AYS Daily Digest 29/01/2018: Germany announces end of relocation programme

Are You Syrious?
7 min readJan 30, 2018


IOM Croatia apprently exclusively decided to transfer 40 people to Zadar / New fights erupt in Syria / Greek hotspots still overcrowded / Three people arrested in Bosnia / Germany ends relocation programme from Greece and Italy / Reports from Udine and Ventimiglia / Governor of Melilla want to repatriate unaccompanied minors

Not eligible for the relocation programme anymore: New arrivals in Greece and Italy. Credits: Kevin McElvaney/ Stichting Bootvluchteling

Feature: Croatia’s questionable integration ‘policy’

40 people, who were resettled from Turkey to Syria in the end of 2017, have been transferred to Zadar by IOM Croatia last Friday, AYS got confirmed now. Although this step was rumored for a couple of weeks, there has been no official announce by IOM or their implementing partner JRS on this significant decision.

As a result of this non-communication, also the civil society in the coast city of Zadar has not been informed, that they will receive and have to host the people, who are mainly Syrian nationals. Therefore, the local community was not prepared at all and now tries to self-organize support for the new arrivals. Having seen that the children were already included in preschool and elementary schooling in Kutina, it is crucial to continue the process as soon as possible. As far as AYS is informed, preparatory classes for Croatian language are scheduled to begin this month for children of elementary school age in the elementary school of Zadar.

A more problematic topic seems to be the housing of the new guests. Zadar is a tourist town and local organization already warn, that usually after the beginning of June — when the tourist season begins — there are no available flats anymore. But, apparently, the housing was the main reason why IOM exclusively decided to transfer them to Zadar. At the moment, the people are accomodated in a hostel. As the UN body confirms, it is not known yet how long the people will stay there or where they will be hosted in the end.

AYS got unconfirmed information, that the deal on housing and jobs was done with a local businessman and a financial supporter of a right wing political party that visited the reception center Kutina on January 11th.

Finally, we have difficulties to understand the dynamics of the national integration ‘policy’, when the main body for the integration policy, the Government office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities has disbursed hundreds of thousands of EU project Euros into making local integration plans for the cities of Rijeka, Zagreb, Osijek and Split, as well as into capacity building of the local governments — and Zadar was never a part of this calculation.


During the last weeks and especially days, the fights in several spots have intensified. While the Turkish army intensified their offensive to capture Afrin from the Kurdish forces, also in the province of Idlib in the West increasing airstrikes have happened the last hours, as the government forces try to conquer it from rebel groups. Even massascres are reported.

A hospital was hit by two airstrikes today. Credits: The Syria Campaign

MSF confirmed on Twitter, that the Owdai hospital in Idlib has been hit by two airstrikes earlier today. At least five people are said to have died, parts of the building were destroyed.

At the moment, as the fights are happening, it is difficult to get an overview about which party is doing what. Information often are inaccurate or conflicting. Hence AYS will follow the situation and provide more updates, as soon as we can. To do our work, we are strongly depending on information from the ground. If you can provide us information, we ask you to get in contact with us via E-Mail to areyousyrious@gmail.com or write us on Facebook.


Even though officially there are less then 13,000 people accomodated, the occupation of all hotspots is still more than 160 percent — according to official data. On Chios wind and cold cause even more suffer to the people, who live in squalid conditions anyway.

Also on Lesvos, around 270 were reported to have arrived on the island only this weekend, after several days of no new landings due to the bad weather conditions. During the last 48 hours, five boats carrying 239 people have been intercepted and returned by the Turkish Coast Guard. As the weather forecast is better for the next 48 hours, volunteers on all islands are preparing to receive new boats incoming.

