Last Update: 22:00
In a strongly-worded announcement on Thursday, Amnesty International blamed “inhuman EU policies” for trapping refugees on Greek islands where they risked freezing to death in the snow. Since the EU-Turkey agreement was signed in March, the organization noted, European leaders had been “warehousing” asylum seekers on Greek islands so that they could send them back to Turkey.
“Shocking images of men, women and children surviving in snow-covered tents, in below-zero temperatures, are a black stain [in] our collective conscience and reflect the human cost of the EU-Turkey agreement. Amnesty International’s mission to the Greek islands in December showed that the current dismal conditions should have been predicted and measures taken to avoid them,” an Amnesty press release said.
In addition to mistakenly considering that the rights of these people would be respected in Turkey, the returns had also not taken place in the way that EU leaders expected, Amnestry International Greece researcher Lia Gogou pointed out, leading to overcrowding, increased concern and lost hopes.
“At this time and at these below-zero temperatures, human lives are at serious risk. For this reason, the Greek Section of Amnesty International asks European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to take immediate action and, more specifically, to make human lives a top priority and work with the governments of other EU member-states to take the refugees off Greek islands to other European countries.”
UN refugee agency empties refugee camp in VayiohoriThe UN’s refugee agency evacuated dozens of refugees and migrants from the makeshift camp in Vayiohori, central Macedonia, and transferred them to hotels in the municipality of Thessaloniki, the agency said. “The last 16 people were transferred by the UN refugee agency to hotels in the municipality of Thessaloniki,” an agency spokeswoman, Stella Nanou, told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), adding that another 28 people were transferred by bus on Wednesday and the center is now empty. The people who lived in Vayiohori were from Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Morocco and Algeria. Asked about how the camp will be used now, Nanou said it will be decided by the competent authorities.