In a reversal of an earlier court decision, Austria has decided that it will return people seeking asylum back to the first country they entered (under the Dublin II Agreement). In this case, the country is Greece. This will undoubtably cause an added burden on a broken and almost non-existant asylum system and misery for those who will be returned. The detention centres here are already overcrowded and the United Nations has described Greece’s treatment of refugees as “a humanitarian crisis“.
The Austrian government has recently decided to return refugees fleeing to Austria back to the first EU country they have entered, namely Greece. Naturally Greece would be unable to accommodate all the immigrants coming from Asia and Africa. The UN remarked that Greece’s detention and police systems are in a state of crisis. Authorities are overwhelmed by an influx of up to 400 illegal immigrants per day. UN Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak claimed Greece holding centers for immigrants are in a critical state and conditions for many of them were inhuman. Austria as well as other European countries are entitled to proceed to a return of immigrants. Under the EU’s Dublin II Regulation, asylum seekers generally have to be processed by the first EU member state they enter. Despite that many countries including Britain, Holland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden suspended the return of immigrants to Greece. These nations acknowledged that this act would be harmful both for Greece and for the immigrants themselves. In Greece few asylum seekers are granted refugee status than in northern European countries.