Gangs of Greeks are regularly attacking immigrants with impunity across the country and authorities are ignoring or discouraging victims from filing complaints, advocacy group Human Rights Watch said in a report.
“Migrants and asylum seekers spoke to Human Rights Watch of virtual no-go areas in Athens after dark because of fear of attacks by often black-clad groups of Greeks intent on violence,” the report said.
“While tourists are welcome, migrants and asylum seekers face a hostile environment, where they may be subject to detention in inhuman and degrading conditions, risk destitution and xenophobic violence.”
The country is a major gateway into the European Union for undocumented migrants from Asia and Africa and a fifth straight year of recession and unemployment at a record high has helped fuel anti-immigrant sentiment, with migrants blamed for rising crime levels and accused of eating into a shrinking pot of subsidised services from the state.
Human Rights Watch said the true extent of xenophobic violence in Greece was not clear given many victims do not report the crime and since government statistics are unreliable. (via Athens News)
Mohamed, 22, from Algeria, sits inside an abandoned wagon at the train station after crossing the border from Turkey. Debt-crippled Greece is the EU’s main entry point for illegal immigrants, mostly from Asia and Africa (via guardian.co.uk)
Oslo’s mayor Fabian Stang has said he is unconcerned by statistics showing that immigrants will make up half of Oslo’s population three decades from now.
His reaction stood in stark contrast to that of Progress Party leader Siv Jensen, who immediately called for tighter restrictions on immigration when Statistics Norway published its projections on Tuesday.
“No, I’m not concerned,” Stang told news agency NTB. “But the high number shows that we’ll have a major task integrating immigrants. It’s up to parliament and the government to decide how many people will move to the country. Our job is to integrate them.”
The mayor pointed out that 2040 remains a distant point in time: by then, many immigrants will have lived in Norway for almost 100 years.
“It’s an interesting question as to how long one should be considered an immigrant. For me, the most important thing is to be able to provide all immigrants with the best possible schools so they can receive a good education and get a job. It’s then of lesser importance what skin colour, religion or sexual orientation one has,” said Stand.
In 2040, 70 percent of the Norwegian capital’s first and second generation immigrants will have their roots in countries outside the 30-member European Economic Area, Statistics Norway said.
The study, the first ever projection of immigration trends to be published in Norway, shows that the largest cities will also see the biggest upsurge in immigrant numbers.
Immigrants are defined in the statistics as either people who have either moved to Norway from another country, or the Norway-born children of two first-generation immigrants. (via The Local)
An Immigrant Tells His Story: The Daily Racism of Life in an East German Town
Alberto lived through the Portuguese colonial era in Mozambique and emigrated to communist East Germany when he was 18. In the early 1980s, he worked as a butcher in East Berlin and spent his free time boxing. His love of the sport led him to move to the northeastern town of Schwedt, near the border with Poland, and he boxed more than 100 times for the town. He was so good that he made the national first division. “I was in the newspaper every week,” he recalls.
After his boxing career ended, Alberto took a course in social work and volunteered, helping out people in the community. Then the Berlin Wall fell and in the economic upheaval that followed, more than one-third of Schwedt’s population moved away. Unemployment rose to 15 percent. As the years passed, a generation grew that knew little about life in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), and they didn’t know Ibraimo Alberto. “In the 1990s, the mood against foreigners worsened,” he says today.
But he stayed in Schwedt and ended up spending 21 years there, until it became too much and he fled, for the first time in his life. Alberto, the only black person in Schwedt, who was appointed as the town’s immigrant representative, fled the racism of his fellow citizens. “Running away,” he says today, “was the best decision of my life.” (via SPIEGEL ONLINE)
France’s Muslims hit back at Nicolas Sarkozy’s policy on halal meat
Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to make the labelling of halal meat pivotal to his re-election campaign has infuriated, alienated and dismayed France’s Muslim community, which may number as many as six million, and the backlash is growing. Members of the booming educated and entrepreneurial Muslim middle class say they are tired of being cast as scapegoats in Sarkozy’s wooing of the extreme right and have accused him of dangerous and divisive election tactics.
The phoney war over halal meat erupted in February when Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right Front National, claimed consumers were eating halal unknowingly. Sarkozy, trailing the Socialist frontrunner François Hollande, accused her of whipping up an artificial controversy. Shortly afterwards, with Le Pen snapping at his heels in the opinion polls, Sarkozy performed a volte-face. In spite of surveys showing that voters were less concerned about halal meat than they were about the weather and football, he announced it was “the issue that most preoccupies the French”.
For France’s Muslims – already feeling victimised by a burqa ban, by controversial government-sponsored debates on national identity and by the outlawing of Muslims praying in the streets, a sight Le Pen likened to the Nazi occupation – it was a low blow. (via The Observer)
In the German city of Duisburg, the suburb of Hochfeld is known for its vibrancy. It’s home to people from 100 different nations. But with the recent influx of eastern European migrants, the community has changed. (via DW.DE)
Russia’s demographic situation is one of the many factors contributing to uncertainty in understanding the future of the country. As one of the world’s only developing countries with a decreasing population, the Russian economy relies on a large influx of migrant workers to fill the gap. Photographer Denis Sinyakov documents the divisive issue of immigration. (via Reuters)
After several years of what a leading economist has described as “mass immigration”, foreign nationals made up 15 percent of Norway’s workforce in 2011, official figures show.
Of the 2,560,000 people registered as employed by the tax authorities last year, 387,103 were foreign nationals, newspaper Bergens Tidende reports.
Kjell Gunnar Salvanes, a professor of economics at the NHH business school, said Norway’s economy had benefitted hugely from an influx of foreign workers since the last major EU enlargement eight years ago.
“Since 2004, immigration has switched from low-qualified asylum seekers to well-qualified workers from Eastern Europe and Sweden. And that change has come about very quickly,” he said.
The 2004 EU enlargement gave increased access to the Norwegian labour market to citizens of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Cyprus and Malta. (via The Local)
India and Norway in diplomatic spat over children taken into care
India and Norway are embroiled in a diplomatic row after Norwegian social workers took two young Indian children into care because they slept with their parents and their mother fed them with her fingers - both widespread and normal in India.
The parents were told the children will remain in foster care in Norway until they are 18 and that they will only have occasional contact with them.
Norwegian officials have so far resisted calls for the children to be reunited with their grandparents in India pending an inquiry, and now India’s external affairs minister has called for the children to be repatriated.
The case has provoked an outcry in India, where mothers constantly push food into their toddlers’ mouths and children often sleep in their parents’ bed until they are six or seven.
Sushma Swaraj, parliamentary leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, suggested the decision betrayed an ignorance of Indian culture.
“I do not know the logic behind the Norwegian laws. One thing is clear – they do not know the Indian culture and sensibilities. The snatching of two little kids from their parents in Norway is shocking. I cannot imagine what parents and kids must be going through,” she said. (via Telegraph)
There must be much more to this story, but because these cases are confidential, we will only hear what the family and their supporters release to the media. Regardless, it’s a shame that such drastic action had to be taken. I understand that the parents’ visas run out in March, so they may have to leave the country without their kids.