Go to our greek2m.org Newsblog article
No one told the residents of the North Aegean islands, nor the rest of the Greeks, not even the refugees and migrants that apply for asylum, that they are strictly obliged to stay in this island because the agreement restricts any movement of the incomers further than the natural boundaries of the island set by the sea
But how many are the refugees in Lesvos ? How many the migrants? Are they segregated ?
Not at all as it seems
A humanitarian crisis is unfolding at the Athens port of Piraeus, where thousands of asylum seekers and migrants are stranded,
the Human Rights Watch said on Thursday 24 March.
“The suffering in Piraeus is a direct consequence of Europe’s failure to respond in a legal and compassionate way to the crisis on its shores,”
said Eva Cosse, Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.
In the port of Piraeus there are three large camps and one small one,writes the Muslim Times. Food is provided alternately by the Red Cross, the navy, a supermarket chain, the community of Piraeus and the local football club, Olympiakos.
By the Human Rights Watch, around 5,000 men, women, and children are at the port.
There are reports of fights between Afghan and Syrian men and mounting fears of sexual harassment and violence against women and children.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) earlier this week saying the so-called hotspots where arrivals are screened and registered on the Greek islands have turned into detention centres.
- The UNHCR has since refused to transport people to the centres, noting Greece is not prepared to handle the case loads under the EU-Turkey deal.
- Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children have also pulled out.
“We took the extremely difficult decision to end our activities in Moria (on Lesbos) because continuing to work inside would make us complicit in a system we consider to be both unfair and inhumane,” said Marie Elisabeth Ingres, MSF’s head of mission in Greece.
- Amnesty International accused Turkey of forcibly returning around 30 asylum seekers to Afghanistan “just hours after the European Union-Turkey refugee deal came into force”.
Aid agencies said cooperating with the Greeks at detention centres would make them complicit with an “unfair and inhumane” practice.
Two aid agencies,
- the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and
- the Norwegian Refugee Council –
said on Wednesday they were following the UN refugee agency UNHCR and aid organisation Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF)
In the same day also, another NGO, OXFAM, has pulled out of Moria detention camp, saying that ‘Humanitarian aid should be delivered in a neutral environment where refugees have freedom of movement’.
Let’s hope the stance that’s being taken by most of the NGOs that operated in Moria will bring the EU to its senses and provide the refugees with the protection to which they’re entitled.
Source: Euobserver, Information Point Volunteers Lesvos
According to the draft Council implementing decision that set the 50 points Recommendation for Greece to address deficiencies identified by the European Commission in the 2015 Schengen evaluation, vacationers on crusie ships or yachts should also be checked on the Aegean islands of Greece, among other measures on refugees identification and relocation proceedures.
Greece’s Urgent to-do List
The draft was leaked by Satewatch, the European civil liberties watchdog.These are some points :
irregular migrants not to be allowed to stay or enter EU countries
Greece should “clearly state in the documents of ‘suspension of removal’ which are provided to the irregular migrants during the registration process, that the document does not give the irregular migrant the right to stay and enter other member states, and include, where necessary, certain obligations aimed at avoiding the risk of absconding”, the paper reads.
illegal immigrants to be returned
The Council also asks Greece to immediately start the procedures for returning illegal immigrants who do not apply for asylum and are not in need of international protection, and rapidly transfer them to Turkey in accordance with the bilateral readmission agreement between Athens and Ankara.
Athens to safeguard surveillance on whole sea border
Athens is also asked to improve sea border surveillance by creating an integrated and effective coastal surveillance system covering the “whole” sea border between Greece and Turkey.
“The surveillance system should provide the possibility to detect all vessels, including small boats that are crossing the sea border from Turkey to Greece; in order to identify, detect and apprehend illegal border crossers, the system should be supported by an offshore element: offshore patrol boats and vessels, helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and other means, as well as a sufficient number of land patrols on the island.”
first line border guards on alert
The recommendation also says that Greece should familiarise first line border guards with foreign terrorist fighters risk indicators, as well as consider cooperating with the Turkish border control authorities at the local level “as it exists at the land border with Turkey”.
checks on crusie ships and pleasure yachts
The recommendation provides for checks on cruise ships based on the crew and passenger list, and on pleasure yachts coming from third countries at a border crossing points
Since the end of January 2016, the European civil liberties watchdog Statewatch, had also released confidential documents revealing the European Union plans to criminalize charities and volunteers who help refugees arriving on Greek islands.
