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Παρασκευή, 30 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

[EN] 2016 WAS THE YEAR OF THE WALL

The global far right is tightening borders everywhere.

Two people walk towards metal bars marking the United States border where it meets the Pacific Ocean Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in Tijuana, Mexico. CREDIT: AP Photo/Gregory Bull


ThinkProgress

2016 was not a fun year. And if there is one symbol that sums it all up, it’s the wall.
Border walls certainly took a center stage in the U.S. presidential election. President-elect Donald Trump proposed the creation of a barrier wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in his very first speech as a presidential candidate. Since then, he has come back to that theme again and again and again.
Countries around the world have built more and more border walls since the end of the Cold War, especially in the last decade. One 2015 study found that of the 51 physical barriers built along borders since the end of World War II, approximately half were built between 2000 and 2014 alone. And the world’s interest in walls certainly hasn’t diminished over the past year. Instead, the global far right has only intensified its push for more border barriers.
From Mexico to Hungary to India, here are some of the walls that worried us in 2016 — and which we’ll be keeping an eye on next year.

A “big beautiful wall” along the U.S. — Mexico border

President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly made a campaign promise to build out the border barrier between the United States and Mexico. His plan for the construction of a border wall, which he insists Mexico will pay for despite Mexican President Peña Nieto saying otherwise, would include some fencing along the 1,933 mile long shared border and an increased law enforcement presence to prevent irregular migration.
“We will build a great wall along the southern border,” Trump said during a rally in Phoenix in September. “And Mexico will pay for the wall,” adding that the wall would be “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful.”

Σάββατο, 24 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

ΤΑ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥΓΕΝΝΑ ΤΩΝ ΠΡΟΣΦΥΓΩΝ ΣΕ ΣΚΙΤΣΑ

left.gr

Το προσφυγικό δράμα και τα τείχη που υψώνονται απέναντι στους κολασμέονυς της γης, σε δημιουργίες γνωστών Ελλήνων σκιτσογράφων

Πέμπτη, 22 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

ΣΥΡΜΑΤΑ ΣΤΑ ΛΙΒΑΔΕΙΑ

 ΠΑΝΤΕΛΗΣ ΜΠΟΥΚΑΛΑΣ


Νέος «έξυπνος φράχτης» στην Ουγγαρία
Πηγή: news.in.gr/ με πληροφορίες από ΑΠΕ/Γαλλικό

Υπάρχουν άραγε «έξυπνοι φράχτες»; Δύσκολο να το πει κανείς. Οι Ούγγροι πάντως το τόλμησαν. Βάφτισαν «έξυπνο» τον καινούργιο φράχτη που υψώνουν στα σύνορα της χώρας τους με τη Σερβία. Δέκα χιλιόμετρα συρματόπλεγμα, τρία μέτρα ύψος, που προστίθενται στον ήδη υπάρχοντα φράχτη, τον «μη έξυπνο», μήκους 175 χιλιομέτρων. Πιθανότατα οι ονοματοδότες θυμήθηκαν τις «έξυπνες βόμβες» των πολέμων, κηρυγμένων και ακήρυχτων, που πλήγωσαν και εξακολουθούν να πληγώνουν την ανθρωπότητα τις τελευταίες δεκαετίες. Και είπαν να τους μιμηθούν. Σε κυνισμό. Διότι όσο έξυπνες ήταν οι βόμβες που σάρωσαν κατοικημένες περιοχές, και αγορές, και σχολεία, και νοσοκομεία, άλλο τόσο έξυπνος είναι ένας φράχτης που, αντί να αποτελείται από σκέτο αγκαθωτό συρματόπλεγμα, όπως τα παλιά «σύρματα στα λιβάδια», διαθέτει αισθητήρες κίνησης και θερμότητας, αλλά και κάμερες νυχτερινής όρασης. Αν εξοπλιστούν και με ηλεκτρικό ρεύμα, ώστε μετά τα πρώτα θύματα να παραδειγματιστούν οι υπόλοιποι πιθανοί «εισβολείς», ίσως τους αναβαθμίσουν, όσον αφορά την ονομασία τους, σε «διάνοιες» ή σε «ιδιοφυΐες».


