EU Borders and beyond

Updated 31 July 2022: Spiegel International: Classified Report Reveals Full Extent of Frontex Scandal

The EU’s anti-fraud office has found that the European border agency covered up and helped to finance illegal pushbacks of asylum-seekers in Greece. The report, which DER SPIEGEL has obtained, puts pressure on the EU Commission – and could also spell trouble for Frontex’s new leadership.

The contents of the investigative report from OLAF, the European Union’s anti-fraud agency, are classified. Members of the European Parliament are only granted access under strict security measures, and normal citizens are not allowed to see it. But Margaritis Schinas, the vice president of the European Commission, who is responsible, among other things, for migration, is allowed to. And perhaps he ought to do so as well. At the end of the day, it relates to a sensitive issue that also happens to fall within his area of responsibility.ANZEIGE

Investigators have taken 129 pages to document the involvement of Frontex, the EU’s border agency, in the illegal activities of the Greek Coast Guard. Border guards systematically dump asylum-seekers adrift at sea  in the Aegean – either in rickety boats or on inflatable life rafts. 

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Updated 4 April 2022: The Star: EU urged to treat African refugees like Ukrainians

The UNHCR chief, Filippo Grandi, said Europe had hosted Ukrainian refugees “generously and effectively” and should consider the same for other refugees.

• It comes after 90 people died in international waters of the Mediterranean sea after setting off from Libya in an overcrowded boat.

• The UNHCR chief, Filippo Grandi, said Europe had hosted Ukrainian refugees “generously and effectively” and should consider the same for other refugees.Hundreds of African migrants die every year trying to cross the Mediterranean sea to Europe
Image: AFP

The head of the UN refugee agency has asked Europe to be generous and welcoming to other migrants, just as it has with Ukrainian refugees, following the death of dozens of African migrants at sea.

It comes after 90 people died in international waters of the Mediterranean sea after setting off from Libya in an overcrowded boat.

The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières said that only four people were rescued from the raft on Saturday.

The UNHCR chief, Filippo Grandi, said Europe had hosted Ukrainian refugees “generously and effectively” and should consider the same for other refugees.

“It must now urgently consider how to apply this to other refugees and migrants knocking, in distress, at its doors” he tweeted on Sunday.

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Updated 17 March 2022: Guardian: Fears grow of new crisis as refugees in Belarus driven into Ukraine

Dozens from Middle East ordered at gunpoint by soldiers to choose between leaving for Poland, where soldiers have beaten them, or Ukraine

Belarusian armed forces are pushing asylum seekers from the Middle East who became trapped in the country after they were promised passage to the EU to cross the border into war-torn Ukraine, according to the testimony of people in Belarusian camps.

Dozens of asylum seekers stuck for months in a makeshift dormitory in Bruzgi, a village in Belarus less than a mile from the Polish border, were ordered by a group of Belarusian soldiers on 5 March to leave the building at gunpoint and given two options: crossing the border into Poland, where guards have beaten them back, or entering Ukraine, one of them said.

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16 March 2022: SNN signatory organisation MENA Solidarity Network:

NW England conference: Solidarity with the Revolution Saturday 26 March, 3-5pm

Join this online emergency solidarity conference to hear from Sudanese activists how you can support their struggle against military rule
Book a place here: 

This conference will provide a space for trade unionists from around the NW to hear directly from Sudanese activists about the ongoing struggle for democracy and the resistance to the military coup of 25 October 2021. Since the generals seized power, ordinary people have taken to the streets on a daily basis to demand civilian rule through protests, strikes and civil disobedience. This movement has been led by grassroots revolutionary organisations – neighbourhood resistance committees, independent trade unions and professional associations. Several resistance committees have now issued political declarations calling for far-reaching democratic reforms and opposing any compromise with the military dictatorship. They are demanding an end to the organised robbery and extortion by the army and militia generals who dominate the Sudanese state and much of the economy.

Having emerged from 30 years of dictatorship and war through a popular uprising against Omar al-Bashir which began in December 2018, this mass movement of ordinary people is still fighting to turn their hopes of ‘freedom, peace and justice’ into reality, despite terrible repression.

The Sudanese revolution urgently needs solidarity from around the world to amplify the demands for real change, genuine democracy, economic justice and an end to military rule being raised in the streets and workplaces.

