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The first morning we stay at the beach in Charamida with a bigger group: About 4AM some of us hear the sound of an engine, people shouting. Directly at the beach next to us a boat with refugees from Syria and Iraq arrived. We go to welcome them and bring them some water and biscuits. It is a group of about 40 people, among them many families with children, who arrived from Turkey after 4 hours in the sea.
We call the coastguard, we call the police, but without much hope that they will come and pick them.
There are so many arrivals these days and mostly the people have to walk and walk for hours until they reach Mitilini where they have to register in the port. The way from Charamida to Mitilini is long. Continue reading Journey III: First Impressions→
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. Continue reading Letter of Protest against inhumane treatment of refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos→
30 degrees celsius 75 arrivals today; 95 the two days before
Despite the positive experience of PIKPA open welcome centre that was opened by the end of last year by the local activist network “Village of all together”, which provided for the first time a real reception solution for refugees, the authorities on Lesvos keep refugees locked up in degrading and inhuman conditions ignoring the given alternative.
With the increase in arrivals in the beginning of May 2013, detention facilities started to get overcrowded once more on the island. The authorities didn’t know where to put the refugees anymore.
Some of the recent arriving refugees are trying to survive since three days in the sun while being “locked up” in the port of Lesvos without any protection or infrastructure. There is no food supply by the responsible authorities but only through volunteer citizens on the island. Nevertheless it remains insufficient. Yesterday one young man fainted due to heat, thirst and hunger.
Among the refugees of the last three days, who come in their majority from war torn areas such as Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia, are several pregnant women, elderly and sick persons, small children and even a five-mmonth-old baby with severe health issues. Basic medical aid is provided by the Doctors of the World. The coast guard and the police keep even vulnerable persons such as families, children, pregnant women for days imprisoned. Additionally Syrian nationals who according to a decision of the Ministry of Citizen Protection are not to be imprisoned anymore remain at least some days behind the bars.
On Lesvos since two months the coast guard arrests the refugees on land and on sea, detains them for a few days in the fenced open area inside the port, makes a first registration and then transfers them either to the local police station or to a detention camp in Chios or elsewhere in Greece. The police then issues after an uncertain period of time between some hours and up to months a detention and a deportation decision against each refugee.
Not knowing where to put the refugees other than inside the fenced port area or in the filthy cells of the police station, the arriving refugees are pushed around from one detention place to the other, from one island to the other or even to the mainland. Currently the detention centre of Chios where many of the in Lesvos arrested had been transferred to has also passed its capacity (of 100). No one can tell who will stay for how much time in detention. At the same time there are unaccompanied minors imprisoned in different police stations of the island who will soon reach one month behind the bars because they wait for a place in a specialised reception centre. Such a place exists in Agiasos, a mountain village on the island, but instead of offering refuge to the children in prison, the government has cut the funding, the centre is since two months without staff and the 60 hosted minors are trying to survive now without any food.
Meanwhile BBC published yesterday an article according to which the Greek authorities push-back illegally refugees and migrants to the Turkish side in Evros but also seemingly in the Aegean denying them thereby the right to access to the territory
and as such to asylum in Europe. Even more, the alleged push-backs put the lives of the refugees in risk of death.
Yesterday while the coast guard was repairing a rubber boat just next to the refugees who were sitting in the sun some boys from Afghanistan asked with fear in their eyes:
“They are not going to return us back with that boat to Turkey, are they?”
Despite the great efforts of the local activists in welcoming the new arriving refugees with all possible means in PIKPA and outside of it, the government obviously has not the intention to invest in this project and to create hospital and open welcoming centres. On the contrary it is creating a constantly growing detention and deportation regime with new and bigger prisons, growing repression, higher fences and hidden deportations on the border.
P.S. A remark towards the Frontex boat and staff that is currently in operation on Lesvos: How exactly is Frontex with its fundamental rights approach reacting to the obvious degrading detention conditions and the alleged push-backs? As proudly presented the high technology and expertise assumingly allows the “experts” from the European Agency to see everything that is going on on the border. Doesn’t it? IF not actively part of the system isn’t there at least a responsibility of cognisance and thus a complicity?
On Wednesday April 24, 17 refugees (12 from Afghanistan and 5 from Syria) detained by the coast guard of Lesvos started a protest against the detention conditions
First no one wanted to register them (thus without papers they cannot leave the island) and when they are finally arrested (in order to be registered), they remain detained under inhuman conditions. Among the refugees small children, sick persons, young mothers and other vulnerable groups. The 12 Afghan refugees on hunger strike have been detained now for more than 12 days in the yard of the coast guarrd where they are constantly exposed to the sun (30 degrees celsius). In total they spent already almost 40 days on the island most of which they were homeless in the beginning when authorities denied registering them. Then they spent some days in the self-organised welcome center PIKPA which is run by the network “Village-ofall-together” until they were finally arrested.
Sans papiers arriving in Lesvos cannot leavethe island unless they get arrested and registered whereafter they receive a so called White Paper which is valid usually only for a period of 30 days. This paper legalises them for the given period of time within which they should leave the country by their own means. Anyway it is no travel document. Syrian refugees by a Ministerial Decision are given a period of six months instead of one.
A group of 10 Syrian refugees (out of 26 in total currently) was released upon pressure by the network “village-of-all-together” but as if for revenge they were given white papers only valid for 30 days instead of 6 months.
Samos 07.12.12 – Movement for the Human rights – Solidarity to Refugees
Following the visit of members of the Movement in the coast guard facilities where 41 persons – among them eight newly arrived women and seven children mainly coming from Syria – are hold, and where we were asked to offer our support with clothing and hygiene articles, we noticed the following:
In this informal detention place of the Samos coast guards’ special forces men, women and children are closed up together with three penal detainees and one unaccompanied minor who is waiting since long time to be transferred into a special reception centre for minors.
The detention place is absolutely unsuitable and the detention conditions are miserable. There are no matresses, blankets, hygiene articles and there is only one toilette. The newly arrived Syrian refugees came wet and exhausted without being offered dry clothes or food.
The treatment by the authorities and the abolute lack of protection that the Greek government is encountering them with are reminding of darker periods when the informal detention centre of Kapnokoptiriou was still in function – a warehouse of souls.
The coast guard – the responsible ones for the detention – told us that they had requested support from all local authroities without receiving any responds.