AYS Daily News Digest 20/12: Afghans in France facing deportation to Croatia

Attorneys try to stop the disputable practice, which Austria and Slovenia have already been criticized for. The forgotten children of Calais: unaccompanied minors leave facilities in despair trying to get to UK and reunite with their families. The circle of the street camps in Paris. 19 Syrians deported from Greece to Turkey. Samos and mainland volunteers need your support. Five refugees drown in the Aegen Sea. New integration project launched in Treviso, Italy. Sicily faced massive increase of new arrivals in 2016. Centre for Peace Studies calls out for demonstration in Zagreb on Thursday.

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Nowhere to go, no place so stay. Refugees in Belgrade. Credits: Igor Čoko

Feature: Disputable practice

The deportations from Austria to Croatia are infamous. While the European Court on Human Rights (ECHR) still has to rule, if this is legal for the ones who crossed the border with transports provided by governments, France wants to join in this disputable and often criticized practice. According to Border Crossing Spielfeld some refugees went to France in order to not getting deported. Now the first case is known, where authorities want to deport Afghan refugees back to Zagreb. “It is known that protection seekers from Afghanistan have no chance to stay longer in Croatia”, the volunteers report. Border Crossing Spielfeld reports about refugees in France who are facing deporation to Croatia under the Dublin regulation. Attorneys are trying to stop this process and point to the current situation in the country: Human rights are not entirely provided and ECHR in a preliminary ruling has still suspended the pushbacks from Austria and Slovenia.


The forgotten children of Calais

The unaccompanied minors who were moved out of the Calais jungle during the eviction in October are now starting to return to their former shelter. While France wants to come back to deportations back to Croatia under the Dublin regulation, these children don’t get an opportunity to reunite with their families in the UK which is their legal (international) right under the same agreement. But on Friday the UK ceased this procedure, which has been promised before the eviction of the jungle. Since then only some 500 children have been moved across the sea, several thousand are now still stranded in France, The Independent reports. “ In some cases, the family members of these children in the UK have not even been contacted.”

In the reception centres in France they seem to be left alone. “ Children were self-harming with lighters and razors, were hunger striking and threatening suicide. […] In 11 out of 12 of the centres I visited, children received no psychological support”, Benjamin Hunter reports. They often don’t receive information on their cases and are lacking on legal support. He is aware of minors, who have already left the facilities, sleeping in the wild, trying to find their own way to finally reach their families.

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The rough streets of Paris. Credits: Calais Action

Meanwhile Tim Farron, Leader of the British Liberal Democrats,

met volunteers on the ground in Paris to see the situation. Calais Action reports:

There are still many refugees arriving in France every day, and they are now on the streets of Paris, but the “official” camp at Porte de la Chapelle holds only a few hundred for a few nights —there after they would be set back on the streets again. Volunteers are working hard to help those in need but police hostility and resident antipathy towards refugees mean that it is an uphill battle.

A few weeks ago, the widely published clearances of the street camps around Stalingrad was held to provide another solution — but in the interim, more people have arrived and another camp at St Denis built up itself again. Last week this camp was again evicted meaning that refugees are now scattered around the city once more. This cycle of evict, scatter, growth of a new camp and eviction again will be repeated ad infinitum unless the authorities could finally recognize the scale of the issue and arrange correct facilities to help receiving and processing asylum claims.

Many refugees, including minors, with places in the CAOs across France, have lost hope and chosen to head to the freezing Paris streets rather than stay in places where there seems to be no future. Without an overall long-term solution it is difficult to see a light at the end of this tunnel. Paris is very much in emergency mode. It is impossible to build up any of the services and at least small amount of stability that Calais briefly had.

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Visit in Paris. Credits: Calais Action

AYS was also informed by volunteers in Paris, refugees called them for help. They said they had been taken to an empty military bases four or five hours away from Paris after they were promised by officials to be taken to a more permanent accommodation where they have better conditions, lawyers, option to ask for asylum. One man apparently had to walk for hours until he got to the next village where he could get a bus back to Paris. After the Eviction of St. Denis some refugees were taken to gyms and other centers and now they have been taken away from there to these isolated places. We will try to provide more information the following days.


Deportations to Turkey continue

Today 19 Syrian protection seekers have been deported from Greece to Turkey under the deal which was implemented in March. Among the people there were six men, three women and ten children. They were refused to continue their asylum application, the Greekreporter writes. It is unusual, that Syrian refugees who applied for asylum in Greece have to go back to Turkey. Often courts overrule the decision made by authorities, saying that Turkey is no safe country for protection seekers. Further it is unuasual that Syrians are affected from deportations. Only 42 Syrians were among the 170 refugees before, who have been deported since 28th September. The biggest groups are Pakistanis and Afghans. “In total, 1,187 irregular migrants were returned from Greece to Turkey in the course of 2016 under the EU-Turkey Agreement or the Greece-Turkey bilateral readmission protocol, with 95 Syrians among them”, the European Commission reported in it’s fourth report. Under the deal 748 persons had to go back to Turkey, including 42 Syrians. The largest groups were: Pakistanis (394), Afghans (61), Algerians (68), Iraqis (17), Bangladeshis (26), Iranians (18), Sri Lankans (16), and Moroccans (15).