This online conference aims to:

  • Build solidarity for the Sudanese revolution and resistance to military rule
  • Create networks between trade unionists and activists from Sudan, Britain and beyond
  • Pressurise the British government to end military and diplomatic support for the coup leaders and the regional powers (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel) backing them
  • Publicise the role of the Resistance Committees in leading the Sudanese revolution

Speakers include:

  • Representatives of the Sudanese Teachers’ Committee
  • Sudanese Healthworkers
  • Daniel Kebede, National President NEU

Provisional programme:

  • Opening plenary discussion: Where is the Sudanese revolution going?
  • Workshops on the revolution in the Education and Health sectors
  • Closing plenary discussion: Building effective solidarity

The event will be held on Zoom – log-on details will be sent out to registered participants in advance – please check the event reminder for details.

Book online here: 

Sponsoring organisations: Sudanese Diaspora Roundtable UK, MENA Solidarity Network

6 March 2022: Euronews: Nigerian student says he faced discrimination while fleeing Ukraine 

Alexander Somto Orah, a 25-year-old Nigerian student, says he faced discrimination when trying to flee the war in Ukraine.

“The first discrimination was in Kyiv,” he said.

“They were allowing only women and children. I said, ‘OK. That’s fine, but I don’t see you taking the other African women and the other Middle Eastern women, they are pregnant’.”

The war made me realise that if there are human beings, there are some that are regarded differently from others. I want other Africans to learn to speak up. That’s all.

Alexander Somto Orah 25-year-old Nigerian student

When Alexander finally made it to the Polish border by foot, he says initially he was turned away.

“A man in black came and told us, ‘Indians, Africans, and Middle Easterners should leave here and go to another border,’ which is the Romanian border,” he said.

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Updated 5 March 2022: Byline Times: UKRAINE’S REFUGEES& Racialised Borders

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has laid bare the contradictory position of central and eastern Europeans within the racial hierarchies that structure Europe’s border regimes, argue Dr Charlotte Galpin and Professor Sara Jones

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, conflicting ideas about the country in the UK and across the West have demonstrated central and eastern Europe’s ambiguous position and the continued impact of 20th Century European history. 

The borders drawn on our maps have changed significantly in post-socialist Europe. A number of countries that were previously part of the Soviet Union, or so-called ‘satellite states’, now form part of the European Union, or – like Ukraine – have association agreements in place. 

But racialised identities and imagined borders, while in flux, continue to be shaped by historical memories. 

In the second half of 2021, refugees fleeing violence in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraqi Kurdistan began to appear at the Polish-Belarus border, inspired by false promises of safe passage to the EU by Belarussian authorities. The response of Poland’s Government was to violently push them back into Belarus. The refugees have since been trapped at the border in freezing conditions and denied access to humanitarian aid. 

There was a precedent for this hostile reaction. In response to the wave of refugees coming to Europe from Syria in 2015, Hungary’s Government erected a 150-kilometre-long barbed wire fence along its border to Serbia.

We might assume that these are typical knee-jerk reactions of ethnonationalist and anti-immigration governments that have risen to power in several central and eastern European countries in recent years – notably the Law and Justice leadership in Poland and Fidesz in Hungary. 

However, Putin’s war in Ukraine shows that the situation is more complex.

Following the Russian invasion, the Polish Government almost immediately opened its borders to Ukrainians, promising to accept one million refugees.

Other central and eastern European countries followed suit – including Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Romania.

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3 March 2022: Times: War in Ukraine: Foreign students face ‘discrimination from border guards’

When Aras, a 30-year-old languages student, got to the border crossing between Ukraine and Poland, he was convinced that he had reached safety.

After a three-day trip without food or water and a 20-mile walk, the young man from the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq was moments away from leaving the Russian invasion of Ukraine behind. Or so he thought.

Instead, Aras and his friend Balen were turned back at two separate crossings before being admitted at a third.

Like other non-Ukrainian refugees, the Kurdish men described being passed over and pushed to the back of the masses as the border guards allegedly favoured Ukrainian citizens.

“We saw that they had more respect for them,” Aras said as he sat inside a welcome centre

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Yahoo: Ukraine government addresses racism faced by Black people fleeing Russian attacks

The Ukraine government has acknowledged the racist abuse that Black people have been subjected to while trying to flee from Russian attacks in their country.

Scores of African and Asian refugees in Ukraine have told of being blocked at border points as they attempt to make crossings to safety.

Speaking to The Independent on Sunday, Osarumen, a father-of-three, said he, his family members and other refugees were told to disembark a bus about to cross the border on Saturay and told, “No blacks”. Despite challenging the driver and military officers’ orders, they were ejected from the vehicle.

