AYS Daily Digest 12/07/17: CRS seeks to drive refugees away from Calais by contaminating drinking water

Long wait times continue / Concerns as administration of island hotspots set to move to Greek jurisdiction / Overcrowding and tensions continue at island hotspots / Gay Jamaican asylum-seeker victim of Surinamese, Dutch police brutality / Refugee struck by a truck in Italy / Traffickers caught transporting 25 children over border in Afghanistan / And more news…

Image for post
Image for post
Contaminated water canisters. (Photo by L’Auberge des migrants)

FEATURE: CRS allegedly contaminating drinking water in Calais

For those following the situation in France, the fact that the CRS is engaged in immoral activity against refugees should come at no surprise. Harassment is unceasing, and yet, this newest revelation does an outstanding job of sinking the organization’s reputation even lower. Refugee Community Kitchen volunteers report multiple incidents which shakes off the benefit of the doubt that perhaps this is an isolated incident. And yet, multiple reports suggest that such conduct is a regular part of CRS operations in Calais. One volunteer reports that CRS deployed tear gas ruined a batch of food and water approximately a month ago. Another reports that from time to time tear gas canisters are launched towards the direction of tents, which would also inevitably contaminate nearby water.

Volunteers from other organizations report similar incidents. One member of Utopia 56 named Charlotte personally witnessed the effects of CRS policy. She reports that two refugees had brought to her an empty can of water, which she filled up. One of them took a sip of the water, became irritated, and threw the water out. Charlotte says that she had heard of three such incidents in the space of two weeks, and that refugees had once seen a police officer tampering with the water. Another Utopia 56 volunteer named Lucie confirmed that she also heard of three or four such cases. While there is no evidence that the state has ordered this course of action, but such a widespread adoption of this tactic suggests that at the very least, the state turns a blind eye to CRS’s methods of operation.


United Aid Network raising money to build water filtration systems in refugee camps


Refugees arriving on south Lesbos facelong times to receive clothing

But people on the ground say that even as there is no shortage of donated clothing in warehouses, the refugees who arrive in the south must wait for weeks to receive a clothing appointment. This problem could have been easily resolved had it not been for restrictions which prevent NGOs from swiftly interacting with the newcomers. One woman who arrived without shoes on Monday was told that she might receive a pair on Saturday, but even then no guarantees were made. It must be made abundantly clear that this is not an issue of low supply, but rather, of poor logistics planning and bureaucratic paper pushing.

Image for post
Image for post

NGOs raise concerns about transfer of responsibility for services to the Greek government

In their statement on the scheduled transfer, the NGOs bring forth an example of deteriorating care as seen on Lesvos. When the contract of an organization which was providing medical care for 2,000 refugees expired, “its 10 doctors, who had provided care for the more than 2,000 people living in the facility, as well as supported the Greek Asylum Service with vulnerability assessments, were replaced by just three doctors meant to fulfil the same responsibilities.”

The statement also decries the severe shortage of places for unaccompanied child minors, who by the law are supposed to be housed separately from the general population to guarantee their safety. The asylum services only have 1,270 places for the estimated 2,250 unaccompanied child minors, meaning that many are currently on the streets, in squats, or in police custody. As the transition happens, it is expected that at least five shelters will close and therefore there will be even fewer spaces in existence.

As arrival numbers see a relative spike, poor accommodations cause tensions to simmer

Conditions could of course be alleviated by expediting the process to allow refugees to leave to the mainland, or by building additional facilities to relieve pressure on the already overcrowded camps, but funds seem to be chronically short and the conditions of the EU-Turkey Deal significantly slow down the waiting time for those seeking asylum in Greece.


Lesvos 99
Samos 30
Others 10
Total: 139

Website allows organizations to list needed supplies

Baby strollers are needed on Lesbos

People’s Kitchen seeks funding to continue to provide vegan meals for refugees on Chios


Organization invites refugees to ask questions pertaining to the asylum process

Their website features a handy FAQ for those who are able to read in German. Otherwise, you may contact them directly by messaging their Facebook page or by sending an email to info@asylex.ch.


Gay Jamaican asylum-seeker manhandled by Surinamese, Dutch authorities


Volunteers and/or donations needed in Brussels


Refugees in northern France need blankets and sleeping bags

L’Auberge des migrants in Calais asks for shoe donations

Volunteers needed in Paris for clothes sorting and distribution


Refugee killed by truck


Afghan police discover vans filled with drugged children

This arrest, as wonderful as it is to hear about, is unlikely to put much of a dent in the problems facing children in Afghanistan. In addition to the regular problems that one would expect to find in an impoverished country, i.e. having to work from a young age, no access to education, etc. the children of Afghanistan must also endure the consequences of living in a war zone. Children often go missing in Afghanistan, be it because of recruitment into the Taliban or for other reasons.

Again, one must ask the question, is this what a safe country looks like? Would EU leaders be happy with the prospect of their children being preyed upon and kidnapped? As the answer is almost certainly a resounding no, why are they so content to consign refugees from Afghanistan to this fate? If Europe makes a pretense of caring about human rights and dignity, why do deportations continue from all across the EU?

We strive to echo correct news from the ground, so let us know if something you read here is not right.

If there is anything you want to share, contact us on Facebook or write to: areyousyrious@gmail.com.

Written by

Daily news digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and refugees on the route, but also for journalists and other parties.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store