16.07.2009

PRO ASYL calls for a suspension of returns and a speedy distribution of protection seekers

The situation of protection seekers in Greece escalates dramatically. To the EU Ministers of Interior who are meeting in Stockholm the Vice-President of the EU Commission, Jacques Barrot, will propose a redistribution of protection seekers from Greece within Europe. PRO ASYL welcomes this initiative.

“States like Germany can not stand by any longer. The situation in Greece is getting totally out of control,” says Karl Kopp, director of European Affairs with PRO ASYL. “An unbureaucratic and fast distribution of protection seekers stranded in Greece is a matter of humanism and solidarity.”

In brief: detention centres for refugees in Greece are bursting. Newly arriving refugees face a higher maximum detention period of up to six months, doubling the previous three months.

More and more families end up being permanently homeless. In Athens, radical rightwing militias drive refugees and migrants from public spaces. Police brutality is an everyday reality, asylum seekers are detained arbitrarily and the number of documented cases of illegal pushbacks to Turkey increases. Thousands of unaccompanied minors are roaming the country, without shelter, without material means and without any protection. End of June the government of Prime minister Karamanlis has abolished the second instance of the asylum procedure.

EU member states from the north have significantly contributed to the dire situation of refugees in Greece. For years, they have neglected their responsibility for the protection of refugees, outsourcing it to the states at the external borders of the European Union. That these gatekeepers introduce harsher and harsher and more ruthless measures against refugees is being watched in silence.

Europe has a moral responsibility to protect over 2000 refugee children from Afghanistan who are on their own in Greece. If the Greek state is not able or willing to provide protection, the EU needs to step in. The EU Ministers of interior urgently need to decide upon a redistribution mechanism and to distribute particularly vulnerable persons within Europe according to humanitarian criteria.

Karl Kopp

Director of European Affairs with PRO ASYL

Board member of ECRE

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