“In all of my years as an activist, I have never seen anything like this,” he said. “When I look into the eyes of those who are turning us away, I see bloodshot racism; they want to save themselves and they are losing their humanity in the process. I cannot imagine a scenario where white Ukranians would ever be denied asylum so how they’re treating us is unwarranted. It’s baseless. We are all escaping so let’s push a common thread.”

Dmytro Kuleba, the country’s foreign minister, addressed this scourge of discrimination in a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday night.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected Ukrainians and non-citizens in many devastating ways,” he said.

“Africans seeking evacuation are our friends and need to have equal opportunities to return to their home countries safely. Ukraine’s government spares no effort to solve the problem.”

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Updated 27 February 2022: Guardian: Ukrainians fleeing war can join close relatives in UK, Johnson says

Prime minister’s announcement comes after criticism of Home Office delays in allowing refugees entry

Ukrainians fleeing the war will be able to come to the UK to join close relatives, Boris Johnson has announced, as he sought to quell a row over the bureaucracy faced by refugees from the country.

His comments are unlikely to satisfy campaigners and opposition politicians who have been angered by the failure of the Home Office to waive visa rules much more generally for Ukrainians seeking sanctuary.

“Any person settled in the UK will be able to bring their Ukrainian immediate family members to join them here,” No 10 said in a statement. “This will benefit many thousands of people who at this moment are making desperate choices about their future.”

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Petition urging Priti Patel to ensure safe passage for Ukrainian refugees wins huge support

The petition [ ] urges Priti Patel to publish an ‘urgent plan outlining how the UK will offer safe and legal passage’ to Ukrainian refugees

TENS of thousands of people have signed an open letter to the Home Secretary urging her to publish a plan outlining how the UK will ensure safe and legal passage for Ukrainian refugees.

UN agencies estimate that between one million and three million Ukrainians may try to leave the country in the coming weeks, as the nation faces Europe’s largest ground offensive since the Second World War.

Some 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed, according to the country’s health minister – while thousands more have been wounded.

As of Saturday afternoon nearly 60,000 people had signed the petition, which has a target of 100,000 signatures, on the 38 Degrees website. It came as new YouGov research showed 63% of UK residents support introducing a scheme to resettle “some” Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.

Despite Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the UK Government has stopped accepting visa applications from Ukrainian citizens stuck in the country – effectively meaning there are no safe and legal routes for Ukrainians aiming to come to the UK unless they already have relatives here. 

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Update 22 February 2022: It is important to remember there are many good things being done out there: #PiaKlemp demonstrating what it is to be a human …

People’s Tribune: Pia Klemp – What it is to be Human

Pia Klemp, who faced 20 years in prison for her role in saving 6,000 refugees from

Pia Klemp, she faced 20 years in prison for her role in saving 6,000 refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean, explains why she has refused the Grand Vermeil medal awarded to her by the city of Paris:

“Madame Hidalgo, you want to award me a medal for my solidarian action in the Mediterranean Sea, because our crews ‘work to rescue migrants from difficult conditions on a daily basis’. At the same time your police are stealing blankets from people that you force to live on the streets, while you raid protests and criminalize people that are standing up for rights of migrants and asylum seekers. You want to give me a medal for actions that you fight in your own ramparts. I am sure you won’t be surprised that I decline the medaille Grand Vermeil.

Paris, I’m not a humanitarian. I am not there to ‘aid’. I stand with you in solidarity. We do not need medals. We do not need authorities deciding about who is a ‘hero’ and who is ‘illegal’. In fact they are in no position to make this call, because we are all equal.

What we need are freedom and rights. It is time we call out hypocrite honorings and fill the void with social justice. It is time we cast all medals into spearheads of revolution!

Documents and housing for all!

Freedom of movement and residence!”

Updated 30 January 2022: Guardian: Prime minister, as a refugee I have done everything Australia has asked. Nine years on, why am I still in detention?


I came to this country at fifteen looking for help. How does keeping me locked up help to heal the trauma I have experienced?

Last week the prime minister, Scott Morrison, was asked about whether it was appropriate some refugees had been held in Melbourne’s Park Hotel for eight years after he had earlier claimed not everyone detained there is a refugee.

In his response he referenced Mehdi, a member of the persecuted Ahwazi Arab minority in his homeland Iran, who had been speaking out about the conditions after Novak Djokovic was briefly detained in the same hotel.

