Wednesday

21st Nov 2018

Forgotten migrants at risk in Greece, says Amnesty

  • Conditions at Idomeni, where 11-13,000 are stranded, at the beginning of March (Photo: Nonviolent Peaceforce)

While the focus is now on making the EU-Turkey migrant-swap deal work, the 46,000 people stranded in Greece must not be forgotten, Amnesty International has warned.

The NGO said in a report on Monday (18 April) that Greece lacked decent reception facilities and conditions were inadequate in many of the 31 temporary accommodation sites set up to host the refugees.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The temporary sites, set up with EU assistance, have a reported maximum capacity of 33,640 but are hosting many more people. They have no heating, few showers or other sanitary facilities.

Thousands are staying at makeshift camps in Idomeni at the border with Macedonia, and at the Piraeus port in Athens.

Basic humanitarian services are insufficient to cope with the high number of refugees, with volunteers and NGOs trying to fill in the gaps, said Amnesty.

At Idomeni, between 11,000 and 13,000 people are estimated to be stranded in what Amnesty described as “appalling” conditions, with people sleeping on the cold ground and no access to bathrooms.

Reporting from the Elliniko temporary accommodation site, set up at an unused airport in Athens, Amnesty said all 1,400 refugees and migrants were staying on the first floor of the departure hall with no privacy, using blankets to sleep on the floor. There were 10 showers.

At Piraeus, where between 3,000 and 5,000 people have been staying, Amnesty reported only four to six showers with hot water.

Amnesty said women and children made up the majority of those trapped after Macedonia shut its border on 7 March.

The NGO said children were sometimes detained by police for up to 15 days and, according to interviews, women often felt unsafe and at risk of exploitation by men.

Distrust in relocation

Migrants and refugees have little faith in the EU’s relocation system, which is aimed at helping Greece by sharing the burden of refugees among EU countries.

Amnesty reported that refugees and migrants had little access to information about relocation, even if they had already registered with the Greek police.

“The majority of refugees and migrants Amnesty International interviewed on Lesbos and on mainland Greece said that they received no information on asylum during their time on the islands, while only some of those interviewed from the nationalities eligible for the relocation scheme had received information about it on the islands,” the report said.

Even if they know about it, many distrust the authorities after their treatment in Greece and assume it is a scam. Others choose not to participate because they want to join relatives in a particular country.

The waiting period of up to three months for relocation also discourages eligible participants, Amnesty argued.

As a result, some 95 asylum seekers for whom a country had been identified could no longer be found, and 78 withdrew from the scheme after being told which country they would be sent to, said Amnesty, citing Greek Asylum Service data.

According to Amnesty, EASO, the EU’s asylum agency, had however registered a growing interest in the scheme since the closure of the borders and was registering 200 people a day.

EU member states are also not rushing to take in the tens of thousands stranded in Greece.

According to an EU commission report published last week, of the 66,400 asylum seekers pledged to be relocated from Greece in September 2015, only 615 had been transferred to other EU states.

“EU states have only exacerbated this crisis by failing to act decisively to help relocate tens of thousands of asylum seekers, the majority of whom are women and children, trapped in Greece," warned John Dalhuisen, Amnesty's director for Europe and Central Asia.

"If EU leaders do not act urgently to live up to their relocation promises and improve conditions for stranded refugees and migrants, they will face a humanitarian calamity of their own making,”

EU urges countries to speed up migrant relocation

Out of the promised 160,000, EU countries have so far took in 1,145 refugees from Greece and Italy, as the EU commission warns of humaniatian crisis in Greece and the deterioration of the situation in Italy.

Greece relocates first asylum seekers

30 Syrians and Iraqis flew from Greece to Luxembourg on Wednesday morning. The total number of relocated asylum seekers in the EU is now 116.

Xenophobia on the rise in Germany, study finds

Germans, in particular those living in the east, are demonstrating higher levels of xeonphobia and backlash against religious minorities than when compared to five years ago, according to a new study.

News in Brief

  1. EU commission threatens disciplinary procedure on Italy's budget
  2. MEPs delay vote on greater transparency
  3. Interpol rejects Russian candidate after outcry
  4. Investors seek compensation for Danske Bank losses
  5. Analysis: one-in-four Europeans vote populist
  6. Italy moves to seize Aquarius for illegal waste disposal
  7. EU parliament approves Italian to check European banks
  8. EU agrees tightening rules on foreign strategic investment

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  9. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  10. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  11. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue

Latest News

  1. EU commission warns Italy on budget, moves towards fines
  2. Challenges for new Franco-German eurozone plan
  3. EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection
  4. Deutsche Bank dragged into Danish bank scandal
  5. New EU human rights sanctions to focus on Africa
  6. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  7. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises
  8. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  2. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us