Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26-8.3.16): reactions to and consequences of the EU-Turkey deal

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- Lesvos, Greece: Eric Kempson (22.3.16, link):

Faith in humanity restored!!!!! (YouTube, link)

"You have to watch this video of these amazing people who came to the aid of the refugee's facing a death march to Mytilene.
These are local people and tourists many of whom rented cars so that they could help.

Without this help the refugee's faced a death march with days of walking to Mytilene in the hot sun with children and infants
Brought tears to my eyes...Amazing!!!!"

- Are You Syrious - posted 27.3.16:

"Last night Lesvos saw 73 arrivals until 7:30AM according to official reports, while volunteers report arrival of 3 boats with around 80 people on Samos and two boats with at least 80 people on Chios raising the number of people currently at Vial to 1346, with 140+ above the maximum limit." and

"Human rights activist and a lawyer Electra Leda Koutra from Athens reported on one of the many cases where Greek institutions have proven to be insufficient to support most vulnerable refugees. This is what she has witnessed in Athens today: "Unaccompanied minor, detained "protectively" in a police station cell with other minors, all "in lack of a bed in a facility for minors", suffered a panick attack today. He started screaming and bumping his body and head all around the police cell walls. The other children got afraid, not knowing "what happened to him". The authorities' esponse: he was taken to the local medical service, where his temperature was taken and he was sent back to his cell, because "he is not sick".

When I insisted on him being examined by a child psychologist and psychiatrist, the police said that "we dont have that in the wider area" and suggested that I should call another police station "from tomorrow morning"." Electra points out: "It MUST be made clear that, in absense of a substantive guardianship, protection and reception system, these multi-traumatized children a) MUST remain in EU jurisdiction b) CANNOT remain in Greek jurisdiction without having their fundamental rights breached.""

- UNHCR (26.3.16): 164,338 arrivals in 2016 in EU: 149.208 to Greece, 14,492 yo Italy. 528 dead/missing in 2016.

Arrivals in Lesvos (UNHCR):

Wednesday, 23 March: 269
Thursday, 24 March: 83
Friday, 25 March: 149
Saturday, 26 March: 8

It is reported that there was bad weather on these days - it is expected to improve early next week.

- EU Charter: (thanks to Electra, FB link)

Article 41 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Right to good administration) provides that

“1. Every person (EVEN UNREGISTERED ASYLUM SEEKERS) has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union.

2. This right includes: (a) the right of every person to be HEARD, before any individual measure which would affect him or her adversely is taken; (c) the obligation of the administration to give reasons for its decisions.

3. Every person has the right to have the Union make good any damage caused by its institutions or by its servants in the performance of their duties, in accordance with the general principles common to the laws of the Member States.

4. Every person may write to the institutions of the Union in one of the languages of the Treaties and must have an answer in the same language”

The EU ‘Procedures Directive’ imposes on the Member States the obligation to provide to persons wishing to apply for asylum an effective opportunity to lodge their application within a reasonable time."


Article 47

Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial

Everyone whose rights and freedoms guaranteed by the law of the Union ar violated has the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal in compliance with the conditions laid down in this Article.

Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law. Everyone shall have the possibility of being advised, defended and epresented.

Legal aid shall be made available to those who lack sufficient resources in so far as such aid is necessary to ensure effective access to justice."

- Are you Syrious reports:

"Authorities advise refugees have three options: apply for asylum in Greece, apply for family reunification, apply for the relocation programme. The only way to apply for any of the options is with the Greek home office via Skype appointment between 10 and 11 am, but, according to many reports, it is almost impossible to have anyone to answer the Skype call due to so many refugees trying to get an appointment. Additionally, not many refugees do have access to Skype!"

- Austria: Pushbacks challenged: Report by Are You Syrious (link)

"Administrative Court of Austria has currently dealing with a lawsuit refugees filed against the state for their pushbacks. Right before the Balkan route was closed, hundreds of Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugees were pushed back from Austria to Slovenia. These refugees who were pushed back claim in their lawsuit that they were held at the border zone without toilets or any supplies in horrendous conditions, as well as that there were no reasons given to them in regards to why they were pushed back to Slovenia. According to Leschanz, the refugees prime point in the lawsuit asks why they were treated differently than other refugees that passed through, even if they fled the same reasons as the other refugees who were allowed to cross on the 6th March. Indeed, when the West Balkan route's closure was announced, thousands could pass, some hundreds were pushed back by a seemingly random choice." [emphasis added]

- Online info of the Greek asylum service. (thanks to Electra, link)

"you will have to present to you in person to the regional offices of asylum of our service in order to place your request. The Regional offices are located in Athens, Thessaloniki, orestiada and v.c.."

Comment: Neither the law nor practice directions of the asylum office mentions skype or call as a means of "approaching" the asylum service.

"however, you can introduce you to our service accompanied by a lawyer whose remuneration will be exclusively at your expense. An interpreter will be held at your disposal for you To help introduce your request."

Comment: Not all days translators for each language are available. Legal aid should be considered a given.

