Question: Does the EU support closed mass camps in Greece?

On 28.5.2021 the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum published a tender for the construction of the planned new "multi-purpose reception and identification centres" on Lesvos and Chios. A total of €142 million will be allocated for this purpose. The tender explicitly mentions that these are "closed, controlled structures", which will be 100 % financed with European Union funds.However, the EU Commission has promised that the camps will be open. That is why I have drafted a question to the EU Commission on this matter.. The EU Commission repliedthat they will be open centres in accordance with EU law. The Commission claims the EU-funded camps will be open, the Greek Government says they will be closed. The Commission also says that there have been „significant improvements in terms of water, sanitation, electricity, ballasting and preparation for winter and repair“ . In addition, he said, the Greek government had promised that no one would have to freeze in the camps during the winter. During my last visit two weeks ago, the Mavrovouni camp was still a construction site. I very much hope that the Greek government will keep its promise and that this year, for the first time since 2015, no one will have to freeze in tents.

My request

Subject: Invitation to tender issued by the Greek Ministry of Migration for the construction of closed camps on Lesvos and Chios

On 28.5.2021, the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum published a tender for the construction of the planned new "multi-purpose reception and identification centres" on Lesvos and Chios. A total of EUR 142 million will be allocated for this purpose. The tender explicitly mentions that these will be "closed, controlled structures", 100 % of which will be financed with European Union funds. It is also explicitly mentioned that the planned projects will be a direct implementation of EASO standards. The time to completion of the project prescribed in the call for tender is 8 months from the signature of the contract. Accordingly, completion this year seems impossible. Moreover, the resistance on the islands has already prevented any construction progress on Lesbos more than a year ago.

1.What is the current timetable of the Joint Steering Committee regarding the completion of the camps on the islands?

2.is the tender incorrect and needs to be corrected or is EU money now being used to build closed warehouses?

3. minimum standards of the Reception Directive continue not to be met in the 'temporary' Mavrovouni camp. How does the Commission justify the fact that, once again next winter, people seeking protection in Europe will have to spend the winter in tents in an undignified camp, despite the fact that promises have been made every year since 2015 to put an end to these conditions?

Answer given by Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 23/07/2021

The Commission works through a special task force is working intensively with the Greek authorities to create new multifunctional reception and identification centres on Lesvos and Chios. The construction process of the new facilities is intensively monitored, including through monthly Steering Committee meetings. The tendering process for the new centres on Lesvos and Chios is currently underway.

The Commission has allocated€ 155 million for the establishment of new centres on the islands of Lesvos and Chios. In line with EU law, these will be open centres, subject to the necessary and proportionate access arrangements. They will comprise different areas, including reception and identification structures for new arrivals, accommodation facilities, secure areas for unaccompanied children and young people, recreational areas and removal facilities. Deportation facilities for persons subject to a return order will be closed areas. Persons accommodated in the other areas will be able to enter and leave the premises via an access system with special badges.

Thanks to the joint efforts of the Greek authorities, the Commission and the EU agencies, conditions at the temporary reception facility in Mavrovouni have improved significantly, in particular as regards water, sanitation, electricity, ballasting and preparation for winter and repairs. However, Mavrovouni remains a temporary accommodation facility. The Greek authorities have assured the Commission that no one will spend another winter in tents at Mavrovouni.

Question: Construction of walls around Greek refugee camps

The Greek government is building more and more walls around the mass camps. This separates the refugees from the local population and the camps look more and more like prisons. That is why I together with other Members, asked the Commissionwhat its position is on the construction and whether it will be supported by EU funds. The Commission replies insisted that it supported the construction because it would improve the safety of residents and employees. The commission also recommended a „mixed solution“ of concrete walls and wire mesh fences. After many visits to different camps, I am not convinced by this rationale because most refugees feel confined by the walls and not better protected. Moreover, Greek government officials also openly say that the walls serve to separate the refugees from the population.

My request

Subject: Construction of walls around Greek refugee camps

When the residents of the Ritsona refugee camp in Greece woke up on 4 May 2021, they found that a three-metre-high concrete wall of the type used by the military had been built around their accommodation. This is to separate the 3,000 refugees there from the local population, although the camp is far from Greek towns. According to an advertisement on the Greek website the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 7 000 refugees in three other camps will be treated in the same way. The wall is being built with funds from the Commission's programme to 'assist the Greek authorities in the management of the national system for the reception of asylum-seekers and migrants in need of protection'. The aim of this programme is actually to promote educational measures and contacts with the locals as part of the integration process. Walls achieve exactly the opposite, as bricklayers serve to separate. They turn the refugee camps into de facto prisons, and the refugees' mental health deteriorates considerably as a result. Against this background, the Commission is asked to answer the following questions:

Is the Commission aware of these developments? If so, does it support the construction of concrete walls to enclose Greek refugee camps? Is this construction work in line with the EU's values and objectives and the above programme?

What amount of EU funding is being made available for the construction of concrete walls in Ritsona and other Greek refugee camps?

Answer given by Ylva Johansson on behalf of the European Commission on 06/07/2021

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is implementing the EU-funded emergency project "Support to the Greek authorities in the management of the national system for the reception of asylum seekers and migrants in need of protection", which covers, inter alia, the establishment and operational needs of reception centres in mainland Greece. The project includes the construction or maintenance of fences at the Diavata, Ritsona, Malakasa and Nea Kavala sites, as required by the Greek authorities, aimed at improving the safety of residents and staff.

The Commission and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) were consulted on the technical specifications before the fences were built. The fencing must take into account a number of parameters, in particular fire protection, natural light, non-obstruction of visibility and sufficient distance from the accommodation units. A mixed solution will be implemented, alternating concrete and wire mesh fencing.

The amount contracted for the implementation of the overall project is around EUR 180 million for the period from 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2021, of which around EUR 9 million is for works at the centres (including cleaning, maintenance, repairs and fencing).

News from the Borders

Here I would like to inform you regularly about the most important developments and decisions in European asylum and migration policy and keep you up to date about what is currently happening at the European external borders.

The Border News now delivered daily direct to your mobile phone: Here’s the Telegram channel.

03.08.2021: ECHR stops deportations to Afghanistan +++ Over 100 Frontex officers to be sent to Lithuania +++ People increasingly fleeing Tunisia to EU

  • Every day, several hundred people from Afghanistan reach Turkey. About half a million Afghans already live there, but the majority of people in Turkey are against accepting more refugees from Afghanistan.

02.08.2021: Ocean Viking and Sea Watch 3 rescue over 800 people in the Mediterranean +++ Although the Taliban are overrunning Afghanistan, Armin Laschet still wants to deport there +++ I talk to Sonntagsblick about the failure of European refugee policy

  • In several missions, the Ocean Viking and Sea-Watch 3 have saved more than 800 people from drowning. There are currently 555 people on board the Ocean Viking and 263 on the Sea Watch 3. There are still at least three more boats in distress that need immediate assistance. You can find updates on social media at SeaWatch and SOS Mediterranée.
  • According to the IOM, at least 1113 people have died crossing the Mediterranean this year. If we want to prevent the deaths of even more people, we finally need support for civilian sea rescue by the EU, coast guards of the member states that actually rescue refugees, and our own European sea rescue mission. The current figures on drownings in the Mediterranean Sea can be found at the Missing Migrants" page of the IOM.
  • In an interview with Sonntagsblick I talk about how the situation of refugees has deteriorated since 2015, why they are granted fewer and fewer rights, and why we in Europe simply accept it when people die, when that is exactly what we should not do.
  • The UN warns of famine in Ethiopia's Tigray region, where it is having trouble delivering humanitarian convoys to some 5.2 million affected people. Food supplies are also in short supply in refugee camps in Tigray, where people from neighbouring Eritrea live, he said. There is also a high risk of disease outbreaks, especially in overcrowded refugee camps without adequate sanitation.

29.07.2021: Number of civilian victims in Afghanistan reaches record level +++ Greece demands that Turkey take back rejected asylum seekers +++ Court rules: Asylum seekers without prospects of accommodation and work in Italy may not be returned.

  • Greece has the EU Commission urged to persuade Turkey to take back rejected protection seekers. There are now 1908 people on the Greek islands whose asylum applications have been rejected, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said in a letter to the Brussels authority. According to the agreement Turkey would have to take these people back, but has not done so since the start of the corona pandemic. 
  • Berlin will, for humanitarian reasons, in the next five years accommodate an additional 100 people per yearwho have fled to Lebanon. The admission takes place outside the usual asylum procedures, as the Berlin Senate Interior Administration announced.

28.07.2021: The Geneva Refugee Convention (GRC) turns 70. On this occasion, all news today have a reference to the world's most important document for the protection of refugees

– On its 70th birthday, the Geneva Convention on Refugees is dying. On this occasion I talked to the Frankfurter Rundschau about itthat the EU massively violates the CSF by mistreating, drowning or turning back refugees. Also on my homepage I have a short text to this.

Pianist Igor Levit and columnist Georg Diez have written an important article in the Tagesspiegelin which they call for an "aggressive humanism" and write that we must understand flight as an act of freedom and finally understand the 21st century as the century of the refugees.

– Professor Sandro Mezzadra talks in an interview with Diary on how the Geneva Refugee Convention is currently under attack by states such as Denmark and the UK, and how the policy of externalisation contradicts the spirit of the Refugee Convention. He also explains why he is involved in sea rescue and why for him there is no strict distinction between theory and practice.

– In a Interview with Radio Eins, lawyer and political scientist Maximillian Pichl explains, why refugees in many EU states can no longer claim their rights under the Refugee Convention. And why reasons such as climate change and socio-economic exploitation should also be recognised as reasons for flight. I also spoke with Maximilian Pichl in my podcast about his study on the "Moria Complex"..

Alexander Göbel commented in the Inforadio of the HRthat the inhuman reality at the external borders makes the commitment of the EU states to the CSF degenerate into pure hypocrisy.

27.07.2021: 57 people drown off Libyan coast +++ Libyan coast guard threatens to arrest crew of Sea Watch 3 +++ Germany deports again to Hungary 

  • The Libyan Coast Guard threatens to arrest the crew of the SeaWatch3. They falsely claim the Libyan SAR zone as their territorial waters, even though they are international waters. Ships like the Sea-Watch 3 want to help people in distress and bring them to a safe place. But the EU-funded militias are there to prevent people from fleeing Libya in the first place.
  • Currently, with the SeaWatch3, the Ocean Viking and and the Astral two civilian rescue ships and one observation ship in the central Mediterranean. In addition, the Geo Barents of Médecins Sans Frontières is free again as of today and is being prepared for the next mission.

26.07.2021: Tajikistan agrees to take in 100,000 Afghan refugees +++ The German Foreign Office downplays the situation in Afghanistan in order to be able to continue deporting +++ France calls for Frontex to be deployed at the English Channel

  • Afghanistan's neighbouring country Tajikistan agreed to take in 100,000 refugees from Afghanistan. The US is also providing USD 100 million in aid for refugees from Afghanistan. Now that the Taliban have conquered a large part of the country, the German government should also finally stop deportations to the country. 

07/23/2021: Online disinformation is link between far-right and right-wing parties +++ Infant dies in Lesbos camp +++ Greece criminalizes human rights monitoring 

  • A study shows: Online disinformation targeting refugees and NGOs acts as a "crucial link" between right-wing extremists and established right-wing parties. In Germany, it is primarily the AfD that disseminates misinformation from right-wing extremists. The 30-page study can be found here. Euractiv has the results in a clear article summarized.
  • A three-month-old infant died two days ago in the Mavrovouni refugee camp on Lesvos. According to local news, the child was vomiting the night before he died, but was not taken to a doctor in time. If you want to learn more about the situation on the Greek islands, then follows the correspondent Franziska Grillmeier, reporting on the scene.

21.07.2021: Hunger strikers in Belgium in critical condition +++ 20 people drown in the Mediterranean and 500 are dragged back to Libya +++ With "Now" I talk about my book 

  • Sweden, Finland and Norway have suspended deportations to Afghanistan. Germany, the UK, Denmark and Switzerland continue to deport there. The taz gives an overviewhow other countries are currently dealing with deportations to Afghanistan.

20/07/2021: My book on European refugee policy is published today +++ MEPs demand from the Commission to finally take action against Croatia's violent pushbacks +++ Sea-Eye sells Alan Kurdi 

  • My book 'Europe is abolishing itself' is published today. In it I deal with the question of how the EU knowingly breaks its own law, betrays values and what consequences this has for us. I also write about the possibilities for change and how individuals can become active. You can read it at Rowohlt and buy the book as paperback and e-book.
  • Sea-Eye sells the rescue ship „Alan Kurdi“. The Regensburg-based aid organization justifies the move by saying that the blockade of civilian rescue ships by the Italian authorities had placed a heavy financial burden on it. The ship will go to the Italian sea rescue organisation ResQ and will be operated under the new name of ResQ People into new assignments.

07/19/2021: At least 955 people drowned in the Mediterranean this year +++ Sweden suspends deportations to Afghanistan +++ Scientist calls for better access to trauma therapy for refugees  

  • Currently, not a single civilian rescue ship is underway in the Mediterranean because many are prevented from doing their work for flimsy reasons. According to the IOM, at least 955 people have died in the Mediterranean on their way to Europe so far this year. Last year 404 people died in the same period. You can always find the latest figures from the IOM here.
  • Japan recognizes only one percent of all asylum applications. Those who have to leave the country again sometimes sit for years in deportation custody – under absolutely undignified conditions. Even the death of a woman in prison did not trigger a rethink. tagesschau.de reports on the appalling conditions in Japan.

16.07.2021 Study shows that reports on refugees are increasingly negative +++ Refugees are subjected to massive violence by the Libyan coast guard +++ Lithuanians discuss measures to seal themselves off from the outside world

  • A study by the University of Mainz shows that Germany's leading media are reporting less frequently and more negatively about refugees. The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported most positively. The most negative was Bild. The two public news broadcasts have almost reversed the tenor of their reporting, the study says: „While almost only positive reports about refugees were broadcast here in 2015, both are now among the media with the most negative portrayal.“ An You can find a summary of the results in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
  • Refugees continue to be subjected to violence, exploitation, sexual violence, extortion and forced labour in Libya, according to a new report by Amnesty International. According to a new report by the human rights organization, for many refugees, violence and mistreatment begin from their first contact with the Libyan Coast Guard at sea. You can find the report on the homepage by Amnesty in English, Arabic, Spanish, French and Italian. RND summarizes the report's findings.
  • Following the EU sanctions against Belarus, hundreds of refugees are arriving in Lithuania via the EU's external border. Lukashenko is trying to blackmail the EU with this and Lithuania has declared a state of emergency, erected a fence and now wants to lock up incoming refugees in prison for six months. The measures are also being hotly debated in Lithuania. The European press review eurotopics has collected comments from Lithuanian media and translated so that people in other EU countries can get a picture of the debate.

07/15/2021 European Parliament presents inquiry report on Frontex +++ In a letter I ask Heiko Maas to reassess the security situation in Afghanistan +++ Three people drown off Malta 

  • The Taliban conquer more and more areas, people flee, the Afghan government asked for a stop of deportations, but Germany continues to deport. Therefore I have written a letter to Heiko Maas and ask him to adjust the assessment of the current security situation in the situation report, irrespective of any domestic political motives and in accordance with new findings and developments.

14.07.2021 Lithuanian parliament wants to imprison fugitives +++ More people flee the Taliban +++ Germany maintains deportations to Afghanistan, Finland suspends them

13.07.2021 Hundreds of Sans Papiers in Belgium on hunger strike +++ Taliban conquer more and more provinces +++ CDU politician wants to continue deporting to Afghanistan despite the situation

  • The Taliban conquer more and more provinces in Afghanistan and the government already asked for a halt to deportations to the country yesterday. The Interior Ministry is considering a temporary halt to deportations and the Foreign Office is working on a new situation report. In view of this situation, it is completely unacceptable that just last Wednesday 27 people were again deported from Germany to Kabul.
  • The EU is working with the Libyan coast guard to prevent people from arriving in Europe. This regularly results in serious human rights violations and the refugees are returned to a country of civil war. The Berliner Zeitung talked about this with Sea Watch.

Jul 12, 2021 Afghan government asks for suspensions of deportations +++ Federal Constitutional Court declares one judge biased in asylum dispute +++ Frontex expands presence at Lithuanian border 

  • The Federal Constitutional Court has declared a Hessian administrative judge biased in an asylum case. The reason: In another case, the judge ruled that NPD election posters with the inscription: „Stop the invasion: migration kills!“ were allowed to hang. According to the judge, this was not incitement of the people but "Partially representing reality" and further wrote that a „danger to German culture and legal order as well as human life“ was „not to be dismissed out of hand."
  • Frontex to send 30 additional forces and technology to Lithuaniato prevent people from entering the EU from Belarus. The autocrat Lukashenko is currently trying to put pressure on the EU by allowing refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to pass through. Lithuania itself is planning to expand its border with Belarus at a cost of €42 million. Germany and Poland will each send a helicopter to Lithuania in the coming days.

07/09/2021 Ocean Viking has a safe haven +++ Lithuania erects new fences on border with Belarus +++ CDU and SPD advocate mass camps at external borders

07/08/2021 At least 2087 people died fleeing to Spain this year +++ Person deported to Afghanistan presumed dead by grenade +++ Romania becomes key country on Balkan route

  • From the Ocean Viking, a man jumped into the water. He was rescued from distress at sea a week ago and stated he could no longer stand the uncertainty and situation on the ship. The Ocean Viking rescued over 570 people and now urgently needs a safe haven.

07.07.2021: British government closes itself off to protection seekers +++ Greek prime minister thinks pushbacks are right even though they violate existing law +++ 92 dead in 11 days off Tunisian coast

  • The British government wants to turn away people on the high seas in future and send those seeking protection to reception centres in third countries, while their applications are being processed. In addition, people who enter the UK irregularly are to be punished with up to four years in prison.
  • Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has described and legitimised pushbacks as a common practice of Greek border protection in an interview. He thinks it's right to stop people on the water so that they can't apply for asylum in Greece. For him, the decisive factor is not whether someone legitimately wants to apply for international protection in the EU, but from where the boat sets off. The individual examination, which must take place according to the Convention on Human Rights, is thus consistently ignored. You find the interview (in Greek) here, meanwhile there are many good translation tools available online.

06.07.2021: Heiko Maas (SPD) maintains deportations to Afghanistan +++ Deportation flight to Afghanistan today +++ Lithuanian government declares state of emergency

  • Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) considers deportations to Afghanistan still considered acceptable, despite the ever worsening security situation. Since the withdrawal of international troops began in early May, the Taliban have conquered many districts. The Taliban are currently outside Mazar-e Sharif, which also poses an acute threat to the remaining local Afghan forces following the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr. 
  • The Lithuanian Government has on declared a state of emergency last FridayThis is because more and more people are entering Belarus irregularly. These are mainly refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, while Belarusian opposition members are currently often not allowed to leave the country. Dictator Lukashenko is apparently trying to blackmail the EU by opening the borders to refugees. 

07/05/2021: Ocean Viking rescues 572 people +++ 43 people drown off Tunisia +++ Franziska Giffey (SPD) calls for deportations to Syria

  • Tonight saved the Ocean Viking another 369 people from a wooden boat, which threatened to capsize throughout the rescue. Those rescued were brought safely on board during the operation, which lasted more than five hours, where there are now 572 people. Previously, the Ocean Viking had already rescued 203 people from distress at sea in four rescue operations in just a few days.
  • 43 people drowned in boat accident off coast of TunisiaAccording to information, 84 people were pulled out of the water by rescue workers and survived. Only on Friday, the Geo Barents of Doctors Without Borders was also prevented from leaving, and the Sea-Watch 4 and the Sea-Eye 4 are currently not allowed to leave to rescue drowning victims.
  • Franziska Giffey (SPD) calls for deportations to Syriawhere people are threatened with torture and death. Giffey does not say how this is supposed to work, because then she would have to admit that a deal with the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad would be needed.
  • 250,000 euros are required for a Sea-Eye fundraiser was collected on the occasion of the birthday of Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer. For some reason, however, he did not want to accept the donation certificate in person. 
  • Three years after the deportation of 69 Afghans on Seehofer's 69th birthday, NDR and Deutschlandfunk spoke with the people who were deported at that time. NDR meets the people in Kabul, in undignified camps on the Greek islands and in the Bavarian province. In fact, some were able to return as skilled workers. You can listen to the four-part radio feature here.

07/02/2021: Ocean Viking rescues over 40 people +++ Collective deportation to Afghanistan likely planned next Tuesday +++ Sea-Eye raises money for a birthday present to Horst Seehofer 

  • The Ocean Viking rescues more than 40 people from distress at sea. A Libyan coast guard patrol boat disrupted the first of the two rescue operations. Among the rescued are 15 minors and five women, one of whom is pregnant, according to SOS Méditerranée. The rescue organization reported on the operation on Twitter.

07/01/2021: Libyan coast guard fires on refugee boat +++ Greece cuts money to refugees +++ France rescues 46 people from distress in the English Channel 

30.06.2021: Significantly fewer asylum applications in the EU +++ At least seven dead off Lampedusa +++ Immigration to Germany declines 

  • In a boat accident off Lampedusa... at least seven fugitives were killed this morning, including a heavily pregnant woman. The boat capsized five nautical miles from the island, according to Italian radio. Rescue workers reportedly recovered the bodies of the people and brought 48 survivors ashore. Nine other people are believed to be missing.

06/29/2021: In my podcast Shikiba Babori explains the current situation in Afghanistan +++ Local forces of the German Armed Forces demonstrate in Afghanistan +++ Refugee children in Greece often cannot attend school 

  • In my podcast, I talk with journalist Shikiba Babori about the current situation in Afghanistan, the troop withdrawal and the future of the people in the Hindu Kush. In particular, we focus on the rights of women and minorities. And we also explain why freedom of the press is better in Afghanistan than in many neighbouring countries. You can listen to the episode here. And you can also subscribe to the podcast at Spotify, Itunes or Soundcloud

06/28/2021: 33 European cities form safe havens alliance +++ Bamf forces refugees to stay in their home countries +++ 40 dead in boat crash between Western Sahara and Canary Islands 

  • For the right to asylum, 33 European cities stood up in Palermo. Together they signed a declaration, founding the „International Alliance of Safe Haven Cities“. In the paper, the cities call for the right to asylum to be respected in every European state, for reception quotas for the voluntary reception of refugees in municipalities, and for direct funding of reception in cities by the European Union to municipalities.
  • Germany denies protection status to homosexual refugees on inhumane and illegal grounds. Some are advised to deny themselves in their home country, although such justifications are not justifiable according to the European Court of Justice. Some have even been forcibly outed by the German authorities, making a return to their home country impossible. Der Spiegel spoke with Michael from Nigeria, who was forcibly outed by the BAMF.

25.05.2021: 5.7 billion euros for Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon +++ More cooperation with third countries to counter migration +++ Conference for solidarity-based refugee policy in Europe 

06/24/2021: Croatian police illegally deport babies, pregnant women and children with disabilities +++ Consequences must follow after latest Frontex investigation group meeting +++ UNHCR report says 1.47 million people would need to be resettled next year 

06/23/2021: Doctors Without Borders withdraws from Libyan camps +++ HRW says Frontex is doing too little to address basic human rights abuses +++ Amnesty documents pushbacks and torture by Greek authorities

  • In a report published today, Amnesty International documents 21 illegal pushbacks from Greece to Turkey. Torture was also used. Amnesty calls on the Greek government to end the illegal pushbacks immediately. You can find the 46-page report here.
  • Greece wants to use noise cannons to keep refugees away from Europe at its border with Turkey. Deutschlandfunk Kultur comments: "The noise cannon is a degrading, indeed: dehumanising weapon. As such, however, it would fit in only too well with the contempt for humanity at the EU's external borders."

06/22/2021 Germany to take in more local Afghan workers after all +++ 13,000 people repatriated to Libya this year +++ 11,000 relatives of refugees waiting for family reunion visas

06/21/2021: Family deported from Pirna even though five of their seven children were born in Germany +++ Heiko Maas doesn't want EU sea rescue mission +++ EU uses questionable technological methods for border controls

  • Imerlishvili family deported to Georgiaalthough five of the seven children were born in Germany and the two oldest were still toddlers when the family came to Germany in 2013. They were deported to a country that was completely unknown to them, whose language they do not speak and in which they know no one. SPD and Greens in Saxony speak of an "inhumane deportation practice". The neighbors demand in this petitionto bring the family back to Pirna. This touching videoin which the eldest daughter speaks, was written one day after the deportation.
  • In an interview with "Welt" Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) speaks out against an EU sea rescue mission and instead wants to give Turkey more money to stop refugees from coming to the EU. He describes relations with Turkey as "constructive" despite the massive human rights violations in the country.
  • The Standard reports that surveillance at the borders is to be given greater technological support. Controversial methods are also being tested as part of non-transparent research projects. Border controls are currently seen as a means of reducing the number of asylum applications and trying out questionable methods such as lie detectors or sound cannons. You can find the post with a comment from me here.
  • In his commentary on World Refugee Day Heribert Prantl writes: "Every day the EU kills migrants – through failure to provide assistance. And those who come to Germany are finished off – in so-called anchor centers. This is pathetic."

06/18/2021: 82.4 million refugees worldwide +++ Trial and verdict in Moria 6 case face criticism +++ Criminal conviction against Reisch overturned 

  • In 2020, almost 82.4 million people worldwide were on the run – more than ever before. This is according to the new report of the UNHCR. Reasons for this are wars, climate change and pandemic.
    The entire 71-page report you can read here.
    A summary you can find at the mirror.
  • On the occasion of the conference of interior ministers, Pro Asyl, the state refugee councils and Youth without Borders demand a nationwide moratorium on deportations to Afghanistan and Syria.
    Here you can find the press release of Pro Asyl.

06/17/2021: Crew of the Nadir negotiates to bring rescued to Italy instead of Libya +++ CDU politician wants to have people deported to Syria +++ Syrians:inside flee from Denmark to Germany

  • The German observation ship Nadir has found a distress at sea in the Maltese sea rescue zone. Instead of sending a rescue ship, Malta had only alerted the Libyan coast guard, which wanted to bring people to the internment camps. The crew refused. With political pressure and negotiations, in which I also played a part, it was finally possible to achieve that the Italian coast guard rescued the people and brought them to Italy. Find out more on RESQSHIP's Twitter channel.
  • Syrian refugees are leaving Denmark for fear of being deported to their old homeland. The Jumaa family is now seeking asylum in Schleswig-Holstein. Time visited them.