Velos Youth in Athens has published its schedule for this week:

The schedule. Credits: Velos Youth delivered by RYS


14 Hungarian NGOs have filed a joint complaint to the European Court of Human Rights to challenge the so called LexNGO, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee revealed. With the law, the government aims to restrict foreign-funded and NGOs as well as those, working in the sector of humanitarian aid. The application form is available in English.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Three persons from Algeria were arrested on January 27th near Bratunac, eastern Bosnia, according to AYS information. Two days before, in the area of Gacko, south east, 9 persons from Syria were discovered after crossing from Serbia. According to police sources, only in January in the city of Trebinje, close to the border to Montenegro, 20 people were intercepted after crossing the border.


Activists in Vienna call for new protests at the “Heldenplatz” (Heroe’s Square) in Vienna against deportations on 18th February at 5pm. More information can be found on their Facebook event.


The German Interior Ministry has announced to end relocations from Greece and Italy after relocating the last ones, who are still waiting and eligible. “The relocation scheme ended in September 2017, meaning all applicants arriving after that date will no longer be eligible for resettlement,” Annegret Korff, a speaker for the Interior Ministry, said according to ‘Keep Talking Greece’. The Ministry further explained, there would be “ virtually no more asylum seekers in Greece who could be considered for resettlement”.

Last month, around 500 people were waiting to be relocated from Italy and less than 40 from Greece to Germany. As of 25th January Germany relocated 4902 people from Italy and 5371 from Greece, while it had committed to 10,327 and 17,209.

To be eligible for the relocation programme from Greece or Italy, an asylum application has to be made in the country and the expected protection quota has to be at least 75 percent. After they are relocated, they have to go through the complete asylum procedure in Germany. (A detailed explanation can be found on IOM’s website.)

Already in September 2017 the UNHCR urged the EU countries to continue the relocation scheme. “ It has proven to be of vital importance. It has helped ease the humanitarian situation in Greece, relieved some pressure from Italy, and improved the lives of many seeking protection. Until the Dublin reform is adopted and a more permanent model put in place, the need for such responsibility-sharing mechanisms remains acute,” Pascale Moreau, Director of UNHCR’s Europe Bureau, said back then. Additonal the UN agency called to lower the 75 percent criteria in order to allow more people to be relocated.

In a two year plan, the EU member states agreed in two arrangements to relocate a total of 160,000 people, to other EU countries. After almost 2.5 years, only 33,472 out of 106,000 have been relocated from Italy and Greece.

New protests against deportations

In Berlin, a new demonstration against deportations has been announced for Sunday, 11th February on 2pm, at “Leopoldsplatz”. Check the Facebook event for more details.


The prefecture of Udine introduced a new measure for asylum seekers, Ospiti in Arrivo reports —but it already has been suspended from the government in Rome. The idea was, that they have to wear a bracelet for ‘security reasons’, as it is stated. With this step, the public security is meant — not their own. Reportedly it was an bracelet, which enabled authorities to count the people inside the reception centers and their movements.

During the last years, already in the UK and Greece such bracelets (although used for different reasons) have been denounced as racist, as they reduce the people to a legal status.

Report from Ventimiglia

Last weekend, Care4Calais volunteers have visited Ventimiglia on the French/Italian border. As the group reports, there are still some 200 people stranded, waiting to make it to France. “While the locals may not be thrilled by having refugees there sleeping rough, there is less overt pressure from the police,” C4C concludes, compairing the situation to Calais.

Since France thightened its border controls last year, it is much harder for the people, to make it into the country from Italy. During the last weeks there have been reports, that even during snowfalls people try to cross the mountains on dangerous routes.


The government of Melilla, a Spanish enclave in Morocco, suggested to reform the law on foreigners, Ansa reports (via InfoMigrants), to react on the high number of newly arriving unaccompanied minors, mainly Morcoccans. Governor Jose Imbroda said, they should not get a residence permit and send them back. Within 40 days the city commissions want to examine a bill and propose it to the central government to approve it.


The Council of Europe has launched a new website, which aims to support people in learning the language of their host country. The toolkit is further designed to assist volunteers in supporting the new arrivals.

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

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



Are You Syrious?

News digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and people on the move, but also for journalists, decision makers and other parties.