This is the current situation on the Greek islands

Status: turn of the year 2021/22

At the moment there are officially 3.544 asylum seekers on the Greek islands Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros. Here you get an overview of the current situation on the islands. All figures are taken from the official statistics of the Greek Ministry of Migration, which you can download here. can view here. Under „National Situation: Migrant and Refugee Issue“ you will find the daily updated figures. 

Declining numbers on the islands

Many people have been brought to the mainland in the past six months. Most of them are recognized refugees, but then often end up in precarious living conditions or homelessness. WDR captured the situation from the perspective of the affected children back in May

Another reason for the steadily declining numbers is the acceleration of asylum procedures on the islands, which is accompanied by a high degree of legal uncertainty. First, the Greek government declared Turkey a safe third country. Not because Turkey is a safe third country, but because most protection seekers enter via Turkey. Thus, there is no longer any substantive examination of applications from people from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia. 

At the same time, NGOs report glaring deficiencies in the asylum interviews: untrained staff, poor translation, hardly any follow-up questions. In the end, a lot of negative decisions are made in a short time. While in the last years the situation on Lesbos was always explained with a huge backlog, and people sometimes had to wait two years for their first interview with the authorities, today it is common that the second (final) decision is made after 6-8 weeks. If possible, people then come to so-called "Pre-Removal Detention Centers", in German Deportation Prisonswhere conditions are disastrous. Most of them don't even know when they will be deported, since deportation flights are mostly suspended due to the pandemic. 

Pushbacks between Greece and Turkey

Another reason for the decreasing numbers is the decreasing arrivals on the Greek islands. This is due to the pushbacks that are carried out at sea and on land by the Greek police. 

The Turkish Ministry of the Interior, whose command also includes the sea rescue in the Aegean Sea, has meanwhile set up its own website (Pushback Incidents), on which the cases are recorded in detail and partly with videos and photos. Never before such a number of unmaneuverable boats or life rafts have been recorded in the Aegean. It is clear here that people do not set off in boats without engines, nor in life rafts on the Turkish side. The NGO Aegan Boat Report, has here in the archive detailed the pushbacks totaled and archived. Behind each number is a person who was deprived of their right to apply for asylum – and put in a life-threatening situation at sea. 

MPCRIS open

A key development of European migration policy in Greece is the opening of the Multi-Purpose Reception and Identification Centers (MPRICS), built on the Aegean Islands with EU funding. The idea behind this is that those seeking protection, sealed off from cities and unseen by the general public, can behind walls and barbed wire be housed. To get in, you have to give a chip card and also fingerprints, at night people are locked in there. The press only gets in in exceptional cases.  On Samos and Kos, these camps have now been opened; on the other islands, some of the planning has stalled and is expected to be completed next year. Another point I have in a letter with my group colleague Alexandra Geese themed in November: The camps are fully equipped with video surveillance. In some cases, employees of the Ministry in Athens can look into the private rooms of those seeking protection with cameras. This was also paid for with money from the EU Corona reconstruction funds, although the money is not earmarked for this at all. 

The new camp on Lesvos is not yet completed, which means that the people in the temporary camp Mavrovouni, contrary to all promises, still have to spend a winter. Although some containers have been put up in the meantime and not all people live in tents anymore. But quite a few still do. The situation on Lesvos is described in the monthly "Lesvos Bulletin" by Oxfam and the Greek Refugee Council, which also explains why detention for those seeking protection is now a very common practice in Greece. 

Criminalization 

The criminalization of aid and restriction of press freedom on the islands is frightening. There have been and still are several cases against aid workers and NGOs, against whom absurd accusations are made. In November, on Lesbos, a Proceedings opened against 24 activistsThey are accused of bringing people seeking protection into the country illegally. They simply rescued people from distress at sea. The central piece of evidence is said to be the passing on of information about active sea rescue cases via messenger services such as WhatsApp. Help was coordinated here in a group set up by the UNHCR for this purpose, in which the accused persons were members. The Guardian broke the story here. 

There are also massive restrictions on the press in Greece. There are repeated arrests on the Greek islands. A few weeks ago, photojournalist Tim Lüddemann was arrested while photographing a camp from the outside and interrogated for several hours. Afterwards, Stavros Maliuchidis made public that his phone was demonstrably tapped by the secret services. Stavros is a member of the Journalists' Collective "We Are Solomonthat researches in Greece mainly on migration and asylum. 

Study: Inadequate training for border officials

„I work at the [name redacted] border patrol station and have been in border patrol for a long time. Some of us no longer have the will or the strength to watch what is being done to these people. We send them back to Bosnia and Herzegovina every day, without papers, without processing, no matter who it is, women, children, it doesn't matter. There is no asylum, it does not exist – except in exceptional situations, when journalists are there.“

A Croatian border guard

Our Green Group in the European Parliament has produced a study on the education and training programmes of border guards. The study examined the programmes in Italy, Greece, Hungary and Croatia, as well as those of Frontex and CEPOL (European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training). The author of the study is the social psychologist Helena Bakic. The aim of the study was to find out whether the trainings provide sufficient knowledge about human rights and their relevance for the work at the borders and how the trainings can be improved.

Unfortunately, massive human rights violations regularly occur at the EU's external borders: there is no end to the reports of pushbacks and repatriations of people to places where they are threatened with torture, violence and death. This is contrary to international law. But do all border officials even know which orders they are allowed to carry out and when human rights are being violated?

