• Greece reiterates open door policy for Ukrainians

    Greece is determined to take in Ukrainian refugees, according to Greek migration minister Notis Mitarakis. A reported 13,000 people have travelled to Greece from Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion so far.

    Greece’s Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis reiterated that his country was willing and prepared to take in more Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing their country due to Russia’s ongoing invasion, in a speech to parliament on Tuesday (March 22). “We are ready for the hospitality arrangements. And we are ready to register people and provide them with temporary protection,” Mitaraki announced.

    “The national reception system has the immediate availability of 15,000 beds”, Mitarakis said.
    13,000 refugees from Ukraine arrived so far

    Miratakis went on to say that Greece has already welcomed a total of 13,000 Ukrainian refugees.

    “We have created a reception center in Promachonas, the main entry point; we have created a special entrance lane and have quickly renovated an old building in order to have a proper reception area, with the presence of more medical support, plus hot drinks, food, and a warm welcome,” said Mitarakis.

    Greece has several hosting structures ready to welcome Ukrainians, the minister said. One in Sintiki, which is a new facility that is used for the first few days for those who arrive from Promachonas, which is only five kilometers from the border.

    In addition, Mitarakis said the government had set up the facilities at Elefsina and Serres to host Ukrainians, with 15,000 beds available iinitially, which could be gradually increased, if necessary, to 30,000.

    He explained that the ministry would create an electronic pre-registration platform which will be operational starting on March 28 to allow all potential beneficiaries to transfer their basic data and to receive a personalized appointment at the Asylum Service Offices.

    He added that the process of issuing a temporary protection ID will start “on April 4 at the Regional Asylum Offices of Thessaloniki, Attica, Patras and Crete.”
    Pushback accusations against Greece

    Though the current Greek government has launched policies to welcome refugees from Ukraine, the same cannot be said for refugees from other world regions and migrants.

    Migrant and refugee advocacy groups have repeatedly criticized squalid conditions in Greek reception facilities and Greek police have been accused of carrying out illegal pushbacks in the Aegean, sending migrants and refugees back to Turkey on boats unfit for the sea without allowing them to claim asylum.

    Greek officials have denied these claims, but the conservative government has openly talked about its goals to reduce irregular migrant and refugee arrivals.

    During his speech to Parliament on Tuesday, Mitarakis praised efforts to prevent border crossings, saying that “while Europe is experiencing a 57% increase in flows of people coming in, Greece has regained control and is not the main gateway.” He said that Greece had reduced arrivals from 72,422 in 2019 to 8,745 in 2021, “the lowest flows of the decade.”

    Mitarakis claimed that his government had achieved “the restoration of control over immigration ...through the drastic confrontation of illegal immigration. ...Now, we are investing in legal immigration, reforming and digitizing everything, and simplifying procedures.”

    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/39424/greece-reiterates-open-door-policy-for-ukrainians

    #Grèce #racisme #réfugiés #guerre #Ukraine #Africains #frontières #fermeture_des_frontières #catégorisation #tri #réfugiés_ukrainiens

    –-

    ajouté à ce fil de discussion :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/951230

    et plus particulièrement ici (Grèce) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/951230#message954735

    • Ukraine or the Middle East? Greece applies varying rules on refugees

      Thousands of Ukrainian refugees have entered Greece, where they enjoy international protection. For non-Ukrainian refugees, however, the situation remains tense and frustrating.

      After days of hiding in the basement of her house, Sofiia Malinovskaya finally made it to safety. Airstrikes and fighting near her home in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv forced her to leave Ukraine.

      “A friend and I left by car,” Malinovskaya said. “It took us four days just to get to the border. There were just so many cars, and the traffic jam was crazy. We moved 170 kilometers (106 miles) in seven hours.”

      They left via Slovakia because border traffic there had not been very busy. Volunteers helped Sofiia get to Krakow, Poland, then on to Warsaw and, from there, to the Greek city of Thessaloniki.

      Although she is now safe, she said she feels she has no prospects. “I feel very lost. You realize that you don’t have the place to get back, because my city is almost destroyed. There isn’t a building left without any destruction. You don’t know what to do next and you don’t know how to keep living a normal life after that,” she said.

      Malinovskaya came to Thessaloniki because she knew she would have a place to live. “I have a close friend living here, and I could stay with her,” she said.

      She added, however, that she did not know that Greece has been criticized for years for pushbacks and lack of protection of migrants and asylum-seekers.

