Democracy is for sharing!


George Stefanopoulos

The Greek Forum of Refugees is witnessing with great disappointment the decisions and the events that transpired the last few months in Greece regarding migration issues.

Above all, we are concerned with the outcomes of these decisions and the events that took place recently, which ended up with several asylum seekers losing their lives for various reasons that connect clearly, however, with violations of human rights.

Our main mission, as always, is to strive for the holistic inclusion of refugees & migrants in Greek society by respecting both the rights and obligations of the migrant population. This noble cause, however, is still miles away from its realization. One would expect that after six (6) years of handling migration flows, Greece would have reached a point of possessing a concrete integration process and refined its approach regarding human rights.

Instead, we witness an abrupt cut of the financial support that recognized refugees that do not reside in formal state structures receive from the 1st of July onwards; an act that would only make sense if the people faced with this reality would’ve already been integrated and capable of providing for themselves. We witness the will to close down several well-established central camps, relocating the population to isolated ones in the countryside and obstructing in effect their access to education, health services, legal services, and NGO support. We witness a large amount of alleged pushbacks that the country is accused of that, if the accusations stand, we are confronted with a serious violation of the right of applying for international protection.

Last, but not least, we witness consequent deaths of asylum seekers like the ones of Macky Diabete from Guinea and the young man from Somalia (his name not yet disclosed) that died under horrible conditions and, in the case of the latter, found covered with rodents eating his flesh. Access to health, in addition to mental health, is an indisputable human right that so far we fail to address as a society and a democratic State. Instead of observing sound arguments of what can be done in order to avoid these kinds of situations in the future, we receive from the media details that attack the decency of the deceased; he/she was an alcoholic, he/she gave false details of their condition in several cases etc) which in itself constitutes a human rights violation. 

At this point, it is imperative for us to mention that the High Court of Germany actually takes under consideration the return cases of refugees back to Greece, under the factual fear of further human rights violations and ruled that if these individuals are to be sent back to Greece they would provide financial support in order for them to provide for their own.

It is our strong belief that the European policies have created these conditions and rendered Greece a “prison of lost souls”. Thus, we firmly believe that the only solution is for the country to take things in its hands and provide a viable and sustainable integration process simultaneously respecting human rights; it is the only beneficial solution for the Greek society and the refugee & migrant population. Bringing refugees and migrants to the decision table and forming a common path of integration will immediately resolve most of these sorrowful situations and actually make the best out of them. Integration cannot be achieved in isolated camps. Inclusion cannot be achieved with attacks on the decency of people that have already lost everything. The time to act was yesterday. There is still time, however, to turn things around for the sake of democracy, for the sake of everything we believe in.

(Picture by “The Times Weekly”)


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