The documents revealed that EU interior ministers who met in Amsterdam on January 27, 2016 want to criminalize as “smugglers” charities, local people, volunteers and scores of international humanitarians who have traveled to Greece to help pull drowning refugees from the sea and feed and offer dry clothes as they land on Greek island, Euractiv wrote.
Instead, the Council wants to create a state-run mechanism that forces people to register and work under EU-sanctioned rescue and relief plans, added Euractiv
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, stated that
“The (European) Council proposals would criminalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who have worked heroically to welcome refugees when the EU institutions did nothing, while other plans would incorporate those who “register” with the police to work under state structures. In a humane and caring EU it should not be necessary to “register” to offer help and care to people who have suffered so much already.”
Right-wing Germany asking for shootings
Frauke Petry, leader of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper that Germany needed to reduce the influx through agreements with neighbouring Austria and a reinforcement of the EU’s external borders.
Deterrence includes the use of armed force ,Frauke Petry said
She said it should not be shy about turning people back and creating “border protection installations” – and that border guards should, if necessary, shoot at migrants trying to enter illegally.
Merkel’s promise to turn All refugees back
Mrs Merkel has said: “We need … to say to people that this is a temporary residential status and we expect that, once there is peace in Syria again, once ISIS has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country with the knowledge that you have gained.”
Mrs Merkel said 70 per cent of the refugees who fled to Germany from former Yugoslavia in the 1990s had returned.
She urged other European countries to offer more help “because the numbers need to be reduced even further and must not start to rise again, especially in spring”.
Greek Minister :Nato will blow the smigglers networks
“[The smugglers] have used networks, infrastructure, the sea, and land roads through which they have been trafficking weapons, drugs, human trafficking, and cigarettes in the Mediterranean,”
Alternate Minister of Greecce’s International Affairs , Xydakis stressed today talking to the Euractiv.
Referring to NATO’s role in Aegean, Xydakis said: “We know that NATO’s military assistance will be a deterrence means, it cannot rescue but it can collect information and deal a blow to smugglers.”
Asked by EurActiv whether that could take place at sea, the Greek official said that operations should also take place in the coastal areas of Turkey.
“As long as Turkey is part of NATO, we believe that something positive could happen. We need to break the smugglers network.”
Europeanising the Hotspots
Belgian Interior Minister Theo Francken said that Greece “clearly lacks” the ability to handle the situation and that is why he called for the “Europeanisation of the hotspots in Greece.”
In essence, the Minister suggested that hotspots should act as a European waiting room, from where migrants that are not entitled to international protection (asylum) are returned to their country of origin.
Theo Francken for whom the Greek Migration Minister Mouzalas revealed that he told him to “drive them back into the sea; go against the law; I’m sorry, but I do not care if they drown.”
The EU Commission is to blame. Nothing was done 3-4 years ago
Europe is on the brink of collapse due to the “foolish and short-minded illusions” of EU member states, Gianni Pittella is the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) chief in the European Parliament said in an interview on Euractiv.
We are now facing the crumbling of Schengen, because nothing was done 3-4 years ago, when Greece and Italy were saving people from drowing in the Mediterranean, to the general indifference of all other member states. Having said this, we should all thank Greece for continuing to save thousands of refugees on an everyday basis, despite its difficult economic outlook. I do believe that Greek authorities must be helped concretely by Europe in order to fill gaps in the registration process. Again and again, selfish national rhetoric means that member states continue to look at the finger rather than the moon. Greece is not the problem.
The problem stems from the fact that the relocation system doesn’t work, nobody knows where to go, and who should pay, to return those who have no right for refugee status. The outdated Dublin system must be revised and Frontex has not yet started supporting member states in the control of external borders. Do we want to blame Greece for this? That’s a far too simplistic a response.
Honestly, the EU Commission has delivered here. Who is lagging behind? Who is not living up with the expectations? The member states.
Europe risks collapse as a result of the foolish and short minded illusion that we can face this problem by raising walls, closing borders, setting thresholds, discriminating on the basis of religion, or building a mini-Schengen.
Let’s start by penalising non-cooperation and rewarding those who cooperate.
