8 Afghan immigrants drown as boat sinks in Greece
By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS
Associated Press Writer
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A small boat loaded with Afghan families smashed onto the rocks and sank off an island in the Aegean Sea on Tuesday, causing three immigrant women and five children to drown.
The deadly accident highlighted the plight of thousands of migrants who risk their lives every year to reach the European Union.
Athens accused neighboring Turkey, from where the vessel set off, of doing little to stop thousands of illegal immigrants from arriving in Greece. Human rights groups, however, urged Greece to improve its treatment of migrants and its handling of asylum applications.
The coast guard said high waves swept the flimsy boat with 18 on board onto a rocky shore on Lesvos. Seven men, a woman and a child – all Afghans – swam ashore and were hospitalized for observation.
One of the 10 survivors, only identified as a Turkish man, was arrested on smuggling charges.
Under Greece’s tough immigration laws, traffickers involved in fatal accidents face life terms and a minimum euro500,000 ($750,000) fine.
Later Tuesday, the coast guard rescued another 45 illegal immigrants found abandoned on an uninhabited islet off the island of Anafi in the southeastern Aegean.
Lying only five miles (eight kilometers) from Turkey’s western shore, Lesvos is one of the main points of arrival for illegal immigrants, who use rickety boats to slip through a porous sea border dotted with hundreds of islands.
Deputy Citizen’s Protection Minister Spyros Vougias said the incident merited an official complaint to Turkey.
“We need a solution to the problems Turkey causes by tolerating the actions of human traffickers,” he said. “There must be an end to this slave trade.”
Greece also wants more support from other EU members and has begun receiving assistance from the bloc’s new border protection agency, Frontex.
“Every day, Greek authorities have to handle the security of 300-400 people seeking a safe destination in Greece,” Citizen’s Protection Minister Michalis Chryssochoides said. “We lack sufficient infrastructure, funds and cross-border cooperation.”
Some 5,500 people were detained on Lesvos in the first eight months of this year, compared to more than 13,000 in 2008.
Often fleeing war zones in Asia and Africa, the migrants pay thousands of dollars to smuggling gangs for a long and perilous journey to the west. Accidents at sea are frequent, while migrants trying to enter by land from Turkey face border minefields that have claimed at least 82 lives since 1994.
A spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday’s drownings showed that migrants from war-torn countries are not deterred by strict anti-migration policies.
“As long as there are wars and violations of human rights, people will continue to be desperate and risk their lives,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman Ketty Kehagioglou said.
Kehagioglou urged the government to improve the screening process for asylum seekers and create better migrant holding facilities.
She said UNCHR officials who visited the Pagani center on Lesvos last weekend saw some 700 people held in “appalling, outrageous” conditions.
“In one ward, there were more than 200 women and children with only 2 toilets,” Kehagioglou said. “Their mattresses were soiled with water from the toilets and the smell was unbearable.”
The Socialist government, elected three weeks ago, has pledged to improve migrants’ rights.
Associated Press Writer Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki contributed to this report.
Posts Tagged ‘Afghan women’
Posted by clandestina on 27 October 2009
Posted by clandestina on 11 October 2009
Toddler behind barsIssue No. 13358
Her parents, undocumented migrants from Afghanistan, were arrested in Greece and sentenced for forgery and immigration violations. They had illegally entered the country last year and were caught trying to leave on forged passports.
A court in Kilkis, a town in central Macedonia, sentenced the couple to six months in prison and fined them 3,000 euros. The sentence was indefinitely suspended on the grounds they would be deported.
This was in December 2008. They are still awaiting deportation.
They are still behind bars. To be deported, they need passports, which they do not have. This is why Rozita and her mother, Zahra, remain locked up.
Rozita is with her mother in a women’s prison in Thiva, about 50km outside Athens. The father is being held in a separate facility. Over the past 10 months, mother and daughter have been shuttled around the country: from a jail in Kilkis to a detention facility in Thessaloniki and the Korydalos prison in Athens.
