Jonathan Samuels, Sky News Correspondent, and his team discovered a discarded handbook, printed in Arabic, on the shore of the Isle of Lesbos, providing the migrants with detailed information on the routes, important phone numbers, non-government organizations that aid the migrants and on their rights in target countries1)(also video), Sky Finds ‘Handbook’ For EU-Bound Migrants, Sky News 2015-09-13.. WatchTheMed (watchthemed.net and alarmphone.org) and w2eu (w2eu.info and w2eu.net) are among the organizations listed in the said rough guide.
The w2eu.info website with its subheading that reads ‘independent information for refugees and migrants coming to Europe’ tells about itself that it intends to support the migrants’ efforts because ‘freedom of movement is everybody’s right.’ Its activists who are located in different EU countries claim they do their work free of charge. The website provides information on such topics as Contacts, Overview, Safety at Sea, Dublin III, Asylum, Gender, Minors, Regularization, Detention, Deportation, Living, Family, Medical, and Work relative to all EU countries. Thus, for instance, under the heading Safety at Sea the migrant is informed that he may call WatchTheMed, which will in turn notify of the distress or catastrophe at sea the coastal guard, pressure it into rescuing the endangered or capsized boats; it will also let the media know about the event, and exert (moral) pressure on central or local authorities to act. Under the heading Gender the migrants are informed about their rights in, say, Denmark, where, if they claim to be persecuted, discriminated against, degraded or otherwise treated inhumanly due to their sex, gender or sexual orientation, they won’t be deported. The heading Deportation instructs the migrant how to avoid being deported or how to make such a decision ineffective. The heading Family for Austria explains the right of family reunification i.e. the way to get other members of the migrant’s family over to Europe. And so on.
The same website provides leaflets, instructions and ‘visit cards’ to be printed in such languages as English, French, Arabic, Farsi (or Persian, spoken in Iran and Afghanistan), Pashto (one of the two official languages in Afghanistan), Tigrinya (spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea) and Somali. The visit card gives WatchTheMed Alarm Phone on one side and a very short guidance on two cases: Distress at Sea and (Danger of) Pushback, on the other2)w2eu.info – welcome to europe.. The brochure entitled ‘Risks, Rights and Safety at Sea’ (there are versions for the West Mediterranean, Central and the Aegean Seas) provides instruction on how to prepare for the journey in a boat across the sea. The migrant is told to make sure the boat is seaworthy; that he has enough food, water, and clothing; that he has his GPS and mobile phone with fully charged batteries, paid for overseas calls; he is advised to notify his relatives and friends in the target country as well as in his home country of the place and time of the departure and arrival, so they know when to inform the services in case the arrival is overdue; to have warning signals to attract the attention of the vessels passing by, since, as it is stated, every captain has the obligation to rescue seafarers without regard for their nationality or legal status; how to behave during the rescue operation; and, once on European soil, how to claim the right for asylum under the 1951 Geneva Convention. The migrants are told in no uncertain terms what they must say in order to be granted asylum, which is granted because of prosecution for race, religion, nationality, membership of a social or political group. The migrant is also encouraged to report any violation of his rights.
The brochure entitled ‘Welcome to Greece’ of October 2015 explains that although pursuant to the Dublin Regulation the migrant needs to seek asylum in the first country he arrives in, still the EU countries have given up on this convention; a clear tip to proceed with the journey further inland in Europe. It also informs that economic migrants will not be granted the asylum; again a clear hint at what to say in order to be qualified. And it provides the timetable for ferries and ships complete with the price of the fare. There is also information on the geography of Athens, addresses of aid organizations and a short list of useful phrases in Greek.
Watch the Med (MTM) is a sister organization or, as it claims, an online mapping platform that monitors deaths and instances of violation of human rights at the maritime borders of the EU.
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