Tag Archive for '2020'

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FÜR DAS RECHT ZUSAMMENZUSEIN KÄMPFEN! Eine Kampagne für die Zusammenführung zwischen Griechenland und Deutschland getrennter Familien

copyright: Salinia Stroux

Alle Kinder haben das fundamentale Recht mit ihren Liebsten zusammen zu sein. Trotzdem ist es in Europa mittlerweile weitläufig akzeptiert, dass Familien Geflüchteter aufgrund der restriktiven Gesetzeslage und ihrer noch restriktiveren Auslegung durch die Mitgliedsstaaten getrennt werden und bleiben. „Das Wohl des Kindes […] [sollte] eine vorrangige Erwägung der Mitgliedsstaaten sein” – so steht es in der Dublin III Verordnung, die das primäre rechtliche Instrument ist, welches die Verteilung von Asylbewerber*innen innerhalb der EU regelt. Trotzdem werden tausende geflüchtete Kinder, die Europa erreichen, von ihren Eltern, Geschwistern oder anderen näheren Verwandten wie Tanten, Onkeln und Großeltern, die sich in anderen EU Staaten befinden, ferngehalten.

Im Rahmen des “langen Sommers der Migration” im Jahr 2015, haben tausende Menschen in Griechenland das erste Mal europäischen Boden betreten, bevor sie nach Nordeuropa weitergezogen sind. Viele Familienmitglieder sind später über die gleiche Route nachgekommen – mit dem Ziel, ihre Reise fortzusetzen, um in Deutschland in der Nähe ihrer Liebsten Schutz zu suchen.

Die letzten vier Jahren sind von der plötzlichen Rückkehr von einem kurzen Trend einer europäischen ‘Willkommens-Politik’ zu dem bekannten fatalen Ansatz der geschlossenen Grenzen geprägt. Diese Kehrtwende ist begleitet von einem Aufschwung rechter Regierungen in den EU-Mitgliedstaaten und setzte die grosse Mehrheit der nach 2016 Angekommenen Geflüchteten in Griechenland fest.

In einer Atmosphäre, die von repressiven, anti-migratorischen Politiken in ganz Europa bestimmt wird, kämpfen Graswurzelinitiativen und -Netzwerke auf dem ganzen Kontinent gegen Abschiebungen, illegale Push-Backs, Polizeigewalt, repressive Asylgesetze, verlorene Menschenleben an den Grenzen, die Kriminalisierung von Solidarität und den Anstieg rassistischer Angriffe. Obwohl tausende Familien auseinandergerissen wurden und weiterhin voneinander getrennt gehalten werden, herrscht eine gefährliche Stille über dieser Verletzung fundamentaler Menschenrechte.

In diesem Kontext möchten wir Geschichten von geflüchteten Familien teilen, die getrennt zwischen Griechenland und Deutschland leben müssen. Es ist nicht hinzunehmen, dass das Verpassen von Fristen, die Trennung einer Familie mit dem Wohl der Kinder als Ziel, das Getrenntwerden durch Grenzpolitiken, wachsende Zäune und intensivierte Frontexeinsätze und -kontrollen, valide Gründe sind, um die Trennung von Familien zu rechtfertigen. In den meisten Fällen können geflüchtete Familien die notwendigen Papiere, die ihre Verwandtschaft bestätigen würden, nicht vorweisen. Sie können keine übersetzten Pässe, Familienbücher und Geburtsurkunden vorzeigen – weil sie Krieg und Konflikten entflohen und aus und unter Umständen der Flucht, in welchen Menschen solche Dokumente eben nicht (mehr) besitzen, oder ihre Papiere verloren haben auf dem gefahrenvollen Pfad in die Sicherheit. 

Wir haben uns entschieden, diese Kampagne für die Rechte aller Familien symbolisch am 15.03.2017 zu beginnen, dem Datum der Wiederaufnahme der Dublin-Rückführungen nach Griechenland, die der Empfehlung der Europäischen Kommission folgte, und auf der angeblichen Verbesserung der Bedingungen in Griechenland beruhte. Viele Länder des europäischen Nordens, insbesondere Deutschland, nahmen die Gelegenheit dankbar an, um zu versuchen Menschen zurück nach Griechenland zuschicken. Im Jahr 2017 hat Deutschland 1.887 Überstellungsgesuche an Griechenland gestellt (take-back requests). 2018 waren es 6.827 und im letzten Jahr 9.275 – und das trotz der anhaltenden systemischen Menschenrechtsverletzungen, die von zahlreichen Organisationen dokumentiert wurden und werden.

Schutzsuchende kämpfen an den Außengrenzen und in Griechenland ums Überleben

Heute setzt die rechts-konservative griechische Regierung des vergangenen Sommer gewählten Kyriakos Mitsotakis und seiner Partei, Nea Dimokratia, immer drastischere Methoden ein, um Geflüchtete ohne Rücksicht auf Verluste von den Grenzen fernzuhalten. Die führenden Politiker*innen des Landes bedienen sich nicht nur einer rassistischen anti-migratorischen Rhetorik, sondern propagieren zudem die lächerlichsten Maßnahmen, welche die Grenzen angeblich abriegeln könnten (z.B. schwimmende Zäune).

Die Ankündigung des türkischen Präsidenten Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, die Türkische Grenze nach Europa Ende Februar 2020 zu öffnen, führte zu einem rasanten Anstieg versuchter Grenzübertritte. Der griechischen Regierung schien es in der Folge logisch und gerechtfertigt, mit Gewalt gegen jene Personen vorzugehen, die versuchten, griechisches Territorium zu betreten. Geflüchtete an der Landesgrenze wurden mit Tränengas beschossen, verprügelt, ausgezogen bis auf die Unterwäsche, zurückgedrängt und sogar mit Gummigeschossen beschossen. Auf dem Meer wurden sie attackiert und beschossen, die Motoren der Boote wurden zerstört, Benzin gestohlen und die Fliehenden in Seenot zurückgelassen. In den vergangenen zwei Wochen wurden nachweislich zwei Personen an der Landesgrenze getötet. Ein Kind ist in der Ägäis ertrunken.

