Since the EU-Turkey deal was implemented, arbitrary detention of asylum seekers on the Greek Hotspot Islands has been on the rise. On Lesvos Island the police detains – among others – people who they consider as “trouble makers” and asylum seekers who gave up their right to apply for a protection status and agreed to so-called “voluntary return” after months of forcibly staying in terrible living conditions behind barbed wire. Until recently, members of six nationalities were furthermore simply detained on basis of their national belonging. In September, this illegal detention practice has been expanded to 28 nationalities. Affected are nationalities with less than 25% acceptance rate who are sweepingly considered as “economic migrants”. Asylum seekers with the respective national belongings are detained in a pre-removal centre within Moria camp without adequate access to basic goods such as clothes or medical and legal support. Continue reading 28 “reasons” for arbitrary detention
Via Legal Centre Lesbos – In September, Mr. Maarten Verwey, EU coordinator for implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, travelled to Lesvos and met with authorities in the camps, and the Mytilene mayor’s office. He did not, however, meet with any of the individuals best placed to brief him on the impact of the EU-Turkey Statement: the refugees and asylum seekers who know all too well how refugees are treated in Turkey, and as a consequence of the ‘deal’, have been trapped on Lesvos for months and years living in inhumane and degrading conditions in perpetual fear of deportation.
Their situation is constantly deteriorating: The European Commission increases pressure to return even asylum seekers who are classified as vulnerable and individuals applying for family reunification to Turkey. Furthermore, the Greek Council of State Plenary – Greece’s highest administrative court – ruled that Turkey is a safe country, setting dangerous precedent for forcible returns to Turkey under EU-Turkey deal, trampling roughshod over overwhelming evidence that basic human rights of returnees are systematically violated by Erdogan’s repressive authoritarian regime.
However, refugees and supporters on Lesvos keep up resistance. They go on protests marches, occupied the main Square in the town of Mytilene and demand freedom of movement.
Via University of Oxford – Turkey was regarded as a safe third country for the purposes of the EU-Turkey Statement and on September 22, 2017, the Greek Council of State approved decisions of earlier Appeals Committees, which declared Turkey a safe third country; thus paving the way for more returns. However, little is known about the reception conditions of the migrants and asylum seekers who have been readmitted to Turkey. To fill this knowledge gap and to achieve a better understanding of the impacts of the Statement, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Migration Law Section conducted research that was funded by the Dutch Council for Refugees.
The following article is a summary of a report by Orcun Ulusoy for Free University Berlin, which you can find here.
Since the EU-Turkey statement came into force on March 20th 2016, thousands of refugees became trapped on the Greek islands. Some of them will soon experience their second winter on the islands, waiting for the examination of their asylum claims or for their deportation to Turkey.
Last winter, in the European hotspot camp Moria on Lesvos alone, six people died. No one took responsibility for their deaths. This winter, people seeking protection and a decent life will again be forced to sleep on the ground in thin summer tents and behind barbed wire. Given the circumstances, it seems likely that more deaths will follow.
Grassroots initiatives and small organizations from the Greek islands and mainland have joined forces, supported by international solidarity groups calling together to “Open the islands – No more dead from cold”. HarekAct joins this statement, in which we demand the European Union and the Greek government to put an end to the restriction of movement to the islands, and let people move on at last to find safety! Continue reading JOINT STATEMENT: Open the Greek islands – No more dead from cold
MSF published a report on the psychological and physiological health conditions of asylum seekers in Lesvos:
“Our medical teams treating asylum seeking men, women and children in Lesbos wish to ring the alarm bell as to the further deterioration of the care and protection afforded to vulnerable people. In Lesbos, as in much of Greece, vulnerable people’s health and well-being are being put at risk by a grossly deficient vulnerability screening system and policies aimed at returning as many people as possible to Turkey.”