AYS Daily Digest 29/09/17: The consequences of the EU-Turkey deal

Dutch research team publishes assesment / Hospitals once again targeted in battle in Syria / Despite bad weather conditions arrivals to Greece continue / Bulgaria implements new law on freedom of movement / Hungarian government paid media for anti-migration campaign

Volunteers spotting boats in the North of Lesbos. Credits: Refugee Rescue / ‘Mo Chara’

Feature: The consequences of the EU-Turkey deal

A research team of the university of Utrecht investigated the “evidence-based assessment of migration deals: the case of Turkey” (read the original report in Dutch). Their findings have been discussed at a closed round table, hosted by the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law. The group rached some key conclusions.

  • The situation for Syrians in Turkey is so dire that 19 out of 193 readmitted [from Greece] Syrians chose to return to Syria, where after the evolution of the conflict their lives are now again at risk.
  • Often children have to work in order for the family to earn some money.
  • Compared to what was promised at the EU level, a maximum number of 72,000, this number [2,300 Syrians resettled to the Netherlands] is embarrassingly low.

Adding that these resettled persons struggle with getting access to basic healthcare, the researchers also found “that people had often been forced to leave adult children behind in Turkey because they were not allowed to travel with them under the terms of the scheme. Ironically, these family members may still have to make the dangerous crossing across the Aegean in the near future, which this deal was supposed to prevent. Indeed, this may spur migration through alternative routes such as Italy, Romania or Cyprus, if they do not want to get stuck in Greece.

In fact, this problem goes much deeper. Another group forced to risk the route across the Aegean are relatives of people with subsidiary protection. For example, Germany halted family reunions for this group until March 2018. Because of that, the families still stranded in Turkey are forced to enter European soil to be able to exercise their rights. Under the Dublin agreement, member states are still obliged to reunite families within the EU, for example, from Greece. A recent court ruling in Germany affirmed the obligation to resettle the family within the given time frame of six months.

As mentioned in the report, many refugees in Turkey face dire living conditions. They cannot go back to their country of origin. The current situation for them is inhumane. The way into the legal system of a resettlement process is hard or impossible. Nowaydays more than 60 percent of the new arrivals in Greece include women and children trying to escape this desperate situation, compared to 2015 and the beginning of 2016 (until the Turkey deal), when the figure was 90 percent. But still — and despite worsening weather conditions — there is an increase again, overstraining the authorities on the Eastern Aegean islands.

And even if the number of deaths on this route has also decreased, they are still happening. Just yesterday a nine-year-old girl, Daraa, died in hospital, after a group had been picked up by Frontex at sea. While the mother, Amira, had to be brought to hospital, the father and two sons, aged 23 and 13, were put in detention on Rhodes. Volunteers of Oasis Rhodos are visiting Amira every day, and today they asked if her family can come too, but the answer from the police was no since “they are arrested persons under interrogation”. However, the decision was changed in the evening and her husband was allowed to visit.


Following the intensifying fights in Northwestern Syria, many hospitals in the region had to be evacuated and closed, MSF reports. Once again, these usually — even in wars — protected buildings are targets of battles. “On September 26, the MSF-supported Hama Central/Sham hospital was hit by an air strike at around 6:30 a.m. local time, putting it out of service”, MSF stated.


Volunteers witnessed one boat arriving on the north of Lesvos. Because of the bad weather conditions and high waves, the Hellenic Coast Guard had to rescue them. Reportedly it was a group of 48 people, 15 men, 14 women and19 children).

In Athens volunteers created a list of organisations offering services free of charge. It can be found on Facebook.


On 21st September, the Bulgarian government implented new restrictions on the freedom of movement of asylum seekers, Bordermonitoring reports. According to the government, the reason for this step is to gain more “administrative control”. But Bordermonitoring assumes that the measures are meant to stop registered people from leaving the country. In the first seven months of this year, more than 2,100 people have been caught. The association warns that if the situation in Bulgaria does not change, this will only lead to more unregistered flows.


In the Hungarian media, hate speech has been funded by the government. The investigative journalists of Atlatszo found out that the government spent 23 million Euros in several propaganda campaigns. “ The money was spent on the infamous ‘Let’s stop Brussels’ and ‘Do not let Soros have the last laugh’ campaigns. These were, basically, anti-migration hate campaigns. The anti-Soros campaign was widely condemned for being anti-Semitic.” The money was paid mostly to media companies, some of them owned by businessmen close to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.


Following yesterday’s police raid and confiscation of all electrical devices from the first floor of Porin camp in Zagreb, AYS volunteers addressed this issue at the coordination meeting in the camp. The Ministry of the Interior has quoted house rules which state that bringing in electrical devices such as refrigerators, stoves and TVs is strictly forbidden. But they agreed to return these belongings to people after they (hopefully) get asylum.


After the EU Commission’s proposal to resettle 50,000 refugees from African countries during the next two years, Italy’s foreign Minister Angelino Alfano presented the parliamentary committee in Rome with another idea for coping with the increased number of arrivals in Italy this year. In a pilot project with 1,000 people, according to Middle East Eye, he suggested that host countries that are unable to conduct interviews due to closed embassies in Libya would be provided with all the needed information about the person to be resettled .

The Red Cross hub in Via Ramazzini, Rome, has been closed down due to low use. The last 66 migrants hosted there have been moved, Repubblica reports. It had a capacity of 400 people.

In Gorizia some 50 people slept rough. The night before it had been 44.

The situation in Pordenone is similarily bad. Here around 50 people, with all the necessary papers to enter the hub, are on a waiting list. The waiting time can be up to one month and more; hence they are forced to sleep on the streets.

Nowhere to go in Pordenone. Credits: Lorena Fornasir


In a letter to the magistrate, the inmates of the Aliens Internment Center (CIE) in Aluche have complained about their treatment. SOS Racism further stated, that they feel treated like animals. Responding to the critics, the control judge messaged the police forces, that “respect for the dignity and moral integrity” of people is a “basic constitutional obligation”.


The 29th of September in Germany marked the day of the refugee. On that occasion, Pro Asyl published a statement with demands to the (newly elected) government: the association urges the government not to implement an EU-wide admissibility procedure for asylum seekers, as this would preclude them from an individual procedure. Furthermore, they criticize the plans to abolish deadlines, for example for Dublin push-backs. Pro Asyl demands that family reunions be conducted on time, an end to readmission deals like the one with Turkey, a guarantee of fair processes and an end to deportations to Afghanistan. The full statement can be found on their homepage (only in German).

Pro Asyl demands to reunite the families from Greece to Germany. Credits: Mobile Info Team for refugees in Greece


The Refugee Law Intiative of the University of London will host several readings and seminars about different aspects of asylum in the UK. The events and further information can be found on their homepage.

We strive to echo correct news from the ground through collaboration and fairness, so let us know if something you read here isn’t right.

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Daily news digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and refugees on the route, but also for journalists and other parties.

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