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Authorities put lives in danger by pushing refugees back across the border
Greece, action created 9.7.2013, petition is active
Refugees and migrants trying to reach the EU via Greece from conflict-torn countries like Syria and Afghanistan are being unlawfully returned by Greek coast and border guards. The authorities are denying the refugees the right to have their individual cases heard or to challenge their expulsion.
“What’s happening along the Greek border does not just shame Greece. It shames the European Union as a whole,” said Jezerca Tigani, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
“The number of push back stories we collected is extremely alarming. It suggests that the Greek authorities are employing this practice on a regular basis, despite the fact that it is unlawful. And it is also extremely dangerous - to the point where it puts people’s lives seriously at risk.”
Those who do make it to Greece are routinely detained in dark, dirty cells for long periods.
“The conditions refugees and migrants are being held in are often appalling. In fact, when we visited people in those cells it was difficult to remember we were actually in the EU. Many of them are fleeing conflict, poverty and hunger but too often they are being held in dark, dirty, damp cells, with limited access to fresh air and not enough food,” said Jezerca Tigani.
Every year, tens of thousands of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers cross the Greek border in search of shelter, refuge or just a better life within the European Union. Few of them find it in Greece.
Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Greece are highly exposed to a range of human rights abuses. Greece still does not have a fair and effective asylum system, and asylum seekers face major obstacles just to register their claims. Those unable to demonstrate that they have applied for asylum face arrest and detention or deportation as it is common practice in Greece for the police to detain asylum seekers and migrants not in possession of valid documents. Those detained are often held in poor or inhuman conditions and can languish in detention for prolonged periods.
The shortage of places in reception facilities means that many asylum-seekers and unaccompanied children are left homeless, or forced to live in squalid accommodation. On top of that, a new threat is the dramatic increase in the number of racist attacks by members of extreme right-wing groups.