Expert opinion: Dealing with refugees at the Greek-Turkish border is illegal

I have an expert opinion entitled No State of Exception at the EU External Borders in the first place.

It states that EU states may not suspend the right of asylum or refuse to accept asylum applications. Greece has acted illegally by suspending the right of asylum for one month. Pushbacks or deportations without an individual procedure violate EU and international law. Pushbacks or deportations without an individual procedure cannot be justified under EU law or European human rights law. Dealing with people on the Turkish-Greek EU external border violates the fundamental values of the Union such as the rule of law and respect for human rights.

You can find the full report under this Link

Expert opinion proves: Federal states may take in refugees on their own!

I've commissioned an expert opinion that, under the title: „Reception of refugees from the camps on the Greek islands by the German Bundesländer-Legal conditions and borders“ erschienen ist. Es legt dar, dass die Bundesregierung die Aufnahme von einigen geflüchteten Kindern durch die Bundesländer nicht ablehnen darf. Die Regierung lehnt vorhandene Angebote also rechtswidrig ab. Das heißt nicht, dass die Bundesländer oder Kommunen hier jetzt in der Verantwortung sind. Vor allem die Bundesregierung und andere EU-Staaten müssen mit der EU-Kommission jetzt schnell handeln! Das Gutachten ist schon lange geplant und jetzt fertig geworden.

You can find the report under this Link.

Humanitarian crisis in Greece: Germany & Europe must offer refugees protection

Click here for the Petition!

A humanitarian disaster is unfolding on the Turkish-Greek border: after the Turkish president Erdoğan opened the border with Greece, thousands of refugees have set out to apply for asylum in the EU. In Greece, the police use violence to prevent people from entering the country. 

the greek government declares deterrence in defence of the eu's external border. at the same time, greece has announced that it will suspend the right of asylum. for months, more than 40,000 people have been waiting in completely overcrowded camps on the greek islands. this situation on the islands is no longer tenable. journalists and aid organisations are being threatened by right-wing groups and the authorities are not protecting them. only a quick response from eu states can prevent further escalation. the federal government must also act quickly. 

What should have happened a long time ago is now all the more necessary: the European Union has a duty to support Greece in dealing with the situation by all means possible. Humanity and order must now be the guiding principles of the EU. This is a European emergency, not a Greek one. If we leave Greece alone now, we will contribute to further suffering, insecurity and instability. 

We therefore call for four immediate measures:

  1. The Federal Government should take in a quota of refugees from Greece and the Aegean islands. If Germany leads the way in Europe, other EU countries will follow more easily, and the goal must continue to be a fair and rapid redistribution of refugees within the EU. 
  2. The Federal Office for Refugees (BAMF) and the Federal Government may no longer block the family reunification of persons seeking protection in Greece with their relatives in Germany. Many refugees in Greece - including many unaccompanied children - have a legal claim to family reunification under the Dublin Regulation. The Federal Republic of Germany is responsible for their asylum procedure and they have to be transferred to their relatives in Germany. 
  3. The right to asylum is a human right: people seeking protection within the EU cannot be deported without an individual examination of their asylum application. The German government and the other EU countries must support Greece in such a way that refugees are registered at the EU's external border and then given access to a fair asylum procedure. Only fair asylum procedures can determine who is in need of protection and who is not. 
  4. Police violence against refugees must stop. tear gas and water cannons only aggravate hardship and do not solve anything. this is not how europe should deal with people seeking protection. journalists, lawyers and NGOs must be protected and must be able to do their important work unhindered. the federal government must work together with the eu to ensure that fundamental rights are respected at all levels. local authorities must enforce law and order instead of tolerating the violent mobs on the greek islands. 

The Turkish President Erdoğan is using the suffering of refugees to exert pressure on the EU. A common European response to this is needed. It is important that we provide humanitarian aid and defend the rule of law in Europe. To this end, let us address this urgent petition with as many signatures as possible to the Federal Government and the European Council: Germany must offer refugees protection!

With European greetings

Erik Marquardt MEP , Sven Giegold MEP, Clara Anne Bünger and Ansgar Gilster

Click here for the Petition

Study proves: Migration to Europe independent of sea rescue

The "Migration Policy Center" comes in the study "Sea Rescue NGOs: a Pull Factor of Irregular Migration?” zu dem Ergebnis, dass Menschen nicht auf Schlauchboote im Mittelmeer steigen, weil dort Rettungsschiffe unterwegs sind. Damit bestätigt sie die Ergebnisse vorheriger Studien, wie "Death by Rescue"[ Door Closes ] And... Border Deaths in the Mediterranean.

