Refugees in Yemen, coronavirus and war

This 20 June 2020 video says about itself:

Coronavirus: Yemen refugees face terrible conditions

Many Africans say they cannot find work and want to return home.

Al Jazeera’s Victoria Gatenby reports.

UNICEF WARNS MILLIONS OF CHILDREN COULD STARVE AS COVID-19 SWEEPS YEMEN Millions of children could be pushed to the brink of starvation as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across war-torn Yemen amid a “huge” drop in humanitarian aid funding, the U.N. children’s agency warned.  The stark prediction comes in a new UNICEF report, “Yemen five years on: Children, conflict and COVID-19.” It said the number of malnourished Yemeni children could reach 2.4 million by the end of the year, a 20% increase in the current figure. [AP]

Dutch airport imprisoned refugees endangered by coronavirus

This video from the USA says about itself:

‘The Fear Is Real:’ Prisoners At High Risk For Contracting COVID-19

MSNBC Correspondent Trymaine Lee and Chris Hayes discuss the horror stories of unchecked infections and inmates essentially being left to die in state, local, and federal detention facilities around the country. Aired on 04/10/2020.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Prisoners in the Schiphol detention center are very concerned about the number of coronavirus infections in the jail. Three prisoners sound the alarm in Het Parool daily. “The atmosphere is fucked up here”.

Six prisoners have been infected and a seventh person is currently being tested. “Every week, new inmates appear to have tested positive for the coronavirus here, but still most of the jailers do not keep five feet distance away and do not wear masks and gloves,” one detainee complains in the newspaper.

According to him, the management has been called upon to test everyone, but the management does not do it. “We are not allowed to go to the library and do not receive visitors, but still go for air together, scores at a time.”

With more than 450 mostly two-person cells, the Schiphol detention center jails asylum seekers in procedure, … and illegal or rejected refugees.

No human being is illegal. Meant is paperless refugees.

The Portuguese Council of Ministers has decided to temporarily grant all migrants and asylum seekers currently in the country full citizenship rights. The move has been taken in order to permit these categories to have full access to country’s healthcare as the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus escalates in the country, and therefore reduce the risks for public health: here.

COVID-19 FOUND IN BANGLADESH CAMP HOLDING 1 MILLION The coronavirus has been detected in one of the southern Bangladesh camps that are home to more than a million Rohingya refugees, as humanitarian groups warned the infection could devastate the crowded settlement. An ethnic Rohingya refugee and another person have tested positive for COVID-19, a senior Bangladeshi official and a U.N. spokeswoman said. It was the first confirmed case in camps more densely populated than most crowded cities on Earth. Infections have been gathering pace in Bangladesh, which has reported 18,863 cases of COVID-19 and 283 deaths. [Reuters]

Refugees fight against coronavirus pandemic

This 19 March 2020 video says about itself:

As concerns grow about the spread of coronavirus, aid agencies are sounding the alarm about the vulnerability of refugees.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom reports on efforts by aid workers and refugees to combat COVID-19.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

In Arnhem, people with a migration background are going to make surgical masks on a large scale. The goal is to produce 100,000 masks per day. It is an initiative of refugee organization Refugee Company, which brought two machines from China to the Netherlands. The mouth masks that can be produced with it are suitable for healthcare personnel.

“It is great that in this way Arnhem people with a refugee background can contribute to fighting the coronavirus,” Alderwoman Cathelijne Bouwkamp told Omroep Gelderland radio.

Refugee doctors, British healthcare workers fight coronavirus

Medical professionals on the NHS Emergency march in Britain demanding to be able to practice in the NHS

From daily News Line in Britain:

100 Refugee Doctors Sign Up For Battle Against Covid-19

14th April 2020

OVER 100 refugee doctors are signed up to become vital medical support staff – as unregistered UK doctors in Britain, many of them from the Middle East, are set to play a part in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic as UK medical support workers.

RefuAid, which supports refugees in Britain, said it knew of 514 medics who fled conflict or persecution abroad to settle in the UK, but were not permitted to work.

Although these people are qualified medics in their home countries, some cannot register to work as doctors in the UK because they have not taken a final exam – which was cancelled after the coronavirus outbreak.

