6,800 people are living in the camp where a recent investigation has shown worrying levels of lead contamination in the soil. “Eventually the Turkish Coast Guard came to fetch us,” said one Palestinian survivor who was among a group abandoned on Ciplak in early July, and who sent videos of their time on the island. For example, migrants have been forced onto sometimes leaky life rafts and left to drift at the border between Turkish and Greek waters, while others have been left to drift in their own boats after Greek officials disabled their engines. Using footage filmed at this site by two passengers, a Times reporter was able to identify the facility’s location beside the island’s main ferry port and visit the camp. It indicates the ability to send an email. This includes the treatment of refugees and migrants.”. “Border control can and must go hand in hand with respect for fundamental rights.”. Perils are grave for refugees and staff working at the islands’ Greece. A report from the Turkish Coast Guard corroborated his account. While the EU’s new pact on asylum and migration is a step in the right direction, it says, it still falls short of the bloc managing migration in a humane and effective way. By Patrick Kingsley and Karam Shoumali Aug. 14, 2020 RHODES, Greece — The Greek government has secretly expelled more than 1,000 refugees from Europe’s borders in … After 75,000 migrant arrivals on the Greek shores in 2019, the country's and international authorities predict that the refugee crisis in Greece will continue in 2020. RHODES, Greece — The Greek government has secretly expelled more than 1,000 refugees from Europe’s borders in recent months, sailing many of them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and then abandoning them in inflatable and sometimes overburdened life rafts. “It is a human rights and humanitarian disaster,” Professor Crépeau added. “We’re suffering in Greece. Hundreds of migrants have been denied the right to seek asylum even after they have landed on Greek soil, and they’ve been forbidden to appeal their expulsion through the legal system. In January 2020 at a meeting in Washington, DC, the new Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis stressed that the country has turned a corner and is now a new Greece. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and self-harm “among people of all ages and backgrounds” have emerged as byproducts of the hopelessness and despair on Europe’s eastern borderlands, it says. They are mostly families with children from Afghanistan and Syria. Amid choppy waves, the group, which included two babies, was forced to drain the raft using their hands as water slopped over the side, they said. Taking Hard Line, Greece Turns Back Migrants by Abandoning Them at Sea, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/world/europe/greece-migrants-abandoning-sea.html. FACT SHEET > Greece / 1-31 January 2020 www.unhcr.org 1 Greece In January 4,000 people arrived, more than half of those who arrived last year. Greece refugee statistics for 2019 was 80,454.00, a 30.93% increase from 2018. Now, evidence shows, a new conservative government has a new method of keeping them out. No one wants it there.”. Three months after the fires, more than 5,000 people have been transferred to the mainland, according to Greek authorities. Some groups of migrants have been transferred to the life rafts even before landing on Greek soil. This month the EU announced it was working with Athens’ centre-right administration to replace the installation with a modern structure that will open next September. The Kara Tepe refugee camp on Lesbos, the island most often targeted by traffickers working along the Turkish coast. NurPhoto via Getty Images. The Greek Forum of Refugees (GFR) is a network of refugee and migrant Communities, individuals and professionals working to support and advocate for the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and stateless persons in Greece and empower Communities though workshops on employability and sustainability . Transferred to two other rafts, they were then towed back toward Turkey. openly bused thousands of migrants to the Greek land border, one of the first to document the phenomenon, a report by the Coast Guard that included a photograph of Ms. al-Khatib. At the end of 2019, Greece hosted over 186,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. Previously, residents in Moria, Europe’s biggest refugee camp before its destruction, had participated in football games outside the facility and other group activities. Whether the Greek government will succeed in returning rejected asylum seekers to Turkey in larger numbers than in the past depends on two questionable assumptions. The main office is in Athens, and 10 additional regional offices are spread throughout Greece. September 12, 2020 7:18 PM ET. “Research demonstrates how the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbated the suffering of already vulnerable asylum seekers and exposed the many flaws in Europe’s asylum and reception system,” the report says. New reception and identification centres will also be built on Samos, Kos and Lesbos. With the asylum law that came into force in January 2020, Greece has further restricted the rights that allow asylum seekers to stay in the country; the use of the police and the military is intended to speed up the asylum procedures. That’s proof that where there’s political will and coordinated action, the lives of people in these camps can be transformed.”