Οπως και στην περίπτωση των βομβών, έτσι και με τον φράχτη, ή με οποιοδήποτε κατασκεύασμα των χεριών μας, η απόδοση ανθρώπινων πνευματικών γνωρισμάτων, όπως η εξυπνάδα, είναι ένας εξυπνακισμός που επιδιώκει να αμβλύνει τις εντυπώσεις και να απαντήσει προληπτικά στις επικρίσεις. Το επόμενο στάδιο θα είναι να τους αποδώσουμε και ψυχικά γνωρίσματα, και συναισθηματικές αρετές. Και να αποκαλούμε «ευαίσθητες» τις βόμβες ή «καλόβολες», και «αισθηματίες» τους φράχτες ή «φιλάνθρωπους». Είναι τόσο ισχυρή η ηγεμονία του κυνισμού, που ούτε κι αυτού του είδους τα βαφτίσια θα προκαλέσουν ιδιαίτερη έκπληξη.

Υπάρχουν, πάντως, άνθρωποι που υστερούν ακόμα και από έναν φράχτη είτε σε λογική είτε σε ευαισθησία είτε και στα δύο μαζί. Εχουμε κι εδώ στην Ελλάδα τέτοιους, και στην Ευρώπη ολόκληρη, και στις επικίνδυνα τραμπαλιζόμενες Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες βέβαια. Είναι όσοι δημεύουν τα κοσμήματα των προσφύγων, καθώς και όσα ευρώ ή δολάριά τους ξεπερνούν το όριο που θέτουν οι Ευρωπαίοι με την αυθαιρεσία του καλοζωισμένου.

Είναι επίσης όσοι αδειάζουν το Καλαί χωρίς έγνοια για τα ανήλικα που εξαφανίζονται κατά την εκκαθάριση ή κατόπιν, ένα στα τρία. Οσοι φοβούνται ότι τα προσφυγάκια μπορεί να μεταδώσουν το μικρόβιο της θλίψης, αν πάνε στο σχολικό κτίριο όπου φοιτούν τα δικά τους παιδιά. Οσοι δημαγωγούν και διχάζουν, ταΐζοντας τους ακροδεξιούς γύπες. Και φυσικά όσοι ονειρεύονται τη μια ή την άλλη εκδοχή του αυστραλιανού μοντέλου. Οπως οι Γερμανοί Χριστιανοδημοκράτες, που επιθυμούν την άμεση επαναπροώθηση στην «ασφαλή» Λιβύη όσων διασώζονται στο Αιγαίο. Ή όπως ο πρόεδρος της Τσεχίας, που προτιμά τον εγκλωβισμό των προσφύγων σε ακατοίκητα νησιά της Ελλάδας ή στην αφρικανική έρημο.

Σύρματα στα σύνορα. Ή μήπως σύρματα στα μυαλά μας;



25/11/2016

http://www.kathimerini.gr/885206/opinion/epikairothta/politikh/syrmata-sta-livadia

Τετάρτη, 9 Νοεμβρίου 2016

ΠΟΙΟΙ ΠΑΙΖΟΥΝ ΜΕ ΤΗΝ ΠΡΟΣΦΥΓΙΚΗ ΡΟΗ ΣΤΟΝ ΕΒΡΟ;

Συντάκτης: 

