Cabinet only brings two single children from Moria to the Netherlands | NOW

The cabinet is only bringing two minor, unaccompanied refugees from Greece to the Netherlands. However, more vulnerable families with children are coming this way than previously agreed. State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol announced this to the Lower House on Tuesday. In total, this concerns 57 children and 43 adults.

After the devastating fire in the Greek refugee camp Moria last year, a deal was struck in the coalition to bring 100 victims of the fire here. This concerned fifty single refugees under the age of fourteen and fifty refugees living in families. But according to Broekers-Knol, these unaccompanied minor foreign nationals (UAMs) were difficult to find.

“It has turned out that UAMs up to the age of fourteen and also from promising countries are hardly available for relocation from Greece”, writes the State Secretary. “It must be prevented that unaccompanied children are brought to the Netherlands of whom there is a real chance that they will not be eligible for a permit after completing the asylum procedure and will eventually have to return to their country of origin.”

Also, not all refugees who came to the Netherlands at the time of the fire were in the camp on the island of Lesbos. “Nine families, of a total of 45 people, have stayed in Moria at some point,” the minister writes.

In December 49 people came to the Netherlands as a family. Some of them stayed on other Greek islands such as Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros.

Pressure on the cabinet increased

During the fire there were thirteen thousand people in camp Moria, while there was only room for three thousand people. After the fire, thousands of people were left homeless.

After images of the fire in Moria had spread around the world and countries such as France and Germany decided to accept refugees, the pressure on the Dutch cabinet increased. Broekers-Knol eventually promised to bring 100 refugees to the Netherlands. The number of refugees to be admitted in 2021 was reduced by 100.

Some opposition parties had asked the cabinet to take care of 500 single children.


the broken fate of Agitu Gudeta

A sunny face, the look both lively and soft, full of enthusiasm, Agitu Ideo Gudeta would have been 43 years old on January 1st. Shortly before, she was killed with a hammer by a farm worker, Adams Suleiman. According to his confession, the 32-year-old Ghanaian criticized him for not having paid him his last salary and would have lost all control during their discussion.

At the head of “La Capra Felice”

We nicknamed her the “queen of happy goats”, Agitu was at the head of an organic farming company, “La Capra Felice” (the happy goat), since 2012. Recognized for her talents as a goat breeder and producer of cheeses, she had represented the Trentino region at EXPO 2015 in Milan.

A long-time environmentalist, she embodied the strength of resistance for organizations like Slow Food or Legambiente, the main Italian environmental association. Charismatic, very cultured, she was also often invited by NGOs, working in favor of refugees. ” Migrants can add value She liked to repeat.

Arrival of migrants in Italy this weekend: estimates revised downwards

Her first links with Italy date back to 1996. That year, Agitu, born in Addis Ababa, won a scholarship and flew to the University of Trento where she obtained a Masters in sociology. Passionate about breeding since her childhood spent with her semi-nomadic shepherd grandmother, she then decides to return to her country. She founded an association there for the fight against land grabbing by multinationals. But, threatened with death by militias, she fled in 2010.

A girl from Trentino

“It was a real miracle, Agitu was able to fly back to Italy because she still had a study permit”, says her friend, Caterina Amicucci. She reunites with former university companions in the province of Trento. They accommodate her while waiting for her to be granted political refugee status.

For two years, she worked in a bar and then became involved in a project to requalify the territory and protect the Mochènes goats, an endangered species. She rents 11 hectares of land and settles in Frassilongo, a village in the heart of the Mochènes Valley.

Little by little, the shepherdess from Ethiopia was adopted as a girl from Trentino. We appreciate her courage, her devotion to the goats that she raises in freedom and protects from bears, day and night. “Nothing matters more than the goats in my life and nothing rewards me more than their love, they are my strength and my refuge », Can we read on his Facebook page.

→ READ. Italy: Senate sends Matteo Salvini to court for blocking migrants

To complete her training, Agitu will even make a detour to France where she learns the traditional art of mountain cheese makers. Over time, her excellent products, her entrepreneurial capacity, attracted the curiosity of the media which made her an icon of integration.


