That's it! Seeing my daughter swaps is not going to be erased from memory easily. I think you should see it yourself - after all this is lubed up xxx.

A Brief Overview of the Idomeni Camp Situation

The UN has reported that Europe is currently on the brink of “a largely self-induced humanitarian crisis” caused by an accumulation of migrants on Greek’s Northern border.

The following is a brief overview of the circumstances.

Background

Greece is reported to be “the main entry point” into Western Europe for refugees seeking refuge.

The Idomeni camp, on the Greece-Macedonian border, has been a chosen location for many refugees hoping to reach its nearby train station in order to continue on their journey.

Following Austria’s lead, the Balkan states imposed a daily limit on the number of migrants who would be allowed to cross the border.  Afghan migrants were not allowed to cross while stricter documentation regulations were imposed on Syrians and Iraqis as well.

Statistics

Since the imposition of this limit, 8,500 people have accumulated along the Greece-Macedonian border waiting to continue on into Western Europe.

This is in spite of the fact that there are approximately 25,000 refugees currently living in Greece without accommodations.  More are arriving every day, with 11 000 immigrants registering within the course a week.

The Idomeni camp, originally built to house 1,200, is beyond its maximum capacity and currently holding thousands.

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When surveyed, approximately 1,500 migrants reported having slept the previous night outside, circumstances likely induced by this overcrowding.

Politics

Athens has been described as “ill-equipped” in regards to its ability to deal with the crisis.

In an effort to reduce the number of refugees in limbo, the Greek government has asked ferry drivers to “reduce services” aimed at bringing migrants to Athens from islands.

Despite Greece being criticized for its failure to manage new arrivals, the European Union has yet to propose any relocation plans aimed at helping Greece move the refugees.

As a result, Athens has requested emergency funds (half a billion euros) which will be used to provide emergency housing to the growing numbers of refugees.

In an effort to downsize the Idomeni camp, three other refugee camps were also created along the Greece-Macedonian border. They too have since filled up, however, housing approximately 2000 refugees each.

Macedonia states that it will only accept the same number of refugees as the other Western Balkan states (Serbia and Croatia) while Greece is calling for the EU to impose an immigrant quote system.

Health Concerns

Adrian Edwards, a UN refugee agency spokesperson, has stated that overcrowding within the Idomeni camp has caused shortages of food, shelter, water, and sanitation.

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Hundreds of tents have been erected around the main camp. Some individuals without sufficient resources, however, are forced to sleep outside at the mercy of the elements.

Increased rain and subzero night temperatures have increased the cases of sickness in the camp. The flu, in particular, has been spreading, especially among children.

Caroline Haga, an emergency coordinator for the International Red Cross has been quoted as saying that “[this] could turn into a very serious health concern”, especially when considering the cold and rainy weather conditions.

High levels of respiratory illnesses (such as bronchitis) havebeen reported, while large numbers of pregnant women are also in need of care.

What to Know About Calais and the Migrant Crisis

Calais History

The town of Calais in Northern France is situated near the narrowest point in the English Channel and marks the French point closest to England. Calais has been a major port dating back to the Middle Ages when the area was used for trade.

Calais Later History

In more recent times, migrants have used the town of Calais as a jumping point to get into the United Kingdom in a variety of ways.

While waiting to cross the English Chanel, the migrants live in camps, referred to as “Jungles” by the media, which are clustered around the port.

The first reported camp (called the Sangatte refugee camp) sprouted in 1999; thousands of migrants flocked towards it. Riots broke out when the camp was closed on government orders.

Since that time, Calais has continued to be a prime area for refugees hoping to reach the UK.

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Calais Currently

As a result of the migrant crisis currently sweeping the European Union, a new Jungle has cropped up along the port area.

However, it’s also been reported that this area was specifically created to house the immigrants, with The Guardian stating that “In March 2015 […] the refugees were promised that if they moved to this piece of land they would not be evicted.”

French officials report the Jungle to be housing 1,000 individuals; however reports from other sources estimate the number to be much higher (approximately 5000).

Camp Conditions

Calais Jungles were described as “squats” and “slums”, with the first official study declaring them to be “far below any minimum standard for refugee camps”.

A large number of refugee migrants in combination with the horrid conditions have led Leigh Daynes, the director of Doctors of the World, to describe the Calais situation as “a humanitarian emergency of the first order in one of the world’s most thriving nations”.

