Haitian refugees whipped in Texas

This 21 September 2021 video from the USA is called Border Patrol Use Whips And Horses To Chase Asylum Seekers.

Outrage As Biden Administration Rapidly Deports Haitian Migrants From Texas Border

The Biden administration is rapidly deporting thousands of Haitian migrants who have been camped at a Texas border town seeking entry to the U.S.

More than 14,000 refugees, most of them Haitian, have been camping out for days in squalid conditions under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. Some 3,300 people from the camp have already been sent to detention centers or removed on deportation flights by U.S. immigration agents, USA Today reports.

In a release Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security said it was expelling most of the migrants using Title 42 ― a Trump-era policy that allows the U.S., during the coronavirus pandemic, to quickly deport people crossing the border, typically without processing them for asylum.

Video and photos showed Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping ropes at Haitian refugees on Sunday. The refugees had reportedly gone into Mexico to buy food, and were seeking to return to the camp on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande.

Immigrant rights groups expressed outrage, urging U.S. Customs and Border Protection to “stop this discrimination” and slamming the Biden administration for choosing to “shut the door” on Haitians seeking safety.

When asked Monday about the violent images of CBP agents on horseback threatening migrants, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that while she didn’t have the “full context” of what was happening in these incidents, “I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”

A DHS spokesperson said in a statement that the footage is “extremely troubling” and an investigation will be “conducted swiftly,” adding that the agency “does not tolerate the abuse of migrants in our custody.” In a subsequent statement to reporters Monday, Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz said he believed the agents were “trying to control” their animals but that officials would investigate the incident.

Advocates have condemned the Biden administration for resuming deportations to Haiti, a country mired in turmoil from the assassination of its president in July and an earthquake in August that killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.

Read more here.

U.S. SET TO ADMIT LOWEST NUMBER OF REFUGEES EVER Despite Biden’s pledge to overhaul immigration and welcome refugees to the U.S., 2021 is on pace for a record low in refugee admissions, with 7,637 admissions as of Aug. 31. The refugee cap was set as up to 62,500 after pushback by advocates, but the U.S. is unlikely to meet that number by the Oct. 31 fiscal year deadline. [HuffPost]

European Union-paid Sudanese anti-refugee violence

This 24 June 2019 video says about itself

When mass demonstrations in the spring led to the downfall of Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, protesters hoped for a peaceful transition to civilian rule.

But since then, the backlash has been brutal. Hundreds have died or gone missing. One man has tightened his grip on power through the most brutal arm of the state, known as the Rapid Support Forces. What’s most surprising is that Hemedti seemingly built up his power with the help of money from the European Union. A warning: this report contains images that viewers may find disturbing.

Translated from Dutch daily Trouw, 31 October 2020:

This notorious Sudanese militia is receiving “security training” paid for by the European Union

For years, the EU and the Dutch government refused financial or material support to Sudan’s most feared paramilitary group. But money from an EU fund against irregular migration is now used for training for this particular group.

Klaas van Dijken, Nouska du Saar and Aziz Alnour, 31 October 2020, 1:00 am

… The men are members of Sudan’s most feared and most powerful paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). …

RSF was involved in war crimes in Darfur

The EU has always said that the RSF will not receive direct or indirect support because of its involvement in war crimes in Darfur. The Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag also spoke out against this last year. But internal and public documents show that the EU is indeed co-financing this training project, and that EU countries gave their consent in July. …

The money for it comes from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, which has been set up to combat irregular migration.

Internal documents show that 5 million euros has been budgeted for the program, which also includes training of the RSF. The militias are awaiting training in … recognizing and identifying refugees … and using firearms, says an insider. ..

“For years we have asked the European Commission not to support the RSF and they have pledged to do so time and again. But it seems that anything is possible at the EU if the ultimate goal is to keep refugees out of Europe, ”said Miguel Urbán Crespo, MEP.

“Training the RSF is shortsighted and morally wrong”

Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, is also critical: “Training the RSF is shortsighted and morally wrong,” he says. “When not linked to trials of the leaders of the RSF, this kind of training is a nice facade and irrelevant.”

Hell for refugees in Lesbos, Greece

Greek policeman kicks out at refugees in the Moria camp in Lesbos

From News Line daily in Britain today:

Abysmal conditions for thousands of refugees in ‘Moria 2.0’ camp

THOUSANDS of people are living in abysmal conditions in a new camp, which was built to replace Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, after it was destroyed by fire last month.

