Greece: when exiles from Idomeni take the mountain

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:

http://www.efsyn.gr/arthro/ekkenosi-expres-stin-eidomeni

http://www.stokokkino.gr/article/1000000000033523/THessaloniki-Domes-filoksenias-makrua-apo-oikismous

In English:

http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2016/05/25/idomeni-evacuation-in-slow-pace-as-many-reluctant-to-move-to-new-camps/

Day by day information from the exiles:

http://moving-europe.org/category/ticker/

http://moving-europe.org/24-5-2016-updates-from-the-eviction-in-idomeni/

http://moving-europe.org/25-5-2016-updates-from-the-eviction-in-idomeni/

http://moving-europe.org/26-5-2016-day-three-of-the-idomeni-eviction/

 

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:

http://moving-europe.org/24-5-2016-updates-from-the-eviction-in-idomeni/

https://www.facebook.com/movingeuropeproject/

https://twitter.com/movingeurope

 

Greece : the moment of the agreement between Turkey and the European Union

On March 20 came into effect the agreement between Turkey and the European Union providing for the return of the exiles arrviins in Greece to Turkey, and the relocation in Europe of one Syrian refugee for every Syrian réfugie expelled to Turkey.

On March 20, the open reception and identification centers on the Greek islands like Chios or Lesvos, turn into closed centers. Exiles become prisoner-e-s. The volunteers who helped make the place less unworthy are forbidden access in the centers, while NGOs like MSF to withdraw not to be complicit in human rights abuses that are taking place. Faced with the threat of being sent to Turkey, the exiles protest. Independent supportive structures in the islands are destroyed or threatened with closure.

 

Testimonies:

News from the I AM YOU collective :

« MAJOR CHANGES IN LESVOS

As we come out of a very turbulent 24 hours we are finally able to share the latest changes from Lesvos. Yesterday morning all the NGO’s and volunteers were told to leave the camp in Moria because it was to be taken over by the Greek police and military. This news came as a great shock to us all, including UNHCR and even the Ministry. It happened suddenly and without any warning. These changes followed the new agreement EU made with Turkey and since yesterday Moria is now yet again a detention center. Only a few organizations such as Médecins du Monde and Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) remain, but until when we don’t know.

All refugees that arrive to the Greek islands will be returned to Turkey and for every Syrian deported another Syrian in Turkey will be resettled into the EU. This is the theoretical deal. Anyone who was registered in Moria before this deal was official were transported out and taken to ferries leaving Lesvos to either Kavala, Piraeus or Athens. Anyone who arrived to Lesvos after the deal came through, midnight on the 20th of March, is now being detained in Moria. Latest information also states that eventually the police will collect and confiscate peoples belongings such as cellphones. Purpose unknown but our fears is that a closed facility like this makes it nearly impossible for the outside world to know what is happening behind closed doors.

Within a couple of hours we could see Moria transform back into the cold and chaotic place it once was, before NGO’s and volunteers entered. One could see the fear making its way back into peoples hearts and with no real answers to their many questions all we could do was hug people goodbye and collect our things before leaving the families to fend for themselves. Even with the many skilled and hardworking organizations in place, collaborations, translators and access to clothes and food, Moria was a struggle to manage on a daily basis. Now with only police and military, who’s main task is to keep the place secure and with no means of communicating with the people, it is very difficult to imagine what will happen and how families will be treated.

As for I AM YOU we are still keeping a presence in Lesvos for the next few weeks to evaluate the consequences of all the changes. We are working on continuing to develop new projects and will travel to Idomeni and Athens shortly for assessments on how to continue supporting families fleeing war and persecution.

I AM YOU has during the past six months built a very strong organization and with a long term team present and dedicated volunteers we feel confident that we will be able to set up shop in other locations and do what we do best – coordinate with other organizations to create a well functioning structure to help large amounts of people most efficiently.

Even though it has been very difficult to say goodbye to the place where we got started, I AM YOU’s mission of supporting families and sharing their stories with the world has only just begun. »

 

Protest in Chios detention center :

To see with the video and all links, check the blog-post:

http://infomobile.w2eu.net/2016/03/22/detention-deportation-centre-vial-on-chios-island-hurria-means-freedom/

« Detention/ deportation centre “Vial” on Chios island: “Hurria means Freedom!”

