Via AlJazeera – A mob of far-right protesters have attacked refugees and migrants who had been holding a separate demonstration in the main square of Mytileni, the main town of the Greek island of Lesbos.
Via Ekathimerini – New refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece will soon be able to move around the country freely without being restricted to the islands of the eastern Aegean where they arrive from neighboring Turkey, according to a Council of State ruling that emerged on Tuesday and upends a 2016 decision by the Greek asylum service that forced them to remain in so-called hotspots until their asylum application was processed.
According to the leaked ruling by the country’s highest administrative court, there are no reasons of public interest or migration policy to justify their geographical restriction to the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros, Kos and Rhodes. Continue reading New refugees in Greece can move freely, says court
A relative of victims in Agathonisi shipwreck speaks at a demonstration in Athens and asks central questions.
UNHCR data on returns from Greece published by the Ankara Initiative for Migration Studies:
- The number of total returns amounts to 1583 within the last two years. (91%: Men, 5%: Children, 4%: Women)
- Around 41 % of these returns are from Afghanistan followed by the Syrians with 17 percent.
- “47 % did not express a will to apply for asylum or withdrew their will to apply for asylum or withdrew their asylum claims in Greece.” In other words, they wanted to stay in Turkey or lost their eagerness/hopes to be back in Greece and the EU. [Read the 1-page report]
Via Reuters – Sixteen people, including at least five children, drowned on Saturday when the small boat they on capsized in the Aegean Sea, Greek coast guard officials said.
The incident occurred off Greece’s Agathonisi island, which is close to the Turkish coast. The nationality of the victims was not immediately known. Continue reading At least 16 dead as migrant boat sinks off Greek island
Via Newsdeeply – On the second anniversary of the E.U.-Turkey deal that curbed refugee boats to Greece, experts from Turkey, Greece and Germany weigh in on the agreement’s impact on refugees and on Europe.
The E.U.-Turkey statement of March 20, 2016, was a turning point in Europe’s crisis over refugees.
Under the deal, Turkey would prevent boats leaving its shores for Greece, while Athens would return arriving migrants to Turkey. In exchange, the E.U. would increase funding and resettlement for refugees in Turkey, along with other political sweeteners.
Very little of the deal’s original provisions have been implemented, but the number of boats did drop drastically (while continuing to fluctuate, just as the journey continues to be deadly). Coming after 1 million people arrived in Europe in 2015, E.U. policymakers continue to defend the deal as a major success.
At the same time, human rights groups say many of their warnings about the agreement have been realized: Refugees are warehoused in dire conditions on the Greek islands while Turkey threatens a new surge in refugee boats to ward off criticism about its human rights situation.
On the second anniversary of its signing, we asked experts from Turkey, Greece and Germany weigh in on the agreement’s impact on refugees and on Europe.
Continue reading Expert Views: The E.U.-Turkey Deal After Two Years
Via Ekathimerini – 17.03.2018: Greece’s coast guard said on Saturday the bodies of 14 people have been recovered from the sea off a Greek island in the eastern Aegean following the sinking of a suspected migrant smuggling boat. Continue reading At least 14 dead in migrant boat sinking off Agathonisi
Two years after the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (‘deal’), the very poor reception conditions in the hot spots of the Aegean coupled with the policy of geographical restriction are two of the most important deterrence factors for refugee flows from Turkey. Continue reading Humiliating Reception Conditions as a Deterrent to Prevent Refugee Arrivals on the Aegean Islands
Via Keep Talking Greece – The geographical restriction imposed on refugees and migrants who arrived in Greece after the EU-Turkey Statement on the islands of the northern Aegean, violates the principle of human dignity, the alleged need to apply it is not substantiated, representatives of the Bar Associations in Chios, Lesvos, Rhodes, Kos and Samos, as well as the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) said in a joint press conference on Tuesday.
The five Bar Associations and the GCR have submitted two cancellation requests against the State and the Asylum Service’s decision to keep refugees and migrants on the islands until their asylum requests have been examined, which were heard earlier today by the Council of State. It is not known when the court will issue its ruling.
Hara Katsigianni, from GCR’s legal department, said the specific decision violates the European Directive 33/2013, according to which such geographical restrictions should be imposed on grounds of public interest, public order or for the rapid processing and effective monitoring of the application for international protection. However, she explained, “the provision of Article 41 of Law No 4375/2016, on the basis of which the decision on a geographical restriction was adopted, does not specify any reason of public interest or public order and does not mention the speedy monitoring of the application”.
Grammatiki Alimonou, representing the Bar Associations of Chios, Rhodes, Kos and Samos, stressed that “as far as the obligation to remain on the islands is concerned, there is no clear condition in the EU-Turkey Joint Statement”. On the contrary, she explained, the EU or the migration policy ministry interprets the statement in a way that requires refugees and migrants to remain on the islands until it is decided if they qualify for asylum and return them to Turkey from there.
“We are here to defend our islands, to defend the rights of refugees and migrants, who cannot live in appalling conditions, but to support the right of island residents to exist, to live, to create without deteriorating their daily lives,” the president of Chios’ Bar Association, Anthippi Zannara said.
Via Ekathimerini (from 11th Feb) – Just 16 percent of asylum seekers who undertook the journey to Greece can be returned to Turkey under Greek law and European directives, Maria Stavropoulou, the former head of the Greek asylum service, has told Kathimerini.
“Given what we know about Turkey, those who can be shipped back are mostly Syrians, who enjoy a high level of protection,” said Stavropoulou, adding that the agency has ruled that 2,200 Syrians can be returned from Greece to Turkey on safe third country grounds. Continue reading “Only 16% of asylum seekers can be sent back to Turkey”: Maria Stavropoulou, former head of the Greek asylum service