UNHCR Greece Press Review 16-18 October 2010
Please note this is an unedited press review
UNHCR slams migrant detention conditions
Greece must send doctors, interpreters and social workers as a matter of urgency to help migrants crammed into detention centres at its border with Turkey, said the UNHCR on Friday (15/10). “We are deeply concerned by the detention conditions…It’s a real emergency situation and requires urgent action,” stated UNHCR PI Officer Ketty Kehayioylou. According to official data, as many as 44 persons have died to date in 2010 in their attempt to reach the Greek side of the Evros river, while the actual number is believed to be higher. Furthermore, 9 in 10 irregular migrants use Greece as a springboat into the EU and arrivals by land –mostly from Turkey- have significantly increased, putting pressure on the country’s northern border regions.
(kathimerini.gr, in.gr, vimaonline.gr, 15 October, Kathimerini English Edition, Avriani, Niki, xronos.gr, 16 October)
Iranian hunger striker punched in the face by officer of Municipal police
One of the 7 Iranian hunger strikers, who have stitched their mouths and are staging a protest in Athens centre requesting to be granted asylum, was punched in the face by an Officer of the Municipal Police on Friday evening (15/10), according to allegations by the Iranian Committee for Refugees, the Immigrant Workers Union and the Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat. The Officer punched the Iranian shouting “here is Greece, get the hell out of here”. To be noted that shortly before the incident, the Iranian woman who has sewed her lips was urgently transferred to the hospital as she almost chocked on her own vomit. A press conference will be organized on Monday (18/10), in front of Athens University central building.
(tvxs.gr, episkiasis.wordpress.com, protoselido.com, 16 October, nobudget.wordpress.com, 17 October, athens.indymedia.org, neoiakoa.blogspot.com, 18 October)
Clashes with migrants in Athens Square
Tension between “indignant citizens” and migrants has recently shifted from the area of Aghios Panteleimonas to the nearby Athens Square. A far right group attacked on Saturday evening (16/10) a makeshift mosque, injuring two immigrants from Bangladesh. One of them was the priest of the mosque who remained inside the building under siege together with other migrants for one and half hour. A mini-market owned by immigrants from Bangladesh was also attacked and five people were trapped inside for at least half an hour. Later on, clashes spread over the area for several hours while some 80 local citizens up in arms, including women and 15-year-old boys, gathered at the Square shouting in the presence of riot police “They are not humans, they are illegal migrants, they are worms”.
(tvxs.gr, 17 October, Eleftherotypia, Avriani, Ethnos, Eleftheros Typos, 18 October)
Suicide attempt by migrant held in police station
A migrant held in the detention area of a police station in western Athens attempted to commit suicide as he was kept in appalling conditions. The migrant was detained for six months waiting to be deported in violation of the law that sets out that the detention period for migrants to be deported should not exceed 3 months. According to reports by the Greek Police Technical Unit, conditions at the detention areas of police stations in Athens are deplorable, referring i.a., to problems of overcrowdness and lack of natural light.
(Eleftheros Typos, 18 October)
European Court of Human Rights condemns Greece on illegal detention and degrading treatment of detained migrant
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found in July that a 42-year-old asylum-seeker (A.A.) was held illegally in squalid conditions in a Greek detention centre. After leaving the refugee camp where he had been living in Lebanon, A.A. entered Greek territorial waters and was arrested by the coast guard. He was held in deplorable conditions for three months in the detention centre of Samos island where he was deprived of an interpreter and a lawyer as well as of timely medical care. The Court held that Greece had to pay the applicant 15,000 euros for non-pecuniary damage and 800 euros for costs and expenses.
(Kathimerini, 16 October)
250 migrants cross the Evros river on a daily basis
Some 250 people cross into the Greek side of the Evros river every day, while according to police data during the first 8 months of 2010 a total of 80,750 undocumented migrants were arrested in Greece. 34,175 of them were detained in the Evros region with 65% being Afghans coming either from Afghanistan or Iran, followed by Somalis. The vast majority of migrants end up in the mainland, particularly Athens, putting pressure in areas with burgeoning migrant population. Police authorities in Greece have registered 350,000 irregular migrants but the actual number is estimated to be higher. In addition, Greece received in 2010 10,083 requests from other EU countries to send back undocumented migrants under the Dublin II Regulation. Meanwhile, according to the police the exit of irregular migrants to other EU counties has been reduced by 90% in an effort to send the message that Greece is not an easy transit country.
(Ethnos, 16 October)
Action Plan for Athens centre still in paper
The Action Plan for Athens created by the Citizen Protection Ministry with the aim to upgrade the city’s centre has remained mainly on paper. One of the main actions included is the management of the dozens of thousands of irregular migrants living in Athens centre by creating reception facilities to accommodate undocumented migrants in different areas of Greece away from urban centres. According to the plan 11 centres are to be created country-wide especially at entry points (Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Evros, Igoumenitsa, Patras etc.). However, the search process for areas to host the centres has frozen following the opposition of local communities.
(Real News, 17 October)