19th August – 1st September 2019 (This digest covers a two week period)
Increasing arrivals of migrants to the Greek Aegean islands | Greece’s response to the rise in arrivals | New report on mistreatment of asylum seekers in Greece | Afghan minor killed in Moria | Updates on the Deportations of Syrians from Turkey | Syrians walk towards Turkish border in protest against shelling by Syrian and Russian forces | Sea Rescue by Turkish Merchant Vessel | Perspectives
Increasing arrivals of migrants to the Greek Aegean islands
The number of sea crossings to the Greek Aegean islands reached a peak last week. On 29 September 13 boats, carrying a total of 547 refugees, arrived on the island of Lesvos almost simultaneously. Among them were around 250 children, according to Aegean Boat Report. The majority of the people arriving were Afghans. Nasim Lomani wrote an interesting commentary connecting the arrivals to recent and historical developments in Afghanistan:
Turkish state’s ongoing deportation campaign leaves many with fear | Hostile environment towards Syrian refugees grows beyond Turkey, including Lebanon and Jordan | Greece and Islands: not far from the context in Turkey | Threats and violations towards returnees in Syria | Turkey-US joint military talks on establishment of a safe zone in Northern Syria
Turkish State’s Ongoing Deportation Campaign Leaves Many With Fear:
As the deadline which Turkish authorities set for unregistered migrants to leave Istanbul, 20 August, approaches, different opinions and accounts of the deportations remain on the agenda past week (regardless that the deadline is announced to be extended to October 30th, after we have prepared this digest). We mentioned earlier the report released by We Want To Leave Together Initiative regarding the two weeks of deportations, which is available here now in English.
Another report has been released by Syrians for Truth and Justice/STJ, which documents several cases where Syrians, including young and old men, women with children and an unaccompanied minor, some of whom had Temporary Protection IDs, were deported to Syria. Several witnesses interviewed by STJ also told that their Turkish neighbors reported the houses where Syrians live to the authorities, and the police, for its part, intentionally raided these houses at midnight or dawn.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are currently living under siege in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul. Using the term “siege” is no exaggeration here – many don’t dare step out of their homes to secure their basic needs. They cannot go to work, and they can’t even leave their homes in order to try and correct their legal situation, according to the demands of the Turkish government. Even in their homes, tens of thousands of Syrians don’t feel safe. It is reported that Turkish police patrols have entered homes in Istanbul and Gaziantep, arresting anyone without a Temporary Protection ID, and even those who have Temporary Protection IDs but registered in different provinces.
The fear overwhelming Syrians in Turkey today is compounded and multi-layered. Just as resources are distributed unequally in this world, the level of fear amongst Syrians varies with their legal and economic situation. Nevertheless, all are scared, and their fear is a complex tale that could seem hard to explain.
Update on the Deportation of Syrians | Anti-Syrian Discrimination | Turkey’s plans in North Syria
News & Reports
Update on the Deportation of Syrians
The solidarity initiative ‘We want to Live Together’ (Birlikte Yaşamak Istiyoruz Inisiyatifi) have released a comprehensive report, entitled “Two Weeks of Deportations” which details a few accounts of the deportations, forced signing of voluntary return documents and ill-treatment of Syrians at the hands of Turkish armed forces which the Governorate and Provincial Migration Management Authorities continue to deny. The Turkish version of the report can be found here, and an English version is forthcoming. A summary of the report includes –
Update on the Deportation of Syrians & News from the Resistance and Support Movement | Numbers on ‘Irregular Migration’ | Syrian shot by Turkish border guards | Petition for Syrian in Greek prison for alleged human smuggling | Crackdown on critical media websites and social media accounts
News & Reports
Update on the Deportation of Syrians & News from the Resistance and
Despite reports on the mass deportations of Syrian nationals from Turkey to the Idlib region in Syria making international news, the EU has still not reacted to the human rights violations. The German government, confronted with the accusations being made against Turkey by the leftist party ‘Die Linke’, said that they are aware of the ‘alleged returns of Syrian nationals’, but that the Turkish government denies the reports and the UNHCR have also not verified the accounts. The several reports by Syrians who have been deported (here and here) as well as a report by Human Rights Watch were apparently not enough evidence for the German government to, at the very least, voice their concerns towards the Turkish government.
