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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

EU has largely ‘abandoned’ Greece to deal with migrant crisis on its own, UN expert warns

UN, 17 May 2016 – The suffering of migrants in Greece is the result of a complete absence of long-term vision and the clear lack of political will of the European Union (EU), a United Nations human rights expert said today, warning that Greece, already struggling to cope with fiscal challenges, has been abandoned by the EU to deal with a crisis that requires a response from all countries in the region.

“This is not only a humanitarian crisis,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, warned. “This is more importantly a political crisis in which the EU and the overwhelming majority of EU member States have abandoned Greece – a country that is fighting to implement austerity measures – leaving it to deal with an issue that requires efforts from all.”

Wrapping up a follow-up mission to Greece, Mr. Crépeau stressed that the closure of the borders surrounding the country, coupled with the new EU-Turkey agreement, have exponentially increased the number of irregular migrants there. “Unlike before, Greece is no longer a transit country and is struggling to ‘catch up’ and develop a mechanism to deal with immediate needs, in the absence of a clear commitment from the EU to support the country,” he said.

The independent expert expressed particular concern with conditions in the Reception and Identification Centres (RIC or ‘hotspots’), which have become closed centres as a result of the EU-Turkey deal, and “are creating an unacceptable level of confusion, frustration, violence and fear.”

He noted, among other worrying issues, the length of process to identify vulnerable migrants, the blatant over-crowding that is amplifying inter-communal friction, the mix of families and young single males, the absence of many Government services during the weekend, the contradictory information received regarding procedures and timelines, as well as insufficient procedural safeguards in detention facilities for migrants.

“I visited Idomeni and the closed detention sites of Lesbos and Samos and saw many children. The difference between those in open camps and those in detention is striking. It is unacceptable for children to be detained,” the Special Rapporteur said, stressing that “detention can never ever be in the best interests of a child.”

The rights expert welcomed official proposals to develop a more structured system of guardianship for unaccompanied minors, but called on the Greek Government “to develop alternatives to detention in the form of open shelters for families and unaccompanied minors as a matter of urgent priority.”......http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53958#.Vzt-iiEpr2Y
17/5/16

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