Background information

05.01.2023

Northern Serbia Advocacy Report

Observations and Trends in Pushbacks, Border Violence and Conditions in Northern Serbia, prepared by "collective aid" and "Medical Volunteers International" read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Balkanstaaten

09.12.2022

SPECIAL REPORT: GERMAN FUNDING TO CROATIAN BORDER ENFORCEMENT

This report by the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), with the support of PRO ASYL, summarizes the results of an investigation into the support of German authorities for Croatian border authorities from 2016-2021 (and for deployments of officers, until 2022). It sheds a light on donations of equipment, the deployment of officers, and further kinds of support. In addition, the organisation of the Croatian police with regard to pushback operations is discussed. On both political and practical levels, Germany has heavily supported Croatia in border enforcement and securitization efforts. This support has continued over the last several years despite overwhelming evidence of systemic human rights violations perpetrated by Croatian police forces against people-on-the-move (POM). read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Balkanstaaten, Deutschland, Europäische Union, Europa

01.12.2022

Klikaktik: The Third Quarterly Report in 2022: July, August, September

Klikaktiv has recently published a new report covering the main trends in the field concerning people on the move (POM) in Serbia, particularly in the northern border with Croatia, Hungary and Romania.

Between July and September, the number of POM on “the Balkan route” and in Serbia kept increasing, with more people sleeping rough in informal settlements in the border between Serbia and EU external borders. The majority of new arrivals entered Serbia through Bulgaria, unlike in the previous months, mostly through North Macedonia.

One of the key trends concerns the ongoing violent push backs to Serbia from EU member states and the increasing brutality used by the Hungarian police, with testimonies of physical violence against women, toddlers, teenage girls and the elderly. Some refugees also re-ported physical violence at the hands of Frontex in Hungary. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Balkanstaaten, Osteuropa, Europäische Union, Europa

26.09.2022

BVMN: VIOLENCE WITHIN STATE BORDERS: SERBIA

This report is the product of the Border Violence Monitoring Networkʼs (BVMN) efforts to document violence occurring against people-on-the-move (POM) within the borders of countries along the Balkan Route. In addition to identifying cross-border pushbacks, BVMN collects evidence of physical, material, and structural violence against POM within Serbia. The report includes data collected in Belgrade, Subotica, Majdan and Šid, from testimonies of POM and observations from BVMN members, painting a comprehensive picture of physical violence against POM, violence inflicted by law enforcement officers and civilians from far-right groups, as well as instances of structural violence (i.e., advancing and perpetuating inequality through social institutions and processes, such as restricting access to asylum, evictions, harassment and criminalization of solidarity). read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Balkanstaaten, Osteuropa, Europa

09.09.2022

Relocation from Greece to Germany: Relief for the Hotspot System or Alibi Policy?

Our report 'Relocation from Greece to Germany: Relief for the Hotspot System or Alibi Policy?' , critically examines the actual implementation of the relocation measures that were propagated by the EU as a 'solidarity-based' solution to the devastating conditions in the hotspot camps in 2020 and 2021.

The report poses the following questions: Did the redistribution process improve the situation of asylum seekers, or did it exclusively aim at a structural "relief" of the EU external border states? Who could (not) take part in the relocation programme? And what did the procedures offer to the people in order to build a future in Germany?

As our research reveals, the actual admission quotas were disproportionately low in comparison to the number of people living in the burnt-down camp 'Moria' and in other camps on the Greek islands at the time. The selection processes remain largely obscure and appear arbitrary. As testimonies from relocated people show, the lengthy procedures proved to be stressful and a source of new uncertainties, rather than future prospects. The situation for people who are forced to stay on the islands has not improved, but worsened since then.

In addition to two testimonies from people who have been relocated to Germany, the report includes an outlook on the current political declarations of intent regarding further relocation measures, such as in the EU Commission's New Migration and Asylum Pact of 2020, and the coalition agreement of the current federal government. It becomes clear that the actual cause of the conditions on the Greek islands, the Dublin III Regulation, is not questioned.

In view of the widespread failure of EU member states to take responsibility, and the numerous problems with previous relocation measures, that we have been able to highlight in our research, we are calling for an end to the EU's inhuman border and hotspot policies.

You can read the full report here:
https://www.borderline-europe.de/sites/default/files/projekte_files/Relocation%20Greece%20Germany.pdf

https://www.borderline-europe.de/sites/default/files/projekte_files/Relocation%20Griechenland%20Deutschland.pdf .