Agitu should nonetheless continue to fight against episodes of intolerance. In 2018, she suffered the physical assault of a racist and misogynistic neighbor. The latter will only be sentenced to 9 months of parole. But she continued on her path tirelessly, creating cosmetics based on goat’s milk, opening a shop in Trento, refining her educational farm project. “She constantly had new ideas for the community, her death is a huge wound”, moved the mayor of Frassilongo, Luca Puecher.

While waiting for the new destiny of “La Capra Felice” to be determined, the mayor entrusted the breeding to a young shepherdess. A jackpot organized on the GoFundMe platform by the association Amici d’Etiopa (Friends of Ethiopia) and the Più Europa party of Emma Bonino, has already raised € 86,000. The money will be used to help Agitu’s family repatriate his remains to Ethiopia and bring to life the dreams she has so brilliantly realized.


disaster and humanitarian heresy in Bosnia

The Lipa camp or the story of an announced disaster. For thirteen days, 900 people have braved the rain, wind, snow and mercury below 0 ° C in the mountains of the canton of Una Sana in the north-west of Bosnia and Herzegovina, near the border with Croatia. On December 23, the indigent Lipa camp was completely destroyed by an arson shortly after the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in charge of its management, was forced to leave the site.

“Our withdrawal was planned”, says Peter Van der Auweraert, the IOM official based in the nearby town of Bihac. Lipa camp was hastily established last April, amid the pandemic, to house migrants taking the Balkan route.

He had remained, since, without running water, neither electricity, nor heating. “The pressure on the authorities since the spring to equip this camp for the harsh winters has been in vain. The European Union announced in September that it would stop funding the operation of the camp under these conditions. Which was done on November 30. One of the tents then collapsed under the weight of the snow, fortunately without causing any injuries ”, explique Peter Van der Auweraert.

“It’s a nightmarish scenario”

IOM therefore packed up, after having distributed sleeping bags and warm clothes, with the idea that the 1,400 migrants then present in the camp would be safer in the various squats of Bihac, located 25 kilometers from Lipa, in expecting better. What 500 of them managed to do. The other 900, blocked by police roadblocks, were returned to Lipa. Half of them were to be greeted by the center of Bradina 250 kilometers further south. But faced with the opposition of a few dozen residents, they were again sent back to Lipa.

“It’s a nightmarish scenario”, worries Peter Van der Auweraert, who hardly hides his pessimism. Because operational accommodation centers exist, namely the Bradina camp, and that of Bira, in Bihac, which has 1,500 to 2,000 places but which the city authorities closed before the local elections last October. .

Both could accommodate the 900 migrants from Lipa, the thousand others scattered in the squats of Bihac, and several hundred in the streets elsewhere in the country. “We have the money, the assistance, the centers available, but we come up against dissensions between the local, regional and federal political authorities”, he laments.

In three years, with the support of Europe, the United States and the Danish Refugee Council, reception capacities for 8,000 people have been created making it possible to accommodate more or less all the migrants present on the site. Bosnian soil.

“The tents, erected on the ground, are unusable”

Faced with the emergency in Lipa, the European Commission released on January 3 additional aid of 3.5 million euros, in addition to the 4.5 million euros allocated last April. “The situation in Una Sana canton is unacceptable”, said Vice President Josep Borrel indignantly. “The local authorities must make available the existing facilities and provide a temporary solution until the Lipa camp is rebuilt into a permanent facility”, he pleaded.

→ LARGE FORMAT. “I was a slave in Libya”

Called to the rescue, the army has erected a dozen tents in Lipa, and must start repairing the road and supplying water and electricity. But according to Peter Van der Auweraert, “The tents, erected on the ground, are unusable and do not provide a solution for the coming days and weeks.”


Seehofer turns in late (

Photo: dpa / Jens Kalaene

Seven months after the Federal Administrative Court had actually forced him to do so, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) gave in to the dispute over church asylum. It’s about so-called Dublin cases. These are refugees who are threatened with deportation to the European country where they were first registered during their flight. In order to be protected from repatriation, they should in future have to spend less time in church asylum.

