Petitioning the Greek government

The European Campaign for Human Rights in Afghanistan has started a petition on Change.org, asking the Greek government to “[i]mprove the situation for refugees in Greece who are living in destitution”.

To:
the Greek government
Petition:

Thousands of Afghans flee their homes in Afghanistan and arrive in Greece each year for many different reasons such as war, persecution of minority ethnic groups or religious groups, or members of political organisations. People become frightened for their own safety and the safety of their families. They flee because they are in desperate need to find safety; these individuals often put their life in danger to enter another country. However once they arrive in Greece, the situation does not get much better. Thousands of migrants, who cross Greece every year, face appalling conditions in detention and racist attacks.

John Daulhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, noted that Greece is proving itself incapable of providing even the most basic requirements of safety and shelter to the thousands of asylum seekers and migrants arriving each year.

We understand that Greece is facing a burden due to the current economic crisis; however there is no excuse for the obstacles asylum-seekers face in registering their asylum claims. The treatment of refugees in Greece is below International human rights standards.

Refugees and migrants are living on the streets, trapped in Greece, with little or no assistance, and with a rising tide of racism to deal with that means many have been beaten and attacked.

Refugees suffer because of Greek and EU asylum policy, but have little real say in what is happening. Our Campaign intends to change this.

Our Recommendations:

Refugees and migrants deserve to have a respected and independent voice on policies that affect their lives in Europe.

The policy makers on Greek and EU asylum policy should hold a debate with refugees and migrants in Greece on the current situation of destitution, racism and xenophobia and what they are doing to improve the situation.

The Greek and EU authorities should improve the situation for refugees and migrants in Greece from today, to ensure that refugees arriving there, as a bare minimum, have somewhere to sleep, food to eat and are able to apply for asylum should they wish to do so.

We also ask that the Greek government stop detaining migrants in these appalling conditions. There should be reception centres or other accommodation available for refugees – not detention.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

The EU needs to go a step further than to exert pressure on and offer support to Greece to improve the situation there. EU regulations which force asylum seekers to remain in the country where they first enter Europe urgently need to be revised. The countries of the European Union need to allow refugees trapped in Greece to leave a place where they are left homeless, hungry, often unable to even start their asylum application and at constant risk of violence. It is not only the detention conditions, living conditions and asylum procedure in Greece, that put refugees at risk. The extreme right Golden Dawn party has been able to attack refugees and migrants with impunity, and there have been countless reports of police violence against immigrants and refugees.

European legislation is one of the reasons that conditions in Greece have deteriorated this far. The European Union needs to enable refugees in Greece to come to those parts of Europe where they are reasonably safe. If Europe doesn’t take responsibility, it will be on all of us.

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