AYS DAILY DIGEST 4/6/2017: Heavy fire in Swedish refugee accomodation

Suspected arson in Söderhamn / Asylum seekers in Sweden live in uncertainty as authorities work slow on their applications / 10 people die in car accidentd in Bulgaria / Gaps in Greece increase / Support needed in Serbia and France / Far right group raises 50.000 Euro to target rescue ships

Firefighters in front of the burned out building. Credits: b9AcE

Feature: Heavy fire in Söderhamn

A heavy fire broke out in an asylum accomodation in Söderhamn (Sweden), some 30 miles north of Stockholm, this morning. The incident is reported as a gross arson and the police will investigate the incident further. Fortunately no one of the 70 residents was hurt physicaly, but several are shocked. The Red Cross, Save the Children and volunteer groups have taken care of the residents with food and water and other neccessities. Everyone has been offered a new housing nearby. The manager of the accomodation said, that he regrets the incident and that it is very unfortunate, if someone has lost important documents or belongings becaus of the fire.

Räddningstjänsten (Rescue Service) advised residents in the area not to spend time outdoors due to the big smoke evolution. The fire had an explosive development and a fire men said, that it was chaos on site when they arrived. The building was shaped like a T and two of the corridors were off light, when the police arrived.

At this piont there are no suspected perpetrators, but the technical investigation will begin as soon as the building has cooled down.

460 days of waiting and uncertainty

The average waiting times for asylum decisions in Sweden has increased by 100 days since the new years. In May it was 464 days. A lot of people that came in 2015 are still waiting for their decision, Sveriges Radio reports.

One interviewed man said, that he came to Sweden in summer 2015 and still does not have any status. He described the circumstances, he had to live under during the last two years, as miserable. The time to evaluate the cases have been longer than the Migration Agency expected. One of the reasons is, according to staff at the agency, that they now are handling cases, that are harder to evaluate, like Afghan and Iraqi nationals.

Last year the agency decided a lot on Syrian nationals, who would have a bigger need of international protection. The cases they handle now need more investigation, since being an IDP in safe parts of the countries can be an alternative. The Migration Agency thinks, the waiting times will continue to increase for a while and then be back at 3–4 months in 2018. Provided, that the borders continue to be closed and no new people are arriving.


10 people died in a car accident on Trakia Motorway. Bulgarian National Television reports (via Sofia Globe), that a 16 year old drove the van, in which 17 or 18 people were. The police assumes, that the driver maybe felt asleep and crashed into the tree. It is said, that this is the worst incident with refugees involved in Bulgaria.


Gaps are becoming bigger

In Greece the situation in the governmental camps seems to worsen these days, even though this is hard to imagine. The announcement of some NGOs to leave the hotspot of Chios, this could be the case for some mainland sites too, as the budget is being cut. Another reason is, that they do not consider the situation as crisis anymore.

Some NGOs are leaving the sites in Greece. Credits: Fillipiada Camp News

Additionally AYS got informed by independent volunteers, that at several sites the army catering has been stopped. Camp residents get some more money in return, but it does not cover their needs. In Filippiada even the water distribution and other services were stopped by authorities. Oxfam continues to distribute 1 liter of water per person daily, but that it clearly not enough. Especially during the summer months much more water is needed. The NGO is also meant to hand out food to people who do not have working cash cards, but by now has problems to do that.

Obviously the Greek government is struggling with keeping even the bad conditions in some camps, as the bureaucratic part seems to be chaotic, the budget is being cut and there is no appropiate strategy to fit the needs of the people. The residents are the ones suffering because of this situation and living with this situation.

Performance of Softex residents

Credits: InterVolve

The residents of Softex camp in Thessaloniki performed a play at the Vassiliko Theatre. The practiced it during a ten day workshop with a ‘Theatre of the oppressed’ group. The play was about their journey to Europe and the many challenges faced by refugees and migrants.

20 people landed on Lesvos

The Portuguese Maritime Police, on a mission in Greece, has detected 20 people, 10 of whom are children, said the National Maritime Authority (AMN). In a statement, the AMN said that the 20 peope were detected as they had landed on the Greek coast near Molyvos (Lesvos) after crossing the Aegean Sea. The Greek authorities have already been contacted to pick up the people, who are from Afghanistan and Iraq.

