AYS Daily Digest 14/12/17: Libya drops ban for privately organized international rescue teams

Libyan government lifting the SAR blockade off its coast / Many rescued at sea / Röszke 11 (Ahmed H.) trial to be continued in early January / An open letter to Emmanuel Macron / Keep City Plaza open / And more news…

Image for post
Image for post
In order to measure the magnitude of the horror that is happening in Libya, we must only look at the conditions in which people are forced into the sea. Today among more than 300 rescued people, a young paraplegic in a wheelchair. Proactiva Open Arms

The rescue of refugees in the Mediterranean seems to be possible again for private sea rescuers, with the Libyan government apparently lifting the blockade off its coast. This was announced by the Regensburg-based Sea-Eye organization. This means that the rescue of refugees off the Libyan coast is possible again ”without an armed threat from the Libyan coast guard,” Sea-Eye said. The ban on private sea rescue services, an act contrary to international law, was imposed by the Libyan government in July earlier this year.

The IMO Secretariat has received an official communication from the government representative of Libya to withdraw its previous official notification to the IMO Secretary-General on the government’s designation of Libyan SRR.

UNHCR published general legal considerations on search-and-rescue operations involving refugees and migrants at sea today.
Some of the highlights as pointed out by Paolo Biondi are as follows:

  • Non-refoulement prohibits any State conduct leading to the return of a refugee ‘in any manner whatsoever.’
  • Interception measures should not result in asylum-seekers and refugees being denied access to international protection, or result in those in need of international protection being returned, directly or indirectly, to the frontiers of territories where they are at risk.
  • States are obliged not to hand over those concerned to the control of a State where they would be at risk of persecution, or from which there is a foreseeable possibility that they will be returned to another country where such a risk exists.
  • Although search-and-rescue operations and interceptions at sea are distinct, non-refoulement obligations are engaged equally in both circumstances.

Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, and Czech Prime Minister, Andrej Babis — who both took office this month — made clear that they would maintain the hard line of their predecessors on migration, Reuters reports. At the same time, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the EC mandatory quotas proposal on relocating asylum seekers across the European Union, “unfortunate, untimely, and unnecessary,” adding that the Aegean Islands situation is “not pleasant and difficult to manage,” and that there is a plan forthcoming to decongest the islands.

The joint EU-AU-UN task force on migration set up last month in Abidjan met today in Brussels. The emergency voluntary humanitarian return (VHR) operation has started in line with the agreement previously reached in Abidjan. From November 28th to the present, 3,100 migrants have been assisted to return from Libya to their countries of origin. This makes for a total of 16,000 people voluntarily returned from Libya to their home countries, EEAS reports. The EU will provide assistance to an additional 15,000 people by February, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini stated today.

The task force agreed on a series of urgent measures including making available at least 100 million EUR in additional funding to support the work of the IOM and UNHCR on the ground. This is to allow them to continue to scale up their operations and to support the African Union in continuing to step up its work with African countries of origin in providing consular services to their nationals in Libya.

Athens Legal Support Team shared a video depicting how tiring it is dealing with the asylum offices in Greece.

“Any little procedure from renewing a white card (ID) to asking about your case, implies long hours of waiting in queues. Some people even sleep around the gates the night before to increase their chance of being heard,” they say. “Time is flying, unfortunately only time is fast, the Greek and European asylum systems are not.”

Help is desperately needed at the Help Refugees Warehouse in Greece, from packing orders for camp distribution and giving people what they need to survive this winter, to preparing meals for people on the streets. You can apply for volunteer positions here.

City Plaza, the “best hotel” in a Europe of fences and rising racism, is facing today major financial difficulties. Help from an international fundraising campaign and direct donations — which were so successful in the first year of the project — have decreased significantly. Therefore, the project is appealing once more to all the individuals and groups who have made City Plaza possible through their contributions.

City Plaza is an entirely voluntary effort, without any paid staff or public funding. It in turn takes significant resources to run. At the moment, City Plaza is at an important crossroad and in need of your solidarity in order to continue to run as a living alternative to the dominant European migration management system in Greece.

Donate here — let’s keep it open together.

So far, for around 20 months, City Plaza has managed to be a house of dignity, safety and struggle for more than 1.700 refugees -more than a third of them babies and children.

One boat with 43 people landed on Samos today.

A German Bundeswehr vessel has rescued 102 migrants from an inflatable dingy off the coast of Libya. Among those rescued were 15 children and a baby. Rescue missions lasted a few days, and a further 50 migrants were airlifted after being stranded in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece, DW reports.

245 people were transferred this morning to an Italian military ship: 193 men, 43 women — eight of them pregnant — and a young paraplegic who had to flee Libya across the Mediterranean with a wheelchair, Proactiva Open Arms’ founder reported. After 10 hours of searching, the light of a refugee phone served as a beacon.

