Connect with us


For Greek Camp Migrants, COVID-19 Quarantine Was Spark

LESBOS, GREECE – For asylum-seekers trapped in the overcrowded facility on Greece’s island of Lesbos..

LESBOS, GREECE – For asylum-seekers trapped in the overcrowded facility on Greece’s island of Lesbos, Moria was hell most days. But a coronavirus quarantine was the final straw.

It was just before midnight Tuesday when eight migrants who tested positive for COVID-19 were told by authorities they would be isolated to an area just beyond the gated compound, according to witnesses and government officials.

Their relatives would also be moved into the fenced unit, about 40 small wooden houses on a hill inside Greece’s biggest migrant settlement set up to deal with any breakout of COVID-19, for further testing.

The news did not go down well, and scuffles broke out in the area, surrounded by olive trees, the witnesses and officials said. The melee spread when other migrants in tents close to the isolation unit joined the fray.

Minutes later, the fire broke out and tents were in flames, fanned by strong winds. By morning, the sprawling complex was a smoldering mass of mangled steel and burned tents and containers. Thousands, including children, were forced to sleep on the streets around the camp.

“It was chaos,” 21-year-old student Elena Ilunga said. “I took my things from the tent and ran to the street.”

Ilunga said she initially saw flames burning forest land, but later saw five or more fires inside the camp, one of them close to her tent.

Greek authorities have launched an investigation. The government says the fire was started by asylum-seekers, without providing evidence.

The Moria camp’s more than 12,000 residents, four times its capacity, were already sorely tested by living in conditions that U.N. officials had decried as shameful — packed into tents and containers with little running water and frequent fights over food.

“Life in Lesbos is hell. The situation in Moria was very bad,” said 26-year-old Mahmoud Noorzaie from Afghanistan, who lived there for more than a year. “We want to leave this island,” he said, after the fire.

It is not the first time there has been a fire at the camp. A woman was killed there last year.

Lesbos, not far from Turkey in the northeastern Aegean Sea, was the preferred entry point into the European Union in 2015 to 2016 for nearly a million Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis. The flows have been reduced significantly in recent years, but thousands remain stuck there, pending a decision on their asylum request.

Without shelter for a second night and residents opposing government plans to set up tents in other areas, most of the asylum-seekers hope they will now be moved to the mainland.

But for now, authorities have said none of them are allowed to leave Lesbos.

“It’s very bad now after the fire … but we hope that we can leave now to go to Europe,” said Divine, an 18-year-old Congolese. “This place will give me nightmares.”

Read from source

Continue Reading


Covid: Thousands protest in France against proposed new vaccine pass

A new draft law would in effect ban unvaccinated people from public life.

Demonstrators in the capital, Paris, held placards emblazoned with phrases like “no to vaccine passes”.

Interior Ministry officials said 34 people were arrested and some 10 police officers were injured after the protests turned violent in some places.

The bill, which passed its first reading in the lower house of France’s parliament on Thursday, would remove the option of showing a negative Covid-19 test to gain access to a host of public venues.

Instead, people would have to be fully vaccinated to visit a range of spaces, including bars and restaurants.

The government says it expects the new rules to come into force on 15 January, although the opposition-dominated Senate could delay the process.

But demonstrators on Saturday accused the government of trampling on their freedoms and treating citizens unequally.

Others targeted their anger at the president, Emmanuel Macron, over comments he made earlier this week in relation to unvaccinated citizens, telling Le Parisian newspaper that he wanted to “piss them off”.

One protester, hospital administrator Virginie Houget, told the Reuters news agency that Mr Macron’s remarks were “the last straw”.

And in Paris, where some 18,000 people marched against the new law, demonstrators responded to his coarse language by chanting: “We’ll piss you off”.

TV images showed altercations between protesters and police turning violent in some places. In Montpellier officers used teargas during clashes with the demonstrators.

Turnout for the protests was estimated to be about four times higher than the last major demonstrations on 18 December, when some 25,500 people marched across the country.

But despite the vocal protests, opposition to the new measures is not widespread and recent polling suggests the vast majority of people back the vaccine pass.

France is one of the most highly vaccinated countries in Europe, with more than 90% of over-12s eligible for the shot fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, new coronavirus infections are rising rapidly across France as the new Omicron variant takes hold.

The country recorded more than 300,000 new cases for the second time in a week on Friday and admissions to intensive care wards are rising steadily, putting healthcare systems under strain.

Some hospitals have reported that some 85% of ICU patients are not vaccinated against Covid-19.


Continue Reading


Covid-19: ‘There is no choice between lives and livelihoods,’ OECD chief Gurría says

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:26

As European countries move into their second Covid-19 lockdowns of t..

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:26

As European countries move into their second Covid-19 lockdowns of the year, the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development backs measures seen by many as tough. Ángel Gurría tells FRANCE 24: "If you win the battle against the virus first, you will have less economic consequences." He adds that "there is no choice between lives and livelihoods; it's a false dilemma".


Mexican economist Ángel Gurría has been Secretary-General of the OECD since 2006 – throughout the global financial crash and subsequent recovery.

With hopes now high for viable vaccines against Covid-19, he's telling world leaders that the solutions to health and economic crises must carry the elements of our solutions to the environmental crisis too: "The single most important inter-generational responsibility is with the planet. That means the recovery, where we are going to make investments that have an impact for the next 30, 40 years, must absolutely have the sustainability of the planet in mind".

On the recently announced Pfizer vaccine, Gurría says: "It is a game changer […] The possibility of a vaccine being close is of enormous consequence. We still have to wait for it to be finalised, approved and distributed in sufficient amounts that it can get everywhere, so we are calculating that we are going to spend most of 2021 still living with the virus. But it changes expectations; the whole mood has improved considerably since the announcement."

On the refusal of Donald Trump, leader of the OECD's biggest single funder, to concede defeat in the US presidential election, Gurría sounds an upbeat note: "I believe that we will have an orderly transition of power in the United States come 20th January 2021. I believe in the institutions in the United States, I believe that the political forces in the United States will eventually align."

Finally, as talks drag on over a new Brexit deal on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, Gurría says he still expects a deal to be struck: "I believe that the common interest will lead to a deal […] The impact in Europe is going to be limited to the trade with the UK. The impact in the UK is going to be very serious, not only because of the flows of trade and flows of investment, but also because the overall business mood will be affected. So I am still counting on a deal."

Produced by Mathilde Bénézet

Let's (Why?)

Read More – Source

Continue Reading


Attacks in France and Austria: Europe’s response to extremism

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:40Modified: 13/11/2020 – 17:42

This Friday..

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:40Modified: 13/11/2020 – 17:42


This Friday marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris terror attacks, in which 130 people were killed. The last few weeks have seen more bloodshed, with attacks in the Paris region, in Nice and in the Austrian capital Vienna. European leaders are looking for solutions: ways to stop hate being preached, broadcast and acted upon, while defending individual freedoms of speech and of conscience. In our debate we ask two leading members of the European Parliament, from France and from Austria, what they believe should be done.


Produced by Yi Song and Perrine Desplats

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning


Our guests

  • Andreas SCHIEDER, Austrian MEP, Socialists & Democrats
  • Nathalie LOISEAU, French MEP, Renew Europe

Let's (Why?)

Read More – Source

Continue Reading