In a distressing post, Alarm Phone revealed that on August 31 they received a call from a boat carrying 38 people, the engine of which had stopped working and who were now at the whim of the sea. Alarm Phone first notified the Spanish coastguard at 11:00am, and when the situation became truly desperate, the Moroccan coastguard was contacted an hour later. Both coastguards refused to heed the organization’s call while dozens of people were stranded.
The Spanish coastguard only took the situation seriously after Alarm Phone contacted NGOs to get word out about the situation. Finally, the Spanish coastguard sent out a helicopter at 8pm to search for the boat, and once it was located, they claimed that the rescue operation will begin at 10:30. Nearly an hour later however, the refugees were still at sea and their boat was deflating, giving cause for alarm. The refugees were finally rescued by the Moroccan coastguard around midnight.
Although this case thankfully ended with the refugees in safety, it very easily could have gone the other way because of the authorities’ foot dragging. This incident reflects very poorly on both Spain and Morocco, two countries which have already amassed a reputation for negligence towards refugee populations. It is very important that these two countries as well as others take this incident as an example of what not to do, for it truly is an example of sheer luck that nobody was harmed despite the grave negligence.
For about a week now, a group of refugees (predominantly from Afghanistan) residing in Moria camp have been protesting on the island of Lesvos. Among the refugees demands are the expedition of their asylum applications, an end to deportations, and freedom of movement to the Greek mainland. Creating quite a stir, many attended the protest wearing T-shirts on which their date of arrival was written. Some claimed that they had been on the island for more than a year, and demanded that the situation be rectified.
After three days of protests and occupations, on August 30, authorities had promised the demonstrators that their demands will be fulfilled once they return to the camp, and that asylum cases would be decided by September 1. Authorities still have not given word of their plans yet, and many are threatening to reoccupy Sappho Square in Mytilene. Lesvos has long been overwhelmed by the number of refugees forcibly kept on the island, as according to UNHCR there are currently over 5,000 refugees trapped on Lesvos. This overcrowding is the result of continuous arrivals in conjunction with the failures of the Greek bureaucracy to process cases speedily.
Khora is going to be teaching English, Greek, German, and French to refugees once more. Classes are set to begin on September 11. For more information, please see the below message:
Khora (Asklipiou 80, Athens) will be starting its next cycle of language classes on September 11. We offer classes in Greek, English, German, and French at a variety of levels. We will be signing up new students the week of SEPTEMBER 4. To sign up, students must:
GREEK: Come to Khora between 14:00 and 15:00 the week of September 4 and talk with the Greek teacher.
ENGLISH and GERMAN: Come to Khora as soon as possible to get an assessment appointment. We strongly encourage students to get an appointment for their assessments. We will still assess students who don’t have an appointment, but we can’t guarantee there will be room for them to be assessed, and they may have to wait.
English and German assessments will be held Monday September 4-Wednesday September 6 on the following schedule:
10:00–12:00 Women Only assessments
12:00–15:00 Mixed Gender assessments by appointment
FRENCH: Come Monday September 11 at 14:00 and talk with the French Teachers.
10 refugees escaped from a the Amygdaleza detention camp, located north of Athens, on Friday. The refugees were staying in a section of the camp designated for people who had voluntarily agreed to return to their country of origin. Five have been arrested, and the police are continuing to search for the rest.
Volunteers needed A.S.A.P. to join our land crew team.
We are a spotting team carrying on three main task: -boat spotting during the day. -boat spotting during the night and support in stage 2 temporary camp.
To be eligible to work with us you need: -good eye sight, -be able to communicate in english, -driving license (not mandatory).
Please watch this video to get a better idea of what we do, how we work and how we enjoy our time off! : https://www.facebook.com/RefugeeRescueUK/videos/1472040412863404/
You can find more info and the application form here: http://www.refugeerescue.co.uk/land-crew/
Hope to see you soon!
Refugee Rescue Field Coordinator
On Monday, the Camp Filipiada shop run by Refugee Support Greece will launch its new token system. Each week, tokens will be distributed to refugees living in the camp, who will in turn proceed to trade in these tokens for goods at the store. The video below demonstrates the system in action.
No Border Kitchen has won accolades for its important work feeding refugees, ensuring that nobody goes hungry when Greek authorities fail to provide adequate, nutritious food in the overcrowded and understaffed camps of the Aegean islands. The organization’s work is not limited to food preparation however, and many of its members take an active part in political organizing. If you can commit to at least two weeks of work and would like to volunteer to ensure that nobody goes hungry, please contact No Border Kitchen through their Facebook page or by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emergency Response Center International, or ERCI for short, has been performing rescue operations off the coast of Lesvos for some time now. Today they were the sole organization performing rescues in the area, as the above video shows. You may help the organization continue its important work by donating at the link below.
