[Photo: Andrea Motta]
New on Greece and Turkey
Six Die in Migrant Boat Accident
Eight Afghan Illegal Immigrants Drown off Coast of Greek Island
Two recent incidents highlight the dangers that some immigrants are willing to face in order to gain access to the European Union, and the importance of heightened communication and cooperation with Turkey in dealing the EU border states. In both cases, a boat full of illegal immigrants, once with passengers from Palestine, and the other from Afghanistan, capsized in the Aegean Sea resulting in the deaths of the passengers. Both boats were carrying children.
Greece Shuts down Migrant Detention Center
Even those lucky enough to make it into Greece face grave difficulties, as this article demonstrates. A detention center on the Isle of Lesbos that had come under fire for its human rights abuses by the UNHCR was closed by Greek authorities, and its 900 inhabitants were sent to neighboring islands. The center will reopen and expect to hold roughly 150 immigrants.
Turkey Frets over EU's Illegal Immigrants
As illegal immigration increases, Greece and Turkey have become primary barriers into the EU, and the way these two countries handle illegal immigrants have huge significance: both for the EU's human rights reputation and for the potential for Turkish accession. The prime Turkish negotiator for accession, Egemen Bağış, highlighted this issue recently, claiming that it demonstrates why Turkey can be considered both a "bridge" and a "barrier" to the Middle East.
Lastly, a report by NGO's the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, NOAS and AITIMA chastises Greece for massive deportations of immigrations without assessment of their claims to refugee status, in violation of the 1951 Geneva Convention.
Clearly, as borders of Europe, Turkey and Greece shoulder a disproportionate amount of responsibility for how the European Union welcomes and treats its immigrants. However, it is crucial that Europe shows its commitment to refugee and human rights conventions by insisting that these nations respect the human rights of those so desperate for access to Europe.