According to Electra Koutra, an Athens lawyer and founder of the non-governmental organisation Hellenic Action for Human Rights, the family was unlawfully denied a lawyer and interpreter when they first appeared before the Kilkis court.
A second judicial blow came last week when a court in Thiva rejected a petition to release Rozita and her mother on the grounds they are seeking asylum in Greece and do not pose a threat to public order. The court rejected their petition and ruled they must remain in prison until deported.
“Not only is it inhuman to keep a child locked up, but it’s also a gross violation of human rights,” Koutra tells the Athens News. “The little girl came down with scabies and is always getting sick. She had to be taken to hospital twice.”
If mother and daughter are not immediately released, Koutra warns the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.
According to Asan Sukuri, president of the local Afghan association Noor, Zahra’s life is in danger if she is returned to Afghanistan because she belongs to the Hazara ethnic minority group. He also said she is from a region that is under Taliban control.
Sukuri says he told the Thiva court that if the mother and daughter were released they would be hosted by relatives legally residing in Greece and that his association would help them find employment while their application for asylum is being processed. The court denied his proposal.
“Zahra cries all the time when we speak on the telephone,” Sukuri told the Athens News on September 29. “She cries and tells me that she cannot stand the situation any more. She has been in prison for almost a year. Something needs to be done.”
Asylum in Greece
Greece has one of the lowest refugee recognition rates in the European Union. Last year, Greece granted refugee status to 379 people out of nearly 20,000 applications reviewed.
By law, authorities must process all claims for asylum immediately. Asylum seekers should be fingerprinted and issued a so-called pink card (rose karta).
Holders of this card are entitled to free medical treatment and the right to employment. Authorities, by law, have three months to examine the asylum claim and render a decision. This is seldom the case.
New legislation passed in July has severely undermined the appeals procedure, according to local and international human rights groups like Amnesty International and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).
The new rules force rejected asylum seekers to take their case to the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court. This requires them to hire a lawyer – something which few can afford.
Greece has faced a barrage of Europe-wide criticism since November 2007 when the German non-governmental organisation Pro Asyl published a shocking report accusing the Greek coastguard of “systematically abusing newly-arrived refugees”.
Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: Afghan Refugees, Afghan women, asylum, Athens, Central Macedonia, deportations, detention, families, Greece, imprisonment, Kilkis, Korydallos prison, minors, system of (in)justice, Thessaloniki, toddlers | Leave a Comment »
Posted by clandestina on 26 August 2009
THE SITUATION IN GENERAL
According to an “Eleftherotypia” newspaper article, 3.000 refugees are detained in police detentions spaces (in the prison cells of police departments) and 3.000 more in dtetention centers. The detention center conditions, which are even more unbearable due to seasonal heat, could only be described as hellish during August due to the the inhumane overcrowding, which is now the situation at Greece’s mainland detention spaces as well. This has been described as unprecedented, with the facilities with no exception now being 50% over their capacity. Detainees are constantly being transferred from one detention space to the next, but constant “sweep operations” have gradually filled all premises. According to leaks, there are also some “informal” detentions spaces running. The only strategy of the pertinent ministry of interior is actually summary expulsions of refugees to Turkey.
The minister and deputy minister of interior are said to be in political rivalry, and their urge to meet with the “message of the euroelections”, the cleansing of Athens and urban centers of immigrants, has clashed with coordination problems and the lack of any realistic plan for “reception centers”, at the expense of refugees’ treatment of course, as described above. The minister is said to follow a plan of constucting four camps until the end of the year, the deputy minister two camps as early as mid September.
The situation is believed to worsen by the end of August when the new law which denies refugees to lodge an appeal for rejected asylum applications will be put in effect, opening thus the way for the deportation thus thousands of refugees whose applications are now pending.
