Humanitarian Groups: EU-Turkey Refugee Plan Puts Women, Children in Prison Camps
Michela Whitton, The Anti Media
March 23, 2016
(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom —
The E.U.-Turkey deal to stem the mass arrival of refugees and migrants to Greece — and further into Europe — came into effect this week. New arrivals to so-called “hotspots” will now be automatically subject to the new return policy, which calls for “irregular migrants” crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands to be returned to Turkey. For every Syrian returned to Turkey, another will be resettled in the E.U.
The reality on the ground, however, is that refugee reception centres have rapidly become chaotic prison camps where people are being held behind barbed wire fences, without clear information about what is happening to them. Volunteers are banned from assisting, while the authorities appear clueless about how to register and manage the new arrivals, let alone determine who is “irregular” and who is not.
As a result, international agencies are refusing to play ball. On Tuesday the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced it would not assist in transporting migrants and refugees arriving in Greece to the new detention centres. It said it refuses to be involved in returns or detention, adding that Greece is not prepared to implement the deal properly and may send refugees back to Turkey without properly assessing their asylum claims.
According to UNHCR, more than 147,000 people, many fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Asia, have arrived by sea in Greece this year. The vast majority of those making the perilous journey are in need of international protection, and over half the arrivals in Greece have been women and children. On the Greek mainland in Idomeni, an estimated 12,000 people — including 4,000 children — live in a tent city close to the Macedonian border. There have been daily protests at the squalid camp since the return policy was announced, and one man was hospitalised earlier this week after setting himself on fire out of desperation.
At a press briefing in Geneva on March 22, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming expressed concern that people are being held against their will. She said the E.U.-Turkey deal is being implemented before Greece has the correct safeguards in place.
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Humanitarian Groups: EU-Turkey Refugee Plan Puts Women, Children in Prison Camps
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