Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘FRONTEX’

Giving back names and dignity to lost migrants

Posted by clandestina on 2 September 2011

Fountain to remember death and missing at the border in Tichero (Northern Greece)

John lost his wife Jane and Tahera her husband Bashir in the Evros River. They represent hundreds of other migrants who drowned in the water, were killed by landmines or are still missing. Their dead bodies were treated disrespectfully: In 2010 we discovered a mass grave in Sidero where the corpses could not be identified. We returned to give back a piece of dignity to the death and also those who survived.

Tichero, 30th of August 2011

We came together today, here on the road to Tichero.

We gathered in Tichero around this fountain for remembering the dead of the European border regime. Read the rest of this entry »

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Frontex first Regional Office to open in Piraeus

Posted by clandestina on 5 February 2010

source kathimerini

Frontex Office to open in Piraeus

The European Union’s border-monitoring agency Frontex is opening its first European regional office in Piraeus, the Citizens’ Protection Ministry said yesterday. According to a statement released by the ministry, the office is being set up in the context of efforts by Greek authorities to intensify border inspections and curb an illegal influx of immigrants. According to Frontex, which has its headquarters in Warsaw, the Aegean is expected to remain the «key point of entrance» for would-be migrants seeking to enter Greece illegally in 2010.

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Expulsions From EU Rise Sharply

Posted by clandestina on 23 January 2010


Expulsions From EU Rise Sharply

David Cronin

BRUSSELS, Jan 22 (IPS) – The number of asylum-seekers and other migrants expelled from the European Union in joint operations between its governments has grown three times in as many years, IPS has learned.

At least 1,570 individuals were removed from the EU’s territory in 31 flights coordinated by the bloc’s external borders agency Frontex between Jan. 1 and Dec. 15 last year. This represented a tripling in joint expulsions – involving authorities from two or more EU states – since 2007. Some 428 migrants were flown out in such operations that year, with the figure rising to over 800 in 2008.

The data – unpublished until now – indicates that Frontex has rapidly stepped up the pace of its activities in the four-and-a-half years since it was founded. And the involvement of the Warsaw-based agency in expelling people who have been denied permission to remain in the EU looks set to increase further.

When the EU’s presidents and prime ministers met in Brussels in late October, they approved a plan to expand the work of Frontex. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has been asked to come forward with proposals early this year to beef up the agency’s powers. The plan foresees that the agency will finance a greater number of chartered flights for expulsions and cooperate more closely with countries from which migrants trying to enter Europe originate.

Organisations working with asylum-seekers are perturbed that Frontex is acquiring greater resources and responsibility without being required to demonstrate that fundamental human rights are safeguarded during its activities.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch drew attention to how Frontex has helped the Italian authorities expel migrants to Libya, without giving them an opportunity to apply for asylum.

In June last year, Frontex coordinated Operation Nautilus, in which a boat carrying an estimated 75 migrants was intercepted off the Italian coast. Using a German Puma helicopter, the operation was the first of its kind in which Frontex succeeded in forcing migrants from the central Mediterranean Sea back to Libya.

Titled ‘Pushed Back, Pushed Around’, the Human Rights Watch report stated that Frontex was unable to give guarantees that Libya had allowed the migrants to apply for asylum. All individuals are entitled to seek asylum from persecution in a country other than their own under the United Nations’ 61- year-old Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Bill Frelick, a campaigner on asylum issues with Human Rights Watch, said he was concerned that Frontex is being given a bigger role in expulsions and that its future operations will needed to be carefully scrutinised.

Bjarte Vandvik, director of the European Council for Refugees and Exile, a group defending the rights of asylum-seekers, said that whenever an individual is removed from the EU, the principle of “non-refoulement” must be respected. A key tenet of international refugee law, non-refoulement means that nobody should be sent to a country where he or she will be at risk of persecution.

“Frontex as an EU agency continues to struggle with issues of transparency and accountability,” said Vandvik. “It is not clear how Frontex will put in place procedures for returns (of migrants) that guarantee non-refoulement, that can be independently monitored and are safe, dignified and humane. The mandated powers and allocated budget of Frontex are expanding fast but the systems for accountability and compliance with international and EC (European Community) legal obligations are not.”

