AYS Daily News Digest 12.1.17 — Hungary vows to make lives of refugees more difficult

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The snow is taking a harsh toll on refugees in the Balkans. Arrivals on the Greek islands have ground to a halt. Photo Credit: MSF International


Hungary often positions itself as a defender of Europe, staving off Muslim hordes who wish to undermine the “European way of life”. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said, in a speech to new cadets of Hungary’s notorious border guards, “Terror attacks, riots, violence, crime, ethnic and cultural clashes all show us that those who come do not want to live our lives. They want to continue living their lives, just on the European standard of living. We understand them but we can’t let them into Europe. Nowhere do human rights prescribe national suicide.” With such antagonistic conditions prevailing, it is little surprise that the Hungarian government will introduce new legislation allowing refugees to be detained for the entirety of their asylum process.

Should the law pass, refugees will be required to remain stationary for the entirety of the processing time for their applications. This legislation aims to limit contacts between refugees and the native Hungarian population. In addition to being cruel, this bill is a violation of EU law. According to the EU, “the detention of applicants should be applied in accordance with the underlying principle that a person should not be held in detention for the sole reason that he or she is seeking international protection.” Even to those who are used to the Hungarian government’s blatant disregard for the well-being of refugees, this latest action is unbelievably cruel.


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Man dies in Sesto Fiorentino Fire

The fire, caused by an old heater not working properly or by a short circuit, began on the second floor of an abandoned building, empty for years and occupied in December 2014 by the Movimento per la Lotta per la Casa to provide accommodation for a group of homeless refugees mainly from Somalia. Medici per i Diritti Umani (Medu) has operated in the building since May 2015 offering health care to the people staying there, informing them of their right to health care and of the means of access to social and community health services.

In January 2016, the building’s power was cut by Acea, the electricity company, in an effort to clear out its residents. In response to this attempt, Medu publicly denounced the serious structural problems and sanitarian situation of the building, highlighting the poor living conditions of the people hosted. At the time, they demanded that the Municipality of Sesto Fiorentino hold an immediate meeting with the associations and movements operating in support of the migrants sleeping in the ex Aiazzone, to find adequate housing solutions.

Inside this building there were about 70 people, men and women, young and old, all holders of an international protection permit.
Besides A.M., two other men were seriously poisoned by smoke, most likely originated by the camp stoves used to heat up. One of them was a longtime patient of the doctors and operators of Medu mobile clinic, who had been demanding the municipalities of Florence and Sesto Fiorentino to rehouse him, given his precarious health condition.

In the aftermath of the tragic fire, the city of Sesto Fiorentino set up camp in the parking lot of a large furniture factory nearby, but the tents used are insufficient to accommodate the people left in the streets, and minimum sanitary facilities have not yet been built.

In these precarious and degrading conditions, death is tragic, but not surprising. A.M. was not only a victim of the flames, but also of an integration system that was unable to generate social inclusion, a lack of social and family networks, and lack of access to basic rights such as housing.

Medu forcefully demands that local and national institutions — the municipalities of Sesto Fiorentino, Florence and the metropolitan area — accept responsibility for this hateful and predictable tragedy, at least regarding of the survived victims. They must ensure dignified, quick and safe living conditions to the people who are currently on the streets, taking into consideration the current weather conditions.

Finally, Medu calls for structural interventions to implement of systems that will permanently resolve the many precarious settlements in the Florentine area, where hundreds of people, mostly political refugees, live, often in extremely vulnerable conditions.

(Translated from this post)


123 were rescued today by MSF Sea

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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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