“Tighter controls at the border between Greece and Turkey are forcing many people fleeing conflict to use increasingly dangerous routes.”
By Yannis Elafros
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) published yesterday a joint communication in Paris expressing their concern about the situation refugees and migrants are facing in Greece and Turkey. These humanist organisations are also critical of the EU tightening of border patrol instead of building infrastructure to avoid criminalising refugees.
This communication is the result of a field research project, where organisation members visited refugee camps in Greece and Turkey and interviewed stakeholder institutions. They report “grave human rights violations” and note that “in Greece, many victims report having been pushed back by Greek coastguards at sea or even upon reaching European soil”. The international organisations refer to conditions that do not flatter Greece and its coastguard: ill-treatment (including of pregnant women and children), theft (jewellery, money, mobile phones), confiscation of identity papers which are often thrown overboard. “Boats are often pushed back towards the Turkish coast”.
The organisations also mention the low possibility of international protection recognition offered by Greece and Turkey: “Afghans, Iraqis, Somalis, Sudanese, Eritreans, Syrians, Palestinians are trapped between Greece and Turkey”.
Finally, they are critical of Frontex activity, stating that increased border control does not save lives but leads instead to grave human rights violations and even deaths of women, men and children.
Translated from ‘Kathimerini’ newspaper, 19/11/2013, online at: http://www.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_kathremote_1_19/11/2013_528546