The General Medical Council, which represents doctors in the UK, said last Thursday that qualified doctors who were refugees in the UK could now sign up to be medical support workers in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

Many of the healthcare professionals are surgeons, from countries including Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. On average, they have 7.5 years of medical experience. More than one hundred refugee doctors have signed up for the scheme and will start work in the next 10 days – says Anna Jones, the founder of RefuAid.

Jones said: ‘We’ve got at least four anaesthetists … which is what the hospitals need right now. Our medical workers have worked in conflict settings where there is a lack of resources and they’re under a lot of pressure.’

The scheme allows doctors who passed English tests to do some clinical tasks under supervision. Forty-eight refugee doctors have opted to take intensive English language courses so they can apply for the NHS role within three months, Jones said.

And medical support workers will undertake a range of essential routine clinical tasks under supervision, according to NHS England’s website. ‘This role may be used to support medical staff in GP practices, critical care units or in other secondary or community care settings,’ NHS England said.

Although the new role falls short of allowing refugees to work officially as doctors, RefuAid is pushing for alternative ways for them to pass their final exams and be able to work in the UK.

Dr Ahmad Al Qassab, 45, a surgeon from Baghdad, arrived in the UK in May 2015 before getting refugee status later that year. He has passed all his medical exams except the final one – PLAB 2 exam – which the UK government cancelled amid the coronavirus crisis.

He graduated from the medical school in 1999 and has worked his way up from junior doctor. ‘I am ready to help in any way the NHS asks me to,’ he said.

‘The GMC recently started to register final year students months before their graduation, so why are refugees being treated differently?’ In fact many refugee doctors can work in other countries: but the UK has been more hesitant.

‘GMC and UK decision-makers should use what they have on UK soil, and refugee doctors like us would make a change at least by helping the tired NHS workers,’ he said.

‘I got news that 100 doctors died in Italy alone, so it is an important time for them to find a way to acknowledge what we can do.’

The charity Building Bridges supports refugee and asylum-seeking doctors arriving in the UK. And one of those now in the NHS who benefited from that support is Helal Attayee.

Originally from Afghanistan, Dr Attayee qualified as a doctor in Turkey and works as a senior house officer at Queen’s Hospital in Romford.

He said: ‘I was not very safe in Afghanistan. Prior to going to Turkey I was working in a NGO … while I was working there I was being threatened by the local people that I was not supposed to work with the “infidels”.

‘When I qualified as a doctor from Turkey I was very, very happy. (However), when I went back to Afghanistan … I was again threatened by the Taliban and the (fundamentalists). I talked to my family and they said: “Helal, it’s not safe for you to stay here anymore,” so I came to the UK.’

He continued: ‘When I first arrived in the UK I didn’t have any documents so I was not allowed to work. Getting the refugee documents, it is a very slow and complex process.

‘I think without their Building Bridges help I would not be in this place that I’m in now … they were like a torch for me, showing me the path in a dark night.’

Funded by NHS Health Education North Central and East London, Building Bridges, along with other programmes such as Reache in Salford, provide help and support to doctors who arrive in the UK as refugees.

Building Bridges is a partnership of three organisations: the Refugee Council, the Refugee Assessment and Guidance Unit and Glowing Results, and it helps refugee doctors through the process of gaining their GMC registration, starting with English language tests through clinical exams, to working on a clinical attachment, so they can find jobs in the NHS.

The charity has assisted doctors from all over the world, many of whom have had to flee from armed conflict or who were facing persecution in their home countries.

Retired London GP Stephen Nickless is one of those who volunteers with the programme.

He said: ‘I think the work Building Bridges does is really important. We have a duty to our professional colleagues who have been displaced by war, to support them in remaking their lives and then in helping them become productive members of our community. Given the skills and experiences they’ve got and the needs of the NHS, I think it’s important we help them become functioning doctors again.’

BMA Charities also supports refugee doctors working towards their GMC registration, with potential help with exam fees, travel and relocation costs and GMC registration fees.

Meanwhile, thousands of people working in the NHS, social care and local services have contacted a Unison hotline in the last week expressing anxiety at the lack of gloves, masks, eye protectors and gowns where they work.

Staff from across the UK’s public services say they’re scared that without the right protective equipment, they risk catching the virus and passing it on to their families, or the elderly and vulnerable people they work with and care for.

Keen to work with the government, Unison has . . . passed the testimonies from staff working in hospitals, schools, care homes and out in the community, including social workers, teaching assistants, refuse collectors and police staff, to health secretary Matt Hancock.

