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Greece evicts vulnerable refugees, leaves them on the streets – MSF

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  • An increasing number of MSF patients with severe health and mental health conditions in Greece are being threatened with eviction or have been evicted from their accommodation.
  • The Greek government has been granted EU funds for enlarging the mainland’s accommodation scheme, yet to find a quick solution for the congested camps on the islands, the eviction of more than 11,000 recognised refugees has begun.
  • MSF is calling on the Greek government to stop the evictions of all vulnerable people (pregnant women, victims of sexual abuse, victims of torture, elderly, families with children) and identify alternative solutions.
  • Sending vulnerable people to the street, especially during a pandemic, is inhumane and non-sustainable.

ATHENS –  An increasing number of refugees in Greece with severe health and mental health conditions are being threatened with eviction from their accommodation, cut off from cash assistance and left in the streets without access to shelter, protection or proper healthcare.

Looking for a quick solution to decongest the overcrowded camps on the Greek islands, the Greek government has begun to evict more than 11,000 beneficiaries of international protection from their supported accommodation in Greece, many of whom are extremely vulnerable.

READ  Redouble efforts in implementing GCM, protecting migrants' human rights- UN Secretary General tasks members, partners

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is calling on the Greek government to suspend evictions of vulnerable people, including survivors of sexual violence, torture and ill treatment, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases; to identify immediate accommodation solutions and to enlarge the existing accommodation programmes.

VIDEO

Greece evictions

Greece: vulnerable refugees evicted and left to sleep on the streets
In the midst of a global pandemic, governments should be protecting people at high risk of COVID-19, not throwing them out onto the streets.

“We have patients with serious medical conditions who are being abandoned, while women in an advanced stage of pregnancy are sleeping on Victoria Square in central Athens,” says Marine Berthet, MSF medical coordinator in Greece.

“In the middle of a global pandemic, governments should be protecting and shielding people at high risk of COVID-19, not throwing them out onto the streets and leaving them without protection, shelter or access to basic healthcare.”

In June, an extremely vulnerable MSF patient died from a cardiac arrest shortly after she was threatened with eviction and subsequently left her accommodation.

“Our patient who died was paraplegic and had multiple serious medical conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, yet she had been threatened with eviction on multiple occasions,” says Berthet.

“Under the fear of losing her home, her family moved her to Schisto camp, where her son was staying in a container with 12 other people; two days later she suffered a cardiac arrest and died.”

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At least 30 other MSF patients with serious medical conditions have either been evicted or notified of eviction, and now face the prospect of being homeless and cut off from cash assistance.

We have patients with cancer, survivors of torture, single mothers with chronic diseases and heavily pregnant women who are essentially being told to sleep rough, without any support.

“The case of the woman who died is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Berthet. “We have patients with cancer, survivors of torture, single mothers with chronic diseases and heavily pregnant women who are essentially being told to sleep rough, without any support.”

Many MSF patients with serious chronic diseases have had their possessions removed from their accommodation and been told they must leave, without any indication of where they should go.

Dozens of other patients have been notified that they must leave, while their cash assistance has been stopped, despite their extreme vulnerability. Meanwhile, the city squares are filling up with vulnerable refugees, including children, pregnant women, newborn babies, people with severe chronic conditions and survivors of torture and sexual violence.

In June this year, Greece’s Ministry of Migration and Asylum pledged to cut spending on the housing programme for asylum seekers by up to 30 per cent. Meanwhile, in February, the Greek government was awarded EU funds to enlarge the accommodation scheme on the mainland. However, so far, no extra accommodation has been made available.

READ  Thousands of migrants forced to sleep rough after closure, destruction of Bosnia camp

In response to the hundreds of refugees sleeping on the streets of Victoria Square in Athens, we are referring those most in need of medical care to our daycare centre in Athens. However, the refugees’ most basic needs are not being covered.

We urgently call on the Greek government, the EU and all organisations involved in providing shelter to find immediate accommodation solutions for all those refugees currently sleeping on the streets of Athens, and to halt evictions of refugees until all administrative barriers to integration and access to healthcare have been lifted.

 

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Human trafficking: PJI  urges proper trauma management for returnees

The Pathfinder Justice Initiative (PJI), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has called for proper trauma care for migrant returnees to prevent them from becoming vulnerable to subsequent trafficking.

Evon Benson-Idahosa, the Executive Director, PJI, made the call at a Rehabilitation Workshop for Providers Serving Survivors of Human Trafficking held in Benin on Thursday.

The workshop was organised by PJI and funded by INSighT- Building Capacity to deal with human trafficking and transit routes to Nigeria, Italy and Sweden.

Benson-Idahosa said that a majority of returnee-migrants usually undergo different traumatic situations and needed to be properly rehabilitated before being integrated back into the society. She noted that if the migrant returnees were not properly rehabilitated, they would not be able to put into good use any form of skills acquisition or empowerment received.

“Providers serving survivors should know how to handle traumatised victims because many of them, especially females, have been raped and have gone through horrible experiences during their trafficking journey.

READ  COVID 19: Thousands of migrants stranded as 220 countries impose travel restrictions

“The providers should know that there are best practices in terms of handling trafficked victims; they need to use a survivor centred approach to prioritise the needs of the victims,” she said.

She called on the government at all levels to partner more with NGOs on providing best traumatic care for returned migrants in the country.

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How Nigerian-American police officer burst human trafficking syndicate in US

A retried Nigerian American Police officer, Samuel Balogun  narrated how he  burst a human trafficking syndicate that specialized in using minors for prostitution.

“My biggest accomplishment was bursting a human trafficking crime,” Balogun said.

