Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued a scathing report on the “appalling” conditions that migrants and refugees face in northern Greece.
HRW said that thousands have been subject to appalling reception and detention conditions, with at-risk groups lacking necessary protection.
It added that Greece has failed to ensure minimum standards for pregnant women, new mothers and others arriving via the northeast land border with Turkey, many of whom are fleeing violence or repression in countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The group said that during visits by its members to three government-run centers last May they found that living conditions did not meet international standards in terms of adequate access to healthcare – including for mental health and support for at-risk people including women traveling alone, pregnant women, new mothers, and survivors of sexual violence.
Several of the 49 residents at the three facilities that HRW interviewed also reported verbal abuse by police. Two said they witnessed police physically abusing others.
Hillary Margolis, a women’s rights researcher at HRW, said, “People told us they were being treated so poorly in these facilities that they felt less than human.”
“Greece has a responsibility to uphold basic standards of care for everyone in its custody, regardless of their immigration status,” she added.