In a letter accompanying the harrowing stories sent to Unison, general secretary Dave Prentis urges the government to ensure without delay that staff get the necessary protective kit and reassure them supplies are on their way.

Every employee in care homes and supporting people in the community should be sent a checklist of what PPE they need and clear guidance about how to use it and social distance at work, says Unison.

Employers must reassure staff they won’t be pressured into attending work when they should be self-isolating or have health risks. The government also needs to address urgently how to work better with wholesalers to solve equipment shortages, says the union.

The most disturbing stories to the Unison PPE alert ‘hotline’ relate to delivery delays and shortages of protective equipment. Care staff describe the difficulties observing the two-metre rule when dealing with people with dementia or learning disabilities.

The union says the comments reflect just how scared and anxious staff are for the people they look after and their own families.

The quotes submitted by workers online who contacted PPE alert include: ‘Our clients are terrified we’ll bring the virus to their homes and we’re equally afraid of that. Many of us have isolated from our children because we fear for their lives. My colleagues have been asked to wear bags over their faces for lack of surgical masks when needed.
‘It’s getting to the point where I want to quit my job as I feel I’m endangering my own life.’

One woman caring for vulnerable adults, whose colleague is in hospital with Covid-19, said: ‘Staff are extremely stressed and anxious and feel they’re not being supported with basic PPE. We’ve no face guards and are constantly being coughed on and sneezed on by residents. Small plastic aprons covering no more than an adult bib would are no protection against this virus.’

The union points out that improved guidance has been issued but issues still persist with getting equipment through to staff.

Unison general secretary Prentis said: ‘We can’t go another week with health workers, care staff and those providing key local services feeling exposed to harm.

‘The safety of NHS and care workers is absolutely critical – they are leaving their families this Easter to care for the loved ones of others in the most difficult circumstances imaginable. The very least they deserve is the equipment needed to keep them safe.

‘It’s tragic to see deaths of public services workers and the people they support over the past few weeks. Unless the government can get to grips quickly with supply problems, the numbers dying could spiral.

‘Staff care deeply about the elderly and vulnerable they look after. But the lack of protective equipment for those working in such close contact with others means lives are being put at risk.

‘While most are safe at home, NHS and care staff are being scared out of their wits for fear of contracting and passing on the virus at work and to their loved ones.

‘Sending these shocking stories to the heart of government shows ministers why there’s not a moment to lose. The government must get to grips immediately with this dreadful national situation. Otherwise, the consequences don’t bear thinking about.’

Coronavirus threatens Greek-Turkish border refugees

This 6 March 2020 video says about itself:

Turkey has deployed 1,000 police officers to its border to prevent Greece from pushing migrants and refugees back into its territory.

Tens of thousands of people have been trying to cross into Europe since Ankara opened its borders last week.

But Greece does not want them.

Al Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim reports from Edirne on the Turkey-Greece border.

By Seda Taskin in Turkey:

Friday, March 20, 2020

Thousands of refugees fear coronavirus after being abandoned on Turkish-Greek border

SOME 10,000 refugees are at heightened risk of coronavirus at the Turkish-Greek border with nowhere to go, despite being asked to “stay at home” to prevent spread of the disease.

Muhammed Salih, who is among those to have been waiting at the Kapikule border for 20 days, warned that the situation is “really bad”.

“Everyone is afraid of catching the coronavirus here. We don’t want to be sick.

“They tell people to ‘stay at home’. But where should those who don’t have a house stay?”

Thousands of migrants have been left stranded in the border region for more than three weeks.

Many of them were bussed there by Turkey after its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened land and sea borders with Greece, promising to “flood the gates of Europe” unless he was given support for his illegal war on northern Syria.

Many children are among those trapped, living in makeshift tents in cold weather.

Mr Salih said that soldiers prevented the refugees from accessing the villages, warning that food supplies were running short.

“The soldiers are constantly fighting with us and want us to leave. But we have nowhere to go. Our only hope is to leave here as soon as possible,” he said, explaining that he had sold all of his possessions in a bid to reach Europe.

He said that there were about ten thousand people at the border, surviving on bread, water and biscuits.

“Food and blanket supplies are very insufficient. They give a meal for three people to a family of six. We need food for our babies, but we cannot find it either.”

