Most refugees arrive in Europe by foot or by boat, landing in Greece, Italy and Spain. Under EU regulations, asylum claims have to be made in the country through which refugees first enter Europe. They cannot move to another European country. In 2011 the European Court of Human Rights found that asylum seekers in Greece are at risk of inhuman and degrading treatment. There are deficiencies in the asylum procedure, the detention conditions and the living conditions in Greece.
Not even the police or the state have the exact number of refugees. In 2010 it was estimated that about 80% of all those who entered the European Union, they entered through Greece. So all those people have nowhere to stay, no social welfare, and many of them are just sleeping rough. They are trapped in Greece, with no possibility to leave and no possibility to stay.
Early in the morning, Athens’ parks are full of refugees sleeping rough. When they are picked up by the police after crossing the border, they are initially detained, and then left to fend for themselves. Asylum seekers now want to go back to their countries because they have no jobs, they cannot survive in Greece.
It is a situation where there is dire need for European solidarity. Active solidarity. But the other member states want Greece to control the borders so that the people don’t go irregularly there. There are many people and many asylum seekers who do not even manage to apply for asylum and may be in the streets of Athens undocumented.
Not only do asylum seekers queue day and night, sometimes waiting for months or even years to start their application, they also say the police forcibly disperse them, preventing them from registering their asylum claims. In these situations, extremist groups take advantage. They find fertile ground to take advantage.
Chrysi Avgi, or Golden Dawn is an extreme right party. In the 2012 elections, they won 18 out of 300 seats in the Greek parliament with 7% of the vote. Mobile phone footage published online shows Golden Dawn supporters singing their anthem and giving nazi salutes. A neo-nazi party, a nazi sympathising party in a territory, in a part of the world where the nazis caused huge pain only a few decades ago, it doesn’t logically make any sense, it can’t really exist.
Watch the full documentary now - 39 min