Human Rights Watch (HRW) has slammed the European Union for turning Greece into a refugee “warehouse” by dumping too many asylum seekers on the country, saying such a policy cannot resolve the refugee crisis in the continent.
“Greece has its fair share of responsibility for the situation on the ground, but turning the country into a warehouse is no solution to Europe’s refugee crisis,” said the rights group’s Greece specialist Eva Cosse in a Friday statement.
Cosse further censured a Dutch proposal for the EU to accept up to 250,000 asylum seekers per year from Turkey if Ankara takes back ‘irregular migrants.’
“Turkey cannot be considered a safe country for automatic returns,” she stated.
The development came as Amnesty International accused Greek police on Friday of causing hardship for thousands of refugees on the border with Macedonia by not allowing them access to a camp operated by aid groups.
“Thousands of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants... are forced to spend the night outside, exposed to difficult weather conditions,” said Amnesty, warning that sub-zero temperatures were threatening the health of refugee infants and children.
A Greek government source, however, explained that police officers are only allowing access to the border camp to Syrians, Iraqis and Afghan refugees, the only nationalities allowed by Macedonia to continue their journey to northern Europe.
Over a million asylum seekers reached Europe’s shores in 2015, with the majority of them fleeing countries ravaged by terrorism such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The refugee crisis has been Europe’s worst since World War II.
Meanwhile, the EU announced this week that Greece could face border controls with the rest of the passport-free Schengen zone if it fails to adequately shield the bloc’s borders.
A Belgian official has also suggested that Athens should establish camps for hundreds of thousands of refugees.