Appealing for help, he said: “It gets very cold in the evening. They should not forget us. We have a soul.”

Republican People’s Party MP for Istanbul Ali Seker warned that the situation for refugees was as serious as the coronavirus outbreak.

Europe, the US and Turkey were all responsible for the situation, he said, calling on them to take necessary measures.

Refugees have reported brutal treatment at the hands of Greek security services and the Frontex border agency. Many claim to have been badly beaten, saying that tear gas has been fired at crowds which included children.

A Syrian man was shot dead by Greek authorities at the border two weeks ago.

Lawyer Abdullah Resul Demir, president of the International Refugee Rights Association, confirmed that a criminal complaint was to be filed against the Greek police over the alleged brutality.

Greek police fires live ammunition at refugees

This 5 March 2019 video is about the killing of Syrian refugee Muhammad al-Arab at the Turkish-Greek border.

By Martin Kreickenbaum:

Greek police shoot at refugees using live ammunition

9 March 2020

The situation for refugees on the Greek-Turkish border has further worsened in the last days. More than 10,000 people are trapped in the border area, unable to move backward or forward. Greek border police and soldiers are using live ammunition to prevent refugees from entering the country. At least six refugees have been seriously injured, one Syrian refugee has even been shot dead.

The use of live ammunition is being carried out with the explicit support of the European Union (EU). Meetings of EU interior ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, and EU foreign ministers on Thursday, reaffirmed Europe’s inhuman attitude towards the plight of the refugees.

The statement of the EU interior ministers states, “Illegal border crossings will not be tolerated. The EU member states would take ‘all necessary measures in accordance with EU and international law’ to ‘protect’ the borders against refugees.” EU Internal Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson added, “I am counting on the Greek government to follow suit.”

The EU is calling on the Greek government to drive back the refugees with all its might, and is putting this call into practice by having border police and border guards shoot at refugees.

Although the government in Athens rejects reports about the use of live ammunition at the border as “false reports”, videos circulating on the internet have been determined to be genuine and authentic by journalists. Reporter Mark Stone of Sky News confirmed a video showing injured refugees being carried away from the border wrapped in blankets. In this case alone, six refugees had been seriously injured by shots in the chest, head, legs and groin area.

The internationally renowned research agency Forensic Architecture, which is affiliated with London University and has investigated, among other things, the fire at London’s Grenfell Tower and the murder of Halit Yozgat in Kassel by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground (NSU), also confirmed the murder of refugee Muhammad Al-Arab.

A video [top of this blog post] shows the 22-year-old from Aleppo, Syria, who was fatally hit with rubber bullets fired by border police on the border river Evros, being carried away bleeding heavily from his head. The Greek government has so far refused to investigate these incidents.

Moreover, Greek police do not use “normal” tear gas grenades when seeking to expel refugees at border crossings, but instead use cartridges with a tip. A photo from the investigative website Bellingcat shows a Greek border police officer loading such a bullet into his tear gas rifle.

According to Bellingcat, “normal tear gas grenades have a limited range”, however, the projectiles used by the Greek police at the border have “significantly more force” and in combination with the sharp tip are “potentially lethal.” Bellingcat notes that almost identical tear gas cartridges were used against demonstrators during the recent protests and riots in Iraq, injuring or even killing dozens.

Violence against refugees is increasing dramatically, not only on the land border between Greece and Turkey; in the Aegean Sea, too, refugees are being brutally prevented from landing on a Greek island.

The refugee aid initiative Alarmphone, to which refugees in the Mediterranean who are in distress at sea can turn, reports several cases that occurred between March 1 and 3, in which refugee boats were fired at or attacked and robbed by masked people. In some cases, the boats’ engines were stolen, leaving the refugees helplessly adrift at sea. Emergency forces of the EU border protection agency Frontex and the Greek coast guard did not intervene, although they were in the immediate vicinity.

The German refugee aid organization Pro-Asyl, which recently reported shots being fired at the Hungarian border, sharply criticized the use of rubber bullets and live ammunition at the Greek-Turkish border. “There are several reports that fugitives are also being shot at on the Greek border. The order to shoot is a European reality; just four years after the demands of the [far-right Alternative for Germany] AfD.” Pro-Asyl is referring to statements by the then AfD chairperson Frauke Petry, who declared in 2016 that the Federal Police must “if necessary, also use firearms” when confronting those crossing borders “illegally”.

