Refugees arriving in Greece by land are at risk of destitution due to the ongoing shortage in reception capacity. Arrivals through the Greek-Turkish land border of Evros continue to rise, notably due to reduced controls on the part of Turkish authorities and a halt in communication with their Greek counterparts.
According to police statistics, a total of 8,407 persons were apprehended for irregular entry or stay at the Evros land border in the first half of 2018. Syria and Iraq remain the top nationalities of people apprehended across the country. Media sources refer to over 12,000 people crossing Evros since the beginning of the year.
The crossing at Evros remains highly dangerous; in September 2018 it was reported that 5 people had been killed when their vessel was overturned due to adverse weather conditions as they tried to cross Evros river. Only this week, three women have been found dead in the Evros riverside area, in a case that coroners have announced clearly involved a criminal attack.
Following their entry through Evros, people undergo reception and identification procedures, which have reportedly improved from inhumane conditions in recent weeks, not least due to the involvement of NGOs such as Arsis, Doctors without Borders (MSF) and the Greek Council for Refugees. Others directly arrive in Thessaloniki and wait outside police stations to seek asylum. A group of mostly Iraqi nationals who had camped in the city centre’s Aristotelous Square were transferred to the Diavata camp on Monday. The current capacity and occupancy of camps set up throughout the Greek mainland remains unclear, since the latest data released by the authorities date back to August 2017.
Updates on the plight of refugees arriving by land come against the backdrop of persisting inappropriate conditions on the islands and recent allegations of mismanagement of EU funds in Greece’s refugee response. The prosecutor has launched an investigation into the possible misuse of funds, while the Head of the Reception and Identification Service, Andreas Iliopoulos, was removed from his post after requesting an investigation.
For further information:
- AIDA, Country Report Greece, 2017 Update, March 2018.
This article was first published by AIDA*