Die griechische Regierung empfindet es heute auch legitim, neu ankommende Schutzsuchende nunmehr zu kriminalisieren und droht ihnen mit Haftstrafen von bis zu vier Jahren und Geldstrafen bis zu 10.000 Euro für den bloßen irregulären Grenzübertritt. Gleichzeitig wurde entschieden, dass Menschen in die Türkei zurückgeschickt oder in Herkunftsländer abgeschoben werden können, ohne ein Asylverfahren zuzulassen. Die EU schweigt zu diesen enormen Verletzungen der Grund- und Menschenrechte und bietet der Türkei und Griechenland stattdessen finanzielle Unterstützung an.

Die Ende 2019 neu eingeführten Einwanderungsgesetze hatten bereits zu zahlreichen praktischen Hindernissen bei der Wahrnehmung der Rechte von Schutzsuchenden in Griechenland geführt. Eine steigende Zahl von Asylanträgen wurde willkürlich beendet und auch die Zahlen der Ablehnungsbescheide nimmt unaufhörlich zu. Für Asylbewerber*innen gibt es keine Sozialversicherungsnummer (AMKA) mehr, statt dessen neue Hindernisse bei der Beantragung einer Steuernummer (AFM), keine direkte Arbeitserlaubnis (erst sechs Monate nach der Registrierung), große technische Schwierigkeiten beim Zugang zum Asylverfahren (per Skype), lange Wartezeiten, um Sozialleistungen zu erhalten (Menschen warten mehrere Monate auf ihre ‘Cash-card’), eine Verlängerung der Wartezeit auf Einbürgerung für international Schutzberechtigte (von fünf auf sieben Jahre) und so weiter.

Mitte März 2020 bringt die Bedrohung der durch das Virus Covid-19 ausgelösten Pandemie nicht nur das öffentliche Leben in Griechenland zum Stillstand. Expert*innen warnen vor einem Anstieg der Infektionen im nächsten Monat, welcher die vulnerabelsten Gruppen am heftigsten treffen wird. Griechische Flüchtlingscamps, in welchen hunderte vulnerable Personen in nächster Nähe zusammenleben müssen, ohne dass grundlegende Bedürfnisse erfüllt werden, bergen ein besonders hohes Infektionsrisiko. NGOs rufen zur sofortigen Evakuierung der Camps auf den Inseln auf. Gleichzeitig führen Sicherheitsmaßnahmen für Mitarbeiter*innen zu einer stark eingeschränkten Präsenz der betreibenden Organisationen wie z.B. der Internationalen Organisation für Migration (IOM). Auch Mitarbeiter*innen der NGOs stellen nur noch ein Minimum an Angeboten zur Verfügung. Die nationale Asylbehörde hat ihren öffentlichen Betrieb vorerst eingestellt.

Auf den Ägäis-Inseln bleiben weiter tausende Geflüchtete in Zelten in und um die “Hotspots” eingesperrt. Viele von ihnen haben nicht einmal gesicherten Zugang zu Lebensmitteln, medizinischer Versorgung oder grundlegenden sanitären Einrichtungen. Alle, die nach dem 1. März 2020 angekommen sind, wurden unter unmenschlichen Bedingungen in Außenarealen der Hafenbehörden und auf einem Militärschiff im Hafen von Lesbos über zwei Wochen festgehalten. Nun wurden die Geflüchteten ans Festland gebracht.

Auf den Inseln suchen Schutzsuchende verzweifelt nach rechtlicher Beratung, um Zugang zu Informationen bezüglich ihrer Rechte und dem rechtlichen Ablauf des Asylverfahrens zu erhalten. Die meisten verbleiben ohne jegliche Hilfe und durchlaufen das Asylverfahren unvorbereitet. Das ohnehin schon geschwächte öffentliche Gesundheitssystem bricht zusammen und sowohl medizinische Hilfe als auch der Zugang zur Versorgung mit Medikamenten existiert faktisch nicht mehr. Währenddessen protestieren von Faschist*innen infiltrierte Gruppen von Inselbewohner*innen seit Wochen gegen die Pläne der Regierung, geschlossene Immigrationsgefängnisse neben den bereits jetzt schon bekannten und überfüllten Hotspots auf Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos und Leros zu errichten. Sie haben Geflüchtete, Aktivist*innen und Journalist*innen gleichermaßen attackiert und angegriffen.

Auf dem Festland leben immer mehr Menschen in marginalisierten Lagern, weit entfernt von jeglicher Hilfe und fernab jeglicher Zukunftsperspektiven. Integration unter diesen Umständen ist unmöglich. Die Anzahl der von Obdachlosigkeit betroffenen Personen steigt und mit dem angekündigten Ausschluss der international Schutzberechtigten von staatlich gefördertem Wohnen, werden zum Ende des Monats hunderte weitere auf der Straße landen. Menschen, die über die Landgrenze nach Griechenland gelangen und in die Städte kommen, haben keinen Zugang zum Asylverfahren oder Aufnahmebedingungen. Sie müssen unregistriert in Camps leben und haben monatelang keinen Zugang zu materiellen, sozialen und medizinischen Dienstleistungen, leben in Zelten und überfüllten Gemeinschaftsräumen oder provisorisch in Containern offizieller Bewohner*innen.

Kurz gefasst: Schutzsuchende riskieren ihr Leben um Europäischen Boden zu erreichen und sind nach ihrer Ankunft in Griechenland weiterhin gefährdet.

