Things are moving on Lesvos, but certainly not in good ways.
Yesterday 55 people were deported back to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal which was signed in march this year. According to newspaper reports they were mainly from Pakistan, Algeria and Marocco. Only 15 of these people actually stayed on Lesvos prior to their deportation, the others were brought to Mytilini from the mainland.
At the same time the deal between the EU and Afghanistan was signed, that forces Afghanistan to take back an unlimited number of people, whose asylum applications were refused in Europe. Afghanistan´s government was threatened to lose their aid fund granted by the EU, if they don’t sign. This “agreement” was clearly blackmailed and “by-passing formal law-making and parliamentary scrutiny” (Tony Bunyan from statewatch.org).
It will lead to a sharp increase of the number of Afghani citizens that will be deported back into a situation of war and violence. Currently they make up the second largest group of migrants arriving in Europe. The deal comes in a time when Afghanistan is not any safer now than it has been in the last 20 years.
With the fire breaking out in Moria two weeks ago that received international media attention and the ongoing fragility of the EU-Turkey Deal, the Greek government seems to see itself under pressure to “clean up” the unbearable situation of the overcrowded camps on the islands. Last week, the government announced to bring those refugees whose asylum is most likely granted (e.g. Syrians) and especially families and so called “vulnerable” people to the mainland. There, they are supposed to be “well observed”, which means they’ll be probably lodged in the military camps.
While for some it is good news to hear they can get out of the islands, for others it is quite the opposite. They not only remain in a state of isolation and desperation but we also fear that with the transfer of refugees to the mainland a wave of deportations back to Turkey and other countries will hit the islands. We experience the strategies of EU politics of closing all possible doors to people seeking refuge in Europe as well as their discourse of the division into good “legitimate refugees” and bad “economic migrants” being played out on Lesvos fast.
We don’t see any positive developments coming in the future. Most people stay trapped in Greece. While some groups of people might be able to go to the mainland and get asylum there they will still be forced to stay in Greece against their wish. The fact that they are denied freedom of movement and a choice in which country they want to claim asylum and therefore live (legally), remains true for all people. Groups of people, who are falsely categorized as unpolitical, economic migrants will more and more be deported back to countries outside of Europe.
What the European governments deliberately ignore is the fact that there are no unpolitical migrants. All people have their reasons, and many of them have been created by Europe itself. Europe´s leaders close their eyes to these realities. When they classify Afghanistan and Turkey as safe enough to process deportations they clearly show that the EU is not ready to welcome refugees but only ready to welcome people as exploitable labour force to stabilize its own economy and make Europes rich even richer.
We demand freedom of movement for all! Stop EU Turkey deal and stop all deportations!
No one is illegal!