Tag Archives: Chios

Trinity College Dublin graduate Sean Binder; Hundreds of thousands of lifejackets in a makeshift dump outside Eftalou, northern Lesbos in December 2015

Further to the arrest and detention of Sean Binder, 24, from Togher in Cork – who was working as a volunteer with asylum seekers on the island of Lesbos in Greece – last August…

The Guardian reports:

“After 107 days of incarceration, Sarah Mardini – the Syrian human rights worker who saved 18 refugees in 2015 by swimming their waterlogged dinghy to the shores of Lesbos with her Olympian sister – has been freed from Greece’s toughest jail.

The 23-year-old was released late on Wednesday from the high-security Koryallos prison in Athens, where she was being held in pre-trial detention on charges of people-smuggling.

She was allowed to walk free after her lawyers posted €5,000 (£4,450) in bail.

Sean Binder, a 24-year-old volunteer born in Germany and resident in Ireland, was also freed from custody in Chios [a separate island] along with two others from the NGO for which both had worked.

Mardini and Binder had faced prison sentences of up to 25 years after being accused of facilitating people-smuggling through membership of a criminal organisation. Charges of espionage and money laundering were also levelled at the activists.

Both had been volunteering in search and rescue operations with the now-defunct Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI), an NGO based on Lesbos.

…But [Zaccharias Kesses, the lawyer heading the aid workers’ legal team in Athens] said a trial was still likely to take place. “The charges may be amended but I think it very unlikely that the trial will be dropped. There is vast pressure in local society against NGOs, who are perceived to be pull factors for refugees at a time when few want them.”

Syrian aid worker who swam refugees to safety freed from Greek jail (The Guardian)

Related: Sean Binder’s Arrest Represents the Criminalisation of Compassion (University Times)

Pic: University Times



The refugee camp set up in the shadow of the Castle Of Chios, called Souda, on Chios Island, Greece and how parts of the camp looked after recent attacks on the camp 

On Friday last, The Guardian reported:

Dozens of people have been driven out of a refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios after two successive nights of attacks by a far-right group.

At least two people were wounded after attackers threw Molotov cocktails and rocks as big as boulders from elevated areas surrounding the Souda camp, activists said.

Three tents were burned down and three others were hit by rocks. A 42-year-old Syrian man was assaulted, while a Nigerian boy was hit by a rock.

Fearing a third attack on Friday night, about 100 former occupants refused to re-enter the camp, instead taking shelter in a nearby car park. “We do not have any kind of protection,” Mostafa al-Khatib, a Syrian refugee, told the Guardian. “No one cares about us.”

The mayor of Chios said the attackers were thought to be affiliated with Greece’s main far-right party, Golden Dawn. “Of course Golden Dawn supporters are suspected to have participated,” Manolis Vournous told the Guardian.

Activists and camp occupants said the rocks appeared to have been thrown with the intention of killing people. Tan said: “These rocks were probably the size of a shoebox, weighing approximately 15kg. Some of them I can’t even lift.”

There were conflicting reports about who started the clashes on Wednesday. According to Vournous, the unrest began after Algerians and Moroccans stole alcohol and fireworks from a shop, frightening local residents. But some activists claimed the events escalated after a planned assault by Golden Dawn.

The attacks followed a two-day visit this week to Chios and Lesbos, the adjoining Aegean island, by a team of MPs from the neo-fascist Golden Dawn and far-right parliamentarians from Belgium.

Further to this…

John Underwood, whose sister is volunteering on Chios with Be Aware And Share tweeted yesterday:

My sister, currently helping run a refugee school in Greece, has asked me to pass this on. The Nazis are literally back.



Readers may wish to note an academic paper published in 2013, called The Crisis before “The Crisis”: Violence and Urban Neoliberalization in Athens by Dr Dimitris Dalakoglou, of the University of Sussex.

In it, Dr Dalakoglou wrote:

Historically, since the 1920s the so-called para-state far-Right in Greece has functioned as the long arm of the state violent apparatuses, targeting people with left-wing affiliations during most of the twentieth century. The rise of the extreme Right after the outbreak of the 2010 crisis is a continuation of that tradition. Besides the Left or the anarchists, the current victims of extreme Right violence are mainly migrants.