A Frontex spokeswoman said that it is not the agency’s task to monitor if human rights law is respected. “Our role is limited to coordination,” the spokeswoman added. “The rules that apply on board the plane depend on the (EU) member state owning the plane. There is a system of checks and balances in the member states. For example, Austria always requires that there is a human rights observer on board the plane.”

Philip Amaral, a policy officer with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Brussels, said that Frontex staff should be given proper training to ensure that asylum law is upheld in their operations and that the basic needs of migrants are met.

“Our primary concern with Frontex is that its activities are quite obscure,” said Amaral. “We’re always strongly arguing for increased European Parliament monitoring over Frontex, especially now that it’s foreseen that its role will be enlarged. There should be a level of monitoring to make sure that asylum- seekers and migrants have access to asylum procedures and that they are not being sent back (to another country) right away.”

Frontex previously aroused the ire of human rights workers in 2008 when it emerged that guns were pointed directly at migrants who landed in Italy during an operation in which the agency had participated. Giusto Catania, an Italian member of the European Parliament, described the use of weapons in this way as a “real scandal”. (EU/AF/IP/HD/PR/MI/DC/SS/10) (END/2010)

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Greece and France ask for more FRONTEX… on “humanitarian reform” background.

Posted by clandestina on 21 January 2010

These are only fragments of the way Greek government tries to divide and control immigrants  through integration carrots for long-residing and zero-tolerance-for-illegals stick.


Franco-Greek immigrant plan

Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and France’s Minister of Immigration and Integration Eric Besson yesterday sent a joint letter to the Spanish government, which currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, proposing an upgrade in the powers of the EU’s border-monitoring agency Frontex to crack down on illegal immigration.

The proposals listed in the letter, sent to Spanish authorities ahead of an informal summit of EU interior ministers due to start in Toledo today, include “closer operational cooperation between Frontex and migrants’ countries of origin and transit countries.” The Franco-Greek initiative also proposes “the examination of the possibility of regular chartered return flights at the expense of Frontex.” […].


Premier heralds new asylum agency

Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday heralded the creation of a new independent agency for the processing of thousands of immigrants’ asylum claims during talks with visiting United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

Papandreou reassured Guterres that the new agency would offer protection to those who need it but stressed that Greek authorities would intensify their crackdown on migrants entering the country illegally for the good of the country and the European Union. “It is certain that the potential of Europe and Greece to receive and integrate [migrants] is limited,” Papandreou said. The prime minister also stressed the importance of the “cooperation of countries bordering the EU… to ensure that those who are really in need are protected while reducing the burden faced by EU member states.” The two men reportedly discussed the role of Turkey in this regard. In a related development yesterday, Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said that he and his French counterpart Brice Hortefeux would tomorrow unveil a joint initiative aimed at “urging Turkey into respecting the agreements that it has signed.” The premier also briefed Guterres on a government bill, to be submitted in Parliament by next week, that aims to grant citizenship to tens of thousands of migrants living and working legally in Greece and to their children.

Guterres welcomed the news about the bill and the establishment of a new asylum-processing agency, noting that these measures would “secure human rights and social cohesion in Greece.” He added that he understood the need for Greece to conduct tighter border checks but remarked that “migration is a matter of human rights as well as national security protection.”

A working committee – comprising experts from the Citizens’ Protection, Interior and Health ministries, the UNHCR and a string of nongovernmental organizations – yesterday proposed that the separation of migrants meriting refugee status from economic migrants be carried out in special reception centers. These “first stop” centers are to be set up in due course though it is unclear where they will be located.

Apart from the claims for asylum being lodged by new migrants arriving in Greece daily, the new agency has some 44,500 applications that are pending.

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From Anti-Immigrant Summer to Zero Tolerance on Election Bait 

Posted by clandestina on 20 December 2009

Text in Greek available here.

