Arrivals and Pushbacks
According to the Aegean boat report, 29 boats with 666 people on board arrived on the Greek islands in July 2022. And the same organisation documented 82 boats and 2183 people affected by pushbacks from the Greek side in the same period. At the same time, the Turkish government reported that during this period 155 boats with 5379 people were stopped by the Turkish coast guard or Turkish police. How many of these were on their way to Greece and how many were pushed back into Turkish waters is not documented.
According to UNHCR statistics, of the 6425 registered arrivals (both by land and sea) in the first half of 2022 in Greece, almost 20% are Palestinians. The second most common nationality of arrivals continues to be Afghanistan, with about 17 percent.
The third most frequent country of origin is Somalia (14%), fourth in the statistics are people from Sierra Leone (about 8%). These are followed by Syria and Egypt, and finally by many different countries from which people continue to seek protection in Greece.
Report from Samos
“A Life Without Freedom Is Not A Life” is the latest report on the lives of people on the move in the Closed Controlled Access Centre on Samos, published last month by Europe Must Act and Samos Advocacy Collective.
At this modern EU-funded facility on Europe’s borders, access to basic services such as healthcare is more critical than ever, and strict measures continue to restrict residents’ freedom of movement.
However, the testimonies and personal accounts in this report also reveal police violence, arbitrary detention and a generally abusive and unsafe environment. Is the new facility “a detention camp or a camp for asylum seekers? We are no longer free to live our private lives”, says one camp resident.
The report provides ample evidence that detention facilities and the restriction of asylum seekers’ fundamental rights and freedoms severely affect people’s physical and mental well-being. “People [are] sick, mentally.” Read the report by clicking here.
The accommodation facilities for unaccompanied children in Greece remain close to full capacity. According to figures released on 5 July by the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum, there are still 2010 unaccompanied refugee and migrant children living in Greece.
This latest update comes after the European Union announced last month that the number of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the European Union in 2021-2022 has increased by 72%.
The increase is due to a sharp rise in the number of refugees from Afghanistan, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office.
The Greek Ministry of Migration breaks down the figures, noting that 88% of unaccompanied children in Greece are boys and only 12% are girls. They are accommodated in various centres throughout the country.
In total, Greece has a capacity of 2304 places in different accommodation centres (shelters/ supported independent living -SIL homes) and 180 places in emergency shelters. According to the Ministry’s statistics, 1525 children are accommodated in shelters, 212 in SIL apartments, 159 in emergency accommodation facilities, 95 in reception and identification centres and 19 in open accommodation facilities.
The numbers have remained more or less stable since September 2021, pointing to the fact that the continuing influx of people is making it difficult for Greece to reduce the numbers, as the resettlement of children to other EU countries is slow.
In an advocacy letter also published on 5th of July, the UN agencies, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF and the UN Migration Agency IOM, called on European states to stop detaining migrant and refugee minors, detailing this practice in the countries they were addressing, and offering a range of alternatives and recommendations.
“The detention of children has profound and negative effects on children’s health and well-being and can have a lasting impact on children’s cognitive development. Detention is known to exacerbate mental health problems, particularly for children who have been exposed to violence before, during or after their journey to Europe,” the letter states.
“Several countries in Europe have shown that alternatives to detention for children and families can be safe, humane and cost-effective – we call on all European states to adopt these approaches to protect the rights and well-being of refugee and migrant children,” said Pascale Moreau, UNHCR Regional Director for Europe.
In the joint review conducted by IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF in 38 countries in the European region, the agencies found many worrying examples of child detention.
“Children on the move are primarily children, regardless of where they come from and why they have left their homes. Detaining children is never in their best interest, it is a violation of their rights and must be avoided at all costs,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Special Coordinator for Refugee and Migrant Assistance in Europe.