The report is a result of the research project on EU relocation procedures funded by the Safe Passage Foundation, as a cooperation of borderline-europe - Menschenrechte ohne Grenzen e.V., Borderline Sicilia, Equal Rights Beyond Borders, Sea-Watch and the Refugee Council Berlin.

Here, you can also read our report 'EU ad hoc relocation - A lottery from the sea to the hotspots and back to unsafety' on relocation measures from Italy and Malta in 2019. read more

Language(s): Deutsch / German
Region(s): Griechenland / Türkei, Deutschland

09.09.2022

Joint Statement calling for the dismissal of UNHCR’s special envoy Vincent Cochetel

The UNHCR special envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean has criticized the grieving mothers of migrants lost in the Mediterranean Sea, for “encouraging or funding” their children’s journeys, in a tweet posted on Tuesday (September 6). A coalition of groups and NGOs have written a statement calling for his resignation, which includes reactions from some of the mothers and sisters of the disappeared. We also join the statement and condemn Cochetel's statement in the strongest possible terms! read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Europäische Union, Europa, Afrika

08.09.2022

Klikaktik: The Second Quarterly Report in 2022: April, May, June

Klikaktiv, a non-profit civil society organization, has recently published “The Second Quarterly Report in 2022”, covering the period from April to June. The report informs about the main trends regarding people on the move in Serbia, particularly in the northern border area with Croatia, Hungary and Romania; the process of fence construction on the border between Serbia and North Macedonia, and the situation of people on the move intending to continue towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. Particular focus is given to the violent push backs from the EU member states, and the involvement of foreign police officers and Frontex staff in such practices.
In general, there are more people on the move in Serbia, whilst the number of those traveling through the Balkan route is, according to some estimations, as high as in 2016. The majority tried to continue towards Hungary, and some refugees stated they had been pushed back to Serbia. Many of the people on the move are staying in squats, and there is an increase of women and children in these arrangements (12.5%). These individuals lack access to sanitary facilities and fundamental social services, and are exposed to safety risks and violence. The Klikaktiv team has identified 25 squat locations and 19 active squats, and regularly visited (and reported on) some of them.
At the Southern borders, the construction of the fence between Serbia and North Macedonia continues, but the general public remains unaware. The climate of hostility in Serbia is contextualized in regards to Frontex new joint operation “Terra 2022” announced earlier this year; the increasing deterring policies and unsafety of the route, with some losing their lives on the way; several far-right, anti-migrant political parties entering the Serbian parliament; and the continuation of deportations from Serbia to Bulgaria.
Klikaktiv expects the number of people on the move in Serbia (and in the squats) to increase, and warns against smugglers exerting ever more control over these populations. The team calls on the Ministry of Interior of Serbia to register the people on the move, facilitating their access to asylum and international protection. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Balkanstaaten, Osteuropa, Europäische Union, Europa

02.09.2022

Solidary Wheels: Annual Report 2021 - Melilla

The non-profit association Solidary Wheels is raising awareness towards European border policies and the constant violation of fundamental rights arising from these policies since 2015, when the project started in the Spanish enclave Melilla. With regards to the geopolitical context of Melilla, it is notable that it is one of the main points where the Western Mediterranean migratory route culminates, and therefore it is a gateway to Europe from the African continent for many people on the move.
By documenting, doing advocacy work regarding Human rights violation, promoting socio-legal advice and social accompaniment, the association fights for the defense and promotion of human rights for everyone. One of their tasks is accompanying young people on the move, who are under state guardianship and asylum seekers, who pass through Melilla as a transit point before reaching Europe as their final destination.
In their annual report from 2021, Solidary Wheels gives an overview about the latest happenings in the region, the role of Melilla in terms of the so-called migration management and immigration regulation of the EU, as well as for border externalisation. It summarises the structure of the association and its transversal themes, the activists work on.
read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Spanien, Nordafrika, Europa

26.08.2022

Klikaktiv report "Fences: to be continued - Border fence construction at the Serbian - North Macedonia border"