06/16/2021: Overcrowded camps on Lampedusa +++ Spain calls for frontline deployment at border +++ Asylum seekers sue European Commission 

  • In the ongoing diplomatic dispute with Morocco... Spain wants to ask the EU for the presence of the European Frontex border protection agency in the North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Spain accused Morocco of "blackmail". Rabat wants to increase migration pressure on Spain by suspending border controls so that Madrid will revise its position in the Western Sahara conflict.
  • transcript Verlag published the anthology "Kämpfe um Migrationspolitik seit 2015" (Struggles over Migration Policy since 2015), which examines the developments in European refugee policy in recent years from a critical perspective. Which forces have prevailed and what shifts have occurred discursively and politically? And what does this mean for emancipatory and pro-migrant perspectives? You can read the anthology free of charge as a PDF here.

06/15/2021: Bishops call for deportation stop +++ Up to 200 people capsized off Yemeni coast +++ Former Frontex vice criticizes developments at EU agency 

06/14/2021: Geo Barents needs safe haven for 410 rescued +++ 1200 protection seekers land on Lampedusa, 1000 returned to Libya +++ Pope calls Mediterranean Europe's biggest graveyard 

  • Pope Francis has called the Mediterranean "the largest cemetery in Europe." The occasion was the inauguration of a memorial in the Sicilian city of Syracuse, off whose coast many people drowned in 2015 when a boat carrying migrants sank. This year, according to the IOM, at least 811 people died in the Mediterranean crossing to Europe, 675 of them on the central Mediterranean route. 

06/11/2021: Geo Barents rescues 26 people +++ 450 people dragged back by Libyan coast guard +++ European Court of Justice rules Germany must base subsidiary protection on individual cases, not death statistics in region of origin 

06/10/2021: Greece to stop letting people from Syria and Afghanistan apply for asylum +++ Greek government defends sonic cannon deployment +++ Deportation flight carrying 42 people lands in Kabul 

  • The plane with the deported Afghans has landed in Kabul. Although Afghanistan is considered to be the most unsafe country in the world, the coronavirus is rampant and the Taliban are currently conquering more and more areas, the Federal Government is sticking to deportations to Afghanistan.
  • For many refugees, the island of Samos is a place without a future. Many live here in inhumane conditions. While the EU builds new camps, it is often volunteers who try to alleviate the plight of the people. BR describes the situation on the ground.

09.06.2021. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk Kultur I talked about the illegal strategy to seal off Europe. +++ EU interior ministers:inside no closer to a common refugee policy +++ Seehofer wants to prevent secondary migration to Germany 

  • With Weltzeit on Deutschlandfunk Kultur I spoke about European refugee policy and how the impression is being created that the EU is waging war against people trying to reach Europe on rubber dinghies.
  • At yesterday's meeting of the EU interior ministers once again no progress has been made towards a common European asylum system. The only thing the EU states can really agree on at present is more isolation and more cooperation with third countries so that fewer people arrive in the EU at all.

08.06.2021: Today deportation to Afghanistan +++ European Court of Auditors criticises Frontex +++ Associations and NGOs demand from EU interior minister:inside end of mass camps at external borders and more reception from Greece 

  • The Taliban are conquering more and more territory in Afghanistan and the security situation is worsening. Tens of thousands of local people who worked for the NATO forces want to flee because they are afraid of the Taliban's revenge. Despite this situation, a deportation flight is scheduled to leave Leipzig/Halle airport for Afghanistan this evening. The Deutsche Welle briefly discusses the situation of the local forces. Today at 7 p.m. a rally against deportations to Afghanistan will take place at the airport.

07.06.2021: Comprehensive study on deported Afghans published +++ Tomorrow evening the next deportation flight leaves for Afghanistan +++ Sea-Eye 4 detained in Palermo  

  • The majority of Afghans deported from Germany apparently leave Afghanistan again shortly afterwards. In a recent study, only one out of 113 deportees stated that they wanted to stay in Afghanistan. Moreover, deportees have often never been to Afghanistan or were last in Afghanistan as children and are deported to a country they hardly know. A summary of the study you will find at tagesschau.de. The entire study by Friederike Stahlmann can be found here.
  • Although Médecins Sans Frontières' Geo Barents has been in the Libyan SAR zone for a week, it has not yet been deployed and departures from Libya are the lowest in months. Migration researcher Matteo Villa points out that such facts show that the civilian rescue ships in the Mediterranean are precisely not a pull factor that drives people to dare the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean. Matteo Villa's comment on Twitter.

04.06.2021: SRF reports on human rights violations by Frontex +++ Danish government wants to get rid of protection seekers +++ Turkey and Western Balkans receive billions, also to keep refugees out of EU 

03.06.2021: International Commission of Jurists rejects EU Pact on Migration and Asylum in its current form +++ Ministry of the Interior does not want to help Bundeswehr personnel from Afghanistan +++ Religious woman found guilty for church asylum

06/02/2021: 23 people drown in the Mediterranean +++ Greek government to use sound cannons against refugees +++ Dutch journalist detained in Greece for reporting pushbacks

  • With a giant life jacket as floor graffiti the work of sea rescue and the life-threatening flight of thousands of people across the Mediterranean to Europe will be commemorated on Frankfurt's Unicampus. "We only make visible what everyone knows and suppresses," reads a statement by the artists. This year, at least 773 people died in the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Europe.

01.06.2021: NGOs sue Frontex +++ Saturday is day of action against deportations to Afghanistan +++ Greece cracks down on refugees with new technology and AI

  • Non-governmental organisations are suing the EU border agency Frontex. The case in question concerns a woman from Burundi and a 15-year-old Congolese boy. The accusation is that they both tried to seek asylum on the Greek island of Lesbos last year and were left to fend for themselves at sea, without water or food. I have spoken to MDR about my assessment of the accusations.

28.05.2021: Federal Foreign Office forcibly routes protection seekers in their countries of origin +++ Hundreds of minors stranded in Ceuta +++ Irish association raises money for Mediterranean rescue ship 

  • Lawyers of the Federal Foreign Office have outed homosexual and bisexual asylum seekers in their countries of origin - even though they face long imprisonment or even the death penalty there. Die Welt spoke to one of those affected.
  • In the Greek refugee camp of Katsikas, there have been more than 170 cases of infection with Covid-19 in recent days. More than 1,000 people currently live in the camp. The protection against infection in the camps is absolutely insufficient. Doctor Apostolos Veizis reported on Twitter.

27.05.2021: Fewer naturalisations due to Brexit and Corona +++ German government admits mistakes in dealing with homosexual protection seekers +++ Expert:inside demand monitoring of refugees' human rights compliance in Greece

  • Last year, significantly fewer people were naturalised in Germany. This was mainly due to Brexit and the Corona pandemic, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden on Wednesday. In 2020, about 109,900 foreigners:inside received citizenship – 15 percent less than in 2019. Syrian nationals for the first time represented the second largest group among those naturalized. 

05/26/2021: NGOs file lawsuit against Frontex +++ Assad gets re-elected +++ UN human rights office raises allegations against EU refugee policy 

05/25/2021: Frontex chief tries to cover up pushback scandal and ignores his own human rights commissioner +++ CDU politician:inside calls for more mass camps at EU external borders +++ Hundreds of unaccompanied minor protection seekers are in Ceuta 

  • For months, Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri has been under pressure over his border guards' involvement in illegal pushbacks in the Aegean. Internal documents show: Frontex's own human rights officer spoke of "solid evidence" of pushbacks in the Aegean, but Frontex chief Leggeri may simply have passed it over.
  • In its refugee and migration policy, the EU is currently relying on outsourcing border controls to countries such as Morocco and Libya, says migration researcher Jochen Oltmer in Dlf. This is associated with risks, because one also works together with regimes that do not comply with EU standards.

20/05/21: EU Commission works on new deals with Libya and Tunisia +++ Over 180 people drowned despite Frontex planes circling nearby +++ Greek migration minister claims illegal pushbacks are legal

  • The EU Commission's plans include relieving Italy of the burden of incoming refugees and concluding new deals with Libya and Tunisia on refugee protection. Currently, the responsible Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, is in Tunisia with the Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese.
    Yesterday Johansson gave an interview to the Italian "Repubblica". Der Standard has summarized it in German here.
  • Greek migration minister Notis Mitarakis defends illegal pushbacks on high seas and spreads the false claim that they are legal. This is nonsense because the Geneva Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights as well as EU law oblige member states to guarantee people the right to an asylum procedure and to respect the principle of „non-refoulement“ - even if they enter irregularly. Border authorities must therefore always carry out an individual assessment of the need for protection if the person entering wishes to apply for asylum.

20.05.2021: Case against Carola Rackete dropped +++ Sea-Eye 4 assigned a safe haven +++ Number of internally displaced persons increases worldwide 

  • The Sea-Eye 4 has been assigned a safe port and is allowed to land in Pozzalo, Sicily. This is good news, but it is incomprehensible why hundreds of exhausted people were not allowed to go ashore in Malta, even though the ship was already off the coast there. Learn more on the Sea-Eye Twitter channel

19.05.2021: More Corona cases in the new Moria +++ Spain deploys tanks and soldiers in Ceuta +++ Expert commission on causes of flight presents report

  • Spain is deploying tanks and military on the border between Ceuta and Morocco and has now deported more than half of the 6,000 or so people who recently reached the Spanish exclave by swimming. This two-minute video discusses the background.
  • The In its final report, the Expert Commission on the Causes of Flight recommended that the government should take stronger action against global warming and put arms exports to the test so that fewer people have to flee their home countries. In the authors' view, Germany should also set up a coalition of states that takes in a certain number of refugees directly from their regions of origin each year. The 220-page report, but also a 12-page summary, can be found at at this link.
  • In a boating accident in the Mediterranean Sea. over 50 lives were lost. 33 other people were rescued by workers on an oil platform.

18.05.2021: Debate on sea rescue in the EU Parliament +++ Sea Eye 4 needs a safe haven +++ Thousands of people from Morocco arrive in Ceuta 

17.05.2021: Sea-Eye 4 rescues 330 people +++ Residents:inside prevent deportation in Glasgow +++ New Moria completely unsuitable for people with disabilities 

  • The Sea-Eye 4 rescued 99 people overnight, mostly from Syria, and now has 330 people seeking protection on board. Last night, however, around 680 people were also intercepted in the Mediterranean and returned to the civil war country of Libya. You can read more about the rescues at the Twitter account of the Sea-Eye. To pullbacks to Libya regularly tweets Safa Msehli, IOM Spokesperson.
  • The 26-year-old medical student Marianne Pretschner is committed to Sea-Eye. In the summer of 2019, she was deployed in the Mediterranean Sea and did what she also wants to do as a future doctor: save lives. The SZ spoke with her.
  • Khaled Al-Afat was transferred to the new Moria together with 400 refugees with disabilities. He cannot reach many areas with his wheelchair. For people like him, life in the inhumane camp is even more complicated than for many others. The ND visited him.

12.05.2021: Council of Europe criticizes Greek government +++ Broad alliance calls for easing family reunification for people with subsidiary protection status +++ Man on Lesbos faces life imprisonment after trying to save people 

  • The Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe has written a letter to the responsible Greek ministers in which she demands an end to the illegal pushbacks, to allow the NGOs to work and to finally improve the conditions in the camps. In their reply, the responsible ministers simply deny that illegal practices occur and claim, contrary to all the facts, that the conditions in the camps have substantially improved.
    You can find the letter from the Human Rights Commissioner here.
    Here is the ministers' response.

11/05/2021: Me and 48 other MEPs call for evacuation of refugees from new Moria due to lead exposure +++ Libyan militias torture and enslave refugees +++ Over 2000 people land on Lampedusa

  • Together with 48 other MEPs, I have written a letter to the European Commission in which we demand that all camp inmates be moved immediately to areas not contaminated with lead. The health and safety of these people is at great risk. They must not be kept in these conditions any longer. You can find the letter on my homepage.

10.05.2021: Sea-Watch 4 detained, Sea-Eye 4 launches into area of operations +++ Libyan coast guard deports over 700 people to civil war country +++ Germany must retrieve Syrian deported to Greece 

  • This weekend, around 1400 refugees reached the island of Lampedusa. Meanwhile, according to media reports, the Sicilian judicial authorities again arrested the Sea-Watch 4. The pretext this time is that too many life jackets were found on board and that the ship's sewage system was not designed for such a high number of rescued persons. 
  • Munich administrative court rules: Germany must bring back a Syrian deported to Greece. The human rights organisation Pro Asyl described the decision as a "slap in the face" for Federal Interior Minister Seehofer. The agreement with Greece to be able to send refugees back directly at the German-Austrian border was clearly illegal.

07.05.2021: Activist acquitted again +++ Italian mayor calls for European sea rescue programme +++ Journalist reports on smear campaigns against civilian sea rescuers:inside

05/06/2021: Activist against deportations in court +++ Pushbacks of minors in France +++ Drones for Frontex +++ 

  • "Migration is a human right for me." The activist Hagen Kopp wants to save people from deportations and is therefore standing in court again today. Der Spiegel interviewed him.
  • France sends dozens of unaccompanied underage refugees back to Italy every month. For many, the police change their age so that they are considered adults. Families with children are also sent back to Italy without being given the opportunity to apply for asylum. Human Rights Watch reports.  

05/05/2021: 2,000 deaths from pushbacks since pandemic began +++ Illegal pushback documented +++ European Parliament backs civil society 

  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 2,000 people have died as a result of illegal pushbacks. Systematic pushbacks by Frontex play a major role. The Guardian reports. 
  • The SPD is calling for a fundamental reform of Frontex under a new director. In doing so it is calling for the replacement of the director Fabrice Leggeri, who has been in office since 2015, and more parliamentary control of the agency. You can read about the background in Der Spiegel. 
  • 31 people were allegedly severely mistreated and even shot at by Greek authorities over five days in December 2020. The families were separated, taken to Turkish waters and shipped to life rafts. One of the fugitives survived only because he was revived by his friends in the life raft. Mare Liberum reconstructs the case

04.05.2021: Deportation flight to Afghanistan cancelled because safety of accompanying police officers cannot be guaranteed +++ USA accepts more refugees again +++ German court strengthens rights of refugees 

  • The Lower Saxony-Bremen Regional Social Court has strengthened the rights of refugees who have already been recognised by another EU country but were subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment there. It awarded unreduced asylum benefits to a woman who fled Nigeriabecause the woman had to prostitute herself or beg for a living in Italy.

03.05.2021: More than 600 refugees rescued from the Mediterranean in the last days +++ Kara Tepe on Lesbos closed, so even more people in the new Moria +++ Greece is a dead end for many refugees

  • Greece is also a dead end for many refugees outside the hotspots on the islands. In the reportage of WRDforyou you can learn more about the situation of the refugees. 

04/30/2021: Sea Watch rescues 44 people +++ New closed camp in Greece +++ Mass surveillance of refugees planned

  • The Sea Watch 4 rescues 44 people from distress at sea, after less than 24 hours back in the area of operation. This shows once again that there are currently far too few rescue ships on the ground to save people from drowning.On the Twitter account of Sea Watch you will be informed about current missions.  
  • The Ritsona Camp near Athens is being converted into a closed camp. Three-meter-high walls will enclose the camp, as Parwana Amiri shows on his website. Twitter
  • In future semi-automatic surveillance systems are to monitor Greek camps in the Aegean. Residents will only be allowed to leave the increasingly militarised camps during certain hours of the day. Drones, metal detectors and X-ray machines are also to be used. Read more about the background at Algorithm Watch
  • A Spanish rescue ship brought a wooden boat drifting in the Atlantic to Tenerife. On the boat were more dead than initially thought: 24 bodies, including two minors. German Wave reports. 
  • Cottbus was the first city in Lusatia to be declared a safe haven for refugees. With this, it follows the call of the Seebrücke Lausitz.More you can learn at Lower Lusatia News.
    To find out if your city has been declared a Safe Haven and to see which other European municipalities are showing solidarity in welcoming refugees, check out the map from Europe Welcomes.

04/29/2021: Frontex provides information for deadly interceptions to Libyan coast guard +++ Sea-Eye 4 reaches Mediterranean and receives support from Sea-Watch +++ Refugees are moved from humane camp to new Moria 

  • The EU border protection agency Frontex is to be expanded into a European deportation police force in the future. Migration researcher Jochen Oltmer is critical of Frontex's new mandate. Deutschlandfunk interviewed him.
  • About 60 people were taken at dawn from the relatively good camp Kara Tepe and brought to the new Moria. There was no comprehensible reason at all to bring the people to a worse mass camp. This is simply to show that refugees at Europe's external borders have no right to a decent life. Mission Lifeline posted photos of the action on Twitter.

04/28/2021: Ocean Viking rescues 236 people +++ EU Commission backs "voluntary return" +++ EU Parliament denies Frontex discharge 

  • Yesterday the Ocean Viking rescued 236 people from two overcrowded boats, including 114 unaccompanied minors. Several were weakened & dehydrated, women suffered minor fuel burns and inhaled fumes. At least 453 people have died in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year. Click here to go to the SOS Méditerranée Twitter channel.
  • The EU Commission has presented a paper, which aims to persuade more people to return "voluntarily" or to deport more people. According to these plans, Frontex is to become a deportation agency and states that do not cooperate are to be blackmailed with restrictions on the issuing of visas. Unfortunately, the Commission is focusing its work on sealing off and deportations and not on ensuring that fundamental rights are respected at the external borders and that people are saved from drowning. 
  • The EU Parliament has refused to grant discharge to Frontex and has postponed the decision because we want to wait for the results of the investigation into pushbacks before taking a decision. This is a good step so that human rights violations do not remain inconsequential. You can find my tweet about it here.
  • The European Commission has recently set up a group on sea rescue, the stated aim of which is to create cooperation at EU level to guarantee rapid intervention in the event of distress at sea. A month after the group was created, many people who could have been rescued have drowned. So far it's unclear what the group does at all and it's not even public who belongs to it. You can find an analysis of this at statewatch.

27.04.2021: Frontex relies on air surveillance instead of rescue +++ Debate about climate passport among the Greens +++ Acquittal for monk in trial about church asylum

  • Did you know that there is a film school in the Greek camps? The actress Katja Riemann visited it and made a documentary about the refugees at the school. You can find the film at Arte.

04/26/2021: Green European Group launches campaign for municipal reception of refugees +++ State government in Thuringia wants to continue taking refugees from Greek camps +++ German government offers Greece money to be able to deport there

  • On social media, people are demanding their right to be in solidarity under #WelcomingEurope. Over 600 solidarity-minded municipalities in 17 EU countries want to welcome refugees. The map with over 600 host communities you can find here[ Door Closes ] And... here you can watch the video of the campaign.
  • Thuringia received a total of 177 refugees from the Greek camps between August 2020 and March 2021. The state government in Thuringia also wanted to start its own state programme to take in more people from the Aegean islands, but was forbidden to do so by the Interior Ministry under Horst Seehofer. The Greens and the Left Party in Erfurt are pushing for a lawsuit, but the SPD doesn't want one. This legal opinion commissioned by me... states that the federal government should not simply refuse to accept some refugees by the federal states.
  • After several courts ruled that refugees can no longer be deported from Germany to Greece because they face lack of care and homelessness, the federal government is offering money to Greece. The aim is to change the conditions for refugees recognised in Greece so that they can be deported from Germany again.
  • Denmark wants to deport people to Syria and has already withdrawn the protection title of more than 250 Syrian refugees. This decision is based on a completely incorrect assessment of the security situation in the country. In the European Parliament, we adopted a resolution on 11 March which clearly states that Syria is not a safe country to return to. Pro Asyl explains the background.

22.04.2021: Last plane with refugees from Greece lands today +++ Denmark prepares deportations to Syria +++ Groko extends IRINI naval mission 

21.04.2021: Call for a ban on deportations to Afghanistan +++ Expert:innen explain why deportations to Syria violate fundamental human rights +++ Court rules: No deportations from Germany to Greece

20.04.2021: Collective deportation from Frankfurt to Pakistan +++ "Ask the State" has to pay less court costs because of Frontex +++ Italian authorities wiretap journalists, damaging freedom of the press 

19.04.2021: Seehofer tries to obstruct Frontex reconnaissance +++ Hotel owners in Gran Canaria take in refugees +++ Thousands of refugee children and young people missing 

  • I was leaked an internal mail about the human rights violations at Frontex, which is very incriminating for Horst Seehofer and the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Obviously, the Federal Ministry of the Interior lied to the German Bundestag and tried to obstruct the clarification... You can read more about it in my thread on Twitter.

04/16/2021: Belgian woman has taken in a total of over 50 refugees in need +++ More people fleeing West Africa to Europe +++ Pro Asyl calls for halt to deportations to Afghanistan 

04/15/2021: Almost nothing remains of the 2018 Bamf scandal +++ Brutal human trafficker in Libya set free +++ Study proves: Migration hardly a topic in German curricula

04/14/2021: Biden withdraws troops from Afghanistan +++ Bamf wrongly rejected 21,224 asylum applications +++ Denmark to deport to Syria 

  • Denmark has classified the Syrian capital Damascus as safe – an assessment with which the country stands alone in Europe. So far, the residence permits of several hundred Syrians have been cancelled or no longer extended because of this. Deutsche Welle has spoken with those affected.

04/13/2021: Thousands of recognized refugees continue to flee from Greece to Germany +++ Spanish human rights activist deported from Morocco +++ A new Lesbos looms on the Canary Islands 

  • The Spanish human rights activist Helena Maleno Garzón was deported in January from her Moroccan home in Tangier, where she has been living for twenty years and where she works for the human rights of refugees. In this video on Twitter, she explainshow Spanish and Moroccan authorities are trying to prevent their work.

04/12/2021: Alan Kurdi is free again +++ Hagen becomes safe haven +++ 132 boats turned back in Frontex operations 

  • The rescue ship Alan Kurdi has been freed after six months. Meanwhile Italy's systematic attacks on sea rescue organisations continue. Meanwhile the Dresden-based association Mission Lifeline has christened "Rise Above", a new rescue ship for use in the Mediterranean. tagesschau.de reports on Italy's tough stance against sea rescue. You will also find the statement from Sea-Eye.
  • The city of Hagen officially declares itself a Safe Haven for refugees and joins the "Cities of Safe Havens" alliance. On the homepage of the Seebrücke you will findwhether your city is already a Safe Haven and how you can get your city to become a Safe Haven.

09.04.2021: Press freedom restricted in Greece +++ Croatian border guards use sexual violence against protection seekers +++ Further ambiguities in Frontex training 

08.04.2021: Amnesty criticizes situation in Greek refugee camps +++ Malta breaks international law +++ Judicial hearing in Alan Kurdi case in Italy

07.04.2021: Another collective deportation to Afghanistan +++ Sicilian prosecutor's office intercepts journalists during investigations against private sea rescue +++ Pushbacks at the Croatian border again 

  • On the Greek island of Samos, almost 3,200 people are living in the Vathy camp, which was only built for 648 people. Not only is the hygienic situation unacceptable, but the mental health of those seeking protection is also alarming. Here the NGO Europe Must Act describes the situation.

06.04.2021: Malta's sea rescue control centre obstructs sea rescue +++ Corona outbreak at Ritsona refugee camp in Greece +++ 400,000 people in Kenya face dissolution of their camps with no follow-up prospects

  • Malta's sea rescue coordination centre once again failed in its duty under international law. First of all, reported emergencies at sea were ignored, writes Zeit Online. Now she even claims that the people seeking protection were never in the rescue zone, reports the NGO Alarmphone. Fortunately, all 270 people have now landed on Lampedusa. 
  • Corona has broken out in the overcrowded Ritsona camp in Greece. However, the simplest protective measures such as keeping a distance and regular hand disinfection simply cannot be observed due to the undignified conditions. One resident shares her story in this video. 
  • Pushbacks are part of everyday life in the Greek Aegean Sea. The ZDF Morgenmagazin tried to draw a picture of the situation and accompanied the Turkish coast guard in action. You can find the short report here.
  • In recent days there have been further pushbacks off the Greek island of Lesbos. Frontex also seems to be involved again. The NGO Mare Liberum reports.

04/01/2021: EU naval mission "Irini" rescues no people from distress at sea +++ 166 GB of video footage proves pushbacks at Turkish-Greek maritime border +++ Germany should continue to take in refugees from Greek camps 

  • The EU naval mission "Irini" in the Mediterranean Sea, which was decided a year ago, has so far not rescued a single person from distress at sea. The predecessor mission Sophia, on the other hand, rescued around 45,000 people from 2015. Under pressure from EU states like Italy and Malta, the ships simply bypass the migration routes so as not to have to rescue people. In Der Spiegel I give a classification of how the EU can support sea rescue.
  • I have 166 GB of footage with videos of Pushbacks by the Greek coast guard. The material comes from the Turkish authorities and we will have it analysed by independent experts. Frontex and the Greek government are facing a lot of unpleasant questions. You can see a snippet at my Twitter.

30.03.2021: State reception in Thuringia: Greens and Left want to sue federal government +++ More than 1000 people forced back to torture camps in Libya +++ Recognised refugees are driven into homelessness in Greece 

03/29/2021: New camp on Lesbos won't be ready in time +++ UNHCR counts hundreds of pushbacks through Greece +++ New reports of pushbacks at Croatia's external border

  • Journalists are finding it increasingly difficult to report unhindered on the situation on the Greek islands. My questions about press freedom have also gone unanswered by the authorities. Tonight at 7 p.m., several of them will speak about how their work is being hindered. Here you can register for the event.

03/26/2021: Free the El Hiblu 3 +++ Federal police claim suicide attempt in new Moria was 'cooking accident' +++ UN calls for nearly 5 billion euros in aid for refugees from Syria 

  • Two years ago, more than 100 people were rescued from drowning in an inflatable boat from the oil tanker El Hiblu, which was on its way to Libya. Three teenagers aged 15, 16 and 19 persuaded the crew to bring the people to Malta because they were facing torture and imprisonment in Libya. The three became known as El Hiblu 3 and are now on trial in Malta.

Here you can find the joint statement of 27 organisations, demanding the release of the defendants.

03/25/2021: UK to deter refugees and move them to asylum centres outside the country +++ European Council negotiates new EU-Turkey deal +++ Kenyan government to close refugee camps, pushes for redistribution of hundreds of thousands 

  • The European Council is meeting today and tomorrow and is also negotiating a new refugee deal with Turkey. Unfortunately, the outcome threatens a new deal aimed at sealing off the country instead of providing serious protection for refugees. I wrote up what the problem is with the EU-Turkey deal here.
  • In his book „Move“, Indian-American political scientist Parag Khanna predicts a century of global migration for all - and doesn't think it's so bad. Time spoke with him.

