Refugees, the other side of the Greek crisis

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While in these hours Greece is trying to remain in the Euro zone facing the harsh conditions imposed by the EU, at the same time there is another drama on-going, the migrants who arrive to the Greek shores. Between January 1st and 22nd, 2015, 61,474 refugees arrived to the Aegean islands. The number of arrivals seems to have increased by around 5 thousands per week in the first three weeks of June.

We are talking about a Greece left with in home poverty, youth unemployment and desperate retired people, where a short-sighted plan and a not efficient use of EU funds left the authorities unable to manage the needs and guarantee the refugees protection .

Amnesty International: testimonials of violent push-back

“The majority of new arrivals have limited or no access to medical or humanitarian support and are often forced to stay in squalid conditions in overcrowded detention centres or open camps” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

Furthermore, according to the data collected from Amnesty International, given the increase of security on the border between Greece and Turkey and the push-back by land, in particular illegal collective expulsions, the majority of migrants try to cross the border by sea . Despite condemnations of the Greek government and an apparent decrease of the push-backs by sea, Amnesty International collected many testimonials on violent expulsions that are going on the Greek – Turkish land border. The first reception centers, that are essential for the first medical care, the humanitarian support and for the identification of the nationality of the migrant are present only in the islands of Samos and Lesvos, quite often are understaffed or they are totally absent in places of big arrivals like Kos and Chios. This lack of basic operations during the refugees arrivals, does not allow to make a screening of the unaccompanied minors and people who would need urgent medical assistance. According to official data, in 2014 unaccompanied minors were 1,097 in the islands and Evros, while between January and June 2015 only 216 have been registered, but at the moment the numbers seem to be much higher. Minors remain in the detention centers for an average of 37 days because there are no other places to house them. Migrants complain about police abuses, shortage of hot water to wash themselves, and quite often lack of blankets, lack of hygiene, overflowing toilettes, soiled mattress, and shortage of bedding and clothes. Furthermore, in many cases they neither receive a change of clothes at their arrival and they are obliged to sleep with their wet clothes from the travel and given the overcrowding of the detention centers many migrants have to sleep in open places such ports. The conditions do not seem to be better in Lesvos. Here migrants are obliged to sleep in camps or in parking cars. While in Samos the detention centre which has a capacity to host 280 people is at the moment housing 600 people. Refugees are obliged to stay months in these centers in inhuman conditions if they ask the recognition of asylum seeker status and they face lots of obstacles because of the shortage of competent staff and Regional Asylum Offices.


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