In order for human rights to be respected at the borders, border police officers must be familiar with the law and their particular responsibilities. They are in daily contact with people in need of protection and are often the first contact of protection seekers with the EU at all. Knowledge of their own work and its legal basis is a prerequisite for the performance of their duties. Officers must know whether orders or their actions are unlawful. In order to protect people from violence, clear tasks and a sound knowledge of human rights are needed. This is especially true in the field of asylum and migration, which is directly related to human rights. 

Are we teaching them right? Results of the study

Short training periods for border guards of six months or less make it difficult to provide adequate training. Some countries also recruit volunteers without special qualifications. Others use riot police at the border. Nor is any knowledge of human rights required of trainees. 

The subject is often taught in a dry and theoretical way. But pedagogy is important for a good education. Content must be taught in such a way that it can be implemented and applied. Six months of weapons training with minimal training on the legal framework within which this work operates is not enough. 

Human rights are only marginally addressed in the educational programmes of border guards: The proportion varies between 0.4 and 2.5 % of the total training. In some Member States, human rights are not part of the training at all. Although there have been over 50,000 pushbacks and numerous reports of inhumane treatment of protection seekers, human rights violations such as mass deportations at the external borders have hardly been a topic in the trainings so far. Racism and diversity as well as communication at the borders are hardly or not at all addressed. 

NGOs are involved only sporadically or not at all. Yet they could also contribute to an effective and human rights-oriented migration policy at the borders. They have important knowledge and could contribute new approaches.

Despite this bitter record, many training programmes have improved in recent years. The Common Core Curriculum (CCC) for border and coast guard training in the EU was developed by Frontex in 2003 and last revised in 2017. It sets minimum standards for the training of border guards. In addition, there are good guidelines and manuals for their training, such as the UN Manual of 1997 and the UNHCR's Protection Training Manual for European Border Guards. The latter was developed in particular with a view to protecting the rights of persons seeking protection in the context of mixed migratory movements. In addition, a comprehensive fundamental rights-based police training has been drafted. 

Unfortunately, these programmes are hardly used and only a small percentage of border guards participate in them. The annual CEPOL course for law enforcement officers on police ethics and diversity management, for example, aims to improve respect for fundamental rights in law enforcement work. Two [!] border guards have taken part in this course in the last four years.

What next?

Existing programmes need to be evaluated and revised. EU Member States, Frontex and CEPOL should give human rights a greater place in their training programmes. Emphasis should be placed on anti-discrimination, proportionality of measures and protection of fundamental rights. Training should be provided by experts. 

Teaching methods should also be revised and the expertise and perspectives of NGOs should be included in the training. Improving human rights education in training protects officers from committing crimes in legal grey areas and becoming targets of prosecution themselves. 

The importance of this is demonstrated by the study's numerous reports of human rights violations by border officials. The suspicion is that these are taking place systematically. The fact that Frontex does not hire human rights experts, although the agency is obliged to do so, illustrates the importance attributed to this. Frontex is the largest agency in the EU and is constantly being expanded. In a Union that sees itself as a democratic community and that claims to defend human rights, it must be ensured that this also happens in practice. 

Outlook

Close analysis of the various programmes of the Member States and agencies offers specific opportunities for improvement, adapted to each situation and based on the CCC. As border policy is increasingly coordinated at European level, we need to examine it more closely in Parliament. The debate on border policy and respect for human rights must be stepped up in order to prevent and stop further pushback scandals and further illegal behaviour at the borders.

Excursion to Germany: Racism remains a structural problem

It is not only among border police officers that there is a lack of awareness about discrimination and non-discriminatory practice. Many police students report a dominant right-wing and authoritarian culture within the training structures. There are numerous "individual cases" of fascist chat groups within the German police, countless cases of racial profiling, right-wing terrorist networks in German security agencies, unresolved Deaths in German cells and more. The Minister of the Interior refuses to conduct a study on racism in the police. Because he is afraid of the result and because he knows that racism is a structural problem is. 

Rafael Behr, professor of police science at the Academy of Police in Hamburg, argues for more political education in the police and a more attentive environment. Also police researcher Hans-Gert Jaschke Calls for an open culture with more training opportunities within the police. 

Poor training cannot be compensated for by extended monitoring. Monitoring is important in order to learn about violations of fundamental rights. However, the first step is to ensure that there are no violations of fundamental rights. Therefore, one should start with education. Acting against prejudice helps to deal with it actively, especially within the education and training programmes. 

You can read the whole study here on German and English read about it. The summary and the most important chapters of the study are also available on French available.

Further links can be found here:

No more EU funding for forced labour in Eritrea

With the so-called "Emergency Trust Fund for Africa" the EU created an instrument in 2015 to "address the root causes of instability, displacement and irregular migration and to contribute to better migration management". This fund, which is outside the EU budget and therefore hardly subject to parliamentary control, has been repeatedly criticised by the European Parliament – also because of the use of funds to finance the Libyan coast guard.

EU-funded road construction uses forced labourers

The New York Times reported in a Article from January 2020how 20 million euros from the fund for a forced labor related Road construction project in Eritrea were spent. Although the funds were used exclusively for the procurement of materials and equipment for the reconstruction of roads, the Eritrean government conscripted workers through national service for the construction work related to the project. Compulsory, indefinite national service (military service), to which all Eritreans can be conscripted, can be classified as forced labour or a modern form of slavery. Immediately after the article was published, I posted a written question to the Commission for comment on the fact that EU funding indirectly finances forced labour.

