Life not Death, by Efi Latsoudi

29th of August 2014
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We received the information that there is a rescue operation in Nees Kydonies Lesvou. A 38-year-old woman has gone missing. Strong winds in the area. The coast guard boats are not sailing only a helicopter flies for a while over the area.

At noon 25 Afghan refugees arrived at PIKPA. Two dingy boats had arrived early that morning. Strong winds and waves can’t stop smugglers but also can’t stop the need of people escaping war. Among the survivors of the first boat there is a five year old girl with her uncle. Her mother is missing. The child is resting in PIKPA. PIKPA is overcrowded again. More than 150 people arrived yesterday. No available beds and the families taking care of the girl give her their own beds. We inform the Doctors of the world in Moria detention camp about the tragic incident as well as Red Cross International. The child has a sister and her father in Belgium and they talk on the phone when the child is transferred in Moria to be examined and supported by the doctors. Continue reading

Press Release / w2eu (28.0814): 73 refugees transferred from Moria to unknown destination on vessel of the Hellenic Navy (Α/Γ Ροδος L-177)

Mytilene, 28.08.14
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On Wednesday night (27th August 2014) a group of 73 refugees most of which were Afghan was transferred from Moria first reception detention centre in Lesvos to the port of Mytilene. When the last load of people reached the port it was already dark. They were then brought on board discretely and in the shadow of one Greek officer at a time. During this seemingly secretive operation the port was full of civil police and coast guards.

As the refugees thought they would be released – similar to the previously detained refugees all the other days, they were shocked and in panic when they found themselves in the port facing a 116 metres long ship of the Greek Navy. They were not informed about what was going to happen. They didn’t know where they would be brought. And their biggest fear was that they were being send back to Turkey.

Many of the persons transferred are relatives of families who were released shortly before, there are unaccompanied minors among them who were afraid to register with their real age as they heard the underage stay longer in detention and there are others who have family members in other European countries. All these persons have escaped war and conflict to find security and protection in Europe.

• We demand to know where these people were brought as to inform their relatives and lawyers! Transparency to all official procedures concerning refugees instead of secretive operations!
• Stop the transfer of refugees on Navy Boats that terrifies and retraumatizes them!
• Stop the arbitrary and discriminative treatment! We demand freedom for all refugees! Stop the detention of protection seekers!
• We also demand to know the whereabouts of the 36 unaccompanied minors who were seemingly transferred from Moria on August 18th to Athens/ Amigdaleza!

Welcome to Europe
Email: contact@w2eu.info

20.08.14 Press Release: “What if it was your child?”

LESVOS: Unaccompanied minors kept in detention for days and transferred to detention in Amigdaleza with plastic handcuffs

On Tuesday 19th of August 2014 we became witnesses when the police transferred 36 unaccompanied minors from Moria “first reception” detention centre in Mytilene, Lesvos Island to the port and on the ferry heading to Athens as some of us were travelling the same day. The children and teenagers – some of which are merely older than 13 years – were handcuffed (with plastic wire straps) and guarded by dozens of uniformed officers and civil police. On the first sight we thought that we would be travelling with penal detainees being transferred to Chios prison. Only on the second sight we recognized minors we had met a few days ago in PIKPA and then again in Moria during our days of action on the island. They were not even allowed to take of the handcuffs when going to the toilette!

temporary detention in the port of Mytilene upon arrival / August 2014 / copyright: w2eu

temporary detention in the port of Mytilene upon arrival / August 2014 / copyright: w2eu

Unaccompanied children upon arrival to Greece are afraid to say the truth about their age. They are so afraid to suffer more days in detention that they often declare themselves as adults neglecting all the possible negative consequences this decision might have in long term. The boys who were transferred to Athens on the 18th said the truth about their young age. It seems like they are being punished for that. And even more, it seems that the newly arriving are deterred from registering as minors when observing what happens to the others or listening to their stories.

