Tag Archive for 'best interest of child'

“Daddy is there a problem with the aeroplanes in Greece? Why aren’t you coming?”

A campaign to reunite families separated between Germany and Greece (5)

In 2016, upon arrival to Greece, life in Moria was unbearable for the little family and their baby. They escaped to Athens where they stayed first homeless and then in a squat

A father in Greece – his wife and two small kids in Germany, one of whom he has never met

This family belongs to Frankfurt!

Waly* is a 29 year old father from Afghanistan. For a year and a half, he has been far from his family. His wife and his two sons live in Germany where they obtained residence permits. One of his sons was born there. Waly has never met him, he has only seen him on video calls. 

When Waly’s wife escaped Greece, their elder son was still a baby. Now he is old enough to talk and he watches the aeroplanes in the sky over Frankfurt. His son asks him,

“Daddy is there a problem with the aeroplanes in Greece? Why aren’t you coming?”

The truth is that is is impossible for Waly to join his family in Germany legally, since they are categorised by authorities on both sides as a ‘separated family’ case.

Also, his wife’s asylum claim was first rejected in Germany, which is another of the most common arguments used in rejections issued by the Germans when asylum seekers in Greece apply for family reunification. 
After taking a private lawyer and appealing before a court his wife got a one year status called ‘Abschiebungsverbot’. With this national humanitarian status issued mostly to vulnerable persons whose deportation is not feasible, family reunion via Dublin or the German embassy is not possible. Waly’s wife has not even been able to obtain a travel document in order to at least visit her husband in Greece and let their kids see their father. 

Life was unlivable for the family when they were together in Greece. They arrived on Lesvos and after six months of frequent experiences of violence in Moria they couldn’t bear it any more. They travelled together to Athens but as they had left the island with a geographical restriction stamp on their cards, they reached the mainland irregularly and could not progress their case.

Since March 2016, when the EU-Turkey Deal was implemented, asylum seekers are forced to stay on the Aegean Islands. Only upon identification of a vulnerability can they move to the mainland, or in cases of family reunification or if their asylum procedure has been concluded positively. Families with children where both parents are present, are not considered ‘vulnerable’ enough.

Upon arrival to the Greek capital, the family’s living conditions did not improve. They were homeless and they had no access to shelter. They couldn’t find support or even food. For two years the family lived in a squat together and eventually decided they had no choice but to use the little money they had left to escape these conditions. 

As they did not have enough money to travel together as a family, Waly’s wife and their son were forced to move to Germany alone. After they left, the squat that the family had been staying in got evicted by riot police. Following that terrifying event, Waly has spent the last year and half in Athens in the same unbearable conditions, but now alone, far from his family. 

Waly has been to many lawyers in Athens but they tell him they cannot help, because the 3-month Dublin deadline has passed and he separated from his wife and child ‘voluntarily’. 

“How is something voluntary, when you have no other choice?? Being far from my family is no life. In Afghanistan we were always scared of dying, but there you die once. Here in Greece I feel I loose myself every day that I am without my wife and my kids. How is it that I have not even met my own child? Last year I tried many times to end my life. Today I understand I must try and stay strong.”


*names changed

Not a happy day!

International Day of Families cannot be celebrated by those separated by borders!

copyright: Salinia Stroux

“My thoughts are dark. There are so many problems. I wouldn’t know it’s the International Family Day. I am feeling scared and worried inside the camp we stay in Greece. Even if I sometimes feel a second of happiness it gets lost in the manifold problems we face. Our kid is alone in Germany. He feels pain in his heart from the stress. He asks for help, but I am far. My wife’s situation gets worse day by day. She cries, she forgets, she loses control of her body. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, but I try not to loose hope.”

Morteza B.*, father and husband, whose story is here

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that the 15th May would be observed as the International Day of Families. While some families can celebrate this day, many others cannot. They are separated from each other, unable to live as one. 

But what makes one family different from another? Nothing! A family is a family no matter what papers they have or don’t have. Families should not be separated by passports and borders! The International Day of Families should not just be for some families – it is for all families! In fact, every day should be family day. 

Recently, the Infomobile started a campaign, sharing stories of families separated between Greece and Germany. We want to shed light on this issue and to struggle with people for their right to family life. Our demands are not exceptional. We do not ask governments do something extra, or out of kindness. We simply demand that European governments fulfil their legal obligations to reunite families, under the European Dublin III Regulation, national and international laws. 

And we will not be silent. These are just four stories of hundreds and we will continue to publishing more:

father is alone in Germany, fighting cancer away from his wife and their 8 year old boy in Greece. They lived in a tent on Samos while he was dying, he had to leave Greece but now he is alone. The family have been separated for 1 year and 4 months already.

12 year old boy is alone in Germany, his mother is dead and his father and three siblings are stuck in Greece. The boy got lost when the family tried to escape Greece together. They were trying to leave because they had suffered sleeping in a tent in Moria together, and then witnessed a terrible fire in the camp on the mainland they were sent to. Now the Greek Asylum Service will not allow them to apply for family reunification. The family have been separated for around 1 year already.

