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HRW: Ethnic Discrimination Against Refugees at the Greece – FYROM Border

idomeniMembers of the Human Rights Watch visited the Greek-FYROM border in Idomeni and reported that the refugees are facing discrimination based on their ethnicity, and inhumane treatment. “Desperate people who are the wrong nationality are being denied the right to move on, beaten by border guards if they try to cross, and preyed upon by smugglers,” noted Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch.
After a three-day visit to Idomeni, in late January, the people of Human Rights Watch stated that they witnessed dozens of cases where people need to return to Greece from FYROM because they did not originate from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. The organization interviewed people who originated from Iran, Libya, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria, Bangladesh, Palestine (Lebanon and Gaza), Somalia and Eritrea. All of them had traveled to Greece via Turkey.
While some of them may be migrants with little chance of gaining asylum seeker status, others seem to have stronger cases, the organization added. Macedonian border restrictions have prevented asylum seekers who are not Syrian, Iraqi or Afghan nationals to cross the border, even if they may have legitimate asylum claims. The increased restrictions have left thousands of asylum seekers and migrants who do not meet these requirements stranded in Greece.
The Human Rights Watch was able to interview several people who had been brutally beaten by F.Y.R.O.M border guards as they tried to cross illegally. “There is never any justification for guards to abuse asylum seekers and migrants,” noted the organization. Guards should stop abusing migrants, and those who do should be held accountable.
The Human Rights Watch also notes that smugglers target and abuse the asylum seekers and migrants blocked in Greece. The organized criminal smuggling groups offer both fake paperwork and transport to Belgrade or Germany for a minimum of around 1,000 euros.
Humanitarian groups, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), have established a camp on the Greece – F.Y.R.O.M. border with permanent aid. The camp of Idomeni can accommodate up to 1,200 people in heated tents with beds, food, water and adequate sanitation, but, in late January, only one third of the camp was occupied, the organization noted.

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