24.03.2021: EU Parliament refuses to confirm Frontex budget +++ Green parliamentary group calls for end to EU-Turkey deal +++ Precarious status for Syrian draft dodgers

23.03.2021: EU Commission seeks European coordination of sea rescue +++ Two-year-old girl dies after crossing to Canary Islands +++ Major fire in Rohingya refugee camp 

  • A new contact group of the EU Commission met for the first time yesterday.l and declared the aim to coordinate sea rescue at European level in the future. According to the responsible Commissioner Ylva Johansson, rescued persons should also be brought ashore more quickly and sea rescuers should no longer be criminalised. This would be a major step forward compared to the current situation, in which rescuers face prison sentences and rescue ships are blocked. However, the EU Commission has been promising for years to take action against criminalisation, and so far there have been no visible successes. This can also be seen in the renewed arrest of the Sea-Watch 3.
  • A two-year-old girl died after crossing from Western Sahara to the Canary Islands. Paramedics initially resuscitated the hypothermic child, but she later died in hospital. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the case was a "wake-up call for everyone's conscience." More background on the case and the dangerous Atlantic route can be found at El País.

22.03.2021: Sea-Watch 3 stranded in Sicily +++ Ocean Viking and French Coast Guard rescue people from distress at sea +++ Global water shortage leads to increasing refugee movements 

  • Five EU border states call for greater cooperation in the distribution of refugees in the EU at a meeting in Athens. The meeting is overshadowed by serious accusations. Greek coast guard officials, for example, allegedly beat seven people and then threw them tied up into the sea. Three people are said to have died, says Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. The Greek coast guard rejects the accusations.

03/19/2021: Denmark plans racist law +++ Samos mayor endorses confirmed pushbacks +++ Afghan refugees not safe in Turkey 

18.03.2021: Important study on Moria and hotspots at the external borders +++ Massive criticism of EU-Turkey deal +++ Father sues Greek coast guard after death of his son 

17.03.2021: Why the EU-Turkey-Deal failed +++ Duration of asylum procedures in Germany increases significantly +++ Residents complain against house rules in Freiburg shelter 

  • The EU-Turkey deal was agreed exactly five years ago. Time was bought at great cost and not used. The result was undignified mass camps like Moria and a dependence on Erdoğan.
    Here I have written down the background.
  • According to a recent analysis by migration expert Karoline Popp, the reception system for refugees on the Greek islands established with the EU-Turkey deal is "largely dysfunctional". Here you can find background information.
    The report by Karoline Popp and the Expert Council on Integration and Migration can be found here.

16.03.2021: 10 years of civil war in Syria +++ Situation for Syrian refugees in Lebanon particularly difficult +++ New Corona Falls on Samos 

15/03/2021: EU interior ministers discuss flight and migration +++ European Parliament questions Frontex on internal investigations +++ Cypriot government builds new wall 

  • The interior ministers of the EU states met today to discuss the issues of flight and migration. They came no closer to a humane and common European refugee policy. The only thing they can all agree on is more intensive cooperation with third countries. In concrete terms: better isolation. You can watch the 25-minute press conference on the meeting here.
  • Also today, the European Parliament's Frontex Inquiry Group, of which I am a member, met. We are questioning members of the Frontex management board about their internal investigations. You can watch the session here.
  • The Europe magazine of the ARD reports in this video about brutal pushbacks by the Greek authorities and lets those affected have their say.

03/11/2021: Iuventa crew apparently charged on political grounds +++ Spain backs quick deportations in Canaries +++ 82 refugees from Greece land in Germany

  • Spain relies on quick deportations: Four flights a week to Western Sahara, with 20 passengers each. Now repatriations to Senegal are also beginning. An agreement with Mauritania also allows all those to be sent back there who have passed through Mauritanian territory or Waters have traveled.

03/10/2021: Council of Europe accuses EU of being responsible for thousands of avoidable deaths +++ 39 people drowned in Mediterranean +++ Deportation flight from Hanover to Afghanistan

09.03.2021: Fire in new Moria and untenable conditions for children +++ Greece builds new border fence +++ Spanish coast guard rescues 107 people 

  • The Greens call for a reorientation of integration policy. "We have to answer structural problems with structural measures," integration policy spokeswoman Filiz Polat told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "That means, for example, moving away from short-term project funding to permanent funding for organizations."

03/05/2021: What's known about pushback allegations against Frontex +++ EU cooperation with Libyan coastguard could be extended +++ Smugglers pushed people into water off Djibouti, at least 20 drowned

  • Fearing fighting, more than 7,660 people have fled Nigeria for Maradi in Niger this year. The Maradi region in southern Niger is now hosting nearly 100,000 displaced people, including 77,000 Nigerian refugees. Despite border restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Niger continues to provide access to asylum. The UNHCR provides information on its website.

04.03.202: Frontex Management Board suspects legal violations by the Agency +++ Frontex Inquiry Group meeting in the European Parliament +++ Italian Prosecutor calls for trial of Iuventa 

03.03.2021: One year ago the EU-Turkey deal failed +++ Sea-Watch 4 is free +++ European Court of Human Rights rules: Hungary treats refugees inhumanely 

Mar 02, 2021: Over 1600 attacks on refugees in Germany in 2020 +++ Man suffers heart attack during deportation from Bavaria +++ Around 5000 people have so far arrived in Italy on boats across the Mediterranean in 2021. 

01.03. 2021: Infringement proceedings against Greece +++ Sea-Watch 3 rescues more than 300 people +++ Sea-Eye 4 christened

  • More than 150 people were intercepted by the Libyan coast guard on the Mediterranean Sea on Friday and taken back to Libya, where they face torture, detention and inhumane treatment. A total of 3700 people have already been intercepted on the Mediterranean Sea and brought back to Libya this year alone. Current figures can be found on the IOM Libya Twitter Channel. I also declare in this articlewhy we must not outsource sea rescue to Libya.

02/26/2021: Abbess on trial for church asylum +++ Alleged chain deportation from Austria to Bosnia +++ Tens of thousands flee Tigray

  • Abbess Mechthild Thürmer has been charged with granting church asylum to people who were threatened with deportation. She justifies her actions with the fact that the people would have been in danger of life and limb if they had been deported. The Tagesspiegel interviewed her.

02/25/2021: Woman in new Moria sets herself on fire +++ Seven-year-old child dies after fire in Greek camp +++ EU commissioner calls for faster investigation into Frontex allegations

  • In the so-called "anchor centres", i.e. closed mass camps in Germany, an asylum procedure takes an average of 77 days, while outside the camps it takes 82 days. Horst Seehofer's goal of significantly speeding up the procedures has thus been missed. Nevertheless the Interior Ministry is sticking to the camps because it's not about faster procedures at all, but about housing people outside settlements and separating them from active civil society. You can get more background at Migazin.

24.02.2021: Millions in aid for Rohingya from Myanmar +++ Italian freighter rescues 232 people from distress at sea +++ Mühlheim city council wants to take in 50 refugees from camps at the EU's external borders 

02/23/2021: European Parliament launches investigation into Frontex +++ People drown due to disastrous Libyan coastguard operation +++ Situation in Canary Islands comes to a head 

22.02.2021: Millions of people in Syria do not have enough to eat +++ Catastrophic conditions continue in the new Moria +++ Italian coast guard rescues 50 people from distress at sea 

19.02.2021: Number of asylum applications in the EU drops massively +++ Aita Mari rescues 102 people from distress at sea +++ Lampedusa erects a memorial for drowned refugees 

02/18/2021: Karlsruhe joins sea rescue alliance United4Rescue +++ Belgian policeman sentenced to one year probation for fatal shooting +++ Over 1400 people drowned in the Mediterranean in 2020 

  • Germany has taken in another 26 refugee families from Greece. The plane from Athens landed in Hanover on Wednesday. However the German government's promise to take in a total of 1553 people from the burned-down Moria has not yet been kept. We have space and we should also take in more people again instead of letting them suffer at the external borders.

Feb 17, 2021: Greek government downplays lead exposure in new Moria +++ 'Open Arms' brings 146 refugees to Sicily +++ Near Calais, around 500 people wait to brave perilous crossing to UK

02/16/2021: Lawyers want to take Frontex chief Leggeri to court +++ Germany barely accepts recognised refugees from Moria +++ Refugees bring new life to Calabrian mountain villages 

  • Many people left the Calabrian mountain villages in the past decades to build a new life in the north of Italy or Europe. The places became deserted. Now refugees are coming to these villages and bringing new life. Many communities there want to take in more people.

15.02.2021: About half of the refugees in the Mediterranean are taken to Libya by the so-called Libyan coast guard +++ Greek migration minister lies +++ Tens of thousands of children born in Germany are threatened with deportation 

02/12/2021: Watson interviewed me on Frontex allegations +++ Mare Liberum report says human rights for refugees in Aegean systematically abolished +++ Municipalities charge very high prices for refugee accommodation 

11.02.2021: IOM calls for end to pushbacks +++ Situation for refugees in Lebanon worsens +++ WDR shows film on situation at EU external border between Croatia and Bosnia 

02/10/2021: European Parliament votes for my report on border procedures +++ Frontal21 reports on Frontex scandal +++ International law expert explains why refugees can hardly defend themselves when their rights are disregarded 

09.02.2021: Pro Asyl demands deportation stop to Afghanistan +++ Storm on Lesbos +++ Syrian defends himself in court against the reading of his mobile phone by German authorities 

  • A storm on Lesbos makes life there even worse. Five months after the fire in Moria and the promise that things would be different nothing has improved. The Greek government is preventing help on the ground and the other EU states are preventing evacuation because they don't want to take in the people. It's supposed to snow in the next few days. Check out my instagram channel for a video of the storm.
  • Yesterday, Sea-Watch observed, as a Frontex plane circled over a boat from which 32 people were being illegally towed back to Libya. If Frontex once again involved in illegal pull-backs to Libya, the border agency has thus again violated international law

Feb 08, 2021: „The world's worst border agency“: My interview in Zeit Online on Frontex +++ Ocean Viking has a safe haven +++ Applications for family reunification from Greece are often rejected due to errors +++ 

02/05/2021: New accusations against Frontex director +++ Many boats in distress in the Mediterranean +++ Ocean Viking rescues more than 400 people from distress at sea

02/04/2021: Court bans deportation to Afghanistan +++ Germany takes in persecuted Belarusians +++ Refugees accuse Maltese authorities of torture

  • In Tigray, a humanitarian catastrophe is taking place before the eyes of the world. Many people are fleeing, there is a threat of famine. Refugees from Eritrea, who actually sought protection in Ethiopia and are now cut off from international aid, are suffering in particular. Amnesty International has started a petition calling on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to allow humanitarian aid. You can sign the petition here.

02/03/2021: Tareq Alaows wants to be the first refugee from Syria to enter the Bundestag +++ Situation on Greek islands remains inhumane +++ EU increasingly relies on drones

  • The EU pays more than 300 million for surveillance with drones. For four years now, unmanned systems have been flying in regular operation for the agencies of the European Union. Now individual governments are also receiving funding for drones at their borders.
  • US President Joe Biden has signed three executive orders aimed at reuniting separated refugee families and partially reversing the inhumane refugee policies of the Trump era. One directive aims to reunite 600 to 700 refugee children with their parents. You can find out a bit more background at BBC.
  • The doctor Gerhard Trabert travelled to Bosnia-Herzegovina to help people seeking protection. The Bosnian authorities have forbidden him to provide medical care to people in the burned-down Lipa camp. He did it anyway.

02.02.2021: Right-wing vigilantes in Gran Canaria call for "hunt for Arabs" +++ Greek migration minister talks up island jails and continues to lie about pushback reality despite evidence +++ The Ocean Viking is back in action

  • In a ZEIT interview Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi continues to deny that the Greek government is conducting pushbacks and that the conditions in the camps are deliberately so degrading in order to deter. He conceals the fact that hundreds of heated containers could have been installed for accommodation for months if the Greek government did not prevent it.

02/01/2021: 127 people died in January trying to reach Europe +++ Rescue organizations continue to be prevented from doing their work +++ "Bergdoktor" donates €30,000 to Sea-Eye

  • According to the IOM, 127 people have already died trying to reach Europe in January. 105 drowned in the Mediterranean, 22 in an attempt 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 read more about the disasters at the Project page "Missing Migrants" of the IOM. The Frankfurter Rundschau also reports.
  • The managing director of SOS Méditerranée Germany, Verena Papke, explains the tricks used by civilian rescue ships to make their work in the Mediterranean more difficult: Interview in the Frankfurter Rundschau.
  • "Bergdoktor" Hans Sigl donates 30.000 € to Sea-Eye. With his wife Susanne, the actor won 30,000 euros on Saturday evening in a celebrity special of the ARD show „Das Quiz mit Jörg Pilawa“. The money will be invested in the ship SEA-EYE 4 of the eponymous German rescue organization, Sea-Eye announced on Saturday evening.
  • At the weekend Italian MPs wanted to travel to the border between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to find out about the illegal pushbacks. According to media reports, they were prevented from doing so by the Croatian police. The Croatian interior minister said the visit would damage Croatia's reputation. Although pushbacks have been documented and proven for years, Croatia continues to deny that systematic pushbacks are taking place.

01/29/2021: European Parliament investigates Frontex development in pushbacks +++ Austrian president condemns deportations in Vienna +++ Seehofer wants to restrict free travel in the EU

28.01.2021: New podcast episode on the situation of refugees in Bosnia +++ Spanish government builds mass camps +++ Frontex stops operations in Hungary

  • In the new episode of my podcast "Thick Board" I talk with my collaborator and Balkan expert Krsto Lazarević about the current situation of refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina – and what needs to happen there now. You can find the episode on my Homepage, Spotify and Itunes.

01/27/2021: Court bans deportations to Greece +++ Refugee children on Lesbos suffer more than ever +++ Museum of Jewish Refugees in Shanghai reopens

  • Thousands of Jews fled from the National Socialists to Shanghai. The reopened Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum records this little-noticed part of history and documents the fates of Jewish refugees.
    The Waz has published a short video about this.

01/26/2021: Floor of new Moria poisoned with lead +++ Thousands of people stranded in Canary Islands +++ More refugees try to reach Italy via Albania

  • Fleeing people fight their way through snow across the Alps. In the snow and freezing cold, people try to cross the mountains to France or Austria. Many report being turned back, so-called „pushbacks“, by the French or Italian police, others report mistreatment or harassment. T-Online accompanies people on the run in this video.

01/25/2021: Ocean Viking rescues 373 people +++ People flee rising violence in West Africa +++ Virtually no political refugees from Hong Kong in Germany

01/22/2021: Frontex chief Leggeri apparently obstructs investigation +++ Ocean Viking rescues around 140 people +++ ECHR examines conditions in Greek camps 

01/21/2021: Biden plans right to stay for millions in U.S. +++ 43 people die off Libyan coast +++ Journalist to be deported from Germany to Pakistan

20.01.2021: Broad alliance calls for evacuation of Bosnian camp Lipa +++ Fewer and fewer refugees reach Greece and the EU +++ Frontex delays recruitment of human rights observers 

  • An alliance of around 140 organisations calls for the immediate evacuation of the Lipa refugee camp in Bosnia and the reception of those seeking protection in the EU. "The images from Lipa are harrowing" reads the appeal signed by Pro Asyl, Seebrücke, Leave No One Behind and church associations, among others.
  • Frontex was to recruit 40 people by 5 December to work on human rights monitoring at the agency. So far, not a single person has been hired, while the agency has been shown to have committed serious human rights abuses in recent months. 

19.01.2021: Debate on external borders in the European Parliament +++ Baker prevents deportation of his apprentice +++ Another 37 people disappeared on the Mediterranean Sea

18.01.2021: Sleet on Lesbos +++ "Anchor centres" miss their target +++ Hungary continues to unlawfully deport asylum seekers

  • There has been sleet on Lesbos, temperatures drop below freezing. People are freezing and have nothing to heat. The summer tents in the new Moria are damp.
  • The mass camps introduced by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, euphemistically called "anchor centres", are failing to achieve their declared goal: There it even takes longer than averageto consider an asylum application. Because too many people live there in too little space, there has also been an increase in corona infections.
  • Hungary is detaining people seeking protection in transit zones - and turning them back before their asylum applications have been examined. The European Court of Justice prohibited this in December. Now human rights activists are sounding the alarm: The lawbreaking continues.
  • In northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina hundreds of people still have to flee in sub-zero temperatures and live in self-made tent shelters or empty buildings.
  • Cold, hunger and disease are affecting people in refugee camps in northwestern Syria. ZDFheute spoke with refugees about their daily struggle for survival.

14.01.2021: Frontex director criticised after being questioned in Bundestag +++ Refugees in Bosnia desperately trying not to freeze to death +++ Germany taking in fewer refugees rescued from distress at sea than promised

01/13/2021: Storm on Lesbos worsens situation in new Moria +++ Frontex chief in Bundestag interior committee today +++ Hungary warned by Commission


Jan 12, 2021: EU anti-fraud agency launches investigation into Frontex +++ jetzt.de publishes chronicle of 2020 Mediterranean situation +++ Deportation flight to Afghanistan to take off today

  • Border agency Frontex is involved in illegal pushbacks and Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri is covering up these crimes. Now, the EU's anti-fraud agency an investigation was initiated. On the subject I have a thread on Twitter written.
  • Hungary is said to have deported almost 2,500 people to Serbia without a legal procedure. The role of Frontex in particular raises questions.
  • One year, eight ships, more than 3500 people rescued. Now.com collects in this chronicle the important events, facts and figures on the situation in the Mediterranean Sea in 2020.
  • A collective deportation to Afghanistan is planned for today. As various refugee councils reportthe flight is scheduled to depart from Düsseldorf Airport this evening. It would be the second deportation flight to Kabul since the beginning of the corona pandemic.
  • More than 1,500 underage refugees are missing in Germany. 607 of the missing are under the age of 13, according to a report.

11.11.2021: New Moria flooded again +++ Moonbird reconnaissance plane back in action +++ Number of asylum applications in Germany down for fourth year in a row

  • The new Moria is flooded again and according to the weather forecast, it's supposed to keep raining all week. All promises to improve conditions on the Greek islands have been broken.
  • The Moonbird flies again. This will allow Sea-Watch to continue its aerial reconnaissance mission over the central Mediterranean.

Nov 08, 2021: Ocean Viking launches new operation in the Mediterranean +++ French baker goes on hunger strike to prevent deportation of his apprentice +++ Six times fewer people arrived on Greek islands in 2020 than in 2019

  • More than 700 refugees and migrants have already arrived on the Canary Islands this year. 
  • In this new podcast the Border Violence Monitoring (BVMN) talks about the situation of refugees, criminalization of refugee assistance and the activities of the extreme right in Serbia.

07.01.2021: Greece puts people's lives in danger, Turkey saves them +++ Balkan route: Pushbacks by Frontex at the Greek-Albanian border? +++ Family reunifications take a long time in Germany

  • More and more people in Greece are trying to reach Western Europe via Albania. Many report illegal „pushbacks“ to the Greek side of the border – with the participation of the EU Border Management Agency.

06.01.2021: Cultural workers demand to help the refugees in Bosnia +++ German government does not plan to accept refugees from Bosnia +++ Italy arrests rescue ship Open Arms 

  • In an open letter cultural workers, among them some former war refugees, demand to help the protection seekers in Bosnia-Herzegovina and not to let the people freeze in winter. They criticize the cynical policy of the EU, the brutal pushbacks by Croatia and the inhumane accommodation by Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • The federal government plans by their own account no reception of protection seekers from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland commentsIt is cynical how the EU makes politics on the back of freezing refugees in Bosnia.
  • Sea-Eye sues Italy for blocking the Alan Kurdi. Italy also imposed a Driving ban for the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, which just rescued 265 people from distress at sea.
  • The journalist Franziska Grillmeier reports from Lesbos and says in an interview with Radio Eins: „A permanent camp is to be built on Lesvos by September 2021. The island and camp residents look forward to this with great concern, because after five years of mismanagement, there is no longer any confidence that things will get better.“

05.01.2021: Protection seekers in Bosnia to freeze throughout winter +++ Pro Asyl reveals inhumane deportations from Germany +++ 83 protection seekers deported to civil war country Libya 

04.01.2021: Pro Asyl demands admission of protection seekers from Bosnia +++ Open Arms rescues 265 people and can enter Sicily +++ Esslingen becomes "safe haven

12/23/2020: Major fire in Bosnian refugee camp +++ People from new Moria address EU in open letter +++ German government supports Croatian border police even though they torture people seeking protection

12/22/2020: Seehofer covered up Greek crimes +++ Saving the world without "the world" raise over €75,000 +++ Ocean Viking is free

  • Under pressure from the EU, the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have now agreed to Bira camp into a container camp for 1500 refugees. The camp was built in April 2020 to quickly get refugees and migrants off the streets because of Covid-19. It was never intended for winter. The IOM therefore threatened to stop work in the camp, which would have made 1500 people homeless.

21.12.2020: Development Minister Gerd Müller denounces conditions in the new Moria +++ Thousands of people die on the run, most on their way to Europe +++ Onset of winter threatens thousands of refugees in Bosnia

18.12.2020: Politicians* demand admission of people from Moria +++ "Los for Lesbos" publishes videos on the situation at the external borders +++ Hundreds of non-infected people are quarantined in Hessian refugee shelter

  • 88 refugees from Greek camps arrived in Germany on Thursday. A total of 19 sick children landed in Hannover together with their so-called nuclear families. In addition, there were two unaccompanied minors who were brought to their mother living in Germany under the Dublin family reunification agreements. Since April, Germany has thus taken in a total of 1519 people from Greece, it said.
  • Resettlement and ethnic cleansing, forced deportation and flight: The historian Andreas Kossert has written a narrative about flight and expulsion.

17.12.2020: ECJ rules: Hungary violates EU law with asylum rules +++ Constitutional Court in Weimar rejects AfD complaint +++ AA confirms internally: intolerable conditions on Lesbos

16.12.2020: Interior Ministry to carry out collective deportation to Afghanistan today +++ Around 3000 homeless refugees face winter in Bosnia +++ New Moria is flooded

  • The UNHCR turns 70. The UN Refugee Agency was founded when millions of people were displaced after the Second World War, became stateless and in some cases could never return to their homes. At that time, most of the world's refugees came from Europe. Actually, the UNHCR was only supposed to exist for a few years, but unfortunately flight and displacement became a constant in our world. Today, more than 80 million people worldwide are on the run.

  • At a deportation center in Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says. Hundreds of migrant workers detained in inhumane conditions. Wardens had tortured and beaten some of them. Between October and November, at least three people are reported to have died in the custody of the Saudi authorities. These conditions also explain why people from Syria tend to fly to Turkey and Europe rather than Saudi Arabia.

15.12.2020: Seehofer fails to reach agreement on European asylum system +++ Greece obstructs NGOs from helping refugees +++ Sea rescuers say more and more minors fleeing across Mediterranean Sea

  • Interior Minister Seehofer actually wanted to resolve the conflict within the EU over a new asylum law this year, but he failed to achieve his goal. The MEP Erik Marquardt criticised the German Presidency for not having taken a step closer to a common asylum system.: "We are in for another winter of unheated tents and violence against protection seekers. To end these undignified conditions, we don't need a new pact, we need EU law to be enforced and EU governments to step forward and not allow the EU to let protection seekers freeze to death." 
  • Greece has von the EU has received 2.8 billion euros for refugee care from 2015 to date.. In relation to the number of people admitted, this is more than any other country in the world has received per capita. Nevertheless, the situation is terrible and it is also made more difficult for NGOs to help. Erik Marquardt says: "The effort and the obstacles that are put in the way of the organisations are largely underestimated. It is also hardly possible to get access to the camp in order to supply the people with food".

12/14/20: Pro Asyl calls on European Parliament to prevent new migration pact +++ Greek border guards allegedly mistreated refugees in new Moria +++ IOM threatens to close camp in Bosnia

  • In the refugee camp Lipa in Bosnia hundreds of refugees spend the winter, partly only in plastic tents. It is connected neither to the water nor to the electricity grid and can only be reached via a dirt road that now resembles a mud track. IOM has given the central government an ultimatum. If no solution is found for the camp, the IOM will abandon it..
  • The fact that more and more people flee across the Atlantic to the Canary Islands has also with the conflict in Western Sahara to do. In November, the Polisario called off the ceasefire with Morocco. Last week, the US became the first major state in the world to recognize Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara.

11.12.2020: Deportation stop to Syria ends +++ Deportations to Syria as PR for Seehofer +++ 400 people arrive in Gran Canaria every day

  • The FR comments: "Horst Seehofer is a master of the sham debate. He is proving that once more these days when he announces that he will lift the ban on deportations to Syria. If Germany still ends up deporting no one to Syria, Seehofer won't explain to the people that the government is also bound by the law. No, he will blame the SPD and the Greens. That's how you damage democratic discourse."

12/10/2020: More than 80 million people on the run +++ German government takes in far fewer refugees than it should +++ Around 3000 homeless refugees freeze in Bosnia-Herzegovina

  • According to IOM, around 3000 refugees are currently homeless in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most of them are currently freezing in the forests not far from the Croatian border. The local authorities in the canton of Una-Sana closed several camps at the end of September on the grounds that they consider them to be pull factors. In reality, the aim is simply to get the refugees out of the cities and towns.

9.12.2020: Greece dumps refugees at sea after arrival on Lesbos +++ New Moria likely built on contaminated soil +++ Overfishing by European crawlers leads to flight and migration

  • The EU Commission wants a common European refugee policy: it has proposed a pact for asylum and migration and thus wants to reorganise one of the most difficult EU issues. Unfortunately it is relying on deterrence, mass camps at the external borders and cooperation with dictators. SWR Aktuell reports.
  • Even serious criminals should not be sent to the dictator Assad. The Federal Foreign Office describes the serious human rights violations in Syria in a situation report. Deportations from Germany are out of the question, comments the Tagesspiegel.

8.12.2020: Initiatives call for deportation stop +++ Turkish coast guard rescues people pushed by Greece in Aegean +++ Three months after Moria fire, conditions remain catastrophic

  • Three months ago, Moria burned down. From the ashes arose a new and even worse Moria. The Deutschlandfunk and Arte have published recommendable documentaries on the current situation. 

