New Report: Greece Has an ‘Inhumane’ Asylum System

Image by Radek Homola
Abandoned refugee camp with "No border, no nation" graffiti. Photo by Radek Homola on Unsplash

Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees say new asylum laws put vulnerable refugees in great danger on Greek islands.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Originally published on 02 July 2020

 

A new report has claimed that Greece is putting vulnerable refugees in great danger by tightening asylum laws and making it harder for them to seek asylum.

Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees (both NGOs) said in a report that the new rules – in effect since January 1 and amended in May – meant that even the most vulnerable refugees had to stay in the refugee camps on the Greek islands.

The report also said there has been an increase in sexual violence in the past few months.

More than 33,000 asylum seekers live in filthy camps on five islands in the Aegean Sea, which were built for 5,400 people. There is an additional 70,000 migrants on the Greek mainland.

“This situation is made worse by the inhumane living conditions in Greece’s refugee camps where people are now at risk of a terrible health crisis”, the report said.

The EU is ‘complicit

With the support of the European Union, Greece has made it easier to reject asylum applications for small mistakes, like not attending an asylum interview. Greece has also introduced more barriers for individuals who want to fight against these decisions, the report said.

The government has also reduced migrants’ access to health services.

“The new Greek asylum system is designed to deport people and not offer them safety”, the two NGOs said.

“This means that people who have fled violence and persecution cannot access a fair asylum process, and even families with children are regularly detained in inhumane conditions”.

Evelien van Roemburg, director of Oxfam’s migration campaign in Europe, also said the EU was “complicit” in the new policy.

“Greece's new law is a blatant attack on Europe’s humanitarian commitment to protect people fleeing conflict and persecution”, she said.

“The European Union is complicit in this abuse, because for years it has been using Greece as a test ground for new migration policies”.

Adapted from Al Jazeera

New vocabulary:

  • refugee/s – a person/people who have escaped from their own country for political, religious, or economic reasons or because of a war

  • asylum laws – the laws relating to a person's right to stay in a country because they face danger in their country of origin

  • vulnerable – in need of protection, in danger

  • seek asylum – be in need of protection/asylum from another country/be in need of asylum from another country

  • refugee camps – a place where people who have escaped their own country can live, for a limited time (the living conditions are often very bad)

  • asylum seekers – someone who is in need of protection/asylum from another country

  • migrants – a person who moves from one place to another (especially to find better living conditions)

  • inhumane – cruel, causing suffering

  • at risk of – in danger of

  • health crisis – a difficult and dangerous situation in which a community's health is badly affected

  • complicit – involved with others in an activity that is unlawful or morally wrong

  • barriers – difficulties/obstacles/restrictions

  • deport – force someone to leave a country

  • fled – escaped by running away, because of danger

  • persecution – unfair treatment (especially because of someone's race/ethnicity/religion)

  • detained – forced to stay somewhere

  • blatant – obvious/clear

  • humanitarian commitment – a promise to improve people's lives and reduce suffering

  • fleeing – escaping by running away, because of danger

  • migration policies – a set of ideas or a plan related to how to deal with migration

Questions:

What is your opinion about the refugee camps in Greece?

What impact will the corona virus outbreak have on the refugee camps?

What do you think the European Union should do to solve the problem?