Greece passes asylum law aimed at curbing migrant arrivals

Opponents of legislation say it will severely curtail access to safeguards for asylum seekers


Greece has passed a controversial asylum law aimed at curbing the rising number of migrants arriving on its shores, despite mounting criticism it will curtail fundamental human rights.

Refugees from Afghanistan in a makeshift tent in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. Photograph: Valery Sharifulin/Tass

The 237-page bill, entitled “international protection and other provisions”, has provoked the ire of human rights groups, aid organisations and opposition parties, who claim the law will severely restrict access to safeguards for asylum seekers.

Anger over the legislation, which passed late on Thursday, intensified as a senior European envoy warned that conditions in vastly overcrowded Aegean island facilities had become “explosive”.

“The situation of migrants, including asylum seekers, in the Greek island camps has dramatically worsened over the past 12 months,” said Dunja Mijatović, Europe’s commissioner for human rights, after visiting Lesbos and Samos, the islands most affected by the influx from Turkey. “Urgent measures are needed to address the desperate conditions in which thousands of human beings are living.”

More than 35,000 men, women and children are stuck on Greek islands facing the Turkish coast, with the vast majority trapped in asylum limbo.



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