Pushbacks in Greece and its effect on asylum procedure
Refugees and asylum-seekers feel the burden of ‘pushbacks’ as coastguards’ violence and warning shots on inflatable boats, has become Greece's latest weapon to deter entry. People in Greece are trapped in a vicious cycle– continued rejection and the fear of deportation from their existing host nations. These illegal pushbacks leads to an increase in asylum-seekers’ detention, specifically those with rebuffed initial claims. More so, it has lengthened detention time from 3 up to 18 months. Furthermore, these illegal pushbacks would exasperate refugees’ existing mental health issues such as PTSD, Depression and Anxiety.
Mainly, the refugees and asylum-seekers hail from the Middle East and Africa who are fleeing war, violence and persecution. Greece has carried out 635 pushbacks since March 2020. Some of them involved allegations of unlawful returns, arbitrary detention, and violence on migrants and refugees. In February and March 2020, Greece's response to refugees was violent following Turkey's one-sided decision of opening land borders to Europe. These heinous actions did not happen once, but repeatedly ever since.
Greece now has established its fortified fence and surveillance cameras. Greece's firm defence of its approach would be a clear testament of the EU's blind eye on the peril of 'pushbacks", and consenting of the rising 'unwelcome’ signal to refugees and asylum seekers. About 120,000 refugees are already settled in Greece with most of them on the mainland.
Refugees’ contribution in the growth, innovation, and social dynamism in Europe is often underestimated. The continued arrival of refugees and asylum seekers still ponders many European governments, and especially, on the question of how it will impact the European society, economy, and culture. These repeated migration challenges on Greece's Aegean islands are snapshots of a hazy future, and undoubtedly, a narrowing gap for refugees and asylum-seekers seeing Europe as a safe haven for refuge.