Amnesty International to launch report on human rights abuses along western Balkans route, and failing EU migration policies

Credit: Amnesty International

Amnesty International

Diary note & spokesperson availability

(Brussels 02 July 2015) As the flow of migrants and refugees entering the western Balkans from Greece reaches unprecedented figures, Amnesty International will launch a new report, Europe’s borderlands: Violations against migrants and refugees in Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary, on Tuesday 07 July in Brussels. The report highlights how vulnerable people are being let down by failing European Union (EU) migration and asylum systems, and are facing ill-treatment along the western Balkans route (Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary).

Given the lack of safe and legal routes to the EU, desperate people fleeing conflict and persecution often embark on perilous sea crossings to Europe, including from Turkey to Greece. But for those who survive the dangerous sea journey, the hardship doesn’t end upon arrival on EU soil. As frontline EU countries, such as Greece, face the full force of migration challenges, vulnerable refugees are confronted with an impossible choice – to stay and apply for asylum in the country of arrival with appalling reception and detention conditions and a support system at breaking point; or to travel further, and embark once more on a potentially clandestine and hazardous journey, this time over land.

For those arriving in Greece, many move on irregularly through Macedonia, Serbia, and then back into the EU through Hungary. This route is fraught with violence, and with obstacles to claiming asylum in both Macedonia and Serbia.  The forthcoming Amnesty International report shows how asylum seekers – over half of them from Syria – are left in legal limbo, trapped in a Balkan no-man’s land, as Hungary closes its doors to them and other EU member states turn their backs on them. People are left without legal status, protection or support, leaving them vulnerable to further human rights abuses.

As the number of people moving along the Balkans route is rising – this week the United Nations High Commission for Refugees announced that over 1,000 people per day have entered the western Balkans from Greece since the beginning of June, “as opposed to 200 just a few weeks ago” – Amnesty International’s forthcoming report looks at what must be done to address human rights failings along one of the busiest irregular routes into the EU, and the need for a broader rethink of EU migration and asylum policies in this context and the wider global refugee crisis.

Amnesty International’s Balkans researcher, Sian Jones who co-authored the report, and Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, Gauri van Gulik will be in Brussels on Monday 06 and Tuesday 07 July for EU advocacy meetings and will be available for interview.

To arrange an interview or to request a copy of the report under embargo, please contact:

Maeve Patterson
Head of Media & Communications
Amnesty International European Institutions Office
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +32 (0)2 548 27 73
Mobile: +32 (0)483 680 812
Twitter: @mpat79
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