AYS Daily Digest 02/08/17: Put an end to policies separating families

Protest against the slow and inefficient family reunification procedure Greece-Germany / Iuventa stopped and confiscated by the authorities, charges of aiding smuggling / Volunteers struggle in Italy and France / Sweden — more than 10,000 asylum seekers from 2015 still waiting for their applications to be considered / Besieged residents in Syria deprived of medical care, WHO sends first shipments to Syria

FEATURE

Protesting the poor family reunification procedure

Video by Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza

Support came from many sides. Refugee Support Aegean and PRO ASYL have documented dramatic cases, where even lives have been lost during periods of separation.
“There are still refugees who desperately fear that they might not see their wives, husbands, children or parents alive again, as they are waiting in limbo for an answer to their applications for family reunification and for their transfer to finally take place.
Meanwhile, long waiting periods in Greece result in more anguish for already vulnerable protection seekers, and poor reception conditions are leading to a deterioration of the physical health of many refugees and in some cases even severe injuries.” ( For more information see background note RSA/PRO ASYL: The Dublin family reunification procedure from Greece to Germany)

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Photo: Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza

A group of refugees representing everyone who was protesting demanded to enter the German Embassy in Athens. The police tried to persuade them to leave, but the protesters seemed persistent.

SEA

After refusing to sign the Code, charges raised against the NGO

Today, Iuventa was stopped, held in Lampedusa and interviewed by the officials (on board of the vessel). The vessel was searched and then escorted to port, while the crew ID’s were checked.
At first, they
had received no information about investigation against them from official sites. In spite of the media information that they’ve been held to be arrested and similar claims that were present, their crew was guaranteed that this is a standard process, the group stated earlier today.
“It’s all normal control, we will be checking the documents of all the crew, and by next morning they will be ready to leave, if everything is ok with the documentation”, the harbor office’s commander said.

However, later in the afternoon the NGO published that “the ship was seized by the Italian authorities and will be taken to Sicily.” It is said they are charged for aiding and abetting illegal immigration.
The operations in question happened in the past year and involve members of Save the Children, who told the officials of instances when the Iuventa crew let a boat with two Africans go back towards the Libyan coast, after having boarded the refugees from the vessel. Save the Children reminded that, once everyone is safely transferred to the rescue vessel, the dinghy is supposed to be destroyed so it couldn’t be used again by smugglers. The NGO accused of possible aiding smugglers said they would not provide investigators with their photo material of the search and rescue operations as their primary purpose on sea is to save lives. We wait for the development of this situation, but also to see what would happen with the search and rescue missions of the NGOs that didn’t sign the proposed Code of Conduct. More than one third of all search-and-rescue operations north of Libya are done by NGOs.

In the meantime, rescues, but also deaths continue…

This morning, the Aquarius was called to the next operation. 19 people were rescued from a sinking boat last-minute and brought aboard the Aquarius.
At the moment we stay in the area and are waiting for further instructions from the MRCC Rome.

GREECE

Arrivals

According to the information published by the Central Coordinating Organization for Migration, of the 62,206 people officially registered in Greece, 15,258 are settled in different official reception structures at the Eastern Aegean islands.

Finally some concrete political support to the refugees on hunger strike

“International intervention is now required to save their lives.
These people have already been forced to flee war and persecution in their own countries. As their condition deteriorates and the situation becomes grave, we need to see action from the international community, and the EU in particular,” — Carthy said

Move minors from cells to adequate open facilities

Expressing concern over dire conditions in which unaccompanied minors are held in Greece, the letter pointed to the fact that according to data from Greece’s National Center for Social Solidarity (EKKA), 117 unaccompanied children were being detained under the police protective custody regime, while awaiting placement in a shelter.

“Instead of being cared for, dozens of vulnerable children are locked in dirty, crowded police cells and other detention facilities across Greece, in some cases with unrelated adults”

Housing programme continues

Athens

Important information for refugees in Greece:

Residence Permits

Skype registration schedule

How to get free health care in Greece

SERBIA

Refugee.Info warns refugees of the high risk of loosing or having their documents stolen while in Serbia, explaining the consequences and steps to take if that were to happen.

ITALY

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Italy’s possible implication in human rights abuses

The European Court of Human Rights affirmed the non-refoulement principle in a landmark 2012 ruling against Italy for its 2009 policy of intercepting migrant boats and transferring the migrants back to Libya.
“Italy could share responsibility under international law for assisting Libyan authorities in committing internationally wrongful acts. Italy could also be implicated in denying people’s right to leave any country and interfering with the right to seek asylum under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Libya has not ratified the international refugee convention and does not have a functioning asylum system,” Human Rights Watch claims.

Volunteers needed in Ventimiglia

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Photo: Kesha Niya

Seven Sudanese migrants rebelled against the push back to Taranto, they were arrested, but charges were dropped as their plea bargain was accepted. Five of them are already in the pre-deportation (“Identification and expulsion”) centre in Torino, sources say.

Gorizia

Video: La Voce Gorizia & Provincia

Rome

Sexual exploitation of refugees increasingly involves younger girls

Fear of retaliation by traffickers on the victim’s family members back in their country of origin, victim’s honouring her agreement are among the most common reasons why victims are not willing, at least at first, to reveal their experience or to take advantage of security programmes, IOM says.

We hope raising the awareness of this very well known problem will finally come to a point when the responsible institutions will put a stop to one of the most growing criminal activities seemingly blooming with no obstacles around the European Union.

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Infographics: IOM Italy

FRANCE

Calais

The local authority has been told to find locations for a yet unknown number of toilets

There will be 2 or 3 showers in the medical centre at the city hospital available for the 600–800 refugees living in Calais. Opening hours are not known as yet.

There is no news about where taps providing clean drinking water will be as yet

Two additional staff from OFPRA (French agency for refugees) will support the state youth outreach team for daily outreach.

However, the capacity of the accommodation for unaccompanied minors will not be increased. The current capacity is 75 and there are roughly 100–200 unaccompanied minors sleeping out in the open around Calais.

Adults will be encouraged to go to accommodations centres (CAOs) and there will be daily bus available, transporting them to 2 centres located 80km from Calais. They will have a collective capacity of 165 places. Anyone who goes to these centres will have one week’s grace period. They will then have the opportunity to file an accelerated asylum claim. If they do not wish to ask for asylum in France they will be asked to leave France.

Due to the constant raids from the French police forces, sleeping bags are in extremely high demand and are something we have been asked for daily for the past few months, Mobile Refugee Support team reports.

Paris

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Paris, Porte de la Chapelle (Photo: Jonathan Rebours)
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Solidarithé’s updated info map for Paris lists where people can: shower, find Wifi, learn French, claim asylum, find legal support & more

SWEDEN

Long time of waiting for asylum seekers in Sweden

10,600 people of the 36 000 unaccompanied minors who arrived to Sweden in 2015 have not yet received answers to their asylum applications.

The state agency says the cases that are left are far more complicated than those decided on in the previous years. Last week the Agency said that they prolonged the waiting time for this group until the beginning of 2018 instead of the end of 2017. However, some of the refugees who arrived as minors will no longer have that status once their case finally gets to be discussed and asylum claim is considered.

SYRIA

First medical supplies to support Ar-Raqqa response

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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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