Idomeni Cultural Centre (courtesy of AYS)

Euro-Border Flashpoint News #29

Issue 29: Week 16th – 22nd May, 2016

Weekly bulletin to collate and summarise the latest news from Europe’s borders.

Photo: Idomeni Cultural Centre, courtesy of AYS

General News

1,359 migrant deaths in the Mediterranean of 1,687 deaths recorded worldwide so far this year.

People-smuggling business now worth more than $5 billion, says new Europol and Interpol report.

Kenya suddenly announces closure of world’s biggest refugee camp.

17th May – Secret EU deal could lay groundwork for mass transfer of asylum-seekers to Sudan, plus transfer of detention and surveillance equipment to Sudan’s genocide-convicted president.

17th May – New guidelines impose stricter qualifications on asylum-seekers in Finland.

20th May – EU-Turkey deal in chaos. Independent authority examining appeals in Greece rules against returning Syrian refugee to Turkey, potentially creating precedent for thousands of cases. The EU-Turkey deal has been criticised harshly by many, including MSF and UNHCR.

20th May – Amnesty International research finds 80% of global citizens would welcome refugees.

 

Germany

Germany is set to make it easier to deport failed asylum seekers to North Africa by declaring Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia as safe countries.

German government plans to spend €93.6 billion on refugees by end 2020.

 

Balkans

Despite fences, laws and increased surveillance, the Balkan Route is still being used by many to reach Western Europe. Many people pass through Hungary every day (update about the situation in Hungary). Migszol have made a map of conditions in camps and detention centres in Hungary. Hungary plans to implement tougher regulations at borders, strengthen the fence and re-start Dublin deportations to Greece. Reports that a man in Kiskunhalas detention centre was taken to hospital after attempting to hang himself. Small riot in Bekescsaba detention centre after 5 Iranians broke a window with a chair. UNHCR report about Hungary as a Country of Asylum.

There is a call for solidarity with 11 people now on trial connected with events at the Hungary-Serbia border in September, 2015. Their testimony has apparently been purposefully mistranslated and evidence concealed by the state about the true nature of events.

A small informal tent city has formed on Serbia’s border with Hungary. Dozens of people, including small children, camp next to Hungary’s border fence in dire conditions. Humanitarian workers report small groups of up to about 20 people per day permitted into Hungary, mostly families with small children. Almost 100 people irregularly enter Serbia daily from Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Bulgaria plans to return migrants to Turkey under a safe third country agreement from June 1st. Update about the situation in Bulgaria.

Turkey / Greece (East Med / Aegean)

There are 54,129 refugees in Greece as of May 22, according to Greek government—more than 6,000 over maximum capacity of all combined camps in Greece. Fewer than 2,700 refugees crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands in April, 90% less than in March, says Frontex.

Many people have moved from Idomeni to Lagkadikia camp following promises of improved conditions and fast registration for asylum and by UNHCR, all apparently untrue. Moving Europe have made an interactive map of conditions in official camps, which they continue to monitor. Around 11,000 people are still camping at Idomeni, which will be evacuated in the coming weeks.

Macedonia has returned more than 11,000 asylum seekers to Greece since border closed in March.

Many people on Samos have been detained well beyond the allowable 25 days. Their detention is now illegal, say MSF.

16th May – Hunger strike begins in hotspot Schisto. Human Rights Watch have condemned conditions in the hotspots.

18th May – Greek police attack refugees with extreme amounts of teargas in Idomeni after hundreds of people attempt to push a train wagon across the border. A number of migrants throw stones and objects at the police, setting at least four tents on fire (video). Police use large amounts of tear gas, including pregnant at women and children. Tear gas enters MSF clinic; staff and patients evacuated.

18th May – The City Plaza squat in Athens celebrates its one month birthday. The hotel now houses refugee families totalling 385 people, including 180 children. There is also a self-organised solidarity house for refugees in Thessaloniki, occupied since December, 2015.

19th May – Muhammed Azdein dies tragically on Chios after extreme medical negligence.

19th May – USA navy forces to join NATO migration patrols in Aegean. Turkey wants NATO out.

Libya / Lampedusa / Italy (Central Med)

16th May – 1,153 people rescued between Sicily and North Africa in 11 separate rescues.

17th May – Refugees are on hunger strike in Lampedusa hotspot, demanding to be let off the island.

 

Morocco / Spain (West Med)

18th May – Spanish government decorates Guardia Civil officers who mistreat refugees (again).