Trapped in Greece, Amnesty International: 50 thousand migrants abandoned

Trapped in Greece. That’s the title of the report by Amnesty International on fifty thousands migrants trapped in Greece. The country that is already suffering for austerity measures and a devastating economic crisis now has to face with one of the biggest humanitarian challenges of the last years, among the egoism of member states in much better conditions. The EU immigration plans until now have failed.

A young girl climbs a tree in a migrant camp next to the Greek-Macedonian border fence near the Greek village of Idomenii March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

The relocation of 66 thousands of migrant from Greece to an other EU state failed : since September 2015 to April 2016 only 616 asylum seekers have been relocated. As the EU-Turkey agreement is failing and the closure of the Balkan route that caused the effect of the block of thousands of migrants on the Greek land. The closing of the Balkans route blocked thousands of mogrants in Greece in uncertain condictions and in a state of constant fear <>. That’s the shame of Europe on the painful of most vulnerable people. Yes it is impossible to don’t cry in front of these images, as Pope Francesco said. The strongest and political words came from the Pope during his visit in Lesbos.

A funny joke it is going around on fb: “Games without borders” (the famous television program of the nineties) is coming back but only Greece and Italy are partecipating. It makes an idea of which Europe we are living today, but no wall will stop the “march of hope”.

Europe between walls and the never ending march of hope

Since Hungary started the construction of a fence on the country’s border, walls on EU borders continue to rise day by day. As the one between Macedonian and Greece border, and obstacle that obliges migrants to take longer ways to cross the borders and to stay in no man’s land in the borders and in appalling conditions. The closing of the Macedonian-Greek border already claimed their first victims in mid-March: the bodies of a pregnant woman, her sister and a man from Afghanistan, who had attempted to irregularly enter Macedonia by crossing the cold and swelled river Suva Reka, were recovered from the river in the morning of 14 March 2016. In the same day about 2000 migrants are estimated to have walked for about 6km to find a gap in the border fence to irregularly cross into Macedonia, in what became known as the “March of Hope”. At risk to their lives , migrants crossed the Suva Reka river mainly with children on their shoulders, as reported from some media.

According to testimonies given by refugees and migrants to Medicins Sans  and volunteers in Idomeni, around 1,500 people were brought back to a point of the fence a few kilometres east of the camp in Idomeni in military trucks and pushed back to Greece, while others held overnight, had to walk back from the border. Some migrants reported the use of violence by Macedonian police, even if they denied that.Refugees back to the Greek border report that they were provided with a chance to explain their individual circumstances and access asylum in breach of Macedonia’s international obligations.30 Around 600 people are reported to have returned back to Idomeni on their own either not being able to cross the wide river.

While, Amnesty International reminds, every country has the prerogative to control its borders, under international law it is illegal to push back at the border or reject refugees and asylum-seekers based on their nationality, without any possibility of claiming asylum or otherwise having their individual circumstances taken into account.

Migrants reception over limits in Greece

According to recent data, there are over 46 thousand of migrants trapped in Greece, but the reception centres, at least the official ones are 31, and they have a maximum capacity of reception of 33.640 thousand of places.

Basic humanitarian services, according to Amnesty International data, are still insufficient to cope with high numbers of refugees and migrants stranded in the country with volunteers, activists, ordinary citizens and NGOs trying to fill the gaps in the humanitarian support desperately needed. In December 2014 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) already described the reception arrangements for asylum-seekers in Greece as insufficient and, when provided, considerably below the standards set out by EU and national law. The reception centres provided by the Greek authorities with the support of the EU are constantly overcrowded , with a lack of privacy, without heating provision and with insufficient  sanitarian services.


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