AYS Daily Digest 21/06/17: UNHCR’s resettlement is not available for everyone

Six EU-countries to come up with a military pact to stop next potential wave of refugees / Burglary in One Happy Family’s Community Center at Lesvos / Latest trends in arrivals at the Greek islands / Human trafficker charged in Italy / Protests in Venice / And more news…

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Photo: Liseron Beytout, someone is asking for a place to rest. Nothing more.

Feature

The UNHCR quota system is along with the EU relocation program and family reunification the only safe paths to a new life away from war, persecution and the limbo it means to be one of the refugees stranded in Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Jordan and elsewhere that isn’t home. What is important to keep in mind while celebrating UNHCR’s program and these possibilities given to some lucky and for sure people well worth it, is that more people should be able to escape years ahead as refugees. It is amazing that seven people are picked from Serbia — but it is not enough.

What also is interesting to note, is that the people picked by UNHCR in fact also is picked by the countries offering people asylum. According to the people AYS have been in contact with they applied to become UNHCR quota refugees when they came to Serbia, after that the process was eight months, but that can vary. After the application was done they first had to attend interviews to be picked by UNHCR and after that by Swedish authorities, through the Migration Agency, picked them from UNHCR’s program. It is both logo’s on some of the documents shown, that says that the family is accepted in Sweden and will be transfered by UNHCR. Serbia isn’t mentioned as a geographic area where refugees are relocated from in general by Sweden. Probably the cases relocated from Serbia are seen as urgent and prioritized cases, as stated in the text. Besides that, the focus is on Syrian refugees. What is worth to note is that the people relocated in this case was Afghans, and they lack access to the different programs provided by the EU, such as the relocation program. If it is the EU’s program that are making the Afghan refugees, among others that lacks safe paths, in Serbia “urgent and prioritized” is not said, but it is worth questioning.

This pick and choose system, from the ones labeled as vulnerable enough by UNHCR to qualify for the program, becomes dangerous and elitist. The process, whos aim should be to protect, instead runs the risk of becoming a haunt for special skills and for refugees that can contribute to the country rather of who actually needs the protection best. The people relocated from Serbia was asked about things such as education, skills and family history in detail. Of course — if a country needs certains skills and someone stranded along the refugee route can help, it’s great for both parts. But, it could also be misused, and then not benefit the most vulnerable people at first hand — since the most vulnerable people rarely are the ones able to apply for programs and perform well at interviews with officials.

Sea

For more than 16 hours the IUVENTA has been sailing with its flag at half-mast. All grieve for the bodies recovered by the crew from the ocean yesterday evening.
For now it’s unclear what is going to happen to them.

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Photo: Jugend Rettet e.V.

EU

The group, which includes two countries, currently being sued by the European Commission for refusing to participate in the E.U.’s internal resettlement mechanism, said this would allow countries to have control over who is entering their borders. Control and alienation, again, instead of understanding and solidarity towards people who’s homes aren’t as safe places as their own.

Greece

Mainland

– Keep the squats open!

– Close the camps and detention centers!

– Cancel the shameful EU-Turkey deal!

– Open the borders!

– You can’t evict a movement!

City Plaza, among other occupied places, is not only just occupied spaces and shelter for people in need of it. It is also statements about and against racism, oppression and those in power. It is a way of showning how locals, refugees and foreigners can live together in peace and dignity — which should be the case in all of Europe, not only in the squats.

Islands

A terrible incident has been reported from Moria detention center. A resident in the camp was today beaten up by police, and after that the police tried to delete everyone’s photos from the incident. Fortunately, they didn’t succeed in doing so.

Burglary at One Happy Family’s Community Center

The night until today, the 21st of June, someone broke into the One Happy Family Community Center on Lesvos. A laptop, speakers, soundsystem for the home-cinema, clothes and several other things were stolen. Three windows and a door is broken. Today the center was closed, since they wanted to think about how to make it safer. They are all confused and devasteted by the incident.

Replacements for the stolen things are needed. Please consider donate so they can be back in business as soon as possible.

Chios

Women do menstruate even thought they are stuck in refugee camps. It’s just a bit harder, especially for those living in tents. Every women or girls that has been camping in the forest can relate to this, which of course is an even more urgent matter for those living like this not only one period but several. It might not be a stigma all over the world in 2017, but still something personal and that makes people a bit vulnerable in case they don’t have access to sanitary pads. The Unmentionables will distribute sanitary pads to refugee women on Chios, so they can have a sanitary, safe and dignified period even in the not most dignified conditions on the Greek islands. The pads handed out is from Lunapads.com and can be reused. Follow the link to donate.

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Photo: NeedsList & The Unmentionables

Arrivals and refugee flows to the islands

This morning Lesvos, according to local sources, hit 3,653 while it in January was 3,181. It has been a significant increase in arrivals to Lesvos in the last 20 days. From June 1st to the morning, 682 refugees and immigrants passed to Lesvos. At the same time in Chios it passed 308 and in Samos only 48. In the last week the flows to Chios and Samos are zero. One reason behind these flows could be that that there is a concentration of tourists on the coasts towards Turkey at Chios and Samos, and that is not the case on Lesvos at the coast where most refugees are arriving.