The non-profit civil society organization Klikaktiv documents and describes the process of fence construction at the border between Serbia and North Macedonia in their latest report "Fences: to be continued - Border fence construction at the Serbian - North Macedonia border". The team of Klikativ gathered this information onsite during a field visit in June 2022. The report contains information on general refugee activity in the region, as well as presence and activities of Frontex at the border area.
At the end of April 2020 when Serbia was in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Decree was adopted that allowed the construction of the fence along the highway in the direction from Skoplje (North Macedonia) to Belgrade (Serbia). Between June 2021 and June 2022, a minimum of 10-15 km was built. In total, the fence is supposed to have three layers, one of is made of barbed wire.
The general public in Serbia is still mostly unaware that the government is constructing a fence on one of the country's southern borders, while the information on the construction plans and financing remains unavailable to the public. At the same time, everyday life and work of the local communities in the villages surrounding the fence are significantly disrupted by its construction.
Serbia has been a main transit country since the so called “EU-Turkey deal” was agreed on in 2016. The construction of the fence however will rather not prevent refugees from coming to Serbia and passing through it. Rather, the construction will cause a shift in the route and go along on the side of villages in Kosovo.
Klikaktiv condemns the construction of the border fence and demands a stop of any further expansion, which will make the journey of people on the move even more dangerous. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Balkanstaaten

18.07.2022

Migrant Smuggling: Why we need a Paradigm Shift

Common narratives often describe smugglers as ruthless criminals who take advantage of the distress of people on the move for their own financial gain.
Counter-smuggling policies of European governments focus on cracking down on smuggling through more policing and criminal sanctions against (potential smugglers). These measures are often justified by policy makers with the need to protect the safety of migrants. In the discourse on smuggling, little attention is paid to the harm and violence experienced by people on the move as a result of these measures. The reasons why migrants turn to smugglers, namely the lack of opportunities for "regular" entry into Europe due to the militarisation of the borders, are also rarely mentioned.
Picum's research shows that Counter-smuggling policies are more likely to harm the safety and rights of refugees than to protect them, and can have devastating consequences for the situation of those affected and their supporters.
read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Europäische Union, Europa

01.07.2022

Islets, Interim Measures and Illegal Pushbacks: The Erosion of the Rule of Law in Greece

This report documents the recent increase in use of Rule 39 measures (the suspension of deportation) on the Greek mainland, in order to secure access to international protection. It specifically details and analyses three case studies of Mai and June 2022 whereby transit groups despite the European Court of Human Rights rulings were reportedly pushed back to Turkey after several days on the islets without food, water, or medical care. In order to contextualise these events, the report briefly introduces a history of Evros islets in the context of pushbacks, the lack of access to asylum on mainland Greece and interim measures at the European Court on Human Rights. The report additionally observes the concerning trend of criminalisation of civil society organisations. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Griechenland / Türkei

30.05.2022

The death of Blessing Matthews – a counter-investigation on violence at the alpine frontier

In May 2018, 21-year old Blessing Matthew drowned in the Durance river while fleeing a gendarme patrol on the day she crossed the Franco-Italian border. The case was dismissed on June 18, 2020 without any additional investigations. The association Tous Migrants and Matthew’s family have since been fighting to reopen the case. They noted inconsistencies in the statements of the mobile gendarmes in the prosecutor’s investigation file and contacted Border Forensics to conduct a counter-investigation. With the methods of spatio-temporal analysis, and on the basis of the precise and coherent testimony of an eye witness and fellow traveler of Blessing Matthew in situ, it was possible to reconstruct the events and shine light on the many omissions, contradictions and grey areas of the judicial police investigation regarding the conditions that led to Blessing's death. Hervé S. testifies that the pursuit of the gendarmes led to Blessing Matthew’s fall into the Durance and her death. Both the testimony of Hervé S., and the spatio-temporal analysis of the statements of the mobile gendarmes constitute new elements that allow Blessing's family to request the reopening of the judicial investigation. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Frankreich, Europäische Union

29.06.2022

Resilience and Resistance. In Defiance of the Criminalisation of Solidarity Across Europe

The criminalisation of solidarity strikes at the heart of the values that Europe has given itself and contributes to the erosion of rule of law and democracy, while seriously impacting the rights and welfare of the most vulnerable in our societies and those who seek to protect and assist them. This report provides a thorough investigation of the criminalisation of solidarity with migrants in Europe in 2021-2022. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Europäische Union, Europa

10.06.2022

No end in sight Refugees and migrants moving irregularly to North Africa and Europe face unspeakable horrors along Mediterranean routes

While reported numbers of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe are fewer than in 2015, journeys are becoming more fatal. This is according to a new data visualization released today by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Since a peak in 2015, in which more than a million people crossed the Mediterranean to Europe, the numbers of those making these journeys have seen a downward trend, even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, 123,300 individual crossings were reported, and prior to that 95,800 in 2020, 123,700 in 2019 and 141,500 in 2018. Despite the lower numbers of crossings, the death toll has seen a steep rise. Last year, some 3,231 were recorded as dead or missing at sea in the Mediterranean and the northwest Atlantic, with 1,881 in 2020, 1,510 in 2019, and more than 2,277 for 2018. Even greater numbers may have died or gone missing along land routes through the Sahara Desert and remote border areas. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Nordafrika, Europa

