JRS Greece: hard conditions for asylum seekers in Athens
February 01, 2016
|People wait for a ferry to take them to Athens on the Greek island of Lesbos (Photo: JRS Greece).
|“JRS staff is regularly visiting detention centers around Athens. There are problems with hygiene and food while many migrants do not have proper clothing.”
(Athens, Greece) February 1, 2016 –
Despite the winter cold and rough seas people continue to take great risks to
reach Greece from Turkey. JRS is present on the Greek island of Lesbos and in
Athens welcoming and accompanying new arrivals.
On January 23, JRS staff witnessed
the arrival of three ferries from the Greek islands to the port of Piraeus near
Athens. The huge ferries collectively were carrying about 8,000 people.
Director of JRS Greece, Rev. Maurice
Joyeux, SJ explains what he saw: “As they disembarked from their overnight
voyage there was a burst of activity. Some people went directly to the metro.
Others ran to buses. Others begin speaking with groups of smugglers who stood a
safe distance away from the police. Within two hours the whole port was
Many of these forced migrants attempt
to follow the path of those before, such as traveling through the former
Yugoslav republic of Macedonia and on into Western Europe. Others end up in one
of the several camps set up in Athens run by the authorities and
Forced migrants increasingly are
being sent by the Greek authorities to detention centers, where conditions are
extremely bad. JRS staff is regularly visiting detention centers around Athens.
There are problems with hygiene and food while many migrants do not have proper
clothing. JRS staff has also witnessed unaccompanied minors being held in
detention in Athens.
JRS is deeply concerned by the
European Commission’s intention to consider a recommendation for the reinstatement
of transfers of asylum seekers to Greece under the so called Dublin Regulation,
a European Union law that requires all migrants to apply for asylum in the
country where they first set foot.
The transfer of asylum seekers back
to Greece under the Dublin Regulation has been suspended since 2011 following
the findings of human rights violations against asylum seekers by the European
Court of Human Rights in its MSS v Belgium and Greece
decision, and by the
Court of Justice of the European Union's in its NS v Secretary of State for the
Recent observations on the ground by
JRS support the findings of the European Council of Exiles and Refugees
November. Persons in need of protection still face considerable obstacles to
accessing the asylum procedure.
Reception conditions are not improving
and asylum seekers often are exposed to inhumane and degrading treatment in
violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Finally, the
detention of unaccompanied children clearly is not in the best interests of the
child and conflicts with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Mr Christian Fuchs