Artists in Transit hopes to fill in a need that many people have that go beyond the basic essentials of life, such as food, shelter, and proper hygiene. But even if all of these things are provided, for some people, a life without art seems dull. And so, the organization will be running workshops from the 21st-26th of September, as well as the 28th of September through to the 3rd of October. Among the options offered are green screen media workshops, printing, painting, and crafts, as well as other things. To learn more, please visit their Facebook page.
The European Commission has decisively denied Hungarian demands of funding to build fences along its borders with Serbia and Croatia in a bid to stem the flow of refugees into the country. Hungarian PM Viktor Orban had asked that the EU cover half of the 800 million Euro sum that Hungary has spent militarizing its border as a show of solidarity, saying that Hungary played a crucial role in ‘protecting’, “all of Europe against the flood of illegal migrants.” EU Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein responded by saying that, “is a two-way street, and all member states should be ready to contribute. This is not some sort of a la carte menu where you pick one dish,” referring to Hungary’s failure to meet its obligations under refugee relocation programs.
Although the EU Commission refuses to pay for physical barriers erected on the border however, they are more than content to finance surveillance equipment along the border.
Médecins du monde has published an article about the situation in Paris. They state that, since the last eviction at Porte de la Chapelle, the police maintains constant presence during the day trying to disperse the refugees and make them disappear. Refugees are constantly on the move, and have to hide to sleep. It’s difficult for them get access to care. Their primary needs are not met, as the distribution of meals is interrupted regularly. The van of Médecins du monde providing medical care have to leave their place regularly — authorities want to discourage any form of “settlement”. Médecins du monde requests that authorities stop the practice of this hunt on migrants, to open unconditional reception centers in France to protect the rights of the migrants, and to develop the implementation of human politics of migration and integration which protects the right of migrants.
Paris Refugee Ground Support is one of the brave groups who continue to aid refugees who have nowhere to go but the streets of Paris, and you may help them to support these refugees by donating to their fundraiser, linked below.
After relentless public pressure for months on end, the French government’s hand was forced, and a pledge was made to to install public showers for refugees, but the process will take some time. Until those are built, Help Refugees, L’Auberge des migrants, Utopia 56 and Refugees Community Kitchen have launched their mobile showers from a van. The authorities have agreed tolerate this installation so long as it doesn’t cause public disorder.
About 50 migrants tried to take advantage of a traffic jam on the port ring road (Rocade Portuaire) in Calais and tried to climb onto trucks Police came and dispersed them. “our British colleagues had only opened nine out of 14 lines that weekend, 9000 vehicles were expected at Eurotunnel and 7500 at the port.” The police temporarily blocked the highway. The CRS intervened and used treat gas. 3 police officers were injured from stones. Those migrants who managed to climb on the trucks were hunted down by the officers due to drivers signaling them. According to the prefect, these attempts to reach England have become “routine” on days of heavy traffic. They were frequent before the eviction of the Jungle in October 2016. During the night of Friday to Saturday, also 3 blockades of A16 and the ring road (as attempt to stop the trucks) were removed.
Portugal is trying its best to meet the relocation quotas as put forth by the EU. So far, the country has relocated approximately half of the 2,951 asylum seekers that it is required to take in from camps in Greece and Italy, but the demand is low and of those who come, few stay. Over 40 percent of refugees who arrived in Portugal would go on to leave the country within 18 months. In 2015 as the refugee crisis reached its peak, the Portuguese Prime Minister said that the country was capable of supporting up to 10,000 refugees. Later, the country formally agreed to take in 4,600. The country lacks the open racist hostility to refugees found in many other parts of Europe, and yet it is still not a desired destination.
Experts say that the problem is linked to Portugal’s lack of established Arabic-speaking communities, which makes people reluctant to come. Another cause for concern is complications in the delivery of promises made by the Portuguese government as a result of inefficiencies in the bureaucracy. Portugal’s tourist-based economy also means that people who are not proficient in English or Portuguese are at a disadvantage.
A guide for refugees considering relocation to Portugal may be found below.
MEDU has reported on its page that today, 265 migrants were saved over the course of 5 rescue operations. Among them are 42 unaccompanied minors, 10 single women, and three pregnant women. The ethnic composition of the arrivals is very mixed, with nationals hailing from Nigeria, Guinea Conakry, Libya, Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Ethiopia, Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Tunisia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The staff of MSF on board told the medico-psychological team of Medu that many are victims of tortures, rape, sexual violence and trafficking. One woman from Cameroon was taken care of had been raped and violated.