On the occasion of the International Migrants Day

From Anti-Immigrant Summer to Zero Tolerance on Election Bait

Just over a month and half ago Prime Minister Papandreou used the Global Forum on Immigration & Development proceedings in Athens to sketch government measures which would stand for a humanitarian turn compared to the policies and situation of the recent months .  He described as necessary

“[T]o stimulate the participation of immigrants in the political life of the country, through the possibility of Greek citizenship acquisition, particularly of course for the so-called ‘second generation’, in which we are suggesting the acquisition of citizenship by birth for the new person born in our territory.”

For people in Greece, though, the announcement of the Secretary for Home Affairs Theodora Tzakri two weeks later, which made clear that Greek citizenship would be granted only to children born to legal immigrants, came as no surprise.

The doctrine of “Zero tolerance to illegal migration” goes hand in hand with this government’s humanitarian turn… As for what this turn is all about, it aims at incorporating immigrants mostly from Albania, after two decades of overexploitation, and in exchange for votes. A phony exchange indeed.

Along with this, the dividing of immigrants into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘useful’ and ‘superfluous’, ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ becomes more intense, and the system of exploitation grows deeper roots .

As we wrote in our above linked text on the Global Forum on Immigration & Development:

“The aim of developmental policy is to control migration flows (through the FRONTEX patrols and detention centres) as well as to regulate them (through 5-year rotating work permits, the annulment of asylum rights), in order to keep a stable proportion of productive inhabitants within the increasingly ageing, unproductive populations of Europe. In other words, recycling the migrants will keep the indexes of development in check, development being the systematic and bloodthirsty pillage of lives and resources, time and space.

According to the “UN Population Division report on replacement migration”, if the Europeans want to keep their ratio of older people to active workers at the 1995 levels, the Union will need 135 million immigrants by 2025.

This demographic issue is only part of the story, and maybe not the most important. Neoliberalization inside Europe has meant a weakened, destabilized labor force. It’s not just that capital wants selected migrants because it needs more workers, it wants migrants because they are powerless, unorganized, low-paid workers for whom there will be no job security, no health care and no pensions.In other words, they are far cheaper and less troublesome workers”.

Illegal immigrants are necessary because through them the rights of the legal ones are suppressed (there is of course rotation of people in these roles). At the same time, illegal immigration helps governments maintain a useful xenophobic atmosphere to impose authoritarian policies. “Migration management” includes both authoritarian hysteria and humanitarian logistics. The two seemingly opposite positions are the two sides of the same coin of subjugation.

So let’s outline against this backdrop the government’s humanitarian turn after the elections of October 2009…

The Doctrine “Insulated Greece”

The new doctrine was introduced by Minister of Citizen Protection (= Public Order) M. Chrisochoïdis on Tuesday, December 15, at his meeting with the FRONTEX Executive Director J.Laitinen.   The construction of the Southeast Mediterranean FRONTEX Headquarters at the U.S. base of Aktion or at Piraeus has been a permanent request of the Greek government, which proudly stated that 75% of illegal entry arrests at the sea borders of EU for this year took place in the Aegean sea.

A few days earlier in the frame of FRONTEX operations (on Saturday, December 12) officers in Samos island, on no notice whatsoever and violently, carried out with utmost secrecy the transfer of over 85 Afghan refugees from the local detention center to the island’s airport at Pythagorio.  There the refugees were boarded on an airplane which departed for an unknown destination.

The slaughter in the Aegean Sea continues

In less than two months, 16 migrants have died in the icy waters of the Aegean. Most of them were children.

  • On Tuesday, October 27, 8 immigrants, three adults and five children, drowned in the east part of the Aegean Sea.
  • On Saturday, November 7, the lifeless bodies of six children from Palestine, aged 2 to 12 years, washed up on shore near Bodrum (Alikarnasos), Turkey.  The boat in which 19 Palestinians – half of them children – squeezed themselves on an effort to pass from the Turkish town of Turgutreis to Kos island overturned 500 meters from the shore.
  • On Friday, December 11, a boat carrying undocumented migrants sank near the island of Leros. Fishermen found 25 migrants perched on a rocky island and two more lifeless bodies in the sea.

Police violence

Incidents of abuse and humiliation by the police amount to dozens, and most of them never reach the public attention. We report the following characteristic cases:

Para-state violence

The para-state mechanism was launched last summer against immigrants and since then it has been working relentlessly despite the supposed change of policy.