A typical example of this escalation was in mid-May 2011, a few days before the start of the Syntagma Square movement, when a man in his forties was killed and robbed in the center of Athens, allegedly by migrants. Local extreme right-wing groups seized upon this incident to organize one of the country’s first large-scale anti-migrant attacks, with the tacit or explicit support of the police.

Anti-fascists and radicals were also targeted. Due to these organised fascist attacks, certain parts of the center became a no-go zone for migrants, especially people of colour.

The most prominent xenophobic group, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, was allegedly involved in many of these actions. Their unapologetic racism appears to be gaining in appeal. Golden Dawn received 7 percent of the votes in the national elections of May and June 2012; about half of the police officers serving in Athens voted for Golden Dawn, marking, if nothing else, the ideological links between state and para-state violent apparatuses.

The Crisis Before The Crisis (Dimitris Dalakoglou, Academia.edu)

Greece: Police must protect refugees from ongoing far-right attacks (Amnesty International)

Previously: Chios on Broadsheet

Pics: Reuters and Amnesty International


At Souda refugee camp on Chios island, Greece

Further to the EU-Turkey deal which was struck in March…

According to the most recent UNHCR figures, there are now 61,584 refugees and migrants held in Greece.

Further to this…

The Irish Times reports:

Members of two Syrian families detained in Greece after fleeing the beseiged city of Aleppo have taken an unprecedented action in the Irish courts against the European Council, EU and Ireland over alleged breaches of their human rights.

The core claim of the families is that the EU-Turkey deal on migration agreed on March 18th by the European Council – the 28 EU Heads of State including Taoiseach Enda Kenny – was made outside the EC’s powers and breaches EU law. The deal allows Greece return to Turkey “all new irregular migrants” arriving there since March 20th.

That deal, and Ireland’s sanctioning of it, is incompatible with Ireland’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and breaches various EU Treaties, including the Treaty on Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (CFREU), they claim.

….The plaintiffs say they are entitled, under the EU Dublin III regulations of 2013, to be transferred to Germany to join their family members who have secured international protection. They claim they are unlawfully prevented doing so because of the EU-Turkey deal.

The case came before the High Court on Monday via applications by the plaintiffs for a preliminary trial of EU law issues and/or to decide if issues should be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.

…Mr Justice Paul Gilligan adjourned the pre-trial matters to November 22nd.

Syrian families held in Greece sue Ireland, EU over rights breaches (Irish Times)

Previously: Turkey Basting

Pic: I’ll Dig With It

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 15.53.57

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 16.17.16

Graphics from the UNHCR showing the capacity and occupancy rates at sites for refugees across Greece (top) and the number of people known to have died or gone missing this year, as of August 31, in comparison to 2015

According to the latest figures from the UNHCR, there are now 59,569 refugees and migrants on Greek territory.

The figures also show the following numbers of people on the islands versus the capacity of the facilities available.

Lesbos: 5,388 people versus facilities with a capacity for 3,500.

Chios: 3,316 people versus facilities with a capacity for 1,100.

Samos: 1,351 people versus facilities with a capacity for 850.

Ekathimerini, a daily Greek newspaper which is sold with the International Herald Tribune, in Greece reports:

A year after the European Union launched its refugee sharing plan so member countries could help overwhelmed Greece and Italy less than five percent of the migrants have been relocated.

European Commission figures show that only 4,473 asylum seekers were relocated as of September 1.

The plan is a cornerstone of the EU’s strategy to deal with more than one million people who entered Europe last year in search of sanctuary or jobs. It commits countries to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece, Italy or any other member state deemed unable to cope by September 2017.

EU Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said Monday that, despite the slow pace, “what we are doing is not insignificant.”

Small percentage of Europe’s migrants relocated (Ekathimerini)


Souda camp on Chios island, following a fire

Leslie Meral Schick is volunteering on the island of Chios in Greece.

On Tuesday, she wrote the following:

I’m really struggling to post about yesterday’s events and would much prefer not to, but they have to be told.

In the morning, I attended a coordination meeting of all agencies and NGOs involved on the island. The meeting was chaired by a UNHCR rep; the agenda was long.

