Greece Criticized by Human Rights Watch on Detention Facilities

Greece should move detained refugees, especially unaccompanied children, from overcrowded facilities near the land border with Turkey to detention centres with more space on the Greek islands, Human Rights Watch said.

“Greece should send detainees to detention facilities in the islands where there is more space” and “protect the 120 unaccompanied migrant children among them,” the group said in an e-mailed statement today.

Officials from Human Rights Watch described detention centres in northern Greece as a “violation of international law” with women and children forced to share crowded cells with men, unsanitary conditions and limited toilet facilities forcing migrants to use nearby fields.

Greece is a major portal for illegal migration into Europe with 90 percent of migrants using Greece as an entry point into the European Union. In the first nine months of 2010, 31,000 migrants crossed the border at Evros, an increase of 369 percent compared to the same time last year, according to data from Frontex, the Warsaw-based EU border agency.

Human Rights Watch also criticized Greece’s asylum system describing it as non-functioning with an acceptance rate of 0.04 percent and a backlog of 45,000 cases.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Stoukas in Athens at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at

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