BHHRG

About BHHRG

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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The post-Kosovo Refugee Crisis: Italy - the Problem
HITS: 2444 | 17-01-2003, 05:28 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, Global Events, War and peace

The majority of illegal immigrants enter Western Europe through the south-eastern Puglia region of Italy. The area is poor but it has two important ports, Bari and Brindisi, which connect Italy with the Balkans, Greece and Albania with regular ferry services used by many freight vehicles. A flat, scrubby coastline dotted with abandoned buildings makes clandestine landings from the small craft _ mainly fast rubber boats with outboard motors _ used by the Italian and Albanian smugglers (known as Scafisti) and the dispersal of their cargo of asylum seekers relatively easy.

It is general knowledge that most of the smuggling operates from southern Albania, from the port of Vlora (Italian Valona) from where high - powered speed boats that carry around 40 passengers usually evade the Italian coastguard patrols to reach the coast. Although the trade in refugees has been publicized widely since the Kosovo crisis _ many Kosovan refugees paid middlemen to arrange their departure from camps in Albania _ it has been going on for some time. In January 1998 BHHRG representatives saw groups of mainly young men making their way in broad daylight towards boats waiting along beach of the bay in Vlora. Police stood nearby doing nothing even though the new Albanian government (elected in summer 1997) had assured European governments of its commitment to stamp out the trade.

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The post-Kosovo European Refugee Crisis
HITS: 2019 | 17-01-2003, 05:13 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, Global Events, War and peace

With the end of the 78 day war between NATO and Yugoslavia, hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians may have returned home, but a new refugee crisis has followed. During the summer, the British Helsinki Human Rights Group conducted several on-the-spot observation missions in Dover, Calais and south-eastern Italy to analyze the complex and controversial issues of political asylum, migration, and the role of the mafia in people smuggling.
Real Refugees, the Abuse of Asylum and Organized Crime
With the end of the 78 day war between NATO and Yugoslavia, hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians may have returned home, but a new refugee has crisis followed. The flow of would-be asylum seekers claiming to be from Kosovo and trying to enter EU states has not stopped. During the summer several European countries reported an upsurge in the number of refugees arriving and seeking asylum, notably Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy. During the summer, the British Helsinki Human Rights Group conducted several on-the-spot observation missions in Dover, Calais and south-eastern Italy to analyze the complex and controversial issues of political asylum, migration, and the role of the mafia in people smuggling.

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The post-Kosovo European Refugee Crisis: the final part
HITS: 1945 | 17-01-2003, 03:35 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, Global Events, War and peace

The sight of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing their homeland was the defining spectacle of the Kosovo crisis. However, like previous post-Cold War crises such as the Kurdish exodus in 1991 following the end of the Gulf War, Allied victory has not resolved the problem of displacement, just altered the parameters. The return of so many refugees to Kosovo has not stemmed the flow of would-be migrants, some from Kosovo others claiming to be from the province. They have joined the existing tide from other places.

Despite the existence of dictatorships and persecuting regimes, few of the arrivals in southern Italy, let alone those who make their way through safe countries like France to Britain, have serious claims for asylum. Only the Roma refugees from Kosovo formed a clearly persecuted group in the observers’ opinion. In practice it is those with the money to pay people-smugglers and with the daring to take the risks involved primarily young men who make up the bulk of asylum-seekers.

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Roma refugees from Kosovo
HITS: 2188 | 17-01-2003, 02:00 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, World health, War and peace

Bari: centro a prima acollienzo Bari Palese

One group of asylum-seekers in the reception centers visited by the BHHRG in southern Italy seemed to take the issue of refugee status very seriously and all had stories of persecution: the Roma or gypsies from Kosovo. Unlike other asylum-seekers who tend to enter Italy from Albania, in August hundreds of Roma refugees fled Kosovo through Montenegrin ports to Bari. The largest group arrived on 19th August. Roma refugees from Kosovo in southern Serbia had told representatives of the BHHRG in July that they wanted to go to Italy.

By 1st September, the influx stalled perhaps the drowning of up to 100 gypsies during the crossing from Montenegro in small fishing boats had acted as a disincentive to leave, for the moment at least. The cost to each person for the journey - 1000 to 2500 marks - amust also deter such large families.

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