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Moria Burning!

Tonight several fires broke out in the notorious Moria refugee camp on Lesvos. It’s by far the worst fire Moria have ever seen, and it would take a miracle if anything remains standing in the morning.

It seems like every part of the camp and surrounding areas are engulfed in flames, the new hospital in Moria is gone, so are the quarantine area Mandala. People are fleeing, a mass amount of people are heading towards Mytilíni.

All assets on Lesvos is being used, fire department, police, riot police, to try to get things under control, but it seems hopeless, the fire is just to massive, growing bigger by the minute.

Moria was the biggest refugee camp in Europe, housing almost 13.000 people, most of them have now lost what little they had. Where all these people will stay in the coming days and weeks, will be a huge and almost impossible challenge.

What caused these fires is to early to say, but riots is the most plausible explanation. The camp has been under lockdown for months, stem has been building up. Greek government has used the pandemic, as a pretext to keep camps closed all over Greece, people have just had enough, tonight it exploded.

The announcement that 35 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in Moria, could have been the factor that made people snap, in the worst refugee camp in Europe. How Lesvos can handle this disaster is difficult to see.

Let’s just pray that no life has been lost in the flames..

Arrivals On Samos!

A rubber boat carrying 18 people, 12 adults and 6 children, arrived on Cape Praso, Samos north east this morning 06.00. The people fled to the woods after landing, scared to be returned to Turkey by Greek coast guard.

Aegean Boat Report has been in contact with the group, to document their arrival, to make sure that we can prove without a doubt, that they arrived on Samos, ABR has received pictures and videos. The main concern is that these people will find themselves floating in the Aegean Sea on a life raft later today, ABR will try to make sure this will not happen. Port police an Samos have been informed, given contact information, details and location.

Any questions regarding this incident can he address to the Port Police on Samos. This number is open 24/7.

Port police Samos: +30 22730 27318

By documenting arrivals, we can put pressure on port police, so that they find it difficult to illegally return them to Turkey, because they know we know.

40.000 Followers On Facebook

Yesterday Aegean Boat Report past another milestone, 40.000 followers on Facebook, and counting.

To run and manage every aspect of this organization, from a small town in northern Norway, alone, has never been easy. These last months has been especially challenging, travel restrictions, lockdowns and social distancing has made information so much more difficult to come by.

Information provided by Aegean Boat Report is used by organization, journalists, researchers and volunteers, to get a better understanding of the situation in the Aegean Sea. Documenting violations of international law and human rights, has lately been a priority.

It started out as a small community on Facebook, with one single purposes, to provide information. This community has grown beyond my wildest expectations. It has been a long journey from December 2017 until today, and I’m exited to see what the future will bring.

To everyone who has supported me on this journey, THANK YOU ❣️

Greek Minister Confirms Pushbacks!

For the last five months the Greek government has categorically denied any involvement in pushback’s or illegal activities in the Aegean Sea. And then the Greek shipping minister, Giannis Plakiotakis, blows the whistle, bragging about their achievement on a new conference.

“Since the start of the year, the entry of more than 10,000 people has been prevented,” Plakiotakis said during a news conference. In August alone, he said, “we had 68 cases of prevention and we succeeded in 3,000 people not entering our country.”

The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis was interviewed on CNN, where he was asked a direct question regarding reports on pushbacks from an article written by Patrick Kingsley in The New York Times. He denied involvement in any illegal activities, and referred to the article in NYT as Turkish propaganda.

The Greek Minister for Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, has been interviewed several times by international press, last time was on Monday on BBC World news. He was also asked a direct question regarding pushbacks on a live interview from Samos by BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet, he also denied any involvement in pushbacks, they are both obviously lying.

Plakiotakis would not say anything about how the boats were stopped from entering Greek waters, which also is the southeastern border of the EU. But he stressed that the coast guard “operates based on international law and international legality, based on the rules of engagement at sea, and,.. with complete respect for human dignity and of course for human life.”

Question is, how can pushing back boats filled with asylum seekers be seen as legal, without allowing them to apply for asylum, and how can forcing people, children, women, into life rafts and leaving them drifting, be seen as dignifying , respectful of human lives?

The UN refugee agency said on Aug. 21 it was “deeply concerned by an increasing number of credible reports indicating that men, women and children may have been informally returned to Turkey immediately after reaching Greek soil or territorial waters in recent months.” The agency called on Greece to “seriously investigate” the reports.

Frontex involvement in these pushbacks has been questioned, although there has been a few officials reports from Frontex regarding illegal returns by the Hellenic coast guard, they are strangely quiet. With a massive presence in the Aegean Sea, 13 boats, four plains, a helicopter, 650 officers and 72 patrol cars, they seems to be unwilling to report on these illegal activities, they know what is going on, question is, how involved are they?

Aegean Boat Report has documented hundreds of illegal pushbacks since March. With the massive amount of evidence, there is no question if this is going on, and who is responsible. The questions that remains to be answered is, how far are Europe willing to go to protect its borders, and how long will the European Union turn a blind eye to member states who are deliberately breaking international law and violating human rights?

“Never Again”…

The Greek government is taking the “pandemic excuse” even one step further. They have already kept all camps under lockdown for months, now they will close the camps for good. Children and families will be put behind barbed wire, in the new “prisons” on Lesvos and Chios.