      Aid without red tape

      More than 10,000 people crossed the border as of Wednesday, according to Vadym Sabluk, Ukraine’s consul general in Thessaloniki.

      “The Greek government kindly agreed to let all Ukrainians who escape from the war come to the Greek territory,” he said.

      Ukrainians carrying biometric passports could immediately enter the country. For those identifying themselves with other documents, such as a birth certificate, a center has been set up at Promachonas, the Greek-Bulgarian border checkpoint, where refugees are given paperwork to fill out by the police. They could then submit the document to the nearest immigration authority and be officially registered.

      “According to the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, starting from March 28, an online platform for pre-registration for receiving documents in the status of temporary protection of Greek government will be launched,” Sabluk said, adding that the status can remain valid for up to three years.

      Sabluk, who has been working nonstop since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, said he has been overwhelmed by the willingness of Greek authorities and citizens to help his compatriots.

      “Many people come to the consulate and offer their own apartments, houses and rooms in order to welcome Ukrainian people,” he said.

      Russians living in Greece are showing solidarity as well, Sabluk added. “The Russians are coming and begging pardon and they work shoulder-to-shoulder with our volunteers,” he said.
      Good refugee, bad refugee

      Inside Thessaloniki’s city hall, Ukrainians, Russians and Greeks have been working together to assemble packages of food, clothing and medicines to be sent to Ukraine. But out on the streets of Athens, more then 400 police officers have been busy with Operation Skupa ("broom"), carrying out checks on asylum-seekers and detaining anyone who can’t prove their identity.

      “I’m afraid to go out at all,” said a young Afghan, adding that he does not know where he will go when the camp where he lives shuts down in May.

      His application for asylum was rejected twice, he said. In Kabul, his hometown, he worked as an interpreter for international media outlets, and he fears the Taliban will make good on threats to kill him if he returns to Afghanistan.

      The Afghan’s attempt to submit a new asylum application was unsuccessful. For hours he tried, as required, to register via the Skype messenger service, but he never got through. Now he has to travel, at his own expense, to the district of Evros, situated at the other end of the country, to submit his application at a reception center.

      He said his time in Greece has left him with little trust in Greek authorities. He mentions witnessing police violence and illegal deportations while trying to cross the border from Turkey to Greece.

      The Afghan said comparing the treatment of Ukrainian refugees with his own situation makes him angry. “They’re new arrivals and should go through the same procedure as all the other refugees,” he said.

      The war in Ukraine is the main topic of discussion at the camp where he lives, he said, adding that the situation there was difficult enough without seeing how others have received preferential treatment.
      Documented breaches of law

      Human rights activists have long denounced the Greek government’s treatment of refugees. The government, however, claims that Turkey is a safe third country and that, therefore, people had no right to international protection in the EU.

      Speaking to the parliament, Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis recently labeled the refugees from Ukraine “real refugees.” Meanwhile, leading politicians have said asylum-seekers from the Middle East or Africa are “illegal immigrants,” according to Greek media.

      Neda Noraie-Kia, an expert in European migration policy at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which is affiliated with the German Green Party, said she disapproves of the Greek government’s unequal treatment of refugees. A rather somber picture has emerged regarding refugee protection in Greece, she said: Illegal deportations, lack of basic provisions, lack of integration efforts — the list of accusations is long.

      “It’s important that the EU responds to documented breaches of law,” she told DW.

      Nonetheless, it is also important that refugees from Ukraine receive protection in Greece without red tape, she added.

      “This proves, after all, that solidarity is possible,” said Noraie-Kia, adding that such solidarity also has to be extended to others who seek protection.

      Many people, including asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, have been waiting too long for an asylum hearing, trapped in a legal gray area for years.

      "Protection against war and persecution is not an act of mercy,"said Noraie-Kia. “We in the EU are not isolated in this world. When authoritarian regimes oppress their citizens, we can’t close our eyes. We must take responsibility.”

      https://www.dw.com/en/ukraine-or-the-middle-east-greece-applies-varying-rules-on-refugees/a-61262360

    • Greece Using Other Migrants to Expel Asylum Seekers

      Stripped, Robbed, and Forced Back to Turkey; No Chance to Seek Asylum.