How Migrants Cross the Channel

As a result of Calais being a busy port area, many migrants attempt to cross the English Channel in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to):

  • Jumping over or cutting fences to get into Eurotunnel trains
  • Hiding in transport trucks destined for the Eurotunnel
  • Hiding in transport trucks meeting with cross-Channel ferries

In October of 2015, one hundred migrants broke through a fence surrounding a Eurotunnel terminal. They succeeded in entering the terminal and some even gained access to the tunnel itself.

Luckily, this method seems to have fallen out of favor, with the amount terminal break-ins decreasing.

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Impact of Migrant Crossings

It is unclear how many migrants succeed in traversing the Chanel. Theresa May, Home Secretary of the Home Office have stated that they have no specific figures. This is due to the fact that, as a result of security regulations, “the figures are not broken down by point of entry”.  Therefore, it is impossible to ascertain how many asylum-seekers traveled through Dover (the entry directly across from Calais).

Despite having no official statistics, the Kent City Council has announced that their children’s social services department is experiencing “enormous strain”. This is a result of the large number of minority-aged children managing to enter Port Dover alone.

The city is reportedly responsible for over 600 children at this time.

Security Measures Taken

As a result of the number of migrants attempting to enter the United Kingdom via Calais, both the French and English governments have been working together to improve the area’s security measures.

In August of 2015, the two countries made a pact to execute measures in the hopes of reducing problems.

The “No Borders Network”

The No Borders Network group of activists has been highly enmeshed in the migrant crisis currently occurring in Europe.  Unfortunately, very little is known about their beliefs and ideals.

The following is a brief guide to theirgroup.

Who are they?

The No Borders Network (also known as the No Border Network, and the Noborders Network) is an activist group dedicated to ending the EU’s restrictive practices and policies associated with asylum and immigration. They essentially believe in the philosophy of freedom of movement.

The network is composed of “loose associations of autonomous organizations, groups, and individuals” from the Central, Western and Eastern regions of Europe.  There are groups in 11 cities situated within the United Kingdom.

The No Borders Network formed in 1999, and its website was created in 2000.
What do they do?

As mentioned, the No Borders Network is highly against policies and regulations related to immigration and asylum-seeking.  As such, the group often:

  • Coordinate international border camps
  • Coordinate demonstrations
  • Partake in direction actions
  • Launch anti-deportation campaigns

A journalist, upon taking notice of the coordinated activities, aptly notes that it is interesting how the group portrays itself as a “grassroots organization with no one running it”.

The coordination of events and projects demonstrates that there is, at least, some type of organization and leadership.

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Publicized Events

The No Borders Network has been previously featured in the media.

On the UN International Migrants Day of 2007, in an attempt to end immigration officer dawn raids, the No Borders Networks is reported to have executed a blockade of the UK Border Agency offices located in Bristol, Portsmouth, Newcastle, and Glasgow.

In October of 2008, a member of the group threw a pie at immigration minister Phil Woolas during the latter’s press conference. The activist was reportedly angered when Woolas had stated that the government would not permit the UK’s population to rise above 70 million.

The group most notably received attention when a former activist spoke out. The woman claimed she had been raped by migrants while working at a migrant camp. When she told the group what had occurred, they urged to keep the matter quiet as they did not want the sexual assault to hurt their ultimate cause.

The Calais Evacuation

Most recently, the No Borders Network has been accused by the French government of inciting chaos during the dismantling of the Calais “Jungle” camps.

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It is reported that members of the group (or British anarchist associates) launched projectiles at French authorities and managed to set fire to approximately 20 camp shelters during the dismantling.

The mayor of Calais, Philippe Mignonet, has asked the United Kingdom for help identifying possible “troublemakers.” He has stated that it is difficult to deal with British activists who come to Calais strictly to incite trouble.

He states, “I think the English police forces know who they are and should come here. It is too easy for these people to leave their country”.

The No Borders Network has also been accused of “manipulating” migrants into refusing relocation deals offered by the French government.

Reports surrounding the events of the Calais evacuation have differed. As the situation is ongoing, it is impossible to know the group’s full involvement at this time.

Censored Sexual Assaults in the Midst of the Migrant Crisis

While migrants are facing overwhelming obstacles on the path to reaching their desired destinations of refuge, the countries that are accommodating them are also dealing with the consequences of housing a massive inflow of culturally-different individuals.