According to data from the General Police Directorate of the North Aegean, on Wednesday 21 June, 9,459 refugees and immigrants are trapped in total on islands in camps and other structures. Of these, 3,653 are, as mentioned, in Lesvos, 3,898 in Chios and 1,908 in Samos

Italy

A human trafficker of Nigerian origin, known under the nickname ”Rambo” has been arrested in Italy. He is charged for torturing and killing migrants held captive in Libya, Italian Police said to media yesterday according to the Local. The man behind the nickname ”Rambo” is John Ogais, 25, and he is believed to be a part of a bigger transnational smuggling ring, that is specialized in human trafficking, murder and rape. The local police on Sicily have compiled testimonies from migrants that have been able to escape from him without facing death. They are witnessing about at least two men dying at Ogais hands.

The conditions in Libya is so bad that people stranded there, according to UN’s estimations the number of people waiting to cross the sea can be up to one million, are villing to take the chance of getting themselves in the hands of smugglers such as ”Rambo”. Almost 2000 people have died while they have been trying to do the journey to Europe this year. And last year was the most deadly since the counting started, with over 5000 tragic deaths. The need of safe paths have never been more major than it is right now. This year only, over 77 000 people have come to Europe escaping different kinds of violence, poverty, war and persecution.

Protests in Venice for better conditions

For the world refugee day yesterday in Venice a demo was held to protest against precarious conditions asylum seekers are forced to suffer. The demo was organised by USB, a grassroot union. Between 200 and 300 refugees from Cona and another group of 100 that are often in the area of the train station marched peacefully together, asking for better life condition and to speed up asylum and protection applications. All nationalities living here marched side by side, Bengalis and Nigerians, Muslims and Christians. They shouted mottos as : “asylum for everyone”, “we are not goods”, “stop ghettoization”, “stop racism”, “Cona is no good”, “documents for everyone”. The aim with the mission was to have a direct meeting with Venezia’s prefetto Carlo Boffi, who was in Rome and couldnt receive the migrants. Participants said things like:

“I’ve been here for 2 years and still nothing. We sleep in tents and it’s too hot.”

“We need help. 2500 people live in Conetta, we are forced to live in tents.”

Next week the prefettura should announce the results of the call for bids launched by Ca’ Corner for “widespread hospitality”. 950 new places could then be available.

Hungary

Update from Röszke’s no man’s land

It might be fair to say that when someone in detention say that it is okay, it might, after a couple of following question turn out to sound not so okay — but for someone fleeing war and conflicts, the perception of the word “okay” might not be the same as for someone with an European passport.

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Photo: Röszke detention center, by an anonymous resident

Eleven men charged for 71 migrants deaths

The never ending border violence

“On this #WorldRefugeeDay 2017, Hungarian police spent 3 hours beating a group of refugees.

We’ve just received reports from our volunteers in north Serbia that a group of 11, including children of 14 and 15 years old, were caught by Hungarian police at 7am this morning. They were reportedly subjected to 3 hours of violence before being forced back onto the Serbian side.”

It is important to continue highlighting this extreme violence as much as possible, with the hope that it won’t be needed much longer. It is often kids suffering from this abuse. Children in need of protection are being beaten up, time after time by cruel police.

To see who is affected and what it does to people, this video is a must-see. It’s made by Fresh Response and the journalist Jaime Alekos for IRIN . It is touching and includes fotage from Hungarys border nighttime. This shouldn’t have to be anyones reality, since it looks surreal and inhuman, but it’s very much reality for those playing the border game — time after time.

And also, Rigardu’s full report is available here.

France

Help Refugees court case for Calais

Statement from Help Refugees, as it follows:

FRANCE UPDATE — COURT CASE ON CALAIS

The level of abuse from police and neglect from the state, every day and every night in Calais, is not only inhumane, it’s illegal.

Along with 11 other organisations in Calais, we are in Court today once again demanding basic survival provisions — sanitation and hygiene, access to potable water, food and protection for unaccompanied minors. We continue to fight for the basic rights that every human being deserves.

France’s Human Rights Ombudsman released a scathing statement against the treatment of refugees in the area and openly agrees with our position, stating: “The hunt of migrants must stop, the permission of meal distributions, and the immediate protection and accommodation of children” must be implemented urgently and their fundamental rights respected.

If you support us and our partners in fighting to protect the rights of refugees in Calais, share this post. If you want to help us continue to reach those currently being abused, sleeping with nothing but woods over their heads and the cold ground to sleep on, please donate to our fundraiser for the region here.

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Photo: Help Refugees

Deportations from France to Afghanistan

Collectif La Chapelle Debout continues to stop deportations. So far two have been cancelled. Read more in French here.

Germany

The situation is similar for returning people back to Italy during the same legislation, of the more than 6700 requests made by Germany only 370 people have been sent back. This has various reasons like courts blocking the deportation or there’s no EURODAC hit for the persons. Further Germany is not sending requests for families with children under three years. Tweets to follow in German.

UK

In the hearing legal experts acting on behalf of Help Refugees will accuse the Home Office to be responsible for “consultation by stealth”, since they failed to in a proper and clear way inform local authorities across the UK about the last day, 14 October 2016, to leave their responses about how many children they were villing to accept under the scheme. The cause of this was that some local authorities, including Scottland and Welsh, didn’t leave their responses in time — leaving the number of places lower than they actually would have been if the infomation had been more visible and clear. At least 45 percentage of the places in England wasn’t counted before this date, and a consultation with Northern Ireland was initiated but abandoned. Since the scheme ended in February this year, several councils have offered places to child refugees living in camps across Europe. Help Refugees are sure that the scheme would work and the places be enough, if it is done properly. The aim with this legal process is to re-open it.

Iceland

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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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