Dublin cases make up the lion’s share of church asylums. In December there were 282 such cases out of 295 church asylums, according to the nationwide working group “Asylum in the Church”. The Dublin Regulation states that you should complete your asylum procedure in the EU state you enter first. Other European countries can take over the asylum procedure in humanitarian emergencies. They have to take it over if they fail to send the refugee to the other EU country for six months. Only in cases when the refugees go into hiding in Germany do German authorities have 18 instead of six months to send the refugees to other EU countries.

Many refugees resist being returned to other EU countries because they had traumatic experiences there. They were abandoned homeless in Italy, tortured in Croatia or had to endure in Greek slum camps. Other refugees have relatives in Germany who look after them and therefore want to stay here. If parishes recognize a humanitarian hardship, they grant sanctuary. Most of the refugees in church asylum are also sick. When so-called Dublin cases go to church asylum, all they have to do is wait until the six or 18 months are up. Then you can stay here until your asylum procedure has been completed.

In the summer of 2018, the federal and state interior ministers decided to treat all refugees in sanctuary as if they had gone into hiding. In other words, parishes did not have to host them for six months, but rather 18 months to give them temporary protection. Unless the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees recognized a case of hardship. According to “Asylum in the Church” from 2018 onwards, this was increasingly rare. For the refugees this meant: They were excluded from all integration measures for 18 months. The parishes, monasteries and religious orders had to provide for the livelihood of their guests for 18 months. Because anyone who is in church asylum is excluded from state benefits. The churches also have to pay for medical services for their guests during this time. This is where denominational hospitals often step in by providing free treatment.

In June 2018 the Federal Administrative Court ruled that it is unlawful to consider refugees in church asylum as hiding. Numerous administrative courts had previously seen it that way. The authorities know where they are and could theoretically deport them. Simply out of respect for the church as an institution, they do not do this. The judges ruled that the deadline to send people to southern Europe must end after six months, not 18. Nevertheless, it took Seehofer’s authority seven months to implement the highest court ruling.

The ecumenical working group “Asylum in the Church” welcomed the late decision. “We now hope that this will initiate a return to a solution-oriented understanding on humanitarian hardship cases,” says spokeswoman Dietlind Jochims. For the people in sanctuary there is hope that their reasons for fleeing could be examined more quickly.


A new shoot for more say (

An unrenovated prefabricated building in Berlin Marzahn-Hellersdorf.

Foto: picture-alliance / ZB

“I would like there to be a garden here where we can have watermelons and tomatoes,” says Edita. The 13-year-old stands on a large green area on Maxie-Wander-Straße in the Hellersdorf district. She and some of her fellow campaigners from the refugee shelter opposite have high hopes for the district’s future construction projects on this wasteland. “I wish there was a house here where only girls can come in. So without boys, because they always annoy us, ”says ten-year-old Shakhsalem, for example.

The young activists address their wishes to those responsible in district politics. Together with the child and youth participation office Marzahn-Hellersdorf they shot a video with which they stand up for their cause. They implemented this plan as part of the Young Politics Studio project, which is intended to offer a pandemic-friendly alternative to the annual children’s and youth assemblies. In recent years, these gatherings have provided space for children and young people to exchange their concerns and questions with district politicians. Since these face-to-face events are not allowed to take place in the Corona lockdown due to the far too high risk of infection, this year they are instead making videos that they are sending to the district office and are now waiting for the answers – also as a video.

The films of the young people available online offer an interesting insight into their diverse problems and interests: The UN youth leisure facility in Marzahn, for example, fears that if the four-lane federal road B158 is planned to be converted, it will lead directly through their garden in the future. Schoolchildren in the Mahlsdorf district are still waiting for the construction of a previously missing youth club to begin. The team of the Children’s and Youth Parliament in the process of being founded is committed to ensuring that young people’s participation is structurally anchored in the district. Activists from Fridays For Future are calling for more climate protection measures. And children from the refugee accommodation on Albert-Kuntz-Straße in Hellersdorf want zebra crossings to be created for the way to school and musical instruments to be obtained for their accommodation.

