Greece: More Seclusion - More dead People


Thousands of refugees continue to arrive on the greek islands every day. The humanitarian situation at site is desastrous, the distress of the refugees stuck on the island is immense. Instead of supporting the crisis ridden reception facilities in greece, european money is benefiting military defence measures. In the mean time the death rate in the agean sea increases drastically.


Recently almost every day :: serious boat accidents occur in the agean sea. According to :: UNHCR in 2015 so far about 2900 persons have lost their lives trying to trespass the middle sea. The turkish vice-ministerpresident Numan Kurtulmus assumes that more than 270 Refugees have drowned at the shores of his country since the beginning of this year. According to media reports since August 2015 allready more than 100 persons have lost their lives while fleeing by the agean sea, further are missed.


Alone on :: Sunday, 20. September, two boat accidents occured: In the sea not far from Canakkale in western turkey a refugee-vessel colided with a trade ship and sank. At least 13 persons drowned, amongst them 4 children. 13 further persons are missed, 20 refugees managed to survive. The boat was on its way to Lesbos. There too a boat sank not far from the shore. 26 persons are missed, 20 persons survived. The team of RSPA supports the survivors, translates at hospital and offers their aid to search for missed persons.


Close to the turkish coast at Datça/Muğla a fatal boat accident occured, :: 22 refugees, amongst them 4 children and 11 women lost their lives.


:: On Sunday 13. September, one of the most dramatic boat accidents of this year so far happened: At least 34 Refugees amongst them 4 babies and 10 infants drowned. According to the greek coast guard 68 persons survived, 30 further persons saved their own lives swimming to the shore of the greek island Farmakonisi. Most of the refugees were from syria.


The shocking image of the dead body of a boy on the beach in Bodrum went through the media and caused tremor and anger. In the night of 2. September a fatal inccident occured close to the turkish coast. Turkish officials reported that a vessel with :: 23 refugees aboard drowned a short time after laying of from Akyarlar not far from Bodrum. At least 12 persons have lost their lives, amongst them 5 children and one women. Seven refugees survived and two further were able to save their lives reaching the shore with their livewests. Two persons are still missed. The fugitives from syria tried to reach the greek island of Kos.


In August the over all number of arrivals reached the number of people who tried to reach the european coast trespassing the mediterranean sea during the entire last year (219.000). According to the european border agency Frontex in the last week of August alone more than 23.000 refugees arrived at the greek islands. On certain days :: more than 4000 asylum seekers arrived. The UNHCR expects a further increase in the numbers of arrivals during fall.


Most people so far move further into the balkans heading towards northern europe. Since 15. September hungarian authorities are sending out military personel to the southern border in order to prevent the arrival of further refugees. Thousands of asylum seekers are threatened to get stuck in greece not beeing able to continue their journey to middle european countries.


The situation on the islands remains desastrous


The greek governement is lacking the financial means to acept the refugees. Neither the primary reception nor the registration works. There are by far not enough shelters opened for asylum seekers and vulnerable persons.



While the ambiguities over the means provided by the eu for the acceptance of refugees remain, the european comission decided to tripple the expenses for FRONTEX operations in greece to an amount of 18 million. Still this is far from beeing sufficient, states the agency. Although they’ve called on the memberstates :: Frontex didn‘t yet receive the „operative means“ that are claimed to be necessary. For the greek islands Frontex would need airplanes and ships but foremost border guards to record the IDs of the refugees.


As a part of the prolongation of the Frontex-operation Poseidon, Frontex personel has been deployed to the agean islands of Kos and Lesbos. By land and water the border guards of the member states are patroling with greek police units and the coast guard. Their mission is to detect refugees before they set a foot on the greek territory and to emediately inform the turkish border guards, to prevent the trespassing of the borders.


Number of arrivals further increase


The number of arriving asylum seekers hasn’t been that high in a long time. According to the UNHCR since the beginning of the year until 14. September 2015 :: 288.020 Asylum seekers arrived. The main points of arrival between 1. January and 23. August 2015 had been the islands of Lesbos (94.134), Chios (28.928), Kos (27.991), Samos (25.596) and Leros / Farmakonisi (9.988). Most refugees come from war torn syria, or from regions of civil war and crisis like afghanistan, irak and somalia.


On Lesbos every day about 2000 asylum seekers arrive. On 29. August there were 100 vessels with more than 4000 refugees. On 1. September greek governmental institutions spoke of 15.000 refugees on the island with about 85.000 inhabitants, a week later they spoke of 20.000 and until monday 7. September the number increased to 30.000, sated the local media. A state of emergency has occured on the island. Our Colleague from the RSPA-Project (Refugee Support Program Aegean): There are still no sufficient reception facilities nor adequate basic supply.


Only the procedures for registration were simplified after days of escalating violence were thousands of shelterless persons filled the island, they are now faster than before. The situation calmed down shortly. Still no longterm solutions was found to temporarily shelter the high numbers of new arrivals. A new staunch of hundreds to thousands of unregisterd asylum seekers is about, if no other ways to handle the situation are found immediately.


On 11. August there were clashes with the police, when 2000 refugees and Migrants where brought to a foorball-stadion for registration. Caused by the slow registration procedures about 7000 refugees found themselves on the island. It was only when the situation escalated that ferries were organised to allow the people to set off to Athens. Hundreds of people slept rough in the streets or on the beach for weeks.

The abandoned hotel „Captain Ilias“, where many arriving refugees were accomodated under vast circumstances was evicted on 10. September. Since the hotel was closed down there is no shelter for new arrivals on the island anymore. The asylum seekers sleep in parks and on the streets.


In the beginning of September fanatic right-wing fascists attacked migrants in front of the police station and along the side oft he harbor. The police used tear gas. Following the ship accident not far from Kos in the beginning of September, when the pictures of a dead 3-year-old Aylan who was washed to the shore horrified the worlds public a reduction in the number of new arriving refugees in Kos was recorded. It can be can assumed that the controls at the turkish side of the border have increased following the tragedies.


Border seclusion instead of reception facilities


The last months have shown: border controls won’t stop refugees from seeking asylum. It is time to create legal routes for refugees – the number of people who have lost their lives at the european borders in the first eight months with :: 2900 persons passed is higher than ever. In the mean time :: people in europe are debating without any recogniseable outcome on further plans about the reallocation and detention of refugees in so-called „Hotspots“ at the external borders. Along with the temporary reestablishing of border controls at the interior borders the european heads of state and governements – foremost the governement of germany called off Schengen in most regards. To restore the freedom of movement in europe, the eu is now heading to seal of its external borders. This poses the threat of an even further increasing number of dead people at europes external borders.


First published on 22. Sep 2015 by Translation based on the article edited by

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