Migration and Struggle in Greece

Archive for June, 2010

June 2010 Clandestina report

Posted by clandestina on 30 June 2010

Death toll rises at the greek borders

16 immigrants were found dead in the last 48 hours at the greek-turkish borders, near the Evros river (9 in Greece and 5 in Turkey) – two more were found dead on Saturday 26th June.
The number of immigrants that died in June in the Evros river remains unknown as more dead immigrants were discovered on June 8. Three more were found dead on May 27.
On the 16th of June, a 19-year-old Afghan refugee was found dead, hidden in the fuel tank of a truck, inside the ferry “OLYMPIC CHAMPION”, traveling from Patras to Venice.

…killed by a bilateral agreement…
On June 29, greek and turkish officials met in Athens in order to examine the progress of the bilateral agreement signed by the Greek Minister, Michalis Chryssohoïdis, and by his Turkish counterpart, Besir Atalay, on May 14.
According to the agreement, a border office is to be set up, near Izmir, which will be used for the readmission of irregular migrants.
Also, a readmission protocol will be put into force, according to which immigrants will be deported from Greece to Turkey and then to third countries.

MSF Report
On June 15, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) presented a report that “documents the unacceptable living conditions in the three detention centers in Greece where MSF intervened and presents data from psychological counseling sessions as well as individual testimonies.” Download Report

Frontex press conference
On June 16, Frontex Deputy Executive Director Gil Arias-Fernandez announced that 88 percent of illegal immigrants – almost nine in 10 – that entered the EU in 2009 had come via Greece. During the first third of 2010, EU authorities arrested 3,500 illegal migrants at land borders and 2,900 at sea, indicating a shift in patterns of entry from the sea to the land borders. This shift was also reflected in figures unveiled by the Greek citizens’ protection ministry last week, showing a 50 percent decline in arrests of migrants in the northern Aegean and and 65 percent decline in the southern Aegean. By contrast, arrests on land borders in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace increased by 167 percent (from 2,416 to 6,459). In Epirus, arrests went up from 5,616 in the first third of 2009 to 7,889 in 2010.
Fernandez also confirmed that the first regional Frontex Operations Office will open in Piraeus later this year – with the office opening in July but only launching full operations in October. Until the end of 2011, it will operate as a pilot project employing 13 experts from various EU countries, and it will subsequently be decided whether to continue its operation.

Meanwhile in Athens
Attacks by fascist groups aligned with shopowners against immigrant street vendors on central streets have not ceased. But neither will actions of solidarity to immigrants:
Below is a leaflet that was distributed during a gathering outside Athens Chamber of Commerce

We sell things on the street because we don’t have an alternative way of making a living.
No work is refused in order for us to make a living.
These people that you see on the street , these people that you keep harassing, are people who are familiar with most trades and professions.
Even though we are only vagrant street vendors, we are the ones paying for the houses that were had locked up for a long time, houses crying for a human presence.
A house can’t live by itself. It needs souls, it needs lives.
Water, power, telephone, means of transport and everything else we need to live are not for free.
You will never see one of us involved in affairs of the night and the underworld.
We are honest people, very sociable and open to everyone and everything.
We have obligations, but we also have rights.
We are only asking for understanding and tolerance.
Immigrant street vendors

Posted in Action & Struggle Reports, Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements, Short Reports | 1 Comment »

Greece: Lives on Hold – Migrants in Detention

Posted by clandestina on 23 June 2010

*Executive summary*

Every year tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants arrive in
Greece, the southeastern border of the European Union. In 2009, 36,472
irregular migrants were arrested at the Greek-Turkish land and sea
borders. Many have left unstable or war-torn countries or are escaping
persecution, human rights violations or extreme poverty. Afghans are the
most numerous among the new arrivals, followed by Iraqis, Somalis,
Palestinians, and Pakistanis. Unaccompanied minors and families are
increasingly among those making the journey. Lacking legal ways to
travel to Europe, migrants and asylum seekers alike are forced to use
the services of smugglers and thus often fall victim to exploitation or
violence by criminal networks.

Special Report

Once they arrive in Greece, irregular migrants and asylum seekers are
systematically detained. They are kept in detention centers located
along the eastern Greek borders or in other detention facilities, such
as police stations. According to the law they can be detained for a
period of up to six months. Most are released within a few weeks and are
given a written order to leave the country within 30 days.
From August 2009 to May 2010, MSF provided psychosocial support to
detained migrants and asylum seekers in three detention centers: Pagani
in Lesvos, Filakio in Evros, and Venna in Rodopi. At the same time, MSF
raised concerns with the authorities, urging them to improve living
conditions and services provided in the detention centers.

