Greece/Macedonia: Asylum Seekers Trapped at Border

Blocked Access to Asylum; Beatings by Soldiers; Poor Conditions

 Two young Iranian sisters at the Idomeni border crossing between Greece and Macedonia.  January 26, 2016.

(Brussels) – Nationality-based restrictions at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are preventing asylum seekers from reaching countries where they want to lodge protection claims.

Human Rights Watch witnessed dozens of returns from Macedonia to Greece at the Idomeni border crossing during a three-day visit in late January 2016. The people are returned to a border area with poor conditions, instead of a well-equipped transit camp set up by aid agencies. Unable to proceed legally, people are increasingly trying to cross the border informally, where they face violence from Macedonian guards. And criminal human smuggling rings are taking advantage of the migrants and asylum seekers trapped in Greece at the border and are committing abuses against them, Human Rights Watch said.

“The failure of the European Union to tackle the refugee crisis fairly and responsibly has led to cascading restrictions at borders, with asylum seekers and migrants facing greater risks of abuse and exploitation,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “Desperate people who are the wrong nationality are being denied the right to move on, beaten by border guards if they try to cross, and preyed upon by smugglers.” Greek authorities will not allow asylum seekers to cross into the no-man’s land to reach the Macedonia border post unless they are Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans who express the intention to seek asylum in Germany or Austria.

full story at:Human Rights Watch

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