Dec 7, 2020 El Hiblu 3 faces years in prison +++ Celebrities help fight prejudice with facts +++ Thousands flee Tigray for Sudan +++

  • There is a lot of prejudice against refugees. 17 celebrities have joined Lot for Lesbos teamed up and rebut one prejudice with facts.
  • According to the United Nations, more than a thousand people have again fled from the embattled Tigray region in northern Ethiopia to neighbouring Sudan. A total of 47,000 refugees have now arrived in Sudan, he said. The UN refugee agency welcomed the Ethiopian government's willingness to allow humanitarian aid deliveries to Tigray.
  • In the month of November, the Aegean Boat Report documented a total of 28 illegal pushbacks by the Greek coast guard. In the process, 606 people, children, women and men, were deprived of their fundamental right to asylum.

12/4/2020 Frontex chief lied during questioning +++ 8157 refugees and migrants landed irregularly in Canaries in November +++Bangladesh resettles Rohingya on inhospitable island

12/3/2020 Thousands of asylum claims by people from Afghanistan wrongly rejected +++ Lots for Lesbos 2 launches +++ Hard winter ahead for refugees on Balkan route

  • Almost 10,000 refugees from Afghanistan have appealed against rejected asylum decisions since the beginning of the year. and got it right 59.1 percent of the time. Accordingly, a total of 5644 negative asylum decisions for Afghan asylum seekers were overturned. The decisions in the remaining cases are also ambiguous.
  • About two-thirds of immigration to Germany in 2019 was from other European countries. As in 2018, the main country of origin of immigrants was Romania, with a share of just under 15 per cent. This was followed by Poland and Bulgaria. In the area of refugee migration, Syria remained the most important country of origin - 27.6 per cent of all asylum applications were submitted by Syrians. The number of people applying for asylum in Germany fell in 2019 for the fourth year in a row.

12/2/2020 MEPs call for consequences after Frontex involvement in pushbacks +++ Frontex sues NGO +++ Eritreans demand family reunification

  • Frontex takes "Ask the State" to court, after they repeatedly helped to uncover illegal machinations of the EU agency. It is very unusual at the EU level to hire private lawyers for information requests and then demand these costs from civil society organisations. In view of Frontex's budget of billions of euros, one must assume that this is pure harassment of critical civil society.

12/1/2020 Frontex chief to be questioned by MEPs today +++ Overcrowded camp in Canaries cleared +++ Bundestag MEPs barely spoke about situation in Lesbos

11/30/2020 German federal police officers involved in illegal pushback. +++ Journalists accuse Greek authorities of obstructing their work +++ More surveillance and police in the English Channel.

11/27/2020 Frontex chief lies to public +++ Seehofer wants to deport people to Syria where they face murder, torture and forced recruitment +++ Thuringian initiatives call for deportation stop

11/26/2020 At least eight people drown off Lanzarote +++ Mediterranean countries demand more European solidarity +++ Thuringia Greens want to sue Seehofer

  • Thuringian Greens want to file suit against Seehoferbecause it prevents the state from taking in more refugees than is provided for in the nationwide distribution key. Astrid Rothe-Beinlich explains: "Thuringia should now also file a lawsuit. After all, it is the right of a federal state to set up such an admission programme for humanitarian reasons or reasons of international law. Seehofer's refusal to Berlin's and Thuringia's state admission programs is simply untenable in the view of many legal experts."
  • Corona in refugee homes. No chance of keeping distance rules: If Corona breaks out in a refugee shelter, quarantine has severe consequences. The people inside are fenced off. According to refugee organisations, however, refugees could be much better protected if they did not have to stay in the huge collective accommodation for so long as a matter of principle.

11/25/2020 Frontex covers up human rights abuses +++ Spain sends police to Senegal +++ Protests against police violence after eviction of refugee camp in Paris

11/24/2020 Number of resettlements at an all-time low +++ Switzerland threatens to withdraw Frontex officials +++ Refugee protests in Paris

  • A refugee boat has wrecked off the Greek tourist island of Rhodes. Ten people were apparently able to swim ashore. A fugitive was killed.

11/23/2020 Spain sets up mass camps in Canary Islands +++ UN expects up to 200,000 new refugees from Ethiopia +++ Greek authorities criminalize activists

11/20/20 Military service is a reason to flee +++ Council of Europe anti-torture committee raises allegations against Greece +++ Croatia's government under pressure over pushback videos

  • Military service is a reason to flee. The issue has been disputed between German courts for years, now the European Court of Justice has provided clarity. Syrian men who left their country because of the threat of military service will in future be able to enforce comprehensive refugee protection under the Geneva Convention. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) had previously only granted them subsidiary protection in many cases. ProAsyl sees the judgement as a success and criticises the BAMF: "In recent years, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has unjustly denied numerous Syrian conscientious objectors the refugee status to which they are entitled."

11/19/2020 Video evidence on pushbacks at Croatia's external border +++ Greece continues to rely on mass camps on islands +++ In Gran Canaria, residents protest for refugee rights

11/18/2020 Greek authorities issued order for pushbacks +++Berlin Senate sues Seehofer +++ Hesse's 81% to accept war refugees

  • An discovery of a documentThe Greek coastguard has been ordered to push people back into Turkish waters, which repeatedly leads to life-threatening situations and is clearly in breach of the law.
  • Documents published by the Guardian show a coordinated and illegal attack on the rights of those trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean. Specifically, it is about the EU's cooperation with the so-called Libyan coast guard.

11/17/2020: Canaries demand Madrid bring minors to mainland +++ Alleged pushbacks by Austrian officials +++ In Senegal, people mourn those who died en route to Europe

  • In Senegal, activists organised a commemoration on Friday for the more than 400 people who drowned on their way to Europe this year. Many contributions can be found on Twitter under the hashtag #LeSenegalEnDeuil. There was a call for one second of silence for each dead – total of eight minutes.

16.11.2020: Situation in Canary Islands comes to a head +++ Sea-Eye sends a new ship to the Mediterranean +++ AlarmPhone makes serious accusations against Malta

  • Sea-Eye presents a new ship. The Sea-Eye 4 is largely financed with 434,000 euros from the alliance for sea rescue United4Rescue. The ship is to be deployed as quickly as possible. You can participate here. The ship should be ready for operation as soon as possible, because many other rescue ships are currently blocked and only the Open Arms is currently operating in the Mediterranean. Only on Friday another 20 people drowned in a shipwreck.
  • The Musawi family fled from the war in Afghanistan to Lesbos. She experienced the inferno of Moria, slept on the street. Now she lives in the temporary new camp. How is she doing there? The father reports.

13.11.2020: Rescue ship Open Arms allowed to enter Italy +++ 90 people drowned off Libya +++ Member states at external borders reject Commission proposal on common asylum policy

  • Two boats carrying refugees sank off the coast of Libya. at least 90 people drowned. 47 survivors are said to have been brought ashore.

12.11.2020: Six people, including a toddler, drown in boat crash +++ Greek authorities push protection seekers, without food, onto island +++ EU demands answers on violence at Croatian border

11.11.2020: EU Commission gives ultimatum to Frontex chief Leggeri +++ Bishops demand reception of people on Greek islands +++ ARD reports on violence at Croatian external border 

  • ARD reports, how Brussels, Berlin and co. ignore Croatian border violence and massive human rights violations by the Croatian police. The European Ombudsman said yesterday that an investigation is being launched into "possible human rights violations". Amnesty International criticizes: "Numerous human rights abuses, including beatings and torture, have been documented over the years. Carried out by Croatian police officers whose salaries may be funded by the EU." 
  • The Bishops of the Protestant Church in Central Germany (EKM) call for an admission The German government has called for more refugees currently living on Greek islands to arrive in Germany before Christmas: "No refugee should have to live in a mass camp on a Greek island at Christmas. With the onset of winter, the situation there is worsening dramatically. The bishops appealed to Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) to finally accept existing offers of help from municipalities and federal states.
  • New Turn of events in so-called BAMF affair. An anonymous whistleblower accuses the investigators in the so-called BAMF affair of not taking exculpatory material into account. The public prosecutor's office in Bremen has initiated proceedings.

10.11.2020: Frontex involvement in pushbacks must be investigated +++ German government to deport to Afghanistan again +++ Father of drowned refugee child arrested

  • Lockdown in Moria 2.0: Mare Liberum reportsthat the Greek authorities have so far failed to implement adequate Covid 19 measures for the camp, instead strict rules and draconian measures have been implemented. No mask even in your tent? 150 € fine! That's equivalent to two months of financial support for refugees.

9.11.2020: Refugee child drowns off Samos +++ Arrivals surge in Canaries and Lampedusa +++ Lockdown in new Moria

  • Worse than Moria: No hot water, no heating, no electricity – the residents of the refugee camp Kara Tepe on the Greek island of Lesbos are afraid of winter. Doctors without Borders calls for the camp to be closed immediately. Residents have been on lockdown since Saturday. The Greek authorities have now also started to provide assistance to residents who do not wear masks, to impose penalties, that most of them can't afford. Given the living conditions and the failed Corona policy in the mass camps, this seems like a bad joke.
  • The Bremen BAMF affair is smaller than assumed. At the beginning of the affair about machinations of the Bremen refugee office there were 1200 suspicious cases. Now only 20 of 121 charges are to be tried.

6.11.2020: Great Britain closes itself off +++ Criminalisation of civil society in the Western Balkans +++ Demand for a deportation stop for Roma in Germany

  • On the defense against flight and migration Britain increases its military presence in the English Channel. The UNHCR expressed "grave concern" in August that warships were being used against "small inflatable boats". This could lead to "dangerous and deadly incidents". Preventing migration was a key election promise of the Brexiteers.

11/5/2020: SOS Children's Villages call for decent housing for refugee children in Greece +++ Leipzig becomes „safe haven“ +++ „Open Arms“ rescues again

  • Greek police block the main gate of the new Moria. You prevents the residents from leaving the premises. NGOs run psychiatric clinics, schools and legal aid centres off-site. Many people now cannot make it to important appointments because of the restrictions.
  • Leipzig becomes the first city in Saxony to become a "safe haven". More than a year ago, the council decided to take in up to 100 people rescued from distress at sea each year and sent a strong signal to the state and federal governments. Now Leipzig is also part of the "Seebrücke" alliance and has decided to make funds available for operational sea rescue.
  • The Open Arms saves again. The ship is currently on its way from Barcelona to the central Mediterranean to save lives. The ship is operated by the Spanish NGO "Proactiva Open Arms".
  • In Serbia, demonstrations against refugees are on the rise. In Belgrade marched right-wing extremist groups a few days ago in Belgrade and demanded that the park not far from the bus station be "cleansed of migrants". In the border town of Šid, the right-wing group is organizing "Omladina Šida" Protests against refugees. There are currently around 6,000 refugees living in camps in Serbia and an estimated 1,200 outside the camps.

11/4/2020: This year already over 11,000 refugees landed on the Canary Islands +++ District of Constance donates to Sea-Eye +++ Bremen „BAMF scandal“ was based on dubious documents

11/3/2020: Corona fire and infestation on Samos +++ Algeria drops thousands of refugees in Sahara +++ 900 protection seekers arrive on Lampedusa within hours

30.10.2020: 140 people drowned off Senegal +++ Camp Pikpa is cleared +++ New report on violence against refugees in Greece

  • At least 140 people have drowned in a shipwreck off Senegal. While trying to reach the Canary Islands, a boat caught fire off the Senegalese coast, then capsized. 59 people could still be rescued. This is the most serious shipping accident recorded so far this year. For weeks now, the number of arrivals on the Canary Islands has been rising massively. At least 414 people have died so far this year trying to reach the archipelago.
  • Human rights violations by FrontexMEPs from the Greens, the SPD, the CDU/CSU and the Left Party, including myself, are calling on the European Commission to act to restore the rule of law in the Aegean.
  • The Border Violence Monitoring Network has a new report which deals with violence against refugees within the borders of Greece.

10/29/2020: Frontex chief Leggeri comes under pressure+++ One in seven BAMF decisions complained about is overturned by courts +++ Around 200 protection seekers pushed out of Greece +++

  • Frontex chief Leggeri is coming under pressure, because his agency is involved in illegal pushbacks in the Aegean. Now the EU Commission is also expecting answers from the head of its border protection agency. The first parliamentarians are calling for his dismissal.
  • The EU naval operation IRINI assists the Libyan coast guard with repatriations of people trying to flee across the Mediterranean by providing information on the locations of boats. Legal experts criticise this because Libya is not a "safe haven".

10/28/2020: MSF calls for something to be done about the spread of Covid 19 on Samos +++ Four people die in the English Channel +++ Greece continues illegal practice of pushback

  • Despite clear evidence, Frontex still does not admit to involvement in pushbacks. The EU agency claims absurdly continues to claim that it has not violated any laws, but now wishes to verify this.

27.10.2020: EU Commission calls for accountability report from Frontex +++ Number of irregular entries from Turkey sharply reduced +++ EU decides to deploy large drones in the Mediterranean Sea

  • The European Union has decided to deploy large drones in the Mediterranean for several years, now Italy is following suit. The beneficiary companies from Israel and Italy have already carried out tests for Frontex in recent years. The Italian Ministry of the Interior is providing €7.2 million.

10/26/2020: Frontex involved in illegal pushbacks +++ Salvamento Marítimo saves 52 people from +++ Greek government to build new morias on islands

  • These in the Spiegel published research prove for the first time that Frontex officials know about the illegal practices of the Greek border guards - and are partly involved in the pushbacks themselves. Breaches of the law have become commonplace at Europe's borders. And the EU is letting it happen. Frontex officials publicly claim to know nothing about pushbacks by Greek border guards. Yet the agency has 600 officers on duty in Greece as well as ships, drones and aircraft. Still you can find the research results in more detail at Bellingcat.

10/23/2020: Seehofer to review deportations to Syria +++ New Moria to remain open through winter +++ Five people missing in the central Mediterranean Sea

  • Seehofer wants to examine deportations to Syria. So far, there has been a ban on deportations. Syria is one of the worst dictatorships in the world, where a dictator wages war against his own people and where people are systematically tortured and murdered.

22.10.2020: 15 dead in boat crash in Libya +++ Over 2000 protection seekers reach Canaries +++ Green youth set up over 1500 chairs in Augsburg

  • More than two thousand people seeking protection have reached the Canary Islands in two weeks: more and more people are trying to reach the islands via the perilous Atlantic route to enter the EU.
  • Greece Hires another 800 border guards. Of these, 600 are to be deployed on the Evros alone. Minister Mihailis Chrisochoidis explained this in militarised rhetoric, saying that it was intended to build up a "second line of defence".
  • In Germany there are now 200 safe havens. It is local authorities that are demanding to be allowed to take in people in need, but this has so far been prevented by the federal government.

21.10.2020: Alleged sexual abuse by Croatian police +++ Merkel rejects municipal reception of refugees +++ New camp on Lesbos worse than Moria

  • Protection seekers on the Balkan route have been according to a report in the Guardian whipped, robbed and sexually abused by Croatian police. The Danish Refugee Council documented these cases during pushbacks in just five days, between 12 and 16 October. One man reported being beaten with a branch and sexually assaulted. An examining doctor confirmed that sexual violence was clearly perpetrated against the man. Other shelter seekers reported that Croatian police officers forced them to undress and lay naked on top of each other. Police officers allegedly took selfies with the naked men.

On its 70th birthday, the Geneva Convention on Refugees lies dying

Tomorrow we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Refugee Convention (GRC). The Refugee Convention is the most important document for the protection of refugees. A total of 149 states have signed up to it. But in the meantime it has become increasingly obvious that Europe is using force to close itself off instead of helping people in need. This is out of touch with history and a breach of the principles of the rule of law and human rights.

People are drowning at our external borders, even though we could save them. People are abandoned on the open sea and tortured because they want to apply for asylum. The EU pays Islamist militias to drag refugees back to Libya. Pushbacks are carried out by EU states. There have been shootings of refugees from Greece. It is hypocritical for EU governments to celebrate the birthday of the Refugee Convention, because at the EU's external borders they have chosen to replace refugee rights with violent closure.

The CSF emerged from the lessons of the Second World War

When the Geneva Convention on Refugees was adopted 70 years ago, people wanted to take responsibility for those seeking protection after the terrible experiences of the Second World War. We wanted to help people in need and we wanted to achieve political goals under the rule of law and with respect for human rights. At the European external borders, people are now trying with all their might to rid themselves of the responsibility for those seeking protection by depriving them of their rights. It has once again become normal to achieve political goals by degrading people. 

Worldwide, more than 82 million people are on the run. Only a very small proportion of them are fleeing to Europe. It is an indictment that we are throwing our own legal foundations overboard just so that fewer and fewer asylum applications are made in Europe. On its 70th birthday, the Geneva Convention on Refugees is dying. The governments of the member states are capitulating in the face of the asylum policy challenges. Because they cannot agree on a functioning asylum system, they disguise this failure by mistreating and disenfranchising people in need. People are suffering because governments are not doing their job properly.

We call on the Commission to finally take action against Croatia's violent pushbacks

Recently, a shocking research was published by ARD, Lighthouse Reports, SRF, Mirror and Novosti. This broad pan-European 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.

Some of these incidents do not even take place near the EU's external border, but people are taken far from the interior of the country to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The pushbacks and violence against refugees are clear violations of European law and have been taking place for years without any serious consequences.

That is why I, together with other MEPs from the Greens, the Left and Social Democrats wrote this letter to the responsible minister, Ylva Johansson, demanding that the Commission finally take action against the systematic pushbacks and violations of human rights..

What was important this week

Here, at the end of the week, I give an overview of my work and the currently important debates and issues in the European Parliament.

Calendar week 28/2021

Outcome of the Frontex investigation team 

For four months, the European Parliament has been investigating allegations against Frontex in the Frontex Scrutiny Group. The investigation has made it very clear that there are systemic problems at Frontex. At the heart of the allegations is that Frontex knows about and actively participates in human rights violations at the EU's external borders. The resulting report is a first step in the right direction. 

For many months now, Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri has repeatedly attracted attention with new scandals and the distortion of facts. He has lied to parliament several times and is actively preventing the cases from being investigated. Despite this, the EU member states are holding on to him. If the EU Member States really want Frontex to improve, they must finally appoint a new Executive Director. Frontex continues to expand. Yet wherever human rights violations are reported the EU agency looks the other way. Neither in Croatia nor in Greece does Frontex have any serious missions to monitor borders across the board. This turns the agency into a tax-wasting machine that serves as a fig leaf to cover up violations of the law by the Member States. Human rights organisations are banned from observing the borders. Frontex looks the other way or is sent away. It is becoming increasingly difficult to observe what is happening at Europe's external borders. Meanwhile, even the locations of sea rescue cases are kept secret. But hundreds of reports of human rights violations must no longer go without consequences. The EU Commission must finally launch an investigation with infringement proceedings against Frontex and Greece. The member states must reorganise Frontex. In view of the devastating report of the Court of Auditors, the EU Parliament should block a further budget increase of Frontex. You can watch the presentation of the report here Watch. (My speech at 9:39). 

My guest contribution on the Frontex investigation team 

I wrote a guest article for T-Online in which I call for consequences after Frontex covered up human rights violations. It is entitled: "Violence, Breaches of Law, Torture: Anything is Possible at EU Borders." 

Open letter to Heiko Maas

The security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating by the day, the Taliban are conquering more and more territory and a successful peace negotiation seems a long way off. In addition, the humanitarian situation is difficult and the pandemic situation continues to deteriorate. More and more people are having to flee because of this. The Afghan government recently asked for a Deportation stop from Europebut Germany continues to deport. Therefore I have written a letter to Heiko Maas and ask him to adjust the assessment of the current security situation in the situation report, irrespective of any domestic political motives and in accordance with new findings and developments.

Criminalisation of sea rescue NGOs 

We also had a debate on the criminalisation of life-saving activities by Member States. Médecins Sans Frontières described the multiple attacks on civil society that are under way in several EU countries. When I asked the Commission why, in the absence of state or EU-led search and rescue operations, it – does not support NGOs that fill the gap and save lives, I got no answer. Until the Commission takes action here against the criminalisation of sea rescue NGOs, people will continue to drown who should not have to. You can watch the meeting here See. (My speech at 10:37) 

Green success in lobby control 

Lobbying rules in the European Parliament and the EU Commission are to be controlled by an independent ethics body in future - despite opposition from the Christian Democrats and CDU/CSU in the EU Constitutional Affairs Committee. We Greens had already called for this in the European election campaign 2019 demanded, now finally the EU Constitutional Committee for Daniel Freunds Report voted for an independent ethics panel. You can find out more on the homepage of Daniel Freund. 

Calendar week 27/2021 

AMIF 

The 9.88 billion euro fund for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) for 2021-2027 aims to strengthen the common European asylum policy. We have achieved that funds can be applied for directly by regional and local authorities, so that EU states can no longer so easily prevent the funding of committed cities and regions. This means that municipalities can no longer be so easily prevented from dealing with flight and migration in a spirit of solidarity.

Talk without guest 

I was a guest on the podcast "Talk ohne Gast". I didn't really understand the concept behind it, but the conversation with Till Reiners and Moritz Neumeier was great fun. You can listen to the episode listen to the longer version here or watch in a slightly shortened version here on video.  

Subsidies for climate-damaging energy sources 

Every year billions of euros of state money are spent on fossil fuels - we Greens want to finally turn off this climate-damaging money tap. What you should also know outside Brussels: Most MEPs from the CDU, CSU and FDP wanted to prevent this. You can find out how the German MEPs voted by contacting my colleague Michael Bloß on Twitter see 

Question on Afghanistan 

Together with my colleagues Bettina Vollath (S&D) and Clare Daly (GUE), I have this week submitted a written question to the European Commission on Afghanistan. The subject of my question is the current development of the Security situation and the adoption of the Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation (Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation, JDMC), that is, the new repatriation agreement between the EU and Afghanistan. Since the JDMC was adopted without the involvement of Parliament, I would like to know to what extent the Commission will involve the EP in the future with regard to the agreement. I am also interested in the Commission's assessment of the security situation in the country and the compatibility with deportations to Afghanistan. I have also asked a question about the issuing of visas to local staff. The Commission has 6 weeks to reply to my questions, and I will link the reply here.

Question on the withdrawal of residence permits of Syrian refugees in Denmark

On 26 April, together with a number of left-wing and Socialist MEPs, I sent the Commission a question on the withdrawal of residence permits for Syrian refugees in Denmark. We wanted to know what the Commission's position was on the plans and what, if anything, it intended to do about repatriations to Syria. 

In the reply, the Commission writes that it does not support return to Syria and agrees with the assessment of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations that the conditions for safe, voluntary and dignified return do not currently exist. And the Commission also makes it clear that Denmark remains bound to respect the principle of non-refoulement and also remains committed to examining each case individually. However, our question what measures the Commission intends to take to counter Denmark's behaviour was not really answered. You can find the question and the answer here. 

Justice for Stanislav Tomáš

On 19 June, Stanislav Tomáš died in the Czech Republic after two police officers knelt on him. This is a tragic example of racist police violence in Europe. The Anti-racism and diversity group of the European Parliament calls in a Letter to the Commission to make a public statement against police misconduct that disproportionately affects marginalised people such as Roma, PoCs and others. We call for an independent and exhaustive investigation into the case. In addition, the Commission should call on Czech public officials and the media to refrain from stereotyping the victim and further stigmatizing Roma. The focus should remain on the inadequate or non-existent police response that led to the death of Stanislav Tomáš.

Calendar week 26/2021 

Frontex 

This week, three committees of the European Parliament met to discuss once again the budget discharge for Frontex. Many different investigations are under way to uncover the specific failings of Frontex. As the budgetary authority, Parliament has a responsibility to hold Frontex to account when it is not operating as required by its mandate. In parallel with the budgetary procedure, the Frontex investigation team is working on its report, concluding its four-month inquiry into the agency's role in human rights abuses. In internal meetings during the remaining weeks of this parliamentary session, the members of the working group will discuss the findings and the recommendations to be included in the written report. You can watch the meeting of the interior committee here

33 European cities form safe havens alliance 

Together they signed a declaration and thus founded the "International Alliance of Safe Harbour Cities".. In the paper, the cities call for the right to asylum to be upheld in every European state, for reception quotas for the voluntary reception of refugees in the municipalities, and for direct funding of reception in the cities by the European Union to the municipalities. 

My podcast on Afghanistan 

In my podcast, I talk with journalist Shikiba Babori about the current situation in Afghanistan, the troop withdrawal and the future of the people in the Hindu Kush. We focus especially on the rights of women and minorities. We also explain why freedom of the press is better in Afghanistan than in many neighbouring countries. You can listen to the episode here. You can also listen to the podcast on Spotify, Itunes or Soundcloud Subscribe.

Visit to the Greek Greens 

This week I was at the Greens in Greece guest. In their webinar, they discussed the implications of the European Commission's proposal for a new common pact on asylum and migration. Greece, as a member state at the EU's external border, is an important building block for all proposed solutions. The Greek civilian population has been trying for years to provide what the member states cannot: humane accommodation and solidarity with people seeking protection in our country. It is good and important that the Greek Greens are actively involved in the discussion here.

Pride in Tbilisi 

Currently, the Pride in Tbilisi took place. At the request of local activists, I, together with other MEPs, appealed to the Georgian authorities to provide sufficient protection for the events. Previously, events of the LGBTQI community were often attacked by opponents. The leader of the ruling party, Irakli Kobakhidze, even wanted to cancel Pride. You can read the letter to the Georgian Minister of the Interior here.

Calendar week 25/2021 

Frontex investigation team 

This week the Frontex investigation team holds its last meetingto complete its four-month inquiry into the agency's role in human rights abuses. In those four months, it has become very clear that there are systemic problems at Frontex in terms of its operations, its management, its financial practices and its accountability. Commissioner Johansson expressed her concern and disappointment to Executive Director Leggeri at our meeting on Wednesday, and the Portuguese Interior Minister, Mr Cabrita, insisted that our investigations must have consequences. In the coming weeks, the group will negotiate its findings and recommendations, which will be incorporated into a report. The question is still whether the Conservatives are prepared to commit to the truth or whether they want to negate the facts and human rights in order to exonerate Frontex and continue building Fortress Europe undisturbed. 

From the Sea to the City – Alliance of Host Communities 

In Palermo, the European conference "From The Sea to the City" began on Friday, where various European cities are forming an alliance today to welcome refugees. I discussed with Gesine Schwan, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Muhamad al-Kashef, Chiara Cardoletti and the mayors of Potsdam and Palermo, Mike Schubert and Leoluca Orlando. More info and the videos of the panels can be found here

My written questions on "sound cannons" and accommodation on the Greek islands in winter 

The Greek border police is using so-called „sound cannons“ at the EU's external borders to prevent people seeking protection from being able to apply for asylum. Not only does this violate EU law, but countries have now outlawed such weapons because they can cause permanent damage. How the European Commission assesses the situation I'm trying to find out with this written question

The Memorandum of Understanding concluded between the European Commission and the Greek government after the Moria fire disaster stipulates that the new camp on Lesbos will be operational by the end of September 2021 at the latest. However, the tender for the construction has only been published at the end of May. It also provides for a maximum construction period of 8 months, well into next year. How the Commission now intends to keep its promise that protection seekers will not have to freeze in tents for another winter, I ask you in this written question.  