Seit 2017 verhindert Deutschland aktiv Familienzusammenführungen

Mit der Zunahme der Anträge auf Familienzusammenführung nach der plötzlichen Schließung der “Balkan-Route” und der Implementierung des EU-Türkei-Deals 2016, begannen die Deutschen Behörden eine restriktive Anti-Zusammenführungs-Politik zu verfolgen. Zuerst wurden hunderte bereits akzeptierte Familienzusammenführungen unrechtmäßig verzögert, wodurch Kinder monate- und sogar jahrelang von ihren Familien getrennt blieben. Zum Ende des Jahres 2017 stieg die Anzahl systematischer allgemein formulierter Ablehnungsbescheide zuerst von Deutscher und in der Konsequenz auch von Griechischer Seite, die rein administrative Begründungen verwendeten, um Familien auf unbestimmte Zeit zu trennen. Anstatt das sich die Behörden für die Zusammenführung der geflüchteten Familien einsetzen, liegt die Beweispflicht nun bei den Familien, die belegen sollen weshalb die Zusammenführung zu ihre Wohl sei. Heutzutage ist es eine alltägliche Erfahrungen vieler verzweifelter Kinder, Mütter und Väter, wenn ihnen die griechischen Asylbehörden oder NGOs mitteilen: “Du kannst keinen Antrag auf Familienzusammenführung stellen!” oder “Es ist sehr wahrscheinlich, dass dein Antrag von den Deutschen Behörden abgelehnt wird!”.   

In den Jahren 2017 und 2018 gab es einen starken selbstorganisierten Widerstand geflüchteter Familien gegen die verspäteten Transfers nach Deutschland. Heute wird die extrem restriktive Auslegung der Dublin III Verordnung und des deutschen Einwanderungsgesetzes zum Familiennachzug als gegeben und nicht verhandelbar präsentiert – trotz der inhärenten Ungerechtigkeit. Die Stimmen der geflüchteten Familien verhallen ungehört.

Wir möchten diesen Stimmen eine Plattform geben. Wir stellen uns gegen die EU-Politik der geschlossenen Grenzen abzielen, die Kinder extremer Gewalt aussetzen. Wir fordern, dass Familien wieder vereint werden müssen. Grund- und Menschenrechte müssen über dem Einwanderungs- und Asylgesetz stehen. Das Wohlergehen der Kinder muss geschützt und das Kindeswohl aufrechterhalten werden. Behörden aller EU Mitgliedsstaaten müssen aufhören, das Kindeswohl in Gefahr zu bringen und stattdessen die Dublin III Verordnung einhalten, welche explizit besagt:

“Bei der Anwendung dieser Verordnung sollte das Wohl des Kindes im Einklang mit dem Übereinkommen der Vereinten Nationen über die Rechte des Kindes von 1989 und mit der Charta der Grundrechte der Europäi­schen Union eine vorrangige Erwägung der Mitgliedstaa­ten sein. Bei der Beurteilung des Wohls des Kindes sollten die Mitgliedstaaten insbesondere das Wohlbefinden und die soziale Entwicklung des Minderjährigen, Erwägungen der Sicherheit und der Gefahrenabwehr und den Willen des Minderjährigen unter Berücksichtigung seines Alters und seiner Reife, einschließlich seines Hintergrunds, be­rücksichtigen. Darüber hinaus sollten für unbegleitete Minderjährige aufgrund ihrer besonderen Schutzbedürf­tigkeit spezielle Verfahrensgarantien festgelegt werden.” (Paragraph 13)

„Um die uneingeschränkte Achtung des Grundsatzes der Einheit der Familie und des Wohl des Kindes zu gewähr­leisten, sollte ein zwischen einem Antragsteller und sei­nem Kind, einem seiner Geschwister oder einem Eltern­teil bestehendes Abhängigkeitsverhältnis, das durch Schwangerschaft oder Mutterschaft, durch den Gesund­heitszustand oder hohes Alter des Antragstellers begrün­det ist, als ein verbindliches Zuständigkeitskriterium he­rangezogen werden. Handelt es sich bei dem Antragstel­ler um einen unbegleiteten Minderjährigen, der einen Fa­milienangehörigen oder Verwandten in einem anderen Mitgliedstaat hat, der für ihn sorgen kann, so sollte dieser Umstand ebenfalls als ein verbindliches Zuständigkeits­kriterium gelten.” (Paragraph 16)

Stoppt die Trennung von Familien!

Gleiche Rechte für alle Kinder und Familien!

Kontaktdaten zu den Familien, deren Geschichten innerhalb dieser Kampagne erzählt werden, genauso wie Details zu anderen getrennten Familien, können nach Absprache mit und in Zustimmung der betroffenen Familien geteilt werden, mit Ziel ihnen rechtliche Unterstützung zukommen zu lassen und sie mit ihren Liebsten zu vereinen. Kontaktiert uns über facebook: www.facebook.com/w2eu.gr oder schickt eine E-mail an: contact@w2eu.info

copyright: Salinia Stroux

EXPERTENMEINUNG

Psychosoziale Auswirkungen von nicht erfolgter Familienzusammenführung

Aus psychologischer Sicht ist es in einer durch die Fluchtumstände getrennten Familie nicht zu vertreten, den betroffenen Kindern die Wiederaufnahme der Beziehung und Bindung zu den Eltern und/oder Geschwistern, oder anderen nächsten Bezugspersonen, welche an Stelle der Eltern getreten sind (Großeltern, Tanten/Onkel) zu verwehren, es sei denn deren Verhalten ist an sich als kindeswohlgefährdend anzusehen. 

Das Erleben von Kindern, die gemeinsam mit ihrer Familie eine oft sehr lange dauernde Fluchtgeschichte überstehen, ist geprägt von extremen Formen des Aufeinanderangewiesenseins. Es fehlt der gewohnte soziale Rahmen, der den Kindern ermöglichte, auch außerhalb der Kernfamilie Entwicklungsschritte zu machen. Stattdessen ist die Familie in einer fremden Umgebung auf sich selbst angewiesen. Es werden den Kindern enorme Anpassungsleistungen abverlangt, die sie oft in eine ungesunde Abhängigkeit von ihren Eltern, oder anderen erwachsenen Verwandten, die diese ersetzen, bringen. Auf der anderen Seite leisten die Kinder die Anpassung an die neue Umgebung und Sprache in der Regel schneller als die Erwachsenen, so dass sie aufgrund ihres schnelleren Spracherwerbs oft Übersetzungsleistungen für die Eltern übernehmen müssen. Auch erleben sie ihre erwachsenen Verwandten gegenüber Behörden und PolizistInnen hilflos, gedemütigt und teilweise auch misshandelt. Aus der früheren Kindheit erlebte Sicherheiten gehen so äußerlich wie innerlich verloren. 