Spanish Guardamar Polimniahas has been rescuing people at sea since four in the morning today. 114 people were rescued from three boats, including 16 women and one deceased person.

UNHCR updated its numbers of the dead and missing by route. The infographic is available here. 3,080 people have died or gone missing as of November 30th, 2017.

The Röszke 11 (Ahmed H.) trial will be continued in early January. A call for support and solidarity has been posted. Follow the Free the Röszke Eleven Facebook page and website for more information on the case.

The trial on second level court will continue on January 8th, 10th and
12th 2018 in Szeged. We, the campaign Free the Röszke 11, invite you to join us in our support and action! There is a lot to do: We will monitor and review the
days in the court, translate for international activists, have some
action and attract some attention to the EU and Hungary and its racist
borderregime and a lot more…
Let’s meet at Szeged Court (Szeged, Széchényi tér 4.) Room 117 or
contact us via: freetheroszke11@riseup.net
More details will follow soon.

Another Dublin III case is getting media attention with a petition launched today.

Samer Amin from Syria was arrested today and taken in detention. He was “invited” by the police to talk about his case in Austria, but instead of having the interview as believed, he was arrested and is likely to be expelled to Croatia tomorrow, December 15th. His case has not even been admitted for official asylum procedure in Austria, but he has been living in Austria for two years. He speaks decent German (B1), had three public exhibitions as a photographer, and gives talks at schools to tell children about his story (in German). He has had two job offers in one year’s time, but has not been allowed to work due to his status.

He has been volunteering at many local events as a photographer. His brother is a recognized refugee pursing an apprenticeship in Austria. Samer has many friends, family, and close ties in Austria. Locals are shocked and hope their protests will help him to stay in Austria, since Samer is an ideal example for integration.

Despite the cold and the snow, refugees still try to cross the Italian-French border over the mountains. From Sunday to Monday, five migrants were rescued, two of them with serious frostbite. The refugees were on the Italian side and were brought to the hospital of Susa in Italy.

Today, the Abbé Pierre Foundation and many other NGOs sent an open letter to Emmanuel Macron asking him about his plan to remove the country’s makeshift camps and squats. The association requests a national framework, with general social supervision, to find a way for the migrants, whatever the administrative situation and nationality is. The “security” policy — with expulsions without stable and dignified resettlement — has proven both its inefficiency and to be enormously expensive. It has consistently led to dramatic consequences, reinforcing the already precarious situation of these humans. The NGOs ask Emmanuel Macron to keep his promise to not have any more women and men in the streets, in the forest, or lost by the end of the year, and to respect the rights (already insufficient) of people in poverty.

A video posted yesterday depicts events from December 11th, when tents were sliced open by police during an expulsion of a camp.

The conviction of four members of Migrant Solidarity La Royal has been confirmed by the circuit court in Aix-en-Provence. The four retired citizens were convicted in June and ordered to pay a 800 Euro fine for helping six migrants in January 2016. The citizens plan to appeal this decision at the human rights court.

Showers have been installed today at the Porte d’Ulysse shelter and are expected to work tomorrow at the latest. The infrastructure of the building has needed a lot of work (an estimated 21,000 Euro worth). The association leading the project, Plateforme citoyenne de soutien aux réfugiés à Bruxelles, has already collected 18,000 EUR so far, but they continue to need more support. Check their page to see how you can contribute.

More information on the project is available here.

The building of Haren, at the Porte d’Ulysse, opened on Monday, December 11th, thanks to the determination and volunteers of the Plateforme citoyenne de soutien aux réfugiés. The project is to aid the 80 exiles from Maximilian Park. This building is solely run by volunteers and committed citizens who also provide daily food distribution.

Belgium Kitchen needs volunteers for its evening meal distributions at the Gare du Nord as well as people to help out in the kitchen, from noon on, at Van Volxem Avenue 2 to Forest.

If you want to help, send an SMS to Yassine at +32 488 88 82 27 stating: your name, how you want to help (cooking or distribution), your availability, and if you are motorized or not.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Belgium Kitchen

St. Antony’s College, in partnership with Jusoor, is offering one scholarship a year for entry in 2018/19 to a student who is a Syrian citizen or a stateless person normally residing in Syria. The scholarship is to study for a one-year Master’s degree at St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford.

Find more information on the Jusoor Scholarship here.

We strive to echo correct news from the ground through collaboration and fairness.

Every effort has been made to credit organizations and individuals with regard to the supply of information, video, and photo material (in cases where the source wanted to be accredited). Please notify us regarding corrections.

If there’s anything you want to share or comment, contact us through Facebook or write to: areyousyrious@gmail.com.

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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store