copyright: Salinia Stroux
The last few days hundreds of refugees were caught on the Turkish mainland, along the western coast and in Turkish territorial waters while trying to set over to Greece clandestinely. Among the refugees who come mainly from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are more than 30% children. Whilst getting intercepted, sometimes detained or directly send back to Izmir and Istanbul, the authorities take away their life-vests. Many refugees report that the Gendarmes even burned, while telling them that: “We do that so you wouldn’t try again!”
In some occasions refugee dinghies intercepted in the Aegean Sea even were threatened by Turkish coast guards that they would shoot their dinghy if they don’t go back.
Consequently, most refugees when trying again to set over have no money left to buy new life-vests while most of them cannot swim neither.
Refugees will not stop fleeing to Europe despite NATO, Frontex, Coastguards, the usage of Drones, war ships or helicopters to locate, intercept and return them. They will not stop at barbed wire or in front of armed soldiers who are blocking their ways. As long there is war, people will move on, no matter what.
An Afghan father indicates with a movement of his hand the dinghy bopping to the left and the right in the water: “It is life, or death. But there is only one road to chose.” Next to him stands his 10-year-old son. A few meters aside four small Afghan boys play “escaping from police”. The mum of one of them who is in the second month pregnant sits beside in the park feeling desperate. She is bleeding since six days, but she cannot stay in hospital as she was strongly advised by the doctor, because the family of four has to chose for the lives of all, not only for hers and the babies. Her husband cannot hold his tears, as he feels responsible for all of them, but still has to take difficult decisions.
Tonight we witnessed more than four families starting their dangerous trip over the sea without any life-vests. They had a 3 months old baby among them and two pregnant women. Yesterday there were more than five families we happened to know with more than 15 children – one of them handicapped, another only 6 months old. And these are only the ones we accidentally got to know during a random day at a random place. One random stormy night in Turkey…
copyright: Amir Karimi
“Like dogs! We are waiting here under unbearable conditions – it is not even suitable for animals!” says a young woman who is enduring since days at the borders of Idomeni. Everywhere around the transit border camp are media representatives from all over the world covering the humanitarian crisis of the last two weeks. It was then when Austria and the Balkan states decided to further reduce the numbers of the refugees who can pass the borders by limiting the eligible nationalities on Iraqis and Syrians. On Monday refugees started a hunger strike after a 13-years-old boy got electroshocked by a cable of a standing train. But is anybody listening out there?
copyright: Chrissi Wilkens
Since the last weekend border police in Macedonia and other Balkan states are pushing refugees back who come from regions which are not considered to be war zones, like i.e. Damascus, Mosul, Rakka. Omar a refugee from Syria is standing infront of the border. He is sleeping with his family in a camp near Idomeni and came by taxi to check the situation. Next to him on the ground some families are sitting in the mud with their babies and waiting. “It’s not good at all here”, he says. In his hometown Aleppo he was a dentist. Now he wants to reach Germany. “The only thing that matters to me is the safety of my children. I hope if this border closes that another route will open for us through Albania or Bulgaria.” But his wishes seem far from reality. Albania just recently announced
that it will not take refugees that are blocked in Greece. Bulgaria conducted during the last weekend a major police exercise
on the Greek border, testing their capacity to seal the borders to any possible refugee influx. Continue reading ‘Idomeni about to explode: Anybody listening out there?’
“Do we look like animals or why do they play with our lives?”
A massive police raid in Idomeni put a temporary end to legal border crossings from Greece towards Northern Europe
Hundreds of refugees were transferred by busses to Athens from the border city Idomeni, near FYROM (Former Republic of Macedonia), following a massive police raid with more than 350 officers participating that took place on Wednesday December 9, 2015. Many refugees had been waiting and protesting for more than two weeks along the new barbed wire fence, while only Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans were allowed to cross since November 19. Around 1,200 refugees from more than 19 nationalities had remained in the provisory tent camp the last days “united”, as they claimed in gratifies for the right to a safe passage. As the border got partly closed and nationalities filtered in the ones allowed to cross and the rest, the situation had escalated with the Macedonian police using rubber bullets, tear gas and other forms of violence against anyone trying to cross. Dozens of refugees started started hunger strikes to protest the discrimination, as few of which even sew their mouths. A young Moroccan died during protests as he got electro shocked accidentally. In the peak of clashes between the Macedonian police and the desperate refugees, many big humanitarian organizations left the field “for their own security”, temporarily leaving alone refugees and activists alike to cope with the experienced violence, the following injuries and confront harsh living conditions. Only a day later Frontex accepted Greece’s request to deploy Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABIT) on the Greek islands in the Aegean to assist the country in dealing with the record number of migrants coming to its shores.
Massive police raid far from the eyes of the public
Already on Tuesday activists informed that there were civil police checking the tents and counting people in order to prepare for their expulsion. The next day, no journalist, no volunteers and no NGO employees were allowed to be present when the police operation started in the early morning hours. Four journalists were even temporarily arrested as they were on scene. The only reliable information from then on came from the refugees themselves. “The police came early in the morning when there were no journalists with cameras around. They forced violently the single men to get out of their tents and enter the buses,” a young woman from Yemen said, who just arrived with her family to the Tae Kwon Do stadium in the district Palaio Faliro, one of three temporary accommodation sites the government provided for in Athens which was a 2004 Olympic Games venue. She is looking for a way to move to the open camp Eleonas because the huge gym is overcrowded and noisy. Living conditions there are hard to cope with specifically for her as a woman and her small children. Continue reading ‘++Police raid in Idomeni++Refugees trapped in Athens now++’
Migreurop published in May 2014 their new report “Frontex between Greece and Turkey”
In this report, FiDh, Migreurop and eMhrn present the results of an investigation in Greece and Turkey, which explored the specific nature of Frontex’s activities at the Greece-Turkey border and their impact on the human rights of migrants. By participating in the EU policy to combat irregular immigration, despite numerous reports of human rights violations, is the agency complicit?
read the full report here (in English)
10.365 metres of fence of 4 metres height lead now on the land border between Greece and Turkey from Fylakio of Kastanies until the river Evros. The construction that began in May 5th was completed on December 15 and costed 3 million Euro.
kathimerini (in greek)
Turkey has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with FRONTEX, the EU’s border management agency, to cooperate against illegal immigration, amid expectations that the EU will soon give the go-ahead for visa liberalization talks with Ankara.
Continue reading ‘Turkey signs deal with EU’s border agency’