Lives on hold

JUNE 2010

Every year tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants arrive in Greece, the southeastern border of the European Union.1 In 2009, 36,472 irregular migrants were arrested at the Greek-Turkish land and sea borders.2 Many have left unstable or war-torn countries or are escaping persecution, human rights violations or extreme poverty. Afghans are the most numerous among the new arrivals, followed by Iraqis, Somalis, Palestinians, and Pakistanis. Unaccompanied minors and families are increasingly among those making the journey.
Lacking legal ways to travel to Europe migrants and asylum seekers alike are forced to use the services of smugglers and thus often fall victims of exploitation or violence by criminal
Once they arrive in Greece irregular migrants and asylum seekers are systematically detained. They are kept in detention centers located along the eastern Greek borders or in other detention facilities, such as police stations. (download pdf at