‘Turkey unsafe for refugees’, Greek authorities decide


Syrian refugee on Chios island in Greece and his child, AFP photo

This photo shows a Syrian refugee on Chios island in Greece and his child, expressing despair at the perspective of the European Union-Turkish anti-refugee deal of being sent back to dangerous Turkey.

Refugees from Syria and other countries have known for a long time that their lives are not safe in Turkey. Many Turkish citizens have found out that their lives are not safe under the present Turkish government. The United States government has decided that Turkey is unsafe for United States citizens.

Now, after all European Union politicians’ talk about Erdogan’s Turkey supposedly being ‘safe’ for refugees, authorities in EU member state Greece have decided more realistically.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Syrian does not have to return to Turkey: not safe enough

Today, 19:42

The Appeals Court of the Greek asylum service has stopped the expulsion of a Syrian refugee to Turkey. The man had appealed against the rejection of his application for asylum. The tribunal ruled today that Turkey for him “is not a safe country.”

The ruling by the three-member appeals tribunal could potentially have major implications. This applies both to the bureaucratic processing of Syrian asylum applications and to the deal which the EU concluded with Turkey on the return of Syrian refugees.

It is unknown to who this refugees is, and why it would be unsafe for him in Turkey. The man in any case may remain in Greece until his application has been dealt with finally. That may take months.

Rights

The Guardian claims to have seen documents of the committee. They conclude, according to the newspaper: “The committee judges that the temporary protection that Turkey can offer to the applicant, being a Syrian citizen, does not give him the rights he might have under the Geneva Convention.”

According to The Guardian, the committee literally quoted several EU directives in support of its judgment.

Vulnerable groups

This refugee was one of the first Syrians who were put on a list to be returned to Turkey in accordance with the agreement between the EU and Ankara. So far 441 people according to that deal have been put by Greece on boats to Turkey. But none of them were Syrians.

Today it was announced that of the 174 Syrians on Lesbos who had appealed against their deportation in a hundred cases they have been granted the appeal. These refugees have been forwarded to the Greek mainland. Earlier, the Greek government declared it would not return all Syrians, especially those of vulnerable groups such as children or people with disabilities.

On Wednesday evening Greek police used tear gas and stun grenades against refugees protesting the intolerable conditions prevailing in the makeshift refugee camp near Idomeni. Many women and children were victims of the brutal onslaught: here.

Refugees’ human rights violated in deportations to Turkey


This video says about itself:

Protesting deportation to Turkey at the VIAL detention Center on Chios, Greece, April 3, 2016

18 April 2016

A video given to Human Rights Watch shows Shila Ahmadi wailing as about 15 riot police with helmets and shields approach. A group of men nearby starts chanting: “This is Europe, it’s a shame on you!” and “It’s not human rights!”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Human rights violated by expulsions to Turkey

Today, 11:10

The first expulsion of migrants from Greece to Turkey was chaotic and violated human rights. So says Human Rights Watch after conversations with 12 friends of 19 Afghans who were returned on April 4 from the Greek island Chios to Turkey.

According to HRW, the migrants did not know they were deported, they had no idea where they were going and some were not allowed to bring personal belongings like backpacks and mobile phones.

A friend of three expelled Afghans told Human Rights Watch: “Ilias, Mohammad and Reza were told they had to register, they walked away happily and when they came out the police was waiting for them. If they had known that they would be deported, then they would have brought their bags, their papers and their money.”

Crying protest

According to HRW the group of 66 people was driven together in one building, where later that day a protest broke out. About 15 police officers with helmets and shields kept the group under control.

According to HRW policemen then tied the hands of the refugees behind their backs and they were then put into a police van. Jackets, bags, money and cell phones were not allowed to go along.

It seems that the Greek authorities were in a hurry to reach the number of deportees that had been agreed between the European Union and Turkey, HRW concludes.

According to numerous news sources, another disaster involving a refugee boat took place Monday in the Mediterranean Sea. Italian President Sergio Mattarella spoke of several hundred deaths, while German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier confirmed over 300. Somalia’s ambassador in Egypt told BBC Arabic that there were 400 deaths: here.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have now confirmed that a refugee boat went down earlier this week between the Libyan port of Tobruk and the Greek island of Crete. Both organisations, based on the testimony of 41 survivors, estimate that up to 500 refugees died in the disaster: here.

Hollande sheds crocodile tears over refugees in Lebanon visit: here.

Pope Francis I meets refugees on Lesvos


This video says about itself:

Greek minister slams conditions at Idomeni refugee camp

18 March 2016

Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis compared the Idomeni refugee site on the border between Greece and Macedonia to the infamous Dachau concentration camp while on a visit.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to say that this is a modern Dachau,” Kouroumplis said during his visit to the camp where thousands of people live in improvised tents, deprived of basic necessities, on Friday.

Idomeni “is a logical result of closed borders,” he said, adding that Greece “believes in Europe without borders.” Two improvised camps, hosting over 15,000 migrants, sprung up near the Idomeni crossing in late February after the Macedonian authorities closed its borders amid a massive refugee crisis in the EU.

Kouroumplis expressed regret over “the awakening of a kind of nationalism against the persecuted people” in Europe. He acknowledged that accepting 1.5 million migrants in no easy task, but said that the people stuck at Idomeni “didn’t leave their countries by choice, but were forced to flee by wars, in which Europe also participated.”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Tears and drawings as pope meets refugees on Lesvos

Today, 10:07

Edited today, 11:57

Hundreds of selected migrants could greet Pope Francis this morning. He had traveled to Lesvos to see with his own eyes the consequences of the refugee crisis.

Some migrants were in tears when Francis passed. Others called out their countries of origin: Afghanistan, Syria. The pope took drawings received from children and praised a girl for her work. His entourage received the drawing and were told not to fold it because he wanted to have it on his desk.

Dozens of migrants who were not invited tried to to get a glimpse of the visit from behind the fences. This afternoon there will be a lunch with eight migrants who will tell their stories. Then they will lay a wreath into the sea in memory of migrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in their attempts to reach Lesvos.

Talking to Tsipras

Francis was accompanied by the leader of the Orthodox Church and the archbishop of Athens. Together they will discuss the situation with the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras. Tsipras said upon receiving the Pope that it is a historic visit, and that he is proud to offer the migrants shelter. “Especially at a time when some of our partners, even dropping the name of a Christian Europe, build walls and fences to prevent defenseless people from finding a better life.”

Greece currently offers more than 50,000 refugees shelter. Most arrive on Lesvos, on boats from Turkey. For two weeks now the people who are coming are returned to Turkey as part of the agreement that the EU concluded with Turkey.

Humanitarian, not political

The Vatican stressed that the visit is of a humanitarian and religious nature and not a criticism of the EU agreement. But at the same time the cardinal who on behalf of the Vatican deals with migration indeed criticized the agreement. According to him, the agreement deals with migrants as goods that can be traded back and forth.

According to Greek media Francis will take ten refugees back with him, eight Syrians and two Afghans. The details thereof are not yet known. Especially the two Afghans are symbolic, because migrants from Afghanistan are no longer automatically recognized as refugees.