With this report MSF aims to raise awareness and express concerns about
the impact of the current detention system on the mental health and
well-being of migrants and asylum seekers arriving in Greece. The report
documents the unacceptable living conditions in the three detention
centers where MSF intervened and presents data from psychological
counseling sessions as well as individual testimonies. It shows that
detention can exacerbate existing symptoms and contribute to new traumas
and psychological distress. The report often cites what newly arriving
migrants told MSF teams about their experiences in detention.

Asylum seekers and migrants arriving in Greece have often experienced
traumatic events. Almost one-third of MSF patients spoke about attacks
by armed groups, bombings, beatings or other forms of violence that they
suffered directly or witnessed in their countries of origin. MSF
psychologists observed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
in 9.5 percent of the patients. A further 15 percent of the patients
expressed anxiety and worry about family members they had left behind.

However, being detained was the single most important reason of
frustration for the majority of the irregular migrants and asylum
seekers. For most, detention was a painful and inhumane experience. Of
the 305 migrants seen in first consultations, 39 percent presented
symptoms of anxiety such as constant worry, fear, panic, restlessness,
while 31 percent presented symptoms of depression, such as sadness, loss
of interest, hopelessness, and thoughts of death. Three percent of MSF
patients attempted suicide or self-harm because they felt detention was
unbearable or because they wanted to protest about the length of detention.

Living conditions in detention facilities for migrants do not meet
national and international standards. Inappropriate facilities are often
used for the detention of migrants, such as in the case of Pagani or
Venna detention centers. Overcrowding was a persistent problem in some
detention facilities. Sanitary conditions are usually very poor.
Overcrowding and poor hygienic conditions can contribute to the
spreading of several medical conditions, including dermatological
infections such as scabies and viral infections such as measles.

Not being allowed out of the cells into the fresh air was also a
significant concern for migrants. In the detention centers where MSF
worked, families were separated and were given little opportunity for
communication, which increased feelings of anxiety and insecurity.
Patients also complained to MSF teams about the degrading and abusive
behavior of police and other detention center staff.

No provisions are in place to meet the needs of vulnerable groups,
including unaccompanied minors, infants, pregnant women, and people with
disabilities. Detention centers lack support staff and interpreters.
Migrants and asylum seekers receive no or little information about their
legal status and the detention system. Moreover due to the lack of
appropriate information and the absence of legal counseling and
interpretation services, many people in need of international protection
are not identified and thus do not receive any support.

Migrants consistently complained to MSF teams that they received
inadequate medical care and had difficulties communicating with the
doctors. Reasons for inadequate health care in detention centers
included the insufficient number of medical personnel, the absence of
interpreter services, and the lack of a standard protocol for the
medical screening and follow up of new arrivals. In addition, detained
migrants did not receive any psychosocial support apart from that
offered by MSF.

MSF urges the Greek authorities to carefully measure the impact of
detention on the well-being of migrants and asylum seekers and to seek
alternatives to the detention of new arrivals. Thus, the plans by the
Greek government to establish reception and screening centers for new
arrivals should be implemented without delay. Conditions and services
provided in the reception and screening centers should be in accordance
with international standards.

In any case, the Greek government needs to immediately ensure that
detained migrants and asylum seekers are treated in a humane and
dignified manner and that those who wish to do so are given the
possibility to seek asylum.

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Frontex: Fewer illegal migrants in 2009, 88pct arrived via Greece

Posted by clandestina on 23 June 2010

ANA-MPA/All indicators concerning illegal immigration into the European Union were lower in 2009 compared with 2008, according to figures cited on Wednesday by the EU border agency Frontex in Athens. It said arrests for illegal entry at EU sea and land borders had dropped 33 percent.

Frontex Deputy Executive Director Gil Arias-Fernandez noted, however, that 88 percent of illegal immigrants – almost nine in 10 – that entered the EU in 2009 had come via Greece, up from 75 percent in 2008. While this increase did not reflect a rise in the numbers arriving, it showed that a greater percentage migrants unable to enter the EU using other routes were attempting entry via Greece, he said.

The numbers for Greece showed 14,000 arrests at the land border between Greece and Turkey in 2008, dropping to 10,000 in 2009. Along the sea border between Greece and Turkey, there were 56,000 arrests of illegal migrants in 2008, dropping to 49,000 in 2009.Ana-Mpa

During the first third of 2010, EU authorities arrested 3,500 illegal migrants at land borders and 2,900 at sea, indicating a shift in patterns of entry from the sea to the land borders. This shift was also reflected in figures unveiled by the Greek citizens’ protection ministry last week, showing a 50 percent decline in arrests of migrants in the northern Aegean and and 65 percent decline in the southern Aegean. By contrast, arrests on land borders in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace increased by 167 percent (from 2,416 to 6,459). In Epirus, arrests went up from 5,616 in the first third of 2009 to 7,889 in 2010.

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Illegal immigration to EU drops

Posted by clandestina on 21 June 2010

The number of migrants caught entering the EU illegally has dropped sharply, a change attributed to the economic crisis and stricter border controls.