Wenn nach solchen Erfahrungen die Kinder dann durch die Fluchtumstände von ihren Eltern und/oder Geschwistern, oder anderen nahen Verwandten getrennt werden, verlassen sie den Familienrahmen unter ohnehin belasteten Umständen. Viele Familien haben neben Krieg und Gewalt bereits als Fluchtgründe massive Ausgrenzung erleben müssen. Durch die Flucht und deren traumatisierende Begleitumstände auch in Griechenland geraten die Familien unter zusätzlichen Druck und verlieren teilweise ihre alten Funktionsweisen, sind auf der anderen Seite aber der überlebensnotwendige Bezugsrahmen. Viele Kinder sind plötzlich ohne ihre gewohnte Familienumgebung, müssen sich ohne ihre Hauptbezugspersonen oft ganz alleine an eine weitere fremde Sprache in einer fremden Kultur und Umgebung anpassen. Die Kinder versuchen, sich nun an dem gegebenen Bezugsrahmen zu orientieren, bleiben aber innerlich und durch täglich mehrfache Telefonate mit der getrennten Ursprungsfamilie sehr eng, aber praktisch nicht lebbar, verbunden. 

Bei von den Familien getrennten Kindern können unabsehbare Auswirkungen auf die psychische Entwicklung entstehen und insbesondere ihre emotionale Stabilität so stark belastet sein, dass durch die faktische Unmöglichkeit, die Herkunftsfamilie wiederzusehen, eine Kindeswohlgefährdung entsteht. Auch Kinder, die von einzelnen zentralen Bezugspersonen getrennt wurden (Mutter, Vater, Bruder, Schwester etc.) brauchen für ihre weitere Entwicklung den Kontakt zu diesen Personen. Wenn die Familie oder einzelne Familienmitglieder durch behördliche Versäumnisse unerreichbar bleiben, ist es hinreichend wahrscheinlich, dass ein Kind immer tiefer in psycho-somatische Symptomatiken abtaucht und diese quasi zu einer eigenen Welt entwickelt. Diese Kinder versuchen so auf dysfunktionale Weise, in Verbindung mit den getrennten Eltern, Geschwistern oder anderen nahen Verwandten zu bleiben, die diese ersetzen, wissend und spürend, dass es ihnen genauso schlecht geht. 0ft werden depressive und andere Symptome zu einem sich selbst bestätigenden Band, was die zerrissene Familie zusammenhalten soll. Wenn Kinder in der Phase des Bindungsaufbaus (bis 3 Jahre) getrennt werden, ist dies besonders wichtig, da sonst eine Störung der Bindungsmöglichkeiten wahrscheinlich wird. 

Durch eine dauerhafte Trennung von der Familie entstehen zunehmende Risiken für die psychische Entwicklung aller betroffenen Kinder und diese gefährden folglich ihr Kindeswohl. 

Dipl. Psychologe und Familientherapeut Reimer Dohrn

“I dream every night of being with him again”

A campaign to unite families separated between Germany and Greece (1)

copyright: private

A single father with three minor kids in Greece – his 12-year-old son alone in Germany

This family belongs to Berlin!

Hassan H.* from Afghanistan arrived to Lesvos, Greece with his four children in August 2018. His wife had died in Iran shortly before they escaped from there. When the single father tried to leave Greece through the Balkans a year later, one of his sons got lost and he and his remaining three kids were pushed back to Greece. Later, his son contacted him from Germany, but the father was told by Greek authorities, that he could not apply for family reunification under the given circumstances.

“We stayed seven months in a tent in Moria. There were a lot of fights. I wouldn’t let my kids go out due to fear. I didn’t know how to protect them otherwise. When we were finally transferred to Athens in spring 2019, I was first very happy. From the port we were brought to Skaramangas camp. Upon arrival there I saw a huge village made of containers on a pier near the sea and in the middle, there were dozens of tents. We ended up again living in a tent without electricity in the cold darkness – again unsafe.

One night a tent caught fire and a family got burned. They nearly died. Refugees in the camp then held protests against the conditions. One of my sons got beaten by riot police in the turmoil. My kids were seeing nightmares every night from then on. That was when I decided we should try to leave Greece, because we weren’t safe at last.

I collected some money from friends and we decided to leave from the land border. One tragedy followed the next. My 12-year-old son got lost half way. I thought he had died or been kidnapped. We were arrested and sent back to Greece. … It was a happy day, when my son contacted me from Germany. I heard his voice and all my worries were gone for a moment. I went to the camp employees to ask how we could join my son in Germany. But they said it was too late and we were anyway a “separated child case” and we could not even apply for family reunification because we separated “voluntarily”. I don’t understand what they mean. Our choices are made in a state of emergency while trying to do the best for our family and our situation has not only been a result of our choices but also of our destiny.

How can it be too late for a family to be together?

Now my little boy is there and we are here. We live in a container now, but it is no life if you first lost your wife and the mother of your children, and then you lose a child. I dream every night of being with him again. And I hope until that day, when we can be together again in a better place, I can keep all my kids safe.”

* name changed

FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT TO BE TOGETHER! A campaign to unite families separated between Germany and Greece

copyright: Salinia Stroux

All children have the fundamental right to be with their loved ones no matter what. Despite this fact it has been broadly accepted in Europe, that refugee families end up separated, due to limitations of laws and an even more restrictive interpretation of these laws by states. The “best interests of the child should be a primary consideration of Member States”, says the Dublin III Regulation, the primary legal tool within the EU to regulate the distribution of asylum seekers. Despite this fact, thousands of refugee children who reach Europe are held far from their parents, siblings or other close relatives such as aunties, uncles or grandparents, residing in other EU countries. 