Συνοριοφύλακες στον Εβρο
«Ανοίγουν την κάνουλα και μας στέλνουν κόσμο όποτε θέλουν», ισχυρίζεται ο πρόεδρος των Συνοροφυλάκων Εβρου Χρυσοβαλάντης Γιαλαμάς | ΜΟΤΙΟΝΤΕΑΜ/ ΒΑΣΙΛΗΣ ΒΕΡΒΕΡΙΔΗΣ
Ξενίζει η διατύπωση «άμυνα της συνοροφυλακής», όταν εμφανίζεται σε τίτλο θέματος για το προσφυγικό, και μάλιστα από το κρατικό πρακτορείο ειδήσεων («Ειδικό θέμα: Εβρος–οι διακινητές, τα περάσματα και η άμυνα της συνοροφυλακής»).
Δεν είναι όμως το μόνο που ξενίζει στο συγκεκριμένο, ανυπόγραφο, δημοσίευμα.
Αντί για τη σφαιρικότητα στην οποία μας έχει συνηθίσει τα τελευταία χρόνια το ΑΠΕ, το δημοσίευμα στηρίζεται εξ ολοκλήρου σε δηλώσεις του προέδρου των Συνοροφυλάκων Εβρου Χρυσοβαλάντη Γιαλαμά, χωρίς να προϊδεάζει ότι πρόκειται για συνέντευξη.
«Ανοίγουν την κάνουλα και μας στέλνουν κόσμο όποτε θέλουν», ισχυρίζεται ο κ. Γιαλαμάς, αναφερόμενος προφανώς στους Τούρκους, και μιλά για κατακόρυφη αύξηση της μεταναστευτικής ροής στον νομό μετά την απόπειρα πραξικοπήματος στην Τουρκία.
Επικαλούμενος στοιχεία εξαμήνου της ΕΛ.ΑΣ., μιλά για αύξηση 91% των συλλήψεων μεταναστών και προσφύγων και αναφέρει ότι οι πρόσφυγες «είναι ελάχιστοι, περίπου 10%», όταν είναι γνωστό πως την αρμοδιότητα να κρίνει ποιος είναι πρόσφυγας δεν την έχει φυσικά η συνοροφυλακή, αλλά η Υπηρεσία Ασύλου.
Ο Χρ. Γιαλαμάς αναφέρει επίσης πως «εδώ κάνουμε καλά τη δουλειά μας» και σημειώνει πως «οι αποτροπές καθημερινά είναι κυριολεκτικά εκατοντάδες».
Δεν διευκρινίζει όμως πώς συνάδουν οι αποτροπές με την υποχρέωση της συνοροφυλακής να τηρεί το προσφυγικό δίκαιο και το δικαίωμα των εκτοπισμένων να ζητούν άσυλο σε οποιαδήποτε χώρα.
Ούτε παρέχει διευκρινίσεις για τις καταγγελίες διεθνών οργανώσεων ότι συνεχίζονται στον Εβρο οι επιχειρήσεις άτυπων, βίαιων επαναπροωθήσεων, που παραβιάζουν κατάφωρα τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα.
Είναι ορατή η προσπάθεια να δοθεί η εντύπωση μιας πολύ μεγάλης αύξησης της προσφυγικής και μεταναστευτικής ροής, όσο και της επιχειρησιακής ικανότητας των διακινητών.

Παρασκευή, 4 Νοεμβρίου 2016

[EN] OVER THE LINE Bulgaria Welcomes Refugees With Attack Dogs and Beatings

Photo: Valentina Petrova/AP Images
ABDUL BASHIR WAS resting when the police dogs came. He and 11 others were in the dense mountainous forest that joins Turkey and Bulgaria. They had just crossed to the Bulgarian side, for the second time in a month, stepping over the low-hanging wire that divides the two countries. The dogs came out of the woods behind them. Abdul Bashir saw one attack a man in his group, biting his shoulder and dragging him across the ground. The man was bleeding.

