Greece Passes Controversial Bill to Reduce Overcrowding in Refugee Camps
The bill would speed up the asylum process, but confine refugees to the Greek islands.
The Greek parliament passed a bill addressing the overcrowding in Greek refugee camps following a heated 12-hour debate on Tuesday. The bill proposes measures to streamline the asylum-seeking process and reduce the wait time for the thousands of refugees in the camps on Greece’s islands.
Currently, there are five refugee camps on Greek islands near Turkey, and all have exceeded their capacity by more than double. The bill calls for additional staff to handle asylum seekers’ claims and appeals.
However, though the bill would speed up the asylum-seeking process and reduce overcrowding in camps, it would also restrict the movement of refugees in Greece. The bill redoubles a law that was previously lifted by a Greek court last month, and once again keeps refugees isolated on the islands and restricts them from traveling to the mainland.
A group of 13 Greek human rights organizations has accused the government of violating refugee rights by restricting their freedom of movement. Rights groups have also criticized the policy for effectively creating a prison for the 11,000 refugees on the islands.
13 Greek NGOs members of the #accesstoasylumcampaign inc;luding @rspaegean have expressed serious concerns over asylum procedures reform bill debated by Parliament today #refugeesgr#accesstoasylumcampaignhttps://t.co/spw0vXiqXl— RSA (@rspaegean) May 15, 2018
Asylum Bill adopted by Greek Parliament yesterday. Serious concerns have been expressed by Greek and international NGOs re: imposition of geo-restriction to newly arrived refugees for the purpose of processing their asylum claims https://t.co/ExyB1Mf4QM— RSA (@rspaegean) May 16, 2018
The vast majority of refugees in Greece come from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and pass through Turkey to reach the islands. Over the past four years, 1.1 million refugees fleeing violent conflict, human rights abuses, and climate disasters have made the dangerous journey on inflatable boats in the hopes of finding safety.
The ongoing global refugee crisis is the largest displacement of people since the Second World War
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