Evasion by the Commission

As is often the case, the Reply very evasive. On the one hand, reference was made to strict monitoring and evaluation procedures, and it was stated that the EU Delegation and UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services, which was in charge of implementation) made regular visits to the site to "verify the materials supplied, obtain information from the contractor on the implementation of the project and discuss similar relevant issues". At the same time, responsibility was shifted away, with the statement that the EU-funded project was only paying for the procurement and supply of materials and equipment; but the EU was not paying for labour – which, ironically, is exactly the problem.

Reallocation of funds earmarked for other projects

I also continued to draw attention to the issue at various committee meetings, while Commission representatives provided excuses. For this reason, we Green MEPs from the Committee on Development also proposed a committee trip to Eritrea, partly in order to see the situation for ourselves on the ground. Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled because of the corona pandemic. I was all the more surprised when the Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, informed the committee in April of this year that the money earmarked for the second tranche of the project, as well as all the other funds earmarked for Eritrea, were to be reallocated to other priorities in the Horn of Africa. This was officially justified by the Eritrean Government's lack of interest in the funding projects.

Lack of information rights of the European Parliament

The decision was taken in the May 2021 confirmed by the operational committee. Since the European Parliament does not have a seat on the committee and is not informed of its decisions, a fact which we MEPs have also recently reiterated in the Implementation Report on the Trust Funds and the Turkey Facility have criticized – I could bring this confirmation only some months later in experience. However, I expressly welcome the development.

Question: Criminalisation of protection seekers in Greece

In order to deter, Greece sentences those seeking protection to long prison terms – covered by the Commission, which refuses to intervene and does not declare itself competent. For example, Hanad Abdi Mohammad was sentenced to a total of 142 years' imprisonment for taking the wheel of a boat and saved 31 people in the process. With other Members, I have asked whether the EU Commission will ensure that Greece complies with international law and will intervene here. This question was not answered by the Commission, white means that the Commission does not intend to do anything.

My complete question on the situation in Greece and the Commission's reply can be found here. here:

My request

Subject: Criminalisation of migrants in Greece

On June 25, 2021, the New York Times published an article titled "He Saved 31 People at Sea. Then Got a 142-Year Prison Sentence." It describes how Hanad Abdi Mohammad took the helm of a boat carrying 33 people who were trying to get to Greece from Turkey and made it to safety. He was then sentenced to 142 years imprisonment for people smuggling, of which he has to serve 20 years, the maximum sentence allowed under the Greek penal code.

The newspaper article points out that asylum seekers who take the wheel after smugglers have left a boat are increasingly being found guilty and sentenced by a court for the purpose of deterrence and intimidation. The non-governmental organisation Border Monitoring has identified at least 48 cases of this kind in Chios and Lesvos alone. Add to this the criminalisation of irregular entry in 2020, when dozens of migrants were sentenced to prison terms at the Greek-Turkish land border instead of being taken to reception centres to establish their identity. Guilty verdicts against refugees as smugglers violate EU asylum rules, according to which refugees are granted the right to apply for asylum.

How will the Commission ensure that Greece complies with EU and international law in such cases?

Answer given by Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 18.10.2021:

The facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence is covered by the Smuggling Directive.[1]. Under the Treaties, it is the national authorities, not the Commission, that are responsible for investigating and prosecuting cases of people smuggling.

In the Commission Guidelines on the implementation of the Smuggling Directive[2] clarify that Member States may waive sanctions if the purpose of the activity is to provide humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the guidelines clarify that legally required humanitarian assistance should never be criminalised. The Commission will continue to be in close contact with Member States' authorities to gather information on the implementation of the smuggling package and, where appropriate, to launch infringement procedures in case of breaches of EU law.[3] It will also report on the implementation of the smuggling package, including the above-mentioned guidelines, in the context of the implementation of the new EU Anti-Smuggling Action Plan (2021-2025).

The Asylum Procedures Directive[4] provides that Member States may not detain a person solely because he or she has applied for international protection. Detained persons should be informed of the possibility to apply for international protection. Furthermore, Member States must provide detainees with timely access to the asylum procedure in accordance with Article18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.


[1] Directive2002/90/EC (OJ L328, 5.12.2002, p.17).

[2] C(2020)6470 of 23 September 2020.

[3] Communication from the Commission "EU law: better outcomes through better implementation" (C(2016)8600, OJ C18, 19.1.2017, p.10).

[4] Directive2013/32/EU (OJ L180, 29.6.2013, p.60).

News from Afghanistan

Due to the current developments in Afghanistan, by mid-October 2021, in addition to the „News from the Borders“ has prepared a daily press review on the most important events in the country itself, but also on the people who are trying to flee from there.

10/14/2021: I talk to T-Online and Watson about the Kabul airlift and the current situation in Afghanistan +++ Commemoration is no substitute for coming to terms with the past +++ A gay man tells of threats from the Taliban

  • In an interview with T-Online I said that it was right to thank the soldiers of the Bundeswehr for their deployment. But I also warn against forgetting the vulnerable people in Afghanistan now that the mission is over.
  • I was allowed to talk to Watson about ithow we are currently working on the Kabul airlift, and why the international community must become more involved in Afghanistan and not repeat its old mistakes.  
  • With the Taliban coming to power, the LGBTQ community in Afghanistan is living in fear. A 25-year-old gay man from Afghanistan explains that the Taliban openly threaten to throw gay men off tall buildings. You can watch the 80-second video at RND.