Some 106,200 illegal immigrants were intercepted on EU borders in 2009, 33% down from the previous year, the EU border agency Frontex said.

Greece remains the principal point of entry for illegal immigration, Frontex officials said.

Albanians form the main group of immigrants trying to enter Greece.

Most others come from North Africa, and attempt to get into Greece via Turkey, said Frontex deputy executive director Gil Arias Fernandez.

Lack of employment was a key factor for the drop in numbers, he said.

He also cited “good collaboration from the African countries where immigrants usually depart” including Libya, Mauritania and Senegal.

Mr Arias said most of the people entering Greece planned to continue to other EU member states.

He denied reports that the EU had any imminent plans to use unmanned drone aircraft to monitor the border between Greece and Turkey.

“We are following developments in the industry to see if they can be used, but at this point it is premature to say that Frontex plans to use them,” he said.

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Recession, controls cut illegal immigration to EU

Posted by clandestina on 21 June 2010

(Reuters) – Economic crisis and tougher border controls are leading to a sharp decrease in illegal immigration into the European Union, the bloc’s border agency Frontex said on Wednesday.


A total 106,200 illegal immigrants were detected at the EU’s sea and land borders in 2009, 33 percent less than in the previous year, the agency’s Deputy Executive Director Gil Arias-Fernandez told a news conference.

“Lack of employment is a key factor for the drop,” Arias-Fernandez said. Measures taken by Libya, Mauritania and Senegal to prevent illegal immigrants from departing in the first place have also helped stem the flow, he added.

Almost nine out of ten illegal immigrants use Greece as their springboard into the EU. A total 6,600 illegal border crossings were detected in the country in the first quarter of 2010, 7 percent less than in the same period last year.

“Most of the people entering Greece plan to continue their trip to other EU member states,” Arias-Fernandez said.

Greece is struggling to cope with the swelling number of migrants, most arriving via Albania and Turkey, who seek a better life in Europe.

Frontex has stepped up surveillance at the Greek-Turkish borders but denied press reports it had any immediate plans to use unmanned aircraft, also known as drones.

“We are following developments in the industry to see if they can be used, but at this point it is premature to say that Frontex plans to use them,” Arias-Fernandez said.

The EU has long tried in vain to convince Turkey, which aspires to become a member, to do more to control departures from its Western coast towards Greece.

Greece itself came under criticism over migration, with human rights organisations saying it abusively detains and expels migrants.

Greece’s socialist government has pledged to crack down on illegal immigration while at the same time granting citizenship to all immigrant children born in the country.

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou; editing by Noah Barkin)

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On immigration and the Crisis in Greece: Four points

Posted by clandestina on 13 June 2010

1. For some, the crisis did not start two years ago.

From the Structural Adjustment Programs in Africa and Latin America in the 1980s, to the neo-liberal looting in the countries of the former Soviet bloc in the 1990s, crisis and migration have been twin concepts.
For three decades neo-liberalism has been engineering a weakened and destabilized workforce. Capital prefers migrants because they are powerless, unorganized, badly paid workers for whom there is no need for safety in the workplace, nor for health insurance and pensions. In other words, they are much cheaper and make no demands. It has been estimated that in 2009, 3% of the world population, 200 million people, lived outside the country they were born in.

2. Immigrants, the last vestige of the welfare state

Not only do immigrants offer cheap labor, they also have absolutely no participation in the creation of the present economic crisis in Greece. Quite the contrary: They are the social security system’s last gasp:
The State uses the immigrants’ (obligatory) contributions in order to support its health insurance and pension funds. Most immigrants will never benefit from the pension funds they are helping rescue, since in Greece you do not get compensation for retirement unless you have worked for a minimum of 40 years.
The vast majority of migrants are of productive age. If they weren’t here, the balance-of-payments deficit of insurance funds between those who work and those who retire would be even greater than it already is. Even the income from taxation would be drastically reduced, since, as State sources openly acknowledge, “immigrants are much more consistent than the Greeks in fulfilling their tax obligations.”
Migrant women, in whose hands now lies the main responsibility for the care of children and the elderly, are saving the State millions of euros in public care services, such as daycare and childcare centres, public health institutions and old people’s homes.

The public health system further profits from the devalued labor of immigrants in the cleaning sector: Public and private buildings, ministries and hospitals, airports and trains, offices and homes are being cleaned largely by immigrant cleaners, who are subcontracted on utterly exploitative terms for the workers by intermediate private rent companies.

3. The money isn’t enough anymore, what’ll happen with those immigrants?

“The crisis is driving the immigrants away”, the media announce repeatedly. It is true that the first people affected by the crisis are the legal immigrants. The residence permit in Greece depends on the work permit, so legal immigrants are trapped in the legal vicious circle of blackmail – if you don’t have work, you cannot stay legally, yet if you have no residence permit, you cannot find work.