Countries that have accepted large groups of migrants have often experienced an increasing number of sexual assaults. While most host countries manage to deal with these issues accordingly, Germany and Sweden have had difficulty managing the issues in a satisfying manner.

What follows is a brief overview of the mass sexual assault scandals that went unreported in these two countries.

Germany

On New Year’s Eve of 2016, hundreds of sexual assaults, thefts and rapes were reported all across Germany.  Incidents occurred everywhere, including Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf; Cologne, however, was the setting for the majority (over 550) of the crimes.

In most of the reports, the women were surrounded by a swarm of men who went on to grope them, tear at their clothes, and in the worst cases, rape them. A victim says “the men surrounded us and started to grab our behinds and touch our crotches.”

Prior to these incidents, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had imposed an open-door policy in regards to migrants. When addressing the New Year’s Eve attacks, the Daily Mail UK notes that she did her best to avoid attributing the crimes to migrants. The attacks’ reminiscence to the 2011 TahrirSquare attacks in Cairo, Egypt, did not, however, go unnoticed.

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The German government has since been accused of downplaying the migrant-related issues that have stemmed from Merkel’s open-door policies.

The Cologne police force issued apress release describing the New Year’s celebrations as “exuberant, but mostly peaceful”. As a result, they have also been accused of being involved in the censorship of migrant-related crime. The original press release has since been redacted.

Sweden

Following the New Year’s Eve events in Cologne, Sweden was the next country to be accused of misconstruing migrant-related crime.

Reports surfaced that a large number of sexual assaults (primarily on underage females) had occurred during the 2014 and 2015 We Are Sthlm Stockholm music festivals.

Swedish police publicly claimed the festival had seen “relatively few crimes and arrests considering the number of participants”. The authorities’ internal reports, however, detailed a strategy to deal with the assaults. This implies that Swedish police were aware of the prevalence of the past assaults and had neglected to inform the public.

The Sweden Democrats, a reviled “anti-immigration populist force”, have been cited as the reason authorities did not fully reveal details regarding past assaults. Stockholm police Chief Peter Ågren elaborates that “sometimes we do not dare to say how things really are because we believe it will play into the hands of the Sweden Democrats.”

Because the Sweden Democrats are so extreme in ideology, other parties reject their arguments as baseless. Consequently, any “legitimate concerns” are either ignored or labeled as xenophobic and racist.

VargGyllander, a Swedish police spokesperson, later stated that the police did not make the harassment public because the perpetrators were of immigrant descent and they did not want to further stir up already inflamed political tensions.

Police Brutality and Non-Humanitarianism during the Migrant Crisis

It is unfortunate that during a time where people should be helping each other, there have been numerous reports regarding the inhumane treatment of refuges by authorities and government officials.

While no country is perfect with each having their own unfortunate events, Macedonia and France have been accused of this inhumane treatment at a higher rate (and greater degree) than their EU counterparts.

Here is a brief overview of the incidents reported to have occurred in these two countries during the migrant crisis:

Macedonia

Macedonia is a key point along the Western Balkan migration route that leads into the European Union.

In 2015, Macedonian authorities were accused, by the Human Rights Watch, of physically and verbally abusing refugees.

The Human Rights Watch group conducted interviews with 64 refugees (including children), who consistently relayed tales of mistreatment inGazi Baba and along the Greek border.

A 16-year-old female Afghanistan teenager, named Ayesha, told the Human Rights Watch of how her family was brought to the border after going to the authorities to seek out asylum.  They told them to leave the country.

When her father attempted to negotiate with the officers, Ayesha says “a police officer approached my father and hit him with a police baton on his back and his arm. Another police officer hit my brother with a police baton on his shoulders, and the third police officer hit me with a police baton on my arms.”

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The Human Rights Watch 2015 report also includes tales of arbitrary detainments, and individuals being forced to run through a gantlet of officers as they are struck with batons, kicks, and punches.

France

French authorities and the town of Calais in particular, have been accused of many questionable acts in regards to refugees.

In 2015, it was reported that when Calais officers would find refugees stashed in transport trucks heading to the United Kingdom, they would simply “drive them a few miles away [and release] them”. This solved nothing as the immigrants were free to simply return to the Calais camp (known as the Jungle).

