity: / currently: 4,000). All of them are over capacity already!

Port of Piraeus February 28

Port of Piraeus February 28

5 Hot Spots are running in Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros. New ones opened and will open soon in the former Mazaraki army camp in Cherso (near Polikastro) and in four other locations in the prefecture of Kilkis (total capacity announced to be 4,000) – specifically: on the former runway of Nea Kavala airport, in Papadaki Army camp near Drosato, in Kikinori army camp near Kentriko, and one in the forermer army camp Papadaki in Giants. They are announced to be ready on March 6.

Protest in Victoria Square 27.2.16 / copyright: Afghan Community in Greece

Protest in Victoria Square 27.2.16 / copyright: Afghan Community in Greece

Gianista camp was set on fire on February 28 though. The fire broke out at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday in “Filippaki” camp. Only a few hours later a fired broke out in the biggest building of abandoned military camp “Kapsalis” also in the area. There is currently no reliable information about the cause of the fires and whether there is a connection between the two incidents. some Greek websites speak of arson and racism.

Meanwhile:
– Austria is accepting only 80 migrants a day.
– The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, plans to hold a referendum on compulsory migrant quotas.
– Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia are refusing to accept Afghans and other refugees deemed not to be from conflict zones and are accepting a maximum of 580 migrants a day if they have the necessary identity documents.
– Greece is announcing to complete 301 readmissions of currently in Corinth and Tavros detained refugees to Turkey via Kipoi (Evros) soon. Also the fast track deportations by Frontex were announced to start soon.
– Albania will not open its borders, according to Prime Minister Edi Rama.
NATO mission started in the Aegean with 4 ships, while around 60 will be involved in total but not at the same time.

Since February 19, 2016 Afghans are not anymore allowed to passe the border in Idomeni

Since February 19, 2016 Afghans are not anymore allowed to passe the border in Idomeni

Police forces uncover Afghans among the SI-nationalities in Idomeni and pull 4 families out

Police forces uncover Afghans among the SI-nationalities in Idomeni and pull 4 families out

New transit camp near Polikastro opening 28.2.16 / capacity 2,000

New transit camp near Polikastro opening 28.2.16 / capacity 2,000

Sleeping in Piraeus gate

Sleeping in Piraeus gate

Diavata relocation camp

Diavata relocation camp

Diavata relocation centre

Diavata relocation centre

Alnico February 28. place next to Hockey Stadium opens and new tents built to host newcomers

Alnico February 28. place next to Hockey Stadium opens and new tents built to host newcomers

Photos taken from social media

The infomobile

... is like a “paper boat”. We chose this as a metaphor for what we want to create and for the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. The paper boat is a folded boat able to swim – for a while. Then you have to build a new one to go on travelling. A paper boat is symbolic for the journey of life, vulnerable but in your own hands and to be recreated again and again. It is simple, but it carries many hopes and dreams. It can dance on a turbulent sea. It belongs to everybody. And it might become the small version – like a first draft – of a welcome-space.

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