The Bulgarian border police arrived soon after the dogs. They ordered the refugees to keep their heads down. Then Abdul Bashir felt police kicking him and striking him on the back, head, and legs with batons and “something with electricity.” The police took the refugees’ money and cellphones before bringing them back to the border fence, where they beat and chased them some more. One of the border guards told the asylum seekers: “Don’t come again.” Then the police opened the gate and pushed the group through, back to Turkey.
Tall and skinny with dark wispy hair, Abdul Bashir told me his story as we sat on a cold, concrete wall outside one of three refugee centers in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia. He curled up in a ball when he talked about the beatings. He had a far-off stare.
The first time he had tried and failed to cross the Bulgarian border with the same smuggler, he had been comparatively lucky: The police didn’t steal his money or phone. They only hit him once. He returned a week later, with a smaller group. This was when the police dogs found him. The exhausted refugees passed that night sleeping in the Turkish woods — it was early summer, still warm enough to do so — before making the three-hour drive back east to Istanbul. And then, two weeks later, the group returned to the border with the same smuggler and passed through the same woods from Turkey into Bulgaria, this time without a problem. What had changed?
What might have looked to Abdul Bashir like the luck of the draw was actually the outcome of systematic abuses. Abdul Bashir’s story matches those of numerous other refugees, as well as nongovernmental organizations, the European Union’s border agency, and sources on the border, including a Bulgarian border police translator and smugglers who work the route. Bulgaria’s border police are engaged in a game of questionable legality, both when they force asylum seekers out and when they let them in. They routinely use violence — not only to send particular asylum seekers away, but to make sure that the larger stream of refugees turns elsewhere. Unless the refugees pay.

Πέμπτη, 20 Οκτωβρίου 2016

[EN] BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS: WE CAN ONLY SOLVE THE REFUGEE CRISIS BY CHANGING OUR APPROACH TO HUMANITY



Barack Obama's greatest legacy may be yet to come at the Leaders' Summit on refugees.

By Wolfgang Jamann


Refugees
(Getty Images)

We all agree that the numbers are staggering: according to the UNHCR, on average, 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015, four times more than a decade earlier. At the last count, Greece alone was home to 57,000 displaced people, 40 per cent of them children.
But on what to do and who should do it is where agreement ends and polemics begin.

Closing borders or denying asylum undermines the rule of law that underpins the security and prosperity of Western states. They prove ineffective at solving the crisis and only reinforce the inhumane nature of such an approach. In fact, according to research by the Tent Foundation, 81 per cent of the public surveyed felt that arriving refugees deserved assistance yet many admit to not knowing how to help them.
Since 2011, seemingly endless rounds of talks to try to end the Syria conflict have taken place. If the recent New York Times article research is any indicator, a conflict of this nature now lasts on average a decade, twice as long as the one in Syria so far – clearly, the refugee numbers are not about to abate. So if closing the borders is wrong and peace talks have failed, what else might work?
A look at two diverse societies in the eye of the refugee storm (Lebanon and Germany) show that we humans really are more alike than we are different. They also show that embedding support for integration in welcome programmes and addressing host needs in fragile communities can help transform the refugee crisis into a beneficial relief opportunity.

Τετάρτη, 28 Σεπτεμβρίου 2016

I WELCOME

ΔΙΕΘΝΗΣ ΑΜΝΗΣΤΙΑ

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για international amnesty i welcome

Αριθμός ρεκόρ των ανθρώπων σε όλο τον κόσμο που έχουν αναγκαστεί να εγκαταλείψουν τα σπίτια τους, αυτή τη στιγμή.

Ωστόσο,  αντί να ηγηθούν της προστασίας των προσφύγων  οι περισσότερες χώρες, κλείνουν τις πόρτες τους.
Τα πλουσιότερα έθνη του κόσμου αφήνουν μια χούφτα από χώρες να αντιμετωπίσουν μόνες τους τα σχεδόν 21 εκατομμύρια των πρόσφυγες όλου του κόσμου. Τα ισχυρά μέσα μαζικής ενημέρωσης και οι πολιτικοί παραποιούν την πραγματικότητα και τους αποκτηνώνουν, παρουσιάζοντας τους πρόσφυγες ως «παράνομους» ή απρόσωπους «εισβολείς» που αποτελούν «απειλή για την ασφάλεια».
Αποποιούνται της ευθύνης τους να προστατεύουν τους ανθρώπους που προσπαθούν να διαφύγουν από τη βία, τις διώξεις και τις συγκρούσεις. Και κάθε μέρα που περνά, η αναποφασιστικότητα και η αδράνεια τους προκαλούν τεράστια ανθρώπινη δυστυχία.
Αλλά αν δεν μπορούμε να βασιστούμε στους
πολιτικούς μας για να αλλάξουμε τον κόσμο,
θα το κάνουμε μόνοι μας

Παρασκευή, 23 Σεπτεμβρίου 2016

UN SUMMIT ON REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS: NO RHETORIC, STRONG ACTIONS!

