Euro-Border Flashpoint News #9

Issue 9: Week 23rd – 29th November, 2015

This is the ninth 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

Due to French border controls, refugees who entered Europe through Melilla and try to take a bus to Germany or Belgium are trapped in Spain. At this time, we do not know whether all, or just some of them are facing this situation.

The French Prime Minister says, “Europe cannot welcome more refugees. It is not possible.” and that France will take no more refugees beyond the 30,000 already agreed for the next two years.

The open doors of Sweden are closing with the presentation of a new packet of measures to tighten conditions for asylum seekers and strengthen border controls on all transport routes.


Balkan Route

The restrictions in Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia, which state that now only citizens of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are considered to be real refugees, is unleashing a “crisis within a crisis”. Thousands of people blocked by these borders are sleeping outdoors in sub-zero temperatures at Eidomeni, where a fence has been constructed along the Greece-Macedonia border….

We are currently setting up an Infopoint for the people who are pushed back at the Greek-Macedonian Border in Idomeni. In order to show the people who are protesting that their calls are being heard and their struggle is recognised in Europe and across the world, we are asking for individuals and groups to send statements of solidarity: small moments of support for those fighting for their freedom of movement. Declarations of unity to those struggling against Fortress Europe. Send us whatever sign of support comes to your mind. We will be present in Idomeni with printer, megaphone and camera. We will print all statement, photographs and poems. Play the words of solidarity. And report back on what happens. Let us prove that no fence, no wall and no military presence can seal borders. Let us be there to show support and solidarity to those in struggle. And if not in person, than in word, picture and sound. Send your solidarity call to! Walls fall only when those shaking their foundations are being heard!” Source.

26th Nov – 10 Iranian citizens now on hunger strike at Eidomeni, six of them have sewn their mouths shut. Tension is rising as more people arrive daily.

The UNHCR and Medicines San Frontieres have been criticised for their role in this crisis.


Turkey / Greece

27th Nov – Six children die in two shipwrecks off the Turkish coast. Two of the children have been identified as Diven Halil Hussein and Beren Halil Hussein, brothers from Syria aged 1 and 4 years.

29th Nov – The EU signs deal giving Turkey €3 billion and a pledge to renew its membership bid in exchange for help holding back refugees. 752 refugees, including citizens of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have already been detained in 8 joint operations along the Turkish coast.


Calais / UK

Part of an eye-witness report from Calais:

This week there have been several collective attempts to cross by people in the jungle. The fence provided by the UK government and costing 12 million taxpayers money cuts like butter, even a small wire cutter does the job and in fact is full of holes through which people run on the motorway – at their risk and peril. At least three people in serious conditions in the last week: a 21 year old from Afghanistan in hospital in critical condition due to a head injury and has not regained consciousness for a week. Wednesday night a young Sudanese was seriously injured by a passing car and taken to hospital, he is believed to be in serious but not critical condition; and Thursday a 17 years old from Afghanistan had his legs smashed by another vehicle. The fragile fence is too near to the camp, and the police have been firing gas grenades deep into the jungle on Thursday, in the worst gas attack on the jungle ever. I saw a grenade landing on the rood by a restaurant that caught fire, the people had a fire extinguisher and managed to put the fire out but they got really sick from the tear gas… You can hear the sound of gas grenades being fired and exploding any time day or night, on the motorway or at the edges of the camp…”

24th Nov – A hotel in Calais is raided for housing refugee families.


Morocco / Spanish Border

A group of 139 social entities in Spain, along with the UNHCR, have signed a manifesto ordering the government to immediately cease illegal push-backs at the southern border. This comes after around 100 people attempted to enter Spanish territory by scaling the fences of Melilla the previous Saturday, many of whom were brought down from the fences by ladder into Spanish territory and then immediately returned to Morocco, without being identified, given the chance to claim asylum, or being given an interpreter. Spain claims it is not in contravention of human rights, because people can claim asylum at the places provided for this purpose at the border posts. People from Sub-Saharan Africa are not permitted to enter these spaces.

24th Nov – The City Hall of Barcelona joins the Catalan Parliament in ordering the CIE (immigration detention centre) in Barcelona be closed for good. It is currently temporarily closed for renovation.