Para-state organized violence encourages and feeds the diffuse social one.

  • Thus, on November 8, four immigrants who had been working at olive fields in Messolongi, Western Greece, were attacked with crowbars and clubs and beaten savagely by circa 15 people. The immigrants were transferred to the emergency dept. of the Messolongi hospital. The immigrants had been asking their wages from the owner of the fields in which they had been working.  They were ambushed and beaten in an old warehouse, where they had an appointment with their employer to get their money.

Institutional violence

  • In late November the trial of 25 immigrants (mainly Arabs and one Afghan) took place; they had been arrested during the events of December 2008 and had been detained ever since.  All this period they were considered missing.  All of them were sentenced to imprisonment from 7 months to 3 years.  It is characteristic for the fairness of the trial that only one interpreter had been assigned , who translated simultaneously for 24 defendants who were divided in three groups in the court’s room.  The Afghan who did not understand Arabic was seated on the last bench of the room…
  • On Friday, December 11, in Thessaloniki, a report was issued by the Hellenic League for Human Rights, about the detention centers in Evros and Rodopi.  The survey took place from the 25th to the 29th of November 2009 and states:

In many cases there is inadequate lighting, ventilation and heating (…)  At virtually none of the premises visited have the possibility to go outdoors on some yard. Even in detention centers where there is an adequate yard, the large number of detainees on the one hand and the lack of personnel on the other allows usually only for some prisoners to have outdoor breaks for a minimum period and not on a daily basis (…)  Food in many cases is inadequate, the quantity and quality in general varies (..). The care taken for sanitation and hygiene conditions varies from inexistent to inadequate (…) The availability of medical and nursing staff is poor and at all cases occasional (…) The detainees were in total confusion regarding their rights, the time of their detention and ill-informed as to asylum procedures; interpreters were not available.

December 18, 2009

Clandestina Network

Group of Immigrants and Refugees, Thessaloniki

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EU plans joint ‘charter flights’ to deport immigrants

Posted by clandestina on 5 November 2009


source: EURACTIV

5 November 2009

EU plans ‘charter flights’ to deport illegal immigrants

Published: Wednesday 4 November 2009

EU leaders have for the first time asked for the creation of joint charter flights to deport illegal immigrants. These flights would be financed by Frontex, the European agency in charge of the EU’s external borders.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Frontex, Turkey and a 47% increase in refugee arrests…

Posted by clandestina on 15 October 2009

source: Kathimerini

Frontex seeks Turkish cooperation

A senior official of the European Union’s border-monitoring agency Frontex yesterday said the organization’s efforts to curb a wave of illegal immigrants seeking to enter the bloc through Greece would be much more effective if Turkey were to cooperate.

Addressing reporters in Athens during an official visit, Frontex Deputy Executive Director Gil Arias Fernandez was careful not to condemn Turkey, noting that the role of his organization is to help EU member states monitor their borders, not to apply pressure on transit countries, but he stressed that Turkey’s cooperation “would be very welcome.”

Meanwhile, fresh Frontex statistics revealed a 47 percent increase in detentions of illegal immigrants in the Aegean in the first six months of this year, with 14,000 migrants detained on the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Patmos as compared to 9,500 in the same period of 2008. Statistics for illegal arrivals to Italy and Spain however show a decrease of around 60 percent. Fernandez attributed this dramatic drop partly to the enforcement of repatriation pacts drawn up between Italy and Libya and between Spain and Senegal and to intensified Frontex patrols around the borders of these EU states.

Similar patrols along Greece’s land borders have been effective, Fernandez said, stressing that the islands of the Aegean remained a problem area. The Frontex official said this was partly because of the porous nature of the sea border but also partly because of Turkey’s refusal to honor a bilateral repatriation pact.

Questioned about reports regarding Frontex aircraft in the eastern Aegean receiving warning signals from Turkish radar while conducting patrols, Fernandez stressed that the interception had been unjustified as the organization’s aircraft had not entered Turkish air space. He added that Frontex has invited Turkey to participate in patrols of the Aegean but has never received a positive answer. Of 11,309 appeals lodged by Greece this year for the return of migrants to Turkey, only 108 were approved, Frontex statistics show […].

