Greece Plans to Fast Track Asylum Claims

News Deeply – European Officials are becoming increasingly worried that the E.U.-Turkey deal could fall apart. With few returns and thousands of people trapped on the Greek islands, the E.U. is encouraging stronger measures – such as opening more detention centers on the islands to speed up asylum proceedings and facilitate deportations – to rescue the deal.

The new informal action plan envisages boosting the capacity of the EASOand Greek Asylum Service on the islands to process more asylum applications. It also aims to expand the criteria of which asylum seekers are eligible for returns, including vulnerable individuals eligible for family reunification in the E.U., who are currently excluded. This provision could even allow the return of unaccompanied minors to Turkey.

Second man dies at Lesvos migrant camp

Ekathimerini – A 46-year-old Syrian man was found dead in his tent in the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos on Saturday morning. He was the second person to die at the facility last week, after the death of a 22-year-old Egyptian man a few days earlier.

The deaths have highlighted the poor conditions that refugees face at camps on the Greek islands, especially during the current cold weather.

Turkey threatens to cancel Greece migration deal

Al Jazeera – Turkey has demanded the retrial of eight soldiers who fled to Greece after a failed coup last year and said it may take measures, including scrapping an agreement on refugees and migrants with Athens, after a Greek court rejected an extradition request.

Greece’s Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against extraditing the soldiers, who have sought political asylum, saying they feared for their lives in Turkey. Ankara says they were involved in the July 15 coup attempt and branded them traitors.


In 2016 at least 96 migrant workers lost their lives

Evrensel (link in Turkish) – According to the annual report of Istanbul Workers Health and Work Safety Assembly (İstanbul İşçi Sağlığı ve İş Güvenliği Meclisi ) 96 migrant workers have died in 2016 due to insecure working conditions. 7 of them were underaged minors from Afghanistan and Syria. Most of them have been working in the construction sector. The report shows that the number of migrants who lost their lives at the workplace has significantly increased during the last years and points to serious problems in working conditions concerning health and safety in Turkey.

New video project from ‘Heinrich-Böll Stiftung Turkey’

Heinrich Böll Stiftung Turkey – “Welcome to Turkey” is a collective effort that intends to listen to the stories of the Syrians living in Turkey through their very own words. It is an outcome of a personal discomfort on the dominant representation of the refugees; a wish to make a small contribution to the struggle against the increasing xenophobia; a projection of the word uttered to the people who decide to live here in Turkey. It doesn’t claim to “represent” the Syrians living in Turkey, but attempts to uproot the negative stereotyping about them.

Second man dies on freezing migrant route near Turkey in Greece

Ekathimerini – Police in a region of Greece that borders Turkey say another person has died of hypothermia on a route used by migrant smugglers despite freezing temperatures. Authorities said the body of a man was discovered buried in snow outside a Greek village on Monday. They think he probably died over the weekend.

The man was the second to succumb to the cold in less than two weeks. Another died of hypothermia in the same area on January 3. In a separate incident, a migrant man was being treated at a nearby hospital for symptoms of frostbite.

Greek authorities have reported a recent surge in the number of people attempting to reach Europe while avoiding detention on the Greek islands by crossing a river that divides Turkey and Greece.

Mohamed A. is in hungerstrike since November 2016 protesting against his deportation to Turkey

Mpalothia Blog – Since October 2016, Mohamed A. has been in administrative detention at the police station on Lesbos and he is facing deportation since his political asylum applications have been rejected. Mohamed began a hunger strike on the 12th of December in order to be granted asylum and prevent his deportation to Turkey. Continue reading Mohamed A. is in hungerstrike since November 2016 protesting against his deportation to Turkey

2016 border security measures included 330 km of walls

Hürriyet Daily News – Turkey last year erected 330 kilometers of walls along its borders with Syria and Iraq to fight illegal crossings, the Turkish military said on Jan. 14. According to a Turkish General Staff press statement on border incidents in 2016, Turkey also put up 191 kilometers of reinforced fences along those borders to boost physical security. The statement said that nearly 425,000 people from 74 different countries trying to illegally cross Turkey’s borders were captured in 2016, adding that over 390,000 of them were from war-torn Syria.

The statement added that foreign fighters from 68 different countries tried to cross the border to join the Daesh terrorist organization from August to December 2016, but that this number was seven times less than in the same period in 2015.

27 more refugees deported to Turkey yesterday

Ekathimerini – Greek authorities have said another 27 Syrian refugees who had their initial bids for asylum rejected have been returned to Turkey. A public order ministry statement late Thursday said the 17 men, four women and six children were flown Thursday from the eastern Aegean Sea island of Lesvos to Adana.

Frontex charters ships for deportations to Turkey

Era Aegean* –  Frontex wants to charter three ships for the next two years, with a one year renewal option, in order to make deportations of refugees and migrants from Lesvos, Chios and Kos towards ports of Turkey.

The notice of the Frontex tender is made under the controversial EU-Turkish Declaration on the refugee issue, although the situation of human rights is precarious in the neighboring country [Turkey] and although a decision from the Council of State is still pending on the legality of the decision to expel two Syrians, who deny that Turkey is a “safe third country” for them. Continue reading Frontex charters ships for deportations to Turkey