Die nun vorliegende Studie hat für den Zeitraum von 2014 bis Oktober 2019 untersucht, ob zwischen der Präsenz von Seenotrettungs-NGOs und der Anzahl der Menschen, die sich in Libyen auf den Weg über das Mittelmeer in Richtung Italien begeben, ein Zusammenhang besteht. Das ist nicht der Fall. Die Auswertung fand Monat für Monat über den Zeitraum von fünf Jahren statt. In dieser Zeit hat sich die politische Lage auf dem Mittelmeer mehrmals gravierend verändert. Statt Menschen mit staatlichen Mitteln aus Seenot zu retten, mussten zivile Hilfsorganisationen diese Aufgabe in den letzten Jahren übernehmen. Doch ihnen wird die Arbeit nicht nur erschwert – oft werden sie für ihre humanitäre Arbeit inzwischen kriminalisiert und eingeschüchtert. Das wird oft mit dem Vorwurf verbunden, dass die Seenotrettung die Zahl der Menschen erhöhe, die aus Libyen fliehen. Doch die Studie zeigt erneut, dass dieser Zusammenhang nicht besteht.

Es sind nachvollziehbare Motive, die Menschen auf die gefährliche Überfahrt zwingen. Libyen ist ein politisch zerrütteter Staat, in dem Geflüchtete und Migrant*innen aus Subsahara-Afrika von Folter, Versklavung, sexuellem Missbrauch und existenzieller Armut bedroht sind. Die Menschen steigen nicht in die Schlauchboote, weil dort Schiffe sind, die sie retten. Es sterben aber mehr Menschen, wenn keine Schiffe dort sind, um sie zu retten.

In den meisten Fällen tragen die Menschen keine Schwimmwesten und sind nicht mit Kommunikations- oder Navigationsmitteln ausgestattet. Viele können nicht schwimmen. Die vollkommen überfüllten Boote sind meist nicht in der Lage, eigenständig den nächsten sicheren Ort zu erreichen. Schon dadurch sind Menschen in Seenot.

Für die Behauptung, dass Menschen ihre Flucht von der Anwesenheit von Rettungsbooten abhängig machen, gibt es keine Belege. Trotzdem werden solche Zusammenhänge immer wieder in die Diskussion gebracht. So behauptete zuletzt die FDP in einem Tweet vom 8. Oktober 2019, dass Seehofers Zusage, aus Seenot gerettete Menschen auch in Deutschland aufzunehmen, mehr Menschen auf das Mittelmeer treibe.

Spiegel Online writes under the title: "Mehr Retter, mehr Flüchtlinge – warum das so nicht stimmt“, was die Ergebnisse der bisherigen Studien aussagen, die nun von der neuen Studie bestätigt werden. Der Migrationswissenschaftler Matteo Villa sammelte Daten darüber, wie viele Migrant*innen von Anfang Januar bis Ende Juni 2019 von der libyschen Küste ablegten und an wie vielen dieser Tage Boote von privaten Seenotrettungs-NGOs im Einsatz waren. Sein Ergebnis lautet, dass an den 31 Tagen, an denen NGOs im Mittelmeer unterwegs waren, die Schlepper im Schnitt 32,8 Personen aufs Meer schickten; an den 150 Tagen, an denen keine NGOs präsent waren, schickten die Schlepper im Schnitt 34,6 Personen auf den Weg. Villas Fazit, so Spiegel Online: „Der Pull Faktor existiert nicht.“


Sea Rescue NGOs: a Pull Factor of Irregular Migration?

Death by Rescue

Border Deaths in the Mediterranean

Inhumane conditions at Croatia's external EU border

At the beginning of August I visited the Bosnian city Bihać on the EU's external border and saw conditions there that are absolutely inhumane. The place has become a bottleneck for people seeking protection because they can't get any further from here. In Bihać you can see homeless refugees everywhere on the street because there is not enough space in the shelters. 

even worse is the situation in the informal camp Vučjak, which is located on a former garbage dump in the middle of nowhere. people are being driven up like cattle by the police, surrounded by mosquitoes and land mines. far too many men are crammed together in tents that are far too small, even the water has been turned off there in the meantime. the red cross is still distributing small lunch packages, but they are not enough. medical care is no longer available there after a team of volunteers led by the german photographer Dirk Planert was expelled from the country. the reason: they did not have a work permit. however, you cannot get a work permit either, because it is not an official camp. the conditions there are so bad that iom and unhCR do not want to become active, because they say that this would be tantamount to recognition of the camp. yet this camp should not exist at all. 

