Inside Marovouni camp on Lesvos

“The police don’t respect refugees. A family wanted to bring dinner to their family in quarantine, from jail to jail – “ They kept being rude and saying: time is finished, yes or no, are you listening, yes or no, do you understand, yes or no”. (If) The police understands that they want to give food, why do they not allow it.”

The following article was written by volunteers from different collectives on Lesvos in close
collaboration with multiple people on the move after they expressed a strong desire to share
their experiences. For them it is important that you, the reader, knows what is going on inside
Marovouni camp on Lesvos. And not only to know, but to take action.

Marovouni was established in two thousand twenty after Moria famously burned down in a fire. It
took the Authorities six days to claim the former military site as a supposed “temporary” facility
that was quickly built with the international support of UNHCR and some NGO’s.

This camp is not a place that is generally in the media spotlight. It is, however, as bad as the
previous detention facility on Lesvos, the notorious Moria camp. Moria was well known for its de-humanising conditions. Marovouni is terrible in mostly different, more subtle ways. Not a lot is
known nowadays about the situation in the camp. This is partly because of a lack of interest from
the International press, but also because inhabitants are “heavily discouraged” from sharing
information or footage from inside the camp. Of course “heavily discouraged” means active
oppression by security and police inside the camp through fines and intimidation, but also outright
abuse and violence. In addition, most of the “house rules” are unclearly stated and communicated,
which increases the confusion. Much like the new facility on Samos, for the people with an
interests in maintaining and continuing the status quo it is important that the illusion of peace and
security (“dignified”) of these facilities is upheld. With the construction of the new facility in a
seemingly permanent limbo, it is unlikely this facility will be in use in the foreseeable future. As
you will read in the article below, changes in policy are a daily occurrence and constructions are
seemingly being made to make the camp more permanent.

Read the whole article as [pdf]

New director, same tragedy

5 July 2022 – On Monday 4 July Frontex announced that its Management Board, made up of representatives of EU countries’ border authorities – mostly police officers active at national level -, has appointed Aija Kalnaja as Executive Director ad interim for the agency. This follows the resignation of former director Fabrice Leggeri in April 2022, amidst ongoing investigations by EU’s anti-fraud watchdog OLAF into Frontex‘s role concerning allegations of harassment, misconduct and illegal pushbacks. Kalnaja was already acting Executive Director since the departure of Leggeri.
The change in leadership is meant to appease the intense and growing criticism Frontex is facing. Over the past years – and thanks to the tireless work and testimonies from people on the move, support workers, journalists and civil society – the public has seen and been confronted with Frontex’s unacceptable behaviour and violent nature. The OLAF investigation is a direct result from this and its secret report on Frontex of February 2022 should be made public.

Continue reading “New director, same tragedy”

29 morts aux frontières européennes: L’accord Espagne-Maroc sur l’immigration tue !

[The Abolish Frontex campaign co-signed this statement]

Les tragiques évènements du 24 juin 2022 sur la frontière entre Nador et Melilla au Maroc rappellent, avec violence, l’échec des politiques migratoires sécuritaires. Les 27 morts et les centaines de blessés du côté des migrants comme ceux du côté des forces d’ordre marocaines sont le tragique symbole de politiques européennes d’externalisation des frontières de l’Union européenne (UE), avec la complicité d’un pays du Sud, le  Maroc. La mort de ces jeunes africains sur les frontières de la « forteresse européenne » alerte sur la nature mortifère de la coopération sécuritaire en matière d’immigration entre le Maroc et l’Espagne.
Les prémisses du drame de ce vendredi 24 juin ont été annoncés depuis plusieurs semaines. Les campagnes d’arrestations, de ratissages des campements, de déplacements forcés visant les personnes en migration à Nador et sa région étaient annonciatrices de ce drame écrit d’avance. La reprise de la coopération sécuritaire dans le domaine des migrations entre le Maroc et l’Espagne, en mars 2022, a eu pour conséquence directe la multiplication des actions coordonnées entre les deux pays. Continue reading “29 morts aux frontières européennes: L’accord Espagne-Maroc sur l’immigration tue !”

