Human Rights Watch: Greece and Another Year of Suffering at ‘Hotspots’ for Asylum Seekers

On Wednesday the NPO Human Rights Watch (HRW) made statements criticizing the EU-Turkey deal, blaming it for the entrapment of migrants on the Greek Aegean islands known as “hotspots.”

“The EU-Turkey deal has trapped thousands of people in abysmal conditions on the Greek islands for the past year, while denying most access to asylum procedures and refugee protection,” HRW said in an article published on their website.

Photo Credit: Forrest Crellin

The organization claims that the EU-Turkey agreement means that migrants seeking asylum are forced to stay in the camps on the islands in order for them to be processes and more promptly be returned to Turkey if necessary.

“The EU-Turkey deal has been an unmitigated disaster for the very people it is supposed to protect – the asylum seekers trapped in appalling conditions on Greek islands,” Eva Cossé, a Greece researcher at HRW said.

According to the assessment by HRW, the suffering of refugees at the overcrowded hotspots at the islands’ migrant reception center is due to various causes such as “the mismanagement of aid funding, and the slow pace of decision-making, as well as the positive decisions of Greek appeals committees rejecting summary returns to Turkey as unsafe.”

“Greek authorities should ensure that people landing on Greece’s shores have meaningful access to asylum and put an end to the containment policy for asylum seekers,” Cossé said as HRW believes that the Greek authorities have yet to fulfill their obligation to “properly identify vulnerable asylum seekers for transfer to the mainland” and that the failed system in place is to blame for the unsanitary and unsafe conditions found at the migrant reception centers.