Syrians are currently the second-largest refugee group to cross illegally into the European Union. Most of them arrive in Greece.
DW’s Marine Olivesi accompanied one Syrian-Palestinian family on their arduous adventure.
Sixteen Syrians minus a baby girl are putting their shoe laces back on. The extended family has just been released from the police station of Mitilini, on the Greek island of Lesbos.
“Did you eat in the prison?,” asks local activist Efi Latsoudi. “Did they give you food regularly?”
“Bad food,” answers one of the teenagers.
“And how many days did you stay inside?”
“With the kids?”
“Yes, with the kids.”
Continue reading ‘DW: Syrian Families Greek Odyssee’
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.
Continue reading ‘Wall Street Journal: Syrians Find No Refuge in Greece.’
Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International lashed out on Thursday at Greece’s treatment of Syrian refugees fleeing their war-ravaged homeland, with many locked up as illegal immigrants or reportedly facing police brutality.
“There is a total lack of a humanitarian response and solidarity” in Greece towards Syrian asylum-seekers, Willem de Jonge, general director of Doctors Without Borders in Greece, told AFP on the sidelines of a press conference.
Continue reading ‘AI & MSF: Syria refugees in Greece face lack of ‘humanitarian’ help’
When it comes to seeking asylum, Greece is the gateway to Europe. But the Greek asylum system is a mess. Paul Mason spoke to one man who has spent more than a year on the road – in squats, living rough and for a time in detention – about the experience of trying to claim asylum on Europe’s frontier.
It was hard to forget Mohamed Lamhoud. I met him in a shattered factory in Patras, Greece, squatting there alongside hundreds of other young, male migrants. Their clothes were filthy; many had wounds consistent with being beaten up, or fleeing being beaten up. They were drinking and washing from a standpipe.
Mohamed was different in one way only: in his pocket he had a book by Jean Paul Sartre. And while I tried to engage him about the conditions in the squatted factory, he tried to engage me in a discussion about Nietzsche.
That was in February 2012. The 26-year-old Moroccan had been living there for months. As I left that factory, I never thought I would see any of the men living there again.
But three weeks ago, on Facebook, somebody friended me and immediately sent me a pop-up message: “C’est moi, Mohamed, sociologique.” Through Facebook and Franglais he was speaking to me from inside a migrant detention centre in Corinth. And he had big news. He would soon be released.
Continue reading ‘BBC: Greece asylum: Journey through a broken system’
(Reuters) – Syrian shopkeeper Osama fled the fighting in Aleppo convinced he would be welcomed in Europe. Five months later, he is stuck in near-bankrupt Greece, where money and sympathy are scarce.
Beaten up and robbed by traffickers when they arrived in Athens, Osama, his wife and two children were arrested as illegal immigrants and thrown into detention when they recounted their ordeal to Greek police. Ordered out of Greece but without any place to go, he rues the day he set foot in the country.
“All our hope is now in God. There is a war in Syria and the country has been destroyed,” said the 35-year-old as he sat in a dingy Athens basement apartment with a Syrian flag on the wall.
“In Greece, we have had the most bitter experiences and we cannot go to another country. We have no money, no IDs or passports to travel. We are trapped here.”
Greek authorities say police are obliged to arrest people who enter the country illegally.
Continue reading ‘REUTERS: Fleeing war, Syrians face new misery in Greece’
ATHENS / GENEVA (31 January 2013) – At the end of its 11-day visit to Greece, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted that the time has come for an improvement of conditions of detention and for the effective implementation of recent positive legislative developments, including in the area of migration and asylum.
“In most detention facilities visited by the Working Group, the conditions fall far below international human rights standards, including in terms of severe overcrowding,” stressed Vladimir Tochilovsky, member of the Working Group.
Continue reading ‘Greece: UN experts on arbitrary detention concerned by detention conditions and limited access to legal assistance’
Greek police have stepped up efforts to catch illegal immigrants in recent months, launching a new operation to check the papers of people who look foreign. But tourists have also been picked up in the sweeps – and at least two have been badly beaten.
When Korean backpacker Hyun Young Jung was stopped by a tall scruffy looking man speaking Greek on the street in central Athens he thought it might be some kind of scam, so he dismissed the man politely and continued on his way.
A few moments later he was stopped again, this time by a man in uniform who asked for his documents. But as a hardened traveller he was cautious.
Continue reading ‘The tourists held by Greek police as illegal migrants, By Chloe Hadjimatheou / BBC’
By Naomi Kresge
It was 6.30 a.m. on a Saturday when Greek Coast Guard Ensign Chrisafis Theofilos’s boat got a report of a migrant drowning off the coast of the island of Lesvos.
As dawn began to break, Theofilos sped south toward the man’s coordinates. His scheduled departure had already been delayed five hours by a broken radar system that headquarters in Athens hadn’t yet fixed. That made night patrols too dangerous. Before Theofilos got to the man, another Coast Guard boat had already picked him up and taken him to the hospital with hypothermia.
Continue reading ‘In Greek migrant camp, refugees find tough road to Europe’
In a recent visit a committee of Syriza party, a residents initiative and other solidarity groups from Thessaloniki (including parliamentarians, lawyers, doctors and member of the movement “deport racism” and of the “network for the documentation of racist violence”) visited the police station of Vatipaidi following the repeated citicism of the local residents initiative concerning detention conditions for migrants. The aim was to control the situation, to discuss with the authorities, to provide legal information to detainees and to check wether there are medical needs. The result: The committee was informed that there were 14 suicide attempts within only three months registered within the two small detention cells!
The authorities confirmed the inacceptable detention conditions and allowed entrance to the committee. The committee reached the following findings:
- 38 detained migrants in 2 cells
- detention reaches 6 or 12 months following orders (ΑΕΑ 6634/1-326796 of 23-8-2012) of the Aliens Directorate
- overcrowdedness leads to easy transfer of contagious diseases such as scabies
- no access to outside areas
- food consists only of uncooked dry meals
- not enough clothing and blankets in very cold cells
- no hygiene insanitary infrastructure
- 14 suicide attempts within 3 months!
alterthess (in greek)
Eleven young men of Syrian origin were being provided with first aid, food and clothing in southern Crete on Monday after being dumped off the coast of the southeastern Aegean island by human traffickers and forced to swim to shore.
All 11 of the would-be migrants told investigating coast guard officers in Rethymno that they had been taken off a larger boat that brought them near Crete and then rowed closer to shore in a dingy from which they were told to jump in the water and swim to safety. Continue reading ‘Eleven Syrians dumped off southern Crete coast’