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New FRONTEX ship in the harbour of Mitilini

Posted by clandestina on 2 August 2009


frontex 2-30.07

a Rumanian ship of FRONTEX is since yeasterday in the harbour of Mitilini ready to  replace the Italian FRONTEX ship that was here last month. you can enjoy both on this picture and also  apreciate how the rumanians pretend to be greenpeace….. For the short period both ships will kollaborate in the greek border , the italian ship will depart on the 5 of august. the rumanian one will stay for one month in the harbour of mitlini.

(informations from the Mitlini newspaper EMBROS 01.08.2009)

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Frontex, the Movie feat. noborder camp in Lesvos 2009

Posted by clandestina on 20 July 2009


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Greek and Italian prime ministers cooperate closely

Posted by clandestina on 16 July 2009


Italy and Greece urge EU to play greater immigration role

Rome – The European Union should seek direct commitments from individual African nations for the repatriation of illegal immigrants, Italian and Greek leaders said Wednesday. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his Greek counterpart Kostas Karamanlis made the remarks at a joint news conference following their talks in Rome.

The 27-member EU as a whole should take responsibility for dealing with the issue of illegal immigration, rather than “individual member states having to reach agreements with those on the African side of the Mediterranean coast,” Berlusconi said.

On Tuesday the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) had criticised both countries for their treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees.

Earlier this month Italy sent back to Libya migrants from Eritrea even though they were in need of asylum, the Geneva-based agency said.

The UNHCR also voiced concern over Greek authorities’ decision to close a makeshift camp hosting hundreds of would-be immigrants in the city of Patros, without however, providing alternative accommodation.

On Wednesday Berlusconi and Karamanlis did not directly address the criticism.

Instead, Karamanlis said Italy and Greece would continue to “cooperate closely,” on illegal immigration and also seek ways to boost the EU’s external border security agency, Frontex, so that it may step up patrols in the Mediterranean.

In May, following the coming into effect of an agreement with Libya, Italy introduced a strict “push-back” policy, to prevent migrants from entering its territory illegally.

Through the agreement, Libya has agreed to prevent the use of its shores for such sea journeys and to accept would-be immigrants intercepted by Italian authorities in international waters.

Rights activists, United Nations officials and the Vatican have all condemned what they say are deportations by Italy done without determining whether the migrants qualify for political asylum.


Greek-Italian push for EU migrant pacts: PMs promote repatriation agreements


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (r) ushers his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis into the Palazzo Chigi in Rome for talks that focused on illegal immigration. The leaders also discussed cooperation in the energy sector, in the proposed ITGI and South Stream gas pipelines, prompting Karamanlis to highlight their ‘strong common interests.’

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi yesterday agreed to promote the creation of a common European policy for curbing a growing tide of illegal immigrants, proposing repatriation pacts between Brussels and the migrants’ states of origin and transit countries.

Speaking after talks in Rome, Karamanlis said that Greek and Italian authorities saw eye-to-eye on many issues relating to illegal immigration. “We agreed to push forward with common initiatives in all directions including the promotion of repatriation agreements between the EU and the countries of origin and transit of the migrants,” Karamanlis said, adding that the role of the EU’s border monitoring agency Frontex should also be boosted.

Berlusconi struck a similar note, calling on all member states to contribute to efforts to make the 27-member EU the “common point of reference” so that repatriation pacts relate to the EU as a whole “rather than individual member states having to reach agreements with those on the African side of the Mediterranean coast.”

Earlier in the week the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) had criticized both Greece and Italy for their treatment of asylum seekers.

The UNHCR expressed concern over the decision by Greek authorities to raze a makeshift settlement in the western port of Patra that, until recently, had hosted hundreds of would-be migrants seeking an opportunity to sneak onto a ferry to Italy.

The United Nations refugee agency has also appealed to Greece to avoid so-called “push-backs” of migrants originating from war zones.

In a related development yesterday, Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis announced that an aircraft had left Athens with 90 would-be migrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hundreds more migrants are believed to have been deported over the past few months.

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