Serious human rights violations in Croatia 

New videos showhow the sick and pregnant women are also systematically denied access to asylum procedures in Europe that are based on the rule of law. Entire families are being taken back through the forest across the Croatian EU border at night. Ursula von der Leyen is simply watching as the rule of law is abolished at the external borders. The Council of Europe's Anti-Torture Committee also conducted an unannounced investigation into how Croatian police treat fugitives in the summer of 2020. According to information from investigative journalists, the report clearly confirms the human rights violations at the border. Zagreb is vehemently opposing the publication. 

Matić Report 

With the Matić Report the European Parliament is clearly committed to sexual and reproductive rights and recognises them as fundamental human rights. The denial of these rights is a form of gender-based violence that is unfortunately a reality in many Member States. Member States must now fully guarantee sexual and reproductive rights and ensure access to safe and legal abortion. In the run-up to the report, anti-feminist actors put massive pressure on progressive MEPs to prevent its adoption. Packages of plastic fetuses were even sent out and fundamentalist lobby organisations did their utmost. But the majority of MPs clearly positioned themselves in favour of the right to self-determination, bodily integrity, equality and non-discrimination. In the current context of strengthening anti-feminist and authoritarian ideologies, this report is a strong sign for feminism and emancipation. 

Development Committee There were two votes in the development area. The motion for a resolution on the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25/ Nairobi Summit) was supported by us Greens and adopted with a broad majority. In doing so, the European Parliament endorses the results of the meeting and calls for the implementation and funding of the ICPD action programme. The central demand is universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as part of universal health coverage. Also adopted was the Report on the role of EU development cooperation and humanitarian aid in dealing with the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic. (DE) The report assesses the EU's global response to the Covid 19 pandemic and makes recommendations on how to tackle the health, social and economic crisis triggered by Covid 19 in the Global South through development and humanitarian aid. Although the text itself did not contain any problematic passages, I abstained from the vote because, due to the EPP and S&D leadership, there was no opportunity to push through progressive demands on debt relief, health and agroecology, among other issues.

Calendar week 24/2021

Nadir crew negotiates to take rescued to Italy instead of Libya

The German observation ship Nadir has found an emergency at sea in the Maltese sea rescue zone. Instead of sending a rescue ship, Malta had only alerted the Libyan coast guard, which wanted to bring the people to the internment camps. The crew refused. With political pressure and negotiations, in which I also got involved, it was finally achieved that the Italian coast guard rescued the people and brought them to Italy. You can read more on the Twitter channel of RESQSHIP and at DW. 

Frontex investigation team 

This week, the Schengen Inquiry Group met with the European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs exchanged. In my contribution, I have tried to describe the complex and deeply worrying situation in which the Agency finds itself, based on our findings. We were able to observe an example of pushback described by Agency staff as the modus operandi of the Greek Coast Guard. This confirms that the Greek government lied to the LIBE Committee and that in order to reduce the number of arrivals, fundamental rights are violated on a daily basis at the Greek-Turkish border. Frontex can either cooperate with the Greek authorities, who are actively violating rights and the agency's own mandate, or stop operating. But in our experience with the agency in Hungary, Frontex is still carrying out operations in support of repatriation, despite the Commission's advice, even when the violations are recognised by the EU's own court, the ECJ. This inquiry brings more and more evidence of the serious problems with the agency and at the Union's external borders. You can watch the whole session watch again here

Presentation of the election campaign of the Green Party Berlin for the parliamentary elections 2021

Under the claim „klargehtdas“ the campaign of the Berlin Greens for the election to the House of Representatives in September 2021 was presented today. I am pleased that we are entering the race for the Red City Hall in Berlin with Bettina Jarasch. In recent years, she has been a strong advocate for those seeking protection in Berlin as Spokesperson for Refugees and Migration, and hopefully she will soon be able to do the same from the Red City Hall. The election posters are available here

Conference of Interior Ministers 

The Minister of the Interior of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Thomas Strobl (CDU), at the start of the conference of the Ministers of the Interior in Rust in Baden in favour of deportations from Germany to Syria. He knows you can't do that because people are being abused and killed there and it would take a deal with Assad. He's only interested in catering to right-wing populist sentiment.

Implementation of Global Europe-NDICI

As Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Development, I participated this week in the first geopolitical dialogue with Commissioner Urpilainen and High Representative Borrell. This was the first meeting in this series, which is to take place every six months in future as part of the European Parliament's greater rights of participation and control with regard to the implementation of Global Europe-NDICI. The multi-annual indicative programmes for pre-selected countries from the geographical pillar, which will play a key role in development cooperation in the coming years, were discussed. Most of the meeting was held in camera, but you can watch the first part of the meeting at here listen. The EP's monitoring work has only just begun with this meeting, and I will be taking a closer look in the future, especially at the projects that fall under the migration target. What is at stake in this, CONCORD has recently Position paper summarized.

Asylum Procedure Code 

On Thursday, what was probably the last meeting on the asylum procedure regulations before the summer break took place. The political groups are still far apart on issues such as the wider use of border procedures and the use of detention in the pre-entry phase of the asylum procedure. Unfortunately, the European Commission has still not provided us with accurate figures on the cost of the proposed procedures or given us a credible simulation of the provisions. Therefore, we must await the internal parliamentary report on the Pact and ensure that our reforms do not codify incorrect practice or lower standards of protection for asylum seekers. 

Calendar week 23/2021 

EU Parliament calls for temporary suspension of vaccine patents

The European Parliament calls for temporary suspension of Corona vaccine patents, in order to eliminate supply bottlenecks in poorer countries. The call for the suspension of patent protection was controversial in Parliament. 355 MEPs voted in favour of the resolution, 263 against and 71 abstained. MEPs from the CDU, CSU, FDP and AfD tried to prevent the demand. Here you can see how the German MEPs voted. 

Covid 19 certificates 

Members of the EU Parliament voted with a clear majority for the planned vaccination certificate. We welcome the agreement to ensure free movement in the pandemic by providing a common EU tool to ensure mutual recognition of national COVID-19 certificates. The system will have high data protection standards. The technical approach chosen – a public key infrastructure – ensures that no personal data will need to flow within the EU, but will only be stored on the certificate itself and in the patient file of the doctor or testing or vaccination centre. It is therefore not possible to trace back where a certificate is issued. The certificate is valid for 12 months. You can find out more in the Parliament press release. 

Afghanistan 

Since the announcement and start of the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, the security situation on the ground has deteriorated once again. The Taliban are conquering new territories in the provinces, there are weekly attacks on civilians, especially women and children. Peace negotiations are stalled and the COVID-19 pandemic has further weakened the economy. A catastrophic drought is looming and already a third of the population is dependent on humanitarian aid. Afghanistan is considered the most insecure country in the world, yet regular deportations continue from Europe and the EU has recently signed a new readmission agreement with Afghanistan. I highlighted all these factors in our Afghanistan resolution this plenary week as rapporteur for the Greens, calling for, among other things, a halt to deportations, the issuing of humanitarian visas to local people, greater involvement of the Afghan Parliament and greater accountability for the attacks that have taken place. Unfortunately, I was not able to get all of these demands passed in the cross-party resolution, but on migration at least I was able to get one point on a mandatory human rights review of the new repatriation agreement. Here are the links to my speech on the situation in Afghanistan, to the Green resolution and the cross-party compromise.  

European Court of Auditors criticises Frontex 

The EU Court of Auditors has massively criticised Frontex in a report. I am calling in Der Spiegel for the EU Parliament to block the Frontex budget. We cannot continue to waste taxes on lack of transparency, inefficiency and human rights violations. You can find the article here. 

Interview with Deutschlandfunk Kultur 

I spoke with Weltzeit on Deutschlandfunk Kultur about European refugee policy and how the impression is being created that the EU is waging war against people trying to reach Europe on rubber dinghies. You can listen to the conversation here. 

Lesbos 

Now it becomes known that the construction work for the new camp on Lesbos have not even begun. The agreement concluded between the Greek Government and the European Commission memorandum of understanding however, envisages that it will be put into operation in September 2021. That this is unlikely is also shown by the fact that the public tender for the construction was published only recently. This foresees a completion in the course of 8 months. Already in April I have the European Commission asked to comment on the progress of the construction of the planned new camp on Lesbos, it has not done so so far.

Calendar week 22/2021

Policy against right-wing extremism and for Saxony-Anhalt

I spoke with Sebastian Striegl, chairman of the Greens in Saxony-Anhalt, about the upcoming state elections on June 6. The topic is how best to fight right-wing extremism and what ideas we Greens have for Saxony-Anhalt. The 54-minute conversation you can find me on Instagram see 

Frontex investigation team 

On Thursday, we spoke to the head of operations of the Italian coastguard, who described cooperation with the Libyan coastguard as cooperation required by law to rescue people. As Libya is not a safe haven and people there face imprisonment, torture and forced prostitution, some of the MEPs questioned this designation. The new fundamental rights officer of Frontex and the UNHCR were also guests. All were aware of the existing problems within Frontex as well as the concerns at the EU's external borders, but instead of discussing the specific cases under investigation, the conversation focused more on the future and the possibilities that the new Fundamental Rights Officer has. 

Even though our investigation is drawing to a close, there are still many questions to be answered before we can draw conclusions in our report. It is therefore a pity that the Danish navy and the Spanish coastguard could not come, and that Frontex's former fundamental rights officer was not there either, whose reports Fabrice Leggeri largely ignored, according to Spiegel research.to cover up the pushback scandal. You can follow the entire session here. 

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 "perpetual refugees" who live in miserable conditions in Greece because they no longer receive benefits.

I have 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 the question and the answer here. 

News from Greece

The Greek authorities started this only yesterday, Vaccinate refugees on Lesvos, Chios and Samos against Covid-19, although the country has been vaccinated since January. It is incomprehensible that the people in the camps are being vaccinated so late, because they are particularly at risk due to the cramped conditions and lack of hygiene, and many are actually infected. On my homepage I inform here regularly on the latest developments in Greece.

Asylum Procedure Code 

On Tuesday, the MEPs responsible for reforming the asylum procedure regulation met with the European Commission to discuss their simulation of the new rules. The presentation of their simulation raised more questions than it answered. Although evidence-based policy-making has been our demand as a Parliament in the process of reforming the Common European Asylum System, we expect implementation and impact assessments of the old and new procedures, not fictitious figures simulated with fictitious staff in fictitious centres of the future. The Commission has admitted that it does not have the facts to realistically simulate the application of the rules proposed in the Pact. As we discussed this somewhat opaque simulation, it also became clear that there is no attempt to simulate how the fundamental freedoms and reception conditions of asylum seekers would be affected by the changes. Moreover, there is no data to simulate arrivals in countries like Germany and France, which seem to be the most defensive of the Commission's proposals. Probably mainly because they expect to have to take in fewer protection-seekers with the new pact. 

Belarus 

On June 02 Dzmitry Furmanau, for whom I took a prisoner sponsorship, was sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a penal column. He is already detained for more than a year. Repeatedly he is transferred to solitary confinement without explanation. There he has to stand in his cell from morning until night. Overall, the conditions of detention in Belarus are catastrophic, as increasing reports of Torture, Suicide (attempts) and Dead prove. Therefore, the EU urgently needs to support political prisoners and democratic activists. Currently there are 472 political prisoners in Belarusian prisons. If you would like to support them, you can contact Politzek ...inspired.

Calendar week 21/2021 

Talk with Afghan MPs 

As a member of the Delegation for relations between Afghanistan and the EU, I took part in a meeting with the European External Action Service on Friday. The main topic was the security situation - also in view of the imminent withdrawal of NATO troops. You can watch the meeting here (my speech begins at 15:54:55). I also had a meeting with three members of the Afghan Parliament. This exchange also focused on the current security situation, the difficult negotiations with the Taliban and, above all, how we can facilitate closer cooperation. At the last donor conference in November 2020, the EU pledged €1.2 billion for Afghanistan, which is urgently needed. Unfortunately, not all the money is reaching its destination. Corruption is a major problem. This is where the Afghan Parliament can play an important role, if it can properly exercise its budgetary control functions. I have pledged my support in this.

Proposal for a new Pact on Migration and Asylum 

On Thursday, the Committee on Home Affairs invited to various panels on the Commission's proposal for a new pact on asylum and migration. Unfortunately, there are still relevant actors who see a Fortress Europe and externalisation of the EU's external borders and cooperation with dictators as the right concept for a common European asylum policy. I was shocked by the ignorance of the governments of Germany and France towards the states on the EU's external borders, which are to be expected to do even more with the pact than they already are. Moreover, we currently have a situation in which people and their rights at the external borders are being trampled underfoot on a daily basis. As the Pact currently stands, this would not change in the future either.You can watch the first part of the session at here and the second here Watch. 

Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri tries to cover up pushback scandal and ignores his own human rights commissioner  

Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri has been under pressure for months over his border guards' involvement in illegal pushbacks in the Aegean. Internal documents show: Frontex's own human rights officer spoke of "solid evidence" of pushbacks in the Aegean, but Frontex chief Leggeri may have simply ignored her. The Spiegel reports

Greek refugee camps are being walled up 

Under the keyword „modernization“ are just all refugee camps in Greece rebuilt. They are equipped as standard with three-metre-high fences, surveillance technology and personalised access cards. This practice clearly contradicts the EU Reception Directive. I have written to the EU Commission on this this written question sent. I would like to know whether the Commission is aware of these developments, whether it supports the construction of concrete walls to enclose Greek refugee camps and whether this construction work is in line with the EU's values and objectives. 

MEPs call for a full return to the borderless Schengen area

Since 2015, border controls between member states of the Schengen area have continued, even though the agreement is designed to abolish them. The Schengen Borders Code must be revised and the Commission should consider infringement procedures against states that continue to carry out controls. MEPs voted in favour of this by a clear majority in the European Parliament's Home Affairs Committee this week. Read more here

Civilian rescue at sea 

On Wednesday, I was invited to Sea-Eye to talk about sea rescue and the role of Frontex in the Mediterranean. The Sea-Eye 4 ended its mission last week, rescuing more than 400 people. People still have to die on the flight to Europe. The solutions are obvious: civilian rescue at sea could also be financed by the European Commission, as a study I commissioned shows. Study ...is the way it's done.

Belarus 

Following the forced landing of Ryanair flight 4978 and the kidnapping of Roman Protasevich by the Belarusian regime, I join other MEPs in calling for consequences. In this letter we call on Siemens to cease cooperation with the regime in Minsk. Specifically, Siemens is supporting Belarus by supplying materials for the construction of a nuclear power plant on its immediate border with the EU. In addition, European banks such as the Eurasian Development Bank and the Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen are granting loans to the Belarusian state, which are being used to build the nuclear power plant.

Calendar week 20/2021

This week I gave a speech in Parliament on preventing sea rescue in the Mediterranean. There were also many important votes on asylum, migration and Corona patents, and a meeting of the Frontex investigation team.

My speech on European sea rescue in Parliament 

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to speak in the EU Parliament about sea rescue in the Mediterranean. I find it pathetic that EU states have decided that people in the Mediterranean should rather drown or be mistreated in Libya than reach Europe alive. You can find my entire speech on my Instagram. 

EU Parliament votes for TRIPS waiver 

The EU Parliament votes for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for Corona vaccines and medicines. Of the German parliamentary groups, the Greens, SPD and Left voted in favour. CDU/CSU, AfD and FDP voted against ensuring that people in poorer countries have sufficient access to necessary vaccines and medicines. Unfortunately, the German government and the EU Commission are also against the plan to temporarily suspend property rights. The voting behaviour of the German delegates can be seen here. Here you will find more information about the TRIPS waiver in general and the positioning of the USA and the EU. Here you can listen to individual speeches from the debate.

EU Parliament calls for respect of human rights in cooperation with third countries 

In the externalisation of EU migration policy, responsibility is increasingly being shifted to third countries, with the result, among other things, that people find it more difficult to seek protection in the EU. This week, the European Parliament adopted a report by my group colleague, Tineke Strik, which calls for respect for human rights to be made the focus of all agreements with third countries. This report provides the first operational framework for ensuring effective protection and safeguards throughout the migration policy cycle and across all EU actors and bodies, as well as for enhanced parliamentary scrutiny and democratic oversight. Find out more at Twitter at Tineke Strik.  

Parliament votes for more legal access to the EU 

With a clear majority of 495 votes in favour and 163 against, the European Parliament has voted in favour of more legal opportunities for labour migration to the EU. The EU Commission is thus called upon to create more legal opportunities for access to the EU and also a talent pool. More on the vote you can find out on Twitter from my group colleague Damian Boeselager

Commission replies to my question on the situation of shelters on the Greek islands 

On 12 March, I sent the Commission a question to find out what specific plans were being made to improve the situation on the Greek islands. The answer states that the accommodation has improved since the fire in Moria. However, even eight months after the fire, the residents do not notice much of this. The situation is far from being humane and from meeting EU standards. The Commission writes: "The Greek authorities have confirmed that the residents of the new centre will be able to enter and leave the camp as they wish". At the moment, people are not allowed to move freely and are locked up. The Commission claims here that this will be different in the new camps, but the Greek government continues to speak publicly of closed campswhich are to be built there. Here the Greek Government seems to be making different promises to the public than to the Commission. You can find the request and the answer on my homepage. 

Frontex investigation team 

Today, at the sixth meeting of the Frontex Inquiry Group, we spoke to the EU Ombudsman and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, both of whom have raised concerns about the situation at the EU's external borders. You can check out the session here. The week before, we spoke to journalists from Lighthouse Report and Spiegel in the Home Affairs Committee to discuss their investigation into Frontex's role in systematic human rights abuses at the EU's external borders. They told us about their complex investigative methods that resulted in data clearly showing that the agency knows about pushbacks due to the positioning of its operations. In addition, the panellists described cases where Frontex boats themselves were involved in illegal pushback activities. You can find this session here

IDAHOBIT

On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Interphobia on May 17, the LGBTI Intergroup of the European Parliament, of which I am a member, organised an event on the rights of LGBTI people in the EU. Civil society representatives were invited from Poland, Hungary and Latvia, where the situation is increasingly deteriorating. You can check out the event here. In Germany, too, in 2020 782 hate crimes against LGBTI persons were registered. This corresponds to an increase of 36% compared to the previous year. 

Calendar week 18/2021

…Until everyone is safe

On 5 May, the US agreed to suspend patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines, which is an important signal, because we can only tackle this pandemic together. Pressure must now be exerted on the Commission to reconsider its position. Therefore, together with 155 other MEPs, I signed a letter to the Commission urging it to actively support the temporary suspension of vaccine ownership rights. 

If you also want to put pressure on the EU, you can support the European Citizens' Initiative No profit on pandemic Support. 

Police violence in Colombia

Since the end of April, people in Colombia have been on strike against a planned tax reform by President Ivan Duque, as well as against increasing poverty and violence. Since then, the police has been acting with extreme brutality against demonstrators, numerous people have been murdered and disappeared. Every two days, a human rights activist or politician is murdered in Colombia; since 2016, this has affected over 1,000 activists. In a letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, I join other MEPs in condemning police violence in Colombia. We are committed to the EU's efforts to ensure that the peace treaty is respected. 

News from Moria

On Lesvos, the Kara Tepe camp was closed, although the conditions there were relatively good. People were moved to the new Moria camp called Mavrovouni. Midwife Julia Falkner is on site for Doctors Without Borders and reports on the catastrophic conditions.  

Why also the new proposal of the Commission will not prevent a new Moria, you can read on my blog.

Hundreds of people rescued from distress at sea

Civilian sea rescue organisations have rescued more than 600 refugees in the Mediterranean within a few days. The ship Ocean Viking of the organization SOS Méditerranée brought 236 refugees to Sicily on Saturday. In the last few days, Sea Watch has rescued another 456 people. 

Mayor calls for European sea rescue programme

The mayor of Palermo calls for a civilian European sea rescue programme in the Mediterranean. European cities, NGOs and aid organisations could work together with the support of the European Union. In June he organises the solidarity congress ‚From the sea to the city‘ together with the mayor of Potsdam. 

A study I commissioned shows..: The EU can finance sea rescue. The Commission could provide financial support to non-governmental organisations to set up a civilian European Maritime Rescue Mission. This does not require the consent of the Member States.

Calendar week 17/2021

This week, my work was once again heavily influenced by Frontex. There have been new revelations about Frontex's involvement in illegal pullbacks to Libya and we are also drafting concepts in the Frontex investigation group to be able to hold the agency accountable for misconduct and breaches of the law in the future.

Frontex provides information to 'Libyan Coast Guard' for deadly interceptions

Frontex sends information on sea rescue cases in the Mediterranean via WhatsApp groups and emails directly to the "Libyan Coast Guard". Until now, Frontex also claimed to the European Parliament that they only inform sea rescue control centres about sea rescue cases. This was their justification for not giving coordinates to surrounding ships that could ensure the fastest possible rescue. You can read the research here read in the mirror. A summary and my commentary on the illegal actions of Frontex can be found at here on my homepage.

Frontex investigation team

This week, we spoke with two legal experts about Frontex's duties and responsibilities. Melanie Fink made concrete proposals to improve transparency and the complaints mechanism at Frontex. She also reiterated: Pushbacks are always illegal and have no basis in the rule of law. However, there is still no answer to the question of how Frontex can be brought before a court for violating people's fundamental rights. It is a fundamental flaw in the construction of Frontex that the agency and its head can currently hardly be held accountable for their misdeeds. We must find ways to change that. You can watch the session again here.

Europe in Saxony-Anhalt

On Wednesday, we did an online event on the topics of climate, flight and trade in Saxony-Anhalt. Besides me, the MEPs Ska Keller and Anna Cavazzini, the Minister of the Environment of Saxony-Anhalt Claudia Dalbert and the chairwoman of Toll e.V Juliana Gombe were there. You can check out the event here.

The digital green certificate is accepted

(DE) This week in plenary, we adopted the 'digital green certificate', in other words the EU Covid certificate. The aim of the certificate is to find a uniform EU regulation for border crossings and to reduce the current bureaucratic hurdles, which mainly affect commuters. For us Greens, the very important issues of data protection, the offer of free testing facilities and the principle of non-discrimination in order to avoid a de facto compulsory vaccination were able to be pushed through, so that I voted in favour of the report. Here you can listen to the debate and individual speeches.

Criminalisation of activists

In the friendship group on migration we exchanged views with Helena Maleno from. She worked in Morocco for the rights of refugees until she was recently deported to Spain. She blames the EU, Spain and Morocco for her expulsion. She is not the only activist to be persecuted for her human rights work. She gained access to files about the case against her. Frontex explicitly collected information about her and asked refugees about her as if she were a human trafficker.

Calendar week 16/2021 

Frontex investigation team 

On Friday, a meeting of the Frontex Investigation Group took place in the European Parliament. I asked questions about the legality of the EU-Turkey deal, the obligation to rescue at sea and the right to leave. Under EU law, asylum seekers must receive an individual assessment of their case after being given a chance to ask for international protection. Non-refoulement, the prohibition of being sent back to a place that puts one's life and dignity in danger, is prohibited. So is the collective expulsion of people who are on the move to seek protection. There is no way around these obligations, either for EU Member States or Frontex. This group will hold further hearings and examine documents to investigate the extent of the agency's complicity in the systematic violations of fundamental rights at the EU's borders. 

The you can watch the whole session here. You can find my questions in the timeline at 10:26.47.

Margaritas Schinas as a guest in the Interior Committee of the European Parliament 

The subject of the meeting was the situation of vulnerable persons and persons with mental health problems in Greek reception centres. What I personally saw and experienced, and what the media and NGOs documented on the ground, was in complete contradiction to the arguments put forward by the Vice-President. The situation in the Greek hotspots is and has been inhumane, degrading and dangerous to the physical and mental health of the protection seekers housed there. The Vice-President also claimed in his remarks that the Pact's proposals would improve the situation. I believe these statements to be false and, as shadow rapporteur on the Asylum Procedures Regulation, I have to say that the proposed changes would make the hotspot approach the default mode for many protection seekers in the EU. I am sorry to say that it was a very disappointing conversation. 

The whole three-hour session you can watch here:

Reception stop for refugees from Greece 

103 refugees from Greece landed in Germany on Thursday. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has announced that it does not plan to take in any more refugees. Yet it would be important to continue taking people out of places like the new Moria. A You can find a report about this in the NDR

Development Committee 

Two meetings of the Committee on Development took place this week. On Monday, the rapporteurs presented their Draft on the implementation report on the EU Trust Funds and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. Although good preparatory work has been done here with regard to the criticism of the European Parliament's lack of co-determination and supervisory rights, important elements are missing with regard to the implementation and objective of the instruments, here my speech on this (skip to 14:42:38). Together with my colleagues from the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, I will be tabling the relevant amendments next week.

On Thursday, the Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, was a guest for the so-called „Strategic Dialogue“, a regular exchange between the Commission and Parliament. A wide variety of topics were addressed, but the global vaccination strategy remains at the forefront. Little progress has been made, especially our call for a temporary lifting of patent rights on vaccines and medical devices or therapies is still not being heard. Here you can listen to the session.

Greens in Treptow-Köpenick 

My district association Treptow-Köpenick has adopted the district election program at the district members' meeting on 17 April 2021. There was a lively participation of the members in the process. Over 50 amendments were proposed and discussed. The preliminary program can be found here: https://gruene-treptow-koepenick.de/bezirkswahlprogramm/

Iraq delegation 

In the Iraq delegation, we talked about Turkey's role in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Turkey is using the fight against the PKK as a pretext for aggressive operations throughout the region and is fighting Kurdish autonomy efforts in Turkey and its neighbouring states. It is likely to win the fight against them if no third party intervenes. It is also encroaching on Iraq's sovereignty and has established several military posts inside Iraq. Presumably, Turkey's role will soon be discussed in plenary.

Calendar week 15/2021 

Climate crisis as a cause of flight 

On Wednesday evening, I spoke together with Tina Prietz, direct candidate for the Bundestag election 2021 from Erlangen, about the topic „flight cause climate crisis“.

Climate change is already forcing many people to leave their homes, sometimes only for a short time, often within national borders. Some because their homes are flooded, others because their fields dry out and ecosystems are irreversibly damaged. Still others, the so-called trapped populations, lack the resources to escape their situation.

