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  • Brune Bušića 42, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
  • areyousyrious@gmail.com
  • Brune Bušića 42, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
  • areyousyrious@gmail.com

AYS Daily News Digest 18.08.17: “Defend Europe” fascists defeated, but the threat is far from over

Single refugee father with sick boy seeking home in Adana // Syrian family with small children jailed pending deportation to Turkey // Bulgaria asks for 600 heavily militarized troops on their border // Solidarity encampment in Central Stockholm continues to draw attention // Witness testimony suggests collaboration between Libyan military and smugglers // The flow of refugees into Spain continues to grow


The boats affiliated with “Defend Europe” a far-right xenophobic organization, have drawn quite a bit of attention in the last few months. The group, whose stated mission was to keep boats from reaching Europe, has announced that their mission is coming to a close. Even as they frame their exit as having completed their goals, the truth of the matter is that the mission was a failure from the get-go, and has been marred by controversies and mishaps from the very beginning.

Their boat was detained several times, first in Egypt and later on Cyprus, their fundraising mediums were taken offline, and they became embroiled in a people smuggling controversy when several crew members of Sri-Lankan origin on board the ship applied for asylum and many of the crew were arrested. When in the beginning of August the group headed towards Libya to begin their stated mission of patrolling the seas, local fishermen learned of their plot and organized to keep the ship from leaving port. Perhaps most embarrassingly for the group, on August 11 their ship suffered a technical malfunction and they were saved by an NGO performing refugee rescues in the Mediterranean. When on August 17 several NGOs successfully petitioned Maltese authorities to prevent the Defend Europe ship from docking in their ports, the organizers were forced to announce the end to their mission.

Even as this entire saga is funny in a very perverse sense, and the supporters of refugee rights have scored a victory, one must not jump to celebrate too soon. Although this pack of buffoons failed in their mission, their supporters have not gone anywhere. They are still going strong, and they will regroup sometime in the future having learned from this failed experiment’s mistakes. The battle has been won but the war continues, and a strong vigilance will continue to be necessary to all fascist threats which may arise in the near future.


Syrian refugee father in desperate need of a new home in Adana

A father of a young boy with cardiovascular problems who will be undergoing surgery soon is in need of a new home. His current residence is far too dark and damp for the health of the boy, who needs a better environment for recuperating from his procedures. However, the father has no choice but to stay there. If you know of a place, please Rehana Flowerinjannah on Facebook.

The father and his son


Some new arrivals who landed on Lesvos this morning. Photo Credit: Boat Report — Lesvos

Syrian refugees and their children jailed

After their asylum application was rejected, a Syrian refugee family living on Chios has been detained and jailed pending their deportation to Turkey. The family was arrested around noon on Thursday. With them are their young children, aged 7, 5, and 2 years old.

To quote the Chios Solidarity group, “we are asking for the immediate release of children and their parents, we call for the intervention of every competent body, local and nationwide, for this, and we are afraid — for all the relevant cases we will see in the future, as the ‘application’ of the inhuman agreement of the EU is Turkey.”

Newest statistics show an upward trend in the number of unaccompanied child minors receiving protection

The newest report by EKKA shows that there has been a slight upward trend in the number of unaccompanied child refugees receiving protective custody in Greece. But even as this constitutes an improvement, there remain nearly 1,500 unaccompanied child refugees who remain outside of the purview of the authorities. 1,473 are currently on a waiting list for accommodation, vying for 1,228 spaces in UAC shelters.

Ellinikon Warehouse in Athens is in desperate need of donations. Volunteers also welcome

The Ellinikon Warehouse distributes food and other essentials to more than 5,000 refugees around Athens. They are seeking to expand their zone of operations beyond Athens and to stock warehouses on the islands. All goods may be delivered in the name of Sotiris Alexopoulos at the following address.

Old Athens Airport,
Elliniko, basketball stadium,
Pampiraiki warehouse
(Olympic airways entrance on the coastal road)
26 Posidonos Avenue,
16 777, Greece.

A full list of necessary items may be found here.

It should also be noted that the Pampiraiki group, which administers the warehouse, is in need of both long term and short term volunteers to help with the sorting and distribution of goods. You may inquire by sending them an email at pampiraiki@gmail.com.

Volunteer driver needed on Chios

Refugee Biriyani and Bananas is seeking a volunteer driver available from August 28 to September 3. The person must pay for their own costs of travel and accommodation, as well as the car fee and the price of gas. Please contact the Facebook page if you are able to commit.


A boat landed on the southern coast of Lesvos this morning. On board were 37 refugees, 11 women, 13 men, and 13 children, all of whom arrived safely.

A total of 1,421 refugees and migrants crossed the islands of the northern Aegean from August 1 until today, Thursday, August 17, morning. Of these, 394 passed to Lesvos, 458 to Chios and 569 to Samos.

It is worth mentioning that, according to Turkish Coast Guard information published on its official website, during the same period, they intervened in 32 incidents and returned to the Turkish coasts 1,265 people heading to the Greek islands.

According to the Ministry of Interior’s National Coordination Center for Border Control, Immigration and Asylum, which today announces, instead of the General Police Directorate of the North Aegean, the details of the remaining refugees and immigrants in the islands of the northern Aegean, In reception and identification centers (CTCs) and other structures, lived a total of 10,327 people who waited for an asylum application they had submitted. Of these, 4.780 in Lesvos, 2.924 in Chios and 2.623 in Samos.

Particularly note, according to the above, the explosive situation in Moria’s KYT in Lesvos and Samos. In Moria where the capacity is for 2,330 people, there are 3,502. While in Samos, with a capacity of 700 people, they live at 1.984. Much better is the situation in the HFC in Chalkios, Chios, which has a capacity of 1,100 people, while it is 838.