      Greek security forces are employing third country nationals, men who appear to be of Middle Eastern or South Asian origin, to push asylum seekers back at the Greece-Turkey land border, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

      The 29-page report “‘Their Faces Were Covered’: Greece’s Use of Migrants as Police Auxiliaries in Pushbacks,” found that Greek police are detaining asylum seekers at the Greece-Turkey land border at the Evros River, in many cases stripping them of most of their clothing and stealing their money, phones, and other possessions. They then turn the migrants over to masked men, who force them onto small boats, take them to the middle of the Evros River, and force them into the frigid water, making them wade to the riverbank on the Turkish side. None are apparently being properly registered in Greece or allowed to lodge asylum claims.

      “There can be no denying that the Greek government is responsible for the illegal pushbacks at its borders, and using proxies to carry out these illegal acts does not relieve it of any liability,” said Bill Frelick, refugee and migrant rights director at Human Rights Watch. “The European Commission should urgently open legal proceedings and hold the Greek government accountable for violating EU laws prohibiting collective expulsions.”

      Human Rights Watch interviewed 26 Afghan migrants and asylum seekers, 23 of whom were pushed back from Greece to Turkey across the Evros River between September 2021 and February 2022. The 23 men, 2 women, and a boy said they were detained by men they believed to be Greek authorities, usually for no more than 24 hours with little to no food or drinking water, and pushed back to Turkey. The men and boy provided firsthand victim or witness accounts of Greek police or men they believed to be Greek police beating or otherwise abusing them.
      Sixteen of those interviewed said the boats taking them back to Turkey were piloted by men who spoke Arabic or the South Asian languages common among migrants. They said most of these men wore black or commando-like uniforms and used balaclavas to cover their faces. Three people interviewed were able to talk with the men ferrying the boats. The boat pilots told them they were also migrants who were employed by the Greek police with promises of being provided with documents enabling them to travel onward.

      A 28-year-old former commander in the Afghan army who was pushed back to Turkey in late December, said he had a conversation in Pashto with the Pakistani man ferrying the boat that took him back to Turkey: “The boat driver said, ‘We are … here doing this work for three months and then they give us … a document. With this, we can move freely inside Greece and then we can get a ticket for … another country.’”

      An 18-year-old Afghan youth described his experience after the Greek police transported him from the detention center to the river: “At the border, there were other people waiting for us.… From their language, we could recognize they were Pakistanis and Arabs. These men took our money and beat us. They beat me with sticks. They dropped us in the middle of the river. The water was to my chest, and we waded the rest of the way [to Turkey].”

      Pushbacks violate multiple human rights norms, including the prohibition of collective expulsion under the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to due process in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the right to seek asylum under EU asylum law and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the principle of nonrefoulement under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

      The Greek government routinely denies involvement in pushbacks, labeling such claims “fake news” or “Turkish propaganda” and cracking down, including through the threat of criminal sanctions, against those reporting on such incidents. On March 29, Greece’s independent authority for transparency tasked by the government to investigate pushbacks “found no basis for reports that Greek authorities have illegally turned back asylum-seekers entering the country from Turkey.”

      Major General Dimitrios Mallios, chief of the Aliens & Border Protection Branch in Hellenic Police Headquarters, denied the Human Rights Watch allegations. He said that “police agencies and their staff will continue to operate in a continuous, professional, lawful and prompt way, taking all necessary measures to effectively manage the refugees/migration flows, in a manner that safeguards on the one hand the rights of the aliens and on the other hand the protection of citizens especially in the first line border regions.”

      Greece should immediately halt all pushbacks from Greek territory, and stop using third country nationals for collective expulsions, Human Rights Watch said. The European Commission, which provides financial support to the Greek government for migration control, should require Greece to end all summary returns and collective expulsions of asylum seekers to Turkey, press the authorities to establish an independent and effective border monitoring mechanism that would investigate allegations of violence at borders, and ensure that none of its funding contributes to violations of fundamental rights and EU laws. The European Commission should also open legal proceedings against Greece for violating EU laws prohibiting collective expulsions.

      Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which is under increased scrutiny for complicity in migrant pushbacks in Greece, should trigger article 46 of its regulation, under which the agency has a duty to suspend or terminate operations in case of serious abuses, if no concrete improvements are made by Greece to end these abuses within three months.

      On March 1, Greece’s migration minister, Notis Mitarachi, declared before the Hellenic Parliament that Ukrainians were the “real refugees,” implying that those on Greece’s border with Turkey are not.

      “At a time when Greece welcomes Ukrainians as ‘real refugees,’ it conducts cruel pushbacks on Afghans and others fleeing similar war and violence,” Frelick said. “The double standard makes a mockery of the purported shared European values of equality, rule of law, and human dignity.”

      https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/04/07/greece-using-other-migrants-expel-asylum-seekers