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.
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
WORKING AND LIVING BY THE SWEAT OF OUR BROW!
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