Two years after the EU-Turkey Deal: a humanitarian tragedy for refugees and asylum seekers

Giorgos Moutafis for SolidarityNow

Athens, 16 March 2018. Two years following the implementation of the EU-Turkey Deal, many refugees and asylum seekers continue to be trapped in the Greek islands, deprived of their basic human rights and access to international protection.

On this second anniversary, and whilst legal appeals against the geographical limitation of asylum-seekers to the islands are still pending, we continue to stress that the regime of reception and asylum at the EU borders has been brought to a dramatic standstill from every perspective:

  • Humanitarian, as thousands of people are still trapped in island hotspots, living in a state of constant insecurity about their future, whilst lacking access to basic services.
  • Legal, with border asylum procedures taking place, on many occasions, without the minimum procedural safeguards for effective access to asylum, while thousands of people are deprived of their liberty and detention remains a widespread practice in migration management.
  • Political, with EU governments continuing to present the EU-Turkey Deal as a success, without admitting that refugees and asylum seekers are forced to live under deplorable conditions on the islands, often leading to tensions between the refugee population and local communities.

For the past two years, our organizations have been repeatedly stating that the EU-Turkey Deal is undermining human rights and Europe’s very fundamental principles. We insist that the only way to properly receive displaced people is by adhering to our common European values and complying with our international protection obligations, i.e. respect the principle of non-refoulement, provide dignified reception and accommodation to asylum seekers, and ensure the right of everyone to seek asylum without discrimination. In practice, however, the EU asylum and migration policy is governed by a logic of deterrence and border securitization, at the expense of human rights protection and humanitarian values.

On the occasion of the EU-Turkey Deal’s second anniversary, we invite you at the Press Conference we are holding on 20 March 2018, in Athens. The event will be conducted in Greek, with simultaneous translation in English.

Interventions will be made by:

Amnesty International, Gabriel Sakellaridis, Director

Greek Council for Refugees, Vasileios Papadopoulos, Legal Unit Coordinator

SolidarityNow, Jenny Kavounidis, Board of Directors

Greek Forum of Refugees, Yonous Muhammadi, President & Coordinator

Melissa Network, Yasaman Heidarpour, Cultural Mediator for Farsi speakers

Human Rights Watch, Eva Cossé, Researcher for Greece

KEELPNO, Agis Terzidis, Pediatrician, Board Member

Moderator of the Press Conference: Ioannis Papadopoulos, journalist

 The Press Conference will be held at 12:30, at ESIEA (Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers) – 20, Akadimias str. (1st floor), Athens

The Press Conference is organized by:

Amnesty International
Greek Council for Refugees
Greek Forum of Refugees
Melissa Network