Another refugee boat with 15 passengers got lost only three months after the tragedy that cost the lives of 21 refugees in December of last year on Lesvos island. Eight Syrian refugees a lost in the sea between Turkey and Lesvos. Six corpses were already found on the coast of the island. Relatives have arrived to look out for their beloved. One 17-year-old pregnant woman from Syria has been already recognised.
Last Friday the Greek coast guard had found already three of the corpses – of one woman and two children near Eressos beach. It seems the small boat got in distress only a few days earlier while the corpses were brought to the coast by the strong winds of the days. Saturday afternoon relatives of lost refugees reported to the police of Lesvos the disappearance of eight Syrians (two men, a woman, two minors and three children). They had started their dangerous journey in Dikili in Turkey but they never arrived. On Sunday another three corpses were found. Unfortunately the corpses are not to be recognised anymore since they were many days in the sea.
Meanwhile refugees continue to arrive on the island. On Monday 63 refugees were arrested my LEsvos police. Another 16 Afghans had spent some nights in the park of Mytilini city since the police was denying to register / arrest them. The local solidarity network “The village of all-together” supplied the homeless refugees with blankets, clothes and food.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL – PRESS RELEASE
20 March 2013
Refugees dying on dangerous routes to asylum in Europe
In a case highlighting the risks people take when fleeing conflict in their countries to seek refuge in Europe, the authorities of Lesvos continue their search for the bodies of asylum-seekers who had attempted to reach the Greek island.
Since last Friday, they have found the bodies of six Syrian nationals including a 17-year-old pregnant woman and a mother with her young children. They are now searching for the bodies of three more Syrian nationals whose families had reported missing to the island authorities after the nine attempted to cross from Turkey on 6 March 2013.
Lesvos is one of the main crossings for migrants and refugees trying to enter the European Union via the Greek mainland. Last December, 21 people (mostly Afghans) drowned close to the shores of the island, after the boat they were in capsized.
Since last summer, people fleeing the conflict in Syria have featured among those attempting the crossing, including many families with young children.
“As Greece is tightening the border controls in Evros, including the completion of a 10.5km fence last December, people take more and more dangerous routes. This was a tragedy waiting to happen,’’ said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of the Europe and Central Asia Programme.
“It is vital that the Greek authorities ensure protection to all asylum-seekers reaching the country. Instead, the Greek asylum system is grossly failing them. People who flee conflict, including many Syrians and Afghans who make it to the shores of Lesvos, are detained in police stations in overcrowded and poor conditions or in many cases left destitute to sleep in the streets.’’
“The Greek authorities should also take urgent measures to improve the reception conditions of those arriving at its shores and end the detention of asylum-seekers. In addition, Syrian nationals with no papers fleeing the conflict, must not be detained or issued with deportation orders and the authorities should proceed with a fair and effective examination of their asylum claims.”
“It is very painful to watch the same tragedy repeating in the shores of our own island,” said Efi Latsoudi, a local activist and member of the ‘Village of altogether’ – an initiative run by of volunteers who step in when state support for refugees and migrants is not available.
(Brussels) – The European Union and its member states should do more to help the thousands of Syrian asylum seekers trying to reach Europe as the Syrian crisis worsens and winter sets in, Human Rights Watch said today.
Between March 2011 and September 2012, 21,000 Syrians claimed asylum in the European Union. While some EU countries offer Syrians safety, in others, including Greece, they face detention, significant obstacles in getting protection, and even forced return, Human Rights Watch said.
“Syrians seeking asylum in the European Union face a protection lottery depending on which country they reach,” said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The EU should make sure that Syrian refugees and others who need protection can find a safe haven in all EU member states just as they have in countries bordering Syria.”
Continue reading ‘HRW 2012: EU: Provide Protection for Syrian Refugees’
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.
Syrian refugees ‘turned back from Greek border by police’
Asylum seekers crossing from Turkey say they have been illegally deported by Greek police or blocked from entering
by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi in Edirne and Athens – Friday 7 December 2012
On the edge of Europe, where the river Evros meanders towards the Aegean sea, a new tragedy involving two of the world’s most troubled peoples is unfolding. On one side of the river border are gathered clusters of Syrian refugees, desperate to escape the misery of war and put the Turkish camps behind them. But beyond the perilous currents lies Greece, a nation so economically bereft it has little time or resources for them.
The Evros has always been a barrier to those seeking asylum in the European Union, but now the surging tide of migrants fleeing Syria faces something new. Refugees, non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers and lawyers have told the Guardian that border forces have been pushing asylum seekers back into their boats and escorting them back back across to the Turkish side.
Continue reading ‘Syrians report push-backs in Evros’
Appeal to the members of the European Parliament
Vote No on the EU Reception Directive! Flight is no crime!
Dear Sir or Madam,
Imagine you yourself had to flee. You leave everything that you own behind. After a long, ardous journey you reach the EU. You believe that here rule of law and democracy exist, and you finally believe that you are safe. But at the border you are being arrested. You are locked up in the next detention centre – for months if deemed necessary. No-one tells you why you are being detained.
Continue reading ‘Vote No on the EU “Reception” Directive! Flight is no crime!’
