Saturday 16 December 2017

'Kill us if you want' - refugees despair at 'detention centres'

A girl carries her brother on the island of Chios. Photo: Reuters/Giorgos Moutafis,
A girl carries her brother on the island of Chios. Photo: Reuters/Giorgos Moutafis,

Orhan Coskun

Rights groups and some European politicians have challenged the legality of the EU-Turkey migrant deal, questioning whether Turkey has sufficient safeguards in place to defend refugees' rights and whether it can be considered safe for them.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has stopped transporting arrivals to and from the Moria camp on Lesbos, initially set up to register arrivals but which has since become what it calls a "detention centre".

Through barbed wire at the camp, one man held up a piece of cardboard, which read: "Kill us if you want."

On the wall of the sprawling gated complex, which was once an army camp, graffiti read: 'No one is illegal'.

UNHCR says there are some 600 people above capacity at Moria, including pregnant women, lactating mothers and children, with insufficient food.

Other aid groups have also pulled out from the site in protest at conditions there. Last night Turkey announced that it is ready to take another 200 migrants deported from the Greek islands.

In return, the European Union will take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and reward it with money, visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.

"This arrangement will prevent the Aegean Sea being turned into a cemetery for migrants," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in parliament.

Meanwhile, Danish police say a controversial law passed two months ago that requires refugees and migrants to hand over valuables worth more than 10,000 kroner (€1,300) has not resulted in a single seizure.

The law was intended to help cover migrants' housing and food costs while their cases were being processed.

National Police spokesman Thomas Kristensen said that none of the migrants' valuables went above the specified limit.

Human rights activists and artists had denounced the legislation as degrading and inhumane.

Last year, Denmark received about 20,000 asylum seekers, one of the highest rates per capita in the EU.

Irish Independent

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