Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International lashed out on Thursday at Greece’s treatment of Syrian refugees fleeing their war-ravaged homeland, with many locked up as illegal immigrants or reportedly facing police brutality.
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Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International: Syria refugees in Greece lack ‘humanitarian’ help
Posted by clandestina on 18 March 2013
Posted by clandestina on 18 March 2013
(Reuters) – Syrian shopkeeper Osama fled the fighting in Aleppo convinced he would be welcomed in Europe. Five months later, he is stuck in near-bankrupt Greece, where money and sympathy are scarce.
Beaten up and robbed by traffickers when they arrived in Athens, Osama, his wife and two children were arrested as illegal immigrants and thrown into detention when they recounted their ordeal to Greek police. Ordered out of Greece but without any place to go, he rues the day he set foot in the country.
Posted by clandestina on 26 October 2012
Newsnight’s report on the Greek far-right party Golden Dawn made headlines across Europe last week.
In it, MP Ilias Panagiotaros claimed Greece was “in civil war” and indeed advocated a new kind of civil war, pitting the far-right against migrants, anarchists, etc.
Within 24 hours Mr Panagiotaros had retracted his claim that Greece was “in civil war”, saying instead “there is no civil war” and accusing Newsnight of “paraphrasing” his words. We had simply broadcast them, un-edited and in English.
Now three new reports cast light on the substance of our story – which was: alleged police torture of anti-fascist detainees, Golden Dawn’s influence inside the Greek police force, and its potential influence on the operational behaviour and priorities of the police in the Attica region around Athens. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by clandestina on 9 October 2012
Fifteen people arrested in Athens says they were subjected to what their lawyer describes as an Abu Ghraib-style humiliation
Fifteen anti-fascist protesters arrested in Athens during a clash with supporters of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn have said they were tortured in the Attica General Police Directorate (GADA) – the Athens equivalent of Scotland Yard – and subjected to what their lawyer describes as an Abu Ghraib-style humiliation.
Members of a second group of 25 who were arrested after demonstrating in support of their fellow anti-fascists the next day said they were beaten and made to strip naked and bend over in front of officers and other protesters inside the same police station. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by clandestina on 10 July 2012
Posted by clandestina on 8 March 2012
The member states’ home affairs ministers will meet, on 8 March in Brussels, to debate governance of the border-free Schengen area and in particular the problems they are experiencing with Greece, the main gateway to Europe for 80% of “illegal migrants” (more than 60,000 caught at the border between Greece and Turkey in 2011). Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by clandestina on 8 March 2012
Would-be immigrants to Europe can go almost anywhere—for a price
IT TAKES a few minutes to cross the Evros river, now the main entry point for illegal immigrants from Asia into Europe, but it can be frightening. On the Turkish side people-smugglers can be armed. In winter the river is fast-flowing and very cold. Groups who pay €300 ($400) a head to cross are packed into rubber dinghies at night. Some migrants get panicky—especially because few know how to swim.
So it is a relief to find friendly faces on the Greek side. Many migrants are briefly arrested, detained or surrender to the police. In most cases they are given a document letting them stay for 30 days. Those who cross near Alexandroupolis go to the railway station, where they may visit the Café Paris and meet a young Moroccan who matches migrants with onward transport. The price for being smuggled from Athens to France in a secret lorry compartment is €4,000. Getting out by aeroplane is “very difficult”. An increasingly popular option is to go via the western Balkans. The rate from Alexandroupolis to Austria, along a route managed by Greeks, Albanians, Serbs and Moroccans, is €2,800.
Most illegal immigrants in Greece have crossed the Evros. In 2009 local police registered 8,800 migrants here; in 2010, 47,000; and in 2011, 55,000. In January this year 2,800 are known to have crossed. The most numerous are Pakistanis, followed by Afghans, Bangladeshis, Algerians and Congolese. By some estimates Greece has half a million illegal migrants. The euro crisis makes it hard for them to find work.
Illegal migrants are like water, says Despina Syrri, a researcher: when one channel is blocked they find another. In the past many immigrants who did not want to stay for long in Greece could find work, at least temporarily. Some procured fake passports with visas for Europe’s Schengen zone. Many smuggled themselves on to lorries heading by ferry to Italy. But these options are all getting harder. That is why thousands now move north through Macedonia and Serbia towards Hungary. Smaller numbers trek through Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Croatia.
It is hard to stanch the flow. Polish, German and other policemen from Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, armed with the latest technology, peer over the border into Turkey and help their Greek colleagues to spot columns of would-be migrants, sometimes 100-strong. The Greek police inform the Turks. But on the Turkish side the army is in charge, not the police, and it often arrives too late. Short of a change in Turkish policy, the use of force or a wall, the flow will continue.
