Euro-Border Flashpoint News #26

Issue 26: Week 25th April – 1st May, 2016

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

General News

On May 7th a coordinated day of actions is planned, with simultaneous demonstrations at detention centres across the UK, Calais, Idomeni, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Iceland.

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 successfully raised over £3,000 for refugee family of 4 adult children with cerebral palsy

Interzone Voices are appealing for donations of clothes, books, toiletries and essential items for migrants trapped in Morocco, as well as musical instruments to empower migrating musicians.

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

25th Apr – Arsonist set fire to a building due to house child refugees in Sweden for the second time.

27th Apr – Austria passes tougher asylum law to restrict refugees.

Calais / UK

25th Apr – UK government narrowly defeats immigration bill amendment that would have let 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children enter the UK.

28th Apr – 6 refugee families win legal action against British Home Office after 17 years in legal limbo. They were among 75 people who washed up at a British military base on Cyprus in 1998.


Turkey / Greece (East Med / Aegean)

Greece experienced a sharp decline in arrivals this month. IOM reports an estimated arrival of 154,491 migrants and refugees between Jan 1st–April 25th, but only 233 arrivals on weekend of 22-24 April. Decreases are largely due to the EU-Turkey deal signed in April, now in danger of collapsing. Turkey refuses to honour deal if Turkish citizens not given visa-free access to Europe by June. Parliamentary punch-up and consequent suspension of parliament endangers whole deal, along with the question as to whether the deal is a “treaty” or not.

Since the EU-Turkey deal was signed, IOM has facilitated the resettlement of 350 Syrians from Turkey to Europe. It expects to resettle another 300 this week.

53,817 migrants and refugees are trapped in Greece, including 7,899 people on the islands, 3,294 camping in Piraeus following mass transfers to organized camps, 10,232 at Idomeni and another 1,191 in nearby Polykastro gas station. These are people who arrived before the EU-Turkey deal. 380 unaccompanied minors to be sent to a separate camp at Lesvos, under supervision of NGOs.

Refugees trapped in Greece are being threatened with arrest and imprisonment because of non-existent access to asylum procedures. The only way to claim asylum is through a skype number that is almost never answered. Family reunification is also incredibly difficult to apply for.

A young woman from Syria who tried to reach the asylum service via Skype for 20 days and did not get through started a petition demanding a face-to-face asylum service for refugees in Greece.

Campaign group Welcome to Wuppertal are pressuring their German city to let in people who are trapped at Idomeni. The situation in Idomeni has not changed much in the last days.

25th Apr – Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan Visits Refugees on Lesvos Island.

26th Apr – Greek authorities hand out flyers in different languages at Idomeni, stating that people have to leave and move to military camps. “This settlement does not cover any of your basic everyday needs. It will end its operation.”

26th Apr – Riots in Moira detention centre on Lesvos after visiting Dutch immigration minister tells refugee kids that Europe won’t open the border. Kids spray him with water. Greek riot police answer with violent attack, beating minors. Full uprising ensues. At least 20 injured refugees, 2 with broken legs. 17 kids sent to mainland Amygdaleza detention after, their fate unknown.

26th Apr – Refugees demonstrate at Cherso camp after failed meeting with camp authorities. Frustrated and angry residents kick out authorities and organizations. They later let them return after negotiations, but the situation remains largely the same, the Skype service still mostly inaccessible.

28th Apr – Greek residents on Chios island protest assumed refugee camp expansion. The flow of refugees to the island has slowed dramatically. Around 100 arrivals in 7 days.


Libya / Italy (Central Med)

IOM estimates 25,894 migrants arrived in Italy by sea between 1 January and 25 April, 2016.

26th Apr – Reports of corpses being retrieved off the coast of Libya near Garabulli, although it is not known whether these may be victims of last week’s shipwreck or from a different incident.

26th Apr – NATO to blockade Libyan coast this summer to block central Mediterranean route.

28th Apr – Italian NGOs join forces to stop forced returns and create a precedent for legal passage.

29th Apr – Germany puts the onus on Italy to block migrant route through Italy to northern Europe.


Morocco / Spanish Border (West Med)

29th Apr – 5-7 people enter Spanish territory by scaling the fences into Melilla. 150 people had attempted to enter at the same time. Many arrested and pushed back by Moroccan Auxiliary Forces.