13.10.2021: Great taps in Berlin +++ Bremen:in demand country admission +++ EU wants to support Afghanistan with one billion € 

  • The EU announced at the G-20 summit, she would support Afghanistan with one billion euros. Merkel reiterated that Germany would provide 600 million euros to support the people of Afghanistan. It was stressed that the money is not a form of recognition of the Taliban.

12.10.2021: Alliance of researchers calls for more threatened Afghan women to be admitted +++ G20 special summit +++ Joe Biden's interpreter manages to escape 

  • Joe Biden's former interpreter, Aman Chalili, managed to escape from Afghanistan by land – after a desperate call for help. In 2008, he was part of a small strike force that rescued Biden and his companions after their helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in remote territory because of a snowstorm. Chalili's family had tried in vain to flee Kabul on an evacuation flight after the Taliban took power.
  • The economy has collapsed, every third person suffers from hunger and many people are on the run. Now, energy expert Alias Wardak explains.that the power supply, and thus the infrastructure, could also collapse (paywall). 

11.10.2021: Art project aims to help Afghan family reach Europe +++ Former local forces live in fear of Taliban +++ Private airline banned from flying to Pakistan 

  • Masoud Azami was a local worker in Afghanistan. He has been hiding in Kabul for weeks, afraid for himself and his children.  The taz tells his story.
  • Numerous people have been killed in an attack in Kunduz province. A report with the background can be found at tagesschau.de.
  • Despite great dangers, women in Afghanistan do not want to give up their dream of an equal life. How women insist on their rights, t-online has written down here.

08.10.2021: Bamf exerts pressure on Afghans to be put in a worse position +++ Female judges go into hiding +++ 200 local staff are flown out 

  • Afghan local workers and their families are admitted to Germany via section 22 of the Residence Act. Apparently, however, the Bamf is putting pressure on the people to apply for asylum anyway, which would leave them in a worse position. A video was leaked to Pro-Asyl, you'll find it here.
  • In view of the scheduled review process, the opposition has criticized Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer's plans. Read more about the background on n-tv.

7.10.2021: Kabul airlift evacuates 13 people +++ 300 people could be flown out of Kabul by charter flight +++ Resettlement Forum in Brussels 

  • Yesterday, the Kabul air bridge was able to pick up eleven German citizens and two people with German residence permits from #Afghanistan evacuate to Pakistan, including 9 children. They were brought to Islamabad with a chartered plane and will be flown on to Frankfurt from there. 

I also report regularly on Kabul airlift on Twitter 

  • Today the High Level EU Resettlement Forum on Afghanistan took place in Brussels. At the invitation of Commissioner Ylva Johansson, decision-makers from the European Union are meeting to discuss admissions from Afghanistan. Amnesty International has made clear demands to the conference, you can find them here.
  • Under the rule of the Taliban, the mood in the capital Kabul has also changed drastically. What it feels like to live in the city is described by the former deputy director of the news channel TOLONews. You can find the article in Newsweek (English).

6.10.2021: Taliban murder members of the Hazara minority +++ Taliban want to issue passports again +++ Humanitarian cash payments are not yet recognition of the Taliban

  • The Taliban have given a Report of the human rights organization Amnesty International The Taliban have committed a war crime in the killing of 13 members of the Hazara minority. In the Afghan province of Daikundi, nine security forces of the deposed Afghan government were executed without trial by Taliban fighters, despite having surrendered. 

5.10.2021: Taliban summon former local forces to court and threaten them +++ Interior Ministry continues to delay taking in vulnerable people +++ German Afghanistan mission cost €17.3 billion 

  • In an open letter, NGOs had asked the Ministry of the Interior for help for threatened Afghans. The response: a collection of text modules. The Ministry of the Interior, led by Seehofer, is obviously not very interested in saving people. taz reports.  

4.10.2021: Local forces threatened with homelessness in Germany +++ Attack in front of mosque in Kabul +++ Kramp-Karrenbauer receives rejection from almost all parliamentary groups

  • The police station in police district number 10, in Kabul. „This police station was financed with public money from the Federal Republic of Germany“, is written in German in capital letters on a sign. However, the Taliban police officers here cannot say anything more about this, the station was built about 18 years ago, when most of them were still children. tagesschau.de was on patrol with the Taliban police.
  • In a remote mountainous region, the Taliban's rule has dramatic consequences: The most powerful ethnic group, the Pashtuns, are taking homes from their Shiite neighbors. It could be a harbinger of ethnic cleansing. Der Spiegel was on the scene (paywall).

10/1/2021: Taliban break up protest of six women with warning shots +++ Greek government closes off to Afghans +++ Taliban abolish press freedom 

  • The Taliban are abolishing freedom of the press. At a meeting with journalists in Kabul in late September, the Taliban's Ministry of Information and Culture distributed media regulations whose provisions are so broad and vague that they effectively ban any critical reporting on the Taliban.