In the dawn of the “long summer of migration” in 2015, thousands reached Northern Europe entering the EU initially through Greece. Many of their family members arrived later through the same route to Greece actually aiming to continue their journey and find protection near their loved ones in Germany or elsewhere. The following four years are marked by a sudden return from a short trend of a ‘welcome refugees’ EU-politics to the states’ deadly ‘closed gates’ approach, which came into force parallel to a right wing upsurge in the governments of different member states and left the vast majority of newcomers after March 2016 blocked in Greece. 

In an atmosphere ruled by repressive anti-migratory policies all over the EU, grassroots groups and networks across the continent are struggling against deportations, push-backs, police violence, repressive asylum laws, continuing border deaths, the criminalisation of solidarity and an increase in racist attacks. Silence persists despite the fact that thousands of families are torn apart and kept actively separated by national authorities. 

It is in this context that we want to share stories of refugee families split between Greece and Germany. It should not be accepted that failing to meet deadlines, separating with the best interest of children in mind or being separated by border policies, growing fences and intensified Frontex patrols / controls is an acceptable reason to keep families apart. Refugee families can in most cases not submit the necessary documents to prove they are relatives. They cannot supply authorities in many cases with passports, family books, birth certificates – all translated properly, because they escaped war and conflict, they came from situations and escaped under such conditions where most people lack such documentation or lose it on the way to safety. 

We chose to start this campaign on 15th March 2017, the date that marked the resumption of Dublin returns to Greece, following the European Commission’s recommendation that conditions had improved there. North European countries, most notably Germany, were keen to take the opportunity to force people back to Greece. Germany sent 1,887 take-back requests to Greece in 2017, 6,827 in 2018 and 9,275 last year, despite the ongoing systemic human rights violations documented by numerous organisations.

Protection seekers struggle to reach ‘safe’ territory and survive in Greece

Today, the right-wing government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Nea Dimokratia elected in Greece last summer is imposing more and more drastic measures to keep refugees out no matter what. Ruling politicians have re-introduced an anti-migratory, mostly racist rhetoric, offensively propagating even the most ridiculous measures that would supposedly seal the borders (i.e. floating fences). After a recent upsurge of attempted border crossings caused by Turkish Primeminister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement that he would open the Turkish border to Europe at the end of February, authorities’ use of violence to stop people from entering Greek territory has been apparently justified. Refugees were teargassed, beaten, stripped naked, pushed-back and even shot with rubber-bullets at the land border. They were attacked and shot in the sea, their engines were broken and petrol stolen and they were left adrift in distress. In these two weeks, two persons were documented dead at the land border and one child drowned in the Aegean Sea. Greek officials have found it legitimate, to start criminalising newcomers in search of protection with prison sentences reaching four years and fines of up to 10,000 Euros for mere ‘irregular entry’. It has also been agreed that people will be returned swiftly back to Turkey or deported to their homelands without even being able to claim asylum. EU authorities have been silent on these breaches of fundamental human rights, instead offering Turkey and Greece more money.

New immigration laws introduced at the end of 2019 already had created numerous practical obstacles to protection seekers in Greece accessing their rights, with an increasing number of asylum claims being ended for arbitrary reasons and the number of rejections to asylum claims growing. No more social insurance number for asylum seekers (AMKA), new obstacles to get a tax number (AFM), no more direct right to enter the job market (only after six months from registration), big technical difficulties to access the asylum procedure through Skype, long waiting periods to receive social benefits for asylum seekers (people waiting for the cash-card for many months), increased periods to naturalize for beneficiaries of international protection (from five to seven years) and so on.

In mid-March 2020, the threat of the Corona virus pandemic has not only bought public life in Greece to a halt, but experts warn that an upsurge in infections is still to come next month and will hit the most vulnerable worst. Greek refugee camps where hundreds of vulnerable persons are living close to each other, usually without their basic needs being met are spaces of high risk of infection. NGOs have called for the immediate evacuation of the camps on the islands. At the same time, emergency measures for employees have limited the presence of site managing organisations such as IOM and NGO employees offering essential services to a minimum level. The Asylum Service has temporary halted its services to the public nationwide.  

On the Aegean Islands, thousands of refugees remain trapped in tents in and around the ‘hotspots’, many of which do not even have access to food, medical aid or basic sanitary infrastructure. Those arriving after March 1sthave been held in dire conditions in outside areas of ports and a navy ship in Lesvos Island for many days. After two weeks trapped on the warship they have been transferred to the mainland. On the islands, protection seekers are searching desperately for legal aid, to access information on their rights and procedures. Most remain without any help and go through the asylum process unprepared. The already burdened public health care system is breaking down and medical aid as well as access to medication is in fact not existent. In the meanwhile, locals infiltrated by fascists are protesting since weeks against the government’s plans to build closed immigration prisons next to the already infamous and overcrowded ‘hotspots’ on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros islands. They have attacked refugees, aid workers and journalists alike. 

On the mainland, more and more people live in marginalised camps far from any possibility to find help, to integrate or to identify any future prospects for themselves. The number of people homeless is growing and with the announced exclusion of beneficiaries of international protection from state housing, hundreds more will be on the streets by the end of this month. People arriving from the land border to the cities do not have access to the asylum procedure. They cannot access reception conditions and have to stay unregistered inside camps without any social welfare and services for months while living in tents, overcrowded common spaces or other residents’ prefabs. 

In short, protection seekers risk their lives to reach European soil and continue to be at risk even upon arrival to Greece.

