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Press Release: Unaccompanied minor severely self-injured himself in Moria “first reception” detention centre in Lesvos

PRESS RELEASE 21.07.14 Lesvos

Unaccompanied minor severely self-injured himself in Moria “first reception” detention centre in Lesvos

On 17/7/2014 a 17-year-old Afghan who had been detained for many days in Moria awaiting his transfer to a special reception centre for minors cut his arms in an act of despair and protest as he could not stand anymore being closed up for many days and under such conditions. He was transferred to the psychiatry department of the local hospital.

In Greece there are 10 reception centres for unaccompanied minors with about 330 places in total that need to cover the needs of thousands. At the same time that a vast number of reception places are lacking many minors fear long detention upon arrival in Greece in so called First Reception Camps (detention centres) if they register with their real age and register themselves as adults. The background: Unaccompanied minors arriving in first reception centres have to undergo a number of medical examinations and then wait for a place in one of the overcrowded reception centres in order to be released. The detention duration varies and can reach one month or more months, while delays depend on the crowdedness in the reception facilities.

As a consequence hundreds of unaccompanied minors register as adults. They are being transferred to Pre-removal Detention Centres at the mainland, such as Amigdaleza, Corinth, Komotini, Xanthi, Fylakio or Drama / Parenesti where legal aid is not existing. When they realise that they end up facing 18 months detention or more due to their changed age all of them try to find ways to proof that they are minors.

Anyhow, if age-assesment has taken place already in First Reception Detention it is unlikely if not impossible (without the help of a lawyer) the authorities will approve a second age-assesment later. Age-assesment procedures have been recently defined in a Ministerial Decision for First Reception but not for Pre-Removal Detention Centres. As a result the procedures vary in the different places and more than that the ways and methods carried out are highly questionable. For this reason among others many unaccompanied minors end up in 18 month detention.

We demand for the immediate creation of sufficient special reception centres for unaccompanied minors. In this frame the Reception Centre for Unaccompanied Minors in Agiassos, Lesvos, which was closed earlier this year despite the huge need should be re-opened with the necessary funding to allow for its functioning.

And we demand for the immediate release of all unaccompanied minors in first reception detention centres, pre-removal centres or any other form of detention. As provided for in the Guidelines on Policies and Procedures in dealing with Unaccompanied Children Seeking Asylum from UNHCR (1997) “(T)he child should be given the benefit of the doubt if the exact age is uncertain” and “the main guiding principle in any child care and protection action is the principle of the ‘best interest of the child'”.

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17-year-old Afghan self-injured himself to protest detention in Lesvos

A 17-year-old Afghan self-injured himself to protest against the long detention duration in Moria “first Reception” detention camp in Lesvos, Greece.

He has been transferred to the psychiatric clinic of Lesvos Bostation Hospital. A number of unaccompanied minors have stayed even up to two months in Moria awaiting transfer to a special open camp for separated children. The long duration of detention is the reason for many minors to register themselves as adults in fear of being locked up long periods. Anyway, thereby they loose not only their rights as children but also often end up in 18 month (and longer) detention as adults in one of the many pre-removal detention centres at the mainland.

Moria in April 2014 while the construction of the fences was not yet finished

Moria in April 2014 while the construction of the fences was not yet finished

efimerida ton sindakton (in greek)

LESVOS: VOICES FROM INSIDE MORIA – THE NEW PAGANI OF TROIKA

‘First reception’ practices of refugees in Greece: The example of Moria on Lesvos island

“We didn’t come to Europe to get beaten, insulted and imprisoned.”

In September 26th, 2013 the new so called “first reception center (KEPY)” opened in Moria on the island of Lesvos. It is the second of its kind in Greece following the example of the KEPY in Fylakio, Evros that opened earlier in the same year.
The Pagani of the Troika – as it is called to remind of former prisons and to disconnect it from nearby Moria village, is a prison where only a few selected NGOs have access under the precondition not to share any information with the outside world. Civil society gets presented the term ‘first reception’ that gives a false impression of an open, accessible place while it is nothing else than another new prison in the tradition of Amigdaleza’s fenced containers the only difference being the detention duration – at first sight. As prescribed by law, detention does not exceed 25 days maximum in this place BUT detainees might just be transferred to (pre-removal) detention centers such as Fylakio, Komotini, Xanthi or Chios for example, where they might stay up to 18 months or more if they are not readmitted to Turkey, deported or sign voluntary return in the meanwhile.

