AYS Digest 15/06 — Is Turkey a safe country for refugees?

WatchTheMed reports an illegal pushback of refugees to Turkey. EU tries to bury report that is likely to say Turkey is unfit for asylum seekers. Asylum-seekers challenge EU-Turkey deal in court. Supplies needed in Calais and London-Calais convoy starts this Saturday.

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Photography workshop for children in Izmir. Photo by Marta Vidal


WatchTheMed Alarm Phone denounces an illegal push-back operation with Frontex present.

WatchTheMed says a refugee boat between Chios and Cesme was illegally pushed-back to Turkey by Greek coast guards. Refugees report being told by the coast guard that they were safe but were later handed over to the Turkish coast guard. The refugees were brought back to the port of Cesme and later detained.


EU tries to bury report on Turkey migrant returns

The EU Observer says that members of the EASO management board, which includes EU commission staff and representatives from EU member states, are unhappy with EASO’s efforts to determine if Turkey is a safe third country. It adds that board members argue this effort is not part of EASO’s mandate, while UK members of the board have objected to the EASO probe and are now writing an independent report. A Greek appeals committee in Lesvos has already determined that Turkey is not safe enough for nine Syrian refugees facing deportation.

Asylum-seekers challenge EU-Turkey deal

The Express claims three asylum-seekers have challenged the European Union’s refugee deal with Turkey in the European Court of Justice. The trio, currently in Greece, has argued Turkey is not a safe place for refugees and filed a complaint to the Luxembourg-based court last week. Their complaint also argues that the Greek asylum system has “serious flaws at all levels”. The move risks derailing the fragile EU-Turkey deal which has already come under threat due to strained EU-Turkish relations.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal says the European Commission has confirmed Turkey has not met the conditions for visa liberalisation, judging that insufficient progress has been made on seven key criteria, including revisions to anti-terror legislation. It also says that on average, only 47 migrants had arrived each day in Greece from Turkey over the past month.

Number of relocations increases to 2,280

The European Commission said during its latest progress report that the number of relocations has increased to 2,280, noting that the rate had almost doubled since the previous report on May 18. It added that “despite the positive signs, progress is still too slow. Action must be accelerated to avoid migrants returning to irregular routes”.


462 people sent back to Turkey

A Turkish official says the EU-Turkey deal has led to a “ sharp decline in irregular crossings” and 462 people have been sent back from the Greek islands back to Turkey. Under the same deal, 508 Syrians who were living in Turkish refugee camps have been relocated to Europe since April 1.


70 appeals granted by Greek Appeal Committees

By 12 June 2016, of the 1,429 asylum applications submitted by persons who crossed from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016, 267 were declared inadmissible by the Greek Asylum Service. 252 appeals have been lodged against these decisions before the Greek Appeal Committees which had taken 70 decisions granting the appeal and 2 decisions rejecting the appeal.

800 refugees granted asylum

Die Zeit says that 800 refugees were granted asylum in the past few weeks in Greece, with most judges arguing that Turkey is not a safe country for refugees. Most of those being granted asylum are either sick or are Syrian women and children that will be reunited with their family.

Successful pre-registration in Cherso

According to AYS volunteers on site, yesterday UNHCR was able to register 1,568 refugees in only three hours in a “good atmosphere”, and plans on registering the rest today. One refugee however said that problems could arise once people who are not in the camp but are accommodated nearby start arriving. UNHCR has allegedly requested that families accommodated nearby come the camp this morning (16.6.2016.), as registration is almost complete and should end at 15:00.

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Pre-registration in Cherso. Photo by Azra Ayyash

Update on BP and Hara

BP station and Hara are now empty, but allegedly some people are hiding in the surrounding area as they are unwilling to go to official camps. Some people who were evicted from BP and Hara and moved to the official Vasilika camp have apparently moved back and installed new independent camps near BP station. A coordinator for ‘Mums without borders’ says many kids and pregnant women were at Eko station and are now in camps with bad living conditions.

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Hope Centre Elpis forced to close

The Licensing Committee in Lesvos has forbidden the Elpis Hotel site to be used for assisting refugees and has sued the Hope Centre volunteers for 10,000 Euros, accusing them of running a hotel without a licence. The hotel needs to be emptied until the 27th of June and help is needed to redistribute aid to other volunteer groups.

Volunteers needed

Refugee Rescue is looking for experienced sea rescue, skipper and life guard crew in Lesvos. In addition, you can find volunteering opportunities all across Grecce on http://greecevol.info/.

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The first joint art exhibition between Samos Academy and the Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace allowed children living in the camps and children from local schools to show their art. Photo by Samos Volunteers.


Refugee Aid Serbia needs help

Funds are needed to support Refugee Aid Serbia in its distribution of warm meals and other items. The group says “the amount of people is the same, the need is the same, nothing is changing”.

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Photo by Refugee Aid Serbia

1,800 refugees in transit

Reuters says that according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of migrants in transit through Serbia has doubled to 1,800 this week from 900 a month ago. While Balkan borders remain closed to migrants, aid workers warn that most of those 1,800 will put themselves in the hands of smugglers, while a few hundred wait patiently to be allowed to enter Hungary legally. Hungary lets 30 refugees into the country daily, mostly families from conflict zones. According to the Serbian government, 500 people, half of them children, are living in makeshift camps at two border crossings between Serbia and Hungary, in what are described as transit zones


9 out of 10 children arrive to Europe unaccompanied

Unicef says unaccompanied children made out 92% of the 7,567 children that left North Africa for Europe between January and May 2016, two times more than during the same period last year. In its report ‘danger every step of the way’, Unicef also warns of the dangers these children are facing, including forced labour, beatings or death.

140 people rescued by MSF

MSF’s Argos boat saved 140 people who escaped from Libya yesterday morning, including 14 babies and toddlers.


Refugee crisis in Paris

Despite the recent evacuation of a camp, a new one has already been created near the La Chapelle metro station. Another group is camping in front of the offices of the “France Terre d’Asile” association, hoping that they will be able to make an appointment that will speed up their claim for asylum. The number of refugees is rising everyday and will soon reach the size of the previous camps. The unusual temperatures for this season complicates the refugees’ situation even more.

1,000 new arrivals in Calais in the last month

Supplies are urgently needed. You can check out the full list on Calaidipedia, order food here, and order goods here.


London-Calais Convoy

A convoy to help the refugees in Calais is planned on the 18th of June. The convoy will provide material help but will also be a huge demonstration of solidarity with refugees. To help, you can drop off aid donations, join the convoy with you own mode of transportation or collect money yourself. More information is available here.

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Reconstruction of the Sudanese tent after the recent fires. Photo by Clara Moseley
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The tent was rebuilt in five days and now includes a separate kitchen and a rat proof food storage area. Photo by Clara Moseley

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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