Amnesty International calls for new refugee measures at Turkish-Greek border
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Amnesty International's İrem Arf Rayfield says the refugee route has changed. Daily News PhotoAmnesty International has released a report about the refugees who try to enter the European Union through the Turkish-Greek border.
The report, titled “Frontier Europe: Human Rights Abuses on Greece’s Border with Turkey,” focuses on the refugees who cross the Turkish-Greek border, as well as how officials of both of the countries treat the refugees.
İrem Arf Rayfield, Amnesty International's European Institutions Office Researcher on Refugee and Migrants’ Rights in Europe, told the Hürriyet Daily News that the Turkish-Greek border was one of the most important transit routes for reaching the EU.
Rayfield said Greece had recently taken substantial measures regarding the refugee transits across the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and had upgraded the security by fence wiring 10.5 kilometers of its land border.
“These implementations have led to a change in the refugee’s routes. The route shifted from land to sea,” said Rayfield, while adding that sea transits were incredibly dangerous. “For example, 50 people are put in boats that can carry 20 people. The boats sink, with pregnant woman, children and elderly people inside.”
Rayfield said refugees could be sent back even if they were to make it to the Greek border and violations of refugees’ human rights took place even under administrative surveillance.
The story of a 17-year-old Afghan youngster, who reached Greece through Iran and Turkey after losing his family in Afghanistan, demonstrates the ill treatment of officials. Rayfield explained that the youngster and his five siblings and nephews arrived at a Greek island in an overcrowded boat late at night. They were first taken to a safety boat and then back to the first boat with which they came to the island.
“According to the youngster, the boat was damaged by the Greek safety officials to prevent the engines from functioning,” said Rayfield, stressing that there were lots of stories like this.
‘EU should stop human rights violations’
Rayfield said that the EU had to take more responsibility and stop human rights violations immediately. She said that while Turkey adopted a new law in April, its provisions will come into force in April 2014. Although there have been improvements in the area of migration and asylum in Turkey over the past few years, the information the organization receives from migrants and refugees, as well as from local non-governmental organisations, shows that accessing international protection is still problematic.
Concerning the origins of the refugees who took shelter in the EU, Rayfield said that most of the refugees came from North Africa, Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq. She added that increasing numbers of Syrian refugees were looking for safety in the EU.