Euro-Border Flashpoint News #7

Issue 7: Week 9th – 15th November, 2015

This is the seventh weekly update on the situation at Europe’s border hotspots, aiming to collate and simplify information from a variety of sources. Apologies for any unintentional omissions.

General News

Tragic events in Paris on Friday night, unlike the terrorist attacks in Beirut the night before, are likely to lead to wide-scale repression on migrating people. It has surfaced that two of the terrorists reached Paris by entering the EU as alleged Syrian refugees. The Bavarian finance minister Markus Söder said: “The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can’t continue just like that. Paris changes everything.” The new government in Poland is using the news as a reason to back out of an agreement to take in several thousand Syrians.

 

11th Nov – Germany has reimplemented the Dublin Regulation and begun deportations of Syrians to the first country they are recorded in Europe, with the exception of Greece. Hungary warns that it will not accept returns from Germany. Slovenia announces that it will build a temporary wall along its border with Croatia, saying “The border will stay open, but controlled.”

11-12th Nov – A deal is signed between EU and African leaders during a summit in Malta, with a fund of €78 million being given to African countries to externalise EU borders and aid deportations.

Balkan Route

Balkan Route update blog with very important info: http://balkanroute.bordermonitoring.eu/

Independent travelling information about the Balkan Route available here.

Lots more advice about travelling and asylum in Sweden, Serbia, Bulgaria, Austria, etc here

9th Nov – Dead body of a migrant found in Bulgaria, where the situation for refugees is worsening. Volunteers in Dimitrovgrad, Serbia, close to the border report “multiple independent reports of police robbing, beating, and imprisoning refugees” in Bulgaria.

10-11th Nov – 10,000-11,000 refugees and migrants reached Preševo, on the Serbian-Macedonian border. There is a very small camp in a residential area with 8 toilets. The queue to be registered is long, waiting times up to 13 hours, sometimes even two days. Police beat people with truncheons, tent poles and tasers to control them. The queue is dangerous with people squashed into fences. People who faint in the cages are somehow dragged to the edge by the crowd and hauled out by supporters. No doctors present, only volunteers providing first aid. Many people sleep on the street among trash and shit. Nights are very cold. Few people have tents; blankets are not distributed.

15th Nov – Interesting report about an “authoritarian humanitarianism” carried out by the UNHCR.

Greece

Essential reading: Powerful testimony by Eric Kempson about the extent of suffering in Lesvos, what exactly the aid agencies are not doing with the millions they have collected in donations from the public, and testimony about abuses of refugee boats by the Turkish coastguard.

11th Nov – 14 people, including 7 children, drown between Turkey and Greece. 3,455 people have so far died this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Calais / UK

The situation in the Calais Jungle, currently home to around 6,000 people, continues to escalate. This week saw several protests by residents of the camp and police violence reached new heights. Media and French politicians blame No Borders for inciting and organising protests. Calais Migrant Solidarity released a statement in response. There is a general increase in repression including the presence of special units of police (GIGN “National Gendarmerie Intervention Group”) targeting supporters. Activists visiting Calais are advised to be more careful than usual, especially if they are known by French police.

Changes to EU law theoretically mean people can now claim asylum remotely for countries where their relatives live. Lawyers from London visited Calais to recruit test cases and identified over 200 people they believe have legitimate claims.

9th Nov – Another demonstration by people living in the Jungle blocks the highway. Police respond by attacking the entire camp, including families living there, with tear gas and flash grenades.

11th Nov – Another collective punishment by police against the Jungle, this time with a cannon, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and 100 rounds of teargas. Injuries and arrests.

12th Nov – First bulldozers arrive at the Jungle, ready to begin work on the new camp. Some people who will be displaced by the new camp continue refusing to move. Eviction expected soon.

12th Nov – High levels of chrysotile (white asbestos) have been found all over the jungle. This substance was banned in France in 1996 due to public health concerns.

13th Nov – 2,500 square metres of the Jungle burns down. Source of fire said to be a candle, not—as some media reported—connected to the terrorist attacks in Paris on the same day. 60 shelters burned; 300 people are now homeless. There is an appeal for donations as warehouse empty.

14th Nov – Refugees in camps in Calais and Dunkirk hold vigils for victims of the attacks in Paris.

Morocco / Spanish Border

No Borders Morocco have published a non-exhaustive summary of the crossings, push-backs and deaths at the border Morocco/Spain in September/October 2015

This week at least 40 people were rescued by the Spanish Salvamento Marítimo (1) (2) and at least 33 people successfully made the journey over the sea to the Spanish island of Alborán.

11th Nov – Bodies of two women and a man found off the coast of Málaga.

12th Nov – Council of Europe declares Spain in breach of the right of asylum in Melilla after examining two cases of illegal pushbacks to Morocco.