Migrants and asylum seekers on the Greek islands: committee debate

Crew from the Migrant Offshore Aid Station search and rescue vessel Phoenix rescue people adrift in the Mediterranean Sea in November 2016.  © UNHCR/Giuseppe Carotenuto

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


MEPs will discuss on Wednesday the situation on the Greek islands and the plans to establish a new reception and identification centre on Lesvos.

In a debate with representatives of the European Commission and the NGO Greek Council for Refugees, the Civil Liberties Committee will look into the latest figures on the number of people arriving and staying in reception and emergency shelters, and assess the humanitarian situation on the ground. According to UNHCR, there are currently around 18,500 migrants and asylum-seekers stranded on the Aegean islands.


MEPs will also learn from the European Commission about the project involving EU bodies and the Greek authorities to set up a new reception centre on the island of Lesvos by early September 2021. The plan was agreed in the aftermath of the fire that destroyed the Moria camp in September last year. It should contribute to offering adequate reception conditions for asylum-seekers whilst ensuring the necessary screening and identification take place, and that asylum and return procedures are managed more quickly.


When:
Wednesday, 27 January, from 14.35 to 16.00


Where:
European Parliament in Brussels, József Antall building, room 2Q2 & via remote participation.


You can follow the meeting live.


Background


The EU response to the humanitarian crisis following the destruction of the Moria camp was the focus of a plenary debate with Commissioner Ylva Johansson just after the fire, on 17 September 2020. Last week, MEPs assessed again in plenary the situation of refugees and migrants at the EU’s external borders.


The Civil Liberties Committee has repeatedly called on the EU and the Greek Government to adopt measures to improve the living conditions of refugees on the Aegean islands and ensure their asylum-claims are processed smoothly.


The current turmoil surrounding the EU border agency Frontex, whose alleged involvement in pushbacks of asylum-seekers in Aegean waters has prompted an internal investigation, as well as calls from the European Parliament for more transparency to ensure respect of human rights, is likely to be raised during the debate too.

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