Currently the detention center in Moria is being constructed directly next to the “first reception” center, and build within the same fences and with the same containers. It is about to be opened in beginning of July 2014 with a capacity of 750 people while the capacity of the “first reception” screening center is supposed to reach 250 places. Nonetheless, only detention is what has marked the character of Moria since the beginning.

Moria in April 2014 while the construction of the fences was not yet finished

Moria in April 2014 while the construction of the fences was not yet finished

It is our aim to show from the very beginning of its functioning the real face of the ‘first reception’ detention center and to insist that this has to be closed. We do not argue for better detention conditions but for freedom!

We asked refugees having passed through Moria prison one single question:

‘What was your worst experience inside Moria detention?’
Continue reading ‘LESVOS: VOICES FROM INSIDE MORIA – THE NEW PAGANI OF TROIKA’

New arrivals of refugees on the Aegean islands April (16-30) and May 2014

1-31. May 2014

31.5. Mytilini 18 refugees and one alleged facilitator were arrested
30.5. Mytilini 48 refugees were arrested
29.5. Limnos 36 refugees and 2 alleged facilitators were arrested
29.5. Chios 15 refugees were arrested
29.5. Aghios Efstratios 66 refugees were arrested
28.5. Samos a group of 32 and a group of 25 refugees were arrested
28.5. MYtilini a group of 32 and a group of 22 refugees were arrested
28.5. Rhodes 6 refugees and one alleged facilitator were arrested Continue reading ‘New arrivals of refugees on the Aegean islands April (16-30) and May 2014’

new arrivals in the aegean (17.6.-30.6)

Lesvos
28.06.: 21 (13 men, 2 women and 6 minors)
24.06: 42 (30 men, 7 women and 7 minors)
23.6: 33 (23 men, 3 women, 7 minors)
17.6.: 22 (18 men, 3 women, 1 minor)

Samos
28.06: 30
22.06: 38
21.6.: 43
19.6.: 44
17.6.: 48 (36 men, 8 women and 4 minors)

Farmakonisi
19.6.: 18

hellenic coast guard

More than 130 refugees exposed to the sun in the port of Lesvos

30 degrees celsius
75 arrivals today; 95 the two days before

26 degrees celsius

26 degrees celsius


Despite the positive experience of PIKPA open welcome centre that was opened by the end of last year by the local activist network “Village of all together”, which provided for the first time a real reception solution for refugees, the authorities on Lesvos keep refugees locked up in degrading and inhuman conditions ignoring the given alternative.
3
With the increase in arrivals in the beginning of May 2013, detention facilities started to get overcrowded once more on the island. The authorities didn’t know where to put the refugees anymore.

Some of the recent arriving refugees are trying to survive since three days in the sun while being “locked up” in the port of Lesvos without any protection or infrastructure. There is no food supply by the responsible authorities but only through volunteer citizens on the island. Nevertheless it remains insufficient. Yesterday one young man fainted due to heat, thirst and hunger. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Among the refugees of the last three days, who come in their majority from war torn areas such as Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia, are several pregnant women, elderly and sick persons, small children and even a five-mmonth-old baby with severe health issues. Basic medical aid is provided by the Doctors of the World. The coast guard and the police keep even vulnerable persons such as families, children, pregnant women for days imprisoned. Additionally Syrian nationals who according to a decision of the Ministry of Citizen Protection are not to be imprisoned anymore remain at least some days behind the bars.

