Marking the one year anniversary of the EU-Turkey migration deal, several non-governmental organizations (NPOs) have released a joint report claiming that the deal has turned Greece into “a laboratory” for implementing new EU policies, while at the same time essentially “eroding” the rights of the refugees and migrant seekers seeking to enter the EU via the Turkey-Greece route.
A group of NPOs released a joint report reviewing the conditions under which the migrants are living on the Aegean islands where the “hotspots” exist. The bottom line of their findings is that the EU-Turkey deal may have deterred some of the migrants from crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece, but it has created another problem — the bottlenecking of migrants in the already overcrowded camps in the Aegean, as asylum seekers are being detained on the islands while their applications are reviewed.
“Greece has become a testing ground for policies that are eroding international protection standards,” Oxfam, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said in the joint report published Friday.
The overcrowded migrant reception camps on the Aegean islands are well over capacity with an estimated 13,000 asylum seekers trapped in the hotspots despite the fact that camps have maximum capacity of 9,000, sputniknews.com reported.
The report further highlighted that the current policies in place for migrants seeking resettlement in the EU make the situation a “mission impossible,” as the process is slow and backlogged, creating waits of up to 12 months or more while asylum seekers are forced to endure living in what NPOs have deemed unsafe and sub-par accommodations.
“Over the course of the year, there have been deaths; suicide attempts; people engaging in self harm; and children, women, and men exposed to abuse and sexual violence,” the report read.
The report called for action and change from the EU member states to adopt policies which reflect on the type of democratic union it wishes to be perceived as.