Activists across European countries show their support for the Swiss No-Frontex referendum

 This weekend saw #AbolishFrontex protests and actions in Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands that highlighted national contributions to Frontex. Activists from many groups showed their solidarity with the Swiss referendum against Frontex. In Switzerland itself, various actions took place: 

Continue reading “Activists across European countries show their support for the Swiss No-Frontex referendum”

Actions in four countries to support ‘No to Frontex’-vote in Swiss referendum

21 April 2022 – On 15 May Switzerland will hold a referendum on its financial contribution to Frontex, giving its population the unique chance to vote against involvement in the EU border guard agency. To support a ‘No to Frontex’-vote, during the next days in four countries activists of groups that are part of the Abolish Frontex network will protest against the national contributions (equipment and personnel) to Frontex operations. Continue reading “Actions in four countries to support ‘No to Frontex’-vote in Swiss referendum”

Resources at the disposal of violence: how European countries make Frontex operations possible

756 German officers, 11 Italian aircrafts, 62 Bulgarian patrol cars, 101 Austrian deportation officials… European states’ contributions to Frontex keep the EU border regime in place.

EU border police Frontex carries out border control operations by land, sea and air. Yet the backbone of Frontex’s work – the equipment and officers that implement and make Frontex operations possible – doesn’t belong to the EU border agency, but are contributions from European countries.


Every year, all EU Member States – as well as a series of non-EU countries, including Switzerland, Iceland and Norway – pledge and transfer resources and equipment to Frontex for its operations.

These resources are both technical and human. They include the assets Frontex uses, such as patrol boats, helicopters, aircrafts, cars and vans; smaller equipment such as CO2 and heartbeat detectors; as well as officers who participate and, in fact, implement Frontex’s border control and deportation operations.

Frontex’s heavily increased budget will allow it to purchase more of its own equipment in the coming years, but for now its ability to carry out border operations and deportations is heavily dependent on European countries’ solidarity with the agency. In 2020, national contributions accounted for over 80% of all of the equipment used in Frontex operations. When it comes to bigger equipment such as vessels and aircrafts, countries provided 98% of the assets used by Frontex.

In order to better understand each European country’s contributions to Frontex, NGO FragDenStaat has published a compilation of all resources (equipment and officers) made available to Frontex per country, from 2015 to 2021.

Who contributes what: an Europe-wide effort towards Frontex

Every EU country makes contributions to Frontex operations, whether it’s officers, equipment or both.

The type of resources countries put at Frontex’s disposal are often dependent on whether a country is the host of a Frontex operation: for instance, Italy (which hosts Frontex’s Operation Themis in the Central Mediterranean) is a heavy contributor of maritime-oriented assets such as vessels and patrol boats. Meanwhile, countries which are not part of the so-called frontline states, make contributions in order to compensate or complement those of border states.

When it comes to vessels and patrol boats, Italy, Greece, Spain and Romania are Frontex’s strongest providers. For aircrafts and helicopters, Frontex relies heavily on Italy. Germany is Frontex’s main provider of patrol cars to Frontex along with other EU states such as Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria.

When it comes to what Frontex calls its “boots on the ground” (the officers deployed in charge or executing Frontex’s border control tasks), we find a heavy reliance on Greek, German and Italian officers. Meanwhile, deportations coordinated and executed by Frontex are mostly handled by officers contributed from Austria and the Netherlands.

A full overview of each country’s contributions to Frontex from 2015 to 2021 is available here.

Why (ending) countries’ contributions to Frontex matter

Over the past years, multiple investigations have exposed Frontex as a violent actor: wherever it is deployed, it enables and contributes to violence against people at the EU’s borders.

Frontex has been implicated in numerous and continuous human rights violations, yet this has not, to date, altered European countries’ continued support towards the agency. This is in spite of the fact that, ultimately, it is countries’ resources what make these violations possible.

The vessels and boats from which pushbacks are conducted in the Aegean have been made available to Frontex by Romania and Portugal. The officers who mistreat and push back people throughout the Balkans are very often identified as German speakers.

Yet as most states continue to pledge material and human support to Frontex without questioning the implications this might have and the complicity it creates, some European countries have started questioning whether they should be putting their resources at the service of such a violent border regime and agency.

This is the case of Switzerland, which on 15 May will hold a referendum – the first of its kind – on whether to withdraw its support to Frontex. As a non-EU state, Switzerland not only contributes resources and officers to Frontex, but also money: 61 million Swiss francs per year in 2027.

At the heart of Switzerland’s vote lies an important reality the rest of European states must also confront: as long as countries keep contributing resources to Frontex, these resources will be used to perpetrate and enable violence against people on the move.

