Euro-Border Flashpoint News #10

Issue 10: Week 30th November – 6th December, 2015

This is the tenth 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

The Schengen Agreement is in danger of unraveling as more and more walls are erected, states seek more powers to close their borders, and EU leaders threaten to kick Greece out of Schengen.

The Alarm Phone are urging for donations of smartphones. Smartphones can save lives at sea.

Eidomeni

Between 5,000 and 6,000 people now trapped at Eidomeni, on the Greek side of the Greece-Macedonia border. Macedonia will only admit citizens of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan as refugees. This decision has been termed “inequitable and illegal”.

Everybody (regardless of the nationality) still has the theoretical right to seek asylum in Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and other EU countries, if they manage to enter. In reality, the last days have seen many (illegal?) deportations back to Greece. Macedonian lawyer team free 24 hours hotline: 0800 17 777 (from a Macedonian number) / 00389 800 17 777 (from another country). MYLA (Macedonian Young Lawyers’ Association), +389 2 322 0870, http://www.myla.org.mk/

1st Dec – More than 1,000 demonstrate in Thessaloniki, in solidarity with those stuck at Eidomeni.

2Nd Dec – 2,000 Pakistani people attacked by police with tear-gas as they attempted to cross. Tensions been growing between groups of migrants and refugees. Some not allowed to pass due to nationality attempt to stop others, who can, from passing. “If we don’t cross, nobody does.”

3rd Dec – A man dies while attempting to climb the border fence between Greece and Macedonia.

5th Dec – Activists squat a house in Thessaloniki to create a safe and dignified space for people being turned back from the border at Eidomeni.

The situation at Eidomeni continues to change rapidly. Police and UNHCR have been issuing ultimatums and protests continue. Watch this space for latest updates.

Bulgaria

An independent group of volunteers in Dimitrovgrad at the Serbian-Bulgarian border are looking for more volunteers. They provide food and clothes 24hrs a day outside the refugee camp (they’re not allowed in) and report that the situation is really bad: Corrupt Serbian police charge refugees money to register and work with local taxis which charge huge sums to travel to Belgrade. Refugees have wounds and stories of beatings from police in Bulgaria, which they are trying to document. Some NGOs on the ground, but doing little. Refugees mostly sleep outside in the freezing cold.

Turkey / Greece

This video shows the growing tensions between different nationalities amid the change in EU politics that deems citizens of most countries to be “economic migrants”.

1st Dec – A little girl dies while crossing the Aegean Sea.

4th Dec – Turkey has now detained 3,000 refugees in operations by Turkish coastguards along its West coast, since Turkey and the EU reached a deal to stem the flow of refugees into Europe. Thirty-five suspected smugglers were also detained and hundreds of boats were seized. People continue to cross the sea, nevertheless.

Calais / UK

On December 14th, 2 people connected to the No Border Network will stand trial in Nice and Boulogne, France. One of them was arrested simply for being present in front of the border police station of Menton (on the French side of the border with Italy, close to Ventimiglia) during one of the many deportations of people from France to Italy. The other is accused of having organised riots in the Calais jungle. Calais Migrant Solidarity are calling for December 14th to be a day of action.

1st Dec – Police use tear gas and rubber bullets in response to a traffic jam on the highway alongside the Jungle, created by Jungle residents. Reports of a man being shot by a rubber bullet in the back of his leg as he runs from police, breaking it. Another person shot in the mouth, breaking numerous teeth. Later, CRS (French riot police) create a roadblock at a jungle exit. Vehicles stopped and searched when leaving and documents demanded for drivers and all passengers.

2nd Dec – Jungle residents create a traffic jam at the Eurotunnel. Hundreds of people cross the city to be there, and are pushed back through the city by police. Many make it through police lines to the traffic jam, and are met with tear gas for several hours.

3rd Dec – 16 year old Sudanese boy dies after being hit by a van on the A16 motorway, near the Euro tunnel entrance. A group of mostly Sudanese people who march to the hospital are met by masked police with flash ball guns. This is the 22nd death in Calais this year that we are aware of.

5th Dec – Hundreds of people, mainly from the Sudanese community, protest the death of teenage Youssef two days earlier. The day before, a yet unnamed Ethiopian man died in similar circumstances. At least three others are in hospital in serious conditions after being hit by vehicles.

Morocco / Spanish Border

1st Dec – Two young men from Cameroon die after the Moroccan police set fire to the cave they’re in, close to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.