Germany actively hinders families from being reunited since 2017

With the surge of family reunification applications after the sudden closure of the ‘Balkan Corridor’ and the implementation of the EU-Turkey ‘Deal’, the German authorities started developing a harsh anti-reunification policy. First, hundreds of family reunification cases which had already been accepted were unlawfully delayed, keeping children for months and even years apart from their families. By the end of 2017, systematic and generalised rejections of such applications increased suddenly first from the German side and as a consequence also from the Greek side, using administrative grounds to keep refugee families apart for indefinite periods. Instead of authorities deciding in favour of refugee families being united, the families now have the burden to prove why it is best for them to be together. Today, it is a common story of desperate children, mothers and fathers, that they are told by the Greek Asylum Service and NGOs: ‘You cannot apply for family reunification!’ or ‘It is likely that your application will be rejected by the German authorities!’ 

Before, there was strong self-organised resistance from refugee families against the delays of transfers to Germany throughout 2017 / 2018. Nowadays, the extremely harsh interpretation of the Dublin III Regulation and German immigration law when it comes to family reunion, is being presented as a given fact and seems non-negotiable, despite the inherent injustice. Refugee families’ voices have remained widely unheard.

We want to platform these voices. We stand against EU-policies that focus on closing borders and subjecting children to extreme violence, we demand families must be reunited. Basic rights are superior to immigration and asylum law. The wellbeing of children has to be protected and their best interest must be upheld. Authorities of all EU member states must stop putting children’s welfare in danger and instead comply with the Dublin III Regulation, which explicitly states:

„(T)he best interests of the child should be a primary consideration of Member States when applying this Regulation. In assessing the best interests of the child, Member States should, in particular, take due account of the minor’s well-being and social development, safety and security considerations and the views of the minor in accordance with his or her age and maturity, including his or her background. In addition, specific procedural guarantees for unaccompanied minors should be laid down on account of their particular vulnerability.“ (paragraph 13)

„In order to ensure full respect for the principle of family unity and for the best interests of the child, the existence of a relationship of dependency between an applicant and his or her child, sibling or parent on account of the applicant’s pregnancy or maternity, state of health or old age, should become a binding responsibility criterion. When the applicant is an unaccompanied minor, the presence of a family member or relative on the territory of another Member State who can take care of him or her should also become a binding responsi­bility criterion.“ (paragraph 16)

End the separation of families!

Equal rights for all children and families!

Contact details for the families whose stories are included in this campaign as well as other separated families can be shared with the consent of the families in order to support legal efforts to reunite them with their loved ones. Contact us on facebook: www.facebook.com/w2eu.gr or email to: contact@w2eu.info

copyright: Salinia Stroux

EXPERT OPINION

Psychosocial repercussions of the authorities’ practice of not reuniting families 

From a psychological point of view, it is unjustifiable in a family separated by the circumstances of the flight, to deny the affected children to re-establish a relationship and bond with the parents and / or siblings, or other closest caregivers, who have taken the place of the parents (grandparents, aunts / Uncle), unless their behaviour is per se endangering the child’s well-being (‘Kindeswohlgefährdung’).

The experience of children who, together with their family, survive an often very long flight, is characterized by extreme forms of relying on one another. The habitual social framework is missing, which was enabling the children to take development steps outside of the core family. Instead, the family is dependent on itself in an unknown environment. The children are required to perform enormous adaption, which often puts them an unhealthy dependency from their parents or other adult relatives who replace them. On the other hand, children generally adapt to new environments and languages faster than adults, so that because of their faster language acquisition, they often have to carry out translations for their parents. They also experience their adult relatives helpless, humiliated and sometimes ill-treated by the authorities and police officers. Experiences of safety from earlier childhood are lost both externally and internally.

If, after such experiences, the children are separated from their parents and / or siblings or other close relatives, by the circumstances of the flight, they leave the family framework under circumstances that are already stressful. In addition to war and violence as reason for fleeing, many families have already experienced massive exclusion. As a result of the flight and its traumatizing circumstances – also in Greece, the families come under additional pressure and sometimes lose their old functions. On the other hand, they are the reference framework that is necessary for survival. Many children find themselves suddenly without their habitual family environment and often have to adapt to another foreign language in a foreign culture and environment without their main caregivers. The children are now trying to orient themselves on the given reference frame of the current place of residence, but remain very closely connected internally and through multiple phone calls every day to the separated family of origin – a family framework which is not practically liveable.

Children separated from families can have unforeseeable effects on their psychological development. In particular, their emotional stability can be so severely affected that the factual impossibility of seeing the family of origin again endangers the child’s well-being. Also, children who have been separated from individual main caregivers (mother, father, brother, sister, etc.) need contact with these people for their further development. If the family or individual family members remain unreachable due to authorities’ omissions, it is sufficiently likely that a child will dive successively deeper into psycho-somatic symptoms and develop them into a (virtual) world of their own. These children in a dysfunctional way, try to stay in touch with the separated parents, siblings or other close relatives who are replacing them, knowing and feeling that they are in a likewise bad psychological condition. Depression and other symptoms often become a self-affirming bond, which aims to keep the torn family together. This is particularly important if children are separated in the main phase bonding (up to the age of 3 years), as otherwise the bonding possibilities are likely to be disrupted.

A permanent separation from the family creates increasing risks for the psychological development of all affected children and consequently endangers their best interests.

Dipl. Psychologist and Family Therapist Reimer Dohrn

At the Greek-Turkish border, politicians play with people’s lives

People trying to enter Europe in search of protection face brutal repression in the Aegean region. Although this is not new, we currently see an escalation of violence as Turkey and Greece play a dangerous game with people’s lives. The survival instinct and hope of many for a better future is exploited and manipulated for cynical political stunts. Greece has now declared a state of emergency and to remove people’s right to claim asylum.

On the Greek side the situation is devastating, every day: Overcrowded detention centres and camps where thousands are forced to survive the inhuman conditions. Riot police forces secretly transferred to the Greek islands to crack down on local inhabitants with tear gas and clubs. Riot police forces along with soldiers and anti-terror squads firing tear gas and water cannons at refugees who attempt to enter through the land border. Those who do succeed in reaching Greece face imprisonment merely for crossing the border. Boats attacked by masked men in the Aegean Sea and prevented from disembarking by fascists at Greek harbours. 

