1. Due to its geographic position at Europe’s South-Eastern
border, the Greek-Turkish land and sea border is one of the main
entry points of irregular migration into the European Union and
2. Greece is facing a major challenge to cope with both the large
influx of mixed migratory flows, including irregular migrants, refugees
and asylum seekers, and the current economic crisis. That said it
is not the only country struggling to cope in the region. It is
impossible to look at the situation of Greece without also examining that
of Turkey, which is the main country of transit to Greece and is
also having to shoulder responsibility for over 150 000 Syrian refugees.
3. In the light of the foregoing, it is necessary to examine
the extent of the migration and asylum challenges at Europe’s south-eastern
border, taking into account Turkey and Greece’s policy reactions.
Two further elements have to be added to this, namely the social
tensions arising within Greek society due to an overload of financial
and migratory pressure and also the issue of shared responsibility
in Europe for dealing with European as opposed to simply national
2. The storm
at Europe’s south-eastern border
2.1. Greece under pressure:
irregular migration challenge and economic crisis
4. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of irregular
migrants, asylum seekers and refugees crossed the Greek land, river
and sea borders with many travelling through Turkey. In 2010, the
large majority of mixed migratory flows entered the European Union
through the Greek-Turkish border. This situation brings major challenges
in terms of human rights and migration management.
According to statistics provided by the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2010, more than 132 000 third-country
nationals were arrested in Greece, including 53 000 in the Greek-Turkish
border regions. During the first ten months of 2012, over 70 000
arrests occurred, including about 32 000 at the borders of Turkey.
People came from 110 different
countries – the majority from Asia, including Afghanis, Pakistanis
and Bangladeshis, as well as from Iraq, Somalia, and the Middle-East,
especially Palestinians and an increasing number of Syrians.
Most migrants and asylum seekers do not want to stay in Greece
and plan to continue their journey further into Europe. Many of
them are however stuck in Greece, due to border checks and arrests
when trying to exit Greece,
the current Dublin Regulation, and
the fact that many irregular migrants cannot be returned to their
country of origin.
The context of the serious economic and sovereign debt crisis
aggravates the situation and reduces the ability for the Greek Government
to adequately respond to the large influx. Greece received two rescue packages.
One amounted to 239 billion euros and a second to 130 billion. The
strings attached to this package obliged the Greek Government to
adopt stringent austerity measures to bring the public sector deficit
under control and severe cuts had to be made in social services
and public sector employment. As a result, the Greek economy has
shrunk by 25% over the past two years and enters into its sixth
consecutive year of recession.
2.2. Syria: a bad situation
could get worse
In its Resolution
on “The European response to the humanitarian crisis
in Syria”, the Parliamentary Assembly condemned “the continuing,
systematic and gross human rights violations, amounting to crimes
against humanity, committed in Syria”. It described the humanitarian
situation as becoming “more and more critical” for the estimated
1.2 million internally displaced Syrians and the 638 000 Syrians
registered or awaiting registration as refugees in neighbouring
Since October 2012, a bad situation has not improved and is
getting worse. Reports on increased numbers of civilian victims
of indiscriminate violence,
including the deliberate bombing
and killing of students
, and allegations on the use of sexual
violence against Syrian women and girls, indicate a new escalation
of the conflict.
The Independent International Commission
of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic has highlighted the increasingly
sectarian nature of the conflict,
which indicates that a swift solution
to the armed conflict seems not to be in reach.
As the monthly death toll is increasing, the number of Syrians
fleeing the conflict is also rising dramatically. In early January
2013, the UNHCR announced that over half a million Syrians have
sought protection in neighbouring countries, including more than
150 000 in refugee camps in Turkey.
The organisation estimates that
up to 1.1 million Syrian refugees will need assistance during the
first half of 2013.
It has become an infeasible task
for the neighbouring countries to provide for the reception of all
Syrian refugees. According to the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA), Lebanon
already hosts more than 400 000 Palestinian refugees. Although the
European Union has provided for financial support to the UNHCR and
the region, it still hasn’t offered to take its share in the resettlement
of Syrian refugees.
By October 2012, 23 500 Syrian nationals had applied for asylum
in EU member States, including almost 3 000 applications in September
2012 alone, and over 15 000 in Germany and Sweden.