30.09.2021: German authorities delay family reunification +++ G20 countries plan special gig +++ German Foreign Office now to evacuate local forces via Pakistan 

  • German authorities delay and prevent according to research by Panorama the right to family reunification of refugees. In this country alone, according to the Foreign Office, more than 4000 people from Afghanistan have been on the waiting list for an appointment for up to two years in order to be able to submit their documents at all. Because of the filibustering, they are now under Taliban rule. 
  • The pictures from Kabul have been gloomy since the Taliban came to power, even if something like everyday life is back. Life in Afghanistan is changing.Zeit Online has put together 16 current photos from Afghanistan that you can look at. watch here can

09/29/2021Taliban rule increasingly Islamist and misogynistic +++ DW journalist arrives in Germany +++ Luxembourg grants protection status to almost all Afghan asylum seekers 

  • For some Afghan business owners, flight is out of the question because they don't want to leave their female employees alone with the Taliban. The taz reports.

Sep 28, 2021: Kabul airlift continues to work to save people +++ Ghani distances himself from pro-Taliban Facebook post +++ International court does not investigate US soldiers 

27.09.2021: Taliban call for resumption of international flights in Kabul +++ Washington Post analyzes why security force buildup failed +++ The last Jew leaves Kabul 

  • Building Afghanistan's national security forces has been one of the most ambitious and expensive projects in the two decades that NATO has been active in Afghanistan. The Washington Post analyzes why this project failed and the country fell to the Taliban with almost no military resistance. 
  • The "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan", which the Taliban proclaimed once again, was never abolished from their point of view. And the Taliban had never completely lost support among the population either. In this 19-minute feature, the Deutschlandfunk attempts to to explain where the support for the Taliban in parts of the population comes from

09/24/2021: Taliban want to reintroduce executions and hand amputations +++ German Foreign Office continues not to communicate with relatives of people left behind in Afghanistan +++ Hunger in refugee camps

  • Two children in Germany continue to wait for their mother to finally be allowed to leave the country. But so far they have only received automated answers from the Foreign Office. WDR reports.

23.09.2021: "Cologne Declaration" criticizes EU refugees +++ 30 documented cases of pushbacks on Balkan route in August +++ Mounted U.S. Border Patrol agents chase refugees from Haiti

  • The green member of the Bundestag Margarete Bause writes in an Guest article for the Frankfurter Rundschauthat one in three people in Afghanistan is starving and that the country urgently needs help. Furthermore, the EU and Germany also have an obligation to show solidarity and must not shirk their responsibility to continue taking in refugees.
  • Fawzia Saidzada has been fighting for women's rights in Afghanistan for years. Now her enemies are in power. Her place of residence is being watched, one of her brothers has already been beaten up. The Süddeutsche Zeitung visited them in Kabul.

22.09.2021: Taliban push for UN recognition +++ Taliban still not accepting women into interim government +++ Desperation of local forces left behind grows

21.09.2021: Man deported to Afghanistan killed +++ Federal government continues to delay rescue and doesn't even know how many local forces need rescuing +++ Study proves: Taliban have not become more "moderate" 

20.09.2021: Taliban exclude girls from higher education +++ Journalist:s ask international community for help +++ Rescue of local forces continues to be delayed

  • The Taliban have excluded girls and women from secondary schools. A statement on the upcoming start of school stresses that only male teachers and students should return to secondary school classes. Time Online reports.

17.09.2021: Dissent podcast on Kabul airlift +++ EU Parliament calls for rapid resumption of evacuations from Afghanistan +++ Annalena Baerbock calls for consistent halt to deportations to Afghanistan

  • We MEPs have voted by a large majority in favour of resuming evacuations from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Deutschlandfunk reports. You can read the text adopted by Parliament read here.
  • Annalena Baerbock spoke out yesterday in favour of a consistent stop to deportations to Afghanistan. She said: "The deportations to Afghanistan must be stopped and suspended. People who live here cannot be in the uncertainty [...] that they fear that at some point they will have to go to a country where the Taliban are in the government. That's why I'm in favour of a consistent ban on deportations; You can watch the whole ZDF show Klartext here.
  • Due to several cases of measles, the US government is not allowing people flown out of Afghanistan to enter the country at Ramstein for the time being. Medical personnel at the Ramstein base have now begun vaccinating thousands. Spiegel Online reports.

16.09.2021: Afghan banks run out of money +++ EU Commission provides additional €100 million for Afghanistan +++ People report how their evacuation is delayed and prevented

  • For two weeks, a thousand people have been stuck in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, although several planes are waiting for them to leave. They are failing due to bureaucracy - while the fear of the Taliban is growing. Der Spiegel spoke to one of them (paywall).
  • For seven years, Wahid was on duty for the German Armed Forces and was considered one of the best translators. Now he fears for his life and won't leave his house. Although he was already at the airport, they just didn't want to save him. Spiegel TV visited him and shot this 5-minute film with him.
  • Disguised in burqas, Afghan women footballers from the national U teams smuggle themselves into Pakistan at the risk of their lives. Other plans were previously foiled by a bomb explosion. Sports lessons for women and girls have already been banned by the Taliban in Afghanistan. ntv reports on their escape.

15.09.2021: German government continues to delay the rescue of people +++ Thousands demonstrate against the Taliban in Kandahar +++ EU foreign policy chief wants to talk to the Taliban 

  • I spoke to T-Online about the Kabul airlift. And also about how the German government made false promises and dragged out the rescue of people. Six people who were on Foreign Office lists are already dead, several have been kidnapped or have been served death sentences. 
  • In the European Commission's draft action plan on the Taliban takeover, it was elaborated that an agreement to facilitate deportations to Afghanistan would be suspended. However, the action plan encourages the continued deportation of Afghans from EU countries to third countries. Statewatch took a closer look at the draft action plan here.

