Greece needs more EU funds for immigration, minister says
Greece needs more funding from the European Union to deal with the increased flow of undocumented immigrants in the eastern Aegean, Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias said in an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini.
According to the minister, there has been an 800 percent increase in the number of irregular migrants reaching Greece via boat from Turkey over the last two years.
He said that Greece was finding it increasingly difficult to deal with this influx and that it would require further funding from the EU, which has recently reduced the budget for its Frontex border agency.
Kikilias said Greece has asked for emergency funding to cover the cost of hosting migrants in reception centers and to create a mobile unit to process asylum applications.
“On the one hand it is our duty to protect our borders, on the other it is also our duty to provide humane holding conditions to migrants, who are, after all, human souls in absolute misery,” he said.
The Greek government is about to use a drone to oversee its sea borders in the Aegean, one the of main avenues for immigration into the EU, in a pilot project. Athens’ Ministry of Shipping has issues a competition call for a drone that, according to the competition rules, has to be handed over to the authorities by the end of June.
Greece’s Shipping Minister, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis recently revealed that the country is receiving around 1,000 immigrants a month through the eastern Aegean Sea. Immigration flows have intensified in the Aegean since Greece put up a fence to close off its land border with Turkey alongside the river Evros in the northeast of the country. Immigration flows have also been affected by the deteriorioration of conditions in Syria. Continue reading ‘Ministry announces pilot scheme Greece to use drones to control Immigration’
The Monaghan Report on the scandalous death of Jimmy Mubenga during his expulsion from Britain highlighted the broader issue of the inhuman treatment of immigrants in Europe. We become more and more accustomed to their demonisation and dehumanisation; even worse, the recent “Go Home” vans campaign in Britain warns that immigrant-bashing might soon become something like official policy. A system in crisis needs scapegoats, and the immigrants come in handy here, being much sexier scapegoats than bankers. Could this be a prelude to a wider authoritarian turn? Just watch what is happening in Greece.
The plight of the newcomers has often been described in words and in film. It does not lack official sanction. Before the elections, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, whose extreme Right past and affiliations are no secret, decried that “our cities have been occupied by illegal immigrants; we will take them back”. This would actually be an act of charity towards Greek children: “Kindergartens are now full of immigrant children, and Greeks cannot enter. This will stop!” he added. Nikos Dendias, Minister for Public Order, put things into perspective: “Immigration is a problem perhaps greater than the [economic crisis]”. Such declarations are not taken by the police as implying that immigrant rights are sacrosanct. As for the judicial and the administrative system, they protect these rights no better. In all, asylum seekers are systematically detained and face inhuman or degrading treatment. This is not leftist rhetoric, but an official statement of the highest EU Court of Justice, which in 2011 put a ban on the deportation of asylum seekers to Greece for exactly that reason. Continue reading ‘The new untouchables, An essay by Spyros Marchetos’
Strasbourg, 24.01.2013 – Given the mounting tensions over asylum and irregular migration into Greece, Turkey and other Mediterranean countries, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has underlined the need to rethink responsibilities here and deal with what should be recognised as a European problem and not one confined to a single or a few European States.
Greece, the main entry point for irregular migrants into the EU, and Turkey, the main country of transit, which has taken in 150 000 refugees from Syria, will not be able to resolve their difficulties “without greater solidarity and assistance from the EU and other member states of the Council of Europe”, was the view taken by PACE members during a debate held under urgent procedure in Strasbourg today. Continue reading ‘Mounting tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over migration and asylum: a European problem’
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!’
UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants concludes the fourth and last country visit in his regional study on the human rights of migrants at the borders of the European Union: Greece
ATHENS (3 December 2012): Following an invitation by the Government, I conducted a visit to Greece from 25 November to 3 December 2012. During my 9-day visit, I visited Athens, the Evros region bordering Turkey, the Aegean island of Lesvos, and the western port city of Patras. I met with Government representatives, civil society organisations, international organisations, the European Union (EU)’s representation in Greece, as well as migrants themselves, including in detention centres. Continue reading ‘UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants on the situation in Greece’
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.
