• Human Rights Watch

Greece's Change in Stance for Ukrainian Refugees

March 8, 2022

[Image Source: © 2021 Hellenic Coast Guard via AP]

Cited article by Eva Cossé, Human Rights Watch


HRRC calls for countries to support all refugees, regardless of race, religion, or country of origin. While the response by many countries to take in fleeing Ukrainians is to be applauded, this is a different stance that many of these countries have taken to those refugees from the Middle East and other regions. Reforms must be made to global refugee reception policy.


Article Summary


Greece has joined many other European countries in announcing support and acceptance of Ukrainian refugees. Notably, Greece's migration minister, Notis Mitarachi, referred to refugees from Ukraine as "real refugees", implying that those from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and other countries are "irregular immigrants". The belief is, because these refugees come through Turkey first, they should stay in Turkey rather than continuing to Greece.


This belief comes from the perspective of "first country of asylum". This practice is only appropriate when the first country of arrival for refugees is a safe country that is willing and able to provide refugees and asylum seekers protection. However, Turkey does not meet the EU's criteria for a safe country for asylum seekers and refugees, as Turkey has returned many Syrians to locations where their lives are at risk, rendering this a problematic solution.


While Ukrainian refugees need to be supported, there need to be significant reforms made for global refugee reception practices.