The riots in Moria closed facility in Lesbos on Tuesday expose how European Union policies are failing to deliver a fair and safe system for receiving people into Greece, warned Oxfam today. The asylum procedure is opaque and inconsistent and basic services in many camps and centers across the country need improving.
Limited capacity within the Greek government and the pressure to deliver the demands of the EU-Turkey deal has led to people being kept in closed reception facilities in deteriorating conditions. Moria center is now very overcrowded, holding more than 3,000 people. Non-Syrians are unable to access asylum processes and about 80 unaccompanied children are among those being held.
Nearby Kara Tepe camp, which has freedom of movement and provides care for vulnerable people such as unaccompanied children, pregnant women and the elderly, is almost full, leaving people in need of special care and support stranded at Moria center.
On the Greek mainland, approximately 47,000 people are living in sites across the country, many of which need improvements to ensure people’s safety and wellbeing.
Since the EU-Turkey deal was approved, procedures for processing arrivals into Greece have been changing on an almost daily basis but little information has been shared - leaving people in a state of confusion and frustration. On the mainland, people are living in limbo with very little access to the authorities in order to be registered or to seek asylum.
Oxfam is calling on the European Union and the Greek government to urgently provide people with safe and dignified living conditions and more information on, and access to, adequate registration and asylum processes. It is also calling for all sites holding asylum seekers to be opened and asking that people should be allowed to move into alternative accommodation facilities to prevent overcrowding and improve access to basic services.
Giovanni Riccardi Candiani, Oxfam’s Country Representative in Greece, said: “Europe has created this mess and it needs to fix it in a way that respects people’s rights and dignity. The EU says it champions the rights of asylum-seekers beyond its borders but these rights are not being respected within EU countries.”
“The EU-Turkey deal is putting refugees and other migrants in Greece in unsafe and unfair situations. Deportations back to Turkey should be suspended until the registration and asylum process is adequately resourced. People must be informed of their rights and have full access to a process to seek asylum in a fair, unambiguous and transparent manner. Oxfam is being told by these people that their top need is information about registration and the asylum process,” said Candiani.
Oxfam is working in six sites across Greece: Kara Tepe on Lesbos island, and in Katsika, Doliana, Filipiada, Tsepelovo and Konista camps in North-West Greece. Oxfam suspended its support to Moria after the EU-Turkey deal was agreed and the site was converted into a closed facility, due to grave concerns about people’s dignity and their rights to safety and fair asylum procedures.