Compared to neighbouring countries,
asylum seeker numbers in the European Union currently remains manageable. However
the number of Syrians trying to enter Greek territory in an irregular
manner reached a critical level in July 2012, when up to 800 Syrians
were crossing the Greek-Turkish land border every week. In the second
half of 2012, more than 32% of sea arrivals to the Greek Islands
were Syrian nationals.
2.3. Regional implications
of mixed migratory arrivals
In recent years, Spain, Italy and Malta were at the
forefront of large-scale sea arrivals. According to the UNHCR, in
2012, 1 567 individuals arrived in Malta by sea. 75% of these persons
were from Somalia. The UNHCR estimates however that less than 30%
of the more than 16 000 individuals who have arrived in Malta since
2002 remain in Malta.
13. Spain and Italy have signed and effectively enforced readmission
agreements with North and West African countries cutting down on
the mixed migration flows. These agreements have provided the basis
for returning irregular migrants and preventing their crossing through
increased maritime patrols and border surveillance, including in
the context of joint Frontex operations.
As a consequence of shifting routes, migratory pressure at
the Greek-Turkish border increased significantly and Greece became
the main gate of entry into the European Union from 2008 onwards,
with an interval in 2011 when the Arab Spring brought a new migratory
flow to Italy and Malta. To give an idea of how much the routes
have changed, Frontex indicated that in 2012, 56% of detections
of irregular entry into the European Union occurred on the Greek-Turkish
Turkey, by contrast, has become the main transit country for
migrants seeking to enter the European Union. Its 11 000-km-long
border and its extensive visa-free regime make it an easy country
to enter. An estimated half a million documented and undocumented
migrants currently live in the country. This has brought a whole
new range of challenges for Turkey and meant that it has had to
develop a new approach to migration management and protection for
those seeking asylum and international protection.
It has also
faced problems in terms of detention of irregular migrants and asylum
seekers. As with Greece, the conditions of detention have been highly
criticised and steps are being taken to build new centres with the
assistance of funding from the European Union.
16. Until recently, the traditionally complex Greek-Turkish political
relations did not allow the pursuit and consolidation of an effective
readmission policy with Turkey. Although Greece, for example, signed
a readmission protocol with Turkey which goes back to 2001, the
implementation of this was only agreed on in 2010. It is important
that this bilateral agreement between Greece and Turkey functions
effectively and this will be a challenge for both countries.
3. Shielding Greece
through border management and detention: does it work?
3.1. Enhanced border
controls at the Greek-Turkish land border (Evros region)
17. The unprecedented numbers of irregular migrants and
asylum seekers attempting to cross the Greek-Turkish border in recent
years put the existing capacities and resources of Greece under
severe strain. To remedy this situation, the Greek authorities have
adopted the “Greek Action Plan on Asylum and Migration Management”,
which is the basis for reforming the asylum and migration management
framework in Greece.
18. In this context, considerable efforts were undertaken to reinforce
Greece’s external borders and particularly the Greek-Turkish border
in the Evros region. This was done notably through building up operational
centres, using electronic surveillance and night vision devices,
and by deploying patrol boats to strengthen river patrols. The surveillance
technology used is part of the efforts under the European Border Surveillance
The so-called operation “Aspida” (“shield”), initiated in
August 2012, aims to enhance border controls, surveillance and patrolling
activities at the Greek-Turkish land border. Approximately 1 800
additional police officers from across Greece were deployed as border
guards to the Evros region.
Increased border controls in the context of this operation
have not been without criticism. There have been worrying reports
about migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers from Syria
and other countries, being pushed back to Turkey over the Evros
Two incidents reportedly took place
in June and October 2012, when inflatable boats were intercepted
in the middle of the Evros river by Greek patrol boats and pushed back
to Turkey before their boat was sunk, leaving people to swim to
the Turkish shore.
In addition, the Greek authorities completed a barbed wire
fence at the 12.5-km-land border in December 2012. The barrier which
was criticised by EU officials when announced
and built without EU funding, cost
an estimated 3 million euros.
As a consequence of these actions, the numbers of irregular
land border crossings dropped from over 2 000 a week in the first
week of August to below 30 a week in the second half of September.
According to the regional governor of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace,
they are now close to zero.
