From Monday 12 of April to Saturday 17 of April, the refugees detained in Samos Detention Center went on a hunger strike in which participated the great majority (126 hunger strikers in 150 detainees). The reason was the two massive transportations that happened in 21 of March and 9 of April (60 refugees transferred in the northern greek borders each time). The refugees reacted because they are afraid that they will be the next that will be transferred in the northern greek borders in order to be deported, despite the fact that the massive deportations are illegal and consist clear violation of human rights.
The same day that the Samos hunger strike started, Spyros Vougias, Public Order vice minister, announced the creation of 11 new screening centers (KEPY-First Reception Centers). It is interesting that Spyros Vougias had first announced two KEPY (one in Evros and one in Mytilini) to replace Venna (which he announced he would close down) and Pagani. These were to be built on former military barracks.The announcement was made on March 21st (International Day Against Racism).! Ironically, the locations for eleven KEPY were announced on the same day that the hunger strike in Samos began.
The announcement of the KEPY system was accompanied by a report of a so-called expert group, according to wich:
1. the new system will differentiate much stronger between unaccompanied minors, torture victims, etc; generally, the discourse about vulnerable persons and their protection is much stronger
2. the new screening centres (KEPY) will be located in points of entries and large urban areas: Samos, Lesvos, Chios, Evros, Rhodos, Athens, Patras, Thessaloniki, Igoumenitsa, Crete, Volos.
3. the new screening centres are a one-stop-shop for the control of migration: detention, identification, fingerprinting, medical examination, deparation of groups (minors, et al).
4. the KEPY will be closed, so people inside are locked up.
5. the European Border Fund will only pay for the construction of the new centres (for the next 10 years).
Who has participated in this expert group? It is prime example for state IGO NGO meddling: the 4 involved ministeries, IOM, Ecumenical Refugee Programm, Red Cross, UNHCR, Medecins sans frontiers, greek refugee council, NGOs like ”Arsis” and ”Praksis”
Meanwhile, the 28th Franco-Italian Summit was held 9 April in Paris and resulted in the signing of approximately 25 agreements between France and Italy. Among the agreements is a joint declaration on immigration which highlights the leading role played by France and Italy in controlling illegal immigration in the Mediterranean region. The agreement provides for, among other things, joint French-Italian maritime patrols to monitor the countries’ territorial waters. The agreement also stresses the need to strengthen the role of Frontex and calls for cooperation with both Libya and Turkey on immigration matters, including readmission of migrants.
The same days, a Frontex spokesperson declared that last year saw a 33 per cent year-on-year decrease in illegal border crossings at all the EU’s external borders. When compared to 2008, external sea border crossings decreased by 23 per cent and external land borders decreased by 43 per cent in 2009. Malta recorded a decrease of 83 per cent in irregular migrant arrivals last year, the highest decrease in the whole of the central Mediterranean. After Malta, the second highest decrease in migrant landings last year was in the Canary Islands, which recorded a 76 per cent decrease from 2008.
Greece, currently the country under the biggest migratory pressure, recorded a decrease of 21 per cent in migrant landing in 2009.
The same spokesperson said that Frontex has set a budget of €10 million for the Frontex-led operation, Poseidon, which was set up to combat illegal immigration in the Aegean sea. Last year, 152 experts were deployed to the operation, which does not include the crew of vessels, aircrafts, helicopters and other equipment.