So far, only two response videos from the district office have been published. “We are continuing to work on making response videos to all questions,” assures Frank Petersen, the press spokesman for the Marzahn-Hellersdorf district office. But this is a complex process in which many different departments of the district office are involved. It would therefore take some time, he said on request.

The next step is to publish an answer for the children on Maxie-Wander-Straße. Susan Hermenau, the coordinator for refugee issues in the district office, can give an insight in advance. “The green space in front of the refugee accommodation is intended for municipal housing, among other things,” she explains to the “nd”. Until there is construction, the area can be used for cultural events. “As an integration office, we are pleased that the refugee children are getting involved, they are often forgotten or not asked,” says Susan Hermenau.

Antonia Groner works for the child and youth participation office Marzahn-Hellersdorf and prepared and moderated the content of the question videos together with some of her colleagues. “Children and young people should participate politically and be involved,” says the 20-year-old. Overall, she is satisfied with the video version that she developed for the children and youth assembly.

“The whole thing was of course much more complex now, but I think it was worth it,” says Groner.


Bosnian camps: coalition refuses to accept refugees (

Foto: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Kemal Softic

According to its own statements, the federal government is doing enough for refugees who are stuck in Bosnian camps. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, there are no plans to bring migrants from there to Germany without shelter. According to the agency’s report, a spokeswoman said that the federal government had “appealed to both the central government and local authorities to find workable solutions for those in need of protection immediately and, in addition to the EU, offered its support in improving the local situation.” .

About a week ago, the Lipa camp in the border area with Croatia burned down and local protests failed to relocate the people to an old barracks. The EU announced that it would provide a further 3.5 million euros for the Balkan state in order to better accommodate refugees.

SPD politicians were open to taking on those seeking protection. Representatives of the Union rejected these considerations. Criticism of this stance came from the left-wing group on Tuesday. “It is a humanitarian duty for the federal government to take in refugees from the Lipa camp and to become active in the EU in order to negotiate a European solution for the people,” said parliamentary group leader Amira Mohamed Ali the “nd”. Anyone who simply blocks now will only contribute to exacerbating the catastrophic humanitarian situation of the refugees on site. “The Federal Government must ensure that the refugees are no longer denied the right to a fair asylum procedure in the EU,” said Mohamed Ali.

The organization Pro Asyl informed the “nd” on request: “There is no chance of protection and asylum in tents at the gates of the EU. The borders to the EU must be opened. «The situation is a direct consequence of the misery administration in Greece and the illegal push backs at the EU border through Croatia. “Evacuation to EU countries is inevitable, the federal and state governments must go ahead,” said Pro Asyl.

According to the United Nations, up to 2500 migrants are currently in a desperate situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. People have to endure at night temperatures below zero degrees, sometimes outdoors or in inadequate camps without water, electricity, toilets, showers and heating.


Refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Lipa is a nightmare

The plan to liquidate the Lipa camp and distribute the people to other accommodations failed. Now the camp is to be made winterproof.

Migrants in the Lipa camp watch Bosnian soldiers set up tents Photo: Kemal Softic / ap

SPLIT taz | Rain, cold, hunger, dirt: 900 migrants are still waiting in the makeshift camp in Lipa in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even if the Bosnian army has been setting up army tents since Saturday, the situation is hardly any better compared to the previous week. There are no sanitary facilities and no opportunity to cook or sleep in the dry, because the army tents also get damp in the continuous rain.

Lipa means “beautiful” in the Dalmatian dialect. But the beauty of this area has turned into a nightmare for these people. At least 800 other wander around Lipas, including children. A total of 8,500 migrants are said to be in Bosnia.

It hardly helps that a delegation consisting of the Security Minister Selmo Cikotić, the Defense Minister Sifet Podžić and some employees of international organizations came by on Sunday and promised an improvement in the situation. The warehouse is now to be made winter-proof and water and power lines and sanitary facilities are to be included.

But when? The security minister’s original idea was to liquidate the Lipa camp and to bring the inmates to Bihać over the winter in the heated factory halls of the Bira company. This camp served as a camp for migrants until last summer, but was closed by the city because of massive civil protests.