Even a 5-month-old baby

Even a 5-month-old baby

On Lesvos since two months the coast guard arrests the refugees on land and on sea, detains them for a few days in the fenced open area inside the port, makes a first registration and then transfers them either to the local police station or to a detention camp in Chios or elsewhere in Greece. The police then issues after an uncertain period of time between some hours and up to months a detention and a deportation decision against each refugee.

more than two women advanced in pregnancy

more than two women advanced in pregnancy


Not knowing where to put the refugees other than inside the fenced port area or in the filthy cells of the police station, the arriving refugees are pushed around from one detention place to the other, from one island to the other or even to the mainland. Currently the detention centre of Chios where many of the in Lesvos arrested had been transferred to has also passed its capacity (of 100). No one can tell who will stay for how much time in detention. At the same time there are unaccompanied minors imprisoned in different police stations of the island who will soon reach one month behind the bars because they wait for a place in a specialised reception centre. Such a place exists in Agiasos, a mountain village on the island, but instead of offering refuge to the children in prison, the government has cut the funding, the centre is since two months without staff and the 60 hosted minors are trying to survive now without any food.
 Meanwhile tourists arrive from Aivalik in Turkey and look at the destitute refugees

Meanwhile tourists arrive from Aivalik in Turkey and look at the destitute refugees


Meanwhile BBC published yesterday an article according to which the Greek authorities push-back illegally refugees and migrants to the Turkish side in Evros but also seemingly in the Aegean denying them thereby the right to access to the territory
and as such to asylum in Europe. Even more, the alleged push-backs put the lives of the refugees in risk of death.

Yesterday while the coast guard was repairing a rubber boat just next to the refugees who were sitting in the sun some boys from Afghanistan asked with fear in their eyes:

“They are not going to return us back with that boat to Turkey, are they?”

Despite the great efforts of the local activists in welcoming the new arriving refugees with all possible means in PIKPA and outside of it, the government obviously has not the intention to invest in this project and to create hospital and open welcoming centres. On the contrary it is creating a constantly growing detention and deportation regime with new and bigger prisons, growing repression, higher fences and hidden deportations on the border.

Everyone asks: When will we be free?

Everyone asks: When will we be free?


P.S. A remark towards the Frontex boat and staff that is currently in operation on Lesvos: How exactly is Frontex with its fundamental rights approach reacting to the obvious degrading detention conditions and the alleged push-backs? As proudly presented the high technology and expertise assumingly allows the “experts” from the European Agency to see everything that is going on on the border. Doesn’t it? IF not actively part of the system isn’t there at least a responsibility of cognisance and thus a complicity?
Europe is not only present with its flag but also with Frontex

Europe is not only present with its flag but also with Frontex

Reception centre for unaccompanied minors in Mytilini in danger to be closed

According to the Ombudsman for the Child Greece, Giorgos Moschos, there are currently more than 5.000 unaccompanied minors in Greece but only less than 400 places in specialised reception centres. Furthermore, there are no reception centres for the under 12-year-olds or for unaccompanied girls.

Despite the overall lack of accommodation facilities currently the reception centre in Agiassos, Mitilini, which is one of the biggest in Greece and exists since five years, is in danger to be closed putting 60 unaccompanied minors in danger of becoming homeless and a dozen of employees in fear to stay jobless.

enet (in greek)

video: syrian refugees in greece 2013

Lesvos: More refugees dying on dangerous routes to asylum in Europe

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.

efimerida ton sindakton (in greek)

lesvos news (in greek)
embros (in greek)
tvxs (in greek)

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.

Wall Street Journal: Syrians Find No Refuge in Greece.

By MATINA STEVIS

LESVOS, Greece—On this Aegean island’s shores, Syria’s refugee crisis is crashing up against Greece’s migrant-policy mess.

Mohamed Simo, a 28-year-old Web designer from Aleppo, Syria, wanted to avoid the limbo of refugee camps of Turkey and Jordan, so he paid smugglers to bring him to Europe. After what he said was a harrowing journey from Turkey in a sinking plastic boat on a cold February night, he washed up in this tourist haven and was detained by local police.Image.image003.jpg@01CE2485.E7C7E2D0
Continue reading ‘Wall Street Journal: Syrians Find No Refuge in Greece.’

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