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22 mars 2011 2 22 /03 /mars /2011 12:19

The exiles are now entering Greece mainly through land border between Greece and Turkey, the passage through the islands are virtually deserted - a situation that can still change with the strengthening of controls over the land border.


Once past the border, the exiles are most often taken by police, and often voluntarily. They are then placed in detention for a term which is in part completely arbitrary, partly related to carrying capacity. They come out with a paper bag in which enjoins them to leave the country within a month, but also allows them to move without risk of arrest for a month. This is the document that allows them to continue their journey. But their arrest was also the opportunity to take their fingerprints - for the benefit of other European states that may well refuse to take their asylum applications (at least until the decision of the European Court of man last November), bosses who exploit their work, and they depend on smugglers until they can access their rights.


From there, they generally join Athens. Some of them spend large sums to buy false identity documents and try to go by air to other European countries, often without success. Other disperse in the country based on their contacts and opportunities to work illegally, particularly in agriculture. Others remain in Athens until they find a chance to go further. But living in Athens means money, leaving Greece too, and the crisis is a vise tightens on the less wealthy exiles.


The Balkan route is difficult, several borders to cross by foot, cross countries where foreigners are easily identified, and the European Union will finance complacently detention centres where the rights of individuals is not necessarily primary concern - we have one current example in Bosnia where the exiles are detained for months without knowing for how long they will still be without access to counsel, information about their rights and to a translator, and where they are abused.


And the transition takes place in dribs and drabs from Patras and Igoumenitsa. Patras is a major city that still offers opportunities for odd jobs to survive, but Igoumenitsa can hardly offer those who come running out of money that the contents of his trash for food.

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