The World Bank expects 140 million climate refugees by 2050, assuming all other conditions remain the same. In 2008, the IOM already estimated the number of climate refugees in 2050 at up to 200 million. And even if global warming can be limited to "only" two degrees, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that there will be 280 million climate refugees by 2100. 

We must face these realities on an equal footing with the Global South and promote opportunities for adaptation to climate change and resilience building. Furthermore, we need a system - if possible on a global level - that takes into account environmental causes as a reason for flight. 

Unfortunately, it is not possible to listen to the conversation, but I can offer you the following Publication the Heinrich Böll Foundation and my Blog post on the causes of flight for more information.

How refugees in Greece receive money 

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 this contribution on my homepage I have summarized how EU funds directly reach refugees in Greece. 

Home Affairs Committee on Eurodac 

At Tuesday, the Interior Committee discussed the revision of the Eurodac negotiation. The proposal of the right-wing ECR provides for biometric and alphanumeric data to be linked and transmitted to Frontex, Europol and other agencies. Border and coast guards are also to have access to the data. It is planned to feed biometric data also of children into the database. The aim is to identify third-country nationals and, if necessary, to deport them promptly. The proposal is explicitly for the illegalisation of people rescued from distress at sea. Data protection and human rights for refugees play no role in the proposal. The Committee criticises the Commission for wanting to convert Eurodac into a statistical database in order to take repressive action against refugees. It is also problematic that the proposal builds on amendments to a proposal from the previous legislative period without prior agreement and that no proper parliamentary work and scrutiny was possible. 

Belarus delegation 

The meeting of the Belarus delegation on Wednesday focused on the situation of trade unionists and the Polish minority in Belarus. Solidarity was expressed with the trade unions in Belarus. Independent trade unions have a hard time and their members are often repressed for trade union activities. Activists are dismissed. Solidarity is forming against this and various programmes have been developed. For example, people in solidarity try to continue paying the wages of dismissed workers or organise food for them. 

Asylum Procedure Regulation 

This week, MEPs working on the reform of the Asylum Procedures Regulation met with experts from civil society and the European Commission. The situation in the Greek and Italian hotspots was discussed. 

I am always concerned about the huge gap between the rights of refugees and the reality on the ground. I want to make sure that the legislation is based on human rights and is also implemented as it is intended. At the moment, I have many questions about the amended Asylum Procedure Code and whether the ideas it contains would contribute to asylum procedures based on the rule of law. 

Croatian influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina 

(DE) On Wednesday, our working group on the Committee on Foreign Affairs dealt with Croatia's influence on Bosnia-Herzegovina. Unfortunately, the EU country Croatia is causing instability in Bosnia by beating back illegal refugees there and even crossing the border with armed forces to do so, thus violating Bosnia-Herzegovina's sovereignty. The conservative government systematically spreads lies about refugees and how to deal with them. But there is also good news. With Možemo! (We Can), a green-left party has been in the Croatian parliament since the last elections and won seven percent in the 2020 elections. 

Calendar week 13/2021

Tareq Alaows withdraws his candidacy for the Bundestag because of racist hostility

Tareq Alaows withdraws his candidacy for the Bundestag for the Greens because of racist hostility and the threat to his family. This makes not only sad, but angry. Tareq is from Damascus and fled to Germany six years ago. On Twitter, many people have set a sign for an open society and against racism under #SolidaritätmitTareq. You can read more about this in the Frankfurter Rundschau. 

Study shows: EU Commission may finance sea rescue operations

I have commissioned a studywhich examines which legal obligations and competences the European Union has in sea rescue. This also applies to EU military operations. In addition to the basic obligation to rescue people from distress at sea, the present study sets out in legal terms that it is within the EU's sphere of competence to take more far-reaching measures to rescue people at sea. Both causes of flight and flight itself constitute humanitarian emergencies that call for humanitarian support by the EU. The EU Commission can also support and finance civilian sea rescue organisations against the will of the Member States. In this text I briefly summarize the results of the study.

Conditions in the new Moria remain undignified

The people in the new Moria will probably have to spend another winter in tents. This has been foreseeable since last October, but apparently the EU Commission is now also aware of it. Nevertheless, an evacuation that could quickly end the suffering is not yet planned. The responsible EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson visits the camps on Lesbos and Samos.

The Moria Complex

In my podcast Dickes Brett I talk to researcher Maximilian Pichl about his study "the Moria complex", the establishment of the hot spot, the EU-Turkey agreement and, above all, who is responsible for these conditions. You can listen to our conversation here. 

Syria Conference

To mitigate the catastrophic consequences of the Syrian conflict, the international community is helping with 5.3 billion euros. Of this amount, 1.7 billion euros will come from Germany. The money is to be used to finance food, medical aid and schooling for children, among other things.

EU Commission takes Poland to the ECJ

The European Commission announced today that it will refer the Polish Government to the European Court of Justice. The reason is the Polish judicial reform, which undermines the independence of Polish judges. Our Greens/EFA Group has repeatedly called on the EU Commission to initiate infringement proceedings against the Polish Government for its numerous attacks on the independence of the judiciary. Here you can read the statement of Terry ReintkeTerry Reintke, shadow rapporteur for the Greens/EFA Group on the rule of law in Poland. 

Calendar week 12/2021

European Council negotiates new refugee deal with Turkey 

On Thursday and Friday the European Council in a video conference and negotiated, among other things, a continuation of the so-called EU-Turkey deal with Turkey. Nothing has been decided yet, but unfortunately the result threatens a new agreement aimed at sealing off the country instead of providing serious protection for refugees.

The Greens in the Bundestag are calling for an end to the EU-Turkey refugee agreement. In the motion of the Green parliamentary group in the Bundestag it says: "With the agreement with Turkey, which is in essence contrary to asylum law, the EU has accepted that the responsibility to protect refugees lies solely with Turkey – a country which, with increasing human rights violations, is itself driving people to flee."  

I talked to Detector FM about it, what's wrong with this deal[ Door Closes ] And... in this text I have written down the background in more detail. 

Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament 

On Monday, the meeting took place in the Committee on Internal Affairs and the Committee on Foreign Affairs with representatives of the Portuguese Presidency, the European Commission and the European External Action Service.

The reason for this is the approach that an overarching exchange is needed in order to solve migration issues in a sustainable manner. Here, the focus is on agreements with countries of origin in order to prevent irregular migration. Countries that do not want to take back illegalised people in the EU should be punished for this, e.g. with visa restrictions. MEPs called for independent monitoring mechanisms and criticised the EU's externalisation policy, which leads to human rights violations. Some MEPs urged that agreements with Turkey and Afghanistan should not be extended under any circumstances, but this was unfortunately unsuccessful. The Commission stands by the EU-Turkey deal, even after Turkey has withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention.

Afterwards, we exchanged views on the situation of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia within the subcommittee on human rights. The European External Action Service is aware that efforts to date have not been sufficient. The Commission stated that the disastrous situation in December was not unexpected and that there had been similar problems years ago. The Danish Refugee Council said there were thousands of pushbacks and some chain rejections every month. Violence at the borders was systematic. Therefore, independent monitoring mechanisms were needed and the access and work of NGOs had to be restored. You can watch the session here

China imposes sanctions on EU politicians 

After the EU imposed sanctions on the Uighur minority in the Chinese province of Xinjiang due to human rights violations, the Chinese leadership reacted with a tit-for-tat response. On Monday, they announced sanctions against several people, including my group colleague Reinhard Bütikofer, who heads the EU Parliament's China delegation.Our group chair Ska Keller says in her this statement quite clearly, "We will not be intimidated by threats from autocracies." 

EU-Africa Strategy 

This week, the report on the EU-Africa strategy was voted on in plenary and adopted by a large majority. I also voted in favour of this text, which is particularly important in view of the 6th EU-AU Summit and the so-called 'post-Cotonou agreement' (partnership agreement between the ACP countries and the EU). It builds on the Commission Communication “ Towards a comprehensive strategy with Africa“ of March 2020, which argues for a stronger partnership of equals around the following key issues: Green Turnaround and Access to Energy; Digital Transformation; Sustainable Growth and Jobs; Peace, Security, Good Governance and Resilience; and Migration and Mobility. The parliamentary report takes up these themes and also looks at them from the perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the text had to make some compromises in the area of migration, we Greens were able to achieve a good result on gender, health, water and sanitation, trade, regional integration, agro-ecology and indigenous peoples through relevant motions at committee level. You will find the final report here find.

Protests in Belarus 

A meeting of the friendship groups for a democratic Belarus took place. Groups from various parliaments and people from the Belarusian opposition exchanged views here on ways of supporting the democratic movement in Belarus. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya continues to wait for the 4th sanctions list against supporters of the regime and calls for the prosecution of crimes by the regime at the international level. People on the ground report that the repression is not abating and is even getting worse. They call for swift responses to violence perpetrated by the regime. Another way in which the EU can support the Belarusian opposition is through visa facilitation and scholarship programmes. Support for political prisoners is also important. Ihar Bancer has now been released from prison and has ended his dry hunger strike. Dzmitry Furmanau, for whom I sponsored a prisoner, is unfortunately still imprisoned. He has since ended his hunger strike, following a slight improvement in prison conditions. For the release of the political prisoners in Belarus you can here sign. 

Calendar week 11/2021

Pioneers of Change Online Conference 

Speakers at Pioneers of Change this week include Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus and Fridays For Future activist Franziska Wessel. I also gave a presentation on the benefits of democracy in the EU. The conference will run until 23.03 and you can register for the register here for free and listen to the lectures. 

Five years of the EU-Turkey deal 

The EU-Turkey deal was agreed five years ago. Time was bought at great cost and not used. The result was undignified mass camps like Moria and a dependence on Erdogan. Now a new version of the deal is being negotiated. In this text I have written down the background in more detail. 

Frontex investigation team 

On Monday, the Frontex investigation team, of which I am a member, met again. This time we asked the members of the Frontex management board about their internal investigations. According to the investigations, Frontex did almost everything right, except in one case, but they could not or would not name it specifically. In view of the many proven and well-researched cases, it is surprising what a good report Frontex gives itself in its internal investigations. 

The whole meeting you can see here.  

Report of the Frontex Management Boards 

The Frontex Management Board has also published a preliminary report, which their read here can. Unfortunately, it is very obvious that this is not an independent report, but that the management board is trying to make Frontex look as good as possible. This goes so far as to simply adopt the reports of the Greek coastguard, according to which people on the Aegean simply voluntarily head back towards Turkey as soon as they see a Greek coastguard vessel. The report does not address fundamental rights violations, but nevertheless attempts to justify such fundamental rights violations on a legalistic level. It is not surprising that Frontex wants to present itself well after internal investigations, but the statements in this report are simply absurd and show that, unfortunately, there is no interest whatsoever in clarification. 

Meeting of EU interior ministers 

The interior ministers of the EU states met on Monday to discuss the issues of flight and migration. They came no closer to a humane and common European refugee policy. The only thing they can all agree on is more intensive cooperation with third countries. In concrete terms: more isolation. 

You can watch the press conference after the meeting watch here

Vote on the future financing instrument for development cooperation

On Thursday, a joint meeting of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Foreign Affairs discussed the adoption of the new „Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument - Global Europe“ voted. One day earlier, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper II) had already given its approval for the Council. With a broad majority, the text will now go to plenary, probably in June or July, and will then be implemented as soon as possible. An overview can be found her here

Calendar week 10/2021

The good news of this plenary week is that the entire EU has been declared an LGBTIQ zone. The bad news is that my three fellow MEPs from Catalonia have been stripped of their political immunity.

EU becomes LGBTIQ zone

EU becomes LGBTIQ zone The European Parliament decided this week to declare the EU an LGBTIQ zone. It is an important response to the homophobic LGBT-free zones in Poland and all the reactionaries and right-wingers in Europe who work against equality and the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, trans and intersex people.. In this video of our group it explains again why this is important.

Lifting of immunity for deputies from Catalonia

Unfortunately, the European Parliament also voted this week to lift the immunity of the three MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí. Not only the conservative and right-wing groups in Parliament voted in favour of this, but also the social democrats. I think it is a great pity and wrong that my colleague and my two colleagues from Catalonia have been stripped of their immunity for obvious political reasons. They were democratically elected and a democratic solution should also be found to the Catalonia issue. The Süddeutsche Zeitung also reported on the case.

Situation in Syria

Ten years ago, on 15 March 2011, the first demonstration against the political regime in Damascus took place, following the hope of the Arab Spring for democratic change. Unfortunately, instead of democracy came war. Over 500,000 people died, millions were displaced. 

At the end of March, the EU will host the fifth Brussels Conference in support of the future of Syria and the region. In this context, this plenary week there was a Pronunciation with High Representative Joseph Borrell, in addition, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on 10 years of conflict in Syria.The COVID-19 crisis has further aggravated the situation. One of our core demands was the return of European children and women from the camps (Al-Hol and Roj) in north-east Syria, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we were able to push this through with an amendment.

Situation in Greece

Six months after Europe's largest refugee camp, Moria, burnt down and many promises were made that the situation would now improve, excuses continue to be sought for not complying with minimum standards and for covering up human rights violations. The European asylum policy is a policy of empty promises. The EU Commission has promised the opposite, but the temporary undignified camp on Lesbos will almost certainly still be there next winter.

Many people point out that the new asylum pact must be implemented first, but the proposal will perpetuate the problems and a decision is not to be expected this year. Waiting for the pact before helping people is like stopping playing football in the Bundesliga because you don't like the pitch yet. In Germany alone, several federal states and more than 230 municipalities want to take in more refugees. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer must end his blockade and allow them to rescue refugees from the new Moria. "In a Written question to the Commission I am seeking answers as to why the situation remains as it is. I have also in this video a brief summary of the situation.

Calendar week 09/2021

This week, Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri and EU Commissioner Ylva Johannsson were guests in the Frontex Investigation Group and I dealt intensively with the amendments to the European Asylum Procedures Regulation, on which no quick agreement is currently in sight.

Frontex investigation team

On Thursday, the first proper meeting of the Frontex investigation team took place in the European Parliament. We questioned Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri and Commissioner Ylva Johansson. Leggeri claimed that the agency had not committed any human rights violations, according to its internal investigation. Despite his testimony, he did not address the question of whether the footage and media evidence was fabricated or whether the acts listed were not illegal. We will continue our meetings to discuss with civil society, experts, journalists, member states and EU institutions before publishing our findings and recommendations. We have also successfully lobbied for the meeting to be held in public. Here you can watch the session

Criminal proceedings against Greece

I call for criminal proceedings against Greece because the government systematically violates the rights of refugees, does not comply with standards in camps and criminalises anyone who points this out or defames them with campaigns of lies. T-Online reports. Besides, I've got in this text on my blog summarizes why it is so difficult for victims to sue when their human rights are violated.

Asylum Procedure Regulation

This week was also about the amended Asylum Procedures Regulation, which is being discussed in Parliament and the Council so that both co-legislators can form their respective opinions before negotiating with each other. The German Ministry of the Interior wants compulsory procedures at the external borders because this would shift responsibility to the states at the external borders. Apart from the serious human rights concerns arising from the nature of border procedures, practical issues also divide Member States into groups with opposing views. Even if the Commission tries to focus exclusively on its reform proposals in the Pact, it could be years before negotiations are concluded. Therefore, in addition to our legislative work, we must ensure that the rules, as they currently stand, are fully respected in order to protect the right to seek asylum in the EU in safe and dignified circumstances.

The role of women in the Afghan peace process

On Friday, I organised a briefing with the Heinrich Böll Foundation on the role of women in the Afghan peace process. We were able to win two important guests for the input. Dr. Soraya Rahim Sobhrang is an Afghan women's rights activist and has been the director of Medica Afghanistan since December 2020. Fawzia Koofi is an Afghan politician, author and member of the negotiating team around the peace talks in Doha. 

We are witnessing a wave of violence and attacks in Afghanistan targeting journalists, human rights defenders, civil society representatives and civil servants, which has claimed the lives of 1,200 civilians in 2020, an increase of 45 % compared to 2019. Just this week, we learned of the killing of three young female media workers in Jalalabad who were gunned down on their way back from work. These recurring attacks serve to intimidate and create a climate of fear and run counter to the aspiration for a peaceful and democratically organised state, which many Afghan women are fighting for.

In the course of the exchange, it became clear what a difficult task the negotiating team on the part of the Afghan Government is facing, not only with regard to achieving a ceasefire, but also with regard to the concrete implementation of women's rights. Even though the talks are an internal Afghan process, allies, including the EU, are needed to build up pressure and make it clear that women's rights as universal rights must be a fundamental part of a new Afghan constitution.More on the role of women in peace processes and 20 years of UN Resolution 1325 can be found here. here.

Legal migration to the EU

Blue Card, Visa, Labour Migration, Family Reunion, Relocation and Resettlement: On my blog you will now find an overview of legal migration possibilities to the EU. You can read about the possibilities of legal entry and what we Greens are calling for in order to facilitate this. here read up.

Calendar week 08/2021

This week, the Frontex working group, which was set up on the initiative of the Greens/EFA Group, met for the first time. There were also meetings of my two committees, the European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs and the Committee on Development.

First meeting of the Frontex investigation team

The European Parliament's Frontex investigation group began its work on Tuesday. The working group of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) will investigate the scandals surrounding the European border management agency Frontex. The inquiry group was set up on the initiative of the Greens/EFA Group. I am one of 14 MEPs in the inquiry group, and unfortunately we have every reason to believe that human rights are now being systematically violated at the external borders and that Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri and EU states are lying to the public and parliaments. You can find a report with further information on tagesschau.de.

Corona vaccines must become accessible to all people worldwide

Together with 114 other Members of the European Parliament, I have this week this letter to the Commission and the Council. We are calling on them to lobby the World Health Organisation to ensure that the patents are also made available to countries in the global south so that they can produce vaccines for their own populations.

Meeting of the Migration Group of the Home Affairs Committee

On Thursday, we discussed the new migration and asylum package with the representative of the Portuguese Presidency, Mário Pedro Magalhães, in the group working group on migration of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Here we exchanged views on the Council's position on issues such as external border procedures and instruments under the package. Portugal stands for a more progressive migration policy, so we hope to make progress towards a more humane asylum policy during the six months of the Portuguese Presidency.

Development Committee

The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, was invited to the Committee on Development on Thursday. The topics discussed included his recent visit to Afghanistan, the humanitarian crises in the Tigray region, the use of funds for humanitarian aid, but above all all all the areas of responsibility in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the Humanitarian Airlift and the global supply of vaccines. 

There is one point in particular that I will take away from this discussion: Commissioner Lenarčič also confirms that the security situation in Afghanistan is currently at a low point compared to the last two decades. Calling for an immediate ceasefire and increasing funding for humanitarian aid in the region is right and important. Why the EU is working on a new repatriation agreement with Afghanistan at the same time is beyond me. listen to it here.

Mashreq delegation

On Thursday, the Mashreq delegation met. Here, current results of a Opinion poll in Algeria, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and Lebanon. The result was that a clear majority is very concerned about COVID-19. In all countries, women* have suffered more from the pandemic. Corona has ensured that the basic needs of many people are no longer secured and a majority are afraid of losing their jobs this year. The results were particularly serious in Lebanon, where almost all respondents feared losing their income.

Calendar week 07/2021

Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

On Friday evening, I was a guest at a discussion of the state working group of the Greens in Saxony on the Balkan route. In preparation, I have also this homepage contribution written by explaining where the nearly €90 million that the EU has provided to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the care of refugees and for migration management in general has gone. 

Lead exposure in the new Moria 

According to Human Rights Watch, the Greek government is downplaying the risk of lead poisoning at the new Moria. The camp was built on a former shooting range. So apparently, on top of the many risks, there is also the risk of lead poisoning. Read more at Human Rights Watch. With other deputies I have already on 23 December submitted a written question on the subject to the CommissionUnfortunately, we have still not received a reply, even though the Commission is supposed to reply within six weeks. 

Climate Escape 

On Thursday, I attended an event organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation to present a recent publication called „Climate Justice and Migration – Mobility, Development, and Displacement in the Global South“. As the global climate crisis advances, more and more questions about related mobility are emerging. There is as yet no international legal framework that provides protection for people who have to leave their homes due to climate change. In my speech, I looked at the issue from an EU perspective and formulated a number of recommendations for action, such as increased financial support for projects aimed at helping populations affected by climate change to build resilience, but also changes to the legal framework. Ultimately, however, it should be noted that without genuine political will, little will be achieved. You can also download the publication free of charge or order it as a book here.

Right to abortion in Poland

On October 22, 2020, the Polish Constitutional Court, composed of illegally appointed judges, declared abortion for fetal malformations unconstitutional. This politically motivated decision represents yet another attack on the rule of law in Poland. The ruling results in a near total ban on abortion, as 97.6 % of legal abortions in Poland in 2019 were performed for fetal malformation. To this end, we have MEPs from the Greens/EFA group a question to the Commission posed. In iIn its reply, the Commission saidthat it is up to the Member States to determine health policy. Therefore, unfortunately, we do not expect the Commission to take any prompt action on the right to abortion in Poland.

Mediterranean Delegation

On Wednesday, I attended the parliamentary delegation meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). Here, the Secretary-General of the UfM spoke and welcomed the current EU Presidency of the UfM. The EU's core objective is to combat the climate crisis. Climatic changes must be combated, as the Mediterranean region is warming faster than the rest of the world and harbours a large part of the world's biodiversity. At the same time, this is where the greatest extinction of species is occurring. In addition to climate change, pollution, fishing and tourism are also major threats to Mediterranean nature.

Calendar week 06/2021

This week, the EU Parliament voted in favour of my report on procedures at the EU's external borders and a right to repair for citizens. My work was also dominated by discussions on Frontex and with the Belarusian opposition, as well as the humanitarian emergencies in Yemen and Tigray.

Parliament votes in favour of my report on border procedures

The European Parliament has voted by a large majority in favour of my implementation report on procedures at the EU's external borders. This is a clear signal from Parliament for respect for the rule of law and human dignity in the asylum system. I am very pleased that I was able to push this position through as rapporteur.Further information to the report you can find here.

Parliament votes for right to repair

Parliament also voted in favour of a report on the circular economy action plan, on which my party colleague Anna Cavazzini has been working. It is about the right to repair, so that people can use products for longer instead of having to throw them away or replace them. That is consumer and environmentally friendly. MEPs from the Greens, Left and SPD all voted in favour of the report. The AfD, CDU/CSU and FDP MEPs all voted against. In this video it is explained again exactly, where problems currently lie and how we envisage a circular economy in the future.

Interviews on accusations against Frontex

I have given several interviews this week about the accusations against Frontex and my work, including for Time Online, Frontal 21 and Watson.

Opposition members in Belarus continue to be detained

In November I took over a sponsorship for Dzmitry Furmanau, who was arrested in May 2020 during an election rally for Tsikhanouskaya. He is accused of organising mass unrest and is one of over 200 political prisoners in Belarus and, like many of them, is currently facing trial. In a friendly meeting with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a cross-party and informal group discussed measures to support the democracy movement. Tsikhanouskaya stressed that the people of Belarus are waiting for action from the EU and that any initiative would be helpful. Specifically, they are calling for an up-to-date sanctions list and new elections in Belarus.

Impact of Brexit on flight, migration and development cooperation

On my homepage I have written reports on how the Brexit affects the issues I focus on in Parliament. Since 01.01.21, the freedom of movement between the EU and the UK has been severely restricted and they are now considered as respective third countries. Here you will learn, why this is a problem especially for asylum seekers and their families. In addition, Boris Johnson's government has announced that it will drastically reduce the UK's budget for development cooperation. You can read more about it here in my text.

Resolution on the war in Yemen

In response to the recent debate on the situation in Yemen in the Committee on Development, I, together with a number of other Members, secured a resolution on this issue, which was adopted by a large majority on Thursday. In order to fundamentally improve the humanitarian situation, better access for aid deliveries and more funds alone are not enough. The security situation must urgently improve and the country must return to peace. This can also be influenced by the Member States. In view of the repeated violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the European Parliament calls in the resolution, among other things, for an EU-wide ban on arms exports to parties involved in the conflict, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Member States are called upon to urgently stop arms deliveries in order not to further fuel the conflict. You can read my speech on Yemen here listen up.

Humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region

Ethiopia has also been in a humanitarian crisis since the outbreak of the conflict over the Tigray region four months ago. Aid organisations have only very difficult access to the areas, the situation is very unclear and the violation of human rights is on the agenda. In particular, the alleged involvement of Eritrean soldiers in the fighting needs urgent clarification. While the EU has been withholding funds to the Ethiopian Government since December, Member States, including Germany, continue to cooperate. If the EU wants to play a strong foreign policy role, joint action is urgently needed here. Here you will find the link to my speech on the current situation.

Calendar week 05/2021

This week I have again been involved with Frontex and will in future be part of a working group of the Parliament's Home Affairs Committee. I also gave a green assessment of the Brexit for the European asylum system and also conducted longer interviews, which you can read and listen to.

European Parliament Home Affairs Committee sets up Frontex monitoring group

Together with Tineke Strik from the Dutch GroenLinks, I have been sent by our group to be part of the working group on Frontex. We will start our work by examining the role of the agency in the pushbacks, about which the mirror and other media reported at the end of last year. In order to enable the group to work efficiently, but also to ensure transparency, there will be monthly reporting to the Home Affairs Committee, as well as cooperation with the working group on Schengen, which monitors the EU's internal and external borders. 

Info on the accusations against Frontex can be found here.

A green assessment of Brexit

On Thursday evening, the German Greens in the European Parliament in a webinar, an assessment of the Brexit delivered. I also gave a short presentation on the consequences of Brexit for the issues of flight and migration. Since 01.01.21 the EU and Great Britain are considered as respective third countries. Thus, EU citizens are no longer preferred, for example, in the allocation of jobs. An agreement Protects the rights of people with EU or UK citizenship who already live, work or study in the UK or EU. A new, Points-based migration system regulates labour migration to the UK from now on, with professional specialisation being decisive for the granting of residence permits. The UK's withdrawal from the Dublin Agreement and lack of alternative agreements are particularly problematic for unaccompanied minor refugees, who now have limited hope of family reunification with relatives living in the UK. 

My district association Treptow-Köpenick nominates candidates for the election of the House of Representatives

In my Berlin district association Treptow-Köpenick the votes for the state list of the Berlin Greens for the election to the House of Representatives were awarded this week. I am pleased that with Cathrin Wahlen and Jacob Zellmer two committed people from the district association were nominated and wish them every success for the further application.

Talk with NDR Redezeit 

On Thursday evening, I was a guest on NDR's Talk Time, where I spoke about the plight of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina and on the Greek islands. You can listen to the conversation here.

