Greece: Almost 60,000 refugees stranded in appalling conditions as Europe fails to act
A year after EU leaders agreed on an emergency relocation scheme to share responsibility for asylum-seekers, almost 60,000 people remain stranded in appalling and unsafe conditions in Greece, Amnesty International revealed in a new report published today.
The UK shamefully refused to take part in the programme. Austria, Hungary and Poland have not relocated any asylum seekers so far. Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Slovakia and Spain have relocated less than 5% of the people they pledged to assist.
The report, Our hope is broken, provides evidence of people, mainly from Syria, suffering from severe health problems, acute stress and depression, many separated from their loved ones. This includes a brother and sister, who fled ISIS in their wheelchairs and are now living in a remote refugee camp on an abandoned military base north of Athens. It also includes information about Yezidi women who had fled attacks by ISIS in which many women were raped and tortured and are now living in unsafe refugee camps with no lighting and no separate showers and toilets.
The report also details that there are more than 1,480 unaccompanied minors in detention centres or camps across Greece waiting for shelter.
Steve Symonds, refugee programme director for Amnesty International UK, said:
“Greece has become a warehouse of souls – just what its Prime Minister warned about in February. The appalling conditions facing women, men and children trapped there in limbo are a result of the shameful collective failure on the part of European leaders.
“All should be pulling together to deal with a level of refugee migration that is embarrassingly small compared to that experienced by many far poorer countries in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa – firstly by implementing their promises to relocate asylum-seekers from Greece.
“Theresa May spoke at the UN Summit about the importance of a truly global response to the refugee crisis, but not agreeing to support the relocation of the tens of thousands stranded in Greece - including those desperate to be reunited in safety with family in this country - flies in the face of that.”
Amnesty is calling for European countries to increase the number of relocation places, speed up the process, grant humanitarian visas and establish fast-track and accessible family reunification procedures. At the current rate it will take 16 years to fulfil the relocation commitments made a year ago.