Euro-Border Flashpoint News #18

Issue 18: Week 8th – 14th February, 2016

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

Open Letter by the Alarm Phone: Against sensationalist and undignified practices by volunteers and journalists

General News

10th Feb – Turkey turns down EU plan to resettle hundreds of thousands of refugees per year from Turkey in exchange for sealing the Aegean borders, calling it unacceptable and infeasible.

10th Feb – EU gives Greece a month to improve conditions for asylum seekers in the hope of eventually sending more refugees back to Greece through reintroduction of “Dublin” deportations.

11th Feb – Nato sends three warships to intercept migrants in the Aegean. The German-led patrol is backed by planes that can monitor the flow of people attempting to cross. Greece and Turkey have agreed that any migrants intercepted will be sent back to Turkey.

IOM says 409 people died so far this year trying to cross the sea to Europe, and that nearly 10 times as many refugees and migrants crossed in the first six weeks of 2016 as in the same period last year.

Scottish-based refugee campaign group, Positive Action in Housing is calling for action to oppose EU plans to criminalise charities, local people and volunteers as “smugglers” for helping refugees.

Balkan Route

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

W2EU publishes its info sheets on the Balkan Route in English, Arabic and Farsi.

9th Feb – Refugees who register with police in Croatia receive a 10-30 day permit. When this expires, they are required to leave the country; re-entry banned for 1 year. It’s possible to apply for asylum in Croatia. Non-SIA people denied entry to Croatia advised to apply for asylum in Serbia.

10th Feb – Macedonia erects second fence at Greek border. New large-capacity camp being constructed at Polykastro gas station on Greek side of the border. Still a steady flow of people across the border into Macedonia, but movement controlled through several stops within Greece.

Turkey / Greece

New deals between EU and Turkey already having negative effects for refugees in Turkey: More detention; less reception. Only European citizens can get asylum in Turkey. Number of Syrian refugees in Turkey still growing: more than 2.5 million registered at end of 2015. Only 1/3 of their children visiting schools regularly; many not well paid or in clandestine employment. Sporadic clashes between Turkish citizens and Syrian refugees, protests against Syrian refugees. As of January 2016, Syrians have to apply for a visa to travel to Turkey by plane or ship. Arrivals consequently decreased from 41,000 to 1,200 a week. A wall is in construction at the Syrian border in Hatay. Near Aleppo, thousands wait to cross the border to Turkey, blocked by Turkish authorities. Refugees report violent push-backs and deaths caused by huge military presence at the border.

8th Feb – At least 27 refugees, including 11 children, drown after a boat trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos capsizes 2 miles off the Turkish coast. Search operation underway for 9 others.

Calais / UK

8th Feb – A French military General is in trouble for going to banned anti-migrant protest last week.

12th Feb – France prepares to bulldoze half of Jungle, giving up to 1,000 people only a week’s notice to move – this number is closer to 2,000 according to association L’auberge des Migrants. This area is the bigger part of the Jungle. It includes the Eritrean church, newly opened youth centre, a School, women’s centre, many shops and restaurants, community kitchens, distribution points, the theatre, legal centre, and homes of many people. Some 750 places in the new containers offered to those having to move: 12 bunk-beds per container, with no facilities, no kitchen and no water. A biometric hand-print is needed to enter. Others have been offered accommodation in centres around France, where they’re given a month to apply for asylum. Places not sufficient and many asylum seekers still sleeping in the Jungle, including women and children. The whole jungle will be cleared “by the summer”.

13th Feb – British charity blames police and militia attacks on migrants on rise in number of ‘Jungle’ camp refugees, including children, being treated for stabbings, broken bones and head traumas.

Morocco / Spanish Border

8th Feb – A young man dies in Canary Islands hospital from symptoms of hypothermia and dehydration, one of 42 people rescued the previous day after almost 7 days at sea many without food or water, during which 7 other people died. 2 detained as suspected smugglers. Others in critical condition, being treated in neglectful conditions.

10th Feb – Arrivals to the Canary Islands tripled in 2015, with 874 people rescued or intercepted; more than the previous 3 years combined. Boats are now crossing from Mauritania, not only from Morocco and Western Sahara. Spanish coastguard are searching for a missing boat with 28 people.