Interview with Krautreporter

I did a long interview with Krautreporter, in which it is very fundamentally about what a more humane asylum policy in Europe fails. You can read the long interview here.

Asylum Procedure Regulation (APR) 

This week, the Portuguese Presidency has held several meetings with Parliament. We MEPs who are working on the amended Asylum Procedures Regulation (APR) were able to discuss the progress and timetable envisaged by the Council with the chairman of the Council's asylum working group.

It is a very important sign from the Council that they are also examining the Commission's proposals, which contain several difficult and legally problematic changes to the APR. The proposal of compulsory border procedures at the EU's external borders divides the Member States. Some want to keep the procedures, others see it as dumping the challenges on the Member States at the external borders. 

Calendar week 04/2021

(DE) Mr President, this week, I have once again been intensively involved with Frontex and the current situation in Greece. It is a great success that, at our request, a body of the European Parliament is now looking into the allegations against Frontex.

European Parliament investigates Frontex development in pushbacks

A Frontex working group of the Home Affairs Committee will investigate the scandals surrounding the European border management agency Frontex, MEPs on the committee agreed today. The working group will look into allegations of illegal "pushbacks" against refugees.

We have been calling for this for months. It 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. The extensive evidence of illegal activities by state actors has shown that pushbacks at the external borders are not an isolated incident. It is important that the European Parliament and the EU Commission also investigate and sanction breaches of the law by Member States. Furthermore, mechanisms need to be developed to re-establish independent human rights monitoring at the borders.

Frontex and national authorities like the Federal Police are not above the law. The many officers on duty also deserve to no longer receive unlawful instructions and to be allowed to speak openly about violations of the law.

Frontex stops work at Hungarian border

Frontex is ceasing its activities in Hungary because the agency would risk engaging in lawbreaking there. However, they want to remain active in Greece, where Frontex has been proven to have broken the law. More background on the decision can be found in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Hearing on the situation of protection seekers on the Greek islands

On Wednesday the head of the EU Commission task force Beate Gminder was a guest in the interior committee. She gave an overview of the situation of the camps on the Greek islands and the planning of new structures. Spyros-Vlad Oikonomou from the Greek Council of Refugees was invited as a representative of those seeking protection. While the Commission and the Greek government spoke of having made a lot of progress, Oikonomou stressed that this progress had in no way contributed to an improvement in living conditions. The health, psychological and also legal situation of the protection seekers is worse than before. The „progress“ of the Commission consists in the transfer of recognized protection seekers to Athens, where they are driven into homelessness. At the same time, living conditions in all camps continue to be inhumane. Unfortunately, the Commission continues to evade MEPs' questions. Also this week's Answer received to my question to the Commission is insufficient. A Summary of the committee meeting can be found here.

Freedom of the press in Iraq

As a member of the Iraq delegation. wrote a letter to the Kurdish prime minister of the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, Masrour Barzani. He had called for the release of freelance journalist Sherwan Sherwani. The latter disappeared in October last year and has been in custody ever since, where, according to Reporters Without Borders, he was forced to confess under torture.

Humanitarian situation in Yemen

The humanitarian situation in Yemen was discussed in the Committee on Development this week. Yemen is now in the sixth year of civil war and, despite numerous warnings from humanitarian actors, is heading for one of the worst famines ever known. The health system is overburdened and the COVID-19 outbreak is making the situation even worse. The international donor community, including the EU, is falling far short of set funding schemes, with money not getting to where it is needed. One of Donald Trump's latest official acts, putting the Huthi on the US terror list, further complicates aid delivery. The suspicion arises that EU funds only flow quickly and reliably when many people from a region try to flee to Europe. And because almost no one from Yemen makes it to Europe, the issue unfortunately doesn't seem to be a priority for everyone.

Until a solution to the conflict is in sight, every effort must be made to avoid a famine and to support the civilian population as best as possible. Here you can watch the debate in the Development Committee.

Calendar week 03/2021

In the first plenary week of the year, I gave a speech on the situation of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina and also wrote an overview of how the current situation came about. We also voted against Nord Stream 2 and are working on a global vaccination strategy.

My speech in Parliament

In my speech, I drew attention to the EU's complicity in the untenable conditions for refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina. EU governments and the European Commission must not continue to shrug off the humanitarian disaster at the EU's external borders. We must help those who are experiencing a cold winter on the Bosnian border in terrible, dangerous conditions; we must help those who are experiencing the same situation in the Greek hotspots. Having discussed this issue time and time again in the European Parliament, we now need to see action. We Greens/EFA call for a committee of inquiry to investigate the human rights violations, to put an end to illegal practices and to clarify the involvement of the EU border agency Frontex and national authorities.

Current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

I have written in this text on my homepage an overview of how it is on the serious situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina could come about. The Bosnian authorities share responsibility for this, but it is mainly the fault of the Commission and the Member States. It must be borne in mind that most of the people who are suffering have been in the EU before, and the EU cannot therefore simply shrug off responsibility.

Plenary debate on the global vaccination strategy against the COVID-19 pandemic

There is broad agreement that the common, solidarity-based European approach to vaccine procurement was and is the right one. The development of effective and safe vaccines in less than a year is a major achievement and an important step towards combating the pandemic. The German go-it-alone approach to securing additional vaccine doses has been - rightly – viewed very critically. Another problem is the lack of transparency and disclosure of the contracts concluded between the EU Commission and pharmaceutical companies. Referring to secrecy clauses here undermines the important control function of the European Parliament.

I am also concerned with the question of how to ensure that vaccination campaigns can also start on time in countries of the global south. Relying on the functioning of the COVAX facility to do this is not thinking far enough, in my opinion. Only an additional temporary lifting of patent rights – as called for in the campaign led by South Africa and India – can grant sufficient and cost-effective production of enough vaccine doses for all in a timely manner. Unfortunately, this effort is currently being blocked by the US and the EU. My goal in the coming weeks is to work with my colleagues in the Green Group to take this issue to a higher level and hopefully get the ball rolling. I will publish a more detailed blog entry about it here soon. In the meantime, you are welcome to watch the plenary debate here listen and find here a very good explanation of the idea of suspending patent rights, produced by Doctors Without Borders.

Vote on Nord Stream 2

The EU Parliament joined with a large majority in our demand for a construction stop for Nord Stream 2. The German MEPs in our group are the only ones to vote unanimously against Nord Stream 2.

Many MEPs from the Union and SPD voted in favour of Nord Stream 2, even though their groups in the European Parliament were also against it. This is also a great success for my colleague Sergei Lagondinsky, who negotiated the immediate stop into the parliamentary bill.

Dozens killed in boat accident off Libya

People are still dying at Europe's borders. This week, too, there was another shipwreck off the coast of the town of Zuwara, in north-west Libya. It claimed the lives of 43 people.

Calendar week 02/2021

I have been particularly busy this week with my report on asylum procedures at the EU's external borders, my committees and the global distribution of vaccines. The situation of refugees in Bosnia and Greece is also currently absolutely unacceptable and must be improved quickly.

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.

Schengen and human rights at the EU's external borders

This week marked the start of strategic thinking around the reform of the Schengen rules and the evaluation mechanism. Border controls at the Schengen internal borders are a problem because they should not actually exist. But so are the numerous, systemic, and serious human rights violations at the EU's external borders. I will advocate that any evaluation of Schengen should also include an evaluation of the activities of the Member States at the external borders and that Parliament should exert pressure on the Commission to take action against such serious human rights violations.

Situation in Lebanon and Northern Syria

On Thursday, the Committee on Development discussed, among other things, the humanitarian situation in Syria and Lebanon. The combination of the economic crisis, political instability and the lack of government, the Corona pandemic and the effects of the explosion in Beirut port have led to a worrying situation in Lebanon. Lebanon has hosted the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, and their care is becoming increasingly difficult due to the current situation. The additional aid funds recently announced by the Commission are therefore urgently needed.

The situation of the two million internally displaced persons in northern Syria has also deteriorated further with the onset of winter, and the corona pandemic has not stopped there either. Humanitarian aid is very difficult, as access to the border regions is in part impossible and aid supplies cannot therefore be delivered. Here, too, the EU is called upon to exert pressure so that the aid can reach the people. You can watch the session here.

For a solidary distribution of the vaccine worldwide

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.  

Situation in Greece and Bosnia worsens

The situation in the camps at the Greek external borders is getting worse and worse. This week the new camp on Lesbos was once again flooded by heavy rains. In the middle of the week, a winter storm passed over the island and, with winds of up to 80 km/h, caused individual tents and a whole series of toilet containers to be knocked over. Contrary to the assurances of the Greek authorities and the European Commission, there are no facilities to protect people from the wind or heavy rain. In the camp, which is located on an unprotected headland, there are around 7200 people seeking protection.

In Bosnia, 2000 people are trying not to freeze to death in the snow and cold in the forest. The burnt-down Lipa camp is considered uninhabitable despite new tents – and the municipalities are blocking aid. All attempts by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to build new camps failed due to the resistance of the municipalities.

Calendar week 51/2020

This week I have been intensively involved with the situation on Lesbos, where the camp was completely under water. The German Presidency, in particular Horst Seehofer, have shown that they have achieved nothing in terms of a common European refugee policy and the ECJ ruled that Hungary's asylum rules violate EU law.

Interview with Die Zeit on Lesbos

On Tuesday I met with Ulrich Ladurner from the time about whether the photos from Lesbos are actually wanted and what Greece and the EU want to achieve with these photos. You can read the whole conversation read here.

Meeting with Human Rights Watch on the situation in Lesbos

I attended a meeting with Human Rights Watch on Monday. It was about a report about the risk of lead poisoning in the new Moria. The location on a former military training ground entails great risks for people's health. It is important to get the people out of this camp and to accommodate them in a humane way and in accordance with EU law.

EU Council of Interior Ministers

The interior ministers of the EU states met on Monday, to discuss the Commission's proposal for a European migration and asylum pact. The German Council Presidency's strategy has failed. It wanted to force a European solution by demanding that the suffering at the external borders only be eliminated by European consensus. Now we continue to have suffering, chaos and violence against those seeking protection, but still no solution. If you want to reach the finish line at some point, you can't always wait for those chaining themselves at the starting point. Especially if you've been waiting for over 5 years. All Horst Seehofer has to show for EU asylum policy, is a progress report without progress. The member states continue to disagree on key points. The German Council Presidency has made no progress towards a common European asylum system. Instead, we are facing another winter of unheated tents and illegal violence by the authorities against those seeking protection. In order to put an end to these undignified conditions, we don't need a new pact, but rather the enforcement of EU law. It needs member states to step forward and show that we won't let protection seekers freeze to death or be put down in Europe because we haven't yet found consensus in warm offices."

ECJ ruling: Hungarian asylum rules violate EU law

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has declared the actions of Viktor Orbán's right-wing nationalist government illegal. There should be no deportations without a case-by-case examination, according to the ruling from Luxembourg. In an interview with the RND I said: „Some EU states have set up a system of disenfranchisement and mistreatment of protection seekers under the guise of border protection. Countries like Greece and Croatia must finally feel the pressure of the EU Commission. If the EU is not indifferent to human rights, then it needs infringement proceedings by the Commission and also a German government that no longer glosses over the chaos at the external borders;

Boundary procedure

This week in Parliament, we finalised an important own-initiative report on the implementation of border procedures in the context of the Asylum Procedures Directive. The text highlights the difficulties that asylum seekers face when they enter a border procedure, where their fundamental and procedural rights are often violated. It is good to see that despite differing political views on asylum and migration, MEPs can respect the EU's core human rights principles and find a compromise by applying an evidence-based approach to their decision-making. In preparation for the upcoming negotiations on the Asylum and Migration Pact, the recently concluded European Parliament implementation reports, including mine on border procedures, will help in formulating our negotiating positions on upholding the fundamental right to asylum.

Calendar week 50/2020

(DE) Mr President, this week, we are all pleased that we have a result in the dispute over the rule of law mechanism, even if we are not entirely satisfied with the compromise. On the other hand, I have a success to report on the AMIF, the financial instrument in the EU through which funds are allocated for asylum, migration and integration.

Agreement on rule of law mechanism

After months of the governments in Poland and Hungary blackmailing the EU because they would not accept a rule of law mechanism, an agreement has now been reached. This is important for the economic recovery after this tough Corona year 2020. The agreement is a last-second compromise that includes a rule of law mechanism that is not perfect but is a start, especially in the fight against corruption. We regret that the EU will have to wait for the ruling of the European Court of Justice before imposing sanctions and that the rule of law mechanism will not apply as early as next year, while violations of the rule of law continue. The European Parliament was united behind a stronger rule of law mechanism, while the Council, led by Germany and Angela Merkel, was opposed. You can find more information on the topic on the homepage of my party friend Ska Keller.

AMIF

Thanks to the compromising mood of the Council and Parliament, this week was the last round of negotiations on the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the next budget. AMIF is an important financial instrument because the funds are used to provide concrete assistance to refugees. The Greens have been campaigning for the funds to be allocated directly to regional and local authorities involved in integration, and it is a success for us that this allocation has made it into the final text. We are also pleased that the Member States are obliged to allocate at least 15 % of their national programmes to legal migration and integration and to the implementation of the Common European Asylum System. In this way, countries that are less concerned about hospitality must also play their part if they are to benefit from EU funds. The third victory for us is the 20 % target linked to solidarity. This ensures that the Commission has a vested interest in motivating Member States to commit to resettlement places so that they can meet the target. All in all, we are quite satisfied with the political agreement.

Funds for Afghanistan

This week, the World Bank reported to the Afghanistan delegation in the EP on how Afghanistan is developing. Two weeks earlier, the Geneva Donors' Conference on Afghanistan took place. The Geneva Donors' Conference on Afghanistan was an important event where the international community, including the EU and Member States, came together to pledge financial support to Afghanistan for the next four years.

While the World Bank's assessment is largely positive, the donor countries have raised particular concerns about the stalled peace process, corruption and increasing poverty and violence. Over the next few weeks, we will be looking more closely at where EU funds are going, how they are being used and how the flow of money can be made more transparent. At the Afghanistan conference, pledges of USD 12-13 billion were made for the period 2021-24. The result represents a drop of up to 20 percent from the 15.2 billion pledged four years ago for 2017-20 and is well below UNDP projections for the country's needs. In addition, some countries, including the United States as the largest donor, have not made their pledges for the entire four-year period.

Post-Cotonou Negotiations

This week, the post-Cotonou negotiations were on the agenda: this is the successor agreement to the Cotonou Agreement, which has been in force since 2003, between 79 ACP countries and the EU, which regulated fundamental cooperation in various areas such as the economy and trade, but also development cooperation. After more than two years of negotiations, an agreement was finally reached on 2 December, and on Wednesday an exchange took place with the EU Commissioner for Development Cooperation, Jutta Urpilainen, who was sitting at the negotiating table on behalf of the EU.So far, we do not have a final version of the new agreement from Parliament, which still has to be confirmed by Parliament before it can actually enter into force. In my view, three crucial points will be important: the wording on migration and, in this context, readmission agreements and conditionality, the compromises reached on the subject of sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) and the future parliamentary formulation.

Calendar week 49/2020

Hearing of the head of Frontex in the European Parliament

On Tuesday, Fabrice Leggeri was invited to the European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs, of which I am also a member. We were expecting some answers to questions about the involvement of his border agency, Frontex, in serious human rights violations. Unfortunately, Mr Leggeri preferred to beat about the bush, deflect and not answer most of our questions. Leggeri only received positive feedback from right-wing MPs, who described his actions as „heroic“. The MEPs of democratic parties were visibly disappointed by the behaviour of the head of Frontex at the hearing. He lied about one of the pushback executions.... My group and I are now calling for a committee of inquiry to be set up in the European Parliament. You can watch the whole hearing here ...look at it. You can find my question if you set 14:37:10 in the timeline.

Interview with RBB-Inforadio on human rights violations at the external borders

People are abandoned at sea, stolen from and abused. And people are hibernating in camps in unheated tents. These illegal and serious human rights violations by the Member States, but also by Frontex, must stop immediately. I talked about that with the RBB-Inforadio.

Letter to CDU chairman Holger Stahlknecht

The MEPs Anna Cavazzini and Ska Keller and I jointly have a European office in Magdeburg, which means that we are also responsible for communicating European values in Saxony-Anhalt. Unfortunately, the CDU chairman Holger Stahlknecht seems to lack political education, otherwise I cannot explain that he wanted to dissolve a democratic government because of the broadcasting fees in order to make common cause with fascists. As a service-oriented member of parliament, I have therefore sent him a Basic Law and I really hope that he will also read it.

Deputy medical officer accuses AfD city councillor of discrimination

In my constituency of Treptow-Köpenick, the deputy chief medical officer... Denis Hedeler accuses his employer, AfD city councillor Bernd Geschanowski, of discrimination. Denis Hedeler comes from Cuba, is black and married to a man. He has cared for refugees for years and was active for Doctors Without Borders. He now wants to sue because he feels discriminated against on racist grounds. I had a long conversation with him and will continue to follow the case.

Calendar week 48/2020

This week, I have been dealing a lot with money. It is about how the EU will allocate funds in future in the areas of asylum and migration and also in development cooperation. Unfortunately, however, the right-wing populist governments in Poland and Hungary continue to block the future EU budget because they have no desire to abide by the rules of the rule of law.

Frontex involved in human rights violations

Frontex claims to have no information on illegal pushbacks. Internal documents now prove otherwise. It looks like the EU agency is covering up human rights abuses by lying. Next Tuesday the head of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, will be in the EU Parliament and must face our questions. But it would fall short to attack him alone. It is obvious that the violations of the law at the external borders of EU states – including Germany – have been covered up.

The European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund

The so-called AMIF is the EU's main financial instrument in the areas of asylum, migration and integration. A major negotiating success this week is that solidarity is retained as an objective of the fund. At present, it is still being discussed how much money from this fund can be used in third countries. I am in favour of these monies being spent within the EU. Unfortunately, it also happens time and again that the fund is misused or that the allocation of funds is not sufficiently controlled. For example, Croatia has received over €108 million from this fund since 2017, which is used to pay for border protection and many border officials. Nevertheless, serious human rights violations occur systematically and regularly at the border.

Right to abortion in Poland

The illegitimate Polish Constitutional Court declared abortions de facto unconstitutional and thus illegal. For us, it is clear that the right to sexual self-determination is non-negotiable. A clear majority of the parliament passed a resolution clearly condemning this action. More on this topic can be found on the Homepage of my party friend Terry Reintke, who is shadow rapporteur for the report on the rule of law in Poland.

Hungary and Poland block EU budget

The governments in Poland and Hungary continue to block the EU budget and the much-needed Corona recovery funds. This is somewhat absurd because the two countries are the largest net recipients in the EU and at the same time very badly affected by the corona pandemic. The right-wing populists in Budapest and Warsaw are upset about a rule of law mechanism that is to be linked to the allocation of funds in future. But Orbán and Morawiecki don't want that because it would interfere with them further eroding the rule of law. You can read more on this topic at the Homepage of my party friend Rasmus Andresen.

Report on the allocation of funds in development cooperation

With a total of 74.4 billion in 2018 the EU and the member states are by far the largest donors in international development cooperation. They account for 57% of the world's funds. The European Parliament draws up a report on the use of the funds and, in my group, I am the person responsible for this report. What is particularly controversial here is the question of whether the issues of development cooperation and migration should be mixed up. My group and I are opposed to tying the allocation of funds to political demands such as the prevention of migration. The money should be allocated according to development policy criteria and not according to which state is prepared to pay money to prevent migration and flight. Actually, we had found a good compromise on this issue in Parliament – even with the conservative EPP. Unfortunately, the EPP torpedoed our work and weakened Parliament's position by voting together with right-wing populist and extreme right-wing parties to tie the money to the prevention of migration and flight in the future as well. Particularly at a time when parties like the CDU and CSU are stressing that they have nothing to do with the AfD, it is a great pity that they seem to prefer working with right-wing populists in Brussels on many issues rather than with democrats.

Calendar week 47/2020

This week I have been working intensively on systematic human rights violations at the EU's external borders and on a report on asylum procedures at the external borders. I also hope that the lawsuit brought by the Land of Berlin against Horst Seehofer will be successful.

The state of Berlin sues the Federal Ministry of the Interior

The state of Berlin is suing the Federal Ministry of the Interior so that Berlin can finally take in refugees. The lawsuit is promising. You can find more info about this in the Press release of the Berlin state government. I also have a Expert opinion on the land survey which proves that Seehofer is not allowed to refuse his consent for the admission so easily.

Serious human rights violations at the Croatian external border

Systematic and brutal violence at the Croatian external EU border has been documented for over three years. So far, the Croatian government denies that these illegal pushbacks are taking place at all. Now Der Spiegel publishes a video that proves the practice beyond doubt. A comprehensive Video analysis is available on Youtube. I have tagesschau.de on the subject gave a short interview and prepared a question to the Commission, which more than two dozen MEPs from four different political groups, Greens, Left, Socialists and Liberals, will table jointly.

My report on asylum procedures at EU external borders

I have the lead adopted for a report on the application of border procedures in the Member States. The report evaluates how border procedures under Article 43 of the Asylum Procedures Directive are implemented in the Member States. We Greens had suggested the report so that Parliament would have an evidence-based basis for the negotiations on the Pact. My report makes it clear that border procedures are highly problematic and therefore recommends that they should not be used. We are now in compromise negotiations with the other groups on a common position. An important scientific basis for this report is this very readable study by the EP's scientific service on the implementation of border procedures in the Member States.

Anti-torture committee raises allegations against Greece

Poor conditions in camps, inhumane treatment, illegal refoulement: The Council of Europe's Anti-Torture Committee makes strong accusations against Greece. I have commented on the systematic and coordinated pushbacks by the Greek authorities... a parliamentary question submitted to the Commission. The Commission replied that „it is primarily the national authorities who are responsible for the proper transposition and application of EU law“. The Commission is not fulfilling its role as guardian of the Treaties. Moreover, the Commission continues to speak of pushbacks in the subjunctive – as if these were not already sufficient and proven by serious investigative journalists.

Conference on Migration and Flight

On Thursday I was an active participant in a conference in which we discussed the future of European migration and refugee policy. Among the participants were the President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli, the President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the German Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble. In addition, the responsible Commissioner Ylva Johansson and the German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. I spoke there about the clear deficiencies in the implementation of border procedures, about which I also I wrote a report. The mayors of Lampedusa and Mytilini also criticised that the new pact would not bring an end to the mass camps on the islands and at the external borders.

NDICI Trilogy

On Friday, I was at the NDICI trialogue. Trialogue means that Parliament, the Council and the Commission talk and negotiate with each other. NDICI stands for Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument. A great deal of money is at stake here. Specifically around € 71.8 billion for the coming years. My focus in these negotiations is on ensuring that funds for development cooperation are allocated according to development policy criteria. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency for years to link the distribution of funds with migration management. One could also say that states get money for preventing migration and flight. Parliament tends to be on my side on the issues, but the Member States tend not to be. No agreement has been reached here yet.

Calendar week 43/2020


The pandemic situation did not allow this plenary week to take place in Strasbourg, so it took place again, largely digitally, in Brussels.Two of the priorities of our Greens/EFA Group were the Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and Gender justice in foreign and security policy. Other positions and focal points of our Group can be found here.

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Agricultural subsidies make up the largest item in the EU budget at almost €387 billion, but CAP reforms are incompatible with the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategyand the Greens/EFA Group called on Parliament to reject the proposal. Despite urgent messages from Luisa Neubauer and Greta Thunberg and various civil society voices, a coalition of liberals, social democrats/socialists and conservatives voted with a two-thirds majority in favour of the reforms, thus initiating a change that is completely out of step with necessary steps to avert climate catastrophe. Thus, 60% of the budget is still barely tied to conditions and only 30% of the direct payment budget is tied to woolly "eco-schemes" instead of formulating clear environmental conditions. 

Moreover, the votes were accompanied by gross procedural blunders, so that many MEPs did not have the relevant voting documents in translation until the morning of the vote. All that remains now is to hope that the European Commission follows through on its promise of the Green Deal and overturns the CAP reforms. 

For a clear and passionate classification I recommend the speech of the Green MP Martin Häusling.

Gender justice in foreign and security policy

Parliament voted in favour of a resolution on gender equality in foreign and security policy. This calls for an intersectional and feminist approach to EU foreign policy. For example, the resolution dictates the goal of filling 50% management positions in the European External Action Service with women, as well as the final ratification of the Istanbul Convention in all EU member states. These goals are based primarily on the under-representation of women in such leading bodies, which leads to a perpetual cycle of violence against women and minorities. 

In this explanatory video Hannah Neumann the background of the resolution and in this Video you'll find her speech on the matter in plenary. 

Open letter to Heiko Maas on deportations to Afghanistan

The Taliban are conquering more and more territory, people are fleeing and the Afghan government asked for a halt to deportations. I have taken all of these events as an opportunity to a letter to Heiko Maas to write. I would ask him to adjust the assessment of the current security situation in the situation report, irrespective of any domestic political motives and in accordance with new findings and developments.

Dear Federal Minister Maas,

the security situation in Afghanistan is dramatic. According to the Global Peace Index, Afghanistan is the most unpeaceful country in the world. Since the start of the peace negotiations between the Afghan Government and the Taliban, the number of civilian victims has continued to rise and fighting has increased. The hectic withdrawal of US and NATO troops poses serious risks to the stability of the country and its civilian population. At the end of June, the Taliban already controlled 157 districts in Afghanistan, twice as many as at the beginning of May. This means that 40% of districts in the hands of the Talibanjust as many are in contention.

Due to the insecurity, many embassies have already recalled their staff; Australia was the first country to even close its embassy in Kabul. The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is also worrying. In 2021, about half of the population, 18.4 million people, will be dependent on humanitarian aid; at the beginning of 2020, the figure was still 9.4 million people. Reasons for this are in addition to the ongoing conflict, natural disasters, chronic poverty, food insecurity and, last but not least, the additional burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a current survey The experiences of Afghans deported from Germany show that they, their relatives and supporters are threatened by violence both by the Taliban and by state actors and their social environment. A large number of the interviewees suffered violence after arriving in Afghanistan due to their previous stay in Europe and the "Westernisation" that went along with it. Securing a livelihood was virtually impossible due to the economic situation and social exclusion, which is why 70% of the interviewees had to leave the country again after a short time. Those who do not have this option are often left with little other way to secure a livelihood than to join warring parties or gangs. Due to the Taliban's control of numerous areas and connecting roads, it is also almost impossible for returnees to reach their provinces of origin.