Protest against readmissions to Turkey and for the right to continue the journey to Europe

Today, on Tuesday 22nd of March, in the afternoon, hundreds of refugees locked up in the new detention centre “Vial” on Chios island started a protest raising their voices against the new Fortress Europe. They continue their struggle for freedom of movement as they became the first
refugees affected by the new cruel detention / readmission measures following the dirty deal between the EU and Turkey.

Thousands of refugees are now behind bars directly after they survived the dangerous journeys by boat while simultaneously volunteers and many NGOs were kicked out of the former Hot Spots. At the same time UNHCR and also Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) left the camps openly critisizing the new system as unfair and inhumane.

UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming: “UNHCR is not a party to the EU-Turkey deal, nor will we be involved in returns or detention.” Marie Elisabeth Ingres, MSF Head of Mission in Greece: “We will not allow our assistance to be instrumentalized for a mass expulsion operation and we refuse to be part of a system that has no regard for the humanitarian or protection needs of asylum seekers and migrants.”

More than that, authorities now even cut of any contact to people inside by confiscating their mobile phones. Greece nowadays returns to past horrors of “Pagani” if not worse.

In Arabic language Hurria means freedom and these are their demands:

These are the Voices of hundreds of refugees stuck on Chios. They simply demand freedom. They demand that the European governments take responsibility and treat them as human beings. They just want to continue their journey to Europe. Why can’t we access Europe? Why do you want to deport us to Turkey? They ask all other refugees to join their protest and to stand united against deportations.

Already earlier this day activists started to report on the terrible condition in the detention centre of Vial, and in an Arabic speaking facebook group the first video of the protest on Chios circulated as well.

This is not the only protest of today: In Idomeni at the border from Greece to Macedonia/ FYROM thousands started another protest demanding the opening of the borders in order to leave Greece while two refugees tried to burn themselves in dispair.

In the meantime Welcome to Europe tried to find some first answers on the most urgent questions of people who are now detained on the Greek island as well as of those who are stuck in the various open and closed mass camps on the mainland. Quite difficult as many things will still
change and no one knows exactly how the situation will look like after weeks and months. »

 

From the self-organised accomodation center PIKPA :

« PRESS RELEASE: LESVOS SOLIDARITY

A few hours after the EU agreed on the barbaric measures of the EU/ Turkey deal, a massive movement of refugees from the island of Lesvos towards the mainland started. The refugees received no clear information about where they were heading or about their rights. It was apparent that the government did not and does not have a plan on how shelter and health care services can be provided in the new destinations.

At the same time, the mayor of Mytilene announced to a group of representatives of Lesvos Solidarity that the space of PIKPA has to be evacuated. This means that the vulnerable cases that the camp is giving shelter to (people with long term health conditions, disabilities, single parent families, elderly etc) will have to leave immediately so that the mayor can transform the space into a children’s camp and a sports center. After the new measures he said, there will be no need for solidarity shelter camps.

Lesvos Solidarity has informed the Mayor, Mr Galinos that our residents cannot be moved hastily to an unknown destination unless a consistent follow up of the medical cases can be guaranteed in a camp that appropriately covers their needs. In addition, many of our residents have applied for asylum, family reunification, relocation; these processes move very slowly so our residents will have to wait for quite some time until their cases get processed.

The Municipality has promised not to leave these people on the street, but in any case the place has to be empty in order to be reused for other purposes.

At this historic moment when the EU has shown no respect towards upholding people’s human rights, the abolition of Pikpa camp in Lesvos is strongly related with a political decision that imposes:

• The closure of open and self-organized accommodation spaces
• The complete destruction of the beach rescue and support system structures on the beach
• Attacks to autonomous structures, medical units, social kitchens and lifeguard teams.
• The abolition of the solidarity network.

The above actions have been taken to prevent people’s fundamental human right to claim asylum; to force the detention of refugees; and to recognize Turkey as a safe country: a country which in reality creates political refugees, infringes human rights and does not give all people access to their right to claim asylum.

This new EU regime seeks to crush solidarity movements and deny people’s access to their human rights: we refuse to live in this kind of Europe.

At the same time, the Greek borders remain closed transforming the mainland of Greece into a warehouse for thousands of refugees and transforming the island into prisons, promoting mass deportations back to Turkey under NATO’s watch.

