In a letter to the European Commission, GroenLinks MEP Tineke Strik is ringing the alarm about thousands of rejected refugees who are trapped on the Greek islands. Strik recently visited Samos and was "shocked" by what she found there. "Syrian refugees, who have escaped the violence of war, roam without any provision and without perspective. You cannot leave these people to their own devices. As European countries, we must take our responsibility."

During her visit to Samos, Strik spoke with refugees who live in overcrowded camps that do not meet the European standard. Refugees are also in self-built shacks adjacent to the camps. Children often have not gone to school for years. In

De Groene Amsterdammer

, this week a comprehensive report on the visit to Samos Strik.

Refugees arriving in Greece must return to that country on the basis of agreements made with Turkey in 2016.

Part of their medical care, education and (minimal) income support is paid by the European Union.

Because Turkey is considered a safe country, asylum applications are almost always rejected.

As a result, refugees run the risk of even being put in detention in the newly built centers on the Greek islands.

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Greek coast guard sails on a boat full of refugees

'The consequences are devastating'

There is only one problem: since March 2020, Turkey has refused to allow refugees to return, officially to prevent the spread of the corona virus.

Strik writes in her letter: "The consequences for these people are devastating; they are held in camps, or soon even in detention, without any prospect of return or integration into the EU. They are not only victims of a civil war, but also of a geopolitical conflict between the European Union and Turkey ".

She believes that the European Union has an obligation on the basis of international agreements to accept these refugees as yet.

"The governments and Brussels insist on continuing to use the fiction that the EU-Turkey deal is a success. The victims of this are the refugees, who saw their country plunge into war a decade ago and have since been adrift and have no future. can build. "

A limit has been reached for Strik, she tells NU.nl.

"We willfully and knowingly destroy these people. Why? Because we want to set a terrifying example to others? Because the message is: don't come to Europe? That is beneath our dignity, isn't it? Get them off the islands and divide them over the EU countries, give them a new future. "

Strik is also concerned about the new refugee camps that are currently being built in Greece with European money.

Despite the demand from Brussels that refugees should not be detained, high walls with barbed wire are being built around the camps.

At the new camp on Samos, which is rising in a remote location, there is hardly any shade, which leads to an untenable situation during the warm Greek summers.

"This has all the characteristics of a prison," said Strik.

She fears that refugees will be locked up indefinitely now that they cannot be returned to Turkey.

"This is asking for trouble," she wrote in her letter to the committee.

Member of the European Parliament Tineke Strik at the new refugee camp on Samos.

Member of the European Parliament Tineke Strik at the new refugee camp on Samos.

Photo: Private archive

'No hair better than Erdogan'

Strik also draws attention to so-called pushbacks by the Greek coast guard.

Refugees are forcibly forced by masked men to transfer to life rafts on the high seas.

They are then left without food or drink, in the hope that they will be picked up by the Turkish coast guard.

The Greek government is refusing to deal with complaints about these pushbacks.

"It is widely known in Europe that human rights violations take place," says Strik.

"By letting the people sit there, you show other refugees that they shouldn't come here. You use people as a deterrent example. But is that what we want? In this way you use people for political purposes in an emergency situation. Then you are no better than Turkish President Erdogan. "

Who is Tineke Strik?

  • Member of the European Parliament of GroenLinks

  • Professor of migration law at Radboud University in Nijmegen.

  • Investigates for the European Parliament the border guard organization Frontex, which is accused of stopping refugees at the external borders.

  • Her report on migration deals with third countries, with recommendations on how to better safeguard human rights, was adopted last week.

'The Netherlands is the worst boy in the class'

Strik calls the unlimited detention of refugees on the Greek islands "inhumane and illegal".

According to her, there is only one solution: in accordance with international agreements, European countries must still give the people who are currently detained on the islands the opportunity to receive asylum status and then distribute them fairly among the member states.

Germany, France and a number of EU Member States have recently taken over refugees from Greece.

Many other countries, including the Netherlands, are failing, according to Strik.

"The Netherlands is one of the worst students in the class," she says.

"Money has come from The Hague for shelters in Greece, but it would have been much better if those children had come to the Netherlands and built a new life. Mark Rutte is proud of the Turkey deal, which is partly due to his actions. but we are looking away now that it does not work, and there is no mention of the need for a distribution of the refugees among the Member States. Hundreds of municipalities in Europe have shown their willingness to take in people. "

Strik calls on the European Union to do a "reality check", to take responsibility and "to abide by its own rules".

See also: How boat refugees are forcibly driven back to sea