Serbia: winter evictions


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The cold weather this January has not only touched Greece (see here, here and there). In this context in Serbia, the government destroyed the encampments in the vicinity of Subotica, near the border with Hungary.



The railway hangars sqatted as shelters in Belgrade were also evacuated. Médecins Sans Frontières is trying to cope with the situation when the authorities are trying to hinder humanitarian aid.


Exiles in Balkan’s winter : a Migreurop press release


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When winter becomes an additional element serving the European anti-migratory policies (see here and there), Migreurop denounces the way in which it can transform the hotspots of the Greek islands and the borders of the Balkans into a deathtrap as are the Mediterranean or the Sahara. Press Release:

« The European Union cannot abolish winter:

it must instead put an end to the criminal hotspot policy!

At what point does failing to assist a person in danger become a crime? How many deaths are necessary to constitute a crime against humanity? These questions have been raised for years in relation to the thousands of people who have died in the Mediterranean due to the lack of legal routes into the European Union (EU). Today, the increasingly serious situation of thousands of refugees, trapped by freezing temperatures in Greek camps and on the ‘Balkan routes’, directly challenges the choices made by the EU concerning its ‘management of migration flows’.

Last spring, to avoid taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and other regions in crisis, European Commission officials and members of the European Council implemented a ‘hotspot solution’ which evidently failed to take into account meteorological variables: in winter, temperatures drop and the cold is intense, even on the Aegean islands deserted by tourists. Nothing more than tent camps has been put in place for refugees to be ‘stored’ in while forced returns are organised, considered by European officials and leaders as the best solution to resolve the ‘migration crisis’.

It is clear that the European Commission and EU member states never really believed in ‘relocation’, a measure intended to ‘relieve’ frontline countries (Greece and Italy) and prevent the hotspots from becoming lasting sites for the banishing of ‘undesirables’. In fact, whereas the stated aim is to transfer 63,000 people from Greece to other EU countries by September 2017, less than 8,000 people have so far been able to benefit from this measure.

As a result, around 15,000 people are currently imprisoned in the hotspots on the Greek islands, battered by wind and snow; thousands of others are stuck in a state of humanitarian emergency and extreme cold on the ‘Balkan routes’ cut off by EU member states and their allies. Yet people trapped in these hotspots are placed under the direct authority of the European agencies and officials who must ensure that these sites do not become places of death. They can do nothing to increase temperatures; putting an end to winter is not within the EU’s remit. However, closing the hotspots and organising access to long-term reception and residence is within the power of European leaders. It is on the basis of these tent camps disappearing beneath the snow that their criminal policy will be judged. »


arton2770-1baecPhoto : Belgrade, January 2017 | (c) Danilo Balducci


Exiles in Balkan’s winter: a petition from Amnesty International


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Winter highlights the conditions of reception in Greece, especially in the hotspots of the Greek islands, created in the framework of European policy, and where the exiles sleep in tents under the snow.

Amnesty International calls on the European Commission to ensure that dignified reception conditions are in place, that resources are put in place to deal with asylum applications properly, and that the planned transfers to other EU countries are effectively realized.

You can sign the petition here :


moria-hiverMoria’s hotspot camp, in Lesvos island.

Winter in the European Union’s refugees campings


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While the European Commission plans that asylum-seekers can be returned to Greece again under the Dublin III European Regulation, winter highlights the real conditions of reception. Often, tents in empty hangars, quite often, tents outdoors.

This is the case in Moria, on the island of Lesbos, one of the hotspots created by the European Union.

– 28 ° in Bosnia and Herzegovina, – 27 ° in Serbia, the – 7 ° on the Croatian coast would appear to be mild if gusts of 140 km / h were not recorded a few kilometers away on the Montenegrin coast.

Through this cold one dies, and the list of dead exiles through the Balkans extends, in Bulgaria or Greece, near the borders.


lesbos-7-janvierLesbos, refugees are stranded in the island as part of the European Union policy of “hotspots” at the borders and the agreement with Turkey (see here, here, here and there).

Greece: the City Plaza continues


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While Greece has covered itself with camps and has become a trap in which exiles are caught and blocked on their way to the countries of Europe where they hope to build their lives, an abandoned hotel was transformed into a self-organised welcome center. It was April 22, 2016.

The City Plaza celebrated the anniversary of its six months of existence from 10 to 13 November, through debates and activities for children. It also called for mobilization for the 18th of December, International Migrant’s Day. It is a place of hospitality in connection with the particularly lively social movement in Greece.

You can follow the activity of City Plaza hotel here :


Greece : after the camps at the Macedonian border, eviction of the Pyraeus camp


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After Idomeni (see here and here), Polykastro et the other camps near the Macedonian border, the greek authorities have evicted and destroyed the Pyraeus Camp, near Athens.

The material conditions in the overcrowded camps setteled by the Greek State are hardly better, as the recent reports of Pro Asyl and Catholic Relief Services show.

You can download Pro Asyl report here.

You can download Catholic Relief Services report here.

The asylum procedure in Greece remain widely unaccessible, as this report from the Greek Forum of Refugees shows.

You can download Greek Forum of Refugees report here.


Greece: a lawyers organisation sues the European Asylum Support Office


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The agreement between the EU and Turkey provides exiles arrived in Greece from March 20th 2016 to be returned to Turkey. But these people can apply for asylum on Greek soil, and more and more Greek courts consider that the return to Turkey is illegal, this country can not be considered safe for people seeking protection.

In this context the European Asylum Support Office, which works alongside the Greek authorities to deal with asylum requests, prevents the access of lawyers to the parts of the hotspots where applications for asylum are recorded and reviewed. For security reasons, of course, but security for whom?

