Corner Reports

The situation at the border crossings Gevgelija and Kumanovo for the period of November, 2017 28 December 2017

Monthly report for November 2017 on the situation at the border crossings Gevgelija and Kumanovo includes the following topics: Available facilities and conditions at the camp, Institutional treatment and irregular migration. The report can be downloaded at the following link.

Gevgelija

Over the course of this month, the number of refugees residing in the camp did not exceed 20. Greater stirrings were observed, but at the end of the month, only 10 refugees were accommodated in the camp. The refugees who transit only stay for a short while, in fact only if they need some rest, medical and humanitarian relief. Apart from the increased number of groups and individuals who are transiting, no major irregularities and violations of their rights have been observed. All the refugees were provided with medical and humanitarian aid.

Available facilities and conditions

All the refugees in the camp have been provided with warm clothes and shoes by the Legis organization which also organizes creative workshops for the children in the camp.

The refugees usually buy food from the town, because they are not satisfied with the food given to them in the camp.

There are gynecological check-ups available for the women in the camp, in a mobile health dispensary.

A large number of police officers were trained on how to use video cameras by the IOM. In the international patrol units, we could observe police officers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria.

A delegation of IOM also paid a visit to the camp.

The camp hygiene is at a satisfactory level.

Institutional treatment

In the course of the month, a total of 125 refugees were brought to the camp who stayed there a relatively short time, were temporarily accommodated and/or transported back to Greek territory. A total of 26 out of them were brought to the camp in smaller groups consisting of two or three people and after they were registered and interviewed by the security services and provided with humanitarian and medical aid they were immediately transported to Greek territory. The rest of the cases were larger groups which are in more vulnerable position due to their deteriorating health or other circumstances (caught as victims of smuggling). They most often come from Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh, Algeria, Tunisia and Syria. Please find the more notable cases below:

Early in the morning on 02.11.2017, a total of 13 refugees were brought to the camp, 8 of whom originating from Iraq, four from Pakistan and one from Syria. After a full day of questioning by the security services, four Pakistanis were transported to Greece, while the remaining members of the group were held in the camp due to their poor health. They were all provided with medical aid, while the Red Cross and Legis provided them with food and warm clothes. On the next day, three women and one girl originating from Iran arrived, who were also allowed to stay in the camp for the night. On the next day they were immediately transported to Greece, at their own request.

On 05.11.2017, a five-member family of Kurdish origin from Iran was brought to the camp, consisting of a mother, father and three daughters who were accommodated in the camp due to the poor health of the children. The family was caught by the police in the vicinity of Radovish, after the smuggler abandoned them because they were intercepted by the police and he fled. They were provided with a separate container and humanitarian and medical aid.

On 10.11.2017, 13 refugees were brought to the camp after the mixed patrol teams consisting of police officers from Macedonia and Croatia noticed a suspicious vehicle which they tried to stop in the vicinity of the village of Udovo. The vehicle did not stop and the driver fled it while it moved and moved into another car. 10 refugees were caught in the abandoned vehicle and three more were found in immediate vicinity. After a security check and after the refugees were provided with medical aid, they were immediately transported to Greece.

On 13.11.2017, 3 Albanian citizens were brought to the camp after being caught in an attempt for illegal border transit. They were taken to the police precinct in Gevgelija for further action. On 16.11.2017, two groups were brought to the camp. In the morning three refugees originating from Algeria and Libya were brought. One of them was a juvenile aged 16. It is not familiar where they were caught, and it is assumed that after being questioned and provided with humanitarian aid they were all transported to Greek territory. Later on in the course of the day, three more men and one child were brought, three of whom originating from Syria (a father and son and another person) and one originating from Pakistan. They were all provided with food and warm clothes. The father and son originating from Syria expressed desire to stay in the camp, which was immediately granted to them by the institutions, while the rest of them went back to Greece.

On 18.11.2017, 9 refugees originating from Pakistan, two from India and one from the Afghanistan were brought to the camp after being caught by the police on the road between Udovo and Demir Kapija. According to their testimonies, they were tricked by some smuggler who left them at an unknown place so they were forced to spend several days in the open air, in the woods, during bad weather. In the camp they were provided with medical aid, food, water and warm clothes, and were also interviewed by the security services. They were transported to Greece later on during the day. On the next day, 7 people from the camp i.e. 5-member family from Iraq and a father and son originating from Syria were transported to Greece at their own request.

On 24.11.2017, in the course of the night, 6 refugees originating from Iraq were brought to the camp after being caught by the police in the vicinity of Dojran, including two juvenile children, a pregnant woman and a man with a leg injury. They were all allowed to stay and accommodated in the camp where they were provided with medical and humanitarian aid. On the same day, 4 more refugees originating from Iran were brought to the camp, who had voluntarily returned from Serbia, and after several hours of rest were transported to Greek territory. Over the course of the day 7 more refugees were brought to the camp, two of whom were from Somalia and five from Iran. After they were interviewed by the security services and provided with humanitarian aid, the two refugees from Somalia were taken to Greece, while the five refugees from Iran were accommodated in the camp.

On 25.11.2017, 17 refugees were brought to the camp, four of whom were from Afghanistan and 13 from Pakistan, all of them male, including 5 juveniles. They had crossed the Macedonian-Greek border in the vicinity of the village of Moin, Gevgelija, with the help of a smuggler who tricked them and left them in an open field. Then they proceeded moving on their own, whereby they were caught by the police. They were provided with medical and humanitarian aid in the camp, and immediately after their registration by the security services, they were transported to Greek territory. It is problematic that they were transported from the place where they were caught to the camp in a single police van.

