AYS Daily Digest 08/12/17: Mouzalas: Greece can not guarantee no deaths
Greek migration minister gives controversial statements / 14 protestors still detained and in danger of deportation on Lesvos / Germany extends deportation ban for Syrian nationals / Switzerland agrees to resettle 80 people from Libya / Only 20.000 people in government-controlled camps in Libya / France passes new law to detain Dublin cases
Feature: Greece can’t guarantee no deaths this winter
In an interview with the German news magazine Spiegel, the Greek migration minister Ioannis Mouzalas conceded that people stuck on the islands may die this winter. Asked if he could guarantee that no one would die because of the cold this winter, he said: “No, I can’t. What I can guarantee: We will do everything to do it.” The government wants to be prepared for the winter by 15 December. “But the key is the number of new arrivals. If the situation remains like this, then I believe that we are well prepared.” They are also considering renting hotel rooms and in case of emergency they would send ships, he stated.
Last winter three people died on the Greek islands due to the harsh conditions in the hotspots. Mouzalas further admitted that the situation in the hotspots is his and the government’s responsibility. But he also blamed the mayor of Moria for not cooperating. The migration minister revealed that he had suggested doubling the capacity in the camps and setting up detention centres — but the proposal was rejected.
When asked if he would be responsible for casualties, Mouzalas said, “That 59,999 refugees live in appropiate conditions and peace, does this mean nothing? […] It is easy to grieve for dead refugees, but we have to give our attention to the ones alive.” Probably he forgot that he had jut said that if someone died because of the rough conditions, it would be his responsibility. If the authorities were doing their job, there would be no risk for the people there. Providing a warm shelter rather than summer tents in winter could be a first step. But transferring the people to the mainland to work on their asylum applications would be a violation of the EU-Turkey deal.
Confronted with criticisms of this agreement, Mouzalas replied: “Everyone who is worried about human rights should go to Brussels and protest there — asking that the number of direct returns (probably he means resettlements) from Turkey to Europe through the allocation mechanism should be increased. As long as this is not happening, we will continue to build refugee camps like Moria.” Highlighting this is further proof that the governments are well aware of the inhumane conditions there.
The No Border Kitchen Lesvos reports, that 14 protesters are still detained and in danger of deportation. “Their arrest itself was based on a lie. They are charged with illegally occupying Saphous square by putting up tents. Just… there were NO TENTS!”, NBK states. According to their account, all 14 detainees are from North African countries and hence going through an accelerated procedure. The activists further report that IOM staff pressured them in detention to sign up for their voluntary return programme. “We expect that they will be detained for the entire course of their procedure and then deported.” Among the 14 detainees there is one cancer patient and one suffering from epilepsy, says NBK.
A boat carrying 27 people landed this morning on the south coast of Lesvos.
According to the Starfish Foundation, the Greek government announced that an extra 790.000 Euros will be allocated to hospitals on the Aegean islands that are hosting refugees: “ The largest amount, 300,000 euros, will go to the Vostaneio Hospital on Lesvos, 250,000 euros will go to the hospital on Chios, 200,000 euros to the health centre on Kos and 40,000 to the Mantamados health centre on Lesvos.”
Starfish Foundation - Help for refugees on Lesvos
Money being given to hospitals on islands with refugee centers An extra 790,000 euros is to be allocated from the…
Light without borders supplied a couple of people on Lesvos with glasses this week, who were about to be transferred to the mainland. In order to continue their work, they are dependent on donations.
Metadrasi is looking for volunteers to host unaccompanied minors. They are happy to provide information about their Foster Care Programme in their office in Tavros (25 Martiou Street 7, 1st floor) on the first and third Wednesday of every month, from 16.00 to 17.00. They are also available by phone 2141008700 and 2141008717 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The interior ministers of the Gerrman federal states have decided at their autumn conference in Leipzig to extend the deportation ban for Syrian nationals until the end of 2018. At the same time they urged the government to re-evaluate the security situation in the war-torn county. As soon as they get the report, the interior ministers want to discuss the deportation ban again. It will take a couple of months for the evaluation to be published, Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere stated.
The German embassy in Kabul has released the reference numbers of visa applicants whose cases have been processed but who could not be reached. If you know Afghans still waiting for their decision, please tell them to check whether their bar code is in this list.
