Thousands of refugees and migrants are to be transported from the Greek islands ot mainland in new camps as the EU-Turkey deal goes in effect on midnight tomorrow, Sunday, March 20th 2016. The hot spots on the islands Lesvos, Chios, Samors, Leros and Kos in the eastern Aegean Sea will have to be empty so that they can be turned into “detention centers” for the new arrivals of refugees and migrants as of 21. March 2016, at oo:o1 o’ clock. the new arrivals will be not allowed to travel to the mainland, but stay in the camps until they will be returned to Turkey – or not. I personally have not understood yet, what will happen with the new arrivals – refugees- who are not form Syria – and have right to asylum. Will they also be brought back to Turkey or stay here or will be accepted by EU member states?
As there is no provision in the EU-Turkey deal about the refugees and migrants already in Greece, they will have to stay in camps (“accommodation centers) in the mainland for unspecific period of time. The borders in the North, the Balkan Route, remain closed.
As the port of Piraeus is flooded with 4,200 refugees, those coming from the islands will be transported to the ports of Skaramangas (western Attica), Volos (Central Greece) and Kavala (North-Eastern Greece) and form there to “accommodation centers” across the country, established by the Greek Army.
The first islands to be “emptied” are Lesvos and Chios with 4,256 and 2,735 people respectively.
Official data 18 March 2016 – Total refugees & migrants: 47,536
According to media, travel agencies on these islands have been informed to issue no more ship tickets for refugees with Piraeus as destination. The hot spot in Moria, Lesvos, will operate as detention center and not more as center were refugees can stay for up to 47 hours.
3,800 refugees & migrants currently in Piraeus port
Additional Frontex staff has reportedly arrived on the islands, they will bring back migrants and refugees to Turkey with vessels or charter flights.
The start of sending back refugees and migrants to Turkey is the 4th April, 2016.
At total of 4,000 EU staff (translators, asylum experts, other staff) will move to Greece to assist with the asylum procedures. The first 2,300 people (400 translators, 400 asylum experts, 1500 other staff among them policemen) are expected as soon as possible.
EU-Turkey deal: As from tomorrow, March 20th 2016, undocumented migrants and those who do not apply for asylum or their application is rejected will be sent back to Turkey -most probably with Frontex vessels. For the Syria refuges the “1:1 scheme” will apply: for every Syrian Turkey will take back from the islands, EU member states will have to take one Syrian refugee from Turkey. EU member states are not obliged to do so, the relocation is on voluntary basis.
This “voluntarily” relocation is also the weakest point of the EU-Turkey deal.
And not only! In a Q&A explanatory Memo, the EC/EUCO states:
What happens to migrants who are already in Greece?
The Greek authorities, EU Member States and EU Agencies will accelerate relocations from Greece and provide rapid humanitarian assistance to Greece. In view of the emergency situation on the ground, 6,000 relocations should be achieved within the next month and at least 20,000 relocations completed by mid-May 2016.
Meanwhile, Turkish smugglers found a new “arrival” point, the island of Andros in the Cyclades island group in the Central Aegean Sea: a speed boat brought to the island 20 Somalian.
PS good night & good luck, then!
“I personally have not understood yet, what will happen with the new arrivals – refugees- who are not form Syria – and have right to asylum. Will they also be brought back to Turkey or stay here or will be accepted by EU member states?”
There is a lot of confusion about this, but the answer is that under the terms of the deal such people will be returned to Turkey to apply for asylum there. The deal provides that “Migrants … whose application has been found unfounded OR INADMISSABLE … will be returned to Turkey.” The catch is that one basis on which an application may be found inadmissible is that the applicant has come from a third safe country to which they may be returned. Given that Turkey is to be deemed by the Greek government to be a safe country and the deal means that Turkey will accept returnees, all refugees and asylum seekers arriving from this point forwards are to be returned there unless they can show specific and exceptional reasons why Turkey would not be safe for them in their particular circumstances. However, Turkey’s safe third country designation is open to legal challenge and there are considerable grounds for thinking that the deal does not comply with EU law, so it is possible that this could prevent all or at least some the removals from happening (though those found not to be in need of international protection would still be removed).
Further, there is another deal in the works to provide for the return of refugees, asylum seekers and others to Turkey from across the whole EU from June 1st.
Given that Greek asylum law does not permit return of those who have not had examination of their case made, then clearly this cannot happen without a change in the law. I wonder if the Council of State will simply accept such a change as is required by the EU-Turkey agreement — in particular, a declaration by the Interior Ministry (under pressure from Germany) that Turkey is a “safe country”. In the past, upper Greek courts have tended to do as they are told by governments, but not always.
We now have a situation where Greek asylum law has been forced to improve after rulings in 2011 from both the ECtHR and CJEU, suspending Dublin returns, not to mention cases involving unlawful returns to Turkey and pushbacks at sea to Turkey. Does the European Commission really think that all the European courts and laws can be ignored in order to make this illegal deal with Turkey? Clearly, the intention is that there should be no avenues for humanitarian protection within the EU.
“Given that Greek asylum law does not permit return of those who have not had examination of their case made, then clearly this cannot happen without a change in the law.”
The thing is, under the deal, each individual will have their case examined, as you rightly point out is required. However, EU law provides that if, at that examination, it is found that an applicant has come from a ‘third safe country’ or a ‘country of first asylum’, and that country will readmit him or her, this is grounds for finding that the asylum application is inadmissible and returning the asylum seeker to the third country. This is set out in the EU Common Procedures Directive at Articles 35 and 38, so assuming Greek law is drafted to incorporate the relevant EU Directive, this should follow into Greek law. Let me know if it doesn’t! The basis is that refugees and asylum seekers will receive all the protections required by EU law in that third safe country, in this case Turkey. The question then becomes does Turkey actually provide the protections required by EU law? If the answer is no (which I think it is), then when asylum seekers are having their cases examined, those assessing the case should rule that Turkey is not safe and prevent the removal. Further, if there is an initial ruling that Turkey is safe, asylum seekers have the right to challenge that ruling in the national courts. Therefore, it seems quite likely that this deal will be stopped in the Courts before it even really gets going. Having said that, there will be a lot of political pressure for the Courts to come to the decision that the EU political bodies want, so we will see.
I have drafted a legal analysis of the deal which will hopefully be published in the next couple of days. I will post a link here when it is.
There is no indication that the current legal framework allows returns of asylum-seekers by declaring them inadmissible — otherwise they would have been returned by now (or attempted to return them under the 2001 Agreement between Greece and Turkey). This is also suggested by Tsipras commenting that the Greek asylum law has to be changed.
I will try to go through the latest Greek law and see what is there — as asylum is not my area of expertise.
UNHCR and Doctors without Borders cancelled their activities on Lesbos because the hotspots are now prisons.
Tsipras is showing more of his “radical left” policies, as with the eurozone debacle. It makes one wonder what centre or right wing policies could look like…