In March 2015, however, the French government created a specific camp area, called the “new” Jungle. It is reported that refugees were “promised that if they moved to this piece of land they would not be evicted”.

This year, however, a court in Lille approved the decision to dismantle and evacuate the camp on the basis of its squalidness and horrible conditions. The dismantling process was promised to be humanitarian and non-violent.

Reports on the matter do not seem to correspond with this promise. The Guardian reports that hundreds of police officers arrived at the camp accompanied by workmen and bulldozers, ordering refugees to leave their homes.

Some were not given the time to grab their belongings while others were arrested if they refused to leave. Tear gas has been used, fires have broken out and the area is currently described as a “war zone”.

As a result, more than a dozen humanitarian organizations have criticized the Calais dismantling as being brutal and inhumane.

The situation is ongoing.

A Brief Overview of the European Migrant Crisis

What is a migrant?

The BBC defines a migrant as:

“All people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum [which] includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants”.

What is the crisis?

Many individuals and families are attempting to leave their dangerous, war-torn and poverty-ridden countries.

The conflict in Syria has been a large motivating factorinciting many (approximately 38%) of the migrants to seek refuge. However, the continual violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, the poverty of Kosovo, and the abuses in Eritrea have also contributed to a large number of migrants seeking asylum.

These migrations have caused tensions between European countries. Some countries (such as Greece, Italy, and Hungary) have received tremendous numbers of migrants, while some countries refuse to host any at all.

Many migrants have no choice but to live in dirty, disease-ridden camps while awaiting permission to cross the border. As a result, many of the refugees forsake regulations and enter European countries illegally.

This situation has (and continues to) incite tensions all across the European Union, with an immigration quota system being proposed.

Statistics

The number of migrants has been steadily increasing for the past few years. The UN has reported that the first 2 months of 2016 have seen more migrants than the first five of the previous year.

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A recent article has reported the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean since January 2016 to be 82,636.

Where are they going?

Germany has received the highest raw number of asylum seeking applications, however, Hungary comes in first place when considering its population proportions (1,800 refugees/100,000 locals). Hungary has become a popular spot for migrants on the way to countries such as Austria, Germany and Sweden. As a result of inaction from the EU, the Hungarian government has placed a daily cap on its borders.

Greece and Italy have also seen a rise in immigration.

How is the crisis being resolved?

European Union ministers decided to move 160,000 migrants all over Europe.

Because Greece and Italy have been suffering such large-scale migrations, the migrants from these areas will be the first to be relocated.

David Cameron, British Prime Minister, has additionally announced that in the next five years the United Kingdom will be welcoming up to 20,000 Syrian refugees.

Calais, in France, is another area which has accumulated migrants hoping to make their way into the United Kingdom. Most recently, it was decided that these Calais camps (known as “the Jungle”) were to be taken down non-forcefully. The migrants occupying the camps would be given the choice of temporary relocation.

Other countries (such as Hungary, Austria, Australia), however, have gone in the opposite direction, creating genres of anti-immigration campaigns and advertisements aimed at reducing the incoming migration fluxes.

Hungary, in particular, spent 80$ million dollars on a razor-wire border fence in an attempt to keep the migrants out.

The Four Most Anti-Immigrant Countries in Europe

While many European countries were originally very accepting of migrants, the social atmosphere has changed with the increased number of conflicts cropping up around Europe.

Even Germany, who has welcomed 500,000 immigrants per year is now seeing signs of immigration hatred, including beatings, bombings, and 580 attacks on asylum facilities in 2016.

Unfortunately, there are a few countries that are worse than others when it comes to their treatment of immigrants.

Latvia

The most recent Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) report measured migrant integration policies in all EU countries.

Interestingly, the MIPEX report stated that “the Latvian general public has the highest levels of anti-immigrant attitudes in the EU despite being the country with the largest number of non-EU residents (15.3%)”.

Note: The MIPEX is reported to use migrant-related policy and legislation “indicators” in order to rank the EU countries.

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Australia

The Australian government has been very vocal in regards to its anti-immigration attitude.

The country’s Operation Sovereign Borders program released an “ominous” poster stating simply: “No way. You will not make Australia home” as part of an anti-immigration advertising campaign.

This poster was printed in 17 languages and distributed.