Following a request by the UNHCR, Switzerland has agreed to relocate up to 80 people stuck in Libya. The emergency plan of the High Commissioner is to evacuate some 5000 people from unoffical detention centres in the North African country. Especially vulnerable groups such as women, children and unaccompanied minors are eligible for this resettlement programme. Swiss Justice Minster Simonetta Sommaruga said that this is an “urgent humanitarian measure”. The people are about to be relocated in the first half of 2018 from Nigeria, where they will be checked, mostly for security reasons. Recent reports of violence, sexual abuse and slave trade have caused an international outcry.
14,754 people voluntarily returned home to their countries from Libya in 2017 and received assistance from IOM, the organization reports.
German chancellor Angela Merkel demanded better access to refugee camps in Libya for NGOs. In a meeting with Fayez al-Sarraj, head of Libya’s internationally recognized government, she also stated that “there is still a lot to do”, when it comes to conditions in the camps, Infomigrants reports.
al-Sarraj answered that only some 20.000 poeple are accommodated in 42 camps controlled by the government. But more than half a million people reside in camps in the east of the country which are not controlled by the government and have inhumane conditions. Instead of trying to access these areas, he asked for more support for the Libyan coast guard and to strengthen the border to Niger, where most of the people enter the country.
Ignoring the fact that people do not only leave their homes for economic reasons but because of persecution and violence, Merkel promised financial support to Libya for repatriations (and probably deportations): “From Europe, we will provide support so that many can go home.”
While the Sea Watch 3 crew is on its way to their next rescue mission and two boats were reported to have been rescued by the Italian coast guard, SOS Mediterranee witnessed another interception by the Libyan coast guard in international waters. Their assistance has been denied.
According to IOM, almost 19,000 people have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard this year.
The National Assembly has passed a law to detain asylum seekers who are potential Dublin cases. This practice has already been deemed illegal by the revision court. On 27 September, the Court ruled that it is illegal to keep asylum seekers in detention centres, since the law does not define the “considerable flight risk”, the rule justifying detention. “The wording permits massive detentions, since it will be enough to have asked for asylum in another country, or, simply, to have left the shelter without a reason,” LeMonde writes.
The “Forum réfugiés” has a denounced this measure in a statement, saying that this law expands “the administrative detention in France to foreigners who do not have any final decision for deportation yet.” The NGO criticizes this practice because it breaches the requirement of the constitutional council, which does not allow detention for other reasons than the “strictly necessary time until departure”.
MRS provides free WiFi
With the help of Jangala and The Worldwide Tribe, Mobile Refugee Support managed to install a free WiFi station in their van alongside their mobile charging generator. This will enable people to charge their phones and use free internet when MRS is onsite.
Nearly half of the around 500 Syrians relocated in Portugal are already in employment or are in professional training, said the High Commissioner for Migration, Pedro Calado, in Lisbon on Friday.
“The percentage of Syrians relocated to Portugal who are already working or having vocational training is 45%,” noted Pedro Calado at the launch of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Migration Outlook, which took place in the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning of the University of Lisbon.
The High Commissioner for Migration pointed out that the replacement of Syrians in Portugal within the framework of the European Migration Network refers to the last two years and stressed that the employability indicator is an exception to the rule in the countries analyzed by the OECD.
“The OECD presents a period of 10 years so that the percentage of people relocated in any country can reach 50%. In the case of Portugal, the figure is almost half, after only a few years,” he said.
In 2016, Portugal granted 428 requests for international protection to Syrians, according to the Report on Immigration, Borders and Asylum 2016.
Last year, Portugal was among the countries with the highest number of refugees — 3,056 (611 Africans) — and the commitment to foster reception and integration is set at 4,574 in the space of two years.
Leonard Doyle, spokesman of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), called on the big social media companies to make it harder for human traffickers to use their platforms. “We really … ask social media companies to step up and behave in a responsible way when people are being lured to their deaths or to torture,” Doyle told a Geneva news briefing, according to Reuters. While the companies have not responded to this statement, Doyle further criticized their efforts as being too weak and too slow. “What they say is ‘please tell us the pages and we will shut them down’.” This situation makes it easier for people to find smugglers and leave their homes. Additionally he said that videos of tortured people are being sent to their families for extortion purposes.
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