No alternative

On December 21, Lipa was disbanded, but the people were not given an alternative. Migrants set fire to the tents. The city of Bihać refused to reopen Bira and take in migrants despite pressure from the Council of Ministers, the Minister of Security, the EU delegation under Johann Sattler and the UN refugee organization IOM.

Other communities also waved them off, demonstrators blocked the way to an empty barracks in the town of Bradina near Sarajevo. And in Sarajevo the facilities for migrants are already overcrowded. So the buses returned with the migrants. Since then, 900 people have been back in Lipa.

The Council of Ministers was unable to assert itself against the municipalities. It didn’t help that the EU foreign affairs officer Josep Borrell invoked the “unacceptable situation”. Like the security minister, he too had to give in.

Now the Lipa camp is to be gradually made winter-proof in the presence of the migrants. In view of the situation, the EU is ready to pay an additional 3.5 million euros for humanitarian aid to Bosnia, according to Brussels. These would be added to the 4.5 million euros that had already been promised in April 2020.

Am Limit

When the delegation left again on Sunday afternoon, the people were disappointed. Some have gone on hunger strike. It is not yet certain whether the IOM, whose employees withdrew from the camp on December 21st in protest at the unstable situation in Lipa, will resume supplying the migrants.

So only NGOs like the Red Cross Bihać or SOS-Bihać are left trying to distribute the smaller donations from home and abroad to the migrants in Lipa and in the forests. The partly voluntary employees are at the limit of their capabilities, the organizations urgently need donations.

The call of many migrants for help from the EU will probably go unheard. After the statement by CDU board candidate Friedrich Merz that Germany would not accept migrants, humanitarian organizations in Germany demanded the opposite.


Young refugees in Berlin: arrive, but how?

So far, there has been the “Start together” program so that young refugees can find their way around Berlin. Now the Senate stops funding.

On a long journey: young refugees are being brought to Germany from Greece Foto: Eurokinissi/imago

The first weeks in Germany, the first steps, the first chunks of language are definitely not easy to cope with on this gray-cold December morning for the seven underage refugees. Six boys, one girl, between 14 and 17 years old.

The girl wears a white anorak that she will keep on for the hour. She won’t say anything because she can’t say anything yet: The Somali woman only arrived two days ago and speaks neither German, English nor Farsi like the other Afghan youths in the room. So it is all the more important that she is part of the lessons for unaccompanied underage refugees in Berlin from the start. “The first few months here are formative,” says Jana Krüger from the educational institution “educational Wilmersdorf”.

In the morning the small group ran up from the nearby initial reception center. Classes take place in a ground floor apartment. Windows facing the street, tables pushed together in the classroom, everything is very useful. The purpose: to make it easier to arrive.

The Berlin program “Start Together”, which was specifically aimed at underage refugees, has been running since 2016. While their residence status, accommodation, health issues and level of education were still being clarified, it offered the young people a school substitute.

In order to be able to attend a welcome class later or attend a regular school, the young people should first learn a little German. The courses also structured their everyday life. They got out of the shelter and learned to find their way around their new surroundings.

Until the end of 2020, the Senate Department for Education, Youth and Family provided funding for the “Start Together” program. The funding expired at the end of the year.

Why when the program was helpful and, as everyone involved said, worked well?

“From our point of view it was very successful,” says Yvonne Hylla from the German Children and Youth Foundation, which implemented the program for the Senate. To this end, the foundation has teamed up with eight independent youth welfare organizations, including “lehrreich Wilmersdorf”, the only language school for young people and children who have fled in Berlin who do not yet have a place in school.

After 2020 comes 2021, that’s for sure. And otherwise? The first issue of the year is dedicated to the big and small “Danachs”: Helge Schneider answers 49 questions, a reporter visits two women who suffer from long-term effects of a Covid-19 infection. Also in the taz on the weekend of January 2, 2021: everything after sex, after dinner, after the office and after the story. Always from Saturday at the kiosk, in the eKiosk or with a practical weekend subscription. And around the clock on Facebook and Twitter.

