“Humanitarian catastrophe” looms on Greek islands


Berlin – In view of the spread of the coronavirus, the Expert Council of German Foundations for Integration and Migration (SVR) warns of a “humanitarian catastrophe” on the Greek islands.

Germany and other European states should accept those in need of protection from Greece as the “coalition of the willing”, the SVR demands in a position paper on the long-standing reform of European asylum policy. This threatens to be “completely overlaid by the corona pandemic”. The EU Commission wants to present its new proposals after Easter.

“After the developments on the Greek-Turkish border, there are fears that European migration and asylum policy will again face in the foreseeable future with escalations for which it has not yet been adequately prepared structurally,” writes the SVR. Migrants had gathered there in the past few weeks after the Turkish government said the border to Greece was open. Greek security forces sometimes used violence to repel people.


The current crises showed the need for fundamental reform, the experts said. The asylum procedure and the services for asylum seekers in the EU countries would have to be more uniform. The current strong differences offer incentives to move to other countries contrary to the rules.

It would be better to take into account the wishes of those affected, but also to cut social benefits if asylum seekers refuse to return to the state responsible for them. Recognized refugees could then gradually get more freedom of movement rights. Routes to regular migration to Europe should be expanded – this is also important to cover the need for skilled workers.

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