Update concerning inhumane and unlawful deportations of Syrians | Condemn of deportations across broad range of civil society actors| Anti migrant discourse fueled by many politicians | Tense atmosphere in Istanbul | Turkey suspends readmission agreement with EU | Horrifying conditions at Harmandalı Removal Center | Report of 25 refugees who froze to death at the Turkish-Iranian border
Update concerning inhumane and unlawful deportations of Syrians
in the previous weeks about mass deportations of Syrians, several journalists and Institutions have published
further details about the (ongoing) inhumane and unlawful deportations of
Syrians living in Turkey. Rights groups in Istanbul claim that within one week between 600 and 1500
Syrians were wrongfully returned from Istanbul to Syria. It is reported,
through discussions on social media and by people with contacts in the
communities, that other migrant groups, particularly those who are living and
working undocumented in Istanbul are also being targeted.
Condemn of deportations across broad range of
civil society actors
Several Human rights organizations have harshly criticized the deportations in public statements.
Mass Deportation Campaign in Istanbul Against Syrians: #StopDeportationsToSyria | Stories and reactions shared on social media about deportations | Latest statements from the authorities on the issue | Asylum seeker woman tortured in Harmandalı Removal Center | 17 Migrants killed in bus crash in Eastern Turkey | Rising Anti-Arab Hate Also Hits Palestinians in Turkey | Syrian Woman builds her own catering business with WhatsApp
Mass Deportation Campaign in Istanbul Against Syrians:#StopDeportationsToSyria
Since around ten days, Turkish authorities have increased stop-and-search checks around Istanbul, targeting Syrians without registration papers (including those who are registered in other cities) or for working informally. It is alleged that many have been detained and eventually deported to Syria, some after having been forced to sign “voluntary repatriation” forms. The campaign is yet another wave of fear being inflicted on Syrians in Istanbul, following statements from key Turkish politicians about imposing stricter policies and controls on Syrians, and the rising anti-Syrian discourse, which we have covering in the past weeks.
refugee stranded at Istanbul Airport for more than six weeks | Violent and
illegal pullback by Turkish Coast Guard in the Aegean Sea | Increasing
violence by Coast Guards in the Aegean | Racism and hatred again Syrians
in Turkey | Research paper on ‘Border policies and migrant deaths at the
Turkish-Greek border’ published
refugee stranded at Istanbul Airport for more than six weeks
A Palestinian refugee from Syria, Mohamed Ajlani Younes, has been stranded at Istanbul Airport since 26 May and is currently at risk of imminent deportation to Lebanon. According to Amnesty International he has been living in the airport with no access to adequate food, natural light or fresh air for more than 6 weeks. He fled the Syrian war in 2012 to Lebanon, where he lived in Shatila refugee camp with his wife and two children. He recently left Lebanon to come to Turkey out of fear of being send back to Syria. When he entered Turkey on the 26th May, he was stopped at the airport and denied entry for allegedly travelling with a fake passport. He then applied for asylum, expressing his fears about being returned to Lebanon. According to Amnesty International a deportation to Lebanon would put him in danger of being sent to Syria, where he would be at risk of serious human rights violations.
Governorship of Istanbul aim to limit Arabic Signs | Interior Minister Vows Increased Control over Syrians and Irregular Migrants | Spotlight on Anti-Syrian discourse in Istanbul and Turkey | Public Perception on Refugeesbased on Political Affiliation | Why does the Istanbul Convention Matter for Refugee Women and Girls?
Governorship of Istanbul aim to limit Arabic Signs: Turkish authorities inspected 730 places of business with Arabic shop signs in Istanbul’s three districts between 15 June and 1 July. The governor’s office stated that the inspections will continue to include all of Istanbul’s 39 districts, and they’re aiming to ensure that signs have 75 percent of their content in Turkish and 25 percent in other languages within a short period of time ( see more in Turkish, in English) – 03.07.2019
Anti-Syrian Racism post Istanbul Municipality election re-run | Unknown numbers of refugee children missing | The changing nature of the Syria-Turkey border |
News & Reports
Anti-Syrian Racism post Istanbul Municipality election re-run
The anti-Syrian discourse which was prevalent during the municipality elections, and legitimated by the language which political authorities used has intensified in the aftermath of the results. CHP mayors in several Turkish municipalities publicly used anti-Syrian rhetoric during their campaign bids. The mayor of the town of Kemalpasa in western Turkey, Ridvan Karakayli, said on TV, “We will get rid of Syrians. There is peace in Syria, so what are they doing here? There are shops with signboards with the Syrian language [a reference to Arabic] near our party [building]. I will remove them. They will be taken away from here.”