According to the foundation, a total of around 450 children and young people between 6 and 27 years of age, accompanied and unaccompanied, took part in the program in 2020. There were 12 study groups all over the city.

“We very much regret that it has been discontinued,” says Yvonne Hylla. They used questionnaires to get feedback from the young people, saying that it was very positive – not just in terms of language skills. The young refugees stated that they made new contacts through the project and got to know the city better.

During the lesson at “lehrreich” in Wilmersdorf in December, I introduce the young people to the profession of journalist. The school team doesn’t want me to interview the refugees, they shouldn’t feel questioned or watched. But telling something about the media in Germany is possible. The teacher writes German vocabulary on the blackboard; a colleague translates the words into Farsi, the young people write: the Daily newspaper, however the Day. Information, politics, economy, culture.

Sports get lively. One says he wanted to see a Champions League game, but that wasn’t possible at the property. Some speak some English, all except the girl speak Farsi. The translator asks: “Do you know a newspaper?” “I’ve never read one,” says a boy. “Do you write about us too?” Asks another. Merkel, who can be seen in a cartoon on the front page of the taz that day, is recognized by everyone. “What topic should newspapers report on?” Asks the translator. “Moria”, says a young person spontaneously. “I was there at the fire.”

After the lesson, the young refugees go back to their accommodation. The children and young people stay at the initial reception center in Wilmersdorf for up to three months, as long as their perspective and legal responsibilities are clarified. A guardian has to be found or the family has to be brought together. Some of the young people then switch to assisted living or shared apartments.

Participation in the “Start together” program was voluntary, the group composition was fluid, because young refugees kept arriving, others moved on or were given a place in school.

There were around 20 registrations at “lehrreich Wilmersdorf” in December, due to Corona the learning groups were divided into four units: one literacy, two beginners and one advanced course.

One morning in December, some of the educational institution’s team were sitting together in the classroom. One employee says: “Being able to arrive protected is important for the young people.” Getting to know the new city, the new country. First vocabulary, rules of conduct: how does what work? In addition to the language courses, the program also included: going shopping, driving the bus, visiting the zoo, playing the theater, doing handicrafts.

Tilo Pätzolt from the educational institution “educational Wilmersdorf”

“The fundamental question arises: Are we a city of immigration, do we want to be that?”

Artistic projects were also part of the concept. And movement: everyone played football together, no matter what language they spoke, what country they came from, whether boy or girl. Another employee said at the meeting in December that there was a strong desire to be close and to exchange ideas with one another. On the other hand, the carers treated issues such as flight and family cautiously. The participants should not be retraumatized.

What happens now that the program has expired? The “summer schools” for underage refugees will continue to exist and are also funded by the Senate. But there is no substitute for the pre-school language courses – and there is no longer any offer for unaccompanied young people in the first three months.

“Young refugees experience discrimination”

From the point of view of Yvonne Hylla from the German Children and Youth Foundation, a loss: “The young refugees experience a lot of discrimination. The offers represent a counterbalance. They convey that personal strengths and successes are in the foreground. “

Perceiving yourself, believing in yourself – that is what the program relied on. Ines Rackow, who is responsible for “Starting Together” at the Senate Department for Education, helped develop the concept from 2015 “when so many children with refugee experience arrived in Berlin who could not go to school”. Over the years, the program has been cut financially – from originally two million euros to just under 469,000 euros in 2020. In 2021, no more money is planned for it.

Ines Rackow saw the project come to an end “with the greatest regret”. But she also says: There is “unlike in 2015 no more need” for the program, because the children and young people can now quickly get a place in school. “We’re watching immigration,” says Rackow. “We are on guard. If there is a need, we have to react quickly. We have the structures. “

No more need? Andrea Niemann from the Foundation for the Promotion of Social Services Berlin sees it differently. The foundation is responsible for the central initial reception and clearing centers for unaccompanied, underage refugees in Berlin. According to her information, an average of 1.5 to 2 unaccompanied young people arrive in Berlin every day. How quickly young people get a place in school varies greatly, says Niemann, but it could also take a while.

