AYS digest 26/09: Calais to be shut down while more money is funneled to Turkey

EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management to visit Turkey tomorrow / UNHCR having trouble with appointments for interviews / Be aware of people posing as lawyers and asking for money / New deportations to Turkey from Greece / Volunteers and donations needed in Greece and France / Hungary to hold a referendum on Sunday — left wing parties and civil society organizations campaigning for abstention from the vote / Calais to be closed — vague promises made on relocation — strong measures to be upheld

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“Jungle”, Calais

Turkey

More money destined for Turkey

The EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is currently in Ankara to launch the EU’s flagship humanitarian aid programme, which is set to provide a monthly electronic cash grant to benefit 1 million refugees in Turkey. In Ankara, Commissioner Stylianides pumped more money into Turkey, as opposed to opening the borders. He stated, “I’m confident that EU humanitarian aid will make a real difference for refugees in Turkey, helping one million people. The launch of our new programme here in Turkey today is a clear example of the strong partnership of the EU and Turkey in finding together new, innovative ways to address one of the most important humanitarian challenges of our times.” The Commissioner will take part in the official launch event of the €348 million Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) aid programme in Ankara alongside Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme.

Greece

51 new arrivals to Lesvos

There were no new arrivals this weekend to the Greek islands, but as of 8 o’clock this morning, 51 people arrived to Lesvos. Regarding the camps since Friday — the population of Vagiohori dropped by 51, from 132 to 81, against an overall capacity of 631. Meanwhile, Skaramagas’s occupancy total jumped from 3450 to 3597 (+147), with only 3200 in official capacity. Overall, there are over sixty thousand people still stuck in Greece, a number that rises slightly each day.

UNHCR and troubles with appointments for interviews

Given that the possibilities of leaving Greece are either embarrassingly scarce or prohibitively dangerous, both asylum office and UNHCR have expressed concern about the refugees’ lack of attendance to the interviews.

Be aware of people posing as lawyers and asking for money

Volunteers and activist on the ground are warning about people coming to the camps claiming to be lawyers and asking for money. It is very difficult to get an appointment sooner than scheduled and paying a lawyer does not necessarily guarantee that your case will be expedited. It is also not possible to choose your relocation country; paying someone will not get you the country you want. Some people have already lost money by paying criminals who claimed to be able to do these things.

New deportations to Turkey

While we are playing the numbers game — 76 people were returned from Greece to Turkey today, having been deemed as “irregular migrants”.

Project Elea in Eleonas camp calls for volunteers and donations

A dedicated group of volunteers are working at the Eleonas camp in Athens, collaborating with the residents there to build more livable spaces and organizing sport, language learning and other activities for both children and grown-ups. For more on their activites, please see you their Facebook page .

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Photo: Project Elea

Donations needed in a small squat in Thessaloniki

Further north, a new small squat in Thessaloniki in need of some donations. Urgently needed items include blankets, dry food (rice, beans, etc.), spices, salt, coffee, and tea. The squat is located in Ano Poli, and currently there are sixteen people living there.

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Thessaloniki

Parents’ initiative to block refugee children attending school

In other bad news, there is an initiative in various parts of Greece that aims to ban refugees for attending school with local children. As reported by Ekhitamerini: “In the wake of similar decisions in Oraiokastro, near Thessaloniki, and Filippiada, near Preveza, the groups representing the parents of two primary schools in Alexandreia, Imathia prefecture, voted against the inclusion of refugees in school classes even though they would be segregated from their children. A regional education official who attended the vote, Dionysis Diamantopoulos, said the Education Ministry would decide which schools will be included in the initiative.”

Hungary

Fear and hate referendum to be held in Hungary this Sunday

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Hungarian border

Serbia

Official camps accommodate only 86% of those stuck in Serbia

The latest numbers from Serbia have just been published by the UNHCR: “The number of new refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, encountered by UNHCR and partners in Serbia, continued growing, now to 5,000. 86% (or 4,309) were accommodated in governmental facilities, including 1,560 in the five Asylum Centres and 2,749 in Refugee Aid Points/Reception Centre, while the others were counted at night in Belgrade City or the border with Hungary. UNHCR, authorities and partners maintained reinforced presence and support at all sites throughout the country.”

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Image. Graph from UNHCR update

France

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Photo borrowed from Reuters

“Jungle” to be closed in a month with vague promises of relocation, but assurances of government’s strong hand

President François Hollande and his administration have decided to definitely empty the Calais camps in record time (before October 31st). Of the more than ten thousand people living there, 10% are unaccompanied minors. Only 387 of these approximately 1,000 children are promised to be transferred to the U.K. according to the Dublin 3 procedures; 209 of these children are eligible under Alf Dubs amendment.

  1. President assures the associations an assessment census of the entire camp will be carried out ahead of evictions
  2. 387 children who have been referred to the Home Office for relocation to the UK under Dublin 3 and Alf Dubs amendment should be quickly processed and brought to safety in the UK
  3. Large backpacks, suitcases, suitcases with wheels and funds needed urgently. Please follow the link http://bit.ly/29QyKxP or e-mail calaisdonations@gmail.com if you have physical donations.

People sleeping on the streets of Paris need tents and those who are in hotels need food

Meanwhile in Paris and the Île-de-France region, some refugee families are hosted in hotels but are not always provided with food. Volunteers try to identify emergency situations and inform city hall or the state of what is happening, as they are responsible for providing basic services. Other volunteers loosely organised within the Collectif Parisien de Soutien aux Exilés (CSPE) try to fill the gaps by cooking and providing food themselves. Their next project is to provide families with rice and rice cookers, so that they can cook on their own. Money for this project is collected through crowdfunding (around €1,000 are available so far — the €37,000 are the total funds collected since November 2015). The funds also allow volunteers to provide food, sim cards, hygiene products and metro tickets for refugees sleeping in the streets of Paris. If you are able to help, please follow the link

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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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