The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has labelled Greek attempts to stop asylum claims as being contrary to international agreements and not legal.
The UN Refugee Agency stated that the Greek government’s move to suspend new asylum claims, a measure announced after Turkey opened the gates to all migrants last Thursday, had no legal basis, in a press release this week.
“Neither the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees nor EU refugee law provides any legal basis for the suspension of the reception of asylum applications,” the agency said.
They added that while Greece has invoked article 78(3) of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU, which allows member states to “adopt provisional measures” when faced with “a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries”, they claim Greece cannot suspend the right of migrants to seek asylum.
“Persons entering irregularly on the territory of a State should also not be punished if they present themselves without delay to the authorities to seek asylum,” they said.
Europe’s Borders at Breaking Point as Migrants Shipped to Frontier in Unmarked Buses https://t.co/oTh9QQICZG
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 2, 2020
The group also added that not all of the migrants on the Greek border were Syrian, stating that there were also Afghans, Iranians, Sudanese, and others among the migrants.
Just days ago, Turkish interior minister Süleyman Soylu claimed that over 100,000 migrants had left Turkey and headed into Greece, although the numbers were disputed by the Greek government.
The European Union border agency Frontex has also signalled significant concern that the situation along the border could deteriorate as more migrants arrive.
The agency noted it will be “difficult to stop the massive flow of people who have travelled”, but had sent just 60 Frontex border guards to the area.
Violent tensions between the migrants and Greek border guards have also emerged in the days since the Turkish announcement to open the border, with migrants throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Greek authorities.