In contrast to 2016, however, the order to shoot at European borders has become official German government policy. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (Social Democratic Party, SPD) unreservedly supports the brutal action of the Greek police towards refugees. He told Deutschlandfunk radio, “We are assuming that all this is being done in a proportionate and also very appropriate manner, and we are also prepared to help the Greeks in this difficult situation, including with funds that we are making available.”

This support consists of an EU grant of €700 million to further strengthen border security against refugees. Seven ships, aircraft, helicopters and vehicles with thermal imaging cameras will also be made available to the Greek government. The Frontex intervention force will be transferred to the border.

Maas, who always demands compliance with international law whenever it serves German interests, also approves of the suspension of the right of asylum, which is contrary to international law, and the illegal deportations of refugees carried out by the Greek authorities.

At their meeting on Thursday evening in Zagreb, Croatia, at the insistence of the German foreign minister, EU foreign ministers increased the pressure on the Turkish government to comply with the EU-Turkey refugee agreement. The EU expects Turkey to comply with this declaration in return for financial support and to guarantee the accommodation of refugees in Turkey, Maas said.

This attitude is cynical and dishonest. Turkey has taken in a total of 3.6 million refugees from Syria, more than twice as many as all EU member states together. Moreover, the dirty deal that Chancellor Angela Merkel negotiated with Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan in Spring 2016 has no legal force whatsoever, as it is not a recognised accord, but only a declaration of intent. The European Union has thus engaged the Turkish government as a stooge to prevent by force the further influx of refugees into the EU.

The insistence on this shameful deal is now creating a humanitarian disaster on the Turkish-Greek border and on the Syrian-Turkish border in the Idlib region, where hundreds of thousands of refugees are stranded and camped in makeshift tents.

Through the EU’s uncompromising and violent defence of “Fortress Europe”, refugees on the Greek-Turkish border are literally caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, the Greek border police are hunting down refugees as “illegal immigrants” and shooting at them using live ammunition, on the other hand, they are prevented from returning to Turkey by special units of the Turkish police. More than 10,000 people are thus trapped in no man’s land.

The German government, which has a decisive influence on EU migration policy, has also made clear it will not deviate from its tough stance, by refusing to accept even one unaccompanied child from the catastrophically overcrowded internment camps on the Greek Aegean islands or from the Greek-Turkish border area. A motion by the Green group in the Bundestag (federal parliament), which provided for the admission of just 5,000 unaccompanied children from the Greek camps, was rigorously rejected by the grand coalition of the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) together with the votes of the AfD.

While the brutal offensive against refugees and all those sympathetic to refugees is supported by the governments in Berlin and Paris, and by the EU in Brussels, ever broader sections of the population are turning against this inhumane policy at the expense of defenceless people seeking help. A survey conducted by the opinion research institute Infratest dimap showed that despite all the anti-refugee propaganda against asylum seekers, half of those questioned still support the unconditional admission of refugees from Greece and Turkey.

In Athens and Thessaloniki, thousands protested against the brutal attacks on refugees at the Greek border and on the islands of Lesbos and Chios, where a fascist mob chased refugees and pushed them back into the sea, without being stopped by the police. The protesters kept chanting, “Together we can fight against exploitation, war, nationalism and racism.”

The war against refugees at Europe’s external borders is the flip side of the growing right-wing extremist terror against those with an immigrant or Jewish background, as recently seen in the fascistic terrorist attacks in Hanau and Halle. The two cannot be separated. The ruling class is pushing ahead with its policy of militarism and social cuts in order to defend its interests and wealth. In order to suppress any opposition, it openly promotes nationalism and seeks to divide the working class along ethnic lines. In this way, it is not only preparing the ground for fascist violence and dictatorship but is already putting this into practice.

The author also recommends:

Stop the war on refugees at the Greek-Turkish border!
[3 March 2020]

The mass drownings off Libya and the fight to defend refugees
[27 July 2019]

The global war on refugees
[3 July 2019]

Last week, the world watched in horror as thousands of desperate migrants confronted barbed-wire fences on Greece’s eastern land border with Turkey, while Greek security forces in full anti-riot gear beat them with batons and shot rubber bullets and tear gas. However, Spain’s … government announced it would not only support the Greek government but send police reinforcements to Greece: here.