Yesterday it was announced by the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum, that there will be built a fence around Moria, at a cost of 854.000 Euros, by a local contractor, due to be finished in only two months. Also land areas around the existing structure in Moria has been rented, to build this new closed structure, a prison for people seeking safety.

Many believe that it’s only a fence, shouldn’t be to problematic right.. But when we talk about guard towers, double fencing with a dead zone six meters wide, controlled entry-exit with cards and fingerprints, 24-hour surveillance system with cameras, baggage control systems and metal detectors, we are no longer talking about a camp, but a prison. Asylum seeker within these prison centers, will be treated as criminals who has committed serious offenses, and as prisoners, they will lose many of their basic rights.

The official number in Moria is 13.000 people, that would make this the biggest prison in Europe, housing not criminals, but children, families, vulnerable people seeking safety. The Greek right wing government is doing something that haven’t been done in Europe since the 1940s, funded and blessed by the EU..

Locals on the Aegean islands is once again stabbed in the back by their own government. They don’t want their islands to become prison islands, they have fought against the government on this many times before. Locals don’t want new camps, they don’t want bigger camps and they don’t want closed camps. They want people on their islands to be transferred to mainland, asylum applications processed, so that people can go on with their lives, because locals are desperate to go on with theirs.

The Greek government has tried to create closed camps for over a year, but EU was not willing to back it up with funding. EU wouldn’t fund it due to the fact that it would be inhuman to put asylum seekers and refugees behind bars. Now it seems like the attitude from the EU has changed. How we can treat people, who comes to us for help, so disgracefully, is beyond my comprehension..

Europe is on a dangerous course, values that we once held high seems to have been forgotten..

Alarming Trends!

In the last two weeks, there has been an increase in bigger boats trying to cross from Turkey towards the Greek Aegean islands. These boats are usually old, in very bad condition, and can’t be seen as anything else than death traps.

A total of 450 people have tried to cross on 4 of these bigger boats in the last ten days.

August 25thA boat carrying 98 people went down outside Rhodes, 96 people rescued, 2 missing.

August 26thA boat carrying 145 people tried to cross towards Lesvos north, picked up by TCG outside Ayvacik.

September 2thA boat carrying 77 people tried to cross towards Lesvos south, picked up by TCG outside Karaburun.

September 3thA boat carrying 130 people tried to cross towards Chios, picked up by TCG outside Cesme.

The Smugler’s pack these boats with people, without any consideration on how many people these boats can carry. Usually they put children and women under deck, to protect them from the wetter, but the same people will be trapped inside the boat if the boat capsizes. Life jackets are usually not used, it would take up to much room in the boat, and Smugler’s won’t allow it.

We have seen boats like this go down in the past with catastrophic consequences, overload and in bad condition, it could capsize even under good weather conditions.

If this alarming trend continues, we will have a major disaster on our hands, again!

It’s not a question of if, but when..

The First Case Of COVID-19 In Moria!

The first coronavirus case reported in the notorious Moria refugee camp, on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos. The camp is placed under quarantine lockdown for the next 14 days.

A 40 year old man has tested positive for COVID-19, and what humanitarian workers have feared has become reality.

A team from the National Organization of Public Health(EODY) is expected to arrive, to try to trace people whom he might have been in contact with.

Moria house about 13.000 people, who is crammed together under extremely poor conditions, EODY will have a difficult task trying to track the virus inside Moria, Europe’s biggest refugee camp.

A lockdown would mean that any entry or exit from the structure will be prohibited, and there will be a enhanced police presence to enforce the 24 hours curfew of the camp. How this will be implemented in a camp where most of the people lives outside the fence, and the fence in the office structure is full of holes, remains to be seen.

The Ministry of Migration and Asylum is already trying to use this for political gain, and states that this incident reinforces the need to implement the work of creating a closed controlled structure in Moria, basically a prison.

We said “never again”…

2. September 2015, Alan Kurdi(3), was found drowned outside Bodrum, Turkey.

The picture of his lifeless body moved a whole world, and inspired thousands of people to get involved in the refugee crisis in the Aegean Sea.

Aylan’s father, Abdulla Kurdi, who lost his wife and two children said “let these be the last to die, and let their death not be in vain.

5 years later, people are still dying in the attempt to reach safety in Europe. Hundreds of children have died since the day Aylan drowned, his death seems to have been in vain..

We said “never again”, and look where we are now, I’m so ashamed of what we have become..

In memory of Alan Kurdi(Aylan Shenu)

The Hypocrisy Continues…

The Greek minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, is “celebrating” that there has been no arrivals on a Lesvos the last three weeks.

“Three weeks in a row(20 days) with no arrivals on Lesvos, haven’t happened since 2014!!” he published on Facebook earlier today, he forgot to say anything about how..

The last three weeks, Hellenic coast guard has pushed back at least 15 boats on Lesvos alone, carrying over 500 people, 264 of these people where picked up from 9 life rafts, drifting helplessly between Turkey and Lesvos.

To “celebrate” when you are responsible for abandoning children at sea, in a helpless life threatening condition, is just appalling!

He should have been put on trial for crimes against humanity, the hypocrisy in Europe continues..

The Refugee Crisis, 5 Years and counting..

Greece’s Migration and Asylum Minister, Notis Mitarachi once again denies any involvement in pushback`s in the Aegean Sea, today on BBC World News. How many times do we need to listen to these lies?

BBC’s Lyse Doucet reports from people who had travelled from Afghanistan and Syria, in northern and southern Greece.

Published by BBC News