These days hundreds of refugees have arrived on Lesvos island. Moria detention centre has been filled – also with unaccompanied minors. Due to high numbers in arrivals adult refugees are being released within a few days, while the few unaccompanied minors who register as such have to stay behind the barbed wire and wait for a place in a specialised open reception centre.

unaccompanied minors locked up in Moria / August 10th 2014 / copyright: w2eu

unaccompanied minors locked up in Moria / August 10th 2014 / copyright: w2eu

The day before yesterday the 36 unaccompanied minors were brought like prisoners into the ferry. Yesterday they most probably arrived to Amigdaleza detention centre for minors in Athens. With the words “We don’t want food. We want freedom!” they had been peacefully protesting in Moria against detention. Some of them were locked up more than three weeks under miserable conditions. Now they are in a real prison for minors. Only one month ago (17.7.14) a 17-year-old Afghan out of despair self-injured himself in Moria detention centre. He was struggling for his freedom. Also elsewhere in Greece like in Samos island dozens of unaccompanied minors are held for weeks before they are send to open reception centres for children. Yet their voices are seldom heard as contact to the inside of the detention centres is not existent for the civil society.

unaccompanied minors protesting in Moria detention centre / August 2014

unaccompanied minors protesting in Moria detention centre / August 2014 / copyright: w2eu

• We demand the immediate release of all children and teenagers from Amigdaleza, Moria, Samos and any other detention centre! Freedom to all!
• We demand child appropriate treatment and protection instead of (re-)traumatising procedures! No police guards for children! No handcuffs on children! No children in prison!
• We demand for the opening of more specialised open camps for child refugees!

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Welcome to Europe | Youth Without Borders
Email: contact@w2eu.info

Letter of Protest against inhumane treatment of refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos

Berlin / Hamburg / Mytilene in August 2014

Dear Madams and Sirs,

We witnessed recently how refugees were exposed after their arrival on the island of Lesbos by an inhumane treatment by the Greek coast guard. With this letter we are protesting against this approach.

On Wednesday, 06th of August 2014, we planned, as part of our summer camp on the island of Lesvos from Youth Without Borders and Welcome-to-Europe (two anti-racist solidarity networks), to celebrate a party with and for refugees and migrants. We chose as the place the PikPa, an empty children’s camp, which had been converted by activists from Lesvos with the consent of the mayor to a welcome-center for providing the newly arrived refugees with a roof over their head, the first legal informations and food. As well on this Wednesday refugees from Turkey had arrived and spent the time waiting to be registered by the Greek authorities, in Pikpa. Finally, a Coast Guard bus arrived and about 35 of the refugees were to be picked up.
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Traces Back Part II: PIKPA

PIKPA is a self-organised welcome center run since December 2012 by the civil society of Mytilene- Specifically the local network village of all together has been offered the former summer camp for youth by the municipality in order to host new arriving refugees. In the beginning the open camp was meant to host the homeless refugees who were arriving on the island and whom the police denied to arrest. When the local authorities started arresting the newcomers and the new first reception detentiuon center in Moria was opened PIKPA changed into a place hosting the ones released from detention who could not reach a ship at the day of release. Meanwhile numbers of newly arriving refugees have increased dramatically and to such a degree that they won’t fit in Moria detention center and again the authorities started transfering them to PIKPA. Refugees are currently first arrested by the coast guard, then transferred to PIKPA and then to to Moria.


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Traces Back Part II:: Voices from the Outside of Moria


In the frame of the second “back-to-the-border”-camp from youth without borders and the network welcome to europe a protest took place at August 10th 2014 in front of the detention center in Moria on Lesvos island.

About 80 people, mainly young refugees and migrants, organized a concert by Renovatio, Open Mike and a DJ in front of the so called “first reception center”.

Traces Back Part II: Farewell to refugees released from Moria

Wednesday, 6th August 2014, first day at the harbour of Mitilini:

When I started telling the people my own story, that I came here via Greece and have been very long here and than made it out – it changed our relation immediately. I had all the memories from the past – it was exactly this harbour and it was exactly this place of my arrival. But the difference was: when I arrived here, nobody was there to explain anything to me or to say welcome.