Sometimes more young refugees come, for example in early autumn when the state of Berlin took in unaccompanied children and young people from the Greek islands after the fire in Moria. Funds for a ten-week German course were made available from an extra pot from the Senate for Education, Youth and Family. An extension is not planned.

For “educational Wilmersdorf”, the end of the “Start together” program is not a threat to the very existence of the company, says Managing Director Tilo Pätzolt. Nevertheless, he takes a critical view of the development: “It is important to us to have permanent structures.” Such a quick-start project like the language course for the Moria youth shows that the offers are still necessary. “The fundamental question arises: Are we a city of immigration, do we want to be that?”

With the beginning of the Berlin school holidays on December 19th, “Start Together” ended. The young refugees received learning packages for the accommodation. Only a few have a school place for the year 2021.


Extradition of Uyghur refugees to China is debated in Turkey

► Where is the extradition treaty between Turkey and China?

The bilateral agreement signed in 2017 between Turkish and Chinese justice ministers to facilitate the extradition to China of Uyghur refugees has just taken a new step. “The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has ratified” the text, the Chinese parliament said in a short statement released on Dec. 26.

→ EDITORIAL. Erdogan facing the Uyghurs

This treaty is part of the repressive policy initiated by China in the region of Xinjiang (north-west) after numerous deadly attacks committed against civilians and the departures of Uighurs for Syria or Iraq alongside Daesh. Far from being satisfied with targeting members of the separatist and Islamist movement, the authorities are said to have interned at least a million people in “camps”, modestly described as “Vocational training centers”.

It is in this context that Beijing obtained from Ankara the return of certain Uyghurs refugees in Turkey and suspected of “Terrorism”. However, the treaty provides for a few grounds for refusal: if Turkey considers that the extradition request is linked to a “Political crime”; whether the person concerned has citizenship (but Uyghurs who have obtained Turkish citizenship are rare) or enjoys the right of asylum. To become applicable, the text must now be ratified by the Turkish Parliament.

► Why did Turkey sign it?

In 2009, during the violent inter-ethnic riots that had set Xinjiang ablaze, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then Prime Minister, did not mince his words. “Frankly speaking, the incidents in China constitute a kind of genocide”, he had launched. Due to linguistic, cultural and religious ties, Turkey has long championed the Uyghur cause on the international stage. It is home to around 50,000 of them, the largest community outside of Central Asia.

But this support has gradually faded. In the summer of 2019, received with great fanfare in Beijing, President Erdogan admitted to the official China New Agency that people are ” happy “ in Xinjiang. Since then, arrests of Uyghurs have already started in Turkey, and several activists have been extradited to China via Tajikistan.

This agreement reflects, in the eyes of researcher Annick Cizel, the positioning “Paradoxical of Turkey, torn between the defense of the Muslim world in the Mediterranean and that of its financial, commercial and health interests which pass through China”. “The Turkish national interest as defined by Recep Tayyip Erdogan commands the sacrifice of the Uyghurs to keep Turkish power afloat”, analyzes the foreign policy specialist.

► Who is against it in Turkey?

The Uyghur World Congress, an exile organization based in Germany, is mobilizing to prevent ratification by the Turkish Parliament. “Even though Turkey has taken an increasingly authoritarian path, popular pressure is still playing on the government”, assures Dilnur Reyhan, teacher at Inalco and spokesperson for Uyghurs in France.

→ INVESTIGATION. From Adidas to Zara, big brands in the Uyghur trap

“In the past, support came mainly from the traditional and nationalist right, and therefore from the AKP. Since information filtered out about the internment camps, the left and the far left have taken up the torch, analyzes the researcher. China uses “debt diplomacy”. But we hope that the opposition will make itself heard. “


CDU and SPD are arguing about accepting refugees

At the EU’s external border, people live under dramatic conditions in winter weather. The SPD and CDU do not agree on how the aid for the migrants should look. One thing is clear: a solution is needed.