“Schengen countries are just watching “, Mayor of Lesvos to CNN
But instead of financial support, the European Union is now slamming Greece, claiming that it has not acted properly to patrol the continent’s borders.aid Spyros Galinos, Mayor of Lesvos, talking recently to the CNN
“The Schengen countries are just watching this crime happening in the world and they didn’t take any action when it was happening”
UNHCR chief António Guterres witnessed the improved humanitarian response mounted by Greek local authorities and civil society while lamenting the continued lack of a large-scale and effective European response.
UNHCR has deployed an emergency team to Greece and now has some 120 staff in the country to support the government in its effort to address the continuing crisis. The island of Lesbos, with a population of 95,000 people, has received over 400.000 people in nine months – 160,000 in September, and 15.000 in the last weekend alone.
Greece’s first so-called migrant hotspot on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos started operating last week .Alternate Minister for Immigration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas said on Saturday, adding that another four screening centers will follow on other islands.
He made the announcement during a press conference in Athens to present EU policy on migration and refugee relocation, along with European Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn.
Mouzalas said it was key that the EU “applies the same criteria for all countries.”
In his comments, Avramopoulos said that a total of 160,000 refugees will be distributed among the bloc’s non-border nations. He said guest countries would be decided by experts at EU-staffed hotspots, and not the refugees.
“No country can shoulder this burden on its own. Europe will offer money and know-how,” said Asselborn.
The EU has so far spent 33 million euros on dealing with the migration crisis, officials said.
Assessing conditions on the Greek island of Lesbos, the main landing spot for tens of thousands of people taking smuggler boats from the nearby Turkish coast, Guterres said
“It is amazing that on a small island, you do respond, and you do manage this crisis, whereas in a big Europe with half a billion people, they are finding it so difficult to respond,”
Guterres told Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos and other Greek officials.
“We are always saying this crisis is manageable at the European level, but to be manageable, it needs to be much better managed.”
Without a Europe-wide approach and an effective strategy in dealing with the influx, Guterres warned, criminal networks would continue to thrive. “When states are not able to organize the orderly movement of refugees, smugglers take charge, exploiting people further and adding to their suffering,” he added.
Describing his island as frontline, Mayor Galinos said:
“the main issue is not the numbers, but the lack of a European policy to respond.”
Nevertheless, he said, Greeks would continue to do whatever they could to address the crisis and combat smugglers, “who not only exploit the people, but who put their lives at continuous risk.”
“Above all, we are all human beings,” the Mayor added. “We must all recognize the position of these people because we might all find ourselves in this situation one day.”
What is a hotspot according to EU law?
- and debriefing of asylum seekers,
- as well as return operations.
Those claiming asylum will be
immediately channelled into an asylum procedure
where EASO support teams will help to process asylum applications as quickly as possible.
Frontex will help Member States by coordinating the return of irregular migrants.
investigations to dismantle smuggling and trafficking networks
Just after the storm…
At the waterfront of Mytilini port. It’s Thursday morning.
A crummy Syrian pushes his wife’s wheelchair to the Square of Sappho, some meters nearby . (But it is possible they have been going 8 kilometers long to arrive here, after the risky crossing of the sea.)
She has one foot .The other has been lost by the bombings.
They are wet to the bone by the storm that has just stopped. It’s like they have not even noticed
They tell me how happy they are to be located here.
They want to go to Germany to relatives.
It took me some secs to wonder and realize, why I had been “not in the mood” this morning, while stepping out of the “luxury” of simply a house. Sure, I was worrying about my installments of the tax office, my installments on the loan, the installments of my life .
It’s sure we have lost the meaning of life, (our-Greek chapter lives, which we do experience with worries separated from the refugees’ drama, coexisting on this same isle) while these people next us unstoppably struggle to grab the thread of life by its hair…
I give them my umbrella and leave .
It s them, who show us the meaning of life. We don’t yet see …
SCRIPT IN GREEK PUBLISHED BY BARBARA GIGILINI , A publisher, reporter and writer of POLITIKA, contributor journalist by the Greek to me team !, Lesbos island
Euro zone countries tried in vain to stop the IMF publishing a gloomy analysis of Greece’s debt burden which the leftist government says vindicates its call to voters to reject bailout terms, sources familiar with the situation said on Friday to Reuters, as its exclusive report wrote
The Europeans were also concerned, the Reuters exclusive artcle further reveals, that
the report could distract attention from a view they share with the IMF that the Tsipras government, in the five months since it was elected, has wrecked a fragile economy that was just starting to recover.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” an IMF source involved in the debate over publication said. “We are not living in an ivory tower here. But the EU has to understand that not everything can be decided based on their own imperatives.”