. “It was very inhumane,” said Najma al-Khatib, a 50-year-old Syrian teacher, who says masked Greek officials took her and 22 others, including two babies, under cover of darkness from a detention center on the island of Rhodes on July 26 and abandoned them in a rudderless, motorless life raft before they were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard. The Greek government denied any illegality. UK receives refugees from Greece, returns 130 Greeks stranded in London. Migrants clashing with Greek border guards at the Pazarkule border crossing with Turkey in March. Their activities include the distribution of food and clothes as well as educational and psychological support services. Aris Messinis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Greek authorities are arbitrarily detaining nearly 2,000 migrants and asylum seekers in unacceptable conditions, and denying them the right to lodge asylum claims, in … Thu 17 Dec 2020 13.37 EST 863 Years of entrapment on Aegean islands has resulted in a mental health crisis for thousands of refugees, with … ... Migrants and refugees walk to a waiting bus after arriving on a rubber dinghy on a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos, January 29, 2016. Describing conditions in the camps as dangerous and inhumane, the IRC said residents were still denied access to sufficient water, sanitation, shelter and vital services such as healthcare, education and legal assistance to process asylum claims. Mr. Fattouh had been living legally in Greece since November 2019 with his wife and son, and showed The Times documents to prove it. It's a case of new year, same challenge for Greece and the country's authorities as they continue to wrestle with the ongoing migrant crisis. “These pushbacks are totally illegal in all their aspects, in international law and in European law,” said Prof. François Crépeau, an expert on international law and a former United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. Greeks were once far more understanding of the plight of migrants. Her husband, who had entered several weeks earlier, soon died of cancer, Ms. al-Khatib said. On Lesbos, the island most often targeted by traffickers working along the Turkish coast, government figures this week showed an estimated 7,319 men, women and children registered in a temporary camp erected in response to an emergency that has been blamed on arsonists. As Europe grapples with the challenges of the coronavirus crisis, concern is also growing over the living conditions of asylum-seekers in camps on the Greek islands. In parallel, several rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have documented how the Greek authorities have rounded up migrants living legally in Greece and secretly expelled them without legal recourse across the Evros River, which divides mainland Greece from Turkey. “Greek authorities are now weaponizing rescue equipment to illegally expel asylum seekers in a new, violent and highly visible pattern of pushbacks spanning several Aegean Islands,” Ms. Keady-Tabbal said. Najma al-Khatib after being rescued on July 27 in Turkish territorial waters, in a photograph made available by the Turkish Coast Guard. Greece. On 27 February 2020, Turkey announced that it would no longer stop refugees trying to cross its borders into Europe, which have been closed since 2016. Feras Fattouh, a 30-year-old Syrian X-ray technician, said he was arrested by the Greek police on July 24 in Igoumenitsa, a port in western Greece. Most persons of concern were coming from Afghanistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iran. The fact that these children were even allowed to … “As many as three out of four of the people the IRC has assisted through its mental health programme on the three islands reported experiencing symptoms such as sleeping problems, depression and anxiety,” its authors wrote. 1,850 arrived on the islands and 850 at the land borders. The makeshift detention facility beside the main ferry port in Rhodes. What’s happening at Greece's borders with Turkey? There were transfers to the mainland and children were relocated to other parts of Europe. For this purpose the European Union has approved 130 million euros. 2020: 9,714: 5,982: 102: 2019: 59,726: 14,887: 71: 2018: 32,494: 18,014: 174: 2017: 29,718: 6,592: 59: 2016: 173,450: 3,784: 441: 2015: 856,723: 4,907: 799: 2014: 41,038: 2,280: 405 But experts say Greece’s behavior during the pandemic has been far more systematic and coordinated. 2020-08-15T03:11:00Z The letter F. An envelope. “It’s right next door to all the warehouses, transport companies and supermarkets that keep Lesbos going. With few prospects in Turkey, the family tried to reach Greece by boat three times this summer, failing once in May because their smuggler did not show up, and a second time in June after being intercepted in Greek waters and towed back to the Turkish sea border, she said. “One in three reported suicidal thoughts, while one in five reported having made attempts to take their lives.”