Issue 2: Week 5th to 11th October, 2015
This is the second weekly update on the situation at Europe’s border hotspots. The aim is to collate and simplify information from a variety of sources so that more people can keep updated, and give an overiew of what is happening on the ground. Apologies for any unintentional ommissions.
Live feed about the situation at the borders by the Welcome To Europe network: http://live.w2eu.info
If you have any updates, additional information, any questions etc, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
A recently leaked Brussels document calls on EU member states to detain and forcibly return more people. It proposes that the EU uses development aid and visa talks with non-EU countries as a threat to make sure that deported migrants will be accepted back. The European Commission plans to create a Frontex office dedicated solely to deporting migrants. For African states, people can be returned even without a readmission agreement. A 15-year-old treaty between the EU and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of states known as the Cotonou Agreement contains an article that “commits all participating states to readmit their own nationals without further formalities”. The EU began negotiations with the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan over plans to further outsource EU border control to its neighbouring countries and secure its eastern borders in the Aegean region.
The main route for clandestine travellers to enter Europe continues to be by boat from Turkey into Greece, via islands, then through Macedonia, Serbia and up into Hungary, either directly or via part of Croatia. More help is needed at many different points throughout this route.
Around 6,000 people are currently crossing the Croatian-Hungarian border each day, despite some solidarity groups advising people to avoid travelling through Hungary.
Balkan Route update blog: http://balkanroute.bordermonitoring.eu/
Map of route: http://www.refugeemap.com
Police department in Burgenland (Eastern Austria) has opened a 24hr hotline. Family members who are looking for their relatives can call: +43 591 331 033 33
Mediterranean Sea Crossing
On the 11 of october 2015, the Alarm Phone, a hotline for people in distress at sea when trying to cross the Mediterranean, turned one year old. The project launched last year on the anniversary of a shipwreck that caused the death of more than 200 people. The vessel’s precarious situation had been known, but the Maltese and Italian authorities were unwilling to rapidly respond to the distress of more than 400 people in the Central Mediterranean Sea. The Alarm Phone asked: What would have happened if the boatpeople could have directed a second call to an independent
phone-hotline through which a team of civil society members could raise alarm and put immediate pressure on authorities to rescue? Especially since April this year, the Alarm Phone is called every day by people in distress at sea, or by their families, communities and friends.
Calais / UK
After last weekend’s storming of the channel tunnel, two Iranian guys got through to the other side and have been remanded in custody and charged with obstructing trains. Along with Abdul Rahman Haroun, that makes three people currently in prison after walking through the tunnel to seek asylum hin the UK. Eurotunnel have been pushing hard for a tough sentence for the first tunnel walker. The CEO is also accusing the No Borders movement of being behind it, and the press have made allegations supporting this, including the wild allegation the ‘200 anarchists help migrants storm the tunnel’. Across Europe in recent months, coordinated collective action against the borders by people without papers have been spreading and increasing in scale and intensity.
Back on 31st August, French prime minister Manuel Valls visited Calais and announced his new plan. For the first time since the Sangatte camp was closed in 2003, there will be again an official refugee camp in Calais. It will have spaces for 1,500 people. Association La Vie Active won the proposal to run the camp. They will build the new camp out of 125 containers. It will be “200 metres from the Jules Ferry day centre, along the Chemin des Dunes”. Activists are worried this means it will be on the site currently taken up by the jungle. The first containers are due in place by December, although the camp will take some weeks or months to finish. There are currently an estimated 4,000 people living in the jungle and numbers continue to grow. There is so far no news of what will happen to those who do not fit into the new camp.
Last week, for the first time, police began “patrolling” the jungle. They currently enter on most days, in heavily armoured groups of 10 or 20 at a time.
Morocco / Spanish Border
After more than 400 migrants managed to reach Ceuta (Spanish enclave in North Africa) or the Spanish coast last week—including 87 people in one day—the Moroccan police conducted raids in the forests around Ceuta where people wait for the “luck” of an opportunity to climb the 3 razorwire fences, in Boukhalef (a neighbourhood in Tangier with a large migrant population that has recently seen large-scale evictions) and Nador. The situation in Tangier is still very tense.
The Spanish state has recently dramatically increased the amount of forced deportations, particularly to Subsaharan Africa. This is in line with an EU wide move to increase deportations.
Meanwhile, according to an association active in Madrid, those who cannot be returned are being sent to Spain by boat in groups of 100 to 200 people each Thursday, from where most continue their journey towards north Europe, passing through Madrid over the weekends. They have received information from others who are crossing that there are currently around 2,000 Syrian and around 100 Palestinian nationals in (the Spanish enclave of) Melilla, awaiting transfer. People of other nationalities are currently not allowed to register as asylum seekers.