Finally, I found a response to the armed border guards that addresses one of the concerns I had about the whole situation. The UNHCR has warned against
sidelining asylum needs in order to control migration influx
The refugee agency urges Greece to ensure that asylum and refugees claims are properly processed and that its broken asylum system be fixed. Greece has the lowest asylum recognition rate in Europe, less than 1%, and has been repeatedly asked by the UN, the European Union and other international authorities to overhaul its management of asylum seekers and refugees. The Greek authorities have repeatedly failed to do so. This problem did not start recently, during this financial crisis. It has been happening for years. There has been a total lack of willingness to tackle the issue of immigration despite the fact that people have been warning that this current mess would occur if they didn’t.
The Dublin II agreement states that asylum applications must be dealt with in the first EU country that an applicant arrives in. This has meant that asylum seekers and refugees, trying to move on to other European countries, have to be deported back to Greece to have their claims heard here. Those claims are rarely dealt with and when they are, they are most likely to be refused on arbitrary grounds. There is little or no chance for appeal. Most have no access to legal support and have ended up in an illegal limbo. Unable to return to their own country for fear of percecution, conflict, war, famine and poverty. Unable to move on to another European country that might grant them asylum or refugee status because of the Dublin II agreement.
Austria has joined a growing list of EU countries (Norway, Sweden, Germany and Holland) who have intervened to prevent the return of people seeking asylum, under the Dublin II agreement, because of the appalling way they are treated here in Greece. The Austrian court
judged the return of vulnerable asylum seekers to Greece unconstitutional and accepted the petition of an Afghan mother with three small children that she remain in Austria