The European Union (EU) Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson Thursday said, “Protecting EU external border from illegal entry is an obligation. Violent and illegal deportations of migrants must stop, now,” in a statement on Greek immigration policies after meeting with Greek government officials. According to Johansson, Greek officials plan to reform the controversial migrant deportation policy that is currently in place.
According to the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, Greece’s current policy is characterized by “systematic and illegal pushbacks by Greek authorities.” The current policy includes “pushing back” boats of migrants arriving to apply for asylum, rather than allowing to them reside in Greece during the application process. Officials have also detained asylum-seekers in camps while their applications are processed.
Greece has pointed the finger at Turkey, claiming these policies are necessary due to Turkey’s lax approach to migration on the Turkey-Greece border. In an address to the EU, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi stated that, “Greece would expect an even more active role of EU institutions in calling Turkey to abide by its commitments. According to a considerable number of testimonies from asylum seekers, Turkish authorities are actively encouraging illegal departures.”
According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than 114,000 people attempted to enter Europe via boat off the coasts of Italy, Turkey and Greece in 2021. Over 3,200 of those migrants are confirmed to be dead or missing due to the dangers of the journey and unsafe travel conditions.