The board had considered all arguments, including the risk that the document would be politicized, but the prevailing view was that
all the evidence and figures should be laid out transparently before the referendum.
“Facts are stubborn. You can’t hide the facts because they may be exploited,” the IMF source said.
The document released in Washington on Thursday said Greece’s public finances will not be sustainable without substantial debt relief, possibly including write-offs by European partners of loans guaranteed by taxpayers.
It also said Greece will need at least 50 billion euros in additional aid over the next three years to keep itself afloat.
Publication of the draft Debt Sustainability Analysis laid bare a dispute between Brussels and the Washington-based global lender that has been simmering behind closed doors for months.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cited the report in a televised appeal to voters on Friday to say ‘No’ to the proposed austerity terms, which have anyway expired since talks broke down and Athens defaulted on an IMF loan this week.
It was not clear whether an arcane IMF document would influence a cliffhanger poll in which Greece’s future in the euro zone is at stake with banks closed, cash withdrawals rationed and commerce seizing up.
“Yesterday an event of major political importance happened,” Tsipras said. “The IMF published a report on Greece’s economy which is a great vindication for the Greek government as it confirms the obvious – that Greek debt is not sustainable.”
At a meeting on the International Monetary Fund’s board on Wednesday, European members questioned the timing of the report which IMF management proposed at short notice releasing three days before Sunday’s crucial referendum that may determine the country’s future in the euro zone, the sources said.
There was no vote but the Europeans were heavily outnumbered and the United States, the strongest voice in the IMF, was in favor of publication, the sources said.
In Brussels, the way the IMF communicated the findings was seen as confusing, misleading and politically unhelpful.
The European Commission had produced its own debt sustainability analysis, based partially on IMF data, which is less pessimistic in its scenarios and is one of the documents mentioned on the Greek referendum ballot paper.
Diplomats said the IMF’s publication of the study was a way of making clear it would only be part of any future loan pact with Greece if the Europeans included debt relief in the mix.
Germany and its north European allies have said the IMF’s presence is indispensable both to win parliamentary backing for aid for any euro zone partner, and to keep the European institutions honest. Berlin suspects the European Commission of being too soft on Greek efforts to wriggle out of reforms of pensions, taxation, public sector wages and labor law.
The European Central Bank, ( which has made Banks close in Greece as soon as the referendum was announced , we note) the third partner in what used to be called the “troika” of bailout enforcers, is also keen to keep the IMF involved, the Reuters article writes.
His concern for the vulnerable Mental health patients in Greece, and any possible option of this government to activate the previous government’s decision for the closure of Psychiatric Hospitals without providing alternative structures, expressed to the Greek Minister of Health Panagiotis Kouroublis, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Jan Jarab, Regional Representative of the European office of Human Rights.
During the meeting, the Greek Minister of Health and the UN Commissioner discussed key issues related to disabilities, vulnerable population groups, children and Mental health.
Mr. Jarab discussed thoroughtly with the Greek Minister the concern of the UN Commission over the deteriorating situation and shortcomings observed due to the humanitarian crisis in Greece, and particulary emphasized the United Nations’ office worries over the previous government’s intentions to close the Mental Health clinics in the country.
Panagiotis Kouroublis, -a thrylic figure of this governement, and disabled person himself also, due to a bomb that exploded in his hands as a kid during the German ocupation in Greece- assured the UN Commissoner that this government is not going to close any hospital, while stressing that vulnerable social groups and their needs are at the top of the Ministry of Health priorities.
During this week, a re-encounter by the presence of Ministry of Health officials as to provide the continuity of cooperation of the UNHCR with the Ministry on relevant issues within the field of human rights, the minister’s office announced.
The poorest 20% of Danes are more joyful than the richest Greeks…!
The recent OECD survey on Life satisfaction revealed -since the end of last year- that Greek citizens are the most unhappy group in 36 OECD countries When asked to rate their general life satisfaction withon a scale from 0 to 10, Greeks gave it a 4.7 grade, the lowest score in the OECD, where average life satisfaction is 6.6.
The Top- on- Unhappiness Greece’s statistics are, lately, repeatedly updated and confirmed
As usual, writes the April article of Economist,reporting on the 2013 Eurostat survey,
- Scandinavians are the happiest people in Europe and
- retired Danish women are the cheeriest among them, reporting a happiness score of 8.5 out of 10.