While the Greek authorities claim
that these actions have resulted in a more than 80% decrease of
one can observe that
migrants’ routes have shifted from the Greek-Turkish land border
mainly to the sea border between both countries. This shift has
been recognised by the Greek authorities.
Increased numbers of migrants are now arriving on the Greek
Aegean islands of Lesvos, Samos, Symi and Farmkonissi. Between August
and December 2012, 3 280 persons were arrested after crossing the
Greek-Turkish sea border,
to 65 persons in the first seven months of 2012.
There has also been an increase in the number of deaths at
sea. In early September 2012, 60 people perished when their boat
sank off the coast in Izmir.
On 15 December 2012, at least 18
migrants drowned off the coast of Lesvos while attempting to reach
the island by boat.
25. The spill over effect of new routes opening are now being
felt by neighbouring countries, such as Bulgaria and some of the
3.2. Systematic detention
of irregular migrants and asylum seekers
26. Together with increased border controls, administrative
detention remains the predominant policy response by the Greek authorities
to the entry and stay of irregular migrants. According to the Greek Government’s
new policy, all migrants who are detected when irregularly entering
Greece are systematically detained for the sole purpose of their
irregular migration. By criminalising the irregular status of migrants
the Greek authorities accept detention as the necessary consequence.
27. Recently, thousands of irregular migrants were rounded up
by police forces in the regions of Attica and Evros in the so-called
operation “Xenios Zeus”, initiated in early August 2012. This operation,
named after the ancient Greek god of hospitality, aims at addressing
the presence of undocumented migrants in Athens and other urban
centres in Greece. This has resulted in widespread detention of
irregular migrants in police or pre-removal detention facilities
throughout the country. In April 2012, the Greek Government announced
the building of new detention centres with a capacity to hold up
to 10 000 people, financed by the European Union. Expansion works
also started to facilitate the detention of an increased number
of migrants in the five pre-removal detention centres that currently
However, out of the total number of almost 65 800 foreign
nationals arrested between August and December 2012, only 4 100
were found to be in an irregular situation.
This raises important concerns regarding
the non-discrimination principle, given that most foreigners were
apprehended as a result of their physical appearance.
Particularly worrying are the conditions in the various detention
centres and police stations where irregular migrants and asylum
seekers are held, and which have frequently been criticised. The
European Court of Human Rights has found Greece to be in violation
of the right to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment in several
cases in recent years.
In addition, the European Committee for
the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and
Punishment (CPT) has regularly criticised the poor detention conditions
of irregular migrants and asylum seekers and the structural deficiencies
in Greece’s detention policy as well as the government’s persistent
lack of action to improve the situation.
The conditions of detention in one
centre in Greece were found to be so bad that a local court in Igoumenista
acquitted, earlier this year, migrants who were charged with escaping
from detention stating that the conditions in the centre were not
in compliance with the migrants’ human rights.
Notwithstanding the recent efforts of the new Greek Government
to improve detention conditions including by renovating facilities
and building new centres such as the Amygdaleza centre, sub-standard conditions
were confirmed by a visit of an ad hoc sub-committee of the Parliamentary
Greece. By way of example, in the Fylakio detention centre up to
72 irregular migrants were held together with asylum seekers and
unaccompanied minors in a 100m2 cell without light, heating or warm
water. In the Petrou Ralli police station in Athens, the delegation
met with a number of desperate women who were detained in sub-standard
conditions without proper access to sanitation. All complained about
lack of adequate clothing, lack of contact with the outside world
and inadequate medical services.
The situation of women, unaccompanied and separated migrant
children and vulnerable groups, including migrants with illnesses
and disabilities, victims of trafficking and traumatised people,
is particularly worrying. They do not receive adequate treatment
during detention and after release. Unaccompanied minors are often
detained among adults for prolonged periods and are released from
detention without any assistance. In this respect, the Assembly
recommended in its Resolution
on unaccompanied children in Europe: issues of arrival,
stay and return, that no detention of unaccompanied children on
migration grounds should be allowed, given that it is not in their
best interest, and appropriate care arrangements, including a functioning
system of legal guardianship, should be introduced.