In Turkey, on the other side of the border, the situation is equally cruel: As a response to the Turkish fatalities in Idlib, President Recep Erdoğan announces the ‘opening’ of borders and thousands of people follow his call and move toward Greece, in the hope of finally finding safety. They enter white busses, reportedly provided by the Turkish government, but end up trapped in the border-zone between Turkey and Greece stopped by armed forces and army vehicles. 

Despite this current escalation, it is clear that push-backs and violent excesses along the border are daily phenomena, not exceptions. But commonly, they target smaller groups, not such a large crowd. Usually, civil society is not able to see how these human rights violations unfold, how police and army officials stand in people’s paths, preventing them from stepping on EU soil and exercising their right to ask for asylum. 

Europe enacts a ‘closed door’ policy, enforced by the right-wing government in Greece which sends riot police and special forces to deter people escaping war, conflict, and hunger, and aims to temporarily suspend their right to claim asylum and immediately deport them to countries of origin. We have already seen images of NATO war ships patrolling the Aegean Sea along with border guards from all over Europe in Frontex missions. 

We will not accept this European war against people who seek protection! We will not remain silent, when repressive anti-migration policies give space to fascism!

We have seen people being violently pushed back to Turkey where they are detained or even deported from to places where they face war and persecution. We have seen people drowning in the Aegean Sea or Maritsa river. We have seen dehydrated, frozen, and unrecognizable bodies of mothers, fathers, children. We have seen also people dying in Europe’s ‘hotspot’ camps due to inhumane conditions – babies dying of dehydration, lack of adequate medical aid and desperation leading to people committing suicide. 

But we have also seen people ‘on the move’ claiming their rights and standing in solidarity together with locals against these repressive policies. We have heard their loud voices shouting united for freedom. We have seen people marching across borders against all odds and against the violent European border regime. 

We will stand united against this cruelty! We will raise our voices to tell the stories that are not told, show the images that are hidden away from the world! We will not stop denouncing the violent excesses at Europe’s borders and we will not stop struggling for another world of freedom of movement! 

Equal rights for all! No one is illegal!

Stop the border deaths! Stop racist policies and fascist violence!

Close detention centres, hotspots and other camps and open homes!

No borders! 

w2eu – infomobile Greece and WatchTheMedAlarm Phone 

Fire in protest at horrific conditions in Amygdaleza pre-removal immigration prison, Athens Greece – footage and words from those detained inside

I am a young man from Syria, detained in Greece. Amygdaleza.  I escaped from the war in my country in order to obtain safety, but I was detained in Greece for a long time. I no longer feel safe, reassured and stable that I was looking for here in the camp. There is nothing and they do not offer us any help. We hope for your help. There is someone who tried to commit suicide because of the difficulties he is facing here.

How I wished and how much I looked. I left my homeland and looked for safety. I looked for freedom. I looked for an alternative homeland. I needed help, but no one gave me a hand. No one comforted me. I dreamed a lot of things and big dreams, but dreams were awake, and now I have fallen again.  Whoever says to me will realize your dreams that I had built when I arrived in Greece I have said this is the beginning of my career and from here I will fulfill my dreams but unfortunately it was not what I expected but the worst was my dreams were broken in front of me I no longer want to achieve those dreams but rather I want to live in peace and security  And stability, I just hope to be a cat that lives in the house with its owners or a dog that lives  I have a private house and its owner takes it on a short walk or I am a rose that grows on the balcony of a house and the owner of the rose takes care of it every day, but I found myself flying in a cage and could not fly as I had dreamed, it was only my fault that I was born in my country where the war broke out and because I no longer  I can dream, I can no longer think. The sun rises every day to increase my suffering again and every night I say Is this what I was looking for Is this life that I had hoped for but I could not answer my question I started dying from all empty promises I can no longer search for myself I wonder  Every day, why does this happen to me? I did nothing but dreams, screaming loudly, I did nothing  Why am I here but nobody hears my screams searched among my papers my numbers books but I did not find myself can I dream again or that dreams not present in the human language dictionary searched and did not find myself

I will write but I do not know what to write. Should I write about the war in my country, or the war in my country? I do not know about it except the smell of blood, the screaming of children, the tears of women, the sadness of youth, the loss of young dreams, or write about the war in me, but I will not be able to describe that war and that outrage, or write  What I feel, but I no longer feel anything, I no longer feel for myself, I no longer feel the spirit that inhabits my body, I no longer find my thinking, I can no longer think of things that I was thinking about before. Has the stage of thinking ended for me or am I thinking that has become restricted? I did not know about  What do I write? Do I write about the freedom I searched for and did not find it or write about the vine  My time is no longer human dignity or write about humanity that I did not find her presence Soh with animals I can not find what you should write about Soh meanings experienced by humans do not know what to write and did not promise I want to write something will just read what they write.

What happened?

What happened Why am I here Why am I in this place that looks like a swamp Why did I become alone in this place What led me here I began to feel tired and I am trying to leave this place I no longer have even a glimmer of hope Will my life end here I no longer dream about a light I have started my life  By fading before my eyes, I no longer see anything but sadness. I see with everyone’s eyes. There is only a question, why are you here. I did not realize that I would be every animal placed inside a cage. Unfortunately, the animal has some rights until it has a name, but I only became a number. I am called through that number.  What happens to human beings as if they do not see it and avoid hearing our screams? Is this it for man?  Why is this life? I don’t think that’s what I was looking for. What happened? Why am I here?

What happened?