Big pro-refugee marches in Greece

Students on the 20,000-strong Athens march in support of refugees

From daily News Line in Britain:

‘OPEN THE DOORS TO THE REFUGEES’ – urge 20,000 marchers in Athens

‘OPEN the doors to the refugees’, demanded 20,000 marchers in Athens on Thursday.

Some 20,000 people marched through Athens on Thursday night calling for the Greek borders to be opened and allow refugees to cross from Turkey.

It was a militant and angry march with dozens of large banners stating, ‘We welcome the refugees.’

People shouted slogans against the European Union, NATO, imperialism, the Greek government and the riot police.

The march was organised by left-wing parties, trade unions and anti-racist groups.

Mass marches were also held in the cities of Patras, Ioannina and Thessaloniki. …

Armed riot police buses were placed on the road to prevent the marchers demonstrating at the EU offices in Athens.

Throughout the week, Greek army units and armed riot police attacked refugees with tear gas and water cannon as they were attempting to cross the border.

Last Monday, 2 March, reporter Jenan Moussa had tweeted that ‘a Syrian man was shot by Greek border guards’. It has been confirmed by Greek press reports that the murdered refugee was Mohamed al-Arab a 22-year-old man from Syria.

Reports also carried Afghan refugees’ accounts that the Greek army shot two other refugees in their legs. The Greek government spokesperson, Stelios Petsas, dismissed the reports as ‘Turkish fake news’.

Three Greek cabinet ministers held a press conference last Tuesday in Brussels defending Greek army and navy actions. But videos posted by news agencies and on social media show Greek coast guards attempting to sink a small boat full of refugees with gunshots and by piercing the boat with a sharp-ended rod.

Last Wednesday, the newspaper editor Yannis Laskaratos of the Gnomi Greek newspaper published in Alexandroupoli, next to the Greek-Turkish border, stated in an interview to TV stations that ‘unbelievable events’ are occurring on the banks of the river Evros that separates Greece and Turkey.

Laskaratos said that armed local farmers self-described as ‘national guard’ are patrolling the borders along with Greek army and Greek riot police units.

Laskaratos stated that these racist vigilantes beat up the CNN journalist Kostas Pliakos who had intervened against the beating of refugees. Pliakos was ‘arrested’ by the vigilantes.

Laskaratos also said that the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was photographed with them on his visit last Tuesday to the border village of Kastanies along with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who described Greece as ‘the shield of Europe’ against the refugees.

Right-wing Greek government kills refugees

This 2 March 2020 video from the British (Conservative) Daily Telegraph says about itself:

Greek coast guard officers allegedly fired shots towards a boat full of refugees crossing the Aegean as tensions with Turkey soared over the migration crisis on Monday.

Video footage showed a Greek coast guard officer, dressed in black, fire two shots from an automatic rifle into the water, close to an inflatable dinghy packed with asylum seekers.

The footage, reportedly taken at sea off the Turkish resort town of Bodrum, showed other officers apparently threatening the migrants and refugees with poles as they screamed and yelled in protest.

By Johannes Stern, 3 March 2020:

Stop the war on refugees at the Greek-Turkish border!

The Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party—SGP) and the International Committee of the Fourth International condemn the war being waged against refugees at the Greek-Turkish border. The pictures seen around the world over recent days recall the darkest chapters of European history and expose the true character of the European Union (EU) and all capitalist governments across the continent.

Before the eyes of a shocked public, heavily armed police and military units are intervening against helpless refugees who have fled the conflicts in the Middle East to seek refuge in Europe. Over the weekend, Greek soldiers forcibly prevented 10,000 refugees from crossing the border, firing tear gas at women and children. The first reports of the use of live ammunition and the killing of refugees began to appear yesterday.

BBC journalist Mughira al Sharif published a video on his Twitter account showing a group of agitated young men trying to assist a man who was lying motionless on the ground. His face was covered in blood. “Ahmed Abu Emad, a Syrian immigrant killed by the Greek military this morning. Ahmed was shot at 9:07 a.m. by the Greek military as he tried to cross the border at Ipsala with hundreds of immigrants. Ahmed’s body was brought back to Turkey,” wrote al Sharif.

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas described the video as “fake news and Turkish propaganda. However, it is clear that the Greek government is preparing for a much more comprehensive and deadly operation against refugees. Since Monday, Greek military units have been conducting live fire exercises on the islands in the eastern Aegean Sea, where tens of thousands of refugees are rotting in overcrowded camps in dreadful conditions.

