- "The new Greek asylum system is designed to deport people rather than offer them safety and protection," warned Oxfam.
- Speeding up the asylum process of applicants effectively eliminates the possibility of a fair review of their case.
- The Oxfam report also mentions the phenomenon of abuse of asylum seekers.
Oxfam, in collaboration with the Greek Refugee Council, has published a report on the implications of the new Greek asylum law. According to the organization’s officials, the changes in the Greek asylum law practically mean violating the binding standards of European altruism.
Der Spiegel Online newspaper published excerpts from an Oxfam report on the situation of refugees in Greece on Thursday. “The new Greek asylum system is designed to deport people rather than offer them safety and protection,” warned Oxfam.
“This means that people who have fled violence and persecution have little chance of a fair asylum procedure, and even families with children are regularly detained in inhumane conditions.”
Oxfam is one of the world’s largest aid organizations working to tackle poverty and hunger. Following the revision of the Greek asylum law, representatives of the organization traveled to Greece and the islands to investigate the consequences of these changes on the lives of asylum seekers.
Oxfam’s representatives worked with the Greek Refugee Council on the situation of asylum seekers and spoke with lawyers, experts, asylum seekers, and human rights organizations about the living conditions of refugees. The report released by the Oxfam office in Brussels on Thursday is the result of this research.
The Plight of Asylum Seekers
According to the report, speeding up the asylum process of applicants effectively eliminates the possibility of a fair review of their case. Therefore, the organization considers the changes in the Greek asylum law to be contrary to European standards.
Over the past few months, the conservative Greek government has not only rushed to investigate the applicants’ cases but has deployed hundreds of new border police to prevent asylum seekers from entering.
In addition, Greece has extended its border with Turkey. In March, the Greek government even suspended the applicants’ cases for a month. The situation of asylum seekers on the islands east of the Aegean Sea is critical.
At the end of June, 35,000 asylum seekers were housed in some refugee camps with a capacity of 8,000. The Greek government has transferred many asylum seekers living on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros, and Kess to Greece.
Abuse of Asylum Seekers
The Oxfam report also mentions the phenomenon of abuse of asylum seekers. The report states that a number of asylum seekers, and even children and pregnant women, have been detained by asylum officials without giving a reason.
In addition, during the Coronavirus crisis, a number of asylum seekers reported sexual harassment in refugee camps. Domestic violence and rape are also among the issues that asylum seekers have raised in their conversations with Oxfam representatives.
Oxfam has asked the European Union to look into the situation of asylum seekers in Greece. The European Commission is set to pass reforms on asylum rules next month. Evelien van Roemburg, Oxfam’s Europe migration campaign manager stated:
“Greece’s new law is a blatant attack on Europe’s humanitarian commitment to protect people fleeing conflict and persecution. The European Union is complicit in this abuse because for years it has been using Greece as a testing ground for new migration policies. We are extremely worried that the EU will now use Greece’s asylum system as a blueprint for Europe’s upcoming asylum reform.”