Neither pushbacks nor detention centres

Greece is attempting to restore its reputation after the Pylos tragedy by allowing more migrants to land, but now the horrors of detention centres are increasing.
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The entrance to the Kara Tepe Closed Controlled Access Center (CCAC) on the island of Lesvos, Greece
The entrance to the Kara Tepe Closed Controlled Access Center (CCAC) on the island of Lesvos, Greece

The Pylos shipwreck brought to light, in the most tragic way, the murderous border practices of the Greek state and the EU against migrants. Following the domestic and international outcry after almost 700 people were lost at sea, the Greek coastguard has reduced its illegal pushbacks in recent months. In some cases, the coastguard has carried out rescues of migrants on film, in order to restore its image after its involvement in the Pylos shipwreck. 

We do not know how long this change will last, but for the moment, the results are already visible. Thousands of migrant arrivals have been recorded on the border islands. The detention centres, old and new, newly branded as Closed Controlled Access Centers (CCAC), have either exceeded their capacity or will do so very soon. 

On the island of Samos, the new detention centre—which the Ministry of Migration advertised as a centre that respects human rights—has access to clean water for only a few hours per day. On Lesvos, the 3,400-capacity detention centre in Kara Tepe currently houses more than 5,000 people and the administration has stopped distributing food to those whose asylum claims have been rejected.

The “ghost” of migrant detention centres like Moria, which were open-air prisons that trapped, tortured and killed their residents, seems to be returning. This time, not just for migrants. 

After the devastating floods in central Greece on 11 September 2023 where at least 17 people lost their lives, the Greek state decided to evacuate the Koutsochero migrant camp to house flood victims. The 80 flood victims who were taken to Koutsochero complained that they were held as prisoners and not guests. In order to enter or leave the structure, they had to give their details to the guards and could not be visited by friends, relatives, solidarity groups or the media unless they had permission from the Ministry of Migration. 

We must shout as loud as possible that we want neither pushbacks nor detention centres. We pray for safe passage, safe movement, decent housing and no prisons for all.

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