14.09.2021: UN pledges $1.2 billion for Afghanistan +++ Interior Ministry puts 2600 people on its lists +++ Afghan women protest against forced veiling

  • At the first UN donor conference after the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan a total of 1.2 billion US dollars has been pledged for humanitarian purposes. The sum includes emergency aid for the suffering population as well as development aid and support for neighbouring countries that are taking in refugees. The Federal Government is contributing the equivalent of 100 million euros to the emergency aid.

13.09.2021: UN warns of economic collapse +++ Universities introduce strict gender segregation +++ Thousands of Afghan refugees wait in Ramstein for onward travel to the USA 

  • A 16-year-old from Berlin wants to get his family out of Afghanistan. But without a recognized refugee status, he, like most other Afghan refugees in Germany, has no right to bring his family here – even though he is a minor. The RBB visited him and describes the situation.

10.09.2021: Six people killed on German evacuation lists +++ Plane takes 110 people from Kabul to Doha +++ Greens call for rescue of Afghan journalists  

  • At least six people on German evacuation lists have been executed in Afghanistan. People have been practically prevented from being rescued, although it has been publicly claimed that they should be evacuated. I was talking to Watson about it.

EU Commission supports Croatia's Schengen accession despite pushback

On 15 June, together with eleven other Members from three political groups. wrote this letter to inspector Ylva Johanssonin which we call on the Commission to take immediate action against the pushbacks and human rights violations by Croatia at the EU's external border. The letter was prompted by Media reports from Spiegel, ARD, Lifhthouse Reports and Novostiwhich show that even children, pregnant women and people with disabilities are brutally pushed.

This broad Europe-wide network of journalists published new reports of pushbacks by Croatian border guards, in six cases specifically documented with videos. Entire families and vulnerable people are being pushed back across the EU border through the forest. One case involves a pregnant woman in her eighth month with five small children. The six videos show a total of around 65 people, including 20 children, being illegally pushed. Among them even a man with a heart condition and crutches.

In the letter we criticize that the impression is created that the Commission and the Council want to convey to the public that human rights violations are to be prevented, but in practice member states of the European Union can simply do what they want and the Commission looks on.

Commission's reply

In her reply, Ms Johansson writesthat it expects the Croatian authorities to take the reports seriously and investigate them. This is welcome, but in the past such calls have also been largely ignored by the Croatian side and the practice of pushbacks has continued. Ms Johansson draws attention to the fact that Croatia has agreed to a new monitoring mechanism at the border, which will also include the Red Cross and other organisations.

The problem is that the visits of the organizations are announced in advance. This is like the police announcing a day before a house search that they now want to search the house and then being surprised when nothing suspicious is found in the apartment. In this form, the monitoring mechanism is neither independent, nor will it serve its purpose. Despite the obvious human rights violations and the breach of the Schengen Border Code, the Commission is maintaining its recommendation that Croatia be admitted as a member of the Schengen area.

To support the surveillance mechanism, the Commission has pledged €14.4 million to the Croatian Ministry of Interior. The project financed by this grant agreement will last until May 2022 and is expected to further strengthen border surveillance, according to the Commission.

Question: Readmissions between Turkey and Greece

Greece rejects asylum applications from people seeking protection and issues exit orders to Turkey. However, Turkey has not allowed any readmissions for over a year now – people have to leave, but cannot. This leads to a situation „of eternal refugees“ who live in Greece in miserable conditions because they no longer receive benefits.

I asked the EU Commissionwhether this practice is compatible with EU law. In its reply, the Commission statesthat the practice of denying benefits is contrary to European law. Now, at long last, the Greek Government must also comply with the EU directive and, therefore, with applicable law. Unfortunately, however, we currently have a situation both in the camps and at the external borders in which the Greek Government is obviously breaking the law and getting away with it.


You can find my complete question and the Commission's answer here:

My request

Subject: Readmissions between Greece and Turkey

Although Turkey has not allowed readmissions since March 2020, the Greek authorities issue decisions on the voluntary departure of Syrian nationals whose applications have been rejected as inadmissible in a final decision (Turkey is considered a "safe third country" for them). These individuals must leave Greece within 10, 15 or 30 days, although their applications have not been examined on their merits. However, they are not allowed to enter Turkey and cannot return to Syria due to the ongoing conflict. This has led to a situation of "perpetual refugees". At the same time, they no longer have access to material benefits granted under the reception scheme and are exposed to precarious living conditions against the backdrop of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece, which has led to severe exit restrictions.

(1) Is that practice compatible with Article 38(4) of Directive 2013/32/EU?

2. is it compatible with Articles 13 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Articles 4 and 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?

3. whether the expulsion of such persons and their exclusion from material reception conditions is compatible with Article 3 of the ECHR and Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?

Answer given by Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 01.06.2021

The Commission is aware of the increasing number of Syrian nationals on the Greek islands whose asylum applications have been finally rejected by the Greek Asylum Service, following the fact that Turkey has been declared a safe third country under the EU-Turkey Declaration.[1] was declared inadmissible.

Turkey suspended returns from Greece in March2020 in the context of COVID-19 restrictions, and although Greece and the Commission have repeatedly called for returns to resume in accordance with the EU-Turkey Statement, Turkey has not yet complied with this request.

