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Our Advocacy

Here you can have an insight about reports, joint statements & letters that Just Action has written, signed, co-signed or supported (everything in chronological order).

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One year since Greece opened new “prison-like” refugee camps, NGOs call for a more humane approach

Statement: In English & In Greek

On the 20th of September, we joined 21 organisations across Greece calling on the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum and the European Commission for specific answers on issues such as the mandatory COVID-quarantine for asylum seekers, a safe space for women, healthcare, etc.

“We don’t need anything, just Freedom”

On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) on Samos, the Samos Advocacy Collective (SAC) published a report looking over the last year since the opening of the new structure. Being mainly built upon direct quotes from camp residents, the report is focusing on healthcare, psychosocial support, state support, food, technical malfunctions, security, privacy, and isolation.

"You Have to Hide Your Real Self": LGBTQI+ Asylum Seekers and the Failure of Greek Authorities

On the 29th of August 2022, we joined 36 organisations across Greece calling on Greek authorities for urgent action to resolve the mistreatment of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers in Greece.  The letter highlights particular concerns relating to the situation of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers regarding shelter and security, services and support, and the asylum process.

Human Rights Defenders on Samos call for Frontex to suspend operations in Greece

On the 18th June 2022, we joined 6 other organisation to call for Frontex to trigger Article 46 of the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 to end its operations in Samos and wider Greece.

 

Frontex does not comply with its legal mandate of protecting human rights - as required by its status as an EU agency. Furthermore, there is mounting evidence to suggest that Frontex is complicit in human rights abuses, including abandonment at sea, torture and death, through the illegal practice of pushbacks.

 

Border Violence Monitoring Network has also called for Frontex to withdraw its operations in Greece and for the EU Commission to initiate non-reimbursement of funds until rule of law is restored.

"A Life Without Freedom Is Not A Life". Life in the Closed Controlled Access Centre in Samos

On the occasion of the World Refugee Day 2022, Europe Must Act and the Samos Advocacy Collective published on the 20th June their second joint report based on testimonies of camp residents.

From October onwards, interviews with people living in the Closed Controlled Access Centre were conducted to investigate the impact of this facility on a personal level while amplifying the voices of the ones living within the structure.

“A Life Without Freedom Is Not A Life” focuses exclusively on the food provision, the difficult access to health care and information, the cash assistance program as well as the restrictive and unsafe environment residents face daily.

Stop the barriers to claiming asylum in Europe - Greece must revoke the decision to consider Turkey a safe country

On 18th March 2016, the European Union made a Deal with Turkey, which established that Syrian people fleeing the war in their country who arrived on the Greek islands, would face an “admissibility procedure” - the Deal’s aim was to return people to Turkey, instead of examining their asylum applications in Europe.

 

The European Commission noted the discriminatory effects of this controversial measure - limiting the right to seek asylum - but considered they were justified by the specific extraordinary circumstances and the Deal’s temporary nature.


Five years later, despite arrivals of people claiming asylum in Greece dramatically decreasing, the Greek government extended this unlawful and unfair concept of “admissibility”. On 7th June 2021, the Greek government decided to declare that Turkey is a safe third country for people seeking asylum from Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, in addition to Syrians.


People of these nationalities are now subject to the new admissibility procedure, irrespective of their vulnerability and notwithstanding how long they have been in Greece. The procedure is instigated with a view to returning the person to Turkey, before their reasons for fleeing their country and claiming asylum are ever heard.

On the 8th of June 2022, we joined forces with various other civil society group to call for the revocation of the Joint Ministerial Decision (JMD) given it is unlawful, inhumane and unworkable. 

#WelcomeForAll

On the 9th of May 2022, Europe Must Act launched the petition '#WelcomeForAll'. Addressing the Head of European states, the European Council and Commission, Europe Must Act highlights the much appreciated, but different ‘treatment’ Ukrainian refugees receive in contrast to asylum seekers from other parts of the world.

 

Together with all the signatories, we remain united in the belief that all people forced to leave their homes have the right to a dignified and humane welcome, and legal and safe pathways to reach safety.

Community Newsletter

On the 21st April, the Samos Advocacy Collective published the first community newsletter from the displaced communities living in the Closed Controlled Access Centre in Samos. While the collective is only publishing the newsletter, everything – from title to content – has been written by people living in the camp. “The Voice of the Voiceless” is a collection of various art works and letters.