Deadly cold

  It was raining and strong winds I tried hard to get to my brother’s bedroom. The suffering of reaching it was dark. The darkness prevailed over the atmosphere of the place, and the land of each swamp had a lot of wetness on the road. I was falling from that to another that I got up and completed my career. I reached my brother’s fortune. It was lightening quickly and quickly closed.  The door was few, the door was not closed with provisions that were as if all kinds of rain and wind were permitted to enter a worn ship taken by the waves. My worn-out coat was removed from me, my worn out coat and I looked at my brother, he was trembling with the freezing cold.  Know how I can comfort myself  My brother just stayed silent. He wrapped himself in a blanket that did not protect him from anything from the cold. My brother embraced me in my arms. I was warming him, even a little. I wanted to burn myself to warm my brother. My tears were falling on my cheeks from pain.  I want something, just save my brother.

drinking water supply in Amygdaleza
food in Amygdaleza
18 people sharing a room in Amygdaleza

Letter to the World from Moria (No. 13)

Author: A migratory girl

Note: This photo is not showing the persons described below in the letter.

I am the mother of two sick babies

Every mother raises up her baby being proud of it from the first day. When she kisses her baby, her baby kisses her back, and this is the absolute happiness for her. When the child grows, she is watching how it plays with others. She watches it grow and develop. These are the joys of a mother. 

I have raised my two children under the hardest conditions of life. I spent everyday praying for them. But while the body of my four year old girl grew, her brain did not follow along. And the same happened to my boy.

I love my children. But society humiliated us for them being different. I will never forget that everybody expected my husband to get married again, because I gave birth to mentally disabled babies.

I didn’t even know that I was getting married. I was so small, getting married was for me was like playing with my dolls, and it was the same for all other girls of my very young age.

When I started to learn about life as a couple, I realised that I was pregnant and when I hugged my Mariam* (names changed) for the first time, I became also aware of people’s talk – mostly the nearest persons around me. They called my baby “handicapped”, “abnormal”, and those words aggrieved me.

To find medical help for the growth problems of our child and escape their stigmatisation and the painful talks around our family we decided to escape, first to Iran and after to Turkey.

We tried to find appropriate treatment for our daughter for four years. For the first three years, no one could tell us the reason of her illness. Finally, they found out, that she had a brain damage.

My Mariam … she is full of emotions, full of love and affection, full of innocence. Her world is simple, but pure. Her view on life is different. Even when humiliating hands rest on her shoulders, she feels that they are innocent, hands full of sympathy.

When I see that she goes near flowers, I become happy that maybe she is getting pleasure from her environment, but then she becomes aggressive to them. Observing her in such scenes feels like thorns piercing my eyes.

Every mother wishes to see her baby crawl, but I couldn’t see it, since she was like a dead body in a corner until she became two years old. Every mother wishes to hold her baby’s hand and teach her how to walk, but I touched her weak joints and she whined and cried in pain.

Hey mothers on this earth! Hey you who have children!

I swear that I raised this girl 9 months in my belly. I swear that I desired death while giving birth. I passed a long period after her birth, eating dry bread with water, praying that she becomes better, that she becomes a happiness for us and happy herself.

I have lived with such pain. The Turkish doctors told us that there was no hope to treat Mariam.

And, then, in Turkey, another seed was planted and started growing. I have grown Amir* full of hope. Although looking at Mariam made me cry every day, my husband, cleared away my tears, put his hand on my belly and gave me hope. How many nights didn’t I cry for the health for my kids… but in this inhumane world, my souls screams haven’t been heard.

This mother, after 9 months of carrying her baby and 6 days of labor pains, was told once again the same news: She is having an unhealthy baby.

I passed two years full of hope, telling myself that maybe it was not true, that things may change. The doctors in Turkey told us that he had the same problem as Mariam. His brain will not grow and the muscles of his body will not work well. However, there was a treatment for him, especially because he was smaller that Mariam, but that treatment was not possible in Turkey. For that we needed to move on to a European country.

We had been living as refugees in Turkey for four years. We were beggars on everybody’s door. Every day we visited the doctors. However, we didn’t know their language, and we didn’t have an interpreter. We wandered for hours and days to find the hospitals as we didn’t know the addresses, only to understand, in the end, that we were in Turkey for nothing. We saw that all doors were closed to us. So we gathered everything, held our children’s hands and started our migration towards Europe.

Now we ask ourselves: Is this really Europe? Is this the continent of hope? Where is that bright light that we came here to find for our children?

No! Here our heart’s light didn’t turn on. Europe turned our hopes off and we are trapped in darkness.

For four months now every day we go to the doctors in Mytilene. It seems that our babies are pictures, that can be diagnosed by a quick look. Without having carried out any test, they tell us that our babies don‘t have any problems. It is as if you go to the doctor and tell him that you have a headache and the doctor tells you, “where is your pain, I cannot see it”.

No one answers our questions. We are like ping pong balls for them. They throw us from one hospital to another for nothing.

If you have parents, if you are a father or mother, if you love someone around you, you will understand us. You will understand how hard it is to see a seed of your body, growing to become a human that is just alive but doesn’t live. Every day looking at our children’s situation we wish to die.

We didn’t come here for money or luxuries but for the doctors. For us just having a nest to protect us from the cold and to live with our healthy children would be enough.

In search of just a nest…

Parwana

p.s. Thanks to my friend who shared her story with me. I wish she will find what she is seeking for!

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.

Get in touch

email: infomobile.w2eu@gmail.com

RSS Clandestina

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    Clandestina participates in the ‘Stop War On Migrants’ campaign. The campaign was initiated on October 2019, after the announcement of the new anti-immigration policy in Greece. This is the text that presented the new governmental policy on migration and called for launching the campaign (Oct. 2019): StopWar_leaflet_EN This is a presentation of the assembly of […]

RSS Group of Lawyers – Athens

  • NOTICE
    The GROUP OF LAWYERS FOR THE RIGHTS OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES advises you that legal counselling WILL NOT be provided anymore after 18th December 2018. You are therefore kindly requested to contact other organisations providing legal assistance. ________________________________________________________ Le GROUPE DES AVOCATS POUR LES DROITS DES MIGRANTS ET DES RÉFUGIÉS souhaite vous informer que

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