Migration and Struggle in Greece

Archive for June, 2011

«…Immigrant, you say? To us you are a drug dealer!»

Posted by clandestina on 23 June 2011

It is Thursday, the 4th of March 2010, and Alfa Abudhakar, a migrant from Senegal, has just left his flat in Kypseli with some friends and is walking towards Amerikis Square. Their plan is to go to Ermou street and make some money selling small things from an offhand stall on the pavement. Alfa has been in Athens for five days, after spending time in the detention center on Samos island. Suddenly he finds himself amidst a police raid. Riot, Delta, Dias police  are flooding Drosopoulou street and going after every migrant they cross.

The next year and a half Alfa will spend in the spaces where the Greek State tortures thousands of migrants every day: in the detention rooms of police stations and in prison. The reason he ends up there is not his bad luck, it is the terror syndrome of bully-cops, racist judges and misanthropist politicians executing their brutal antimigrant policies.

On the day he is caught running from the police because he has no papers, At lfa is «identified» as a «drug dealer» by the special police guard Ioannis Sotiriadis, a shitbrained humanoid bodybuilder, who, in his statement, says he saw Alfa a few minutes before disposing of a large bag full of cannabis in a bush at the ‘Kyprou & Patision street’ park.

This is where Alfa’s ordeal begins, one of the endless variations of fair treatment with which «Justice» treats immigrants: Alfa is held in pretrial detention, solely on the basis of the statemen by the above-mentioned special guard, also member of the neonazi golden dawn party, whose vague description of the suspect could match that of any African immigrant. When Alfa asks for fingerprint tests from the cannabis bag, he gets a negative response: He is told that the fingerprints are allegedly «distorted», which is completely untrue, since Alfa’s fingerprints can be checked against the Samos police records.

Alfa stays at Korydallos prison for a year, his application for release is dismissed, and his parody of a trial hearing, on the 3rd of June 2011, leads to his (expectedly prefabricated) conviction. It is well-known that in Greek courts, «law means injustice to the immigrant», and the only reliable witness is always a cop.

Alfa is sentenced to three years on probation – but parole eligibility is only valid for native prisoners…So now, Alfa finds himself in prison again, «illegal» for having no papers, and is sent from Petrou Ralli to Ellinikon to who knows where next.

Solidarity – Athens, June 2011

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Greece: Detention centres make migrants more ill

Posted by clandestina on 20 June 2011

Athens, 15 June 2011 – Inhumane living conditions in migrants’ detention facilities in the Evros region of Greece are causing major health concerns for detainees according to a new report published today by the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières MSF (Doctors Without Borders).

According to MSF medical data, more than 60 percent of the medical problems faced by detained migrants – who have attempted to cross the border between Turkey and Greece – are directly caused by or linked to the degrading conditions in which they are being held.

Out of the 1,809 patients treated by MSF doctors between December 2010 and March 2011, 1,147 were diagnosed with respiratory tract infections, body pains, diarrhoea, gastrointestinal disorders, psychological complaints and skin diseases.

“Most of the migrants we have treated were not ill when they first entered the detention facilities. They fell sick having being held in overcrowded cells lacking proper ventilation, with water and sanitation problems, no quality food and no possibility to spend time outdoors,” says Ioanna Pertsinidou, coordinator of MSF’s project for migrants in Greece.

During the first two months of 2011, at least 22 people died in their efforts to cross the border in Evros.

From MSF’s experience working in the detention centre at Filakio and border police stations at Tychero, Soufli and Feres, there is no evidence indicating that migrants entering Greece pose a public health risk to Greek society, as recently stated by Greece’s Minister of Health.

On the contrary, it is the inhumane living and hygiene conditions in these facilities – where some migrants are kept for up to six months – that are causing significant deterioration to their physical and mental health. These conditions increase the risk of communicable disease outbreaks, as was also stated in a report published in May 2011 by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization.

MSF urges Greek authorities to ensure dignified living conditions in detention facilities, including appropriate accommodation, sufficient distribution of food, clothing and personal hygiene items, and adequate periods of time outdoors.

It is essential to ensure migrants receive adequate medical care and mental healthcare, to initiate systematic medical screening for new arrivals, and to support timely follow-up of chronic diseases. The Ministries of Health and Citizens Protection should ensure coordination among the involved stakeholders – locally, nationally and at EU level – and maximise the timely use of existing funds and resources.

In early March 2011, MSF handed over its medical activities to teams deployed by the Ministry of Health, but continues to distribute relief items to detained migrants. Despite the availability of European funds, conditions in the detention facilities have not improved.


For more information or interviews, please contact Alice Klein on 020 7067 4230 or via

Notes to editor

To download the full report, click here.

MSF has been providing medical care and psychosocial support to migrants and asylum seekers in Greece since 1996. Since the beginning of December 2010, MSF teams have been providing healthcare and working to improve living and hygiene conditions in the border police stations of Tychero, Soufli and Feres and in the detention centre of Filakio. MSF doctors have treated 1,809 migrants, 18 of whom were under five years old. MSF psychologists have provided mental health support to 75 migrants. MSF staff have distributed over 8,480 sleeping bags, over 15,500 pairs of socks, 4,500 pairs of gloves, 4,500 hats and 10,000 hygiene kits.