Alternatives must be available to protect people from this inhumane regime:

• Resist the application of these new measures in every possible way.
• Protect and create new structures that can cover the needs of vulnerable groups.
• Create a strong network of solidarity shelter spaces.

At this time, Lesvos Solidarity collective believes that the shelter camp for vulnerable groups located at the PIKPA facilities and all the self run, self organized spaces working in Greece should stay up and running since their existence is even more important, now more than ever.
We are not willing to let our residents be dumped into inappropriate camps, lacking access to basic and humane services.

The municipality’s decision to transform the space of PIKPA into a children’s camp and sports center should include solid suggestions on where and how a new camp for vulnerable cases would take place. At the same time, we demand from the municipality to recognize the solidarity that locals have demonstrated over the past months and not to play down our struggle and hard work. The municipality should also take a stand against transforming the island into a big detention center and against returning refugees back to Turkey, a country where fundamentals human rights are absent. Furthermore, we demand that the municipality stops criminalizing solidarity structures and instead supports having open self organized solidarity shelter camps.

Pikpa Solidarity camp, which has been accused by the municipality for “illegal and irregular actions”, has been for three and a half years been a strong solidarity hub, known all around the world. We will not allow our solidarity struggle to get destroyed due to the horrific and inhumane measures that the EU has decided to apply. »

 

About the destruction by the authorities of the No Border Kitchens:

« NoBorderKitchen camp was destroyed by Greek authorities today. Everyone was arrested
All 19 comrades from NBK were released wihout charges. Still, hundreds of refugees arrested and detained in Moria, today, facing deportation.
More on facebook

Fuck, that hurts: https://www.facebook.com/nobordersnetwork/photos/pcb.1034634243271134/1034632409937984/?type=3&theater »

 

City Plaza Hotel in Athens changed into self-organised refugees accomodation center

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Since April 22, the abandoned hotel City Plaza in Athens was occupied and turned into a self-organised accomodation cener for refugees by the Solidarity Initiative for economic and political refugees. One of the many initiatives of solidarity that emerge in Greek society.

http://solidarity2refugees.gr/refugee-accomodation-center-city-plaza/

Here is the statement they published :

 

« REFUGEE ACCOMODATION CENTER CITY PLAZA

From the summer 2015 and on, Europe and Greece have been found unable to respond to the issues emerging from the largest refugees’ wave in their territory, since the World War II, in the source of which there can be found the declaration and act of war, on a military as well as an economic level, from the countries of the North to the countries of the South, which has lead their populations to poverty, fear and oppression.

This fact has created two very distinctive and opposed tendencies: the first is expressed by the activation of racist reflexes, which can be found in the core of the European continent: fences and walls have been built; FRONTEX and NATO have been invited in order to “protect” the borders; deportations and brutal oppression of refugees. It is clearly expressed through the racist agreement between the E.U. and Turkey, which violates the Geneva Convention and every humanist value, as it copes with the refugee issue as if refugees were a merchandise that can be part of a transaction; it also leads to an unthinkable number of deportations towards countries in which their life and freedom is compromised.

The second tendency is the one expressed by the huge wave of solidarity in Greece, as well as in Europe. Millions of people were found side by side with the refugees in their battle to cross the borders and overcome all kinds of difficulties through their journey. People in solidarity in Athens, in August 2015, took immediate action in Pedion Areos, thousands of people from all over the world have come to Lesvos and other Aegean islands, in order to contribute to the efforts of the people there. Europe has known the largest wave of solidarity and mutual aid in the last decades. This mobilization is bearing the hope for a resurgence of the society, in order to erase the danger to see Europe becoming a “Dark Continent” again.

The Solidarity Initiative for Economic and Political Refugees has taken action, for quite some time now, within this movement of solidarity, in the centre of Athens. It has brought out the fight of the refugees; stopped the efforts to create “apartheid” areas, without the presence of refugees; pointed out the responsibilities of the Greek government, which not only did they fail to secure the accommodation, protection and free passing of the refugees, but also signed the racist agreement and took the responsibility to implement it.

From now on, our needs go to a different level. Europe’s political agenda of closed borders basically determines the conditions under which a number of political and economic refugees, who initially had the intention to move on towards northern countries, are now stuck in Greece. Without foregoing for a moment our basic demand for open borders and our fight against closed ones, we feel the need to gather our forces toward the creation of decent living conditions of refugees in Greece, in our neighborhoods, with full rights in all social services.

