Groups Urge Greece to Allow Refugees to Leave Overcrowded Islands
More than 13,000 asylum seekers remain in “deplorable” conditions on the Greek islands, with more expected to arrive in coming months, a joint statement from humanitarian and human rights groups warned.
The organizations are campaigning for the E.U. and Greece to lift the containment policy that prevents most asylum seekers leaving the islands for mainland Greece, as part of the 2016 E.U.-Turkey deal.
While Greece moved 7,000 asylum seekers to the mainland in an emergency measure during the winter cold, a further 5,000 people have arrived on the islands since December.
Facilities remain vastly overcrowded with some people living in tents or on the ground, while tensions are high and women and children are at risk of sexual harassment, the organizations said in the statement.
“The containment policy has turned the Greek islands, once a symbol of hope and solidarity, into open prisons that put the lives of refugees on hold for months on end, causing them additional suffering,” said Gabriel Sakellaridis, director of Amnesty International in Greece.
U.N. Official: Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Continues
A senior U.N. official said Myanmar’s “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya is ongoing after speaking to refugees in Bangladesh.
Refugees who recently arrived in the country described abductions and at least one death in custody last month to U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights Andrew Gilmour. Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since late August.
“It appears that widespread and systematic violence against the Rohingya persists,” Gilmour said. “The nature of the violence has changed from the frenzied blood-letting and mass rape of last year to a lower intensity campaign of terror and forced starvation that seems to be designed to drive the remaining Rohingya from their homes and into Bangladesh.”
The U.N. refugee agency also expressed concern for several thousand Rohingya stranded in a no-man’s land on the border between the countries, after Myanmar security forces near the border ordered them to leave.
Women Drown After Taking Boat to Spanish Enclave
Two women drowned while trying to swim to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa after their boat ran into trouble.
Spanish officials said the women, from sub-Saharan Africa, had taken the small boat from Morocco toward Ceuta but it hit turbulent waters. Another woman and a man onboard managed to swim to shore safely.
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