Although minors enjoy special protection, children are also included in Vučjak. I spoke to an eleven-year-old who told me that he was forcibly returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Croatian border police. What should I tell this eleven-year-old child about the EU community of values?

Escaped shows us his destroyed smartphone.

The Croatian police cannot simply send people seeking protection back to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Anyone who crosses the border into the EU has the right to apply for asylum. But this right is literally being trampled underfoot. A report by Amnesty International documents how the Croatian police mistreat people. In addition, their money is taken from them, their mobile phones are destroyed and some even have their shoes taken away. These are not excesses by individual police officers. This is systematic violence ordered from above. Individual police officers have already addressed Croatian media and said that they will be threatened with sanctions if they refuse to use this brutality against fugitives. 

It would be the task of the EU Commission to clearly identify this daily breach of law and, in addition to border protection, to ensure that an independent control authority is set up at the border. But the Commission has so far turned a blind eye. When Ursula von der Leyen travelled to Croatia shortly after her election as Commission President, she did not mention the daily breach of law at the EU's external border. The Commission also spoke out in favour of admitting Croatia into the Schengen area. I too would like Croatia to become a member of the Schengen area soon. But I would also like us to ensure that basic human rights are respected at Croatia's EU external border before then. Croatia will take over the EU Council Presidency on 1 January and the hard winter is approaching for the people in Vučjak and Bihać. 

I, along with other Members of Parliament, have expressed this criticism in a letter to the Commission, and we have asked it to work to improve the situation.

We must do everything in our power to find a quick solution and prevent people there from freezing to death on our external border. This situation deserves more attention. We must help Bosnia-Herzegovina to provide decent housing for people, but we must also demand that Bosnia-Herzegovina work on a sustainable solution. In addition, the illegal and violent deportations by the Croatian border police must stop.

Everyone deserves dignified treatment, regardless of their passport, and in Europe everyone has the right to an asylum procedure based on the rule of law.

Further information

„Scaling Fences“: Migration to Europe scientifically investigated

Earlier this week, the UN published a study entitled "Scaling Fences", which questioned some 3000 people from 43 African countries who have come to Europe in recent years. 

What is special about the study is that it is not about people who cite war and persecution as reasons for fleeing, but rather about those who left their homes in search of a better life but had no legal means of entering the country.

The findings of the study are exciting. those who leave their home countries are better educated than average, earning 60 percent more than the average in their home countries. 

The main reason most people cite for their migration is that they are looking for better jobs. the second most common reason cited is poor governance and the security situation in the countries of origin. So it is often young and well-educated people who migrate to democratic countries from corruption and autocracy. 

Having arrived in Europe, most of them work below their qualifications. a fifth of men work as fruit and vegetable pickers, a third of women as cleaners or domestic helpers. many are employed informally and earn less than the minimum wage. because they are not allowed to work but have to work, they are particularly often victims of exploitation. 

Most of the respondents stated that they knew about the dangers of the journey. 41 per cent nevertheless said that there was nothing that could have dissuaded them from the journey. only two per cent said that they would not have set out on the journey if they had known in advance how dangerous the journey would be. 91 per cent of the respondents said that they had come to Europe by sea. 

These figures also show that we must finally recognise migration as a reality and start working on a better migration policy instead of working on isolation. 

Another main motive for migration is the will to support families in the countries of origin. 78 percent support their families with remittances, but this comes at a high price for them. this includes exploitation on the labour market, racism and poor housing conditions. more than seven years after their arrival, 12 percent of those interviewed are homeless. 

For me, this study shows that we need to stop forcing people into overcrowded rubber dinghies in search of a better life. We need agreements with the countries of origin and a quota for legal migration for people we need in our ageing societies. We need an expansion of study programmes that enable people from African countries of origin to train and study in Europe, including temporary work visas that allow people to enter legally, work legally and later return to their countries of origin. Many people will return to their countries of origin with new know-how. Others will stay in Europe and support their countries of origin with remittances. This is also a way towards sustainable and effective development cooperation from which the countries of Europe and Africa can benefit.

The worst thing we can do is to ignore the reality of migration and try desperately to seal ourselves off from the rest of the world in a "Fortress Europe". 

Sea Rescue – My first speech in the European Parliament

Here you can find my first speech: I will continue to fight for search and rescue at sea and for safe and legal channels for asylum seekers and migrants to Europe.

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