Via Ekathimerini (from 11th Feb) – Just 16 percent of asylum seekers who undertook the journey to Greece can be returned to Turkey under Greek law and European directives, Maria Stavropoulou, the former head of the Greek asylum service, has told Kathimerini.
Via AYS – The 23 year old Syrian refugee K. went from Germany to Greece to meet his younger brother who were supposed to come from Turkey by the end of November 2016. When he looked for him in Didimoticho, Greece, showing a photo of the 11-year old brother, he was arrested. 14 months later, K. is back in Greece after being pushed back to Turkey with 50 other migrants on the 30th of November 2016.
Via Al-Monitor – “Erdogan seems to realize that the political and economic price of breaking up with the EU is growing bigger. He has taken up the issue of EU membership anew, including during recent trips to France and Italy, amid growing talk of normalizing ties with the EU. On Feb. 7, Turkey submitted documents to the European Commission, saying it had fulfilled the outstanding criteria for the visa waiver. “The ball is now in the EU’s court,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.” Continue reading Turkey’s quest for EU visa waiver more likely to cause strife than progress→
The New Arab published a story on February 2nd on IOM ‘voluntary return programme’: “A scheme to repatriate refugees whose asylum bids have been rejected amounts to bullying and bribing desperate people to return to desperate situations, reports Matt Broomfield.” Valeria Hänsel also wrote on that same issue for HarekAct two weeks back.
Via The New Arab– A “voluntary” returns programme being heavily marketed to refugees is leaving them stranded in inhumane conditions in Greek and Turkish jails for months at a time, and facing imprisonment and torture once they return to their home countries – if they are ever able to get there at all.
Via Ekathimerini– Concerns are rising about conditions at reception centers for migrants on the islands of the eastern Aegean amid delays in much-needed infrastructure upgrades and increasingly cramped conditions, with reports of a spike in cases of mental health problems.
Last summer, authorities completed a feasibility study for an upgrade of the drainage and sewerage systems at Moria, the main reception center on Lesvos. But the plan appears to have become mired in bureaucracy. Originally designed to house 1,000 migrants, the camp at Moria is currently hosting nearly seven times that number.
The number of people who agree to “voluntary” return from Greece to their country of origin with the programme of “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration” of the “International Organization for Migration” (IOM) is significantly higher than the number of deportations to Turkey since the EU-Turkey statement.
What happens to migrants who sign up for the IOM return programme during the process and after the return to their home countries? Why do asylum seekers agree to leave Europe again?
The observation of several cases reveals that many migrants face detention and serious physical and mental harm during and after their participation in the programme of “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration”.
Musaferat – a collective active on Lesvos against the deportation practise – published an insightful summary of the events during the last month on Lesvos. From the unbearable living conditions in Moria, iltreatment of minor refugees, deportations and ‘voluntary returns’ and policy violence against protests.
Via Ekathimerini– In a bid to reduce overcrowding at migrant reception centers on the Aegean islands, the government is to propose to Turkey that asylum seekers who are not high on the list of eligibility for protection be transferred to camps on the mainland and subsequently to Turkey, Kathimerini understands.
“We are asking that we be allowed to conduct returns either directly from the islands or from the mainland in the context of the EU-Turkey joint statement,” a government official told Kathimerini, referring to a deal between Brussels and Ankara signed in March 2016 aimed at curbing migrant smuggling across the Aegean. Continue reading Athens to propose transfer of migrants to Ankara→