According to the Greek Council for Refugees and Oxfam, conditions are even worse than in Moria, with little or no running water, no sewage management or treatment, limited health facilities and woefully inadequate shelter.

Almost 8,000 people – most of them families with children – have been moved to the new camp, which has been dubbed ‘Moria 2.0’ by residents. Many are living in flimsy tents, some of which are pitched just 20 metres from the sea and have already been flooded and battered by strong winds.

The location of the new camp is on a former military shooting range, which had to be swept for landmines and unexploded grenades before being built on.

More than 12,000 people were left in destitution, following the fires that swept through Moria camp on the 8th and 9th September. Nearly 8,000 have been moved to a new emergency camp in the area of Kara Tepe where they are living in precarious conditions with no access to running water or protection from the weather.

People are having to live in flimsy tents pitched too close to the sea, meaning they are battered by wind and prone to flooding.

In addition, the inhabitants of the new camp have been given tents which are deemed ‘not fit for winter’.

Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees published a press statement on October 20 in which they declared that conditions in the migrant camp on Lesbos, set up after fire destroyed the original Moria camp, ‘are abysmal’ and worse than at the previous camp.

‘The new temporary camp on the Greek island of Lesbos is even worse than the original Moria camp, with inadequate shelter, hardly any running water, limited healthcare services, and no access to legal aid,’ read a joint press statement from the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Oxfam International and the Greek Council for Refugees.

The conditions the two organisations have reported in the new camp have solidified their conviction that all asylum seekers in Lesbos should be ‘immediately relocated to adequate accommodation on the Greek mainland and in other EU countries’.

Oxfam visited the camp at the end of September in order to conduct a ‘rapid protection assessment’, states their press release. Once there, they found ‘numerous risks’, including ‘limited access to food and healthcare, insufficient measures against Covid-19, as well as no drainage and sewerage system on site’.

Many of the tents lack solid foundations, reported the international charity. That means they afford little protection against weather extremes like strong sea winds and flooding.

In fact, since the team visited, it has received various photos from inhabitants of the camp whom they met during the reporting trip which testify to walkways and tents flooding or becoming sodden after just 10 minutes of rain according to the migrants who sent the photos.

Residents told Oxfam that the quantity of the food provided is ‘not enough’ as it is only handed out once or twice a day. It is also of ‘bad quality’, according to them.

Hygiene facilities are difficult at the new camp.

There is a lack of running water and so Oxfam says many of the camp residents have been washing in the sea. This poses the risk of drowning, particularly for children, notes Oxfam, as well as the risk of being infected by contamination from wastewater from the camp, which is also draining into the sea.

Women face particular problems, noted Oxfam, because there is a ‘lack of toilets and showers, as well as insufficient lighting in the new camp’.

This means they could be exposed to ‘increased risks of sexual and gender-based violence’.

Oxfam’s EU migration expert, Raphael Shilhav said in the press statement: ‘When Moria burnt down, we heard strong statements from EU decision-makers saying “No more Morias”. But the new camp is rightly dubbed “Moria 2.0”.’

Shilhav criticises both the EU and the Greek responses following the fire, calling them ‘pitiful’. He says instead of looking at relocation, the authorities have ‘opted for another dismal camp at the external borders, trapping people in a spiral of destitution and misery’.

Shilhav says that by leaving people at the edges of Europe they remain ‘in limbo and despair, out of sight of the European public and politicians’.

The Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) echoed Oxfam’s concerns. Natalia-Rafaella Kafkoutsou, a refugee law expert at the GCR, said the refugee body was also worried about the living conditions in the new camp.

Kafkoutsou welcomed the Greek government’s declaration to relocate all residents in the camp by Easter but said that plan ‘failed to address the squalid conditions in the camp, which will deteriorate in winter’.

Kafkoutsou said it was important that the Greek government offered coherent integration strategies and didn’t just ‘transfer a policy-made problem from the island to the mainland’. This means that the much-talked-about European solidarity mechanism needed to step up and work on an ‘effective relocation across member states for those seeking protection in Europe’.

Oxfam and GCR both expressed doubts about the ideas expressed in the new EU migration pact which was outlined towards the end of September. Kafkoutsou pointed out that ‘the practices and policies that led to the failure of the EU “hotspot” approach, both in Lesbos and the other Aegean islands, should not be replicated and consolidated in the EU’s future asylum system, which seems to be the case with the current proposals for a new EU migration pact.’

An asylum seeker currently living in Folkestone’s Napier Barracks assessment centre has spoken of the terrifying experience of crossing the English Channel.