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Doctors Without Borders: Sickness rife in Εvros detention centers

Posted by clandestina on 20 June 2011

Medical aid organization warns about poor conditions for immigrants ( )

The report found that the ailments of more than 60 percent of the migrants were a direct result of the dirty conditions in the facilities

The substandard condition of migrant detention centers in the northern region of Evros has resulted in a large proportion of the undocumented migrants being held there suffering from various illnesses, according to a report by the medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders.

The report, whose findings were issued on Wednesday, noted that the ailments of more than 60 percent of the migrants were a direct result of the dirty conditions in the facilities.

Of the 1,809 sick migrants that were treated by the organization’s doctors between December 2010 and March 2011, the majority — 1,147 — were diagnosed with respiratory infections, muscular pains, psychological problems and skin diseases.

“Most of the migrants we treated were not sick when they arrived at the detention centers,” said Ioanna Pertsinidou, a coordinator for the aid group. “They got sick because they were confined in cramped cells with bad ventilation,” she said.

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Posted by clandestina on 16 June 2011

First and foremost we would like to thank those individuals and groups who are standing and are sympathetic to immigrants by understanding the problems that we have in our countries.

Secondly we would like to brief you that the immigrants in the mountain of Igoumenitsa have their worst political problems in their countries. As known to everybody, these countries suffer from dictatorial leaders, wars with the neighboring countries and some countries suffer from civil wars. Most of the immigrants are highly educated and were persecuted in their countries and left their countries in order to save their lives. But unfortunately the immigrants suffer from inhuman treatment from the security officers including the police, military and the security, the officers who are responsible of those issues are not paying tension to the issue. This type of treatment contradicts democracy and protection of human rights.

As are suit of these, we as immigrants set the following demands.

1. Security: we demand the removal the confinement of immigrant to the mountain. Because this has become a real obstacle to from practicing our daily activities.

2. Nutrition: Nutrition is a basic to human life and it is impossible to live without nutrition. We are not allowed to enter the town and buy food and other basic needs with our money. Some times happen that if the police catch us in the town with the things we buy, they throw goods in the waste box (skoupidia) and take us to the prison. We need solution for this matter.

3. Health: most of the immigrants tin this mountain suffer health problems that can not be ignored or postponed. Of course there are Doctors of the World under the bridge, but do not have health testing equipment and enough medicine. There are many immigrants whose legs and hands are broken by the military commandos. In this case we are not able to go to the hospital and have medical check. Because, if the police catch us there, they imprison us with our sickness. Even there are people arrested with their hands and legs broken. We need solution for this.

4. Basic Solution: finally, we kindly request the political decision makers for the basic solution for our problems in Greece.

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EU marine intercepts migrants off Crete

Posted by clandestina on 12 June 2011

Egyptian Gazette reports:EU marine intercepts migrants off Crete
Saturday, June 11, 2011 05:18:27 PM
ATHENS – An EU marine patrol on Saturday intercepted around 100 migrants near the Greek island of Crete as they attempted to sail from Egypt to Italy, the Greek coastguard said.

“A distress signal was initially sent to the Italian authorities in Rome,” a coastguard spokeswoman told AFP.
“There was an initial search near Malta until an Icelandic patrol vessel from (EU border agency) Frontex found them near Crete,” she said.
The sailboat was located some 85 nautical miles (100 miles) from the town of Paleohora in southern Crete.
The migrants claim there are 95 people on board but the cause of the distress call was not immediately clear, and their nationalities are also unknown at this point, the spokeswoman said.
“We know the group includes mostly men but that there are also women and children,” she added.
“They are now in the process of transfering onto the Frontex vessel, and authorities have not yet decided where they will be taken for health tests,” the officer said.
Local weather conditions are reported to be mild.
Greece last year secured the assistance of Frontex to thwart an overwhelming surge of arrivals from Africa and Asia.
Though not an EU member, Iceland is contributing to the EU patrol force.
Frontex patrols have made a major impact on smuggling networks which until now had extensively taken advantage of Greece’s porous marine frontier.

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Igoumenitsa police tear down migrant camp, 50 arrests

Posted by clandestina on 9 June 2011

More than 50 migrants were arrested early Thursday as Igoumenitsa police launched a major sweep operation at dawn for illegal migrants in the pine forest of Ladochori, which is situated across the entrance to the Igoumenitsa New Harbor.
The migrants fled a makeshift camp they had set up in the forest, when they became aware of the police forces.
A chase ensued in the forest, and more than 50 migrants were arrested, while the precise number of migrants living in the camp, comprising camping tents and shacks, was unknown.
Municipal crews arrived shortly afterwards and began cleaning up the area from tons of trash that had accumulated, while the shacks were also being torn down.
Police said that following Thursday’s operation, there were no longer any sans papiers migrant camps in the area

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Authorities in Evros oppose migrant center plans

Posted by clandestina on 1 June 2011

 Local and regional officials say plans for three new facilities will further downgrade area

Plans for three new migrant facilities in Evros has angered local authorities in the northern prefecture where there are already two large centers

Government plans to build several new detention centers for undocumented immigrants have come up against strong resistance from local authorities in the northern prefecture of Evros, which already has two facilities for migrants and which accommodates dozens more in crammed police detention cells.

