European restabilization attempts of the external borders and their consequences

Vial, Former Hotspot, now detention camp, April 2016

A report from the contested borders in the Aegean region

By Sabine Hess and Gerda Heck, June 2016

[updated in September 2016]

After months of massive refugee movements that have breathtakingly struggled their way towards Northern Europe last year, European Union member states have started to launch diverse actions and measurements to regain control. A coalition of Eastern European states led by Austria proclaimed the closing of the Balkan route in March this year that led to massive national re-bordering activities and the blatant construction of  fences. Continue reading European restabilization attempts of the external borders and their consequences

Briefing on the EU-Turkey Cooperation and Relevant Policies No: 1/2016

This brief is prepared by Ayşem Biriz Karaçay for HarekAct, with the objectives of highlighting the phenomena of EU-Turkey cooperation and relevant policy suggestions, and creation of an effective discussion area on these among academia, policy makers and implementers, and civil society actors in Europe.


The views and opinions expressed in the articles published on HarekAct are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of all editorial board members.

“We are prisoners, although we just wanted to seek asylum in Europe.”

Interview by Gerda Heck

On March 18th of 2016 the so called EU-Turkey deal entered into force. At its core, the agreement aimed at discouraging migrants from travelling by boat from Turkey to the Greek islands by allowing Greece to return migrants arriving after March 20th to Turkey.

On April 4th the first migrants were returned to Dikili from the Greek islands Lesvos and Chios. Among the 66 migrants who were deported from Chios was a group of five Congolese and one Ivorian. After arriving in Turkey, they were directly brought to the Kırklareli removal center at the Bulgarian border, which is in use since 2014. On May 19th, one of them got deported before he was able to apply for international protection. With René[1], one of the spokesmen of the group, Gerda Heck conducted this phone interview recently about their treatment on Chios and their involuntary deportation back to Turkey. Continue reading “We are prisoners, although we just wanted to seek asylum in Europe.”

How the EU-Turkey deal forces refugees to take more dangerous flight routes

The Watch the Med Alarm Phone published a statement on the 27th of May after being contacted by a Syrian refugee who was on one of two boats with a total of 1.000 people – mostly refugees from Syria and Iraq – in distress off the Libyan coast the day before. Through survivors they later learned that one of these boats sank leaving up to 400 people dead. The activists of the Alarm Phone claim that the closure of the Balkan route and the cruel EU-Turkey deal forces refugees to take the more dangerous route through Libya now, which in this case resulted in the death of hundreds of people. Here are some thoughts on how the EU-Turkey deal causes a shift in migration routes. Continue reading How the EU-Turkey deal forces refugees to take more dangerous flight routes

Welcome to HarekAct!

This blog-project is the collective work of a group of researchers and (no border) activists from Turkey, Austria and Germany active in networks such as kritnet (Network for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies), GAR (Migration Researchers’ Platform, Turkey), Mülteci-Der, borderline-europe, and bordermonitoring.eu.

We decided to set up the blog „HarekAct – Reporting on the Turkish-EU Border Regime“ – a combination of the Turkish word „hareket“ (movement) and the english word „act“. It will aim at contributing to a critical and analytical knowledge production on the question of migration in general, with a focus on the case of Turkey in particular. Continue reading Welcome to HarekAct!

Greece wants send thousands of migrants back to Turkey in coming weeks

Reuters – Greece wants to dramatically escalate returns of migrants to Turkey in the coming weeks under a European Union deal with Ankara, the migration minister said on Friday, amid criticism it has been too slow to process them.

Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said Greece wanted to send thousands of migrants who arrived by crossing the Aegean Sea back to Turkey within weeks if they did not qualify for asylum in Greece. “It would constitute failure if, within the next month-and-a-half, those who are obliged to leave the islands didn’t do so,” Mouzalas told Greek TV. Asked how many people that amounted to, Mouzalas said “more than half” of the migrants currently there.

WatchTheMed Alarm Phone denounces illegal push-back operation with Frontex present

Watch the Med Alarm Phone – Between Chios/Greece and Cesme/Turkey, a refugee boat with adults and children escaping wars and conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and elsewhere, were illegally pushed-back to Turkey. Escaping violence to find security in Europe, the refugees were threatened with gun violence when being forced back to Turkey, where they will not find safety. They had already made it into Greek territory but the Greek coast guard, while promising safety and in the presence of two Frontex vessels, returned them to Turkey.

“Refugees are left alone on the streets”

Mediendienst Integration – Dr. Cavidan Soykan, who is part of HarekAct and GAR ‘Migraiton Research Plattform’ did an interview with Mediendienst Integration:  Turkey currently represents the largest refugee-hosting country in the world. However, human rights organizations have raised serious questions on whether its asylum policies abide by international agreements. What does the Turkish asylum system look like? And how are refugees treated?

Reporting on the Turkish-EU Border Regime