Unemployment is expected to skyrocket in a few months. Hundreds of thousands of migrants, especially from Albania, who experienced the brutality of “Greek hospitality” during the first years of working here, and gradually found themselves with children and certain consumer privileges in a state of semi-legality, are now confronted with a terrible dilemma.
Those who have children are bound to stay. This is where the new citizenship bill comes in. The fee for applying for citizenship is 700 euro – multiply that by half a million legal immigrants…
The strategic goal of Greek capital has been to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants in a state of semi-legality as cheap and easily manipulable labor.
On the other hand, the illegal migrants, the sans-papiers, cannot leave. Lacking official documents, they are trapped both in the “country of first entry into the EU” according to the Dublin II convention, and also within the unofficial and undeclared labor market. The dogma of zero-tolerance further narrows margins for resistance – let us remember the sudden drastic devaluation of the Egyptian fishermen’s work, or the ongoing slave-labor conditions of Bangladeshi strawberry pickers in Manolada in the Peloponnese. Things can always get worse…

4. The crisis of solidarity (the summer of 2009 was only the beginning)

The level of workers’ rights is regressing to where it was decades ago… That’s plain to see. Yet wasn’t it already the acceptance, over the last years, of concentration camps for the victims of global order that turned the clock back to the fascist regimes of the interwar period? What crisis is greater than the moral degradation of society? And it doesn’t seem to pay off either: When you nod affirmatively to the bosses in their war against the weak, it doesn’t mean the boss owes you anything in return. We devalued refugees and migrant workers, believing this would never happen to us. Yet it is now a fact: As long as solidarity does not prevail, everyone’s rights will spiral downwards, towards the lowest common denominator…

“…exploiting the immigrants for twenty years
now its your turn to taste some of their agony and fears…”

Posted in Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements | 4 Comments »

Swarming NoBorder-activities in Greece from 27.8.-11.9.2010

Posted by clandestina on 12 June 2010

Welcome to Europe on Tour

Swarming NoBorder-activities in Greece from 27.8.-11.9.2010

These days, Greece is in the headlines because of the crisis: the imminant threat of state bankrupcy, the dictate by IMF and the EU to cut the budget which will drive big parts of the population into poverty, who react with furious protest, general strikes and big demonstrations. It is hard to say how the situation will develop this summer. It should be obvious though that this is not solely a Greek crisis. The Euro is stumbling in Greece, but it is the Europe of Maastricht which strikes back.

But it is also the Europe of Schengen, the Europe of border regime and migration control, which is active in Greece. After the routes crossing the west atlantic and the mediterranean sea have been largely blocked, Greece has become the main gate to the EU for refugees and migrants, due to its geographical position and uncontrollable sea borders.

Last year a noborder camp took place on Lesvos, one of the main arrival islands in the Aegean Sea. The pictures of the totally overcrowded island prison and the deeply inhuman internment practices have not been forgotten. However, the revolts and campaigns that led to the closing of Pagani prison were just as impressive, and in many refugee camps in the whole of Europe the stories of ‘noborder’ is still being told.

Europe is intervening. As if to quickly patch the situation, Frontex, the European border agency is involved in establishing a system of selection and deportation which is equivalent to European ‘standards’. “Screening centres” will be the new name for the detention centres in Greece. They target that which had been possible despite all the repression and chaos in Greece: freedom of movement, the ability to continue the journey to the countries in the centre of Europe.

The start of the swarming noborder activities will be parallel actions in Venna (north of Greece) and Samos (an Aegean island): the weekend of the 27th and 28th of August will be both giving the old detention system the final push (since in Venna, the conditions are pretty much like they were in Pagani) and confronting the new “screening system” in Samos, which relies on selection and deportation.

The following weekend (3rd and 4th of September), the international trade fair takes place in Thessaloniki, an international economic event with a highly political profile. It is where usually, the Greek government presents its economical policies for the coming year. Given the crisis, bigger protests are to be expected.

At the same time, Welcome to Europe will travel form Samos to Lesvos: the island will also be a gateway for refugees this year. Like last year, we want to turn the island into an island of welcome and invite everybody to join us.

The weekend of 10th and 11th of September will then conclude the swarming noborder in Athens, with a big action targeting Frontex.

Due to the crisis, not all of these plans are definitive. Last year the hunger strikes in Pagani led to the noborder starting several days early, which came as a surprise and had us change the entire programme. This time, we know that we need to act according to the developments: struggles don’t usually follow a programme. We will start our journey and will see, what it brings. We invite all those that bring the readiness to act spontaneaously.

Welcome to Europe Network

Further information to all our tour stops will be found shortly under:

Transnational call “No border lasts forever!” about activities against Frontex and European migration regime not only in Greece see: – Contact:

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