“Now you will die!”: Coast Guard attempt to drown asylum-seekers in Lesbos
Coast guard of Lesbos tied 12 Somali immigrants in an inflatable boat and then pierced its sides with knives in order to drown the helpless asylum seekers who were saved by passing cruise boat
The Coast Guard of Lesbos Island has been accused of attempting to mass murder 12 Somali asylum seekers, amongst which one woman. According to the case, on the 5th of July an Austrian European border Frontex Helicopter spotted an inflatable boat containing the 12 immigrants off Korakas Cape in Lesbos.
Upon the arrival of the Greek Coast Guard, the helicopter left, leaving the Greek cops to arrest the 12. The Coast Guard took the 12 out of their boat, tied their hands to their necks, beat them, and put them back in the inflatable boat before piercing its sides with knives. Then they let the boat go to the open sea telling the asylum seekers in English: “Now you will die!”.
Immediately the boat started getting water in, and sinking. The asylum seekers were saved from certain drowning when a British cruise boat passed by, saw them and saved them. The asylum seekers were then taken to Pagani detention camp on Lesbos from where they contacted the UN through a sympathetic lawyer. The Coast Guard adding insult to harm has called the UN law suit against them an act of provocation.
4 Iraqis on hunger strike in Arta
In Arta, a town in north-western Greece of 25.000, four Iraqis went on hunger strike on the 9th of July, while another four Albanians are expecting for their asylum requests to be examined. The immigrants are not being accused of any crime, yet they have been locked up in a dirty and crowded cell at the police station for over two weeks, depending only on the good will of the police officers to leave the cell. The Iraqis, considerably weakened by the hunger strike and the conditions of detention, have even abstained from requesting political asylum and are hoping their hunger strike will help accelerate the process leading to their release and administrative deportation.
THE IMMEDIATE LEGACY OF THE PATRAS EVICTION: 23 immigrants on hunger strike in Agrinion
source: athens indymedia
On the 11 July 2009, the Patras TV channel “superb” broadcasted a live interview of the president of the police officers’ Union of Agrinion, a town of 100.000 inhabitants in Western Greece. The officer stated that 23 of 26 immigrants who had been arrested after the complete demolition of the 15-year-old refugee settlement in Patras by the authorities, and had then been transferred to the police headquarters in Agrinion, have now started a hunger strike. (The remaining three immigrants had been released.)
All 23 of the detainees (Somalis and Afghanis) were reported to be suffering contageous diseases, (mainly tuberculosis and scabs) yet were still being kept in jail instead of being taken to a hospital for proper care. The guards refused to go near them for fear of becoming infected and had therefore arranged for the immigrants to have direct access to the toilets. The police officers’ union president added that the immigrants had been offered to be returned to their countries on the expense of the Greek State but they had all declined.
A month later, on the 12th of August, four of the immigrants were transferred to the hospital, where they joined another four immigrants-hunger strikers who had been transferred there the previous day. All eight of them are in a critical condition. The original 23 immigrants were still refusing food until the 20th of August, when six of them were transferred to an unknown destination. 17 immigrants are now being detained in Agrinio, accepting water and food and awaiting the State’s decision about their fate.
Hunger Strike in Pagani, Lesvos
source and much material and updates at http://lesvos09.antira.info/
Published on 20. August 2009,
On 18th of August 2009, 160 unaccompanied minors detained in Pagani detention centre went on hunger strike to demand their immediate freedom. All of them are detained in just one room, where they share one toilet, many need to sleep on the floor due to lack of beds. Some of the minors are only eight or nine years old. 50 of them have been detained for over 2 months, the others have been in Pagani for several weeks already. The detention of minors is illegal under greek law.
Today, 150 people from a local solidarity movement and antiracist groups here to prepare the noborder camp took to the detention centre to show solidarity and support for their demand for immediate freedom. On arrival, the detained persons started shouting “freedom, freedom”, which was answered by the demonstaration. Messages in English and Farsi were read out as the migrants inside passed letters with their demands and concerning their situation to the outside.