The Helsinki Committee warns the Ministry of Internal Affairs to be especially cautious when transporting larger groups of refugees, as transporting larger groups of people in a vehicle without the adequate spatial and other conditions may lead to inhuman and degrading treatment of the refugees.

On the same day, four Turkish citizens that the police caught in the vicinity of the village of Smokvica were brought to the camp. According to their testimonies, they are of Kurdish origin and belong to a minor ethnic group. They were moving on foot and alone (with the help of a GPS), and according to them they were emigrating due to economic reasons. They were all provided with humanitarian and medical aid. Together with the group of 17 they were all jointly transported to Greek territory.

On 28.11.2017, five refugees originating from Iran which had been accommodated in the camp two days prior, were transported to Greek territory. Consequently, the number of refugees staying in the camp went down to 10.

Kumanovo

Available facilities and conditions

The camp hygiene is at a satisfactory level. The refugees are provided with medical check-ups and the medical treatments that they need. They also have recreational and educational workshops to attend, such as creative crafts, language learning and board games.

All the newly arrived refugees in the camp are provided with food, water and warm clothes, as well as a container if they wish to be accommodated.

There is still a practice of having registered and unregistered refugees in the camp.

Institutional treatment

At the start of the month, 7 refugees of various origin were caught in the camp. The number fluctuated on daily basis, but it never exceeded the number of 20 refugees. Most of the refugees arriving in the camp are returning from Serbia, voluntarily or sent by the police, and their most frequent countries of origin are Pakistan, Algeria, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, India, Chad and Bangladesh. They most often make a short break in the camp to take some rest, whereby they immediately set back on their way. What is peculiar about some of the refugees is that they themselves refuse to be accommodated in the camp, so they only take food and water and immediately leave. At the end of the month, the number of refugees in the camp was 12, only 2 of whom were registered and 10 were unregistered. Out of them, only two are women, originating from Iran, while the rest of them are men.

On 09 and 10.11.2017, only one refugee was accommodated in the camp, aged 18, originating from Chad. He was considered unregistered in the camp. A few days later he left the camp, but returned shortly afterwards, probably due to the bad weather conditions.

Several representatives of the Asylum Department under the Ministry of Internal Affairs paid a visit to the camp, who explained the asylum request procedure to the refugees who had expressed intent to pursue it. Two people originating from Pakistan decided to submit an asylum request, and a few days later they were transferred to the Reception Center for Asylum Seekers in Vizbegovo, Skopje.

On 19.11.2017, 4 refugees arrived the camp, two of them originating from Libya and two from Pakistan, who had voluntarily come back from Serbia. After they were given food, the two Pakistanis immediately went on their way, according to their statement, to Greece, while the two refugees from Libya were accommodated in the camp. According to their statements, they were not planning to stay there long, but to leave shortly.

On 21.11.2017, after a major group of refugees originating from Afghanistan arrived at the camp, there was a total of 22 refugees in the camp. Out of them, 8 have been registered as originating from Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, and 13 as originating from Afghanistan and Iraq, who were left unregistered. Most of them wanted to be taken back to Greece, but were waiting for group transport to be organized. On the next day, 18 refugees left the camp by means of organized transport and were taken to Greek territory at their own will. At the same time, two more refugees left the camp at their own accord and headed for an unknown direction. With this, a total of three refugees stayed in the camp, two of whom originated from Libya and left the camp on the following day, and one recently admitted refugee originating from Iran.

On 23.11.2017, 5 refugees originating from Iran arrived at the camp, i.e. two families from Iran. According to their statements, they had arrived in Macedonia from Bulgaria. They wished to be taken back to Greece, although it is probably that they will need to wait for a larger group to be formed before any attempts for organized transportation are made.

Towards the end of the month, a total of 12 refugees, two of whom are registered, and 12 unregistered, originating from Iran, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. There are two women among them, and all the others are men.

Irregular migration

Over the course of this month, two criminal-legal events related to migrants and illegal migration were registered in the newsletters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The first one took place on 10.11.2017, when a mixed police patrol consisting of police officers from Macedonia and Croatia on the motorway Skopje-Gevgelija, in the vicinity of the village of Udovo noticed two suspicious passenger vehicles. When the vehicles refused to pull over after the police signal, the police patrol started following them at increased speed. At a given moment, the driver left one of the vehicles while it was still moving and entered the other vehicle that the police did not manage to stop. While searching the abandoned vehicle, the police found 10 refugees, along with three more refugees in the immediate vicinity. They were all taken to the Reception Shelter center Vinojug, Gevgelija and later on taken to Greece.

The second event was registered on 13.11.2017, in the vicinity of Negotino, when police officers attempted to stop a vehicle with Shtip registration plates, which at the given stop signal started increasing its speed. After some time, the driver stopped the vehicle and ran away, whereby nine people originating from Pakistan were found inside. After consulting the public prosecutor, as MoI informs, two of those people were taken to the Reception Center for Foreigners in Skopje, while the remaining ones will be transported to Greece.

The Helsinki Committee warns that the refugees who are victims of the smuggling groups should not be held as witnesses in the criminal proceedings against the smugglers, because this would constitute a violation of their freedom of movement.


This report is made possible by the generous support of the Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI) within the project „Improvement of the rights protection for migrants and asylum seekers in the Republic of Macedonia“. The contents are the responsibility of the Helsinki Committee for Human rights of the Republic of Macedonia and do not necessarily reflect the views of FOSI.

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