To this extent, putting an end to national contributions to Frontex is not only a way to take a stance against the ongoing violence at Europe’s borders; it is in fact a decisive step towards actually ending this violence by refusing to actively participate in it.

Ending countries’ contributions to Frontex is therefore a central measure towards abolishing Frontex, putting an end to the EU border regime, and enabling us to invest valuable resources into policies that protect – instead of endangering – lives.

How and when contributions to Frontex are agreed by European countries

How many resources (assets, technical equipment and officers) European countries make available to Frontex for its operations stems from two rounds of negotiations held between each country and Frontex every year.

Twice a year (in the spring and at the end of the summer), Frontex makes an estimation of how many resources it will need in order to be able to carry out its operations. On the basis of this estimation, Frontex reaches out to all European countries and makes a request for their contributions. Negotiations are then held between countries and Frontex, where both agree how many resources will be made available to Frontex when.

For some equipment, mainly patrol vessels, which member states have bought with EU funding (from the Internal Security Fund or the Integrated Border Management Fund), there exists an obligation to make it available to Frontex for a part of each year.

The resources agreed as a result of these negotiations will be incorporated into Frontex’s “pool” of resources: from then on, they become available to Frontex, which can then deploy them during its operations.

Occasionally, Frontex will run short of equipment or officers and can request additional contributions from countries. On other occasions, Frontex will choose not to deploy the resources in its “pool”, even if they are at their disposal.


Continue reading “Resources at the disposal of violence: how European countries make Frontex operations possible”

[En/It] Unseen complicity: How Switzerland contributes to Frontex

How breaking down the Frontex complex can increase resistance at the local level. The Swiss Referendum shows opportunities and limitations. 


On May 15, the Swiss electorate has the unique opportunity to vote on Switzerland’s participation on the expansion of Frontex. For the first time, the national contribution of a country to the EU border agency comes to vote. While it is clear that Switzerland as a non-EU but Schengen-associated state is embedded into a different context than EU member states, the Swiss Referendum can give an important lead on how to tackle public and political responsibility on the consequences of the brutal EU border regime in which Frontex plays a crucial role.  

Continue reading “[En/It] Unseen complicity: How Switzerland contributes to Frontex”

Join the Abolish Frontex Action Days on April 22, 23, or 24


Support the Swiss No-Frontex referendum

In May, Switzerland will have the unique opportunity to say YES to freedom of movement for all and NO to Frontex. The Swiss parliament decided to strengthen the European border protection agency Frontex with 61 million Swiss francs annually. But activists collected 50.000 signatures for a referendum on that will take place on May 15. If successful, the referendum may lead to Switzerland being the first European country that decides to actively defund Frontex. Due to the Schengen-acquis it is even likely that Switzerland will completely withdraw from Frontex. 

Continue reading “Join the Abolish Frontex Action Days on April 22, 23, or 24”

Safe migration routes for all – not only in times of crisis, but always!

[from NoFrontex] 4 March 2022 –  The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is driving hundreds of thousands of people to escape. The current situation clearly shows: we need open and safe migration routes – and anti-racist solidarity.

Thousands of people are fleeing the Russian aggression against Ukraine. In many European countries, this has caused immense solidarity within society – the demand to quickly and jointly organize the reception of Ukrainian war refugees can be heard throughout Europe. More than 20,000 people took to the streets in Bern, Switzerland, on Saturday to protest against the war and demanded not only an end to the Russian attack but also solidarity with all those affected by the war. An important statement. In the face of an escalating war in Europe, suddenly the impossible seems possible: the EU Commission offered the neighbouring countries (Poland and other regional states) financial support and the competence of Frontex to help them organizing support for refugees fleeing Ukraine. The Polish government reacted positively to the offer and said that it possibly wants Frontex’s help with accommodation and care. This shows where the money Frontex invests in militarisation could actually go: into solidarity-based infrastructure that guarantees a dignified life for all those who (have to) decide to leave their place of residence.

For NoFrontex it is clear: we need open and safe migration routes, not only in times of crisis, but always. As NoFrontex, we fully support the call to quickly and jointly ensure the admission of Ukrainian war refugees. Together with numerous individuals, networks and organisations we demand this in an open letter to minister Karin Keller-Sutter. We need corridors of solidarity! Continue reading “Safe migration routes for all – not only in times of crisis, but always!”

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