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Greek Newspaper: Bulgaria Part of New Human Smuggling Route January 6, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Bulgaria, Yunanistan.
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Greek Newspaper: Macedonia-Bulgaria New Route for Human Traffickers: Greek Newspaper: Bulgaria Part of New Human Smuggling Route
The Greek paper used the fact that Bulgarian customs officers discovered 42 illegal ‘Asian’ migrants in a truck carrying peppers at the Oryahovo border crossing in Northern Bulgaria in June, as an example of the new route. Photo by telegraph.co.uk

Greek daily newspaper Makedonia has suggested that human smugglers have started to avoid Greece and instead are using a new corridor through Macedonia and Bulgaria.

The paper says criminal groups involved in migrant trafficking are now interested in sneaking illegal immigrants into Central Europe, thus Macedonia and Bulgaria have become new corridors.

Nonetheless, it goes on to say that Greece is still the major springboard for smuggling into Western Europe, the , adding that immigrants, particularly Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians and Palestinians use Greece as a transit country to the final destination.

The Greek paper used the fact that Bulgarian customs officers discovered 42 illegal ‘Asian’ migrants in a truck carrying peppers at the Oryahovo border crossing in Northern Bulgaria in July, as an example of the new route.

Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis on Tuesday emphasized that “75% of illegal migrants heading towards European Union countries pass through Greece”, speaking at a joint press conference with Frontex executive director Illka Laitenen, Greek ANA-MPA news agency reports.
Chryssohoidis stressed that the Frontex chief’s presence in Greece indicates the Union’s heightened sensitivity to the illegal migration problem and EU members’ increased and joint efforts to deal with the huge problem, which Greece cannot face alone.
On his part, the Greek minister, who holds the law enforcement portfolio, stressed that Greece is determined to close the borders with Turkey in order to radically tackle the problem, while he presented the country’s national action plan to Laitenen.
Deaths, Labor Exploitation, Violence, and Poor Treatment in Detention

(New York, December 16, 2009) – Many governments’ policies toward migrants worldwide expose them to human rights abuses including labor exploitation, inadequate access to health care, and prolonged detention in poor, overcrowded conditions, Human Rights Watch said today in advance of International Migrants Day, on December 18, 2009.

A 25-page roundup of Human Rights Watch reporting on violations of migrants’ rights this year, “Slow Movement : Protection of Migrants’ Rights in 2009 ” includes coverage of China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States.

“Governments seem to forget that when men, women, and children migrate, they don’t leave their rights at home,” said Nisha Varia, senior researcher in the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. “Instead of protecting people who already are at special risk of abuse, many governments further marginalize migrants, punish them, or push access to services out of reach.”

Research in Greece, Italy, Libya, Egypt, and Israel showed harsh policies toward arriving migrants, including lack of adequate screening to determine who is a refugee, arbitrary and indefinite detention, returning persons to countries where they risk abuse, and detention of children with adults. Aggressive policies to thwart migrants when they try to cross borders can be lethal. Since May, Egyptian border guards have killed at least 17 migrants trying to cross into Israel.

Both documented and undocumented migrants may face abuse or discrimination in their host cities and countries. Human Rights Watch has investigated pervasive mistreatment of migrant domestic workers and construction workers in the Middle East and Russia. Cheated by unscrupulous brokers and employers, these workers often told of excessive hours, unpaid wages, and confiscation of passports. In the worst cases, their situations amounted to forced labor and trafficking.

“Migrants form the backbone of many economies, performing the labor and services that people in their host countries depend on but won’t do themselves,” Varia said. “Instead of getting respect and the freedom and wages they are owed, they are treated as security threats, and in general, as undesirables to be pushed out of sight.”

Those apprehended for immigration offenses often face disproportionate punishments or prolonged detention in poor conditions. Human Rights Watch showed how the United States deports large numbers of documented migrants for nonviolent offenses with serious consequences for family unity and fails to provide adequate health care to migrants in detention. Immigration violations are sometimes treated as serious crimes, as in Malaysia, where punishments include imprisonment and caning. The fear of arrest and deportation also means that migrants may endure exploitative work conditions or avoid approaching authorities to report abuse.

“Governments have a right to control their borders, but they need to do so in a way that protects human rights,” Varia said. “Migrants who are abused are supposed to have access to legal remedies, regardless of their immigration status.”

Government attempts to control migrant populations within their territory often include discriminatory policies that broadly restrict migrants’ freedom of movement for no legitimate purpose, Human Rights Watch said. For example, several provinces in Thailand require migrant workers be confined to their workplaces or homes at night and prohibit them from traveling within the province. In countries such as Malaysia and Italy, governments have condoned vigilante-style monitoring of migrants by civilian groups. Migration can increase the risk of infection with HIV, tuberculosis (TB) or flu, but discrimination against migrants can impede their access to care.

Human Rights Watch called on governments to make stronger commitments to migrants’ rights in 2010, including ratifying the International Covenant on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families. The group also urged governments to:

– Reform immigration policies to facilitate documented migration that protects migrants’ rights, and to clamp down on intermediaries who deceive migrants or charge unlawful fees that leave migrants indebted and more vulnerable to exploitation;

– Screen interdicted migrants, new arrivals, and migrants in detention in accordance with international standards, including identifying asylum seekers, trafficking victims, and other vulnerable people, and ensuring that unaccompanied children are treated according to their best interests;

– Ensure access to a core minimum of health services regardless of citizenship or social origin, and repeal discriminatory provisions mandating automatic deportation of migrants living with HIV;

– Improve labor standards and enforcement in accordance with international standards, including equal protection of domestic workers, and strengthen inspection mechanisms to ensure regular payment of wages and decent working conditions for migrants;

– Investigate abuse and killings of migrants, whether by private citizens or government authorities, and prosecute fully through the relevant national laws while ensuring protection for migrants against retaliation. Investigations into abuse should be carried out irrespective of migrants’ immigration or contractual status.

Border crackdown on migrants

Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis yesterday heralded a major border crackdown aimed at significantly curbing the influx of undocumented immigrants into the country, noting that the majority of would-be migrants are trying to access the European Union from Turkey via Greece.

“Seventy-five percent of the arrests for illegal entry from the EU’s sea borders this year took place in the Aegean,” Chrysochoidis said following talks with the visiting executive director of Frontex, Ilkka Laitinen.

The minister said that stepped-up inspections at the country’s ports and airports had led to a sharp increase in arrests of undocumented migrants. He added that more Frontex officials would be employed to help determine migrants’ countries of origin and determine whether they should be deported or given temporary accommodation while their asylum applications are processed.

Chrysochoidis heralded the creation of a “model asylum system,” involving experts from the United Nations refugee agency and other bodies, “to ensure that all those entitled to asylum get it.”

Laitinen said that Greece would “remain of central interest to Frontex in 2010,” noting that the largest border-monitoring operation the agency was planning for next year “is to take place in the eastern Aegean.” The Frontex chief pledged an increase in the number of vessels and aircraft that the agency will dispatch to Greece for patrols and stressed that more Frontex experts would also be made available.

“Poseidon continues to be our most important operation,” Laitinen said, using the code name for the joint initiative involving the Greek coast guard and Frontex in the Aegean.

The agency’s chief said that curbing the influx of migrants would not be effective on its own. “We must gather more information about the modus operandi of smuggling rings,” he said, noting that Frontex would seek the cooperation of Turkey on this matter. Athens complains that its efforts to curb illegal immigration are being thwarted by the failure of Turkish authorities to honor a bilateral pact for the repatriation of migrants.

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