. On the one … While winter always poses a challenge, this year is likely to become one of the most challenging yet due to the ongoing pandemic, a deliberate decrease in the length of support for refugees, and the lack of a comprehensive integration strategy and strategy against homelessness from … But after being detained by the police in Igoumenitsa, Mr. Fattouh said, he was robbed and driven about 400 miles east to the Turkish border, before being secretly put on a dinghy with 18 others and sent across the river to Turkey. Where are we supposed to go?”. A new law adopted in March 2020 reduces the grace period for recognized refugees from six months to 30 days to make a transition from organized accommodation and basic support to an independent living. “I left Syria for fear of bombing — but when this happened, I wished I’d died under a bomb,” she told The Times. The Times interviewed survivors from five of those episodes and reviewed photographic or video evidence from all 31. “Syrians are suffering in Turkey,” Mr. Fattouh said. Migrants landing in Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea in February. Kiki Michailidou, the psychologist in charge of the IRC’s psychosocial support programmes on Lesbos, agreed that the conditions were far from dignified. Of that number, more than 800 were relocated to the EU, including 523 children who had made the journey to Europe alone and were also held in Moria. For several days in late February and early March, the Turkish authorities openly bused thousands of migrants to the Greek land border in a bid to set off a confrontation, leading to the shooting of at least one Syrian refugee and the immediate extrajudicial expulsions of hundreds of migrants who made it to Greek territory. It should be recalled that camps are not per se suitable for long-term accommodation as “camps can have significant negative impacts over the longer term for all concerned. Kara Tepe refugee camp, on Lesvos, Greece. Footage subsequently published by the Turkish Coast Guard shows the same two rafts being rescued by Turkish officials later in the day. … Greece will build three controlled-access refugee and migrants facilities on the islands of Samos, Kos and Leros in eastern Aegean Sea. On their third attempt, on July 23 at around 7 a.m., they landed on the Greek island of Rhodes, Ms. al-Khatib said, an account corroborated by four other passengers interviewed by The Times. by Alex Constantine. Over the year there has been a rise in the proportion of people disclosing psychotic symptoms, from one in seven to one in four. Greek Council for Refugees Visit Website. Many had hoped the new camp would be a vast improvement on Moria, whose appalling conditions and severe overcrowding earned it global notoriety as a humanitarian disaster. On May 13, Amjad Naim, a 24-year-old Palestinian law student, was among a group of 30 migrants intercepted by Greek officials as they approached the shores of Samos, a Greek island close to Turkey. As winter approached, camp residents were resorting to ever more desperate measures to keep warm, she said, while also being forced to stand in long queues for food and communal toilets. Greece believes that Turkey has tried to weaponize the migrants to increase pressure on Europe for aid and assistance in the Syrian War. But many have grown frustrated and hostile after a half-decade in which other European countries offered Greece only modest assistance as tens of thousands of asylum seekers languished in squalid camps on overburdened Greek islands. His wife and son remain in Greece. “A lot of people fear the unknown again,” Michailidou said. Instead, masked Greek officials transferred them to two vessels that ferried them out to sea before dropping them on rafts at the Turkish maritime border, she and other survivors said. And on at least two occasions, migrants have been abandoned on Ciplak, an uninhabited island within Turkish waters, instead of being placed on life rafts. Echoing that sentiment, Michailidou said: “After the fires we saw what could happen. Patrick Kingsley reported from Rhodes, Greece, and Karam Shoumali from Berlin. After Turkey threw open its borders to refugees and migrants trying to leave, almost 600 new arrivals on the Greek island of Lesbos found their right to seek asylum had been revoked. The IRC, founded by Albert Einstein in 1933 and now led by the former British foreign secretary David Miliband, said the findings offered more evidence of the persistent political and policy failures at Greek and EU level. But it has also added pressure on Greece at a time when the two nations and others spar over contested gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean. “We cannot protect our European border by violating European values and by breaching people’s rights,” Ms. Johansson said in an email. Turkey is letting refugees leave the country for the EU. They were detained by Greek police officers and taken to a small makeshift detention facility after handing over their identification documents. Migrants stand outside container houses in Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, March 16, 2020. This included over 5000 unaccompanied children. In a year upended by coronavirus and disastrous fires on Lesbos – about 13,000 asylum seekers were temporarily displaced after the destruction of Moria, the island’s infamous holding centre – psychologists concluded that the humanitarian situation on the outposts had worsened considerably. “The coronavirus has provided a window of opportunity to close national borders to whoever they’ve wanted.”