AYS Daily News Digest 18.5.2016

Refugees and police clash in Idomeni. Tensions increase in Greek detention centers due to overcrowding and prolonged incarceration. Close to 30 Syrians are on hunger strike in Chios. Volunteers needed in Athens and Calais.

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Eleven year old girl helped by Spanish firefighters after being struck with tear gas in Idomeni. Photo credit: Antonio Nicolin

Greece

54,574 people stranded in Greece

The “Summary Statement of Refugee Flows” indicates that 30 refugees arrived on the Eastern Aegean Islands, putting the total number of people to 8,549.

14,510 are located in Attiki, of whom 1,495 are in Piraeus and 2,880 are in Skaramangas.

29,110 are located in Northern Greece, of which 9,183 are in Idomeni.

Weather warning for Kos and Kastelorizo

High waves in most of the East Aegean islands, reaching up to 1.5 meters in Kastelorizo. Strong gusts of wind in Eastern Kos. Click here for more information.

6 billion dollars generated by smuggling networks in 2015

News That Moves says that according to Europol, smuggling networks have generated a turnover of five to six billion dollars in 2015. The report indicates that over 90% of refugees have used smuggling networks, with people paying €3,000 to €6,000 on average in order to reach the eurozone. Migrants, and unaccompanied minors in particular, are vulnerable to labour or sexual exploitation by smugglers.

Violence in Moria

Several people have told us about an uptick in violence inside the Moria camp. There are reports of alcohol use, sexual and gender-based violence, and violence against minority groups. One person told us that violent outbreaks happen almost every day. That person reported that the outbreaks have been happening for the last three weeks and have escalated during the past week.

This comes as MSF denounces the “abject conditions” of refugees incarcerated in Greek islands and calls for the immediate opening of hotspots. An article published by MSF says no special protection measures have been instituted for women and children, adding that tensions are escalating due to overcrowding and prolonged incarceration.

Four Syrian refugees deported “voluntarily” to Turkey by plane

Four Syrian refugees were deported “voluntarily” to Turkey from Chios airport to Adana. Since the beginning of the year 390 people have returned to Turkey based on the EU-Turkey Agreement, along with 1048 people relocated under the Bilateral Greece-Turkey Protocol.

“Survival Guide” for Refugees in Athens

News That Moves reports on a Survival Guide for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Athens, produced by Solidarity Now and Médecins du Monde. The booklet contains a list of organizations that provide free help, including medical care, material aid and education.

Volunteers needed in Athens

The ArmandoAid School Project is looking for teachers, Farsi and Arabic translators, gardeners, and admin support for its new school due to open in mid-June on a camp near Athens.

Amurtel Greece for Refugee Mothers and Babies is looking for volunteers with at least a two week commitment to help with food distribution and baby baths. You can contact Anne Cridler on Facebook.

You can find information on how to help out in the Hotel City Plaza in Athens, where refugees have found refuge, by looking at their English-speaking Facebook page. Donations and voluntary work are welcomed.

Other volunteers are still needed throughout Greece. You can also ask for more volunteers by using this form:http://bit.ly/REQUESTFORVOLUNTEERS

Hunger strike in Chios

Close to 30 Syrian refugees in Souda Camp, Chios, went on hunger strike this morning. More than half among them are women, most have families, many are professionals. Some among them have been stranded in Chios since the EU — Turkey agreement went into effect. They have been surviving in deprived conditions, on two modest meals a day. They have been watching their children — for whose future they took risks and made sacrifices — languish unschooled. They have not been given the chance to apply for asylum or to plead their individual cases. They are not seen or treated as individuals. They have no voice.

This hunger strike is a last-ditch, desperate effort to be heard.

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Photo Credit: Leslie Meral Schick

Protests in Idomeni

Large protests are taking place at the railway tracks in front of the buses that are taking people to other camps. The police are using tear gas and some refugees were trying to push a train car toward the police/border. Many children were reportedly affected by the tear gas. As of midnight, fighting between refugees and police continues, with dumpsters on fire and police resuming the use of tear gas.

Currently, there are close to 10,000 people stuck at Idomeni. The process of relocation to other camps in Greece (on voluntary basis) started a couple of weeks ago. It was announced that it should be completed by the end of May. “Situation in the camp is desperate.”

