Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for emergency humanitarian aid at the border and fair burden sharing among EU member states, the Kathimerini daily reported.
“The EU has an opportunity to show it has learned from the errors of the recent past by putting in place humane and efficient measures at the border that respect the right to seek asylum and people’s dignity,” said Lotte Leicht, EU director at Human Rights Watch.
“The heads of all three EU institutions should use this visit to pledge their support for emergency humanitarian aid at the border, for sharing responsibility among EU member states for people in need, and for respecting their rights.”
The presidents of the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament – Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel and David Sassoli, respectively – were set to visit the Evros border on Tuesday accompanied by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
HRW said the bloc’s top officials should urge Greece to ensure safe access to its territory and asylum, pledge support for systems to relocate people from the border area to other EU member states for processing and commit to working with like-minded EU countries to urgently resettle larger groups of Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.
“Applying for asylum is a right, not a luxury,” Leicht said. “Showing humanity and defending rights is the best way to defend the EU borders,” she said.
On Monday the United Nations’ refugee agency said Greece had no right to stop accepting asylum applications.
“It is important that the [Greek] authorities refrain from any measures that might increase the suffering of vulnerable people,” UNHCR said.