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Minors separated from their family in Moria / Greek coast guard punctures refugee boat under the eyes of Frontex

Two days between Kara Tepe tent camp and the port of Mytilene (24.7.-25.7.15)

A small Afghan boy is sitting outside a blue tent built up just behind the kiosk in the port of Mytilene. On the other side of the tent there are some other Afghan minors sitting on a blanket on the floor and leaning at the walls of an abandoned swimming hall. It is late in the night. His elder brother has fever. He is climbing out of the tent to join us. The two underage boys from Afghanistan are camping there already since four nights. They arrived to Lesvos together with their mother and father and two little sisters. In Moria they registered themselves as adults, as other people advised them to avoid reporting their real ages for the own good. Then the two of them got released alone.

“We fear to loose track of our family if we move away from here,” F. the elder brother says. “My father said we should wait here for them.” He seems exhausted and under pressure carrying all the responsibility of holding his family together on his small shoulders. With an official note ordering them to leave the country within 30 days, both boys’ time is running out, while they wait for their relatives. “My father said they would be released today. Again they didn’t let them go. Others were only one night in there. I don’t understand why they don’t let them free.”

Continue reading Minors separated from their family in Moria / Greek coast guard punctures refugee boat under the eyes of Frontex

Registration and numbers…

Things change. On Lesvos island one thing that seems to be changing constantly is the perception of who is responsible for the new arriving sans-papiers. Once no authority wants to deal with them, once one of them, than again none. Meanwhile the civil societies’ hands are tied if it comes to i.e. transporting undocumented persons in private vehicles (which is illegalised).

In December 2012 when PIKPA was first opened by the activist network “Village of all together” as a welcome centre for refugees, the authorities were ignoring the presence of the new arriving for some days until they had to register them due to the pressure of the civil society. Practically for this meant:
– That upon arrival, being wet from the sea, hungry and exhausted, families, children, elderly, pregnant women, sick people and the rest had to walk from the place where they arrived until Mytilene. This could take some of them 2-3 days, when they got lost in the hills and forests. Police was denying to transport them even if they met them somewhere on the island during their patrol.
– The undocumented had to wait many days until being registered.
– The local society and activists had to take care of the basic needs of up to 150 new arriving sans-papiers – which is according to law the responsibility of the state.

In May 2013 the authorities had decided the coast guard was responsible for the arrest and first registration of the new arriving migrants and refugees. Thus, they were arrested (upon arrival in Mytilene or on the sea) and “detained” inside the port area. This areal was never thought to be a detention place. It is a fenced area, where the ferries from turkey arrive with one container which is the office of the coast guard and another which is used by Frontex for screening. There are no places to host / detain persons, there are no beds, no shelter, no sanitary infrastructure, no protection from the weather…

In September 2013 again no one wants to be responsible for the sans-papiers who manage to arrive by themselves on the island (without being intercepted on the sea by the coast guard). Again they have to walk all the way to Mytilene. The local society is taking care of them in PIKPA with their own means (no support from the state again). And again they wait for days until being registered. If it comes to the authorities the ones who have not been arrested “don’t exist”. This goes for all refugees, also the Syrians.

– 17.9.13: the 12 survivors of the ship in distress were registered
– 19.9.13: 14 Afghans were registered
– 20.9.13: 19 Afghans were finally registered by the authorities and arrested from PIKPA

– 18.9.13: the Coast Guard in a press release stated that they had arrested 45 “illegal migrants” in the area of Mandamados, Lesvos island. Yet, there appeared no newcomers on that day. We have to come to the conclusion that the authorities published an “arrest in Mandamados” referring to the older arrivals whom they registered on 17.9.-20.9. in PIKPA, Mytilene and who had already spent some days on the island being consciously ignored.

– 23.9.13: 17 of 18 Afghans – all families – who had arrived on the 15th September along with a Palestinian family – were arrested in the late evening, detained without receiving water or food and released the next day
– 25.9.13: 13 Syrians of whom some arrived on the 13th September others on the 15th were finally registered by the police and released
– 25.9.13: 8 Afghans of which 7 arrived on the 22.9.13 – among them minors – were transferred from PIKPA to the new detention centre in Moria. With them the Palestinian family which had arrived on 15.9.13 on the island.

– there is no press release of the Hellenic Coast Guard concerning the arrest of any people since the 18th.
– Frontex has screened all these persons in PIKPa before they were registered by the police.

Now, who is responsible for what?


Mitilini, Greece

Forgery of documents – who does it and how?

In the early morning of the 15th of September 2013 twelve refugees from Syria were rescued by the fisher boat Kapetan Stratis and the cargo ship YALKER (see earlier post). After this rescue operation and act of humanitarian support a vessel of the Greek Coast Guard took the rescued people in order to bring them to the Port of Mytilene (Lesvos). Local media took pictures, a video was uploaded on youtube. The Coast Guard utilised the brave work of the sailors to present themselves as life savers.