In Article 38(4) of the Asylum Procedures Directive[2] states that 'where the third country does not allow the applicant to enter its territory, Member States must ensure that access to an [asylum] procedure is granted'. In line with this provision, applicants whose application has been declared inadmissible may therefore reapply[3]. When re-examining and deciding on these applications, Greece must take into account the circumstances at the time of the (re-)examination of each application, including with regard to the prospects of return in accordance with the EU-Turkey Statement. In the meantime, applicants shall have access to material reception conditions in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, EU law and national law.[4].

The Commission is in close contact with the Greek authorities on the issue raised by the Honourable Member. The EU remains committed to the full implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, which is the main framework for cooperation between the EU and Turkey on migration issues. This partnership is based on mutual trust and action, which requires commitment and continuous efforts from all sides.


[1] See https://www.consilium.europa.eu/de/press/press-releases/2016/03/18/eu-turkey-statement/

[2] See Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection. (OJ L180, 29.6.2013, p.60).

[3] See Joined Cases C-924/19PPU and C-925/19PPU, paragraph175ff.

[4] See Directive2013/33/EU.

Refugees in Greece receive money from the EU through this programme

In order to support the protection seekers on the Greek islands, the UNHCR has set up a Cash Assistance Programme. Under this scheme, a fixed monthly amount is transferred to an account for the protection seekers, which they can then dispose of freely. 

In principle, the Cash Assistance Programme is intended to offer people seeking protection the opportunity to organise their basic needs according to their individual requirements. It is intended to give them a degree of autonomy in a situation in which they are otherwise unable to shape their own living conditions. At the same time, an attempt is made to build up relationships with the population, to make it easier for them to settle in and to support the local economy. 

It is not comparable to an income or social assistance, to which there is a legal entitlement, but is intended to support people in shaping their own opportunities to provide for themselves. 

Who gets money? 

To determine who is entitled to the payment, the Greek government, together with the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, agreed on a list of criteria: 

  • Arrived in Greece after 1 January 2015 
  • Registered by the Greek authorities and residing in Greece
  • Provisional or completed registration by the determining authority
  • Official document issued by the Greek Government confirming their identity and residence status.
  • Over 18 years old 
  • Living in camps or other accommodation (protection seekers in private accommodation are excluded) 
  • Not employed by an NGO or UN agency
  • Not employed and without income 

How will the money be distributed?

The money, 99.80% of which comes from the European Union, is distributed by a consortium called the Greece Cash Alliance (GCA) in cooperation with the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy. The GCA consists of the UNHCR, Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, International Federation of the Red Cross and Samaritan's Purse. 

The people who are supported receive a "UNHCR Greece Cash Alliance Card", which works like any other giro card in Greece. This means that money can be withdrawn as well as paid with the card in the shops. The cards only work in Greece and will be permanently deactivated if attempted to be used outside. Those seeking protection are required to regularly certify their presence in the country and their current eligibility to one of the GCA partners.

How long will those seeking protection be supported? 

There is no minimum or maximum period. Protection seekers are supported until they no longer meet the requirements. This means that the protection seekers are actually always only safe until the next appointment with the GCA partner that it continues. Of course, it is possible to change the requirements and this also leads to the fact that money is no longer paid out to certain persons. It is also possible that the amount of money will change. Here it is unclear on what benchmarks the amount is measured and on what basis who determines changes. Currently in Greece, for example, the number of meals received in the camps is deducted from the monthly amounts. 

How much and where does the money come from? 

A total of €83 779 826.13 was distributed in 2020. Broken down to February 2021, 64 726 people in Greece received Cash Assistance, with a total of 37245 cards in circulation. This makes a total amount of almost €7.3 million for February 2021. 

Currently, the amounts are so high: 

Amount in places where regular meals are provided 

Single person over 18 90€
Couple, parent and child140€
family of 3190€
family of 4240€
family of 5290€
family of 6310€
Family of 7 or more330€

Amount in places where regular meals are not provided 

Single person over 18 150€
Couple, parent and child280€
family of 3340€
family of 4400€
family of 5450€
family of 6500€
Family of 7 or more550€

Question on the involvement of Frontex in illegal pushbacks

Together with other MEPs, I put the following questions to the EU Commission, which answered them on 14.04.2021:

Subject: Alleged involvement of Frontex in illegal refoulement of asylum seekers

On 23 October 2020, Der Spiegel published its investigation entitled "Frontex implicated in illegal pushbacks of refugees". At the LIBE Committee meeting of 6 July 2020, Fabrice Leggeri denied any knowledge of pushbacks by the Greek authorities, except for one incident, which he described as a "misunderstanding". In contrast, however, the article reveals that Frontex officials were aware of at least six incidents in which the Greek authorities had carried out refoulements without helping migrants in distress, and despite the fact that officials were obliged by the Code of Conduct for Frontex Officials to prevent refoulements. This includes an incident that took place on 8 June 2020, in which Frontex vessel MAI 1103 blocked a migrant boat, deliberately created dangerous waves to stop the boat's forward movement, and left the site after Greek authorities had arrived and pushed the boat back.

1. what measures the Commission and Frontex are considering to ensure that the above incidents do not recur?

2. whether the Commission knows whether Fabrice Leggeri was in fact unaware of the above incidents when he appeared before the LIBE Committee?

3. in the light of the above, what view does the Commission take of the political responsibility which Frontex must bear as a result of the incidents?

Answer given by Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 14.04.2021:

The Commission takes the allegations of refoulement very seriously. In line with EU law and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the principle of non-refoulement must be upheld in border management.