Austria

Austria is a country that is very vocal in regards to its anti-immigration mentality and has reportedly been criticized by the European Commission and human rights organizations regarding its “hardline migration stance” and “strict asylum claim cap”.

Austria has previously launched an advertising campaign in Kosovo with the aim of curbing migration. Though Austrian officials stated “It [was] only a question of fairness to tell people in their home countries about the strict asylum laws in Austria”, the Kosovo campaign (as well as an upcoming Afghanistan campaign) has garnered worldwide criticism.

The upcoming Afghanistan campaign will focus on distributing “No asylum in Austria” posters to the five largest Afghan cities. Afghan websites will additionally be targeted.

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Hungary, along the Balkan route, has been saturated with immigrants since the migrant crisis began, as it is a perfect rest-stop along the way to Germany.

The Hungarian government has publically expressed dissatisfaction with the European Union’s lack of action regarding the crisis.  As such, they ultimately decided to take things into their own hands.

A razor-wire fence was erected along the country’s border and reported to have cost $80 million dollars. Additional legislation was passed which called the Hungarian army into action; the soldiers were permitted to shoot the migrants with rubber bullets.

Like Austria and Australia, Hungary has also taken out advertisement campaigns to warn migrants of their anti-immigration attitudes. They, however, focused on Lebanese immigrants, buying full-page ads in Lebanese newspapers.

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, has most recently criticized the EU’s plans to create an immigration quota system which would require each EU country to accept a minimum amount of migrants.

In addition to stating that these quotas would result in a transformation of the European ethnic, cultural and religious landscapes, Orban announced that they would also constitute an abuse of power.

Orban states “the [Hungarian] government is responding to public sentiment now: we Hungarians think introducing resettlement quotas for migrants without the backing of the people equals an abuse of power”.

He continues, “To us this is a fundamental, unavoidable, essential question of Hungarian politics: can anyone else decide for Hungarians who we Hungarians should or should not live with?”

The Dismantling of the Calais Jungle

As a result of the large amount of refugees attempting to cross the English Chanel to illegally enter England, the evacuation of the Calais camp was put before the courts.

The judge ultimately decided that the evacuation of the camps was in the best interest of everybody, especially considering the dismal conditions the refugees were living in; conditions that made the camp known as “the Jungle”.

The decision to dismantle the Calais Jungle, however, sparked extreme reactions from all individuals involved. Here is a brief description of the events that occurred:

Decision

As mentioned, the dismantling of the Calais Jungle was approved by the French courts. However, a few conditions have been imposed.

Due to the fact that the camp is so densely populated, its dismantling has been referred to as “the largest such operation the city has known”.

It will clearly take some time to fully move all the refugees, and, as such, the courts have ordered that community areas of the camp remain untouched. These include structures of worship, a school, a women’s center, and library.

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The court has also additionally stated that the dismantling and evacuation must be accomplished through non-violent means. Tom Morgan (of the BBC), who was present at the Calais jungle has reported that officials “hope to persuade everyone to leave”.

Migrant Options

The French government will be giving migrants three choices in regards to their ultimate relocation. The migrants can either:

  • Move into a heated container accommodation at the camp
  • Move into a heated container accommodation elsewhere
  • Claim asylum in France

While some migrants found French asylum appealing, others feared it would deter them from their ultimate goal of getting to England.

Ginny Howell, the emergency manager of Calais Save the Children, has stated that forcibly evacuating the migrants “would make a terrible situation worse”.

Evacuation Tactics

FabienneBuccio is in charge of operations involving the dismantling of the southern portion of the Calais Jungle.

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One short day following the court’s ruling, operations began. Police navigated the town, attempting to convince migrants to choose one of the government’s three designated options.

There are reports that some of the protestors were forced out of the camp without being given the time to even pack their things.

Camp Reactions

Despite the go-ahead from the courts that the camp would ultimately be shut down, very few migrants were persuaded to leave.

The primarily-British No Borders activist group is reported to be attacking police, setting fires, and “manipulating migrants into refusing to accept government offers of shelter”.

French police were criticized for using force against non-cooperative refugees (despite court orders),however,Buccio defends their actions. She states that the threat was justified in light of the assaults made against officers during the evacuation process.

A 22-year-old Sudanese migrant describes the actions of the French government as “very aggressive” and states that the migrants living in the camp “have been treated like animals”.

The evacuation of the Calais Jungle is still in progress at the time of this writing.