Greek Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis announced the decision to build a 12-km wall along the border with Turkey, in an attempt to prevent irregular migrants from reaching Greek territory. Papoutsis considers that Greece has exceeded its limit in its capacity to accommodate migrants. According to him, 100, 000 people crossed irregularly the Greek/Turkish border last year.
The decision has been criticised by ECRE, the Greek Council for Refugees, Greek NGO Aitima and the UNHCR which considers that this meaure could also prevent refugees from entering EU territory, thereby denying their legitimate right to seek asylum.
“Regardless of how tall, how strong a wall would be, many people trying to cross this border left Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia fleeing for their lives, they can´t just stay at home. It's Europe's responsibility to allow them to reach safety and respect their right to seek asylum”, said Bjarte Vandvik, ECRE's Secretary General.The European Commission said that fences and walls have proved in the past to be short term measures that do not help to address migration flows in a structural manner. The Commission asked Greece to instead set up structural measures to discourage traffickers and smugglers and to build an efficient asylum system.
In addition to the fence, the Greek authorities announced that they are considering to using Dutch ships as sea-based detention centres for irregular migrants. The Netherlands have used such boats in the past for this purpose receiving strong criticism from the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).
According to the CPT, these boats are characterized by confined spaces, poorly ventilated cells, high levels of humidity and a lack of rest areas. The CPT urged the Netherlands to “cease, at the earliest opportunity, to use boats as facilities for immigration detainees”. One of the boats closed in 2009, the second is expected to close in 2012.