Correspondence between the Samos Advocacy Collective and the EU Commission

correspondence between the Samos Advocacy Collective and the European Commission about current movement restrictions of camp residents in the C.C.A.C. in Samos has been made public on the 11th March 2022. Having signed and sent letters on the 30th November and the 9th December to ask competent authorities about the ‘legal basis’ of these restrictions, Deputy Director General of the “Task Force Migration Management” of the EU Commission, Beate Gminder, eventually replied but showed clear signs of disregard of their accountability for the situation and offered ‘solutions’ that are not applicable to the two groups of camp residents mentioned in the letters.

On the same matter, it has to be said, that a Greek court in Syros ruled the de facto detention of asylum seekers as unlawful in December. Nonetheless, camp residents without a valid "asylum applicant" keep being detained.

A letter written by the Somali Committee of the Samos C.C.A.C

Letter: In English

At the beginning of February 2022, a self-organised committee of individuals from Somalia currently living in the Samos C.C.A.C. have been speaking out against their situation in Samos. Addressing a letter to the European Commission, they were raising their concerns regarding the asylum procedure and health issues. Their letter especially highlights the fact that Turkey cannot be seen as a safe country for Somalis. 

It was published after the community protested against the ongoing detention of people without a valid asylant applicant card.

Scroll down to find out more about the ongoing detention.

A letter from Syrian camp residents in the C.C.A.C. in Samos

Letter: In English & in Greek

In January 2021, Syrian camp residents of the Closed Controlled Access Centre (C.C.A.C.) in Samos wrote a letter stating that neither Turkey, nor the newly entirely EU-funded camp on Samos can be deemed as 'safe'.

 

Last November, three Syrians were burnt to death in a racist attack in Izmir. While the incident received little media coverage, these current camp residents took the opportunity to highlight that they fled their homeland to find a safe haven; something they cannot find in Turkey.

With Turkey being portrayed as a ‘safe country’ for a wide range of asylum seekers, it is needless to say that this decision taken within the framework of the 2016 EU-Turkey deal and the Joint Ministerial Decision by the Greek authorities is completely obsolete and a further act to deter people on the move.

 

This letter shows us the violence, discrimination and omnipresent fear that Syrian refugees endure. By sharing it, we hope to be able to raise their voice.

Read more about the context for Syrian refugees here.

"All I want is to be free and leave". Life in the Closed Controlled Access Centre in Samos

On International Migrants Day 2021, the Samos Advocacy Collective and Europe Must Act released a joint report on life in the new Closed Controlled Access Centre (C.C.A.C.) of Samos.

 

From October until December, interviews with camp residents were conducted to investigate the impact of this facility on a personal level whilst amplifying the voices of the people living within it. 

 

This report focuses exclusively on the promoted idea of a ‘safe space’ and the ‘improvement of living conditions’ by Greek and European officials. While authorities keep promoting these statements, the reality stands in stark contrast to those promises.

Inquiry about the Ministerial Order of Detention in the Closed Controlled Access Centre (C.C.A.C.) in Samos

At the end of November, 12 civil society groups on Samos sent a letter to European and Greek authorities to raise their concerns about the ongoing arbitrary detention in the Closed Controlled Access Centre (C.C.A.C.) in Samos.

 

As of 9th December, there has not been any ministerial circular published concerning the implementation of the new entry and exit restrictions in place since the 16th November.

 

With the continuous arbitrary detention being increasingly worrying, 16 co-signed organisations sent a follow up letter to the competent authorities, asking for an immediate lift of the restrictions on entry and exit for people without a valid asylum applicant card in the absence of a public decision from the Ministry.

Inquiry about the Ministerial Order of Detention in the Closed Controlled Access Centre (C.C.A.C.) in Samos

On the 16th November, the Ministry of Migration and Asylum decided to close the camp on Samos for all the people unable to show a valid asylum applicant card upon leaving the facility. People concerned by this decision are those having received negative decisions to their asylum claim and all those who have registered at the Closed Controlled Access Centre (C.C.A.C.) in Samos for the first time and are therefore yet to receive a valid card.

