Magazine article New Internationalist

Out of the Frying Pan

Magazine article New Internationalist

Out of the Frying Pan

Article excerpt

GREECE

Syrians fleeing civil war face increased dangers as they try to enter Europe, Amnesty International has warned.

Refugees are taking ever-greater risks to reach Europe by sea after Greece, a key entry point for irregular migrants, tightened its land border with Turkey over the last year.

The journey is perilous. Since August last year, 100 people - mostly Syrians and Afghans, among them children and pregnant women - have drowned trying to reach the Greek islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios.

Even safe arrival in Greece does not signal safety. If migrants receive papers allowing them to continue to Athens, they risk arrest in police sweeps.

Ironically code-named Xenios Zeus after the ancient Greek god renowned for his hospitality, these checks leave migrants locked up in dark, dirty cells.

Racism is on the rise. Migrants are also now at risk of attack by supporters of far-right parties such as Golden Dawn.

Mustafa, a Somali refugee, has been assaulted twice since his arrival a year ago. 'The first time there were six of them, all young men, and they started shouting "mavro, mavro" or "black, black",' he explains. 'They came up behind me. I instinctively put my arm up to protect my head and felt a big stick come down on my wrist. …

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