Significant increase in arrivals in Greece, overcrowding of reception centres and violence against migrants at the borders are some of the fundamental rights concerns FRA identifies in its latest migration quarterly report. It also highlights the situation in the Mediterranean, where boats with migrants were still being forced to remain at sea, waiting for weeks or days until they were allowed to disembark.
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The Greek islands saw a significant increase in arrivals over the summer and in September. The reception centres in Greece were completely overcrowded, with some camps hosting eight times as many people as is their capacity. The living conditions in these hotspots were dire, taking a toll on the mental and physical health of refugees.
The situation at the border has been tense, with human rights organisations reporting continuous violations of refugees’ rights. In Croatia, NGOs documented police violence against migrants and pushbacks from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pushbacks also continued to be reported from France (to Italy), Hungary, Poland, North Macedonia and Serbia. At sea, several people died after their boat sank. Italy continued to delay the disembarkation of migrants and refugees rescued by NGO vessels. However, small steps towards finding a solution to migrant distribution were made when France, Germany, Italy and Malta agreed on a transitional solution for migrants rescued from distress at sea.
Unaccompanied children continued to face many challenges, especially in Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Croatia. In most countries, there was no secure accommodation for these children and they were frequently becoming victims of trafficking for labour or sexual exploitation. For example, in Croatia, the Ombudsman for children reported about unaccompanied children living in juvenile centres for children with behavioural problems, which cannot provide for appropriate accommodation and care.
The access to asylum systems remained very difficult in most EU countries. Access to legal advice and information was limited in Austria, Germany, Hungary and Poland.
Many people continue to be placed in immigration detention, where the conditions are often grave. In Bulgaria, the facilities are not adequately heated, offer practically no privacy and access to healthcare remains very limited. In Spain, detainees were in some cases facing degrading and humiliating treatment, as well as disproportionate security measures.
Hate crime incidents were commonplace in many countries, ranging from online hate speech to physical attacks. For example, in Germany, 330 politically motivated offences were directed against refugees or asylum seekers in the second quarter of 2019. In Hungary, foreigners were beaten up at a music festival, while a large group yelled “filthy migrants” at them. And Italy recorded a number of violent attacks in the past four months, with attackers using racist language.
Regarding legal developments, the European Commission referred Hungary to the European Court of Justice concerning the “Stop Soros” legislation. The law criminalises activities in support of asylum applications and restricts the right to apply for asylum. In Switzerland, the Federal Administrative Court suspended the transfer of an asylum applicant to Croatia because it was not sufficiently determined whether he had been subjected to torture or inhuman treatment by Croatian border guards.
This report covers the period from 1 July until 30 September 2019.
FRA has been regularly collecting data on migration since September 2015.