04.01.2022

The Voice of the Voiceless. A Newsletter from the Communities Living in Samos

Who we are: We are people from different communities living in the Closed Controlled Access Centre (C.C.A.C.) in Samos, Greece. In this newsletter, we are raising our voices to whoever is concerned against the difficulties we have in the camp of Samos. We realised the need to raise awareness of the situations we are facing in the camp, so we are sharing insights on our daily life to amplify our voices. The people in the camp try to reduce their stress by just entertainment but it is not a long lasting solution to the fact that they faced lots of problems back at home, in their journey and now still suffering more than the problems which chased them from their homeland to here through the big black sea in search of a better life than the one they faced back at home. At first, we were very happy to have come safely to the island thinking that was the end of the dark road but has doubled even more than we never thought. We think this is not the real Europe we thought we were heading to. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Griechenland / Türkei, Europäische Union

09.06.2022

Annual report 2021 - SOS Mediterranee Deutschland e.V.

On the occasion of the EU Conference of Ministers of the Interior meeting on migration issues tomorrow, 10 June 2022, SOS Humanity calls on EU politicians to reach an agreement and reform a Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The civilian sea rescue organisation describes the fatal consequences of the failed migration policy on the Mediterranean in its annual report 2021, which was presented today. read more

Language(s): Deutsch / German
Region(s): Europäische Union

08.06.2022

Nichts ist gut an Europas Außengrenzen!

Dr Arndt Dohmen spent seven weeks in the refugee camp Mavrovouni on the island of Lesbos with the organisation Medical Volunteers International to help as a doctor. In his guest article for PRO ASYL he writes of his experiences with the Greek medical system, the EU border regime and of the extraordinary initiative of refugees and migrants he witnessed in the camp. read more

Language(s): Deutsch / German
Region(s): Griechenland / Türkei

01.05.2022

Digital technology, policing and migration – what does it mean for undocumented migrants?

What about data protection and digital technology? Are these buzz words? What do they mean, in practice, for undocumented people?

Some may think of the use of drones and surveillance technologies at Europe’s external borders – and yet the use of digital tools and the large scale processing of migrants’ personal data extends well beyond Europe’s borders and into communities – beyond even physical spaces into people’s devices and their personal and biometric data. The extension of this web of surveillance increases the power of authorities to monitor – and to act – in ways often hidden from view, to screen for, identify and deter or deport foreigners meeting certain “risk” profiles. Meanwhile, civil society is shut out from many of these spaces, and criminalised for efforts to assist those whose lives are put at risk by these policies. Technology is therefore not a trendy side-show, but increasingly imbedded in the vast and intertwined systems that regulate and control migration, and that surveil and monitor migrants. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Europäische Union

19.05.2022

Blocked from the System. Voices of People Excluded from the Asylum Procedure on Mainland Greece, Crete and Rhodes

This research highlights the multiple significant barriers that people face in attempting to register their asylum claims since the policy changes in November 2021. Despite the termination of the flawed Skype system, people continue to be forced to remain undocumented for extensive periods of time and are blocked from accessing international protection in Greece. This deprives people of support from social services, cash assistance, the labour market, healthcare systems or accommodation. The conversations with people excluded from asylum procedures reveal that undocumented people in Greece are facing increased exploitation, ill health and debilitating fear of being illegally pushed back. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Griechenland / Türkei

04.05.2022

Feasibility Study on the setting up of a robust and independent human rights monitoring mechanism at the external borders of the European Union

This study was prepared against the backdrop of multiple developments in the management of the external borders of the European Union. In recent years, the management of these external borders has become increasingly robust. Despite the obligations incumbent upon national and European border guards to respect the fundamental rights of all migrants, a considerable number of credible reports have highlighted widespread violations of rights. Nonetheless, these reports appear to have been routinely dismissed by the relevant authorities, with limited legal and political consequences. This has led to a perception of a lack of political oversight and judicial control of events at the European borders, which can result in impunity for violationscommitted, including possible criminal offences.
To counter this, the study explores the feasibility of a ‘new response’ to the challenge faced by human rights monitoring at the EU’s external borders. It proposes a way forward that relies on a collective mechanism of national human rights monitoring bodies to provide effective monitoring, in line with the criteria and principles outlined in the first part of the study. In particular, this study proposes a consortium of independent national institutions that engages in human rights monitoring at the borders. read more

Language(s): Englisch / English
Region(s): Europäische Union

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