17 year old boy is alone in Germany, away from his parents and three siblings who are in Greece. They were violently pushed back to Greece when trying to escape together as a family. The Greek Asylum Service will not allow them to apply for family reunification. The family have been separated for 2.5 years already.

mother is alone in Germany, fighting cancer away from her husband and four year old son who are in Greece. Their boat almost sank when they risked their lives to reach European soil. Now the mother can only watch her son grow on the phone. The family have been separated for 8 months already.

!The separation of these families, and any families, is unnecessary, unfair and unlawful!

Although an evident injustice, as we say in our introductory statement to the campaign, thousands of families remain torn apart and are kept actively separated by national authorities.

We must raise our voices together with those who are separated from their loved ones especially today and every day!

A psychological expert opinion published as part of our campaign´s introduction, clearly describes the damage that separating families causes. Having that in mind, we insist once more that the well-being of children must be prioritised and their best interests have to be upheld!

Hey governments! Hey politicians! These are real people, like you and I! 

Kids should not be without family to look after them!

Partners should not be apart from each other!

Families should not be missing children!

WE DEMAND ALL FAMILIES TO BE REUNITED NOW!

“Home is where your family is – together!”

A campaign to unite families separated between Germany and Greece (2)

Massoud* (17): “When I was in Greece, we lived in a tent.”

A mum and a dad with three young kids in Greece – their 17-year-old son alone in Germany

This family belongs to Hannover!

Morteza B.* (37) from Afghanistan escaped his country after the lives of his family were threatened. He arrived to Greece with his wife and four children shortly before the EU-Turkey ‘Deal’ was implemented at the end of February 2016. After a few months feeling unsafe in a Greek emergency refugee camp near Athens, the family tried to continue their flight through the Balkans.

More than ten times they were intercepted and unlawfully pushed back to Greece. Once they finally reached Serbian soil, they were intercepted again and pushed back arbitrarily to Bulgaria, where they had never been before.

In winter 2016, after a week-long odyssey, they were finally returned from Bulgaria to Greece. Left with no money, they saw no option but to send their eldest son Massoud* (now 17 years old) to Germany, where they thought he would be safe, as he had been the one along with his father threatened most in Afghanistan.

Their family reunification application was never sent by Greek authorities despite repeated promises. Instead after two years in Germany and despite having claimed asylum there, Germany attempted to return the family’s minor son back to Greece. When Greek authorities refused to take him back, he was allowed to continue his asylum procedure in Germany. He finally received a one year national humanitarian status (Abschiebungsverbot). He is legally resident in Germany and goes to school there ever since. But he is alone.

“Our son was almost kidnapped in Afghanistan. Masked men were waiting for him in front of his school. After this terror, we had to take our kids from school to keep them safe. We fled to Greece. We tried for months to move onward all together through Macedonia and Serbia as we felt unprotected among the hundreds of other Afghans around us.

On our way, we got illegally returned more than a dozen times. We were beaten, pushed by border guards, soldiers and police; our phones got stolen. We were forced to cross through the freezing waters of a river and were kept detained in Bulgaria for two months in miserable conditions and without being able to even go out.

Back in Greece, after our son reached safety in Germany and when we informed the Greek Asylum Service that we wanted to apply for family reunification they just told us they would send it but we had to wait. Every time we renewed our papers, they’d say the same pushing our patience beyond its limits. Until that day I will never forget, when they suddenly said: “No! We will not send your family reunification request. You will have your asylum procedure in Greece.” I felt I was breaking.

Me and my wife still try to understand that we will have our asylum interview in Greece in one year, exactly five years after we reached Europe, when we will have been separated far away from our son for 3 1/2 years already.

We still live in this refugee camp, a container village in an industrial area. My wife is suffering from severe psychological problems for years, she has therapy and takes medicines. Her situation worsened after the violence we faced at Europe’s borders, but her health is devastated since our eldest child is so far from us.

We have a few neighbours that have been with us all the time in the camp – they have created little gardens on the dusty soil. But I cannot think of putting even one plant in this earth, as we cannot build anything like ‘home’ when one of us is missing.

Home is where your family is – together!” 

On the other side of the continent, up in the North, the 17-year-old Massoud* is counting the days to see his family again.

“I miss my family. I wish they come here to live with me in a house. When I was in Greece, we lived in a tent. There was no language lessons, no school. I was very scared to go out alone. When my parents decided I had to move to Germany alone, I was only 13. They were scared to let me go and I was scared to travel alone, but I was more scared to stay in Greece.

I speak every day on the phone with my family. I want to give them strength. The good thing about Germany is that I am not afraid to go out and that I can go to school again. In my future I want to become a cook. I learned cooking by myself when I arrived in Germany and I had to take care of myself. My mum often cries when we talk on phone, but she is happy that I learned to cook, because she doesn’t need to worry about me being hungry. She knows I can fill my stomach now with tasty food.”

* names changed

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

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