People arrived on Chios, too. Credits: Pothiti Kitromilidi

Also Chios saw some new arrivals, everyone was safe, volunteers took care of them. By tomorrow it should be known where they will be accomodated. As the arrivals to Chios had risen during the last months, the sites on the islands are all overcrowded. Because of that the Chios People’s Kitchen decided to not only provide food to the new arrivals but also the ones who are sleeping rough, because both of the camps can not take any new residens.

Credits: Chios People’s Kitchen

Volunteer opportunities

room39 # refugee & homeless support is offering an English teacher training in June in Thessaloniki. Greecevol meanwhile added new tasks for volunteers, including a call from A drop in the ocean and a call for drivers to transport jam from Greece to Western Europe.


With support from various other groups BelgrAid will start a Ramadan food distribution for the 1200 residents of Adasevci. Every second day they will provide residents with two food packs of fresh fruit, vegetables and dates. They try to buy the supplies from local farmers, if possible. But by now they are not able to continue the distributions until the end of Ramadan and therefor ask for more donations. If you want to support BelgrAid, check their fundraiser: https://www.youcaring.com/belgraid-797342

Volunteers preparing the food packs. Credits: BelgrAid


The German government is behind their goal of deportations in 2017, Welt am Sonntag reports (English version: DW.com). Until the end of April, 8620 people had been deported, in whole 2016 the number was around 25.000. Another 11.195 used programs to return to their country of origin in the first four months of this year, last year some 54.000 took this option.

A spokesman of the interior ministry said, that the number of returns and deportation had been extraordinary high in 2016, mainly people from the Balkan countries were affected by this. Additionally the government has problems to deport people to some African countries because of missing travel documents. It is expected, that the number will stagnate compared to this year. Another reason for this are the suspended deportations to Afghanistan.

Mediterranean Sea

A far right group has raised more than 55.000 Euros to target rescue boats in the Mediterranean Sea, The Guardian reports. With the money they want to cover the payment for ships, travel costs and film equipment. Already last month a group had hired a boat to disrupt a rescue ship which was about to leave the port of Catania.

ProActiva on rescue mission on sunday. Credits: PROACTIVA OPEN ARMS

Meanwhile Proactiva saved some 300 people in the Mediterranean. Also Sea-Watch managed to rescue 125 people, 4 will not find a safe place in Europe.


The group Operatori X — Genova is inviting to a public assembly for social operators on Tuesday 6 June at 19.00 by Aut Aut in Via delle Fontane 5. They want to discuss the law Minniti-Orlando, which they fear will have a bad impact to the life of asylum seekers and restrict their freedoms.

Examples for this are returning at 21.30 in winter and 22.30 o’clock in summer; the incapacity to go out before 7.00 am; the chance to receive the meals only in times decided by the managing entities; the compulsory courses of Italia not as a knowledge tool, but as a requirement to avail the receiving service; the incapacity to participate to projects after the first not-justified absence. Operatori X states: “ There is clearly a will to criminalize the migrant, and to repress and control the asylum and protection seekers like they were criminals, along with a body of rules smelling like racial law.”

Protests for the rights of refugees. Credits: Operatori X — Geneva

Caritas Ambrosiana is looking for: 76 volunteers for the following projects in Italy: Il girotondo 2017 (20 places in 16 hubs), Città aperta 2017 (17 places in 12 hubs), Ponti e arcobaleni 2017 (18 places in 10 hubs), Ti prendo per mano 2017 (21 places in 15 hubs); 16 volunteers for project Impronte di Pace 2017, to be launched in 7 hubs in 6 countries: Moldova, Georgia, Lebanon, Kenya (Nairobi and Mombasa), Bolivia and Nicaragua. More information can be found on their website.


Solidarithé is asking for various donations to keep their work in Paris going. They not only need money (fundraiser on Youcaring) they need Coffee, Printing Paper, Biodegradable Cups, Spoons (preferably biodegradable), Sugar. If you can provide them any of these supplies, please contact them on Facebook.

Volunteers in action. Credits: Solidarithé

Last Wednesday, a Vietnamese from Camp d’angers committed suicide at the hospital. The refugees of the camp and the volunteers who knew him well are shocked. Other than the lack of surveillance, they are asking themselves about the loneliness of people in need, be it in the hospital or in prison — even more since they can’t communicate in their own language and can’t speak french or english. A call for solidarity has been launched by L’Auberge to cover the costs of the funeral (or transport of the body to his home country). The contribution need to be received before next Tuesday, 6 June. You can contribute here.



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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.