Asylum system on Greek islands to worsen under Greek, Turkish governments – the Guardian

Conditions in already overflowing refugee settlements on Greek islands could worsen due to punitive measures Greece’s right-wing New Democracy government plans to implement, and Turkey’s practices of resettlement, the Guardian newspaper said.

Turkey triggered a new wave of Syrians attempting to cross to the Greek islands from July last year by trying to round up refugees in western coastal provinces and sending them back to the Turkish province where they were first registered.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plans to resettle many of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey in a safe zone within Syria will likely trigger another wave when his government begins to implement it, the British newspaper said. 

Some 36,000 new people have arrived on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros since September last year. The Greek government moved 14,750 people to the mainland, leaving a population of 42,000 crammed in makeshift settlements.

The Greek government has implemented a new asylum law that requires intense legal support to navigate, which is accessible to only a few, and plans to construct large-scale detention centres on the islands, “to enable far more deportations”, the article said.

In January, Greece also announced plans to install a floating barrier to prevent further arrivals.

Tensions run high on the islands and locals strongly object to government plans that will slow down the removal of the refugees, while new arrivals exacerbate existing issues.

An EU reception system at the union’s external borders, with medical and social staff on duty, could provide a better alternative than the current policy of putting further emphasis on its border agency Frontex to handle them, the Guardian said.