For over a decade, the Greek islands have been a main entrance
point for migrants into the European Union. All boat migrants pay
smugglers and risk their lives at sea. The UNHCR estimates that
over 800 000 migrants crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece
in 2015, in addition to 34 000 from across the Turkish–Greek land
border, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
Deaths at sea have increased since 2015, and Greece is facing
an almost insurmountable burden of arrivals every day. Human smugglers
and traffickers operate with impunity and organised crime is rife.
Only a small proportion of asylum seekers have been granted refugee
status in Greece, and high numbers of undocumented migrants try
to survive in the streets of Greece and other countries along the
so-called Balkan route.
The humanitarian situation of asylum seekers in the reception
and identification centres on Lesbos, Samos and Chios has remained
critical for many years. Many are housed in tents, with inadequate
sanitary installations, insufficient food supplies, a lack of health
services and poor security. Asylum procedures must be accelerated and
applicants housed and supported in accordance with international
legislation and humanitarian standards.