GCR & Oxfam International & Save the Children International Bulletin - October 2022

27.10.22

This is the third issue of the Bimonthly Bulletin on Refugees and Migrants which is based on the joint work of the Greek Council for Refugees with Oxfam International and Save the Children International.

The new briefing details how:  

  • Between 15 March and 27 September 2022, the European Court of Human Rights granted 20 interim measures in a series of cases of refugees and migrants in the Evros region, represented by GCR, ordering the Greek authorities for their immediate rescue. Despite the court rulings, most of the people were pushed back or forcibly expelled to Turkey.  
  • In August 38 refugees were stranded on an islet in the Evros river for days. No rescue operation was launched by the Greek authorities, who claimed that the refugees were located on Turkish territory and the refugees were formally arrested and detained only after they moved to the mainland by themselves following the death of a 5-year-old child.  
  • An increasing number of migrants on boats sailing from Turkey and Lebanon to Italy disembark on southern Greek islands or coastal areas after several days adrift at sea. Dramatic delays in states’ Search and Rescue (SAR) operations demonstrate their disregard of international obligations to rescue victims in the Mediterranean Sea. A 4-year-old Syrian girl died from dehydration, an 8-month pregnant woman lost her child, many were injured and two people went missing after a delayed and inadequate SAR operation in the Maltese SAR zone, off Crete. 
  • An unjustified 25-day movement restriction has been applied to the newly arrived asylum seekers in Samos Closed Controlled Access Center. 
  • Construction of a new EU funded closed refugee centre, isolated in a forest area on Lesvos, will proceed despite serious concerns over security and forest fires, residents’ effective access to rights and services and lack procedural safeguards in the border procedure. 
  • Registration of asylum applications resumed via online pre-registration platforms after months of being dysfunctional. No special provisions have been made for those with vulnerabilities. 
  • Refugee children having to leave their accommodation leads to disruption of school attendance as the new school year starts, while further obstructions of school enrolment, attendance and transportation remain unresolved. 

The humanitarian organizations called for urgent action by the EU and Greece. This should include:  

  • Initiating criminal investigations into national authorities’ responsibility in cases of shipwrecks and loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea. 
  • Responding promptly and efficiently to distress calls and swiftly rescue people at sea in line with its international obligations. 
  • Swift disciplinary action and launch infringement proceedings against the Greek state for its well-documented, long-term and systematic breaches of international and EU law in its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, including pushbacks, obstruction of access to asylum and arbitrary detention. 
  • Stop funding and abandon the policy of remote, “prison-like” centres and containment camps and lift all unjustified restrictions of asylum seekers’ freedom of movement. 
  • Respecting the binding decisions on interim measures granted by the European Court of Human Rights on not removing asylum seekers from Greek territory and refraining from the illegal practice of pushbacks. 
  • Improving the online pre-registration platform to ensure prompt appointments for registration, giving priority to vulnerable people. 
  • Ensuring all closures of camps or accommodation sites are non-violent and communicated to residents well in advance, and that children who are transferred are enrolled and supported in attending school in their new locations. 

Read the joint briefing from Greek Council for Refugees, Oxfam and Save the Children here

 

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