AYS News Digest 16/05/2022: Switzerland vote to increased Frontex funding

Crisis forgotten in Poland // Palestinian Protests Banned in Germany // 20 rescued off the coast of Rhodes // 450 assisted to Sicily


Switzerland vote to increased Frontex funding

Photo Credit: UpExamPaper

Following a referendum in Switzerland, 72% of voters supported an increase in funding to the EU’s border agency. As a non-EU member state, but still a part of the Schengen area, the Swiss vote was highly pressured as a public display of collaboration with the EU.

The referendum had been triggered by the collection of 62,000 signatures by political groups and activists hoping to prevent the funding increase.

The contribution from Swiss funds will rise from €23 million to nearly €60 million in 2027, as the head count of Frontex will expand from 1,500 officers to 10,000.

The link between the recent resignation of Frontex director Leggeri and the vote are explored in detail in this article, going back to the foundations of the agency in 2004.

Activists have called for spontaneous demonstrations against the decision on what is perceived as a vote for racism.


Reports of violent pushbacks at the Hungary border have been shared by the Asylum Protection Centre of Serbia. Use of tear gas and destruction of property also occurred.


Crisis forgotten

A humanitarian crisis is still occurring at the Poland-Belarus border. Yet the exodus of people from Ukraine via Poland has taken attention away from ongoing events at the border of the EU. Grupa Granica reports on families and those with disabilities being subjected to illegal deportation or suffering harsh conditions without aid.

This Long Read explores the personal account of a volunteer.

Following previous actions in Lesznowola detention centre, a group remains on hunger strike against their unlawful incarceration.


Palestinian Protests Banned

Following the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla in Israel, the court in Berlin has banned protests relating to events in Palestine. Demonstrations relating to Kurdish oppression were also disbanded by police.

Palastinain-American Abu Aqla was shot whilst providing coverage about a raid by Israeli troops on a refugee camp. This detailed article by Bellingcat examines the course of events leading up to journalists being shot at. Israel claims that Palestinians were to blame — this article provides evidence which indicates that this was not the case.

Deportations from Germany can happen very quickly. The authorities may knock on the door in the middle of the night — giving little warning to those who have had claims rejected. In protest against this practice, Frank Richter (member of the parliament for the state of Saxony), has set up a website to show the human side of the refugee situation.

“[People] are desperately needed in Saxony and despite all that they have been deported, or are due to be deported.”

Richter points out the ageing population of the state, and the inequalities faced by those not from Ukraine. He hopes that sharing the stories will help to sway public opinion.


20 rescued off the coast of Rhodes

A group of 20 people were rescued by two naval vessels, assisted by private yachts. The group, thought to be from Syria, are in good health and were transferred to the port of Rhodes.

This comes as a group of 9 people in significant distress reached out for assistance in the same area. They were reported later to be pushed back to Turkish waters.

Day 10 of limited running water on Samos.

As reported in the last News Digest, the closed camp on the Greek island has both revolving doors and high-tech surveillance cameras, but running water for just two hours per day. The camp cost the EU 276 million Euros. Secretary General for Reception of Asylum Seekers, Manos Logothetis took to social media on Saturday, promising a solution ‘tomorrow’.

A man from Afghanistan has been acquitted of illegal entry into Greece for steering a boat. Aziz spent 3 years waiting for this trial after crossing the Aegean with his pregnant wife. Human Rights Legal Project Samos who supported him were delighted with the outcome, but emphasise that many more people are facing similar situations without sufficient legal representation.

The legal issues faced by those seeking safety in Europe are further demonstrated with the sad case of the so-called ‘Samos 2’. Following an incident in which a boy drowned, two people are facing charges for his death, one of the men is his father. The trial will be on Wednesday.

A report published by the Greek National Transparency Authority has been removed from the website. The report, which claimed that there is insufficient evidence that illegal pushbacks occur, was removed presumably because names and identifying information was included.


Small NGO Aidez nous a aider (ANA) shares an update from their work supporting people on the streets. They provide care packages and information to families and individuals. During the course of their work, they also detail the stories of people they meet. Fatima is from Senegal, but has been in Morocco for five years. Read more here.


A boat carrying approximately 500 people was assisted by the Italian Coast Guard.

Photo Credit: Ansa.it

The boat docked safely at the seaside town of Ragusa, where Mayor Roberto Ammatuna declared that “the welcome machine is ready”.

Meanwhile, SEA WATCH 4 was finally assigned a port of safety, with some passengers having been on board for two weeks. They will disembark in Augusta, Sicily.

On another rescue ship, the GEO BARENTS, a makeshift cradle is the best the crew can do whilst they wait for a port of safety. 470 people were rescued in just three intense days.


In April this year, a boat capsized off the coast of Lebanon. At least 7 people were reported as dead, including a little girl. The incident is reported to have involved a Lebanese Naval vessel. This article examines the evidence surrounding this tragic event.


A Ukrainian citizen, deported from Italy to Mariupol, tells his story. The young man spent 3 years in Italian prison.

“Four years ago a Turkish agency offered him a job, accompanying a family for a tourist trip from Greece to the Aeolian islands. The engagement took on an unexpected twist, however, when — with a gun pointed at his chest — M. found himself at the head of a boat with 46 Iraqi refugees.” Continue reading here.

UN Human Rights office has come under fire as it has failed to publish a long-awaited report on the human rights violations of China against the Uyghur population. A demonstration took place in Geneva.

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Are You Syrious?

News digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and people on the move, but also for journalists, decision makers and other parties.