The Lawyers Association of Mytilene, on the island of Lesbos, has therefore decided to sue the European Support Office on Asylum for this barrier to access to rights.


Hungary: protest in a closed camp for asylum seekers


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Confinement, poor material conditions, lack of information, the asylum seekers from Kiskunhalas closed center began last Wednesday, June 1 a movement of protest.

« Solidarity with the people protesting against poor conditions in the closed asylum detention center in Kiskunhalas, Hungary

People imprisoned in the closed refugee detention center of Kiskunhalas organized a protest yesterday, June 1st 2016. Today, the protest continues. They are demanding freedom to leave the prison and live in an open camp, a faster asylum procedure and better living conditions in the camp. According to Julia Ivan, a lawyer at the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, many of the protesters are people that Hungary is trying to deport to Greece with the Dublin regulation, despite the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled against such deportations.

Kiskunhalas is one of the asylum  detention centers, where asylum seekers are kept imprisoned up to six months, without ever having committed a crime. The conditions of these camps are even worse than in the ‘open camps’ – with widespread abuse by guards and insufficient or no access to legal aid, healthcare, food, social workers, or translation (see our anti-detention campaign for more info). People are cut off from the outside, with ca 10 minutes of internet access per day and no mobile phones allowed. There is limited quality legal aid, but the many people report to us that they are simply not told where and when they may see a lawyer about their case.The Cordelia Foundation is present once or twice a month to offer psychological support.

Since 2013 government policy has been to detain those that are considered at risk to leave the country during their asylum process. In reality, the practice is much more widespread, often also detaining people based on nationality or other arbitrary criteria. At the time, UNHCR criticized Hungary for making arbitrary detention systematic.  According to the people we know inside the camp, currently about 90% of the refugees in Kiskunhalas were previously living in an open camp, but then have been brought to the prison after attempting to continue to Austria, while others came straight from the Serbian border. The majority of the people come from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran, but we have also spoken with someone hindered from returning to their home country Kosovo.

Lack of information has resulted in outrage. Most of the people in the camp don’t know why they are being held in detention. Information seems to be non-existent and there is no kind of support available within the fenced-off and heavily guarded area of the camp. According to our contact, the only time they receive updates is when their detention gets prolonged after two months. Most of the refugees are even unaware that they are still in an ongoing asylum procedure. Thus, to put it mildly, an ideal environment to produce profound discontent, disappointment, and despair.

‘As crimes pile up, they become invisible’, Bertolt Brecht once wrote. He could have easily been describing the evolution of the Hungarian asylum system. Its constant shifting and reformation, pacing fast towards escalation and disaster, and finding yet more humiliating and coercive ways to manage the survivors of the Mediterranean, the endurers of the Idomenis, the vanquishers of the fences into despair and resignation. All this does not seem shock anyone anymore, numbed from the slow abolishment of the right to asylum and the general normalization of authoritarian tendencies.

The most recent episode of the tragedy of migration in Hungary, though, was not an invisible one. Rather, once again, people had to fight themselves into the eyes of the public to have their cries for freedom heard, to be able to voice political demands. On the first day of June people in the Kiskunhalas refugee prison camp had enough. 300 of the 484 detainees initiated a protest chanting ‘freedom’ and holding a sign announcing a hunger strike. The crowd was quickly subdued by an equal number of police leading to an hours-long standoff (video).

The protesters selected three representatives to speak for them. One of them, a refugee from Syria, handed over a petition with the demands. Among them were freedom to leave the camp, faster Asylum procedures and better living conditions.The immediate and brutally uncompromising delegitimation came in the form of the government’s chief security advisor György Bakondi evoking the threat of violence by the protesters while rejecting all of the demands. While security is used as a way to legitimize repression and disregard the political demands of the migrants, the danger of violence is real. Placing people in prisons under these conditions is a recipe for escalation.

MigSzol stands in solidarity with the protesters and their demands and strongly condemns the practice of detention. MigSzol is also concerned about the long-term consequences of putting people in these conditions, certainly for them but also because of the consequences for broader society. The alienation and anger inevitably produced by these conditions can certainly not be something anyone in Hungary desires. Finally, we are deeply disappointed that several Hungarian media outlets, who so far have been critical of the Fidesz propaganda war, have now started using similar language as the government. They joined in calling the people “illegal immigrants”, judging their character without ever having spoken with them, and accusing them of merely applying for asylum because they want to stop their upcoming deportation. Migszol will protest these editorial practices by writing to the responsible media outlets and journalist to confront them directly. »

Greece: when exiles from Idomeni take the mountain


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On the third day of the evacuation of the camp Idomeni, at the Greek-Macedonian border, we can learn a little about the plight of people. Those who have accepted to board the bus to which the riot police orientait them were taken to existing centers or other created for the occasion, including abandoned factories in the suburb of Thessaloniki, where the material conditions are unworthy, insecure housing, insufficient food, lack of medical supervision, isolation. They would be about three thousand.

Nearly three thousand people would be left to the mountains to escape the police and the centers managed by the military, and would be in even more precarious conditions. Some seven hundred people have managed to cross into Macedonia, to continue their journey to the center of Europe.

Information in Greek:

In English:

Day by day information from the exiles:


Greece: information about the eviction of Idomeni camp


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The expulsion of eight thousand five hundred exiles from the camp of Idomeni, on the border with Macedonia, began yesterday morning. The Greek government has guaranteed that there would be no violence. Eight riot police companies have been mobilized. On the night before the start of the evacuation, volunteers, activists, journalists, photographers, were sought tent by tent, vehicle by vehicle, to be removed from the site, and there is thus no witnesses.

But witnesses there are, of course, the exiles themselves. You can follow online the situation based on the information that they send: