Thousands of refugees have been abandoned at sea by the Greek officials in the past few months. Many were left at the coast for rescue. Greece denies all the accusations of illegal pushback of the refugees.
Refugee problems never seem to die down. We have seen a lot, from a three-year-old boy washed up onto the shore to people being dumped in the ocean. All these show the pathetic situation of refugees. It has been years since the introduction of a global refugee regime. Nevertheless, the problems and the tragedies have intensified. The casualties have always occurred in the Mediterranean region for years, and no regime is sufficient enough to stop them. Recently another one of the debacles has taken place in this region. Greece has been asked several times to look into the pushback claims. But it never heeds the same and says all is done for “border management”. Border management is always way more important than a person’s life. That is where the world and humanity are headed. People’s lives cannot become a trade-off for border management. But that is a discussion for another day—the present discussion about the huge gap between the existing law and implementation of the same.
The story so far:
Greece has been facing the heat of refugee problem since the onset of the Syrian refugee crisis. The hatred towards migrants and refugees have been prevalent throughout the world. Everyone wants the protection of their own country and homes, but none think about the abandoned or stranded people due to war or any other inevitable reasons. They need not welcome them with all the luxurious amenities, but they could at least help them live. Governments and people are selfish; they have built more walls to restrict people. The walls would not stop the war or refugee crisis; the people once on the move are always moving. They would not stop until they have a place to stay safe. Europe and Greece can be that safe place for many. But there is an agreement between Turkey and Europe that no migrant or refugees will pass from the Turkey border into Europe. But the fire has been once again ignited when on 20th February 2020 Turkey told that it would not restrict anyone crossing the border. But people who crossed the border faced a complete violent situation of pelting and shooting as the border was only opened on one end.
Greece would have reacted on a more humanitarian ground, but it chose not to. Greece has violated all the international laws, including the most important human rights. Well, it did not stop there, there was more to the story when last month almost 1072 migrants were stranded at sea for being rescued by the Turkey coast guard. It has been reported by the New York Times. But the Prime Minister denies all these allegations and tells that the media should be more careful while reporting such incidents and he even remarks that Greece always followed “Rule of Law”.
Now the question comes as to whether Greece and Europe were justified by blocking their countries from migrants. Lets for a second keep all the humanitarian grounds and human rights aside and look at the situation. There was an agreement which was flawed, but very much in existence as to the blocking of borders. Although the foundation of the agreement, which is Turkey the safe place to host migrants and Europe paying for the same is flawed, it is not entirely a big problem. It was a temporary solution which has been violated by Turkey in this scenario. Knowing that Europe would not open the borders, Turkey should not have risked the lives of many. That would be one of the reasons why we cannot blame Greece for its inhumane acts. When Turkey says it is protecting refugees, why put their lives in the limbo in the first place. The second reason could be the pandemic and self-preservation. This pandemic is a period of testing times. It changed people’s perspective of the world. But can we totally blame Europe for the abandonment? They have faced a lot of issues since the onset of the refugee problem. There has been many casualties, reports of increased crime and many more dangerous violations in the continent, which might be due to the fact of increased refugees and asylum seekers. Preservation of one’s own life comes before anything.
There is an international refugee regime, the 1951 Convention. Greece is a signatory of the Convention. The Convention provides for basic rights, and it is completely made for the refugees and protection of their interests. The Convention never spoke about the protection of the people of the host country. It never imagined this possibility of migrant people going against the help providers. There are aspects of statelessness creeping in, and the refugees or migrants want to make the host land their own, which might be dangerous in cases of a huge number of refugees. The regime provides for three solutions- repatriation to the home country, integration in the host state and resettlement to a third state. Each of these has its own shortcomings. But Turkey could have chosen any one of these solutions instead of pushing the refugees into Greece. Greece clearly does not want refugees. The main reason for the migration is Turkey takes millions of refugees, and they are growing at a risky level. And to repeat the facts, the regime does not provide for the protection of migrants. As these are the people who are not fleeing war or any such emergency situation, Greece is under no obligation to protect them. So clearly to reiterate Greece cannot be blamed. This is all the flip side of the story and the defences Europe should have taken.
Now to look at it on a humanitarian principle, Europe and Greece could have done it better although they are under no obligation to do the same. They should not have abandoned; they should have at least showed the concern for human life.
Times have changed, so did people and the governments. Government choose what is best for one’s country people as they say. In this era of borders and walls and discrimination, refugees are threatened, and they also need protection along with other people. It is the duty of the governments to do the cost-benefit analysis, but the question remains should the price always be the lives of people. It is left to the people and governments to decide upon that as well. Hopefully, they take the stand on a humanitarian basis.
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