Target: Gordana Jankuloska, Minister of the Interior
Goal: Free illegally detained refugees and provide those remaining with adequate sanitation, resources, and living conditions.
Macedonia’s Reception Center for Foreigners (“Gazi Baba”) has become a overcrowded detention center for at least 200 but perhaps up to 350 refugees from the conflict in Syria, though it’s only meant to house 120 to 150 people. Those refugees detained at the center have limited access to basic resources, inadequate sanitation, and have been forced in many cases to sleep on the floor, all while authorities refuse to release them. Sign the petition and demand that illegally detained refugees be released and that all others be provided with adequate living conditions.
International agreements forbid the arbitrary detention of refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers. Those held in Gazi Baba have not had the opportunity to challenge their detention through legal channels, which marks their detention as arbitrary. They are being held largely so the government can ascertain their identities, but also so they can act as witnesses in smuggling trials.
The overcrowded and substandard conditions have led to a number of health concerns, particularly for children and for pregnant and nursing mothers detained at the facility. The Macedonian government must immediately address the issues of overcrowding and inadequate resources at the center, and it must also abide by international treaties and release any refugees it does not have just cause to detain.
I am writing to express my deep concern at the overcrowded and inadequate conditions at the Reception Center for Foreigners (“Gazi Baba”) in Skopje. I fear for the health and wellness of those forced to live in such conditions, and I also demand that their internationally-recognized rights as asylum-seekers be respected.
The arbitrary detention of refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers is forbidden by international agreements. The detentions of those held at the center certainly qualify as arbitrary, since some refugees have been held for up to six months without any opportunity to challenge their detention through the courts. Furthermore, refugee children should never be detained under any circumstances.
The conditions at the center are, according to numerous reports, appalling, with lack of access to sanitation and severe overcrowding being the two largest issues. Many people are forced to sleep on the floor, and there are serious concerns for the health of the inmates, particularly children and pregnant and nursing mothers.
It is the Macedonian government’s responsibility to protect those who have turned to it for help. I urge you to fulfill this responsibility by freeing any refugees who are being held without just cause and by immediately addressing the severe problems with the conditions at the center.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SKopp via Wikimedia Commons