Diederik Samsom, party leader of the Dutch political party PvdA, visited Lesbos this past weekend. He met with the co-ordinators of Boat Refugee Foundation. According to him, he came to see what the situation was like, in addition to seeing whether the system as it is now, can possibly result in violations of human rights.
Our aim for the meeting was to explain the situation on Lesbos to Samsom through personal stories. This based on all the experiences which the team of Boat Refugee Foundation has had on Lesbos since last summer. Samsom stressed that the legal routes to Europe should be opened and that no more lives should be risked. He indicated that legal routes to Europe were necessary.
Today the process of sending back refugees from Greece to Turkey has started.
The Boat Refugee Foundation co-ordinators indicated to Samsom that they have little confidence in the (rushed) deportation of the refugees. Many of them do not seem to fully grasp what a request for asylum is or are perhaps of the intention to do this in Germany or another country. According to UNHCR 1600 of the 2300 (figures of last Thursday, March 31, currently over 3000) residents of Moria have signed a declaration of intent to request asylum. This will take about two weeks, one week for the request, and one week for the possible appeal.
According to us, this is too short for a proper processing of the request and consequently we fear that the most vulnerable refugees will be the victims here. The Greek government has requested twenty times the current amount of personnel to process the asylum requests.
Boat Refugee Foundation will continue its work on Lesbos and is in close contact with both the refugees as well as the organisations involved.
Annerieke Berg, director of Boat Refugee Foundation: “Although the EU treaty has many troublesome aspects, we want to stay in order to give a voice to the refugees, who do not seem to have a voice in decisions regarding their lives and futures.”