. “This practice is totally unprecedented in Greece,” said Niamh Keady-Tabbal, a doctoral researcher at the Irish Center for Human Rights, and one of the first to document the phenomenon. He declared, “It is our time to show the world who we are and what we can do!” It truly can be a new Greece if it becomes a leader in refugee reception, integration, and management in a dignified and creative way. August 4, 2020 Refugees Comments Off on Greece to construct new refugee & migrants centers on 3 islands 3,292 Views. In the coming months another 11,000 refugees will have to transit from assistance for asylum seekers to general social welfare, once recognized as refugees by Greece’s asylum authorities. Years of entrapment on Aegean islands has resulted in a mental health crisis for thousands of refugees, with one in three contemplating suicide, a report compiled by psychosocial support experts has revealed. After the fires they lost their point of reference and that has had a significant impact on their mental health too.”. The story of the nearly 700 unaccompanied minors taken from Greek refugee camps since March 2020 has its beginnings in many places. Migrants aboard an inflatable boat heading to the Greek island of Lesbos. On the evening of July 26, Ms. al-Khatib and the other detainees said that police officers had loaded them onto a bus, telling them they were being taken to a camp on another island, and then to Athens. Living in camps can engender dependency and weaken the ability of refugees to manage their own lives, which perpetuates the traum… Videos captured by Mr. Naim on his phone show the two rafts being tugged across the sea by a large white vessel. The migrants were quickly transferred to two small life rafts that began to deflate under the weight of so many people, Mr. Naim said. During the pandemic, hundreds of migrants have been denied the right to seek asylum even after they have landed on Greek soil. Many Greeks have grown frustrated as tens of thousands of asylum seekers languished on Greek islands. Noting that the restrictions were stricter for refugees and migrants than those applied elsewhere in Greece, IRC support teams found a marked deterioration in the mental wellbeing of people in the camps since rolling lockdowns were enforced in March. Containment policies pursued by the EU have also spurred ever more people to attempt to end their lives, according to the report released by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on Thursday. Matthew S. Schwartz Twitter Enlarge this image. Amendments introduced by L. 4686/2020 in May 2020 are not included in the present report. Turkey hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees - more than any other country. Since 2015, European countries like Greece and Italy have mainly relied on proxies, like the Turkish and Libyan governments, to head off maritime migration. Contact them on Facebook -- At the same time, Greece continues decongestion of the … For years, Greek officials have been accused of intercepting and expelling migrants, on a sporadic and infrequent basis, usually before the migrants manage to land their boats on Greek soil. Country of asylum is the country where an asylum claim was filed and granted. Five years after authorities scrambled to establish reception and identification centres, or hotspots, on the frontline isles at the start of the refugee crisis, about 15,000 men, women and children remain stranded in the installations. One in three on Aegean isles have contemplated suicide amid EU containment policies, report reveals, Last modified on Tue 29 Dec 2020 07.47 EST. The group was rescued at 4:30 a.m. by the Turkish Coast Guard, according to a report by the Coast Guard that included a photograph of Ms. al-Khatib as she left the life raft. “Moria was terrible but it was also a familiar place, somewhere they called their home. Caritas Greece: The Catholic charity provides social support services to migrants and refugees. _____ To access the updated report, you can navigate through the table of contents on the right end side or download the full report (in PDF) above. The IRC report calls for European policymakers to learn from past failings. As winter closes in, thousands of refugees in Greece still face homelessness and destitution. The Greek government predicts 100,000 more people to arrive from Turkey in 2020. Ylva Johansson, who oversees migration policy at the European Commission, the civil service for the European Union, said she was concerned by the accusations but had no power to investigate them. Ms. al-Khatib, who recounted her ordeal for The Times, said she entered Turkey last November with her two sons, 14 and 12, fleeing the advance of the Syrian Army. A total of 27 camps, most of which