An Update to the October 2016 Joint NGO Policy Brief on the Situation for Displaced Persons in Greece

It is one year since the introduction of Europe’s flawed migration policies to close borders along the Western Balkan route and return migrants and refugees to Turkey, leaving thousands stranded in Greece. This update provides an overview of the current situation in Greece, and sets out what eight national and international responding agencies see as the most urgent issues to address and the major concerns with Europe’s response to this crisis.

To start with, there remains the need for a coherent European Union (EU)-wide approach that shares responsibility in managing migration while upholding international obligations and protecting human rights. To date, actions taken by European countries point toward the contrary. The EU-Turkey Statement and the subsequent Joint Action Plan for its implementation are examples of policies that are eroding rights enshrined in the Refugee Convention, exacerbating the vulnerabilities of people seeking protection, and exposing them to an array of new rights abuses. It is alarming that this may become the model for future responses to children, women and men seeking international protection in Europe. EU leaders, the Greek Government and donors must commit to supporting a principled approach to managing migration based on the Refugee Convention and international human rights law.

To improve and adapt the response to this protracted situation, while upholding international human rights law, all stakeholders must work together to address persistent issues in two main areas of concern:

  1. Safe, humane reception conditions, long-term accommodation, and access to essential services; and
  2. Access to due process in seeking international protection, legal aid, and accurate, up-to-date and reliable information.