20 May 2016

A report published this week by Human Rights Watch (HRW) highlights the harrowing conditions faced by asylum seekers in the Greek ‘hotspots’. The three ‘hotspots’ visited by the organisation in mid-May – on the islands of Samos, Lesbos and Chios – presented similar conditions and issues: no separated sections for single women, family groups, or women with children; significant shortages of basic shelter with people sleeping on the ground; long lines for poor quality food; lack of information; and lack of police protection during the frequent incidents of violence.

“When Greece detains people in overcrowded conditions unfit for animals and fails to provide them with basic police protection, it creates a climate where violence flourishes,” stated Bill Frelick, Refugee Rights Director at HRW. “The EU and Greece should immediately remedy this shameful situation, quickly end arbitrary detention, and ensure humane treatment of people in their custody.”

The ‘hotspots’, which were created for the reception, identification, and processing of asylum seekers and migrants, have been transformed into closed detention centres since the EU-Turkey deal came into force in March. As ECRE also highlighted in the past, HRW states that there is no legitimate purpose or reason to detain asylum seekers in these facilities and calls on authorities to convert the ‘hotspots’ into open camps with appropriate services and security measures.

HRW also calls on EU leaders to accelerate the fulfilment of their obligations under the temporary relocation scheme. According to the European Commission, only 1,581 people have been relocated from Italy and Greece to other Member States since September 2015.

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 20 May 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.