There is a new report out on Greece from Amnesty International
Greece’s failure to respect the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers is taking on the proportions of a humanitarian crisis. Against a backdrop of sustained migratory pressure, profound economic crisis and rising xenophobic sentiment, Greece is proving itself incapable of providing even the most basic requirements of safety and shelter to the thousands of asylum seekers and migrants arriving each year,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
In particular, the report highlights the plight of unaccompanied children held in “very poor conditions” at the recently opened Corinth detention centre, calling it a breach of international standards.
The study also draws attention to the “dramatic increase” of racially motivated attacks, now reported on an almost daily basis.
Mr Dalhuisen said many migrants found themselves “at the mercy of violence” in the capital, Athens.
“The current situation in Greece is totally unworthy of the Nobel Peace Prize winning European Union and so far below international human rights standards as to make a mockery of them. Greece needs help but it must also accept its own responsibilities.”
However, even refugees who are not immediately rejected still face a tough challenge to apply for asylum and register themselves officially.
The Attika Aliens Police Directorate in Athens, where asylum-seekers can register, works only one day a week, Saturday, and accepts around 20 people a day. That is why the queue forms days in advance and stretches hundreds long down the street. Witnesses told the Amnesty that some people spent up to five weeks to apply. Cases of people fighting for their place and ending up in hospital have not been uncommon.
Not surprisingly the majority of refugees do not manage to register and give up seeking official status. Without papers they risk being arrested in mass sweep operations and spending up to a year or more in overcrowded, unhygienic detention facilities.