Migration and Struggle in Greece

UK: Refugee and Migrant Justice Lawyers call on the UK Government to stop removing asylum-seekers to Greece

Posted by clandestina on 10 November 2009


10 November 2009

RMJ asks UK to stop removing asylum-seekers to Greece, following international complaint to European Commission against Greece

Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ) today calls on the UK Government to stop removing asylum-seekers to Greece until conditions there improve.

Fifteen European refugee NGOs, led by Refugee and Migrant Justice and the Dutch Refugee Council, are calling for the Greek Government’s treatment of asylum-seekers to be referred to the European Court of Justice. The complaint will be presented to the European Commission today, 10 November, and will be heard at the end of November 2009.

Many asylum-seekers travel by sea to Greece. The Greek authorities often try to prevent them from entering Greek territory by turning boats back at sea or sometimes puncturing inflatable rafts. Life threatening situations have occurred in the process. When asylum-seekers do make it to Greek territory, many of them are detained upon arrival. Conditions in some of the detention centres are appalling – most of them are warehouses that are severely overcrowded and lack adequate sanitation and cooking facilities.

There is a severe shortage of reception facilities and no specialist social care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Many migrants end up sleeping rough where they often experience ill-health.

The Greek authorities make it very difficult for asylum seekers to gain access to the Greek asylum procedures, a clear violation of EC law, as well as international human rights instruments. In 2008 22,100 asylum applications were lodged in Greece, yet less than one per cent of asylum applicants were granted refugee status or other forms of protection, compared with 31 per cent in the UK.

The Greek authorities regularly deport asylum-seekers back to Turkey from where they may be removed to their countries of origin.

Caroline Slocock, Chief Executive of Refugee and Migrant Justice, says

“The inhumane conditions facing asylum-seekers in Greece are a scandal. Greece’s system is not just unfair to asylum seekers, it places unreasonable burdens on other European countries, like the UK, that have more respect for European and international obligations to identify and protect those who fear persecution.. . Many asylum-seekers end up travelling across Europe to France and the UK because they cannot get a fair hearing in Greece. We are appealing to the European Commission to put this right but in the meantime the UK Government should stop returning asylum-seekers to Greece under EU laws, as their safety cannot be guaranteed.”

Case studies

RMJ has collated witness statements of asylum-seekers who have come to the UK via Greece…


One Response to “UK: Refugee and Migrant Justice Lawyers call on the UK Government to stop removing asylum-seekers to Greece”

  1. nono said

    iam a palastinian man have familly have not homeland look for shelter

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