The Greek authorities are aware of many of these issues and
problems. They have recently closed one and indicated a determination
to close two further detention centres that have been deemed sub-standard, including
Petrou Ralli police station in Athens. This is due to close in the
course of 2013, which is a welcome step. Furthermore, I have been
informed by Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, that
the Greek Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Order and Citizens
Protection indicated in a meeting their intention that from spring
2013, women and children will no longer be detained on migration
grounds, as soon as open reception facilities are built.
In this respect the Greek
Government, in co-operation with the IOM, will establish a network
of stakeholders to build two new reception facilities to provide
special care and assistance for vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied
minors, families and migrants with health issues. This is an important
measure, which needs to be carried out as soon as possible.
While previously, Greek legislation provided for up to six
months detention for those who enter or reside in Greece, recent
amendments, which partly implement the EU Returns Directive, extended
migrants’ and asylum seekers’ detention by up to 12 months.
While the length of detention
would appear to be a political measure aimed at deterring potential
migrants from entering Greece, this has not had a deterrent effect.
It has however increased the despair and vulnerability of those
34. Detention is applied systematically without an individual
assessment in each case. It is a matter of first resort rather than
last resort. Alternatives to detention are currently not used or
explored. Moreover, procedural safeguards are lacking. There is
no automatic judicial review of detention decisions. Legal aid and
information to detainees about the reasons for and the length of
their detention are far from sufficient, and interpretation and
access to a lawyer is not guaranteed, thus making it almost impossible
to challenge detention. The Greek authorities are aware of these
issues and are seeking to tackle them. It should however be emphasised
that much needs to be done.
3.3. Impediments in
accessing asylum and international protection
35. Despite the current efforts by the Greek authorities
to reform the asylum and migration management framework, the country
still does not have a fair and effective asylum system in place.
The Greek Action Plan on Migration and Asylum, which was revised
in December 2012, sets out the strategy of the Greek Government.
It foresees the speedy creation of a functioning new Asylum Service,
a new First Reception Service and a new Appeals Authority, staffed
by civil servants under the Ministry of Public Order and Citizens Protection,
disengaging the asylum procedure from the police authorities. However
problems in finding sufficient financial resources and qualified
staff still give rise for concerns on the implementation of the
36. The current asylum system is still characterised by difficulties
of access to the procedure, poor asylum interviews and very low
recognition rates (1% to 2%). A side effect of measures aimed at
increasing border controls and systematically detaining irregular
migrants and asylum seekers is that persons in need of international
protection are confronted with increased obstacles in accessing
the asylum procedure and registering their claims. The lack of access
to an asylum procedure and the deficiencies in the asylum procedure
create a risk of refoulement and
thus a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No.
5) and the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
37. For persons in need of international protection it is extremely
difficult to claim asylum in detention. This is due to the lack
of legal assistance, interpretation and information on their detention
situation. The necessary contacts with legal representatives are
often not established and there are problems in terms of individual follow
up on claims.
38. In this context, it is worrying that increasing numbers of
Syrian refugees are among those detained. These people are particularly
vulnerable and in need of international protection. They should
not be detained, but receive special care, including medical, psychological
and social assistance.
Those outside of detention also have problems in claiming
asylum due to the practice of the Greek authorities of limiting
the number of asylum applications they are prepared to accept on
a weekly basis. For instance, the Police Directorate of Petrou Ralli,
currently accepts the registration of only about 20 to 40 asylum claims
in addition to vulnerable persons
who can apply on a daily basis.
There is also a backlog of pending applications, initially
estimated at 55 000 cases. The Greek Government indicated its determination
to resolve this backlog as quickly as possible. In a considerable
effort by the government, 200 persons are to be recruited for this.
This point was one of the 13 issues
contained in the agreement between the Greek authorities and the
European Commission to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
4. Social tensions
within Greek society
4.1. The social situation
of migrants and asylum seekers
Greece’s efforts to deal with the influx of irregular
migrants and asylum seekers suffers from there being no comprehensive
migration policy. The Greek authorities for many years did not have
a coherent strategy on what to do with irregular migrants and failed
asylum seekers who could not be, or who were not returned to their
country of origin. They were simply left in a legal limbo. Due to
a lack of a functioning policy of managing legal migration flows,
most migrants have arrived irregularly in Greece.
inability to control mixed migratory flows of people into the country
and the difficulties of dealing with them once they are in the country has
created political and social tensions, exacerbated by the economic
As a result of the economic crisis and austerity measures,
the unemployment rate in October 2012 of the Greek population reached
26,8% and youth unemployment climbed as high as 56,6%. It is expected
to climb even higher.