The mayors of the four municipalities of Evros and the representatives of local business and resident associations first expressed their opposition to the plans when they were announced by Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis in mid-May. Now that the project – which foresees another three facilities in Evros – is moving forward, the authorities are ratcheting up their protests.

According to the government’s blueprint, one of the three new facilities will be opened next to an existing detention center near the village of Fylakio, the second will be set up near the town of Orestiada and the third is to open near the village of Didymoteicho, on the Turkish border.

The mayor of Didymoteicho, Paraskevas Patsouridis, said local residents opposed the plans. “The creation [of the centers] would signal the further deterioration of our area,” he stated.

In a written statement, a regional committee made up of local authority officials and advisers drew attention to “a lack of information and the absence of any agreement between local authorities and central government regarding plans for the creation of new facilities to accommodate illegal immigrants.”

Meanwhile there has been a mixed reception to the planned construction of a wire fence along a 12.5-kilometer stretch of the Greek-Turkish border between the villages of Kastanies and Nea Vyssa. The aim of the fence is to slow the influx of would-be migrants entering Greece illegally. The Municipality of Orestiada has welcomed the project.

But the regional governor of Evros, Aristidis Giannakidis, said he was opposed to the plans. “The region will not become tainted as a detention area for unfortunate souls,” he said. “We have an entirely different philosophy for the development of our region.” , Tuesday May 31, 2011 (18:41)

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Athens: muslim place of worship attacked by arsonists

Posted by clandestina on 1 June 2011

Arsonists early on Tuesday reportedly attacked a hall used as a Muslim place of worship in the Athens district of Kallithea, endangering tenants.
Unidentified persons broke the glass front of the hall and doused it with flammable liquid, to which they set fire.
The fire did not spread because people who were sleeping in the hall at nights were woken up by the noise and quickly extinguished the fire, which caused minor material damage.
Attica security police were investigating the incident.

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Council of Refugees stops operations after attacks

Posted by clandestina on 1 June 2011

UNHCR’s Athens office condemns spike in racially-motivated violence and vandalism

The UNHCR slammed a recent spike in attacks on immigrants, believed to have been fueled by the arrest of two Afghans for fatal stabbing of a Greek man

The head of the Athens office of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, on Friday condemned a series of apparently racially motivated attacks on the offices of the Greek Council of Refugees (GCR) that led to the latter’s closure earlier this week.

A series of attacks on the GCR’s offices and staff over the past two weeks obliged its management to suspend its operation, which will have a negative impact on the processing of applications for asylum by refugees, Tsarbopoulos said in a press release distributed on Friday.

More than 40,000 asylum applications are pending in Greece, the first point of entry for a relentless influx of immigrants seeking a better life in the European Union.

“Clearly such activities end up working against refugees and asylum seekers and must be stopped,” the Athens UNHCR head said.

“One day without the GCR’s offices operating means dozens of families do not have access to legal and social support services,” he added.

Tsarbopoulos linked the attacks on the GCR to a peak in racist violence that followed the fatal knifing of a 44-year-old Greek man near central Athens on May 10. The killing, Tsarbopoulos said, has spurred a wave of racially motivated attacks and created a “vicious cycle of hatred and barbarism.”

A few hours after it emerged that immigrants were being sought in connection with that attack, suspected far-rightists assaulted a 21-year-old Bangladeshi national who died of his injuries a few days later. Police have charged two Afghan nationals with the murder of 44-year-old Manolis Kantaris and are seeking a third man, a Pakistani, who the Afghans describe as the key assailant.

In an open letter sent by the Greek Council of Refugees to its staff on Tuesday, the organization said it was temporarily suspending its operations “in protest after another incident of groundless violence against our offices.”

The GCR blamed the attacks on “a small minority,” noting however that “the activities of these individuals have created a serious security problem for our staff and for those who seek our services.” , Friday May 27, 2011 (22:13)

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Igoumenitsa/Greece: Interviews with Sudanese and Eritrean refugees

Posted by clandestina on 1 June 2011

At the 3rd of May, the refugees’ settlements in the mountain of Igoumenitsa (the second largest port from Greece towards Italy) have been attacked by fascists out of a demonstration. Afterwards the police drew an invisible ‘red line’ and prevented refugees from entering the city. More than 450 refugees have been arrested in May 2011 – double than the average monthly arrests of 2010. Police guards the garbage cans and so the refugees are starving from hunger. Refugees from Sudan and Eritrea talk about their situation in the following two long interviews by Infomobile.

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