Giving details of how he executed the task,  the dark skinned retired police officer said: “ There was a guy that was using minors for prostitution on the internet.  I have an accent and when I speak people know I am an African. So, I had to go undercover and had to call the guy on the internet.  I said ‘ hey! what is going on, I am in town. I am a truck driver and I want some girls.’ I asked  how old? He said the younger they are, the more money. I said about 15 to 16 years. He said ok.  I asked  how many he could bring and he replied two. He said which hotel was I and I gave the name to him. He told me to hang up and  he called back  the hotel. He subsequently called me and asked if I was there and I said yes. He said he would be there in 20 minutes.

“We were waiting for him to come but he was smart too. He dropped the girls down the street and made them walk to the room. The girls asked how much I was ready to pay and wanted to take off their clothes but I said not yet.  In the next room were officers listening to our conversation. When I make a signal, that means it is time for them to come in. but before you make the signal, you have to make sure they have mentioned the price, they have given the reason why they were there, so it doesn’t look like you are entrapping them.  When I made the signal, the officers burst in and arrested everybody including me.

Thereafter, Balogun said  the police  processed the girls and after that, “they said look, you are minors and we know somebody is pushing you to do this. Now we don’t want to arrest you but tell us how to get to the boss.  The girls cooperated and  made as if they were leaving. When the man pulled up to pick them up, and that was how we arrested  him. That stopped a lot of those crimes.”

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Balogun said he was in Nigeria to bring his wealth of experience to bear on the disturbing security situation in the country. “ I am trying to bring back  my experience as a  police officer in the states to Nigeria. When you look at the #endsars period, the performance of the police was something that hurt my feelings. How can we make it better? How can we make the police job something that people will look with respect  and want to join?”

He hinted that his  security firm is involved in training not only police officers but “ I also train private security companies. I am in touch with a lot of private security companies in Nigeria.  There is another concept which Nigeria is embracing right now.

“It is called community policing. In the states it is called neighbourhood policing or community policing. It works in a way that in every street, there would be a police officer that lives in that neighbourhood.   You get to know the people and the people know you. In some apartments, they will give you a discount just for the police officer to be there because they know once a police officer is living there, the police car is outside and the crime level will reduce. People are more likely to talk to that officer because they know him. They are more able to tell him’ hey we know who committed that crime.’  For every crime, you need people to tell you what happened. You can have all the gadgets but if people are not talking, you can’t solve the crime.”

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He further said: “I am training police officers, security companies and executive protection. What my security company is doing is to free the police officers from attachment to chiefs, politicians and all that.  We train civilians to represent those officers so that they can go back to the street and do their normal jobs.  We have what we call executive protection/training. We have people that follow the president.  We can train you on how to be efficient and sometimes using less force, description tactics.”

Further expatiating on what his security firm does, the soft spoken officer said: “What my company is trying to do is to bring people to the table.  We are trying to train companies that there is a better way of security where we can teach you how to defend yourself, how to prepare for any emergency, and how to use less force. I have a guy, a navy seal that worked for the United States of America. You will be amazed about what he can do. He can disarm you in a minute even when you come with AK 47.    I am also bringing Hostage Negotiation, people that can talk to you when ransom has to be paid. In the US, we call it Hostage Negotiation.  They can talk to these people, and know their psyche. It is a full package. When you come  to my firm, you can see the whole spectrum  and choose.”

As a vastly travelled person, Blagun said: “I travel a lot and in all the African nations is where you see officers with AK 47. They said it is more intimidating. Criminals use AK 47 in America too but we still don’t carry it.  Is that the right weapon for the police officers, I leave that question open. “

READ  Thousands of migrants forced to sleep rough after closure, destruction of Bosnia camp

On the attitude of the Nigerian authorities his plans, he said: “I have talked to a lot of people in higher positions. In some places I don’t want to mention, I have got good responses.  My firm has done some things with certain private firms and the police. I have dealt with some highly placed security firms. So, this is not my first time here.  We are   looking at having training in Sheraton around July/August this year. It is going to be a big one. I am bringing a retired FBI agent, a navy seal, a retired marine , myself and may be two other officers.

“This is my country, I am proud of it. I am sad sometimes when you look at the security aspect of it.  With my experience, I am trying to make it a better place.  It has always been my passion to come back home. I am retired and don’t really need to work again. My benefits are okay untill I die.  But why die with all this experience when I can pass it to the next person.”

 

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Hundreds of thousands of people leave Britain due to pandemic

 

Hundreds of thousands of people have left Britain as a fallout  of the pandemic on the economy, according to a study released yesterday.

There is an “unprecedented exodus” of workers born outside Britain, researchers at London’s Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence said.

“It seems that much of the burden of job losses during the pandemic has fallen on non-UK workers and has manifested itself in return migration, rather than unemployment,” said the authors.

The study is based on labour market data.

The trend was particularly notable in London, where one in five residents was born abroad.

The capital’s population has fallen by 700,000, the study said, adding that nationwide, the figure could be more than 1.3 million.

If these numbers are accurate, this is the largest decline in Britain’s population since World War II, according to the study.

No evidence suggests that similar numbers of British people who live abroad are returning to Britain.

However, this could be a temporary trend, the researchers said, noting that workers from abroad might return after the pandemic.

The British economy depends on workers from abroad and it is not only threatened by migration due to the pandemic.

Many industries fear the loss of skilled workers due to Britain’s departure from the European Union and stricter migration laws.

A further trend in 2021 is also causing concern, described as a “baby bust” by consultancy PwC, which said many couples were postponing having children due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

This could lead to the lowest birth rate since 1900, PwC said in early January.

READ  IDPs contribution will be needed after pandemic-Vatican

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Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

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