General comment. The Asylum Office currently has limited capacities, compared to the vast needs. This, in practice, means it cannot be able to face massive asylum claim requests. It must declare so openly and search for solutions, instead of becoming an accomplice, by act and ommission, to returns that breach the right to human life and dignity, thus the crimes of exposure, torture and homicide."

News (26-28.3.16)

Greece considers to offer refugees & migrants “residence permit” for €250K real estate investment (Keep Talking Greece, link): "Theoretically,, this is possible. Practically, Mardas’ revelations are totally inopportune for the time being with 50,000 refugees and migrants spending their days and nights at open camping areas, often in appalling living conditions."

Tens of drowned bodies found off Libyan shores (Libya Observer, link): "Libyan Coast Guard found Friday tens of drowned bodies of migrants, who are likely to be from Eritrea and Niger, off Al-Garaboulli shores, 75 km eastern Tripoli.The Head of Coast Guard in Al-Garaboulli, Abdullatif Al-Munser, said the decomposed bodies that came ashore Al-Garaboulli suggest that the boat, which those migrants were on, drowned days ago."

EU Law on International Protection in a Nutshell (User-Friendly) (The Press Project): "Overall, although the agreement provides a number of safeguards in accordance with EU and international law, it seems questionable whether these safeguards will be established and implemented."

Greece starts evacuating Idomeni border camp as new arrivals slow (, link) "Greece has begun evacuating migrants from the main Idomeni camp on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) border, while the flow of refugees arriving on Aegean islands has slowed to a trickle, officials said Saturday.... Greek authorities have used the relative calm to put in place logistics to send people back, including the deployment of 4,000 security personnel and asylum experts. All new arrivals in Greece are being taken to registration centres set up on five Aegean islands."

Albania arresting refugees at its borders (The Press Project, link): "Albanian police arrested seven Syrian refugees Saturday morning, near the border outpost of Kakavijë on the grounds that they entered the country illegally, according to an official statement"

Refugees pay to go to prison (Refugee trail, link): "Since Sunday, refugees who arrive on the Greek islands are by and large brought into prisons with the aim of deporting them. The places are officially called “hotspots”, but both police, visitors and inmates call them prisons. The prisoners have a legal right to apply for asylum, but have so far had great difficulty in lodging their requests. They have to pay to go to prison and they are fed through a fence."

Pope Francis slams Europe's 'anaesthetized conscience' over refugees (, link): "Pope Francis decried what he called Europe's "indifferent and anaesthetized conscience" over migrants, during Good Friday prayers in Rome during which he also slammed paedophile priests, arms dealers and fundamentalists.... "O Cross of Christ, today we see you in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas which have become insatiable cemeteries, reflections of our indifferent and anaesthetized conscience," the 79-year old pontiff said, referring to the thousands who set off in unseaworthy boats to reach Greece and the rest of Europe. Francis has long called for the global community to open its doors to refugees and fight xenophobia."

Pope slams 'rejection' of migrants, refugees in Easter message (Yahoo Nrews. link): "The Easter message of the risen Christ... invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees... fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice. "All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance.""

Austria Ready to Help Prevent Opening of New Migrant Route, Bulgaria Says (, link): "Austria is ready to support Bulgaria’sefforts to improve border security in view of potential increase in migration pressure, including by secondment of police officers, a senior Austrian official has said. The assurance of support has come from Austria's Director General for Public Security"

Locals Throw Pigs’ Heads at Migrant Camp Gate in Greece (Greek Reporter, link): "Locals threw pigs’ heads at the gates of a new migrant camp near Veria in northern Greece, protesting the arrival of six buses full of refugees. On Saturday night, the first six buses carrying refugees and migrants arrived at the army camp Armatolos Kokkinos near the Aghia Varvara village. The camp is to serve as a hospitality center for migrants and refugees. The refugees were transferred from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia-Greece border in Idomeni."

EU-Turkey Refugee Deal Is Vulnerable to Legal Challenge (Chatham House, link): "The vast majority of refugees are hosted by countries in developing regions, with many refugees finding themselves in situations of protracted displacement. Reliance by the EU on a scheme that emphasises removal of refugees to a country already struggling with a sizeable refugee population may have unforeseen implications for the principle of international solidarity in responding to refugee emergencies and access to asylum."

Bulgaria says ready to erect fence on border with Greece (, link): "Bulgaria is ready to build a fence on its border with Greece to keep out migrants amid fears they could head its way after the Western Balkan route was closed, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said on Friday."

International volunteers recycle clothes for refugees on Lesbos (DW, link): "As Athens scrambles to implement a deal between the EU and Turkey, for those helping refugees on the ground very little has changed. Gemima Harvey reports on a special group of volunteers on Lesbos."

UN Rights Chief Expresses Serious Concerns Over EU-Turkey Agreement (Greek Reporter, link)

Greece: PM Tsipras chairs meeting on refugee issue (ANAmpa, link)

Migrants protest to be let through Greek-Macedonian border (Reuters, link)

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