The exercises were a direct response to the boats that began arriving a day earlier from Turkey on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, and Samos. According to a report from the Greek public broadcaster, at least one child drowned in the process. Anyone who manages to make it to dry land is being arrested. To do this, the Greek government has suspended the EU asylum law. “Our national security council decided to maximise the deterrence on our borders. Beginning immediately, we will not accept any asylum applications for a month,” said conservative Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Sunday.

To enforce these measures, which are illegal under international law, the Greek military and police are often collaborating with local gangs of fascist thugs, whoattack refugees, aid workers, and journalists. German photojournalist Michael Trammer documented on Sunday how a group of young men on Lesbos attacked a boat full of women and children in front of the Greek coast guard before beating Trammer so badly that he required medical care. “A head wound required stitches. I have bruises on my head and body”, he later told Die Zeit.

The brutal offensive against refugees and anyone who sympathises with them, or even reports critically on the issue, enjoys the full support of the authorities in Berlin, Paris, and Brussels. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen promised additional support would be provided to Greece and Bulgaria on Monday. “Our priority is to give Greece and Bulgaria all necessary support so the situation can be dealt with there,” she declared. “The challenge now faced by Greece is a European challenge.”

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke along similar lines. “Full solidarity with Greece and Bulgaria. France is ready to contribute to the European efforts, provide swift assistance, and
protect its borders. We must act together to prevent a humanitarian and immigration policy crisis,” he said.

What Von der Leyen and Macron mean by “challenge” and “assistance” can be clearly seen on the Greek-Turkish border: the securing of “fortress Europe” through the mobilisation of military personnel and fascist thugs.

According to reports, the notorious EU border protection agency Frontex has sent reinforcements to Greece. The state of alarm has been increased to high, and aerial surveillance by satellites and planes has been intensified. Bulgaria also deployed 350 extra troops and special forces to its border. Other countries are preparing similar measures. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who heads a coalition government in Vienna with the Greens, threatened to strengthen the borders along the West Balkan route with Austrian police units.

Manfred Weber, the head of the conservative parliamentary group in the European Parliament, made clear the scope of the EU’s planned military operations against refugees in comments Monday. “The EU states have talked long enough,” Greece requires urgent help, and the EU needs an “immediate initiative” to deploy 10,000 European border soldiers, he remarked.

In an interview with the Deutschlandfunk radio station, Weber, who used Nazi-style language in 2018 to demand a “final solution to the refugee issue,” praised the brutal actions of the Greek military. He left no doubt about the fact that the war against refugees is in reality directed against the entire working class, which in France and Germany is beginning to protest against austerity, the rearmament of the military and the domestic apparatus of state repression, and the rise of militarism and fascist terrorism.

“If the state ensures that the external borders are secure and that the law is obeyed, then it must also be capable of doing so at demonstrations, like in Germany and France. … To deploy tear gas. That’s what we Germans do if there’s violence on the streets,” he provocatively declared.

Weber also refused to exclude the option of a German-European military intervention in Syria—the very outcome Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking with his effective abandonment of the dirty deal reached between Ankara and Brussels on refugees. “Can it manage to establish a zone in northern Syria under international command with a UN mandate, as Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer suggested a few months ago, to offer the people a safe haven, to offer them security and stability?” asked Weber. “That would certainly be the best outcome for the tortuous situation we now have in Syria.”

One is compelled to recall what Trotsky wrote in his 1933 essay “What Is National Socialism?”: “Not every exasperated petty bourgeois could have become Hitler, but a particle of Hitler is lodged in every exasperated petty bourgeois.”

While the German bourgeoisie has fully embraced the refugee policy of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), it is increasingly retracing the steps of the Nazis in its foreign and military policies. What Weber cynically refers to as “the best for Syria” would in reality produce more death and destruction. The establishment of a German-European security zone would further incite the war for oil and imperialist interests that has been raging for nine years in Syria and three decades throughout the Middle East and raise the danger of a direct clash between the major powers.

Leon Trotsky noted in the Manifesto of the Fourth International on Imperialist War, written in the early stages of World War II, the connection between capitalism, anti-refugee agitation, racism, and war.