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Tear gas in Idomeni. Photo by refugee inside the camp.

Donations needed in Oreokastro

Team Humanity has moved to the new Oreokastro camp near Thessaloniki and hopes to be up and running shortly. If you want to donate clothes, food, medical supplies etc. to the camp, please write them a direct message on Facebook.

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Photo Credit: Team Humanity

Filipiada camp in great need of volunteers

Volunteers are needed for both the warehouse and camp — supplies are getting in, but there are not enough volunteers to hand them out. You can contact michelle_sharpe77@yahoo.co.uk if you need more information.

Bulgaria

Report says smuggler groups start focusing on route from Turkey to Bulgaria

According to the German newspaper Die Welt, the government report adds that there are ‘control gaps’ and increased ‘smuggler activity’ in the country — it further argues that Bulgarian police could be rapidly overwhelmed, and does not rule out the construction of a fence at the Greek-Bulgarian border.

Hungary

Eleven refugees on trial for participating in a “mass riot”.

Eleven refugees are accused of participating in a “mass riot”, after protests at the border last September. The accused include one half-blind 64 year old woman and a disabled man in a wheelchair. Three of the accused are in detention in the city of Kiskunhalas, while the whereabouts of the remaining eight are unknown. All remain detained without access to medical or psychological assistance. Ahmed H. meanwhile, is accused of instigating the riots and of committing a terrorist act, as he is perceived as the “leader” of the protest. All face years in prison. No Border Serbia asks people to support those detained, by monitoring the trials, informing people about the case and helping with reliable legal assistance.

Migration situation in Hungary

Migszol, the “migrant solidarity group of Hungary”, writes that many people continue crossing the border fence between Serbia and Hungary, as the number of people who are allowed to seek asylum in the official transit zone is very limited. People who apply for asylum in the transit zone either are not admitted to the country, based on the fact that Serbia is considered a safe third country, or they are considered vulnerable and transferred to open camps or detention centers in Hungary. Open camps and detention centers are severely overcrowded, living conditions remain very bad and access to legal aid is extremely limited. Migszol also has a map with all the camps and detention centers in Hungary.

Migzol reports on beatings and pushbacks of people crossing the Serbian-Hungarian border. Several groups have been beaten, robbed, stripped naked and then forced to return to Belgrade.

The report states that Hungary will continue to strengthen its borders, which could lead to more people being stuck in Serbia in the upcoming weeks or months.

Italy

“Charter of good welcome for migrants” signed in Rome

According to Vita.IT, the charter was signed marking the step from an “emergency phase” towards a stable and efficient system. It was signed by the Ministry of Interior, the national association of Italian municipalities, and the alliance of social cooperatives. Migrants will gradually be shifted away from collective reception centers to regular housing.

France

Calais needs help

The Jungle books library Calais is looking for qualified/experienced French, English, and Music teachers who are available to teach for two weeks or longer. Teachers with experience teaching English to children/teenagers and French to adults are especially welcome. You can contact them directly on the Jungle books library Calais Facebook page.

The Calais Refugee Youth Service needs urgent help from carpenters, skilled handymen, and volunteers to dismantle and move the Calais Youth Center next week from the 27th. Please PM Grainne Hassett on Facebook.

The Belgium Kitchen in Calais also needs supplies for the upcoming month of Ramadan, in particular bottles of milk, bottles of water and containers to store hot food. You can contact them on Facebook or donate directly.

Blankets are still urgently needed. If you can bring some to Calais, please contact calaisdonations@gmail.com to schedule a delivery.

Situation in Paris

A report on Care4Calais says that refugees are now gathered around three small camps, one at “Jardin Eole” near Stalingrad, one near Canal St Martin and one on “127 Boulevard de la Villette”, in front of “France Terre D’Asile”, where refugees sleep in order to catch a spot in line for the appointment that would allow them to present their case. Hygiene remains an issue, as is the irregular distribution of food. Evacuations of these camps are expected any day now.

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Photo Credit: Danika Jurisic

Meanwhile, the association “France Terre D’Asile” says it will close its office responsible for scheduling refugees’ appointments with the administration today, as it says it is overwhelmed by demands. The French administration gives out only 50 appointments per day, while 300 people are waiting in line. La Croix reports that one Afghan says he has been sleeping in front of the office for three weeks, but has been unable to get an appointment.

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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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