Italy and Greece are the first two Members States where the Hotspot approach is currently being implemented. Other Member States can also benefit from the Hotspot approach upon request. In Italy, the regional headquarters in Catania (Sicily) is coordinating the work in four ports which have been identified as Hotspots, namely Pozzallo, Porto Empedocle and Trapani in Sicily and Lampedusa. In each of these Hotspots, first reception facilities are in place with a capacity for receiving approximately 1 500 persons1 for the purpose of identification, registration and fingerprinting. Two more reception facilities will be ready in Augusta and Taranto2 by the end of 2015. The implementation of the Hotspot approach in Greece is being modelled on the work done so far in Italy. A headquarter Hotspot in Piraeus will be established where asylum seekers will be received from different arrival points.
The Hotspot approach is triggered upon the request of a Member State.
Operational support provided in Hotspots will include:
Registration and Screening
Following screening persons are distinguished between:
a) Persons who wish to apply for asylum (Actors: national authorities with the support of EASO)
b) Persons who can be returned immediately (Actors: national competent authority with the support of Frontex)
c) Persons with regard to whom the situation may remain doubtful (Actor: national authorities).
Debriefing of migrants (supported by Frontex)
Stepping up investigations, information and intelligence exchange
Coordination of the return of migrants that do not have the right to stay in the EU legally
Interpretation to facilitate the work of the experts in relation to all the above
Our Comment: The Hotspot approach creates ‘states of exception’ within European states and fosters a culture of exclusion, detention and deportability. Documents make a reference to the protection of minors and other vulnerable categories but there is no specific plan in place as to how protective measures will be implemented in practice.
Volunteers, refugees, local authorities : everyone in Lesvos feels that the recent devastating events in Paris will have a massive negative effect on the refugee crisis not only in Europe but globally. In Skalia Sykamias, this Sunday only five boats arrived from the Turkish shore. Volunteers narrate a story to be confirmed : there are no more boats for the smugglers to use. They show us the motors of the boats that have already arrived. First, well known trademarks were used like “Yamaha” but now the brands have changed. Smugglers use cheaper motors even more defective, even more dangerous. “Things had just started to get organized” said A., a volunteer that has been in Skala Sykamias since the beginning of the refugee crisis in May. “Three main help-points one being run totally by volunteers, by crowdfundind and support from individuals, and two by the UNCHR and other NGOs, at least were something. Now, nobody knows what comes next. Paris was the worst thing that could happen. And somehow, everyone expected something like this”. Another volunteer points towards Turkey : “There is a G20 going on right now”. Everyone feels that the fate of thousands of refugees is being decided during this meeting.
Let us not forget that the refugees who arrive in the shores of the Mediterranean daily, have fled the similar violence perpetrated by the same people who designed and executed the attacks in Paris.
Refugee arrivals haven’t stopped for one single day. The combined efforts of the Greek coast guard and Frontex have once more not been able (against all odds – rough weather and worn-out dinghies and boats) to deter more deaths in the Aegean. Another shipwreck (4/11/2015) near Sykamia claimed five lives (three children and two adult men) and that’s only as far as the Lesvos region is considered. The reception of refugees on the island is depending solely on the efforts of locals and NGOs. The situation in the camp (hot-spot) of Moria remains dreadful while thousand of refugees having to sleep on the streets around the harbour under heavy rain and low temperatures.
In Mytilene, Saturday 31/10/2015 a comparatively massive demonstration was organized in the face of the recent death toll. The demonstration occupied the main street of the city and joined refugee groups waiting for the boat to Athens at the harbor. Demonstrators, both locals and refugees stood in unison in favour for safe and legal passage for those that seek to flee from war and poverty. A key point of the demonstration was the imperative need for the demolition of the fence, set up by the previous government, in Evros, that closed off a relatively safe land passage for the refugees.
The arrival of the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz in Lesvos was met with various demonstrations and the occupation of public buildings -such as the Old Mayor Office. The mayor of the island, Spyros Galinos had just before the arrival proclaimed a three-day mourning and arranged for a common Orthodox and Islamic prayer in honour of the dead in front of the Asia-Minor “Mother Refugee” statue in Epano Skala – an initiative with extremely condensed pro-tolerance and peace symbolisms.
02 November 2105
60 refugees were saved today, many of them women and children by the fishing boat Taxiarhis in Lesvos. The same boat, six days ago saved 41 people. Its captain, Stratis Kassos is one of the many on the island who show their solidarity to the refugees.
Update – 01 November
Dr. Giuliana Sano
Messina, a city of 250.000 inhabitants located in the northeastern littoral of Sicily, has become one of the most discussed cities by the national media in the last days. A huge landslip has destroyed the water pipeline which supplies the city while continuing rainfall floods the region. Inadequate emergency policies make local people suffer and exacerbate the living conditions of hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers that are forced to live in camps. Portrayed in this picture is the camp of Pala Nebiolo, one of the three camps put in place by the Ministry of Interior in Messina. A university baseball camp, was fasts transformed into ‘a reception centre’ for migrants when the first group of asylum seekers arrived in the October 2013. The Pala Nebiolo is supposed to be a temporary structure put in place to meet the demands of the “migrant emergency”. The camp hosts 30 tents that provide shelter to at least 250 persons. There are six bathrooms overall and a big refectory positioned among the tents. The space is at the mercy of weather conditions, both in the summer and in the winter time. The high temperatures of the summer make the tents suffocating, while in the winter the rain floods the tents making the cold unbearable. The health conditions produced by the exposure of asylum seekers to the elements of nature has become one of the most urgent issue raised by the migrants themselves, as well by the local associations and by activists who advocate the rights of migrants. Two long years have passed from when this camp came to exist, several protests and legal denounces have taken place, but the camp continues to be there, ready to ‘host’ more asylum seekers and migrants/refugees who arrive daily. .