Corinth provisory detention center in a former army camp
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.
Instead of rights protection of refugees and migrants Greece is investing in a new detention regime. See some of the new detention centers.
Amigdaleza detention center
The greek government is constructing a new detention landscape since the opening of the detention centre of Amigdaleza near by Athens. Only recently, in August 2012, a massive police lead pogrom (in Athens but also Korinth and elsewhere) resulted in the arrest of more than 2.500 migrants and refugees.
Recently the greek news are talking of a revival of the old routes into Greece through the Aegean islands. Since two years Evros has been the main entrance for sans-papiers into Greece with steadily increasing numbers of arrivals. Since the beginning of the governments massive pogrom against sans-papiers in Athens but also in Evros and the further periphery in the beginning of this August, numbers of arrivals have been shrinking in Evros and increasing again slightly on the islands of the Aegean (mainly: Mytilini, Samos, Patmos, Leros, Symi etc.). In August 397 sans-papiers were arrested on the Aegean islands compared to 168 in 2011. The greek government following this increase and the medial hype around the “revival of the island routes” asked Frontex for more support in controlling their sea borders. The request concerns 4 additional aircrafts, 4 coast guard ships and specialised extra staff.
Concerning the fate of the arriving sans-papiers, as it seems, the authorities on the islands have the order to keep new arriving sans-papiers as long as possible in detention on the islands and not transfer them to Athens. In some cases solidarity group denounced the lack of access to the asylum procedure for the detained. In a long-term perspective if arrivals will continue and grow this could result in the creation of new detention places on the islands (or the re-opening of old ones). It is yet unclear if the slightly increasing arrivals on the islands can be interpreted as another change of routes or if it is more of a short term phenomenon. Clearly, the medial referral to a “revival” of the old routes and de facto arrivals of the last days anyway also lead to an increased use of a fascist discourse by some people within the local societies (i.e. in Symi but also elsewhere).
In Samos the local solidarity group published a number of press releases concerning the very poor detention conditions of newly arrived Syrian and Afghan refugees (among them also children, women and UN-recognized refugees from other countries) and the lack of access to the asylum procedure for the about 50-60 refugees. Since a few days the Syrian refugees are on hunger strike protesting their inhuman situation.
In Mytilini the last month there have been also repeated arrivals (50 and more in the last period). Sans-papiers seem to be detained in the police stations of the island.
In Symi a boat carrying 38 sans-papiers was seemingly shot by the authorities and thereafter sank (on September 4th). The passengers were saved and are in detention now. In total there were about 100 (or more) arrivals in this period. The police station does not fit any more detainees so that the new arriving have to stay in the yard and next to it in outside spaces. The Doctors without borders are offering some medical first aid, while the police is responsible for the catering. At the same time during a recent municipal council on the island one of the speakers proposed to call members of the fascist party GD (golden dawn) to “solve the problem” and “so that the guys don’t allow the boats of the coast guard to disembark the sans-papiers on the island”. The mayor of the island at some point said: “if nothing happens (from the side of the government?) then we have to tak the weapens and protect our island!”.
In Leros a few days ago 60 sans-papiers arrived – originally having arrived on Farmakonisi. Amog them were also small children. They were all detained in the yard of the coast guard and the police station.
... 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.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: The EU-Turkey refugee deal has left thousands of refugees and migrants in squalid and dangerous living conditions, and must not be replicated with other countries, Amnesty International said today ahead of the deal’s one year anniversary.The deal aimed at returning asylum-seekers back to Turkey on the premise that Turkey is safe for them, […]
Statement of the network “Welcome to Europe“, 6th of August 2013 Since Sunday night, 5th of August, the tanker “Salamis”, whose crew rescued 102 boatpeople is blocked on open sea by Maltese maritime forces. The refugees came in distress while fleeing via Libya in direction of Europe. Since more than 34 hours the ship is […]