The border is some 206km (128 miles) long. All of it is river, except for a 12.5km stretch of land. In 2010 at least 26,000 crossed here, but last year that number had fallen to 900. And early last month the Greeks started building a fence to stop people walking across. The reason for the decline since 2010, says Giorgios Salamangas, the local police chief, is that Frontex’s early warnings have had an effect. More pertinently, Turkish troops seem to have decided to change their policy of “pretending they could not see them at all”.
In Istanbul Murat Celikkan, a civil-rights activist who has worked with refugees, says that Turkey, itself overwhelmed with migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and now Syria, wants to get rid of them. However, given the poor state of their relations with the EU, the Turks also see this flow as leverage in talks with Brussels. And they do not see why Turkey should take on the burden of hosting immigrants just to help out the EU.
In a snowbound Banja Koviljaca, on the Serbian border with Bosnia, Anosh, a forlorn young Afghan, has ended up in Serbia’s centre for asylum-seekers. In 2008 51 people applied for asylum in Serbia. Last year the number was 3,134. The true figure crossing into Serbia must be several times higher. Anosh crossed the Evros last year and bought a fake Romanian passport in Athens for €400. He boarded a ferry to Italy, but was rumbled on the Italian side when the police got their Romanian translator to quiz him. Sent back to Greece, he and a group of Afghans paid a guide €500 each to help them walk into Macedonia. There they stayed in a safe house for two days and, after a taxi ride to the border, were shepherded across the hills into Serbia for another €200.
Rados Djurovic, who runs Serbia’s Asylum Protection Centre, says that few of the asylum-seekers want to stay in Serbia. They apply because it gives them a chance to rest, to get medical care, and to move around legally until they work out how to leave and where to go. Most important, they get an identity card that allows them to receive money, via a wire-transfer agency, to continue their journey.
From Bangladesh to Subotica on the Serbian border with Hungary, where groups of Afghans and others live in huts on frozen scrubland, countries play pass-the-buck with these immigrants. In Kosovo, off the main route, police sources estimate that over 1,000 pass through every year. Some say that, when they are caught in Macedonia or Serbia, policemen sometimes take the migrants to the border and tell them to walk across to Switzerland, Hungary or a “Muslim country”.
Most migrants aim to get to Hungary because they can then cross easily into Austria and, thanks to Schengen, get as far as Calais without border controls. “So long as you have got the money,” says Mr Djurovic, “you can get anywhere.”
Read more: “Balkan visitors“
Posted by clandestina on 25 February 2012
TEXT: ANDRÉS MOURENZA // PHOTO: ALESSANDRO PENSO
Finally, on Monday morning (2 days after the incident) the suspect of the racist attack to migrants in Corinth was arrested by the police. Also one of the two hospitalized migrants was able to leave the medical premises and return to the train station, with the other migrants. Nabi is still in hospital, well treated, and although with difficulties, he is recovering as photographers Alessandro Penso and Giorgos Moutafis were able to confirm this Monday after visiting him. Also journalist Antonio Cuesta visited the migrants at the train station this Monday. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by clandestina on 21 February 2012
Twenty minutes earlier we were sitting in the recovered-from-garbage chairs and furniture, smoking cigarettes and chatting in one of the abandoned wagons of the old train station of Corinth (Greece). Nabi lives there with about other 50 migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen. Nasir—a polyglot, art lover Afghan interpreter—asks Nabi, another art lover, to draw something. The young Moroccan sketches the boat of the Hellenic Seaways moored just 200 meters down in the bay. They all are waiting the lucky day in which they will be able to catch the ferry; climbing to it, or hidden in the load of the trucks that the boat carries to Italy. And then… go further North in search for a job, a future, a safe and normal life. Crisis-hit Greece has become a nightmare for them. There is not the slightest possibility for work in a country with rocketing unemployment figures. Greeks don’t want them, neither they want to stay in Greece, but they are stuck here because European Union treaties allow third countries to return them to the state where they first entered the EU. And Greece has been the gate to Europe in the last years for 90 % of migrants.
Now, Nabi is lying on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by clandestina on 7 February 2012
Construction of a fence along the Evros River on the Greek-Turkish border officially commenced on Monday, budgeted at 3,162.5 million euros, is due for completion in late August or early September.
Citizens protection minister Christos Papoutsis declared the commencement of the construction of the fence in the Kastanies region, after earlier inaugurating the Border Surveillance Operational Center in the town of Nea Vyssa, where earlier a group of demonstrators protested against the construction of the fence and the Center. Read the rest of this entry »