Thousands of kilometers from the EU’s migration epicenter right now, the Belarusian border with the EU, the Greek government has lent its support to Poland after years of denouncing ‘hybrid attacks’ by Turkey:’Greece supports Poland, his EU partner and NATO ally, and condemns all attempts to instrumentalize migration, “tweeted last week the official account of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The parallels were not only drawn by Athens but by the Russian Foreign Minister himself, Serguei Lavrov, hinting that an economic agreement like that of Turkey and the EU to contain migratory flows could be the ‘solution’ for the Belarusian case.
Greek, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, speaking to the television program Good Morning Britain, accused the Belarusian government of orchestrating a catastrophe for political gain. Mitsotakis also spoke of the constant threats from Turkey about opening immigration doors to allow migrants to enter the Schengen zone while the Greek military is on high alert.
On November 9, the coast guard helena released a minute-long video of two Turkish patrol boats appearing to escort a rubber boat with a dozen migrants. The boats and boat are then seen turning around and, according to the Greek coast guard, sailing towards the Turkish coast.
On the same day, in a less friendly exchange than the one he has had on the British network ITV’s program, Mitsotakis angrily defended his government’s immigration policy in a heated exchange with the Dutch journalist, Ingeborg Beugel: «Prime Minister Mitsotakis, when will you stop lying? Lying about the hot returns, lying about what is happening with the refugees in Greece? “, The reporter asked him.
With a serious gesture, and fluent English, the Greek Prime Minister replied: “I understand that in the Netherlands there is a culture of asking direct questions of politicians, which I respect very much. What I will not accept is that they insult me or the Greek people with accusations that are not supported by the facts. Mitsotakis said authorities were “intercepting ships at sea in accordance with European Union regulations and had granted asylum to 50,000 people, including” tens of thousands of Afghans. ” The popular journalist, who lives in Greece, was arrested on the small Greek island of Hydra in early June for taking in a young Afghan. If convicted, she could be sentenced to one year in prison.
Humanitarian worker arrests
The crisis between Poland and Belarus is overshadowing the high-tension conflict between NGOs and the Hellenic Government due to the strategy of dissuasion of migrants under accusations of systematic administrative detentions and criminalization of humanitarian workers. With the new asylum laws, Athens seeks to speed up asylum procedures and returns to countries of origin. Last June, the Executive recognized Turkey as a “safe country” for asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia
This Tuesday, Oxfam and the Greek Refugee Council (CGR) They have published a report where they give an account of how Greece, with the support of Europe, is increasingly resorting to the practice of administrative immigration detention in Greece.
According to the report titled ‘
Default stop ‘, to which this newspaper has had access, both organizations criticize the excessive use of administrative detention by the Greek authorities with support from the EU with up to 3,000 migrants detained as of June 2021. Oxfam and CGR estimate that 7 out of 10 migrants Irregular workers are placed in administrative detention and most remain in detention when they apply for asylum. Pregnant women, children and vulnerable population groups are of particular concern due to the lack of access to health and legal assistance. Despite the notable decline in arrivals under the current government, which the report’s authors link to the pandemic (up to 60% this year), for Oxfam, Greece’s attempts to make the exception the norm (European law only contemplates these actions as a last resort) “represent a clear violation of both European and Greek law.”
In 2016, the total number of people detained was 14,864, of which 4,072 were asylum seekers, according to figures managed by Oxfam and CGR. Three years later, this number had doubled to 30,007, of whom 23,348 were asylum seekers. These figures decreased in 2020 (14,993 people, of which 10,130 were asylum seekers).
Role of NGOs
Sources consulted by this newspaper acknowledge the important role played by NGOs in the migration issue, especially in the past. Instead, these same sources find it understandable that the Greek Government wants to “put order” on the action of organizations that deal with very vulnerable populations.
However, the trickle of information about the controversial practices of the Greek Government is constant, with the connivance of the EU. Just yesterday, the International Rescue Committee posted a
report where he denounced the difficult situation of unaccompanied minors arriving in Greece. According to the organization, in the last four years, there have been 37,000 unaccompanied children in GreeceBut only 469 were allowed to reunite with their families in other parts of Europe, a quarter of all who requested to do so. Greece cites little collaboration from other member countries as a reason for these figures.
“It will sound a bit harsh but the truth is that Greece is aligned with European policies. It was Europe that closed the borders first ”, the director of Cáritas Grecia tells this newspaper. Maria Alverti, who believes that “if Europe is closing its eyes with what Greece is doing, this means that Greece has European approval.”
As a culmination, this Thursday begins in Lesbos the trial of two humanitarian activists who participated in the rescues of migrants and asylum seekers who were trying to reach Greece. Sarah Mardini, a Syrian refugee (25 years old) who arrived on the Greek island in 2015, and Seán binder, a 27-year-old German citizen, can be sentenced to 25 years in prison for helping refugees. Sarah and Seán were arrested in 2018 on numerous charges including human trafficking, espionage, illegal use of radio frequencies and fraud. Both spent more than 100 days in prison before being released on bail in December 2018.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism