AYS Daily Digest 12/07/2018: Universal obligations ignored to instead criminalize victims
Italian camps evicted / Accounts of Libyan and Turkish coast guards / 73 year old supportive woman in France criminalized / Trump protests in the UK / Right to work established in Ireland / And more news…
FEATURE: Italy continues to ignore international obligations, criminalize victims
After a tug of war battle between human rights activists and the Italian authorities, the 67 people who were stranded at sea for four days have disembarked at the Trapani port in Sicily. The Italian Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, had accused two of the refugees on board of hijacking their rescue ship. This is contrary to a statement by the owner of the ship confirming that there was no mutiny or violence on board whatsoever.
Salvini still refused to let them off the boat until a full investigation into the identities of the people was completed. The two men, one from Ghana and the other from Sudan, left the port in police cars — sirens blaring — around 9pm local time.
UNHCR Italia, OIM Italia, UNICEF Italia, Inter SOS, Save the Children, and MSF released a joint press release earlier in the day urging the government to reverse its decision and provide these people with medical and other forms of assistance. Saving people drowning at sea is a universal obligation but it would appear that the new normal for Europe is to either ignore this moral imperative or lay blame on the people fleeing themselves.
Aegean Boat Report shared a video capturing a boat headed towards Chios being stopped the Turkish Coast Guard. Those on board, some 57 people (25 children, 15 women, and 17 men), join countless others in being delayed in seeking asylum.
A quote from a Libyan Coast Guard (LCB) from an IRIN special report:
“It’s true that sometimes our Navy guys use a rope or stick to threaten the migrants, but this is just to scare them into being quiet while we try to complete the rescue.”
He says this on account of them not being allowed to carry guns, and the people being terrified to go back to Libya, to suggest that guards need to defend themselves in case people fight back. The reports from the LCB try to show professionalism and transparency, but continue to be a cover for the seemingly lawless force who have been repeatedly implicated in people smuggling and horrific abuse. This is the force Europe has chosen as an ally.
Salvamento Maritimo reports that four rescue missions saved people today. Marina Gadir rescued 30 people. Marina Arcturus rescued 62 people from six boats. Guardamar Concepción Arenal rescued 13 people from one boat. Lastly, Marina Hamal rescued 52 men from one boat and 55 people (35 men, 14 women and 6 children) from a second vessel in Mar de Albor.
We cannot forget that 600 people have died in the Mediterranean since European governments began blocking sea rescuers — 600 deaths on Europe’s conscience. MSF is calling on Europe to set up a proactive rescue capacity to stop these unnecessary deaths. In some related good news, the Aquarius will be back at sea by the end of the month.
Crisis in Moria persists
The tension from Moria is far from over. A volunteer clarifies, “The camp looks like a humanitarian crisis within a humanitarian crisis. Everywhere you see complete families dragging all their belongings to a safer place.” When will these families finally be provided safety?
NGOs working on Lesvos (with descriptions)
Here is a comprehensive list of descriptions of NGOs working on Lesvos. Please share to people looking to volunteer so they can be well informed.
The petition to #SavePipka, a small, community based camp in Lesvos for the most vulnerable families, from closing still needs signatures. Find it here.
Situation for new arrivals dire on Chios
According to dedicated volunteers the situation for new arrivals on Chios is dire. Women who are eight months pregnant are sleeping in sleeping bags in the open air and children are exposed to all sort of bugs and snakes. Tents are needed ASAP.
On Wednesday the Greek Dublin Unit published a list of the people who will be informed on their travel date and ticket information. You can find the list here.
Here is a useful snapshot of the health problems in Greece by the Greek NGO Medecins du Monde.
Call for donations
NGO SOS Refugiados is asking for donations to buy food to continue their services. For just one euro a month you could help feed the 3,000 refugees they serve a day.
Call for supplies
We Are Here community center in northern Greece desperately need supplies for the new arrivals in the summer months. Found out how you can help here .
In Rome, a volunteer organization reports that people are being evicted for failing to submit three files for a “census,” after which they are then taken to the Immigration Office. On Thursday, 35 boys were taken and the only means of shelter available to them now are tents on the street donated by citizens.
The political pressure close to the Italian-French border continues since the autonomous refugee accommodation, Chez Jesus, is now under clearance. Both the church and state have agreed to close the shelter which has provided hundreds of people a safe space to stay when on the road. They are considering offering an alternative shelter 15 kilometres from the border, but it would have only 15 beds.
In an interview with DW, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva says she will not build controlled asylum centers for refugees. Integration in the hardline anti-immigrant border country is nearly impossible, states the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee.
BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
The official figure of registered new arrivals to the country from January 1st to June 30th 2018 is 7,652 people. At the same time, there have been only 684 asylum applications, indicating that access to asylum remains a problem for people in Bosnia.
A petition against the deportation of two community members, who are due to be sent back to Pakistan, needs signatures. Find more information and sign it here.
Many demonstrations are planned across the country against sea drownings. Find out more information here.
Call for donations in Calais
Calais is in desperate need of the items listed below. Find out more and how to help here.
Also in Calais, three organizations are refusing continue to attend the meetings of the prefect of Pas-de-Calais, since the state is not addressing their many concerns regarding administration and human rights conditions in the camp. Find out more about their dire concerns here.
After assisting two unaccompanied 15 year olds to a police station, a 73 year old French woman is awaiting her judgement trial set for Friday. She faces up to five years in prison and a 30,000 euro fine just for seeing that the children could be registered under the law. Activists are applauding her compassion, which should have never been criminalized.
The Marche des Solidarités will happen in Paris on Saturday, July 14th. Organizers and demonstrators are calling for detention centers to be closed. In a Facebook post, organizers state, “The number of children in detention has been multiplied by 7 from 2013 to 2017. We no longer count on auto mutilations, suicide attempts, beatings, detention and deportation.”
Early in the morning on Tuesday, the French police evicted an XXL Squat in Dijon, where approximately 100 asylum seekers had been living. The forced eviction happened despite reassurance otherwise from the property owner. 20 people were detained by the border police and the rest are at risk of homelessness if another permanent residence is not found.
In the run up to the September election, the far-right, anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats Party is gaining ground. The country, championed for its value of human rights, is increasingly being taken by the tide of political upheaval that is taking Europe by storm. Polls are putting the party at 20% of Parliament seats, which would be a significant increase from their current 12.9% of seats.
Ireland has granted people seeking asylum the right to work after a long battle in the courts. With many of the restrictions lifted, practically all jobs are open and people will have the same employment rights and benefits as Irish citizens. Concerns remain that people will have an additional nine month wait for their asylum interviews, will have to pay a housing fee benefiting the private companies that run the centers, and that will be made difficult to apply for jobs.
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