In the municipal camp of Kara Tepe of Mytilene, 742 people live, while the settlement of Chios in Souda seems to be driving in the ditch of the city’s castle, where more than 330 people are officially staying, and construction demolitions have begun.


Bulgarian government demands that the EU send troops to its borders

Bulgarian defense minister Krasimir Karakachanov said that Bulgaria needed 600 soldiers to patrol its borders from intrusion by refugees, including “highly specialized fighting troops.” “We should deploy NATO or EU forces in Italy and Greece and defend the external borders of the European Union by force of arms if necessary,” he added. Among the minister’s other suggestions has been that the border be monitored by drones.

Bulgaria is known for its strong anti-refugee position. Between January 1 and July 31 of this year, 561 refugees received asylum in the country, and 683 received humanitarian protection. All in all, Bulgaria grants protection to approximately one third of applicants, two times more than Hungary but still below other countries such as Greece.


Medborgarplatsen solidarity encampment is still going strong

Mina Muzafari is a teenage girl who has been taking part in the demonstrations. Photo Credit: Ung i Sverige

“I want to stay of several reasons. I’m Hazara (the most oppressed and vulnerable group in Afghanistan), I’m a teenage girl and I could be married away. Why would you send me to death, to violence, to discrimination? Why do we as refugees not have the right to live in peace and security?” said Mina Muzafari, a refugee girl when asked about her participation in the protests.

Right wing organizations will be protesting tomorrow at the very same place as Ung i Sverige and the Afghan youths stood today. They have official permission to do so, since the police and responsible institutions didn’t see on what grounds they could be stopped. This is a country of free speech, they pretty much motivates this kind of decisions with.

106 year old woman’s asylum application rejected

Bibihal Uzbeki is a 106 year old woman who became famous in 2015 after being interviewed in a Croatian refugee camp. The reason? The woman, travelling with her family, is seemingly the oldest refugee in the world. Originally from Kunduz, the family was forced to leave their homes as a result of the violence which has engulfed Afghanistan for nearly 40 years. But even her fame was not enough to save Bibihal, who is now at risk of deportation. The decision is being appealed by her legal representative.


New housing structures built in San Ferdinando

Today the foreign seasonal workers in Gioia Tauro Plain can avail a new structure for temporary hosting. The people in San Ferdinando will be shifted in the new tent camp realized under the coordination of the prefecture. This comes from an agreement among the local administrations, Caritas and Red Cross, along with Emergency and MEDU. The new structure will host 550 people, it is endowed with great hygienic, security and service conditions. The structure will be guarded, while the old San Ferdinando camp will be dismantled, to prevent further informal settling from the seasonal workers.

The mayors of the area are working on solutions of widespread receiving for them. Another meeting with the syndicates aims to make sure the foreign workers are properly informed on the use of the new area. However, according to organization for the coordination of agricultural works, this is “the nth ghettoization”, since the workers have not been consulted during the agreement, since “according to ISTAT, the hosting structures already exist, and the workers could find decent conditions without burdening on the community”. The requests from the workers are a) to be sure all 2,000 workers in the area can be hosted; b) autonomy in the use of the kitchen facilities; c) freedom of access and creation of socializing spaces, preventing the use of devices damaging the dignity of the people; d) a permanent round table on the housing stability and the respect of the contract conditions.

Meanwhile in San Ferdinando-Rosarno, a de-facto ghetto, negotiations are happening between the African agricultural workers and the police. The workers ask for a housing solution that is not a new tent camp. The police replies by militarizing the whole industrial area.


Tent collection to take place on Monday

The V Festival, a music festival in Britain which attracts large crowds, will be the target of an NGO on Monday. Volunteers will be on site in Monday August 21 from 1pm to 2pm to collect tents and sleeping bags for refugees in need. Refugees in northern France are in great need of this and many more as a result of constant police raids, during which they are harassed, chased away, and have their property confiscated, including tents and sleeping bags. As a result of this, thousands of refugees are forced to sleep under an open sky regardless of the weather. If you are in the general vicinity of Essex and have anything that you would be able to donate, it would be of great help.


Refugee sheds light on collaboration between Libyan coast guard and smugglers

As AYS had reported last week, the loyalties of the Libyan coast guard are questionable, with the country embroiled in a long-standing civil war in which several governments vie for power, the western-backed “Unity government” is quite weak and often relies on the help of local militias to maintain any semblance of control. Many in the Libyan coast guard currently being trained by the EU to cap the refugee flow across the Mediterranean are themselves militias who are affiliated with very dark practices, namely keeping “rescued” refugees in makeshift camps that are simply not suitable for life.

One recent refugee, Ghanim from Sudan, told representatives of SOS Méditerranée that the camp in which he was being held was being administered by a high ranking official in the military who would decide when departures would take place. If this is true, it speaks to an unimaginable level of corruption and a massive failure in the EU’s part. In effect, this constitutes the EU funding people linked to smugglers in as part of their project to crack down on smugglers.


Arrivals to Spain continue to intensify, 920 saved in last 48 hours

Salvamento Marítimo, the Spanish governmental institution responsible of saving lives in the sea, rescued 601 persons on Wednesday, making it the busiest day of 2017. An additional 319 were rescued on Thursday.

This year thus far, more than 9000 persons have arrived to Spain, which is more than the total number of arrivals in 2016. 9% of them are children, according to UNICEF. According to the IOM, Spain is now going through the same situation that Greece and Italy experienced in 2015, and UNHCR has already pointed out that Spain lacks the resources and capacity to protect the rising number of refugees and migrants arriving.