Socialist Worker

Refugees rounded up into camps by EU’s brutal deal

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2496

Pakistani refugees protest in Moria, Greece, last week

Pakistani refugees protest in Moria, Greece, last week


Refugees arriving in Greece are being rounded up into detention centres under a new deal backed by Tory David Cameron.

Some have been handcuffed, some segregated into “national groups”. None are treated as human beings.

The European Union (EU) is bribing the viciously repressive Turkish regime to act as its border guard.

The deal agreed at a summit in Brussels last Friday includes a “one in, one out” mechanism slammed by big NGOs and even the United Nations.

It means that any refugee arriving in Greece can now be deported to Turkey.

In return for each deportee, the EU must later allow a Syrian refugee currently in Turkey to be legally resettled in Europe.

The hopes of any Syrian in Turkey being brought to Europe depend on another refugee risking their life at sea. If they survive, they will be permanently barred.

Hundreds more refugees arrived on the island of Lesvos within days of the deal.

Cops took them straight from the beach to the Moria reception centre, which is rapidly converting into a detention camp.

It follows days of hurried evacuations of refugees already on Lesvos to make room for mass detention.

Activists on Lesvos told Socialist Worker these refugees are not told where they are going or what their rights are.

Teacher Sofia Georgocosta said, “Most locals have been helping the refugees. They have become friends, and now people are in tears at seeing them taken away.

“We see the Nato warships every day off the coast—it’s become clear to everyone that they were never here to help, only to push refugees back.”

Refugees

Chilling eyewitness reports say that refugees are separated by nationality on the ferries.

Those not recognised as refugees—such as Pakistanis and people from north Africa—are transported in handcuffs.

The rest face an uncertain future, driven into overcrowded and often isolated camps.

They have the right to come and go—for now. But they are stuck in Greece.

European states have blocked off the main northern border, and the EU’s resettlement scheme is barely moving. Bashar, who is fleeing from the Taliban in Afghanistan, is in the Elliniko detention camp in Athens’ old airport.

He told Socialist Worker, “The camp is too small for all the people. The conditions are dirty, and there are many sick people including children and pregnant women.

“We have big problems. But more people keep coming from the islands, or back from the border where they have not been able to cross.”

The EU’s austerity has left the Greek state too threadbare to implement the deal alone.

Mass deportations are expected to begin only after other EU countries send in thousands of their own cops and border agents to reinforce Greece.

Drownings are frequent and the deal could drive refugees to take more dangerous routes such as from Libya to Italy. David Cameron is already pushing to get warships deployed there.

Only granting safe passage can stop the horror at sea. Bashar said, “You have to look at the problem at its root.

“No one goes into a boat which is a fragile balloon of air, no one pushes their family onto the dangerous sea, unless they have to.

“It’s not right to close the border in front of them. Now we’re all waiting to see what will happen—we just hope they will open the border.”

Refugees are protesting daily in Greece and blocking the railway across the border. Pakistanis protested at Moria last week and activists in Lesvos are planning a bigger response.

Anti-racists everywhere must stand with this resistance—or the machinery of repression will lead to even more horrors.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.