Euro-Border Flashpoint News #17

Issue 17: Week 1st – 7th February, 2015

A weekly bulletin, aiming to collate and simplify information from a variety of sources about the situation at Europe’s border hotspots.

General News

Statewatch published a confidential report by the European Commission, revealing plans to pass a new law, criminalizing volunteers who rescue refugees from drowning.

More than 10,000 child refugees are missing in the EU, with authorities fearing criminal gangs may be exploiting a large number for sex work and slave labour.

IOM estimates Mediterranean migrant and refugee arrivals in Italy and Greece reached 74,676 by 4th Feb. 7,483 arrivals in first 4 days of Feb, surpassing 6,834 recorded for the whole of Feb 2015. 374 people dead/missing attempting to reach Europe across the Mediterranean 1st Jan–4th Feb.

Crowdfunding is underway for a Conference of Migrants and Refugees in Hamburg, 26-28th Feb.

2nd Feb – Disillusioned Iraqi migrants are volunteering for repatriation, rather than stay in Belgium.

Balkan Route

Greece → Macedonia → Serbia → Croatia → Slovenia → Austria → Germany → ?

Beware of extremely cold weather at some points on the route. Four frozen bodies of refugees found by Bulgarian border police on mountain ranges so far this year. Beware of trick questions by border authorities at all points on this route. The distinction between “SIA” (Syria / Iraq / Afghanistan) and “non-SIA” (all other nationalities) migrants continues along the Balkan Route. Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia will soon be declared as safe countries of origin by Germany, removing the right to asylum in Germany for their citizens.

2nd Feb – Update for refugees arriving at the German border from Austria.

2nd Feb – Update on the Bulgaria-Serbian border. About 100-150 crossing daily, mostly “SIA” (Afghan, Iraqi and Syrian). People not from these countries (“non-SIA”) have been fined with 7 days prison for illegal border crossing and returned to Bulgaria. Taxi drivers overcharging refugees enormously for short rides and taking people’s smartphones when they don’t have enough money.

3rd Feb – Macedonian government announces plans to strengthen border controls, further reducing the speed of transit from Greece, while Greece establishes a new buffer zone near Eidomeni. The new year has already seen several attempts from the EU to slow down migration to Europe. Macedonia is becoming a key player in this strategy. For several weeks the Macedonian border authorities have slowed down the transit process, leaving thousands stuck in Greece. People kept for days at a highway gas station 20km from border. Only a trickle of people let through to Macedonia.

On 2nd Feb, Thousands decided not to wait any longer at the petrol station and started walking towards the Macedonian border. (#marchofhope 2).

3rd Feb – Current information on the crossing from Macedonia to Serbia.

Turkey / Greece

2nd Feb – Bodies of 9 people, including 2 babies, found drowned off the West coast of Turkey.

5th Feb – Greek authorities agree to recognize Turkey as a “safe third country,” which means migrants for whom Turkey is a country of transit, not only of origin, can be returned there, whether they be refugees, “economic migrants” or whatever.

5th Feb – Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warns of a new wave of 80,000 Syrian refugees.

Calais / UK

1st Feb – The French state has slowly but surely been evicting, clearing and levelling a large swathe of the Jungle camp (sign petition), creating a stretch of “no man’s land” between the highway to the port and Jungle residents. Video of tear gas in new exclusion zone. Most of the camp engulfed in CS gas, that according to Global Research could be expired and dangerous. The new no man’s land allows police to fire gas further into the jungle. Volunteers at a food distribution have being gassed. Video montage of life in Calais, with ongoing everyday violence, tear-gas, and determination.

3rd Feb – French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announces a ban on demonstrations in Calais. The French “State of Emergency” is increasingly turning into a war waged by the government against the migrants and refugees, and their supporters.

4th Feb – Identity checks reinforced at the entrance to and exit from the Jungle, leading to traffic jams at the entrance to the camp, blocking traffic on the port road.

6th Feb – Violent attacks on migrants and supporters in Calais continue, with many reported and unreported attacks.

7th Feb – A right-wing protest is banned from taking place in Calais.

Morocco / Spanish Border

4th Feb – Spanish coastguard continues to look for 2 boats that went missing some days earlier, with over 100 people on-board in total, near the Canary Islands.

6th Feb – Transnational commemoration of the deaths of at least 15 people who drowned after being shot at by rubber bullets and tear-gas while attempting to swim to Spanish enclave Ceuta, 6th February, 2014. About 400 migrants from all over Morocco, Moroccans and Europeans demonstrate at the Spanish Embassy in Rabat against the war against migrants, followed by a conference with testimonies and speeches. Other parts of Europe see a wide range of semi-coordinated actions.