Euro-Border Flashpoint News #25

Issue 24: Week 18th – 24th April, 2016

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

General News

There will be a No Border Camp in Thessaloniki, Greece, 15-24th July, 2016.

The Alarm Phone are appealing for donations, to help them save lives at sea.

Volunteers raising money for a refugee family of six in Turkey that has four adult children with cerebral palsy, a sick mother and 70 year old father, trying to care for them all. Donate here.

The UK will take in up to 3,000 refugees, mostly vulnerable children, from Syria by 2020.

List of items needed in Calais, including clothes, food, cooking and hygiene equipment.

21st Apr – Austrian bishop refuses to allow parts of planned anti-migrant fence on to be built on Church land, saying it “would contradict the spirit of the Gospel, Pope Francis’s clear message to Europe, and in particular for a diocese that was in the shadow of the Iron Curtain for decades.”

21st Apr – Finland suspends dublin deportations to Hungary following higher court ruling.


Turkey / Greece (East Med / Aegean)

Few people currently make it from Turkey to the Greek islands. The Turkish coastguard intercepts boats with help from Frontex and 5 Nato vessels and forces them back to Turkey. There are only places for 30,860 people in official camps on Greek mainland, but 46,450 people are stuck there.

Moving Europe continue visiting and reporting on conditions in camps across Greece. Babies in Vial camp on Chios not given enough milk and are suffering malnutrition.

A new human rights watch report shows that first deportations to Turkey under EU-Turkey agreement were riddled with abuse. Deported people weren’t told where they were going, not allowed to take belongings and had phones confiscated in Turkey. The legal basis for the return to Turkey of migrants who are not seeking asylum is a Greece-Turkey readmission agreement from 2001. An EU-Turkey readmission agreement to allow similar deportations from all 28 EU member states will go into effect in June. Human Rights Watch report about torture in Turkey.

People on Lesvos and Chios free to leave hotspots following the “administrative restriction” which says they cannot be detained after 25 days. They can move freely, but cannot leave the islands. On Lesvos there are currently 3,771 registered asylum seekers, 1,957 on Chios and 595 on Samos.

18th Apr – Police van hits a Kurdish man from Syria at Idomeni, leaving him critical condition. Camp residents attack the police van in retaliation, smashing its front window. The man later dies.

20th Apr – Updated information on family reunification and relocation programme from Greece.

20th Apr – Fire at Diavata camp near Thessaloniki. A dozen tents burn, people losing all they had.

20th Apr – Eight Syrians, mostly women and children, shot dead by Turkish border guards while trying to cross into Turkey via a mountain smuggling route at the western end of the border.

22nd Apr – The Solidarity Initiative for Economic and Political Refugees occupies an abandoned hotel in Athens and converts it into a self-organised accommodation centre.

22nd Apr – Soli Cafe solidarity center on Chios set on fire. Culprits still unknown.

23rd Apr – Arrivals landing on Greek islands creeping back up. Currently around 150 per day.


Libya / Italy (Central Med)

The Central Mediterranean route has reopened, with growing numbers of people crossing from Libya or Egypt to Italy, via the island of Lampedusa, since the EU-Turkey deal was struck. Arrivals in Italy for April are up 25% from 2015; last week almost 4,000 people arrived in only 48 hours.

Sea-Watch 2 begins rescue mission in Central Med exactly a year after expiry of Sea-Watch 1.

Up to 500 people drowned in massive shipwreck of overcrowded boat close to Libya. The tragedy went unreported for days and events are only just becoming clearer. 41 survivors, taken to Greece.

17th Apr – 6 people dead, 108 survivors in a new tragedy close to Lampedusa. Survivors are taken to Greece. As they didn’t arrive via Turkey, they won’t be affected by the EU-Turkey deal.

18th Apr – 400 people, mostly from Somalia, feared dead after their boat capsizes in Central Mediterranean trying to reach Italian coast. Only 29 people rescued. 6 bodies also recovered on a boat full of refugees in the Strait of Sicily, about 20 miles from the Libyan coast.

19th Apr – EU plans to post security experts in Libya and move naval operation into Libyan waters.


Morocco / Spanish Border (West Med)

Deaths of migrating people at Spain’s southern border grew by 48% in 2015, according to annual report by Andalusian human rights association APDHA. They warn that Europe and Spain have decided to “abandon the theoretical respect for fundamental rights” of migrants.

Campaign group Stop Deportación warn of chartered deportation flight to Columbia and Dominican Republic on 27th April, 2016. Raids possible throughout Spain to collect people for this flight.

20th Apr – Association Prodein releases video showing Spanish police beating unaccompanied minors. This is common practice, but rarely caught on video and usually difficult to prove.

23rd Apr – 101 people successfully cross the fences from Morocco into Spanish enclave Ceuta, taking advantage of low tides and police distracted by another 100 attempting to enter on the other side. This is the first successful mass-entry via the fences since 25th December, 2015.