According to the latest information, an Afghan deported from Germany in February died on 21 June as a result of a grenade. All these findings suggest that the current security situation in Afghanistan and the threat of violence during repatriations make a halt to deportations indispensable. Afghan government also asks for temporary suspension of deportations due to security situation.

Nevertheless, collective deportations from Germany to Afghanistan continue to take place, as was the case most recently on 06.07.2021, They made the following comments in Madrid on 05.07.2021.t: "So far, there has certainly been an increase in violence, which there has also been in the past. If that continues to dramatize, that will also be reflected in our reports." "What impact that will then have on the question of whether people can still be deported to Afghanistan, we will then see. However, with what we have so far in terms of information, I still consider the current practice to be justifiable."

According to the report on the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan relevant to asylum and deportation (as of June 2020 in the version of 14.01.2021), the Federal Foreign Office is "not aware of any cases in which returnees have demonstrably become victims of acts of violence due to their stay in Europe". Furthermore, some areas in Afghanistan are described as safe, and current developments are not taken into account. The basic comments of the report state that in case of sudden changes in the situation, either an ad-hoc report will be prepared or the recipients will be made aware of the lack of timeliness of the report. It is also pointed out that accurate information from Afghanistan is extremely difficult to obtain. Has such an ad hoc report been produced or, in view of the rapidly changing security situation with far-reaching implications, is it pointed out that the report no longer adequately reflects the current situation? I welcome the fact that the Foreign Office situation report is currently being revised. I would ask you to adjust the assessment of the current security situation in the situation report, irrespective of any domestic political motives and in line with new findings and developments, and to send me the latest report.

With kind regards

Erik Marquardt

EU Parliament adopts migration fund: almost €10 billion for asylum, migration and integration

The €9.88 billion Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) for 2021-2027 aims to strengthen the common European asylum policy. We have achieved that funds can be applied for directly by regional and local authorities, so that EU states can no longer so easily prevent funding for committed cities and regions.

As the asylum spokesman for the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament, I say this:

„Finally, municipalities can apply directly to the EU Commission for money to take in refugees. This means that municipalities can no longer be so easily prevented from dealing with flight and migration in a spirit of solidarity. It is also a great success that we were able to achieve in the negotiations that the Member States are obliged to allocate at least 15% of their programmes to legal migration and integration. This means that countries can no longer refuse to support migrants if they want to benefit from EU funds. Another success is that 20% of the funds will be spent on humanitarian aid, resettlement and relocation. The fund by no means solves the major problems of European asylum policy, but it is a good step towards rewarding solidarity in asylum policy and improving coexistence on the ground.“

Further information on the AMIF can be found on the Parliament page and on here on my homepage.

A chronology of civilian rescue at sea

Tens of thousands of people drowned while fleeing in the Mediterranean. Instead of rescuing people, civilian sea rescuers are increasingly blocked and criminalized. Here I have written a chronicle of the civilian sea rescue of the past years.

Background

Silvio Berlusconi and Muammar al-Gaddafi concluded an agreement in 2008. Friendship treatyBerlusconi apologised on behalf of Italy for colonial crimes and Gaddafi undertook to set up his own coastguard and to repatriate boats carrying refugees. Italy subsequently trained and equipped the Libyan coast guard. While individual member states are already trying to make the European migration policy and refugee defence more transparent, the beyond European borders Sync and corrections by n17t01 organize, used Libya under Gaddafi, exploited its importance for European border policy in order to demand economic and political quid pro quos. In the following years, over a thousand people were intercepted on boats by Italian authorities, sent to Libya and handed over to the authorities there. In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights found this practice unlawful. In the case Hirsi Jamaa et al. it was decided that pushbacks violate the prohibition of inhuman treatment and the prohibition of collective expulsion. 
In 2011, protests spread across several states, which eventually became known as the Arab Spring in the history of the world. A brutal civil war started in Libya. Many people fled to Europe at the risk of their lives. During this time, despite a international military operation the establishment of a naval blockade and a no-fly zone, and NATO-presence led to many deaths in the Mediterranean because there were no serious state efforts to rescue people at sea.

2013

October 3, 2013 marks 23 years of reunification in Germany, and with it the won right of millions of people in the GDR to move freely. On the day 368 people drown at Europe's external borders off Lampedusa beach. A week later, more than 200 people drownedafter a boat is not rescued for a long time despite distress calls. In response to the many deaths and the deaths, Italy launches the sea rescue operation 'Mare Nostrum', 'our sea', in November. In one year it rescues 130,000 people in distress in the central Mediterranean.

2014

Other European member states refuse to provide funds for the rescue of the people and to agree on a solidarity-based distribution of the rescued people, which is why Italy suspends the operation. Mare Nostrum' is followed by 'Triton'. Proactive rescue of people in need turns into border control. The operation led by Frontex rescues significantly fewer people, which is also the intention: the then German Interior Minister Thomas De Maziére claims that 'Mare Nostrum' was terminated because it turned out to be a 'Bridge to EuropeThe EU is not creating safe and legal escape routes. The EU does not create safe and legal escape routes and thus continues to force people onto life-threatening routes.

2015

In order to stop watching the deaths in the Mediterranean, the sea rescue organisation was founded in 2015 Sea Watch and is sending its ship to the Mediterranean on 20 June 2020, World Refugee Day, to find sea rescue cases and organise help. Médecins Sans Frontières is also setting out to save lives. Since the EU Commission and the member states are unwilling to organise a European coordinated sea rescue, it is now privately organised organisations financed by donations that save people from dying in the Mediterranean. This is not meant to be a long-term solution, because humanitarian aid in the Mediterranean should actually be organised by the state.

2016

Now the NGOs are coming SOS Mediterranée, Proactiva Open Arms, Sea-Eye and Youth Saves, which Boat Refugee Foundation and Save the Children and send ships to the Mediterranean to rescue people. But the Libyan Coast Guard – militias financed, equipped and trained by the EU as part of Operation Sophia, some of whom had previously smuggled people themselves and now smell a better deal as coast guards – are taking action against civilian sea rescue: 

"Armed militiamen had already threatened and boarded the Sea-Watch 2 on April 24, 2016, before endangering the ship and crew again on May 10, 2017, through a breakneck maneuver off its bow." Sea Watch explains. The Bourbon Argos will also shelled and boarded; the Sea-Eye speedboat Speedy with its crew to Libya hijacked.

2017

The organizations are not intimidated by this. Instead, from now on Sea Watch observes with the search plane 'Moonbird' Human rights violations and emergencies in the Mediterranean.

The discourse is changing: right-wing populists blame smuggling for the misery on the Mediterranean and European camps and spread the lie that the sea rescuers cooperate with the smugglers. A prosecutor from Sicily claims to have proof of this. He could never prove his assumption. Now it has become known that the Sicilian prosecutor's office has been monitoring journalists and activists since 2017 to an extent that would otherwise only have been possible against the Mafia and terrorism is being applied. The authorities are focusing on journalist Nancy Porsia. According to Andrea di Pietro, lawyer of the Italian Journalists Association, the one of "the most serious attacks on the press in the history of our country."

In July 2017, Italian authorities attempted to force sea rescue NGOs to make a Code of Conduct to sign. "Jugend rettet" refuses to sign this code of conduct, which contained various right-wing populist prejudices. Only two days later their ship, the Iuventa, is seized. The scientific service of the Bundestag declares the Code of Conduct for illegal under international law. As a result of increasing criminalisation, intimidation and restriction, some NGOs withdrew from the Mediterranean. 

The central sea rescue control centre in Rome, the MRCC, is beginning to limit cooperation with civilian ships and instead to assign more cases to the 'Libyan Coast Guard'.. More and more people are being pushed out of distress at sea back to Libya, where they are Torture, slavery and murder threaten. Through their policy, the EU Commission and the Council are complicit and violate the law by cooperating with Islamist militias. against international law.

2018

In 2018, the crew of the Open Arms refuses to hand over rescued people to the Libyan authorities. The ship is banned from entering Italy and is briefly impounded. Salvini becomes interior minister and closes Italian ports to civilian sea rescue ships. Other states follow suit: Malta also restricts entry into its ports, the Netherlands withdraws the Lifeline's flag. 

At the same time hundreds of thousands of people declare their solidarity with the sea rescue NGOs: The Piern alliance is formed and speaks out against the criminalization of those who help and for a migration policy based on solidarity that deserves its name. 
Nevertheless, further ships have had their flags withdrawn and proceedings initiated against them. The Aquarius is being investigated for alleged illegal waste disposal. Clothing and hygiene products of the rescued are considered toxic waste. On the ships that may be in operation, Wait many people are waiting to be allowed to land in a safe port. But EU member states are struggling to define their responsibilities, taking nearly three weeks to agree on the distribution of just 32 rescued people from the Sea-Watch 3. some. Similar procedures are repeated, so that the work of NGOs was massively hindered.

2019

Operation Sophia will end in 2019 because it has rescued too many people from distress at sea. The crew of the Turkish tanker El Hiblu 1 rescues 108 people from distress off Libya and wants to bring them back to Libya. However, three Afghan youths manage to convince the crew and bring the rescued people to a safe European port. They are taken as El Hiblu 3 known and arrested for months. Maltese authorities initiate a trial against them on suspicion of terrorism. They face life imprisonment for successfully protesting a pushback against international law.

In summer, new ships sail to the Mediterranean and rescue hundreds of people in a short time. In June, the Sea Watch 3 declares a state of emergency, to which there is no response for over 60 hours. There is no longer enough water on board and the psychological strain on the people on board increases. Captain Carola Rackete finally defies orders and brings the ship to a port in Lampedusa. As a result, in Italy. apprehended.

Also the crew of the Alex by the Italian Maritime Rescue Organisation Mediterranea defies the Italian authorities because of an unsustainable health and hygiene situation. In September, the Mare Jonio to Italy. Although the crew claims to have docked in Italy with the permission of the Italian coast guard, the ship is confiscated and the organisation has to pay a fine of €300,000.

2020

In February 2020, the two crews of Sea Watch 3 and the Mare Jonio will receive honorary citizenships from the Mayor of Palermo. Sea Watch sends out with the Seabird a new aircraft over the Mediterranean capable of covering an area the size of Brandenburg. 

Corona is making the situation more difficult for civilian rescue at sea. In order to do something about the inhumane conditions at the EU's borders, many people, including myself, are calling for the Leave no One Behind campaign. This solidarity network works to protect people whose well-being and safety are not taken care of by states or the EU. 

The EU mission starts in April Irini as the successor to the Sophia mission. The aim is to expand the so-called Libyan coast guard and to review the arms embargo against Libya – Sea rescue is not part of the mandate. Under pressure from Italy, even the part of the Mediterranean where most people are in distress at sea is being bypassed so as not to have to rescue them.  

The Alan Kurdi must ten days waiting for the assignment of a safe harbor. The crew has previously rescued 150 people from distress at sea. There are two suicide attempts. One person requires urgent medical attention. Similar cases occur on other ships. Meanwhile, the Moonbird observes pushbacks to Libya by the 'Libyan Coast Guard'.

Sea rescue is actively obstructed

In August, a post Louise Michel named ship of an anarcho-feminist collective into the Mediterranean Sea. It was financed and sprayed by Banksy. In the meantime, the Louise Michel even in distressafter rescuing 219 people. 33 of them are already housed on a life raft. One person is already dead, others suffer from severe fuel burns. The calls for help remain unanswered until the Sea Watch 4 and the Italian coast guard bring the people to Lampedusa. As early as September, the ship is moored in Palma de Mallorca. 

The longest stand-off ever occurs: a Danish oil tanker, the Maersk Etienne, rescues 27 people from distress at sea in August. Entire 38 days the people on the ship have to hold out. Food and drink become scarce. Out of desperation, three people jump into the sea, but can be rescued again. 

In September, the European Commission will present its proposal for a new Migration Pact in the future. Although the Commission recommends that sea rescue NGOs should not be criminalised any further, it does not provide for any binding measures for their protection and for state-organised sea rescue. Overall, no improvements can be expected from the proposal; on the contrary, it would worsen the situation of refugees.

In 2020, a total of eight sea rescue organisations are on the Mediterranean Sea, unfortunately mostly only for a short time, sometimes they are not in action at all due to the pandemic and blockades.

2021

In March 2021, after 3.5 years of investigations, charges will be brought against 21 sea rescuers from Jugend rettet, Ärzte ohne Grenzen and Save the Children. The accusation: Facilitation of unauthorised entry. This is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The cases against the Aquarius for illegal waste disposal and against the Open Arms for alleged illegal entry are also reopened. A raid takes place against Mediterranea. 


By July 2, this year already at least 773 people drowned while fleeing across the Mediterranean. That is more than in the same period in the past three years. The Sea-Eye 4, meanwhile, rescued more than 400 people during its past deployment. The Sea-Watch 4 rescued more than 450 people and is now being held in Italy on flimsy grounds. Doctors without Borders continues sea rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea - this time with our own chartered ship: The Geo Barents.

We need a European sea rescue programme

This overview is brief and far from complete. It shows important key points of the development of civilian sea rescue in recent years and how the political climate has changed. If you want to read more or get involved yourself, feel free to check out their pages, which we have linked to in the text. I stand firmly by the side of the sea rescuers. In the European Parliament, I am doing everything I can to create safe migration routes, to decriminalise civilian rescue at sea and to rely on European solutions based on solidarity. We need a European coordinated and financed sea rescue programme so that no person has to drown on the way across the Mediterranean.

Read more

  • 5 years of Sea Watch is no reason to celebrate. You can read their 5-year report here read up.
  • At Airborne Report Sea Watch documents the cooperation of the 'Libyan Coast Guard' and European authorities and their lack of assistance in sea emergencies. 
  • What happened on the Mediterranean from 2016-2018 logged SAROBMED.
  • The Migazin maintains a chronology of particularly bad shipping "accidents" in the Mediterranean. 
  • Statewatch analyses the anti-migration policy between Libya and the EU.
  • Max Pichl talks about the limits of the rule of law at Europe's borders.
  • Monitor reports on European borders with special support from Germany in Niger. 

History of European asylum policy since 1997

Over the past two decades, we have unfortunately come little closer to a humane and progressive asylum policy. Below you will find an overview of the Amsterdam Treaty via the Treaty of Lisbon to the current Commission proposal for a Common European Asylum System (GEAS), on which the Commission, Council and Parliament are currently working.

The Amsterdam Treaty is signed by the Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States in 1997 and enters into force two years later. It sets the course for a common European asylum policy: parts of asylum policy are declared to be a common policy area of the European Union by being incorporated into the supranational first pillar of the Community have been integrated. The aim is to approximate asylum policy and asylum law in the Member States. The Amsterdam Treaty also brings into force the first Dublin agreements is in force. This stipulates that only one EU member state is responsible for each asylum procedure. 

Tampere Special Cups 1999

The Tampere Special Summit is held in Finland in October 1999. The European Council adopts a programme for cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs for the next five years. Within this framework, the guidelines of a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is elaborated. Common criteria for granting refugee status on the basis of the Geneva Refugee Commission will be adopted. Agreements with countries of origin of those seeking protection and further measures are to enable more extensive control of migration movements.

The Dublin Agreement is revised in 2003. It is stipulated that, in principle, the country of first entry must conduct the asylum procedure and thus also examine the applications. This poses challenges for European border states such as Greece and Italy, while European states without an external EU border can largely escape responsibility under the agreement. Furthermore, with Dublin II the EURODAC database introduced. This will be used to collect and compare fingerprints of people seeking protection. Border controls are also being extended. Dublin II had the goal of harmonizing European asylum policy, but also aggravated the situation for protection seekers in Europe. 

The Hague Programme 2004

In 2004, at a special summit, the governments of the EU decide to continue the Hague Programme. It is based on the Tampere programme, of which it is the successor. The aim of the programme is to further restrict immigration. This is to be achieved with the help of agreements with countries of origin and transit. One focus will be on the deportation of people with rejected applications. At the same time, measures for legal migration and for the integration of third-country nationals are to be created. 

In addition, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency shall Frontex is launched. A common visa information system (VIS) collects and shares information on asylum applications and biometric data at EU level.2005 EU heads of state and government draw up the Global approach to migrationwhich aims to cooperate with countries of origin and transit outside the EU to prevent irregular migration. 

Asylum Procedures Directive 2006 and Lisbon Treaty 2009

One year later, the Council adopted Asylum Procedures Directive in force. It lays down principles and minimum standards of asylum procedures. The aim is to harmonise access to asylum procedures in the EU between the member states. The Asylum Procedures Directive defines who is recognised as a refugee or as a person in need of subsidiary protection. The exact decisions are here to read. In practice, however, harmonisation between the Member States is failing, which is already the enormous difference in recognition rates in the Member States. 

The Treaty of Lisbon enters into force in 2009 and strengthens the Powers of the European Parliamentwhich is now de facto a co-legislator with the Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers). Nevertheless, Parliament still has no automatic right of initiative. At the same time, the rights of the Member States are structurally preserved, which have a right of veto in the European Council. They are also still free to decide how many people they grant entry and work permits to. The Treaty will key areas of a common EU migration policy defined: The establishment of conditions for legal entry and residence and the rights of people from third countries, as well as the fight against trafficking in human beings and "irregular" migration.

Stockholm Programme 2010

With the Stockholm Programme from 2010-2014, which replaces the Hague Programme, will be followed by the development of Frontex and the enhanced cooperation of Europol and Eurojust with the Border Agency. The Entry-Exit System (EES) will be created to register non-EU citizens residing in the EU. This is a further step towards the creation of "smarter" borders. In addition, further readmission agreements are being concluded with countries of origin. At the same time, labour migration is being viewed more favourably as part of the solution to the skills shortage in Europe. 

In 2011, the Commission shall adopt the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM)which updates the approach written in 2005. Compared to the GAMM, the framework conditions for legal migration are improved and the right to asylum is strengthened. Labour migration in particular is to be facilitated. At the same time, border controls will be tightened and more restrictive measures introduced. More emphasis will be placed on readmission agreements with countries of origin. In addition, central competences in the granting of visas and asylum remain with the Member States. The GAMM represents a strategy with an impact on European foreign policy.

Dublin III from 2014

Dublin III comes into force in 2014. In addition to the nuclear family, uncles, aunts and grandparents are now also considered family members and the right to family reunification is extended to people with subsidiary protection status. Furthermore, mandatory interviews with applicants are introduced. Appeals against rejection decisions can from now on postpone deportations and refoulements to another member state. An advance warning and crisis management system will also be adopted. The Dublin procedure is extended to people applying for subsidiary protection and no longer only concerns people applying for refugee status. People who pose an "acute risk of absconding" can now be detained. Dublin III provides for accelerated procedures for people in detention. 

In 2013, the EU will begin, with the approval of the Council, to EU Border Assistance Mission cooperate with Libyan institutions, ostensibly to combat human and arms smuggling and further prevent migration to the EU. The goal is to send people back to their countries of origin. To this end, the EU is equipping the Libyan coast guard, training them and thus creating a paramilitary unit. These are partly Warlordswho often smuggled people themselves.

Beginning and end of Mare Nostrum and state-organised rescue at sea

In the same year, the EU calls Having regard to the support of the Parliament and the Council the monitoring system EUROSUR to monitor Europe's external borders using satellite data. National authorities must now coordinate their actions with each other and with Frontex. coordinate. In addition, the Italian Coast Guard launches Operation Mare Nostrumwhich in just one year 130,000 people lives in the Mediterranean Sea.

However, EU heads of government refuse to support the operation with resettlements. Therefore, a European coordinated rescue at sea from. Mare Nostrum will end in October 2014 and will be replaced by the Frontex operation. Triton replaced. Instead of rescuing people in distress at sea, the focus is on isolation. As a result, fewer people have been rescued in the Mediterranean. 

Khartoum Process 2014 and the cooperation with brutal dictatorships

The so-called Khartoum Process of 2014 is causing a stir, as the EU states here with Military dictators from Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan are working together. Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia are also involved in the process. With the justification of wanting to prevent the causes of flight, the EU Commission is working here with repressive dictators from whom people are fleeing and who in some cases have very high recognition rates in EU states.

Following disasters in the Mediterranean, a special summit of the Commission and EU Heads of State and Government will be held in 2015. 10-point plan was adopted. Funds for Frontex sea rescue will be increased to respond to the increasing number of refugees in distress at sea. Further measures against smuggling will be adopted and Frontex will be given further competences. Also the Application area of the agency will be increased. People are to be deported more quickly with the help of Frontex. Cooperation between EU security authorities will also be stepped up. 

European Migration Agenda 2015 and establishment of „hotspots“

The European Agenda on Migration will be presented by the Commission in 2015. In order to facilitate legal migration to the EU, the "EU Blue Card" for highly qualified persons will be revised in the following years. More detailed information on the EU Blue Card and further legal migration opportunities to the EU I have summarized on my blog. The cooperation with countries of origin will also be strengthened again.

The surveillance of Europe's external borders is being pushed forward; trafficking boats are to be destroyed. Here, too, the aim is to facilitate legal migration and prevent irregular immigration. To stop migration more quickly and to combat them. In this way, the Agenda is part of the EU's Global Approach to Migration. The Externalization is increasingly being expanded, thus shifting the EU's border policy to third countries. 

In addition, the establishment of "hotspots", i.e. closed centres where protection seekers are registered and security checks take place, is decided. In the same year, intra-European Walls and Fencesas in Hungary, Slovenia and Austriaand many people have been prevented from travelling further. Many countries are closing their borders and using more offensive violence against those seeking protection. Refugees on the Balkan route are being guarded with barbed wire, dog patrols, Pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons prevented from continuing their journey. 

Operation Sophia

Since 2016, the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVOR MED) as part of the Operation Sophia the so-called Libyan coast guard. The self-declared goal is to combat smuggling and human trafficking. This goes back to a decision by the European Council. Also armed Soldiers from Germany are involved. The rescue of people in distress at sea, which is obligatory anyway, is also envisaged.

In the same year, the Commission changes its strategy on migration and on dealing with third countries: In the framework of the Partnership Frameworks the focus is placed on deportation. If third countries fail to cooperate in taking back migrants, the Commission threatens them with consequences, for example in terms of trade and development policy. Thus, crucial EU assistance is linked to cooperation in migration policy. 

EU-Turkey Deal 2016

On 20 March 2016, the EU-Turkey deal in force. Since then, protection seekers have been systematically detained on the islands and deported back to Turkey. Syrian protection seekers who reach the Greek islands "irregularly" are to be brought back to Turkey. For each of these people, another Syrian person is to be resettled from Turkey to the EU. Even if people from Syria are resettled in the EU, the statement ignores refugees from other countries, such as Iran or Afghanistan, who often suffer hardship in Turkey.

There are numerous pushbacks to Turkey, from where many people face deportation to Syria. You can read more about the agreement in a Conversation with Gerald Knaus, Maximilian Pichl and me. In September of the same year, without the involvement of parliament, an agreement is reached with Afghanistan on the repatriation of refugees in order to carry out large-scale deportations to the country, which has been in disarray for decades. More on the JWF Agreementyou'll find here

Malta Declaration 2017 and cooperation with Libyan militias

The Declaration by Malta was signed by the European heads of government on 3 February 2017. As a result, EU funds will be used to establish and support the Libyan coast guard, define a Libyan SAR zone and set up a coordination centre in Libya. This means that the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre is no longer responsible for coordinating SAR activities in international waters off the Libyan coast. Instead, this task now lies with the Libyan Coast Guard. This leads, among other things, to people being sent back to the country of civil war (so-called pullbacks) instead of being brought to a safe port.

Thus, civilian sea rescue ships are also ordered to take rescued people back to Libya, where they are threatened with torture, imprisonment, forced labour and murder. By no means can a port in Libya be described as safe for those seeking protection. Here the EU is making itself partly responsible for the inhumane treatment of people. SOS-MEDITERRANEAN explains: "With the Malta Declaration, the European Union has laid the foundations for a massive breach of international law, financed with European taxpayers' money." 

New migration and asylum pact

Work is currently underway on a new Migration and asylum pact worked: In September 2020, the Commission will propose a draft to allow Member States to assist deportations instead of taking in protection seekers: In 2019, before the pact proposal was published, the previous Parliament agreed with the Council on a reform of Frontex's mandate. The so-called Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency II broadly expands Frontex's mandate: from 1700 Border Officers:in 2019, the agency is expected to increase to 10,000 border agents by 2027. Border procedures, i.e. Asylum procedures under detention conditions at the border, should become the norm.

We Greens have a Alternative proposal which is based on genuine and binding solidarity. We are in favour of open asylum procedures that take into account the preferences of those seeking protection and the readiness of local communities to receive them. We will work to ensure that human rights are not further restricted and that access to fair asylum procedures is guaranteed. We must constantly ask ourselves where we want to go, what goals we are pursuing with European migration policy, how we want to appear externally and internally. In doing so, we must never forget that the future of Europe can only be based on human dignity and equality.  

Other sources:

Dr. P. Bendel, M. Haase: Third phase: Migration policy as a Community task (since 1999). In bpb, 29.1.2008. Available online at https://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/migration/dossier-migration-ALT/56531/seit-1999

J. Grosser: Supranationalisation from Amsterdam to Lisbon (1997-2007). In: Treffpunkt Europa, 13.06.2020. Available online at Supranationalisation from Amsterdam to Lisbon (1997-2007) – treffpunkteuropa.de

M. Haase, J.C. Jugl: EU asylum and refugee policy. In bpb, 27.11.2007. Available online at https://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/migration/dossier-migration-ALT/56551/asyl-fluechtlingspolitik?p=all

English-language literature:

Bialasiewicz, Luiza (2012): Off-shoring and Out-sourcing the Borders of EUrope. Libya and EU Border Work in the Mediterranean. In: Geopolitics 17 (4), pp. 843-866.

Crépeau, Francois (2015): Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. UN Doc. A/HRC/29/36. Report presented at the Human Rights Council, 29th Session. Geneva.

Gaibazzi, Paolo; Dünnwald, Stephan; Bellagamba, Alice (eds.) (2017): EurAfrican Borders and Migration Management. Political Cultures, Contested Spaces, and Ordinary Lives. New York, s.l.: Palgrave Macmillan US (Palgrave Series in African Borderlands Studies).

Papagianni, Georgia (2013): Forging an External EU Migration Policy. From Externalisation of Border Management to a Comprehensive Policy? In: European Journal of Migration and Law 15 (3), pp. 283-299.

Wierich, Andrea (2011): Solving Problems Where They Are Made? The European Neighbour-hood Policy and Its Effects on the Context of Other Migration-Related Policies of the European Union. In: Perspectives on European Politics and Society 12 (3), pp. 225-241.

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