“The world of decaying capitalism is overcrowded,” he wrote. “In an era of aviation, telegraph, telephone, radio, and television, travel from country to country is paralysed by passports and visas. The period of the wasting away of foreign trade and the decline of domestic trade is at the same time the period of the monstrous intensification of chauvinism and especially of anti-Semitism. … Amid the vast expanses of land and the marvels of technology, which has also conquered the skies for man as well as the earth, the bourgeoisie has managed to convert our planet into a foul prison.”

The war against refugees at the European external borders is the flip side of the growing right-wing extremist terror against people with a migration or Jewish background, as recently in Hanau and Halle. The two cannot be separated. The more aggressively the ruling class pursues its policy of militarism and social dismantling to defend its interests and wealth, the more openly it resorts to dictatorship and fascist violence to suppress any opposition.

The SGP calls on workers to reject the attacks on refugees and immigrants and come to the defence of their democratic rights. Independent action and defence committees at workplaces, training centres, schools, and universities, and in neighbourhoods must be formed to organise protests and strikes to coordinate the opposition to the attacks on refugees and immigrants throughout Europe. The following demands should be raised and discussed as widely as possible:

• The dissolution of the prison camps for refugees in North Africa and the Middle East, the withdrawal of all European and US troops from these regions, and the safe and secure transfer of all refugees to the European country of their choice.

• The dissolution of the “hot spot” camps in Greece and other countries, and the recognition of all refugees and undocumented immigrants in Europe.

• The abolition of the EU’s Frontex border protection agency and the demilitarisation and opening of all borders.

• The refusal to cooperate with the EU’s deportation machinery and any state policies promoting ethnic cleansing.

• The making available of trillions of euros for public services, health care, and training, and the provision of jobs for every worker, regardless of their country of origin. The large banks and corporations must be nationalised and placed under democratic control.

• For the international unity of the working class in the struggle for a socialist programme against capitalism, fascism, and war.

Fascist mob pours petrol on the deck of an NGO ship in Greece. Mare Liberum says the crew is safe for now but they are being followed: here.

Kurdish fighter’s family deported to Syria as EU pledges millions in migrant crack-down. European Commission president Ursula von Leyden pledged €700m to help Greece crack down on refugees: here.

Somali, Afghan refugees stranded at Turkish-Greek border

This 29 February 2020 video says about itself:

Somali, Afghan migrants left stranded on Greek-Turkish border

Greece beefed up security measures as it tried
to stop a new wave of migrants from entering the European Union.

“We came from land, we had a dead end, we tried different types and different ways but, unfortunately, for four days in the forest and tonight we decided and all our friends to come on the road. We tried to call UN or other organizations but unfortunately, our mobiles have no charge”, an unnamed Afghan migrant said.

Earlier, Turkey had said it would no longer hold these migrants back.

According to Greek officials, almost 1,200 people gathered on the Turkish side of the border late Friday and have tried to push through locked gates.

Some managed to cut holes in the border fence close to the crossing … But they were repulsed with tear gas and stun grenades.

A police officer told the Associated Press that there was mounting pressure along the 200-kilometre land border from migrants trying to force their way through and groups were constantly being repulsed.

THE TRAPPING of refugees in the Aegean islands and on the Greek-Turkish border exposes the “barbarism” of the “imperialist” EU and Nato, Greek trade unionists said today. The All-Workers Militant Front (Pame), which represents 415,000 workers in Greece, said that the two organisations were responsible for destroying countries, uprooting their people and then trapping them in prisons. Earlier this week a Syrian man was shot dead and refugees were tear-gassed and beaten on the Greece-Turkey border after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he would flood Europe with refugees: here.

An appellate panel of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled Thursday that an investigation leading to the potential prosecution of US officials for war crimes during Washington’s nearly two-decade-old war in Afghanistan can move forward: here.

Right-wing German terrorist plot against refugees, Muslims

This 27 April 2016 video says about itself:

Germany: Neo-Nazis on trial for planning terror attacks on refugee homes

Four members of the neo-Nazi group known as the ‘Oldschool Society’ accused of plotting bomb and arson attacks on refugee homes went on trial in Munich on Wednesday.

Dutch NOS radio reports today that German police have arrested twelve right-wingers, suspects of planning terrorism.

There were police raids in various German states, including Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg.

Police say the suspects planned to murder politicians, refugees and Muslims.