The CDU and the SPD are arguing about the admission of refugees from camps in Greece or Bosnia. SPD parliamentary group vice Achim Post was open to it on Sunday, but CDU politicians Friedrich Merz and Thorsten Frei warned against an incentive to migrate to Europe. The organization Pro Asyl accused the European Union of total failure, especially with a view to the plight of migrants in Bosnia.

Both on the Greek island of Lesbos and in the Bosnian border area with the EU state Croatia, migrants are inadequately housed in winter weather. The situation is acute in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the Lipa camp burned down about a week ago and the transfer of hundreds of people to other accommodations failed.

SPD parliamentary group Vice Post told the German Press Agency: “What we are currently experiencing in some places on the Greek islands and in Bosnia-Herzegovina is a humanitarian emergency.” And he added: “Here help, also through the willingness to take in refugees in need, is a human imperative.”

“This path is no longer open”

CDU politician Merz spoke out against the inclusion in principle. “Above all, the entire European Union has an obligation to help the refugees in the Balkans or on the Greek islands on the spot,” said the candidate for party chairmanship in the newspapers of the Funke media group. “However, this humanitarian catastrophe cannot be resolved by saying: Everyone comes to Germany. This path is no longer open.”

Union faction Vice Frei also refused to accept migrants from Bosnia. This could quickly send the fatal signal that the way to Germany was free, he told the dpa. “We would create a huge incentive to migrate to Europe.”

A solution must be found urgently

The EU pledged a further 3.5 million euros to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday to better accommodate the migrants. The foreign representative Josep Borrell called the situation unacceptable and urged the Bosnian authorities not to let people sit in the cold.

The EU envoy Johann Sattler met on Saturday with the German ambassador Margret Uebber and other diplomats with the Bosnian security minister Selmo Cikotic to talk about the “completely unacceptable” situation. Sattler said the lives and basic rights of hundreds of people were “in serious danger”. The EU said the situation was “extremely worrying”; a solution had to be found urgently.

“No chance of protection and asylum”

The Bosnian army had started setting up new tents in the burned-out Lipa camp. This is a necessary step, but the authorities now urgently need to ensure the supply of water and electricity in Lipa and fully expand the camp as quickly as possible, explained Sattler. Camp Bira must be reopened by then. The EU is helping Bosnia-Herzegovina with 85.5 million euros, emphasized Sattler.

The organization Pro Asyl declared that in “tents at the gates of the EU” there was “no chance of protection and asylum”. In a statement, the activists called for the borders to be opened and the “freezing people” in the EU to be taken in. They also called for the refugees to be transferred “immediately” to an emergency shelter in Bihac.

Local residents protested against the accommodation of refugees

Pro Asyl also warned that the German CDU’s internal power struggle for chairmanship could paralyze the political response to the crisis after Merz spoke out against the admission of refugees. The organization characterized this as a “provocation” of a “CDU hardliner”.

The EU Commission and the IOM are in favor of reopening a refugee camp in an abandoned factory in Bihac, but the local authorities are opposed to it. Last week, the authorities tried to bus the refugees to a former barracks in the south of the country. However, the refugees could not leave the buses at their destination, as residents protested their arrival there.

Police assume arson in Lipa

In the Mediterranean, the Spanish rescue ship “Open Arms” picked up 265 boat migrants in two actions and looked for a safe harbor on Sunday. The ship was a good 100 kilometers from the Italian island of Lampedusa. According to the operator, Italy did not initially respond to the request for an entry permit.

The former refugee camp near Lipa was on December 23rd was destroyed by a major fire. The camp’s infrastructure was completely destroyed by the flames. Police believe that former residents set fire to the camp to protest a decision by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Around 8,500 refugees live in Bosnia

The IOM helpers had withdrawn from the camp the day before Christmas Eve because it was not adequately supplied with electricity, water and heating. The camp in Lipa was set up as temporary accommodation in April. There is no longer any other regular accommodation for the refugees in this area.

Bosnia is on the so-called Balkan route, which has been used by tens of thousands of refugees since 2018. They are fleeing war and poverty from the Middle East, Asia and Africa to Western Europe. There are currently around 8,500 refugees living in Bosnia.