Humanitarian organizations criticize Greece migrant containment policy News
Humanitarian organizations criticize Greece migrant containment policy

Twenty-one humanitarian organizations issued a joint statement [text, PDF] on Tuesday condemning the Greek government’s decision to reinstate a migrant “containment” policy after it was struck down by the nation’s highest administrative court. Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Human Rights Watch [advocacy websites] were among the groups that called the action a challenge to the rule of law in Greece.

The groups called on the Greek government to

rapidly expand safe accommodation and access to services on the mainland and create a system to move people quickly to mainland accommodation that provides for their medical and mental health needs while their asylum application is processed. The EU should look at sharing responsibility across member states and increasing availability of more safe and legal channels into the EU

Under Greece’s “containment” policy, migrants arriving by sea from the Middle East and Turkey are kept in conditions that the groups describe as “substandard and appalling” on islands in the Aegean. The Greek government claims that the policy is necessary to implement the 2016 migrant deal between the EU and Turkey.

Last week, the Council of State [official website, in Greek], the nation’s top administrative court, ordered a stop to “containment” and required that migrants be able to travel to the mainland in compliance with EU standards of freedom of movement. The court found that the policy was not mandated by compliance with the EU-Turkey deal. Despite this ruling, members Greek parliament have introduced a measure to reinstate the invalidated policy.