We are now here in Mitilini on our second journey back to the border. In a group of activists from various countries – with many of us having arrived in Europe via the Greek islands – we decided to go daily to the harbour to meet with people who were released from the refugee-prison in Moria and sought to leave for Athens. On the first day we met 24 people, all of them Afghan refugees. After their arrival on the island by boat they were imprisoned in Moria. From there they were transferred directly by a police-van to the harbour. Most of them had been imprisoned for about one and a half weeks – and all of them were quite happy to be able to continue their trip. These days there are daily releases from the prison as there are daily arrivals too and people try to continue their trip with the ferries going to Athens. Upon release they receive a white paper (deportation order) that says that they have to leave the country within 30-days. When the 30 days are over they become undocumented again and fear imprisonment again only for this reason up to 18 months and more.
Continue reading

Press Release: Unaccompanied minor severely self-injured himself in Moria “first reception” detention centre in Lesvos

PRESS RELEASE 21.07.14 Lesvos

Unaccompanied minor severely self-injured himself in Moria “first reception” detention centre in Lesvos

On 17/7/2014 a 17-year-old Afghan who had been detained for many days in Moria awaiting his transfer to a special reception centre for minors cut his arms in an act of despair and protest as he could not stand anymore being closed up for many days and under such conditions. He was transferred to the psychiatry department of the local hospital.

In Greece there are 10 reception centres for unaccompanied minors with about 330 places in total that need to cover the needs of thousands. At the same time that a vast number of reception places are lacking many minors fear long detention upon arrival in Greece in so called First Reception Camps (detention centres) if they register with their real age and register themselves as adults. The background: Unaccompanied minors arriving in first reception centres have to undergo a number of medical examinations and then wait for a place in one of the overcrowded reception centres in order to be released. The detention duration varies and can reach one month or more months, while delays depend on the crowdedness in the reception facilities.

As a consequence hundreds of unaccompanied minors register as adults. They are being transferred to Pre-removal Detention Centres at the mainland, such as Amigdaleza, Corinth, Komotini, Xanthi, Fylakio or Drama / Parenesti where legal aid is not existing. When they realise that they end up facing 18 months detention or more due to their changed age all of them try to find ways to proof that they are minors.

Anyhow, if age-assesment has taken place already in First Reception Detention it is unlikely if not impossible (without the help of a lawyer) the authorities will approve a second age-assesment later. Age-assesment procedures have been recently defined in a Ministerial Decision for First Reception but not for Pre-Removal Detention Centres. As a result the procedures vary in the different places and more than that the ways and methods carried out are highly questionable. For this reason among others many unaccompanied minors end up in 18 month detention.

We demand for the immediate creation of sufficient special reception centres for unaccompanied minors. In this frame the Reception Centre for Unaccompanied Minors in Agiassos, Lesvos, which was closed earlier this year despite the huge need should be re-opened with the necessary funding to allow for its functioning.

And we demand for the immediate release of all unaccompanied minors in first reception detention centres, pre-removal centres or any other form of detention. As provided for in the Guidelines on Policies and Procedures in dealing with Unaccompanied Children Seeking Asylum from UNHCR (1997) “(T)he child should be given the benefit of the doubt if the exact age is uncertain” and “the main guiding principle in any child care and protection action is the principle of the ‘best interest of the child’”.

Village of all together
Welcome to Europe

Contact:

Efi Latsoudi 6976234668
Marily Stroux 6949933150

210714 Press Release (in English and Greek)

11.07.14 Shipwreck near Samos: 6 dead, 23 survivors and more than 8 missing

On the early noon of Sunday 11th of July a refugee boat got in distress 10nm North East of Karlovasi, Samos. The refugee boat carrying approximately 35-40 people was a sailing boat according to the testimonies of the survivors.
The causes of the shipwreck are not yet clear. The media speak about bad weather conditions, overloaded boat, panic, sudden movement of the passengers etc as possible causes.

On Sunday there are 15 survivors in the Greek side (9 were brought to Chios, 6 to Samos) and 8 survivors on the Turkish side (2 near the shipreck area and 6 norhernof this area). In Samos Hospital (ICU) there is a minor in intensive care. They were trying to transfer him to Mytilini ICU but his severe health condition made the transfer impossible.

2 corpses were found Friday on the Greek side: a dead man and a dead woman and 2 more bodies (of a man and a boy) were found on Saturday also on the Greek side. Another two corpses were found on the Turkish side.

At least 8 persons are still missing.

The rescue operation was carried out with 4 Greek coast guard boats, 1 helicopter and 5 boats that were sailing in the area that day.

Until now there was no information about the nationalities of the survivors or their health condition.

tromaktiko (in greek)
chios news (in greek)
skai (in greek)
kathimerini (in greek)
news247 (in greek)
i-samos (in greek)
i-samos 2 (in greek)
cundemelazig (in turkish)
hellenic coast guard (in greek)
e-kathimerini (in english)