Institutional response in the refugee crisis and mixed migration

Legis began with the implementation of activities envisioned under the project “Access to human rights and protection of people and vulnerable groups recognized as refugees or migrants”. The project is supported by the “Unitarian Universalist Service Committee“(www.uucs.org) and in cooperation with the Ombudsperson office departments against torture i.e. National Preventive Mechanism and the Department for the rights of children. Legis and the Ombudsperson researches are focused on analysis of the conditions under which the abovementioned people of interest are able to access human rights and protection in Macedonia. 

Consequently, the first activity organized under this project, was held on the 6th of July 2017, a public debate on the topic: “Institutional response in the refugee crisis and mixed migration”.

On this debate, Mersiha Smailovik from Legis and Snezana Teodosieva Jordanoska from the National Preventive Mechanism of the Ombudsperson office had their say.

As Mersiha started the debate, she acquainted the guests about Legis’ hitherto work and efforts for the refugees and migrants. As a continuation of those efforts, Legis prepared measurements that the institutions would take into consideration after our reactions. Moreover, in April 2015 Legis started lobbying for amendments to law on asylum. Together with the Ombudsperson and MYLA, Legis submitted propossed amendments to the law on asylum to the government, but the government never took them into consideration. However, we do hope that the new government and the parliament will take into account the amendments which have also been recommended by the UNHCR.

Further she emphasized that the Balkan Route it’s not closed and that simply the migration flow it’s a natural phenomenon that cannot be stopped. She mentioned the Legis’ office in the village of Lojane where we register human rights information about the irregular migrants that cross our country. As the most vulnerable category of people, women and children, are not able to receive protection and are deprived of their basic human rights.

After this, she followed up with the situation in the transit centers Tabanovce and Gevgelija, where the entrance of the refugees to the camps is restricted. She gave examples of cases of refugees not being transferred to the asylum center in Skopje, after having asked for it, even though the center possesses capacity to accommodate 150 people.

On her speech she also mentioned cases of irregular deportation of refugees from the side of our institutions to Greece without being obeyed the refugee asylum procedures. The same thing happens also in Tabanovce where refugees don’t want to go back to Greece, but their will is not taken into consideration.

As for the Asylum center in Skopje we as Legis have tried to ask for permission to deliver humanitarian aid but we were denied access the reason being that the center already provides food to the asylum seekers. During the month of Ramadan, the refugees in the center were not served with the appropriate food. And once again their religious feelings and practices not being respected, because as everyone knows in Ramadan we have special food preparations. This food they were served was inadequate and not enough after having gone through many hours of fasting.

The ombudsperson office has always been in cooperation with Legis on this issue. But, from now on all the cases will be documented carefully and in a detailed manner so we will make sure that all the institutions on the ground are held accountable.