Since the deal the number of new arrivals has massively decreased, but they indeed continue. Volunteers reported 32 new arrivals (19 men, eight women and five children) at the north coast of Lesvos and 42 on Chios. On Lesvos three medical cases were reported. Authorities until noon registered 81 new arrivals on Lesvos and 20 on other islands, make a total of 101.

On Lesvos No Border Kitchen is inviting everyone for Chapati right next to the former site of Better Days for Moria on 24th December. For more information, see their Facebook event.

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Hellenic Coast Guard tows the vessel to Skala Sikaminea. Credits: Philippa Kempson

Samos saw many arrivals in October and November. To offical capacity is 850, currently some 2400 refugees are in fact on the island at the moment. Volunteers on the ground try to support them with the most crucial items. To continue their work, they are in need of international support. You can help them by sending money, sending goods or come on your own and work with them. For more information please check their website.

On the mainland the team “Refugee Biriyani & Bananas” is looking for support. Following the hunger strike against the very poor food quality delivered by the catering in Serres, a Yezidi camp in Northern Greece, they intend to provide meals. In ten hotels they want to distribute 145 food bundles. They also tried to send food to the camp but were denied access. If you can support them to distribute the meals, please message them on Facebook.

Also the Notara26 squat in Athens is asking for help. With fundraising and donations they try to winterize and heat the house. If you have ideas or want to support them, get in touch with them on Facebook.


While attempting to cross the Aegean Sea to Lesvos, five refugees died today. 13 people departed at Ayvalik, the boat sank off the shore of Maden Island. Coast guards managed to rescue seven people, one is still missing. Four women and one child were among the deaths.


During the evacuation of Fuah and Kafraya it was reported, that rebels burned some of the buses. Björn Stritzel, a reporter for the german boulevard newspaper BILD, reports, that the assaulters now have been arrested by rebel groups.

Meanwhile several thousand people, Red Cross says 25.000 since Thursday, have been succesfully evacuated from Eastern Aleppo. AFP reporter Maya Gebeily quotes Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, that the evacuation should be finished in “one or two days”. But we want to stress, that reportedly the people will be transferred to the rebel held area of Idlib. During the last weeks bombings there were increasing, too. We are concerned, the survivors of Aleppo will be just moved to another hell.


Talking Hands project is a carpentry project in Treviso where 15 asylum seekers (at the moment) get the chance to tell their stories and aspirations through the use of various materials. They collaborate with a local Italian designer in order to improve their skills, as well as sending a good message in terms of integration. You can follow their work on Facebook (as of now only in Italian language).

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Credits: Talking Hands — Con le mani mi racconto

Over 9,000 migrants have landed in Sardinia in 2016,

almost double compared to 2015 (5,500 people). Prefecture of Cagliari states also that from 2013 over 17 thousand migrants arrived in the island, 5,500 are still in Sardinia, while the others left or are under international protection. Marc Arno Hartwig, leader of Hotspot Team Italy (Migration and Internal Affairs, EU) informs that there is a European agenda on migration, established in 2015, through which over 400 people from Frontex have been sent to support the migration flows in Italy. According to Arno, Sardinia is currently hosting over 5,400 migrants, not an excessive number; the landings are fewer than the ones in Sicily; in the last three years, the island has not observed relevant episodes of criminality related to this phenomenon. The main protests have come from the presence of migrants in Piazza Matteotti in Cagliari, an area with public Wi-Fi which allowed them to communicate with their families.

In Palermo, 25,000 migrants have landed between 2015 and 2016. Of these, 2,066 were unaccompanied minors. Palermo’s prefect Antonello De Miro reports.

In Como 68 people were sleeping in the rough streets last night with temperatures at zero degree. Rifugio Do Guanella is another structure in Como which opened the doors to everybody, Friday to Wednesday, offering showers, tea and rest. Don Leonello Bigelli manages a house full of migrants and homeless, who look for some clothes or sign in for a shower. The idea comes from Bigelli’s experience in Milan Central Station; his supervisors asked him to support the tragic situation in Como, while Afghan and Pakistani migrants walking along from the Balkan route.

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Credits: Como senza frontiere

By 7th January, the tensile structure in Lucca (in Tagliate) cannot host more than 150 people, 50 less than the ones it is hosting now. This is part of a plan between the municipality and the Red Cross, to relieve the effort of the hub. By 7th January, the exceeding migrants will be relocated in other structures and the setting down of one of the present tents. By the end of March 2017, only 100 migrants will be hosted in the tensile structure, and a second tent will be dismissed. The whole territory is currently hosting 217 people, proably rising to 225 by national policy (reaching 2.5% as established by the law).


Centre for Peace Studies (CMS -Centar za mirovne studije) calls out to all citizens of Croatia on Thursday, 22. December 18:00–19:00 at Vukovar Street, as a symbol of suffering, to light grave candles for all victims of armed conflict in Aleppo, Syria.

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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