created in 2016 as temporary accommodation facilities in order to address urgent reception needs on the mainland following the imposition of border restrictions, are still in use. But the new facility, located on a former firing range within metres of the sea, has drawn condemnation from locals and NGOs. Since the election last year of a new conservative government under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece has taken a far harder line against the migrants — often refugees from the war in Syria — who push off Turkish shores for Europe. The Evros River, which divides Greece and Turkey. Illegal under international law, the expulsions are the most direct and sustained attempt by a European country to block maritime migration using its own forces since the height of the migration crisis in 2015, when Greece was the main thoroughfare for migrants and refugees seeking to enter Europe. Emboldened by the lack of sustained criticism from the European Union, where the migration issue has roiled politics, Greece has hardened its approach in the eastern Mediterranean in recent months. The mental health toll had been aggravated by lockdown measures that had kept men, women and children confined to facilities for much of 2020, they said. Ms. al-Khatib tried to reach Greece for a fourth time, on Aug. 6, but said her boat was stopped off the island of Lesbos by Greek officials, who removed its fuel and towed it back to Turkish waters. “The winds hit it, the rains hit it and there’s no shade, which is why this place is unsuitable for any camp to be,” the island’s mayor, Stratis Kitilis, said. Since March, at least 1,072 asylum seekers have been dropped at sea by Greek officials in at least 31 separate expulsions, according to an analysis of evidence by The New York Times from three independent watchdogs, two academic researchers and the Turkish Coast Guard. “Greece has a proven track record when it comes to observing international law, conventions and protocols. This, combined with the full assumption by the Greek Government of UNHCR’s large-scale assistance programmes for the reception of asylum-seekers and refugees (ESTIA accommodation and cash), will entail a shift in UNHCR engagement in 2021. Greece refugee statistics for 2017 was 38,988.00, a … “Research reveals consistent accounts of severe mental health conditions,” says the report, citing data collated over the past two and a half years on Lesbos, Samos and Chios. After the fire that engulfed Moria in September 2020, thousands of people were transferred to a temporary camp where conditions are inadequate and unsafe to house vulnerable people. Greece’s Migration Ministry announced the transfer of 50 refugees – including 16 unaccompanied minors and 34 adults – to the United Kingdom on Monday morning where they will be reunited with family members. With camp managers moving families into giant tents, social distancing remains elusive. What is different now is that the Greek government is increasingly taking matters into its own hands, watchdog groups and researchers say. A Palestinian refugee, living in a disused slaughterhouse beside the camp, confirmed that Ms. al-Khatib had been there, recounting how he had spoken to her through the camp’s fence and bought her tablets to treat her hypertension, which Greek officials had refused to supply her. On June 16, an investigation by German liberal magazine Der Spiegel revealed that the Greek Coast Guard intercepts refugee boats, puts the migrants in life rafts, pulls them toward Turkey, and abandons them in the open sea. A Coast Guard officer and an official at the island’s mayoralty both said the site falls under the jurisdiction of the Port Police, an arm of the Hellenic Coast Guard. Europe Refugee crisis in Greece: Anger and foreboding grow on Lesbos. “They say it’ll be nothing like Moria and will be more of a transfer stop, but late next year is a very long time,” said Kitilis. Disclosures of self-harm have increased by 66%. As such, UNHCR will focus on core protection activities, targeted operational interventions, advocacy and capacity-building of relevant national authorities. Greece refugee statistics for 2018 was 61,446.00, a 57.6% increase from 2017. Migrants have also been left to drift in the boats they arrived on, after Greek officials disabled their engines, survivors and researchers say. The harsher approach comes as tensions have mounted with Turkey, itself burdened with 3.6 million refugees from the Syrian war, far more than any other nation. The situation of refugees in Greece calls for a concerted EU response to avoid a Covid-19 outbreak, according to MEPs on the civil liberties committee. “Greek authorities do not engage in clandestine activities,’’ said a government spokesman, Stelios Petsas. The investigation reports that masked men, almost certainly Greek border control officials, routinely attack refugee boats in the Eastern Aegean Sea, which are often pulled ashore by … Migrants landing on the Greek islands from Turkey have frequently been forced onto sometimes leaky, inflatable life rafts, dropped at the boundary between Turkish and Greek waters, and left to drift until being spotted and rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.