FIDH - WORLDWIDE MOVEMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS



(New York, Paris) FIDH welcomes the unprecedented initiative by the United Nations General Assembly to hold a world summit on Refugees and Migrants on 19 September to discuss a “more humane and coordinated approach” to migration. It urges Heads of State and government to use this opportunity to take concrete actions to protect the rights of refugees and migrant persons.
Wars, daily persecutions, poverty, environmental factors push more and more people to flee their countries. Global forced migration is on the rise. In 2015, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 65.3 million people were displaced because of conflict, persecution and human rights violations [1]. It is 5.8 million more than in 2014. As of September 2016, it is estimated that 4.8 million people had fled the conflict in Syria.
In 2015, only about one million people sought protection in Europe. But so far, the European response to increased flows of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees has been completely inadequate at best, shameful most of the time. It included the construction of walls and fences, push-backs, denial of the right to asylum, systematic administrative detention, confiscation of valuables, xenophobia, stigmatisation and, in some cases, criminalisation. The EU and member States’ approach remains security centred and aimed at sealing off and militarize borders, with the help of the newly created European Border and Coast Guard which is set to replace the European Union Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the European Union, Frontex [2].

Κυριακή, 14 Αυγούστου 2016

[EN] "LET'S BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS," SAYS UN CHIEF, URGING ALL COUNTRIES TO HELP REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS

UN NEWS CENTRE
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attends refugee resettlement event with UNA-USA, International Rescue Committee and the Annenberg Foundation, at the Annenberg Foundation, in Los Angeles. UN Photo/Mark Garten


11 August 2016 – Encouraging young refugees gathered for an event at resettlement centre in Los Angeles to “study hard [and] be a full part of your new communities,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the United States and other countries to keep reaching out to people in need, wherever they are, because “we will all be stronger” by building bridges instead of walls.
“Have hope […] I have faith in you,” Mr. Ban said in a special message to young people gathered last night for a back-to-school event hosted by the International Rescue Committee, the Annenberg Foundation and the UN Foundation, after his visit to resettlement centre where he met refugees, including from Guatemala and Syria, and other countries from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
He assured the gathering that he is working hard for other refugee families around the world, and noted that on 19 September, at UN Headquarters in New York, the General Assembly will convene a Summit on Refugees and Migrants where, among other proposed commitments, governments will agree that refugee children should go to school as soon as possible after arrival in the country that gives them asylum.
“I encourage countries like the United States to continue to demonstrate leadership by providing safe haven to more refugees – including Syrian refugees,” said the Secretary-General, adding: “Let’s keep reaching out a helping hand to people in their time of need. Let’s never give in to the forces of fear and division. Let’s welcome people into their new communities as neighbours and friends. Let’s build bridges, not walls. We will all be stronger for it.”
He went on to recall that he himself had been displaced as a young boy. “I did not flee my country, but my family and I were driven out of our village by war – the Korean war. I was only 6 years old. Everything was destroyed. The United Nations came to our rescue. They gave us food. They gave us shelter. They gave us school supplies,” he said.
“Now I am here as the head of the United Nations to give school supplies to you. If I could do it, you can do it,” said Mr. Ban.
Earlier yesterday, the Secretary-General also participated in a public discussion with United States Congressman Ed Royce, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He thanked the Congressman for his leadership on a wide-range of global issues. During a bilateral meeting, they had an opportunity to discuss the situations is South Sudan, Myanmar and the Korean peninsula.
Mr. Ban also participated in two events with the creative community yesterday, in which he talked to attendees, including, among others, film producer and director Brett Ratner, about how he strongly believed in the ability of the industry to be a power for social good.