In this framework, all along with our constant demand for immediate accommodation of the refugees, not in camps, military or not, but in appropriate buildings with full infrastructure, where they will be able to move freely in and out, we decided to occupy this building: on the one hand, we wanted to contribute, within our grasp, with a solution to the problem; on the other hand, we felt the need to have a place where information and coordination for refugees’ issues would take place.

Our decision does not release the Greek or any other government from their responsibilities to immediately provide all refugees with accommodation and protection. However, it points out that solidarity can be the driving force which will stand up against any racist plans of the European countries and it will see to the protection of all refugees, in the direction of full integration, next to the local workers and oppressed people. There have been several attempts, right after the racist agreement between E.U.-Turkey, from the media and the government, to demonize and attack solidarity, which was considered to be responsible for the fact that the refugees stand up for their rights.

It is rather clear that if the status of exception, which has been planned for the refugees, proves to be successful, it will be used as a model to other parts of the society, which, during the last years, have experienced the brutal agenda of poverty, oppression and exclusion.

We declare that we will stand to the side of the refugees, people in solidarity and workers who, during all these years, have fought for the rights to education and health, accommodation and food for refugees, against the criminal politics of closed borders, which, up to now, has killed thousands of people, against ghettos far from the city centre, where refugees will be “invisible”.

The Solidarity Initiative for Economic and Political Refugees invites the workers in solidarity to participate in this effort, in the Refugee Accommodation Center City Plaza and every other independent solidarity structure.

Let’s create a world of mutual aid and co-existence.

Against racism, solidarity. We will all live together.

– Down with the shameful agreement between E.U.-Turkey. Open borders, safe passages for refugees.

– Full legalization of all refugees. No deportation to Turkey or elsewhere.

– Accommodation for all refugees in appropriate buildings, within the city core. Requisition of hotels and empty houses for refugees’ accommodation.

– Free access to health and education services for all refugees. Participation of the refugees’ children to programs of school insertion.

– Closing of all detention centers, no exclusion of refugees from the cities.

– No criminalization of the solidarity movement.

Solidarity Initiative

for Economic and Political Refugees »

Greece : the Watch the Med AlarmPhone reports

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Watch the Med Alarm Phone is a hotline number which is communicated to the exiles who want to undertake the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. The phone permanence joins rescue when needed and follows rescue operations to ensure that all goes well. This is a privileged observer of what is happening at the maritime border of Europe.

Mainly focused initially on the central Mediterranean, Watch the Med AlarmPhone has been very active in recent months in relation to the situation in the Aegean Sea, the maritime border between Turkey and Greece. It is therefore a privileged witness of the changes that accompanied the creation of hotspots, then the agreement between the EU and Turkey.

For this you can read in particular the last weekly reports:

http://alarmphone.org/fr/2016/03/06/weekly-reports-even-prior-to-the-eu-turkey-deal-thousands-of-people-are-locked-into-turkey-and-greece-2/

http://alarmphone.org/fr/2016/03/13/weekly-reports-bad-weather-violence-and-ongoing-movements-in-the-aegean-2/

http://alarmphone.org/fr/2016/03/20/weekly-reportthe-week-that-europe-agrees-on-inhumane-deal-with-turkey-many-die-at-sea/

http://alarmphone.org/fr/2016/04/10/weekly-reports-the-new-aegean-deportation-regime-mass-incarcerations-in-hotspots-and-forced-expulsions-of-migrants-and-refugees-2/

And follow the activity of the website :

http://alarmphone.org/en/

 

Greece: Amnesty International denounces the non-fosterling

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With the closure of the Balkan route, 46,000 exiles are left blocked in Greece. In September 2015, The European Union has committed itself to relocate in other Member States 66,400 asylum seekers. In theory, there is thus no problem. In reality, at the date of April 12 only 615 people have been relocated.

Amnesty International reports the situation of these people stranded in Greece, in terms of the conditions of (non) fosterling, access to rights and access to relocation opportunities in other countries of the European Union.

You can download the report (in English) “Trapped in Greece – an avoidable refugee crisis” here.