All participants of the demonstration were severly shocked in the light of the unbearable conditions in Pagani. We learnt of a 13-year-old boy inside Pagani who was extremely sick and in urgent need of medical attention for two days already. However, none of the authorities responsible acted. It was only when we called an ambulance it was possible to transport the sick boy to the hospital. We also learnt of a heavily pregnant woman in a very bad health state. She however refused to be brought to the hospital since she didn’t want to leave her other two little children alone in Pagani.
We left with the promise to come back soon and to spread the information about these obvious human rights abuses worldwide and went to the city to confront the attorney responsible with his neglect in taking care of the minors he is in charge of.
One letter we received reads:
We are having hardship times in this worst jail, more than three months in a bad situation, without any supporters except you. The police refuses or rejects to explain our bad situation in this bad jail. We are more than 1.000 prisoners, ladies, guys as well as lots of children. So as a conclusion, please do whatever you can. We are waiting a lot from you, we need our freedom as well as our rights.
Best regards, prisoners
Samos Hunger Strike: almost 600 Samos immigrants go on hunger strike over transfers, expulsions
The recent government policy of moving illegal immigrants to reception centers in northern Greece before expelling them from the country ran into more trouble yesterday, as 580 migrants being held on Samos went on hunger strike to protest the measure.
The migrants’ complaints were prompted by an attempt by authorities to remove 26 illegal immigrants from the island on Tuesday so that they could be transferred to another center in northern Greece.
Authorities have recently attempted to crack down on illegal immigration by stepping up the number of expulsions, while also taking into custody migrants squatting or renting accommodation in run-down buildings in Athens.
The practice of transferring migrants to northern Greece has, in recent weeks, met with the opposition of human rights campaigners who have attempted to prevent the operations from taking place.
Yesterday’s protest came as sources revealed to Kathimerini that one in three applications made this year to remain here by the families of migrants living legally in Greece will be rejected.
Sources said that some 9,000 applications had been made but that in some 3,000 cases, the requests would be turned down because the migrant who is the main breadwinner in the family was not earning enough money.
According to Greek law, for a migrant’s family to be allowed to remain in Greece, the head of the family must declare an income that is 20 percent more than that of an unskilled laborer, which amounts to 10,200 euros per year before taxes.
Campaigners for migrants’ rights have expressed concern that since, given the current economic conditions, many immigrants’ incomes do not reach this level, their wives and children will be deemed to be living here illegally.
The Interior Ministry said that migrants can appeal any decision to deport their families and instead of a residence permit will be issued with a document confirming their legal status (“veveosi”) that will then be renewed every six months until their case is heard.
Deaths in Kos and Igoumenitsa
|07/08/09||Greece||Body found at Igoumenitsa port. He sneaked onto a truck believing it was about to board a ferry for Italy and he died after he jumped off when it appears that the truck was headed for mainland Greece|
|13/08/09||Greece||Two bodies were recovered from the sea off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Kos while another three people were reported to be missing
Children in prison in Thessaloniki
August 12, 2009
Two little girls from Afghanistan were among the immigrants detained in the Border Guard Station of Kordelio outside Thessaloniki. 8 year old Narges and 2 year old Farzona were arrested with their parents trying to board on forged documents on a plane to Stuttgart. Although the public prosecutor decided that the family should be trialed in October 2010, the police arrested them and detained the father and the rest of the family in different police prison spaces. In the mean time the police decision for their deportation was issued. Fortunately the next day a court decision ordered their release and their transfer to an NGO managed reception center.
Posted in uncategorized | Tagged: Afghan immigrants, Afghan women, Agrinion, Arta, border war, Central Greece, deportations, detention, hunger strike, Igoumenitsa, immigrant abuse, Ipeirus, Iraqi Immigrants, Kos island, Lesvos, NGOs, Pagani, Pakistani immigrants, police, port & coast police, Samos, Somali immigrants, Thessaloniki, Turkey | Leave a Comment »