11/08/2016

[EN] NO WALLS IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE

 

In June 2016 voters in the UK, once the largest and most powerful colonial power on earth, voted for a Brexit — for Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU). Media pundits proclaimed the ‘yes’ vote as a vote fuelled by far-right xenophobia — supposedly, the statistics showed that the ‘yes’ vote was driven mostly by the not so highly educated working class, those that blame their relative decline of their standard of living on competition brought about by immigration, open borders and the flood of refugees. In short, the Brexit vote, according to the ‘experts’, was an isolationist and xenophobic vote — a vote for a wall of some sort. In many ways, this is true — the far-right in the UK exploited the increasingly insecure working class and sinisterly pointed their anger against a convenient scapegoat: the invading foreigners. The solution: let’s quit the world and build a wall — Britain is great and it needs no one!
Besides the fact that the misguided working class will not find their salvation in isolationism, the “leave us alone” tendency of the British blue collar populace is ironic, to say the least. Beyond ironic, this sentiment is nothing short of hypocrisy and utter disrespect to millions of people that have been exploited for centuries. A nation that for centuries knew no walls and respected no borders — back when it pillaged four continents, from the riches of Africa to the treasures of Indochina and the entire Indian subcontinent, is now crying foul, demanding a wall and asking to be left alone.

[EN] INSTEAD OF A PLACE OF SAFETY, EMPTY GRAVES AWAIT REFUGEES IN EUROPE

Chris Doyle



Europe is failing at every level to honour its legal and moral commitments to refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and beyond

Tucked away at the back of the old Muslim cemetery on the outskirts of Kos town on the Greek island are a series of freshly dug graves, around half with headstones. Most but not all are named.  
Buried here are 37 refugees who, fleeing from Bodrum on the Turkish coast, drowned in the waters of the Aegean. Most of them are Syrian, but there are plenty of Afghanis and Iraqis, too. Relatives of the refugees with unmarked graves had promised to return when they could afford to pay for the headstones.
The author at the graveyard in Kos, Greece in July (Twitter/@doylech)
The most heart-wrenching site is the line of empty graves dug for those refugees yet to drown, a testament to the expectation that the crisis is far from over. 
At the heights of last summer’s refugee crisis, 15,000 refugees made it to Kos. Most moved on, leaving around 677 today on the island who are in limbo, with little hope that that they can go forward. “What do you think of Ireland?” one asked me hopefully. For sure, they are the less unfortunate than those still trapped in Syria under bombs and siege, but each one had an epic story of suffering and horror. Many are middle class, educated and desperate to work and educate their children.
As for so many of these refugees, the system in Europe has failed them. This was the key finding of the latest report of the UK Parliament’s home affairs select committee released this week. It is grim reading for those who believe that richer countries, including Britain, have a responsibility to take their fair share of refugees.

Σάββατο, 2 Ιουλίου 2016

[EN] FENCES AND WALLS: A SHORT-SIGHTED RESPONSE TO MIGRATION FEARS?

By Andrew MacMillan and José Graziano da Silva

José Graziano da Silva is Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Andrew MacMillan, former Director of Field Operations.
Refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border near the town of Idomeni. Credit: Nikos Pilos/IPS
Refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border near the town of Idomeni. Credit: Nikos Pilos/IPS

ROME, Jun 20 2016 (IPS) - European nations from which millions once left to escape hardship and hunger – Greece, Ireland, Italy – are today destinations for others doing the same.
Many people are on the move. The really big numbers relate to rural-urban migration in developing countries. In 1950, 746 million people lived in cities, 30 percent of the world’s population. By 2014, urban population reached 3.9 billion (54 percent).
By comparison, about 4 million migrants have moved into OECD countries each year since 2007.(*) And 60 percent of Europe’s 3.4 million immigrants in 2013 came from other European Union member states or already held EU citizenship. Those from outside amounted to less than 0.3 percent of the EU’s population.
Conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, along with the breakdown of law or of freedom in Libya, Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan, have catalyzed a surge in asylum seekers – whose numbers climbed to 800,000 in OECD countries alone in 2014 and who, under international law, must be protected.
Growing apprehension in some recipient countries has led to calls for fences and walls to cut migrant flows. Barriers, however, are costly, can be circumvented, and are all too reminiscent of the restrictions on liberty from which many migrants are seeking refuge.
The urge for a better life is the main driving force for migration, both local and international. People are “pulled” by the belief that better prospects exist elsewhere. As mobile phones and internet access have reached the remotest corners of the world, such beliefs have proliferated.