 

Greece : support the self-organised PIKPA center in Lesbos

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Since 2012 the self-organised center PIKPA on the island of Lesbos hosts refugees. In connection with the Agreement between the European Union and Turkey, the authorities want to close it, and generalize the policy of refugees confinement in detention centers.

Thank you to sign the petition below.

________________________________________
Lesvos Solidarity Camp (ex-PIKPA) is a unique volunteer and refugee run camp, which was created in 2012 and is now under threat of closure. It has been at the heart of the greatest humanitarian crisis to hit Europe in over half a century, providing shelter to the most vulnerable refugees and supporting the humanitarian needs of refugees all over the island and other parts of Greece

Following the EU Turkey Deal, the Mayor of Lesvos announced the closure of the camp, along with other solidarity built structures. Refugees will instead be held in closed detention centres akin to prisons, run by the army and police.

PIKPA Camp hosts vulnerable refugees, including people with disabilities, lone women and children, and the families of shipwreck survivors. Over the past six months, around 2000 people have been sheltered at the camp. Residents receive the care, information and protection that they deserve, including medical care, psychosocial support, information and legal advice.

In a situation where more than 50,000 thousand refugees are trapped in Greece, a country facing an economic and humanitarian crisis, the decision announced by the Mayor to close the camp is illogical and short sighted – and a tragedy for the people who have been relying on its support.

There are currently not enough reception facilities in Greece to look after fit and healthy refugees, let alone those in need of immediate care. Most refugees are being hosted in squalid, unsanitary and substandard conditions. As a result of this and the quality of care that we provide, we have received a statement of support from leading humanitarian actors, such as Médecins Sans Frontières.

For the last three and a half years, PIKPA has been operating on a site granted to the local  Municipality; who would prefer the site became a summer camp for children, despite the gravity of the crisis they are engulfed in.

We call on the government of Greece and the municipality of Lesvos to allow the Lesvos Solidarity Collective to continue meeting the needs of vulnerable refugees at PIKPA Camp.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/04/15/dispatches-refugee-sanctuary-lesbos-pope-should-visit

https://www.facebook.com/pikpalesvos/?fref=ts

Sign the petition :

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Mr_Galinos_Mayor_of_Mytilini_SAVE_LESVOS_SOLIDARITY_CAMP_PIKPA/?ciOjskb

 

FRONTEX : French unions oppose recruitment

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The French customs authority issued a notice entitled “Call for applications for provision for the European agency Frontex of DGDDI monitoring agents to assist the Greek authorities in the readmission procedures to Turkey” . These agents have to “be able to perform professional acts coercive techniques”.

Two French unions, Solidaires and CGT, call for the repeal of this notice, because these missions are not within those of customs agents, because they are understaffed, and because they do not have to participate in the refoulement of refugees at the gates of Europe.

You can download Solidaires’ press release here.

You can download CGT’s leaflet here.

 

EU – Turkey agreement : Turkey negociate readmission agreements to better deport

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Amnesty International had reported the Turkish deportations to Afghanistan and Syria without for people to be able to apply for asylum. Turkey is negotiating readmission agreements with 14 countries, including Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, in order to deport them more conveniently.

The agreement between the EU and Turkey, whose application began on March 20, provides that for each Syrian returned from Greece to Turkey a Syrian refugee in Turkey is reinstalled to Europe. It sais nothing about the other nationalities whose citizens will be returned from Greece to Turkey. It is now giving itself the means to return them to their country of origin.

Article in English in the Hurriyet Daily News :

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-seeks-readmission-deals-with-iraq-iran.aspx?pageID=238&nID=97699&NewsCatID=510

 

EU – Turkey agreement: deportations from Turkey to Syria

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This is again an Amnesty International investigation which establishes that Turkey deports not only to Afghanistan but also to Syria. Added to this are the refugees blocked at the Syrian – Turkish border, Syrian refugees in Turkey, unregistered by the Turkish authorities, preventing them from accessing their rights and refugees who choose not to register for fear of being expelled to Syria.

Tomorrow April 4 should begin deportations from Greece to Turkey in the framework of the agreement between Turkey and the European Union. With the risk of persons being returned to their country of origin without the possibility to seek asylum.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/04/turkey-illegal-mass-returns-of-syrian-refugees-expose-fatal-flaws-in-eu-turkey-deal/

 

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