04 September 2007

Bari: Italy is returning hundreds of Iraqis

ROME, 4 September 2007 - Italy is returning hundreds of Iraqis and Afghans refugees, violating the European Parliament resolution on Iraq, adopted the 15th February 2007. Found hidden in the tourists ferries landed in the port of Adriatic, from Bari to Venice, 362 migrants were returned in Greece just in the month of August 2007. 120 of them were Iraqis and 30 Afghans. They have not got the opportunity to apply for asylum. Few Dublin cases, no written measure. No legal assistance. The 9th April, 180 migrants were returned in Greece in a single day from the port of Bari.

In the month of August, according to the data given by the Italian authorities, 190 people were returned from Bari, 17 from Brindisi, 153 from Ancona and 2 from Venice. Every year thousands of migrants are returned to Greece from Italy, and only few tens of refugees have the opportunity to ask for asylum in frontier. They come from Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, and they board on tourists ferries in Greece, at Patras and Igoumenitsa. Every day police finds tens of migrants without documents. They are kept aboard until the ship departs again towards Greece, where they are arrested.

The police don’t let us meet the migrants aboard” – says Lucrezia Sassanelli, working for the ngo “Cir” in the frontier of Bari port. The last asylum requests they presented were the 28th July. The ngo is not allowed to see the migrants kept aboard the ferries. In August they don’t meet one of the 120 Iraqis deported in Greece. The 9th April, in the port of Bari, 183 migrants were rejected in a single day, 150 of them were Iraqis. Then Cir protested and an interrogation parliamentarian was presented to the Government. But the August data shows that nothing has changed.

And once returned in Greece what happens to them? We only remember that, for how much unbelievable it could seem, Greece has never recognized the status of political refugee to any Iraqi, according to a recent Eu report. At the contrary, Greece signed a readmission agreement with Turkey in 2001, and deported in Turkey also Iraqis, as recently documented by the World organization against torture. And from Turkey, in July, 135 Iraqis were repatriated, according to the Unhcr.

About two millions of Iraqis are refugees in Syria and Jordan. Only 4% of them live in Europe. The European Parliament, the 15th February 2007, adopted a resolution on Iraq in which it invited the Member States to give political asylum to the Iraqis, forbade their expulsions, and advise not to proceed to Dublin transfers if the interested Country does not correctly examine the asylum demands of Iraqis.