 

With the new fully EU-funded structure turning increasingly into a prison, Just Action joined 11 other organisations on Samos on the 30th November to demand:

  • an immediate lift to the restrictions on entry and exit for people without a valid asylum applicant card in the absence of a public decision from the Ministry

  • to publish a statement from the Ministry giving legally grounding evidence to their recent decision to detain people without a valid asylum applicant card inside the camp

Free the Samos 2

On the 7th November 2020, N. and Hasan among 22 other people tried to reach Greece from Turkey to find a safe space to ask for asylum. While attempting to cross the Aegean, like many others, in an overcrowded rubber boat, the night turned out to become a nightmare for the passengers, as the boat became distressed, hit against cliffs and capsized.

 

On board was also N.’s 6-year-old son who drowned on that tragic night as the Coast Guard took several hours to arrive at the scene in order to rescue the people. As if this tragedy would not have been enough, Greek authorities decided to arrest N. on the grounds of ‘endangering his child’ and Hasan for steering the boat.

 

While both face prison sentences in Greece now, Just Action co-signed along 75 other civil society groups a letter demanding:

  • All charges against N. and Hasan to be dropped

  • The travel ban on N. to be lifted so that he can see his family and find some consolation

  • Freedom for all those imprisoned for 'boat driving' despite the fact that there is no alternative to reach the EU

  • An end to the criminalisation and incarceration of people on the move

"The shipwreck of 7 November 2020 and the death of N.’s son were neither the fault of N. and Hasan, nor were they an unfortunate tragedy. They are the direct result of the EU’s escalating closure of borders, leaving people with no alternative than to risk their lives and those of their families on increasingly life-threatening journeys."

Free Humanitarians

Sarah Mardini, Seán Binder, Nassos Karakitsos and 21 others faced trial on the 18th November in Lesvos. Having all been search and rescue volunteers back in 2018, they now face 25 years in prison as they are being charged with crimes like espionage and facilitating illegal entry.

 

While authorities keep criminalising humanitarians and activists for their support to displaced communities, independent legal experts concluded that what the solidarity workers did, was morally and legally necessary.

 

As a consequence Just Action joined 48 organisations to call on:

  • The Greek authorities to drop all charges against Seán, Sarah, Nassos and the other 21 charged and recognise their work as humanitarian assistance and essential for saving lives at sea. 

  • Greek authorities and EU institutions to ensure that the principles of a fair trial are upheld and that independent trial monitoring will be allowed during these trials. 

  • European institutions to do more to prevent criminalisation and encourage member states to include exemptions for humanitarian assistance in their national legislation whilst ensuring that those member states who have such an exemption apply them.

 

Humanitarianism is not a crime.

A letter from Syrian camp residents in the C.C.A.C. in Samos

In a letter sent to camp authorities after moving to the new Closed Controlled Access Centre (C.C.A.C.) in Samos, a group of Syrian camp residents stressed that they have been on Samos for over two years already and that they want clarity regarding their future. While deportations to Turkey are not a possibility, they have been stuck in limbo since arriving on the island. In their piece of writing they ask among other things for a discussion with the competent authorities to find a solution for all parties.

Read more about the context on Samos in the newly opened C.C.A.C. here.

Statement about the new closed and controlled structure in Zervou

On the 18th September 2021, the new fully EU-funded camp was inaugurated, marking the end of a five year long period since the establishment of the Vathy Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Samos.

 

While the opening of the new superstructure marked a turning point in EU migration policy, we took the opportunity to make our voice heard by publishing a statement.

 

We highlighted that these new structures cannot present the change that refugees, locals and internationals were pledging for over the past years. Additionally we underlined the lack of success of the whole ‘hotspot-system’ and asked for an inclusive strategy beneficial for the wider part of society in the long term instead.

 

We call for bridges. Not Walls.

Common Letter for the Creation of a Safe Area for single women within the new center

Letter in English & Greek

Just days before the official inauguration, organisations on Samos were informed that there after all was no plan on providing a promised safe area for single women and single mothers with their children in the new structure in Samos.

While the competent authorities declared that the space designated for unaccompanied minors would be given to single women instead, plans changed when over a hundred people arrived on the island in August. While there were still unaccompanied minors on the island, the designated space for single women is hosting the minors instead.

As the co-signed organisation on Samos believe the the absence of such a safe space could have a negative impact on asylum seeking single women, we asked the authorities to contribute to the eradication of gender-based violence incidents in the new Centre and to the global protection of women living there through the creation of a special space that will accommodate single women or/and women with their children.