Many Greeks are living below the
breadline and growing numbers are unable to pay their rent and some
have become homeless. Pensions and health care, transportation and
education have all been cut drastically. As a result of this situation
there have been many mass protests against the austerity measures and
the economic situation.
43. In this context, there is little financial or other support
available for irregular migrants, asylum seekers and refugees from
the Greek authorities. While there are around 1 000 reception places
for asylum seekers, this is an insufficient number to accommodate
all asylum seekers. To give an indication of the shortfall, between
January 2012 and October 2012 alone, more than 7 700 asylum applications
44. As a result, many irregular migrants and asylum seekers end
up in occupied buildings or flats under appalling conditions or
they sleep on the streets. They face social exclusion and precarious
living conditions. According to Amnesty International, “Greece’s
failure to respect the rights of migrants and asylum seekers is taking
on the proportions of a humanitarian crisis”, as even the most basic
requirements of safety and shelter are not guaranteed.
45. On the Aegean islands, the situation is becoming more and
more dramatic. Local authorities often fall short of providing reception
and detention facilities. Migrants and asylum seekers, including
pregnant women and families with small children, have to face overcrowding
or sleep on the streets. While the locals are doing their best to
help, a lot more is needed from the central authorities and from
both the European Union and European countries.
xenophobia and racist attacks against migrants
46. The mounting social tensions and the inadequate response
by the State to address the difficult social situation of migrants,
asylum seekers and refugees have led to an increase in criminality
and exploitation of this group. In addition, migration has become
a key confrontational political issue. This in turn has contributed to
an increasingly wide-spread anti-immigrant sentiment among the Greek
Over the last two years there has been a dramatic increase
in xenophobic violence and racially motivated attacks against migrants
in Greece, including physical attacks, such as beatings and stabbings, attacks
on immigrants’ residences, places of worship, migrants’ shops or
The Network for Recording Incidents
of Racist Violence documented 87 racist incidents against migrants
and refugees between January and September 2012.
Half of them were connected with
48. Members and supporters of Golden Dawn have often been linked
with recent violent attacks and raids against migrants and asylum
seekers. By using blatantly anti-migrant and racist discourse, often
inciting violence, Golden Dawn gained 7% of the popular vote during
the June 2012 parliamentary elections and support seems to be growing,
according to recent polls. In October 2012, the Greek Parliament
lifted the immunity from prosecution of the two Golden Dawn MPs
who participated in the violent attacks against migrants in September.
49. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has called
on Greece to examine whether the “most overt extremist and Nazi
party in Europe” is legal. It seems that Golden Dawn aims at political
and societal destabilisation and gains by the failing policy regarding
refugees and irregular migrants. In December 2012, the European
Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) expressed its “deep
concern” about the rise of Golden Dawn and asked the Greek authorities
to “take firm and effective action to ensure that the activities
of Golden Dawn do not violate the free and democratic political
order or the rights of any individuals”.
5. The European responsibility
for a European problem
5.1. European front-line
States under particular pressure
This is not the first time that the Parliamentary
Assembly expresses its concern on the particular pressure that European
front-line States are confronted with.
Despite the fact that most European Union countries have stopped
returning asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation following
the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece
are still some reports of returns from some countries based on this
52. The final agreement between the Council and the European Parliament
on the revision of the Dublin Regulation still allocates responsibilities
for asylum seekers to a single EU member State and does not present a
more fundamental reform of the rules. European Union member States
also rejected the idea of a mechanism to suspend transfers to those
EU countries which were unable to manage the influx of asylum seekers
into their territory, preferring to adopt an “early warning mechanism”.
5.2. Greece: A test
case for European solidarity
53. This migratory pressure Greece is confronted with
comes at a moment when the country is suffering as no other European
country does from the current economic and social crisis. In response
to these difficulties, the European Union has provided financial
and technical assistance.
54. During the period of 2011-2013, Greece received 98,6 million
euros under the Return Fund, 132,8 million euros under the External
Border Fund and 19,95 million euros under the European Refugee Fund.
The focus of funding was thus on border control and detention measures,
to the detriment of the protection measures.