In order to discuss the allegations, the Commission asked the Management Board of Frontex to hold two ordinary Management Board meetings in November 2020 and January 2021, in addition to two extraordinary Management Board meetings. These were convened on 10 November 2020, 9 December 2020 and 5 March 2021.

At its meeting of 10 November 2020, the Board decided to set up a dedicated working group to conduct further investigations into this matter in accordance with the allocation of responsibilities set out in Regulation (EU)2019/1896.[1] The Commission was represented in this working group and submitted a number of questions to the Executive Director in order to obtain further clarification. Upon invitation, a representative of the European Parliament also participated in the relevant meetings of the Management Board.

The Executive Director of Frontex informed the Commission by letter of 27 October 2020 of the preliminary findings of the internal investigations into the incidents reported in the media. He stressed that Frontex had so far not found any documents or other material to substantiate the allegations of violations of fundamental rights or of the Frontex Code of Conduct by seconded officials. The final report of the working group and the conclusions adopted by the Management Board on 5 March 2021 were published on the Agency's website.[2]

An effective and well-functioning Agency for the management of external borders, which guarantees the protection of fundamental rights in the exercise of its functions, is one of the Commission's priorities. To this end, the Commission will continue to support and advise Frontex to ensure the effective fulfilment of the Agency's mandate.


[1] Regulation(EU)2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2019 on the European Border and Coast Guard (OJ L295, 14.11.2019, p.1).

[2] https://frontex.europa.eu/media-centre/management-board-updates/conclusions-of-the-management-board-s-meeting-on-5-march-2021-on-the-report-of-its-working-group-on-fundamental-rights-and-legal-operational-aspects-of-operations-in-the-aegean-sea-aFewSI

Newsletter: What was important last month

20/01 January in the European Parliament

Herewith you get my monthly review, with the following categories: The "News from the Borders" give you an update on the situation at the external borders, "Asylum and migration in Parliament" gives an insight into what is happening in my focus area in Parliament, and "What else is important" takes a look at other topics that are important to me. In addition, there is at the end "Good News".

News from the Borders

Situation in Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina worsens 

The situation in the camps at the Greek external borders is getting worse and worse. Repeatedly the new Moria was flooded due to heavy rains, it is cold and strong winds made life in the tents even more difficult. Meanwhile, in Bosnia, thousands of people are trying not to freeze to death in the snow and sub-zero temperatures. The burned down Lipa camp is considered uninhabitable despite new tents.

How the current situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina could come about and what needs to be done now, I have explained in a Post on my homepage and in the current episode of my podcast "Thick Board" discussed. 

At least 127 people died trying to reach Europe in January 

105 people drowned in the Mediterranean, 22 while trying to reach the Canary Islands from the African mainland. Despite the many deaths, civilian sea rescuers continue to be prevented from doing their work.

You can find out more about the accidents on the project page "Missing Migrants" of the IOM and in this Article in the Frankfurter Rundschau.  

My daily newsletter on Telegram 

If you want to learn more about the current situation at the European external borders, you can my daily newsletter on Telegram Subscribe. 

Asylum and migration in Parliament 

Frontex 

A Frontex working group of the European Parliament will investigate the scandals surrounding the European border management agency Frontex. As we have been calling for months, the working group will look into the allegations of illegal "pushbacks" against refugees. This is an important step on the road to the rule of law at the European external borders. The serious allegations of human rights violations at the EU's external borders must be clarified. Furthermore Frontex ceases its activities in Hungary. The reason for this is that Hungary continues to illegally deport people to Serbia despite the ECJ ruling and Frontex would thus be complicit in breaking EU law. 

Plenary debate on the humanitarian situation at the external borders

In my speech, I drew attention to the EU's complicity in the untenable conditions for refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina. (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, having discussed this issue time and time again in the European Parliament, we must now see action. The full plenary debate on the humanitarian situation of refugees can be found here in the European Parliament Media Centre. For the theme you must enter below on the time display between 11:45 and 13:01. 

My report on asylum procedures at the EU's external borders

At the first meeting of the Home Affairs Committee this year, a broad majority my own-initiative report on the implementation of asylum procedures at the EU's external borders adopted. This ability to compromise on the part of Parliament leads me to look forward to good cooperation in future negotiations on the dossiers. of the Asylum and Migration Pact hope.

What else is important 

European Parliament calls for immediate halt to construction of Nord Stream 2

Following the arrest of the Russian opposition activist Nawalny, the EU Parliament has joined with a large majority in our call for a halt to the construction of Nord Stream 2. The German MEPs in our group voted unanimously against the Baltic Sea pipeline. That Russian natural gas is simply no longer needed in Europe, shows, among other things, this study by the DIW.

European immunisation strategy

Together with other Members, I have co-signed a letter to the Commission and the Council calling for a solidarity-based distribution of vaccines worldwide and, in this context, also pointing out the EU's responsibility towards economically less strong regions. For we can only overcome this pandemic if we combat the virus globally.. You can find the letter on the homepage of my group colleague Reinhard Bütikofer. 

Good News of the month 

A French baker successfully defends himself against the deportation of his apprentice 

With a hunger strike and a wave of solidarity, the French Stéphane Ravacley prevents the deportation of his apprentice to Guinea. Newspapers in this country are also reporting on the case, which is making waves in France. 

From now on you can get’s monthly review as a newsletter directly in your mailbox. For this you can subscribe register here

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