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We are Hostages of the #EU-#Turkey deal says Mayor of #Lesvos asking for changes in agreement

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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

Go to our story on greek2m.org  

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Clouds in #GreekGovt-#UNHCR @Refugees cooperation in #refugeecrisis response

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In a meeting held on Thursday September 22  by the EKEPY, the National Operation  Center of Health  for the response refugees accommodation in Lesvos after the fires, governmental authorities announced that the fires in the hotspot of Lesvos were set up…. Go to greek2m.org article 

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One after the other NGOs pull out of #Lesvos hotspots  sending strong message to EU

 

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

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Urgency for Actions, says the @UNHCR, while #EU barters humans to #TurkishBlackmail

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URGENT! Situation escalates warns the UNHCR

With increasing border restrictions across the Balkans, the UNHCR agency has early warned for the escalation of the situation into a humanitarian crisis similar to that on the Greek islands last autumn, and especially Lesvos .

Solving Europe’s refugees and migrants’ situation and preventing a new crisis in Greece (which has meanwhile occured, thoug, just in a few hours,  as soon as borders closed, after the 7th of March), requires a number of clear actions, Adrian Edwards,UNHCR spokesperson told a press briefing in Geneva.

 

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Emergency  Actions required

Among the most urgent of these actions when it comes to Greece is the need for

  • better contingency planning,
  • with increased accommodation capacity
  • and other support.

“The authorities are trying to respond now to prevent a further deterioration of conditions throughout Greece.

But, more resources and better coordination are critical for averting wider suffering and chaos,” Edwards stressed.

UNHCR is continuing to support the response operation and has set up field offices in eight locations and deployed additional staff including mobile emergency teams who quickly move to wherever the changing situation demands.

registration and asylum

UNHCR is urging the Greek authorities with the support of the European Asylum Support Office and EU Member States to strongly reinforce its capacity to register and process asylum seekers through the national asylum procedure, as well as through the European relocation scheme.

 safe pathways

In the overall management of the situation will also help, the UNHR has said,

  • Increased regular pathways for admission of refugees from countries neighbouring Syria
  • More resettlement and humanitarian admission,
  • family reunification,
  • private sponsorship, and
  • humanitarian and refugee student and work visas

UNHCR will convene an important conference on this topic in Geneva on 30 March and hopes for concrete offers in this regard.

All the above measures serve to reduce demand for people smuggling, onward movements, and dangerous boat journeys. They thus save lives.

UNHCR spokesman underlined.

relocation in question

” It should concern everyone that despite commitments to relocate 66,400 refugees from Greece, states have so far only pledged 1,539 spaces, and only 325 actual relocations have occurred,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards underlined.

Not a “Safe country ” is Turkey …

 

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The FIDH Worldwide Movement for Human Rights strongly condemned by an official Organization Press Release, the EU States’ and Governments’ decesion of March 7, along with the Trurkish Government, and called on the EU and its member States to stop trying to push migrants away at all costs, stop bartering migrants as goods, but create instead legal and safe channels including through increasing their unconditional resettlement capacities.

the cynical ‘migrant swap’

With the help of NATO, the EU will ‘return all new irregular migrants’ crossing the Aegean Sea to Turkey. Given that migrants reaching Europe are mostly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis in need of international protection, FIDH is worried that these people will not have access to a fair and effective asylum process

According to the plan, the EU would resettle a Syrian from Turkey for every Syrian returned to Turkey

The mere idea that the EU could condition resettlement of Syrians on Turkish willingness to readmit other Syrians is repulsive., codemns FIDH President, Karim Lahidji

‘The announced ‘migrant swap’ shows once again the EU complete lack of consideration for migrants’ dignity and rights. Do we have to remind the EU and Turkish leaders that they are not bartering goods but dealing with human beings, some of them in urgent need of protection? The mere idea that the EU could condition resettlement of Syrians on Turkish willingness to readmit other Syrians is repulsive.’

Karim Lahidji, FIDH president

According to EU Heads of State and Government, for this plan to be ‘legal’, Europe must grant a ‘safe country’ status to Turkey.

‘Under no circumstances can Turkey be considered a ‘safe country’ for migrants. The EU’s decision to turn a blind eye to the deteriorating human rights situation and the lack of an adequate asylum system does not mean it is a safe country. Refugees may be at risk of deportation, in violation of the principle of non-refoulement. This decision only sadly shows that in order to outsource its responsibilities, the EU is caving in to Turkish blackmail using migrants as bargaining chips.’’

Geneviève Jacques, FIDH chargée de mission on migrants’ rights
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“Gigantic Effort” of Lesvos on #refugeescrisis should be matched by EU countires. UNHCR chief António Guterres

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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.”

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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?

The operational support provided under the Hotspot approach, will concentrate on

  • registration,
  • identification,
  • fingerprinting
  • 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.

For those who are not in need of protection,
Frontex will help Member States by coordinating the return of irregular migrants.
Europol and Eurojust will assist the host Member State with
investigations to dismantle smuggling and trafficking networks
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No Public Hospital or Mental Clinic is to close under this govt, said to UN Commissioner the Greek Minister of Health

νοσοκομείο-Αγρινίου-Κουρουμπλης-570x300His 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.

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Βorn in Matsouki of Aitoloakarnania in 1951, today’s mnister of Heath Panagiot Kouroublis, the descendant of Pontian refugees (ethnic Greeks violently expelled from the southern shores of the Black Sea after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire). At age 10 he lost his eyesight from the explosion of a German hand-grenade, a remnant of World War II. His politicization began during his years as a pupil in the School for the Blind, as he became aware of the causes that place people with disabilities in the margins of society.

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Since 1974 Panagitis Kouroublis has been actively taking part in the struggles of student and popular movements. During the period 1976-1981 he focused his efforts in the attempt to organize a social “uprising” of the blind, whose main demands were the right to education and dignity and the enshrinement of their social rights