Three huge issues – which should have been covered by multiple contingency plans a very long time ago – remained yet again unaddressed:

1. The unbelievable overcrowding in all three Chios camps and resulting inhumane living conditions in some; also plans for housing any new arrivals (which everyone believes is a matter of time; I personally think Erdoğan has his hand on the faucet and will deploy what he deems his most powerful threat against the EU whenever necessary).

2. Escape plans in case of emergencies such as a fire.

3. The fact that – as has been made clear for months now – the food situation is entirely unsustainable.

Currently meals for 1600 refugees are provided by volunteer-run and donation-funded kitchens; the funding is scheduled to run out on June 16.

The UNHCR has no plans in response to any of these three important issues. None.

Their representative pointed out that this is Europe, and that people will surely not be allowed to starve in Europe. Um.

The food has been entirely inadequate. It’s good — but insufficient. The living conditions in some areas, including much of Chios, are ungodly.

I was in Athens last week, struggling to find any housing with running water for a family with a hospitalised newborn and a one-year-old – and supplying people living in tiny tents with no running or drinking water, no electricity, no food, no services whatsoever, with food packages purchased through donations.

None of what is happening is permissible, or humane, or acceptable by any stretch of the imagination. So hearing that surely, surely Europe would not allow refugees to go without food, and waiting until the last moment for a magic wand or magic dust to be sprinkled, is not exactly satisfactory.

The UNHCR will not provide funding for food. There is no plan. Today is the 7th. The kitchens will run out of money in 9 days.

It was pointed out repeatedly that the situation is already dire, that nerves are already beyond frayed, and that serious issues were likely to ensue if food should not be provided.

I know that if any of us were living in these conditions and if our children were hungry and if we had no choices, we would be pushed to the brink too. There was unanimous agreement. Tongues were clucked. The meeting was adjourned.

About four hours later, a large fire was set in Souda Camp. Those responsible have not yet been identified, though they were obviously frustrated refugees at the end of their wits.

Several containers housing NGO offices and a large tent housing refugees were burned to the ground. Walking through the camp and talking to people later I found them not angry, but devastatingly sad.

I sat in someone’s tent as she told how they had escaped bombing in Syria only to find themselves in such horrible conditions – and now, this. She was crying.

A small contingent of local Golden Dawn members immediately took the opportunity to situate themselves at the entrance to the camp and to prevent already traumatized refugees from leaving the site; I heard that a few had been violent, and that some refugees were hit.

It’s just impossible to comprehend how this can be happening, broadcast for all to see.

There is huge need for support of all kinds. Rally your representatives, come and volunteer, donate funds to reliable volunteers and to small NGOs. Please help these desperate people in any way that you can.

Leslie Meral Schick

Leslie is crowdfunding to support volunteers here

Previously: Order Out Of Chios

Meanwhile On Chios


Deportations from Greece to Turkey by Frontex officials under way this morning

The deportations under the EU/Turkey deal in relation to refugees began this morning with boats leaving the island of Lesbos and Chios for Turkey.

The Guardian reports:

Two boats carrying the first migrants to be deported from Greece to Turkey under an EU deal with Ankara have arrived in the Turkish port of Dikili.

Officials from the EU border agency Frontex said the boats, which departed from Lesbos, were carrying 131 deportees, mostly Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Moroccans who were already being deported to Turkey before the deal’s creation. This means Monday’s deportations are not a true test of whether the agreement can stop the flow of mainly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis to Greece.

…Eva Moncure, a Frontex spokeswoman, said there were no children on the first two boats. Two Syrians were onboard, including a woman who had volunteered to return.

The deportations on Lebsos were calmly carried out at dawn, several hours ahead of schedule… Disembarkation was delayed while officials erected a white tarpaulin on the boat to block the media’s view.

A Turkish catamaran was also transporting refugees from Chios, a Greek island near Lesbos, on Monday morning. Local TV reported that 60 migrants and refugees were on board. Volunteers on the island alleged that they saw police beating deportees at the quay.

…Anas al-Bakhr, a Syrian engineer from Homs who is among those stuck on Chios, said police marked his arrival date as 20 March – when the deal came into force – even though he arrived the day before.

“They said the computers were broken that day,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Dikili, Turkey…


First boats returning migrants and refugees from Greece arrive in Turkey (The Guardian)

Previously: Return To Sender

Pic: AA