Retirement inSouth, a miserable affair.
In general, geography is the best predictor of merriness, followed by pay.
- At all income levels a step up one quintile on the income scale makes people more content.
- Yet the poorest 20% of Danes are more joyful than the richest Greeks.
Procreation affects cheerfulness too.
- In southern Europe families with children are happiest,
- whereas the British and Irish are the only people to become sadder when little ones arrive.
Ageing draws out differences.
- Everyone is happiest when young and less so in middle age.
- But in old age the British and Scandinavians cheer up
- while in the South, retirement is a miserable affair.
Greeks are the most stressed out amongst the euro zone population and more stressed than the rest of Europe.
“A charm offensive by Greece’s prime minister this week calmed bruised relations with Germany” wrote Hélène Colliopoulou on AFP the day after the crucial, for Greece’s future and present, Tsipras-Merkel tet à tet.
Indeed, kind of the “dance” semantics between the German leader and the new elected Greek leader arose since the first days of Alexis Tsipras election.
With no irony, political cartoonists of the Western world envisioned a dance behind the poor-and- the strong relationship in which Greece was positioned towards Germany during the “bloody” five years of austerity. The young empathetic leader even though he is far more demanding from the Greece’s part, he reveals, as it comes out, other codes in the eyes of the world and its opinion makers .
It is the code of the human nature of politics to be humanitarian, we could guess, since the huge effort of Alexis Tsipras’ first two months was to make Germany and Europe aknowledge there is a humanitarian crisis iin Greece.
But when we are dealing with a Crisis in a society, first thing its leaders are oblidged to do is to assess the extension of the damage, and the sooner possible adress the best possible plan to to rescue this society in the best manageable way . Exactly this is our problem. Europe seems to have no idea of Crisis management , or at least Crisis Response.
For the moment speaking, Europe barely responds to the human need of the Greek specie, totally aknowledges that we are talking with victims of a crisis whom the crisis is not at all their fault, and finally barely shows a human response.
This might turn to a nightmarish dance with Greece for Germany and the Eurozone, but it will be a humanizing dance .
“Our common part of the two countries’ history in Europe’s past has been paid by “blood”, Tsipras underlined. Looking to the future of United Europe, which Angela Merkel kept emphatically mentioning during the press conference of the two, Tsipras said “Our common European future could merely be based on solidarity.”
Looks like a dance posture, or a call of dance, isn;t it? But what is it about ” Syrtaki” that suddenly pops up on the semiology of such a critical decision Europe has to take in this point of its modern history? Eurozone, not Europe precisely , the united Europen face which is based on “our common financial present, and future.”
In the mind of all Greeks and anybody who has experienced the Greek life of the past five years, on place, Greece, the suffering status in which Greek people are obliged to be, in the name of the “United Euro Europe”, is unbearable enough, to make it seem a point of no return . On such circumstances, ususally, on point of no return”, the Greek psychosynthesis, indeed, gets in a …dancing mood! We can assure that, experientially
Indeed, the attitude of the Greeks is now very similar to that of Alexis Zorbas wrote New Europe in the first moth of the new government election, who was happily dancing while watching his house burning. When he was asked why he was so happy, dancing while his house was in flames, he said, “I have never seen such a catastrophe in my life.”
In less than a month, after five years of extended misery looming all over the country, Greeks, all Greeks regardless of how they have voted in the January 25 election, changed attitude and swiftly became Zorbases.
Even though the premier dance of Alexis Tsipras with Angela Merckel was soughted by “charm”, as the AFP names it, Eurogroup two days after denied even the 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) which was unduly handed back last month by Greece to the European Union’s rescue fund
Greece’s government last month was obliged to return to the EFSF 10.9 billion euros that remained unused in a rescue fund created for the recapitalisation of Greek banks.
However, the new hard-left leaders later realised that the previous conservative-socialist government had used 1.2 billion euros to support the banks from another source, the Hellenic stability fund.
Speaking to Dutch station RTL Z, before todays’ Eurozone meeting that denied returning the fund to Greece, the leader of the eurozone’s finance ministers,Dijsselbloem said that for the time being Greece was “still able to finance itself”.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, also said technical talks on Athens’ reforms were “flowing again” after an unimpressive start, while expressing hope for a deal by the end of the week.