I didn’t make the statement that every single person was who was in that place was not a refugee. I said that was, to my understanding, the case with some people who were there. There are a number of people who were at that facility who have not been found to be owed protection.

… I’m aware of one particular individual who has been the comment of this focus of a lot of attention, who is on such a pathway, and I would be encouraging them to take up that permanent option that is available to them in the United States. We provided it, we secured it, we got it in place. And so if they wished they could go to the United States along that pathway. And that’s what we are encouraging them to do.

This is Mehdi’s response:

Mr prime minister,

I have some questions I’d like to ask you. I came by boat as an unaccompanied minor to Christmas Island on 22 July 2013. Nine months later, when I was sixteen years old, you sent me to Nauru. You were my legal guardian.

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Updated 10 January 2022: Twitter: Mehdi Ali:

It’s so sad that so many journalists contacted me yesterday to ask me about Djokovic. I’ve been in a cage for 9 years, I turn 24 today, and all you want to talk to me about is that. Pretending to care by asking me how I am and then straight away asking questions about Djokovic.

Related to this story:

Updated 1 January 2021: iNews: Priti Patel’s immigration clampdown part of a global 2022 wave of authoritarianism, says human rights campaign

  • Allan Hogarth, Amnesty International UK’s head of advocacy and programmes: “Human rights are under threat at home and overseas, but every day we witness brave people speaking out and standing up for their rights – 2022 must be a year of action, supporting and empowering those who stand up for their human rights.”

Human Rights Watch warned of ‘an onslaught of attacks on democratic values’ both in the UK and around the world, with women’s rights under threat

From the UK to Afghanistan, the resurgence of authoritarianism and stripping away of women’s rights will be in the spotlight globally in the coming year.

Big events including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and the Beijing Winter Olympics in China will draw attention to rights abuses suffered in those countries, with the latter facing diplomatic boycotts.

Yasmine Ahmed, UK director of Human Rights Watch, told that one of the most concerning trends the world is seeing is the rise of oppressive regimes and right-wing populism.

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30 December 2021: Dorset Eye: Britain helped create the refugees it now wants to keep out

Those making perilous journeys for asylum in Europe have been displaced by wars and droughts, for which the West is largely to blame

As European states struggle to shut their borders to refugees, the two countries are in a war of words over who is responsible for stopping the growing number of small boats trying to reach British shores. Britain has demanded the right to patrol French waters and station border police on French territory, suggesting that France is not up to the job. The French government, meanwhile, has blamed the UK for serving as a magnet for illegal workers by failing to regulate its labour market.

European leaders are desperate for quick answers. French President Emmanuel Macron called an emergency meeting of regional leaders a week ago to address the “migration” crisis, though Britain’s home secretary, Priti Patel, was disinvited.

Britain’s post-Brexit government is readier to act unilaterally. It has been intensifying its “hostile environment” policy towards asylum seekers. That includes plans to drive back small boats crossing the Channel, in violation of maritime and international law, and to “offshore” refugees in remote detention camps in places such as Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic. UK legislation is also being drafted to help deport refugees and prosecute those who aid them, in breach of its commitments under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

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Update 18 December 2021: See here for depth information about home office border security plan:

5 December 2021: SNN signatory Freedom United: Investigation points to E.U. complicity in deplorable treatment of migrants in Libya

A senior official at Frontex, who chose to remain anonymous, told Urbina that the agency also streams surveillance footage to the Italian Coast Guard and Italy’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Center. The Coast Guard intercepts the boats, and takes their passengers to centers like Al Mabani.  

Enough is enough 

Freedom United has been denouncing the E.U.’s complicity in the unlawful detention, abuse, extortion and slavery of people on the move in Libya since 2017. The upcoming elections in Libya will likely lead to new negotiations on migration between the E.U. and Libya. Take the chance to send the E.U. a clear message ahead of the negotiations: supporting these crimes is not acceptable. Sign the petition today. 

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CNN: Her dream to teach English in Japan ended with a lesson for the country

After overstaying her visa, Rathnayake was detained in Japan’s immigration system, where she died on March 6, 2021, at the age of 33.Rathnayake’s case made headlines in Japan and fueled debate over the treatment of foreigners in the country, where 27 immigration detainees have died since 1997, according to the Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees.Her death has also exposed the lack of transparency in a system where people can languish for years with no prospect of release — a system that her sisters are now campaigning to change.

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