This year, more than 5,000 refugees have made the arduous journey here on small boats and dinghies – risking their lives to do so.

They are often overloaded with people and many have had to be rescued from trouble by Border Force patrols or citizen boats.

The refugee, who has asked to be identified as MS, told the story of his harrowing experience.

After fleeing his home country of Yemen, MS spent several years homeless on the streets of Spain and Belgium.

However, nothing could have prepared him for how hard the journey would be. He said: ‘It was a really scary trip. We set off at three in the morning, and it lasted for nearly four hours. The engine stopped three times.

‘The waves hit us several times and nearly capsized us on one occasion.’

As many of the small boats are overloaded, refugees making the crossing need to be constantly alert to stop the craft from sinking.

As most attempts occur under cover of darkness, it can be difficult to keep afloat, as MS explains: ‘The water enters the small boat a lot.

‘We were working throughout the trip to take out the water so that we would not drown. We were very wet, and freezing cold because it was early in the morning.’

The majority of refugees who have made the crossing are young men. MS says on his boat there were several women and children, some of whom became panicked by the ordeal.

He said: ‘There was a little Syrian boy who had a panic attack. He started screaming hysterically whenever he saw the water coming in and he said, “I cannot swim.”

‘We tried to calm him down and reassure him that we will arrive safely.

‘A Yemeni woman who was on the trip was very frightened and prayed all the time and sometimes cried.’

According to him, it was at the point when a Border Forces boat arrived that the refugees finally felt like they were safe.

MS explained: ‘We didn’t feel safe until we saw the Border Forces boat that pulled us onto their ship and gave us some blankets so that we wouldn’t get cold.

‘That renewed our hope that we might have a better chance in the UK than we had in Europe.’

Unaccompanied children who have crossed the Channel in small boats are being forced to wait for days in a holding unit without access to beds or showers before being placed in local authority care, a government watchdog has warned.

The children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, said delays in moving youngsters out of the Kent Intake Unit – where asylum seekers who have crossed the Channel from France are processed before being moved on to other areas – was creating an ‘untenable’ situation.

Unaccompanied minors arriving on the UK coast previously went straight into local authority care in Kent, but Kent County Council announced in August that it had reached capacity and could not take in any more children.

The Home Office said the underage arrivals would instead be kept at the Kent Intake Unit before being placed with social services. The department is said to have recruited a team of four agency staff to work at the unit, which is located within the port of Dover and has a short-term holding facility for both adults and children.

Anne Longfield warned that the current system was leaving ‘children who had survived a dangerous boat crossing, and may have slept rough for months or been trafficked, waiting almost 72 hours in a holding unit without access to showers or beds, waiting for social workers from another county to come and collect them’.

In a blog post following a recent visit to the Kent Intake Unit, the commissioner wrote: ‘While front-line staff are working tirelessly to care for these children, the current situation is untenable.’

The Home Office said children would be allocated to local authorities across the country under the national transfer scheme, a voluntary programme set up in 2016 to more evenly share the costs of supporting unaccompanied children.

However, Longfield said the system and processes for dispersing child asylum seekers to local councils nationally was ‘buckling’ and in need of reform.

‘It is crucial that the scheme is reformed and properly funded so that more councils are willing to take children into their care, especially when cash-strapped councils are already struggling to provide the right support for the children already in their care. A national age assessment scheme could also help to reduce delays,’ she said.

Around 100 local authorities have pledged more than 400 places for unaccompanied children under the scheme, but the Home Office has said more needs to come forward and ‘do their bit for vulnerable children’.

Bridget Chapman, learning and project coordinator for Kent Refugee Action Network (Kran), which supports asylum-seeking children and young people in the Kent area, said: ‘I’m horrified but not surprised to find that children are being kept in what amounts to dehumanising conditions.

‘We raised questions about the suitability of this venue being used to hold them and nothing was done. We now have vulnerable children being traumatised in Kent before they’re then moved on to somewhere else.’

Chapman called for the national transfer scheme to be reinstated and funded ‘properly’, adding: ‘It has to be done with a support plan in place. It has to be funded properly and it has to be done in a timely fashion.’

Bella Sankey, director at Detention Action, said: ‘A government can be judged on how it chooses to treat unaccompanied refugee children that seek its help. Ours is currently detaining these children indefinitely, with adults, in cramped conditions and without basic facilities such as beds.

‘It is a sickening situation and a deliberate policy choice of Priti Patel’s Home Office which has failed to ensure that local authorities around the country are resourced and mandated to promptly take these children into their care.’

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.