Frontex Joint Operation “Poseidon Land” was launched in 2010
at the borders between Turkey and Greece and between Turkey and
Bulgaria. EU member States currently have 41 police officers and
equipment deployed to the Evros border region in Greece.
They also support the Greek and
Bulgarian authorities with the screening and debriefing of irregular
migrants, and tackling irregular migratory inflows and smuggling networks
In addition, Frontex has recently
strengthened its patrols in the coastal waters in the Eastern Aegean
between Greece and Turkey in the context of Joint Operation “Poseidon
Sea”. European Union member States have deployed additional maritime
surveillance assets at the sea border between Greece and Turkey.
The joint operation was extended to also cover the West coast of
Greece and today is Frontex’s main operational activity in the Mediterranean
56. Furthermore, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) provides
technical support to Greece and other EU member States whose asylum
and reception systems are under particular pressure. Following the request
by the Greek Government in February 2011, EASO started giving assistance
and training in building up a new asylum system, improving reception
conditions of asylum seekers in Greece and clearing the backlog of
outstanding asylum claims. To do this they have deployed over 40
Asylum Support Teams of experts to the country.
While EU member States are ready to provide financial and
technical assistance to help Greece in managing and controlling
its borders, with a focus on both forced and voluntary returns as
a policy solution, they are not keen on sharing the reception and
processing of mixed migratory flows arriving at the European Union’s
external border. According to the Greens/European Free Alliance
of the European Parliament, “[m]igration will not be stopped by
reinforcing border control, border management measures and forced
returns; the current approach only reinforces human rights violations”.
As rapporteur I would largely agree with this statement, although
I would add that while such policies may be able to solve a problem
in one country, it then simply “passes the buck” to another. Should
it be possible to seal Greece’s border, this would undoubtedly then
put even greater pressure on Turkey and Bulgaria and then up the
eastern borders of the European Union. This is an issue which will
be the subject of a separate report by the Committee on Migration,
Refugees and Displaced Persons.
59. The European Union response to the economic and financial
crisis in Greece has been a massive bail out. Similar solidarity
is however necessary with regards to the current social and humanitarian
crisis in the field of migration and asylum. Europe is however doing
too little, too late. A shared asylum policy that takes into account
that the migratory pressures are not the sole responsible of one
or a few European States, but a European problem, is even more essential
in a time when the region is facing major instability. This instability will
only increase further if the up and coming Golden Dawn party succeeds
in exploiting the immigrant issue. Europe cannot afford to look
Increased migratory flows to European front-line States requires
a fundamental rethink on solidarity and responsibility sharing.
This includes swift solutions that go beyond mere financial and
technical assistance and show greater solidarity in receiving refugees
and asylum seekers and developing resettlement, especially currently
for Syrian refugees from the neighbouring countries of Syria, and
intra-EU relocation programmes, in particular where children and
families are concerned. Assembly Resolution 1820 (2011)
on asylum seekers and refugees: sharing responsibility
in Europe provides meaningful recommendations in this respect.
61. The pressure of mixed migratory flows currently unfolding
at the European Union’s external borders in the eastern Mediterranean
requires rethinking of the entire solidarity system with the European
Union and the Council of Europe. Greece, Turkey or other neighbouring
countries should not be left with the primary responsibility of
dealing with the mounting mixed migratory pressure from the South
and East. A shared asylum and migration policy is even more essential
at a time when the region is facing major economic and social instability.
62. Stricter border control, prolonging migrants’ and asylum seekers’
detention or constructing new detention facilities in Greece all
contribute to further human rights violations taking place. They
are not the way out of the problem and they do not persuade people
fleeing from poverty or violence in their countries of origin to
remain at home.
63. The recent efforts by the Greek authorities to introduce a
more effective and humane system addressing the large number of
irregular migrants and asylum seekers entering Greece is a welcome
step in the right direction. Greece however faces a Herculean task
in building up an efficient, fair and functioning system providing
international protection to those in need.
64. Europe urgently needs to join forces to deal with the Syrian
refugee problem, offering resettlement and relocation to relieve
the burden falling on neighbouring States of Syria as well as its
southern European States, and ensuring that Syrian refugees are
not sent back.
65. The challenges are great but not insurmountable for Europe.
Left to individual States they are.