22 April 2016

In a report released on Monday 18 April, Amnesty International documented the conditions faced by at least 46,000 people trapped in Greece after the closure of the Balkan route. Through interviews with refugees and migrants carried out in several camps on the islands and mainland Greece, Amnesty highlights the lack of information provided, the failure of the relocation mechanism and the insufficient and inadequate reception conditions.

“The grim reality is that by closing the Balkans route, and failing to implement the agreed relocation scheme effectively, EU Member States are complicit in the trapping of asylum seekers in a country,  Greece, that they would not be allowed, under EU law, to return them to,” stated the organisation. According to the latest figures provided by the European Commission, a total of 860 asylum seekers have been relocated to EU Member States from Greece out of the 66,400 pledged places.

The report provides a series of recommendations to the Greek authorities. These include ensuring access to adequate reception conditions, increasing the capacity of the Asylum Service, ensuring the provision of adequate information and the end to the detention of children. The organisation further calls on EU Member States to improve relocation efforts, ease family reunification procedures and provide asylum seekers with travel visas for onward legal travel.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 22 April 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.