The provisory detention centre for sans-papiers was opened about four months ago in an overnight action by the Ministry of Citizen Protection and Public Order. It is one of three mass detention centres – the others are located in Xanthi and in Komotini – which were set up by the new government in the summer to fit the thousand arrested sans-papiers captured during the Xenios Dias sweep operation. There have been repeated protests by the mayor of Corinth against the creation of this detention centre. He even reached the point to cut off the water supply.
The building was originally an army camp at the outskirts of Corinth city. Sans-papiers were arrested in massive sweeps and were brought from various places, such as Corinth and Patras, to this detention centre. A couple of NGOs have tried ever since to enter the prison in order to monitor the situation, screen the detainees and offer legal aid, but access has been denied. They could only see a hand full of detainees of whom they had their names in advance.
Yesterday, solidarity groups from Patras and Corinth but also from other places hold a protest in front of the detention centre. A delegation of seven persons entered the detention centre (with 2 parliamentarians of Syriza, a doctor, a lawyer, interpreters and members of the Movement for the Support of the Rights of Refugees and Migrant of Patras as well as the Antirascist Initiative of Corinth) More than 650 persons were detained in the overcrowded detention centre for the reason of “illegal entry”, “illegal stay” or “illegal exit” to/in/from Greece.
Detainees reported to the delegation that they were lacking warm water, they have insufficient food, no access to information and lawyers and seldom visits of doctors always without any interpreters, many lack medicine they need to take and thus remain sick in their cells.
Among the detainees were many minors, there were family fathers whose families upon their arrest were left behind without anyone to take care, there were persons who wanted to apply for asylum but could not manage and others who had applied 4 months earlier but were not released within the legal maximum period of detention for asylum seekers (3 months). Others had managed to apply for asylum but received during detention the rejection and lacked any information and legal aid to appeal within the given period of 15 days, therefore, falling out of the asylum system.
Reportedly, there are also many cases of ill-treatment by the authorities.
No concentration camps!
Never and nowhere!
The following article on “the next reform of Dublin II” was published on Septmeber 19, 2012
Asylum seekers in the EU would be better protected, and would not be transferred to EU countries where there is a risk of inhuman or degrading treatment, under changes to EU asylum legislation endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. Parliament is expected to adopt the new law by the end of the year.
The changes would update the “Dublin” regulation, which lays down criteria for determining which member state is responsible for examining an application for international protection. This is necessary to prevent asylum seekers from filing multiple applications or applying to a state of their choice after transiting through other EU countries. The regulation also precludes situations in which asylum seekers are sent from one state to another, with none accepting responsibility. Usually, the country deemed responsible is that through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU.
Continue reading ‘Dublin II: Reform instead of Abolishment’
Authorities are planning to set up four new reception centers for immigrants on islands of the Aegean (Chios, Lesvos, Samos and Rhodos) to cope with the rising influx of migrants and refugees into Greece by sea that has been prompted by more effective policing along the Turkish land border. The Greek police announced that in the period between August 1st and September 17, 2012, 44 arrivals of refugee boats were registered with a total of 831 refugees being arrested on the Aegean islands.
The decision to set up the centres was taken during a meeting on Monday between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Defense Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias and Merchant Marine Minister Costas Mousouroulis. The aim is as they say to prevent the incoming migrants from traveling to the mainland until they are deported. Government officials also reportedly decided to intensify inspections by coast guard vessels and members of the European Union border monitoring agency, Frontex, along the sea borders.
Minister of Citizen Protection Dendias also presented to Samaras a plan code-named “Ioni” aimed at dealing with an anticipated influx of refugees from Syria ad deterring them form entering Greece. According to sources, the plan outlines three scenarios, foreseeing the refugees’ arrival in Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. In either of the latter two cases, Greek authorities would help the neighboring countries. In the event that the refugees arrive in Greece, the plan is to temporarily detain them on Crete. Turkey is believed to be accommodating 83,000 Syrian refugees though authorities have indicated they cannot host more than 130,000. Reports suggest that around 250,000 Syrians have fled their homeland.
The old detention centres of Chios and Samos are already in the hands of the police and a planned amount of 95.000 was decided to be invested for their renovation following complaints of local police officers concerning the devastating state of the buildings. On Lesvos island the police officers also filed complaints about the detention conditions in the overcrowded police stations. As they said in the main police station of Mytilini there were 60 persons detained instead of the possible maximum of 28.
Meanwhile during one of the most recent arrivals on September 13, 2012, of sans-papiers on Agathonisi island half of the 58 passengers who had not managed to disembark when a Frontex patrol boat arrived together with a boat of the greek coast guard almost drowned when they were afraid to be pushed back into the Turkish sea and jumped into the sea.
On September 9, 2012 another 16 sans-papiers had arrived on Symi island.
At the same time the police reported on September 5, that arrivals in Evros have been reduced by 84%.
enikos.gr (in greek)
ekathimerini (in english)
samos times (in greek)
embros newspaper of Mytilini (in greek)
embros newspaper of Mytilini (in greek)
rodiaki (in greek)
greek police statistics of reduced arrival in evros (see table in greek)