This was only the image for the public: After the “photo shooting” the refugees went through the so called “screening” of the European Border Agency FRONTEX. The authorities instead of calling a trauma therapist or first aid for the exhausted survivors who had been nine hours swimming in the sea not knowing if they would survive, brought them to FRONTEX. Even the first food in Greece was given to the hungry by supporters from the island. The foreign officers operating with EU-funds on the Turkish-Greek border interviewed the survivors immediately to find out the “real nationalities”. The so called “screening” is a tool to check the identity of refugees and migrants which has been criticised on several levels by a lot of human rights supporters like i.e. the German NGO Pro Asyl. To use this tool directly after a case of heavy trauma comes indeed close to torture.

To give an example of this kind of inhuman behaviour we report what we heard from two of the refugees. One of them was not able to swim and was held by other refugees above the water level. Even three days after one could see the injuries on his throat and legs that came from the heroic live saving measures of the others (see photo below). A German psychologist and trauma therapist supported them upon release from the Coast Guard.
His diagnosis is clear: They suffer from Post traumatic Stress Reaction (ICD10, F 43.0). Nevertheless, both were put under pressure brutally by the FRONTEX officer and his translator. He shouted on them, they were threatened with 6 to 12 months imprisonment as a penalty for “forgery of documents”. The translator tried to force them to sign that they are not from Syria .

injuries from the clothes after 9 hours in the sea on Wahids body
injuries from the clothes after 9 hours in the sea on Wahids body

Instead of giving them documents to continue their journey together with the other ten traumatized refugees, these two victims of the “Screening” were imprisoned by the Greek authorities with the aim to deport them . Everything other than giving them papers and freedom is an act of disrespect to and violation of their human rights.

These people need support, no prison!

We demand the immediate release of Sami and Wahid, survivors of the ship accident of the 15th September 2013 near Lesvos!

w2eu – welcome to europe

w2eu press release: Mytilene / Greece: European Border Agency FRONTEX invades place of solidarity

Mytilene / Greece: European Border Agency FRONTEX invades place of

The people of the Greek island Lesvos (Mytilene) are famous for their
solidarity to the refugees arriving on the island. In December 2012 the
solidarity organized by the network “Village of Alltogether” was in the
focus of international media as a seldom example of good practice
showing that human rights in reality are a matter of the people and not
of politicians and their empty words.

Now, in September 2013, again the local people are offering with the
help of the islands’ authorities a shelter in PIKPA (a place for youth
summer camps) to 70 refugees mainly coming from Syria, Afghanistan and
Somalia. The people of the solidarity movement take once more the
responsibility to cover all the daily needs like food, clothes e.g.
Local people individually pass by practicing the famous Greek
hospitality and bring whatever useful they can offer: some apples, loafs
of bread, soap or just a welcoming smile.

On one of our solidarity visits we made to support the local structures
in their everyday effort, we – some members of the network Welcome to
Europe (http://lesvos.w2eu.net) – got aware of the fact that the
European Border Agency FRONTEX, has prepared themselves to occupy two
rooms in the main building with the aim to open an office for their so
called “screening”. This procedure most of the times results in the
wrong registration of refugees’ nationalities and/or age. With this
involvement they have the power to categorize you in “readmittable”,
“deportable” or a potential refugee and thus determine the immediate
destiny of all new arriving sans papiers. It depends on what they write
if a refugee will be send back to Turkey, if he/she will be detained or
not and even if he/she will be treated as a an adult or as a child.
FRONTEXs screening is part of their “risk research” to improve “border
security” in an area known for the inhuman treatment of refugees trying
to cross the external borders of the EU. Meanwhile FRONTEX is playing a
key role being responsible for the implementation of structures, through
know-how, staff and equipment sealing the European borders also in
Greece. They are directly and indirectly involved in national and
international structures of human rights abuses against refugees who try
to enter Greece (i.e. witnessing push-backs) and who already managed to
enter Europe (i.e. witnessing the degrading detention conditions in
prisons such as the police stations of Lesvos and the new detention
center to be built on the island).

On the 6th of September 2013 two FRONTEX-officers from Italy and Sweden
expulsed a family with small children and a pregnant woman from the
rooms they were hosted in order to occupy and re-use these rooms as
their offices introducing themselves as European Border Police. It is
more than obvious that thereby they abused the solidarity the local
people are offering and the trust that has developed among the civilian
supporters and the refugees in order to fulfill their task: to
militarize Europes’ borders instead of building a common space of

Mytilene, 9th of September 2013

Network Welcome to Europe
Contact: w2eu@hotmail.com