Κυριακή, 19 Ιουνίου 2016

[EN] HOPE LOST IN GREECE, SOME SYRIANS PAY SMUGGLERS TO GET HOME

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrians gather around damaged buildings after a bomb attack at the Sayyida Zeinab suburb, Damascus, Syria, Saturday, June 11, 2016. Two bombs went off Saturday near the Syrian capital, killing at least eight people and wounding over a dozen others in the latest attack to hit the predominantly Shiite area in recent months, state TV and an opposition activist group said. (SANA via AP)

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrians gather around burning buildings after a bomb attack at the Sayyida Zeinab suburb, Damascus, Syria, Saturday, June 11, 2016. Two bombs went off Saturday near the Syrian capital, killing at least eight people and wounding over a dozen others in the latest attack to hit the predominantly Shiite area in recent months, state TV and an opposition activist group said. (SANA via AP)

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the scene after a bombing attack at the Sayyida Zeinab suburb, Damascus, Syria, Saturday, June 11, 2016. Two bombs went off Saturday near the Syrian capital, killing at least eight people and wounding over a dozen others in the latest attack to hit the predominantly Shiite area in recent months, state TV and an opposition activist group said. (SANA via AP)

DIDIMOTICHO, Greece (AP) — Europe seemed like the promised land, worth risking their lives to reach. But in a muddy field on the northern edge of Greece, their dreams died. Now, dozens of Syrian refugees are risking their lives again but in the opposite direction — paying smugglers to take them back to Turkey, and heading home.
Rather than brave the often treacherous waves of the Aegean again, they face the dangerous currents of the Evros River, which runs along the Greek-Turkish border. Each night, groups of migrants and refugees huddle at the railway station of the small border town of Didimoticho, about 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the frontier, setting up small tents and waiting for their chance to cross.

Δευτέρα, 23 Μαΐου 2016

[EN] EUROPE'S BORDER GUARDS

Syriza’s capitulation to the troika has made the plight of refugees even worse.


Refugees in the Mediterranean Sea in 2014. UNHCR / Flickr
Refugees in the Mediterranean Sea in 2014. UNHCR / Flickr

Last year, the attempt of Greece’s newly elected radical-left government to resist austerity policies imposed by the European Union institutions and the International Monetary Fund put the country at the center of world attention. This battle was definitively lost when Alexis Tsipras capitulated in July to the demands of the creditors, signing up to a third memorandum only days after a referendum in which Greeks had rejected a softer EU proposed austerity package.
Since that moment, the plight of Greek society has only deepened. But it is now a silent suffering, deprived of the expectation of change and hope that had fueled the mobilizations of recent years.
But 2016 again made Greece headline news, this time for a different reason. The laboratory of neoliberal shock therapy is also Europe’s entrance gate for the millions of people leaving countries devastated by war and poverty.
The refugee crisis has illuminated how “Fortress Europe” acts as the complementary side of a neoliberal, deeply antidemocratic, and authoritarian “European integration.” It has killed the hopes of a left which believed it was possible to break from neoliberalism within the framework of the EU, as “European values” became an alibi for the display of imperialist violence and hypocrisy.
The Mediterranean’s role as the graveyard of Fortress Europe — and southern Europe’s role as its guards — is not new. The “externalization” of the EU border started in the early 1990s and acts as the indispensable supplement to the “free movement of capital, goods, and people” inside the EU — with the movement of “people” always posing the most problems.